From the Belly of the Whale (Jonah 2)

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In today’s chapter we find Jonah in the belly of a whale (or a giant fish if you prefer). It’s his third day there! I don’t know about you, but I certainly would not want to spend any time in a whale’s stomach, let alone three days. He’s reaches a point of desperation. I’m sure he doesn’t believe that he is going to get out of this fish anytime soon, or even alive. Yet, on this third day, he offers up a prayer to God. That prayer is what we find in chapter 2.

The verses that grabbed a hold of me were verses 8 and 9. To me they are a perfect foreshadow to the message that Jesus Christ will bring in a few centuries. They read like this:

“Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation come from the Lord.”
— Jonah 2:8-9, NIV

In his thinking in the whale, Jonah came to realize that he had made in own life into an idol for him. He prized it above anything God would ask of him. That’s why, when God asked him to go to Nineveh, Jonah fled the opposite direction. Jonah knew that if he did as he was told, he would likely lose his life. But Jonah came to realize that God offers grace and salvation. If he had simply trusted in God from the beginning, God might not have saved his life, but Jonah certainly would not have had to go through all this hardship of running away. But Jonah did learn his lesson from inside the whale and sent up this prayer. That’s why the chapter ends, “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” (Jonah 2:10 NIV).

What does this mean for us today? Look at all the thing Jonah went through; he traveled a long way from home, got shipwrecked, tossed from his ship, and swallowed by a giant fish! While we may not get eaten by a whale, God has a simple message for us. Fleeing from God is a lot harder than if we just listen and follow His commands. That’s not to say that life will be easy even when we listen to God. Life is hard and God asks us to do hard things. But think about this, Jonah went through all that hardship just to have to go to Nineveh anyway. So he actually made things worse than he had anticipated.

So are you doing what God has called for you? Are you doing the things that are within His will? Spend some time reading the Bible and in prayer. This is the way that we can keep our lives focused on where they need to be. So carve out some time today and ask God if you are on the right path for your day. And if you aren’t, the great news is that God offers you salvation and grace through His son, Jesus Christ.

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Be God’s Light to the World (Romans 2)

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Today’s chapter of Romans 2, continues on with what we were saying yesterday. Here Paul again quotes an Old Testament prophet, “The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you” (Isaiah 52:5, Romans 2:24 NLT). Yesterday we discussed holding the world to a different standard than it holds itself to, but today Paul is showing that we can be the cause from people to turn against God.

God is the judge of sin, not man (2:2). However, Paul writes “Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things” (2:3 NLT). This doesn’t mean you can only judge someone if you don’t commit the same sin they do. Rather, God only sees sin as sin. Unlike us, God does not view it as lying, stealing, murdering, cheating, etc (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Instead, for Him, it is sin and is all equally just as bad. So if you sin, you cannot judge others of sin.

But as Christians, we are to be the light of the world. I believe that we should live our lives according to the Will of God. Which means, to me, that we may give our opinions of sin when asked. We can’t stand on our soapbox and tell the world everything they have done wrong, because honestly, I’ve done it too (and so have you!). However, we can pray for them, even if our opinion isn’t asked of us. You never know, God could give you a whole knew way to interact with these people that is beneficial for the both of you. When Christians get on a soapbox, people turn away and get a bad opinion of God. Which leads us right back to 2:24.

So keep yourselves focused on what is right. Live according to the Bible and the Will of God. Keep your opinions of other people actions between you and God. When you are asked, give the opinion God would. The point is not to tell people what they do is wrong. The point is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the message of a God who love you and me!