** Hi friends! This post is part of a blog hop for Advent. At the end of my post you'll find links to some wonderful blogger friends who want to help you prepare Him room. Take some time to read them all. They really changed my heart and they will change yours too. **
It may seem a little odd that on the cusp of Advent season I want to talk about Jonah, but God often takes us down windy roads to prepare our hearts. I have been stuck in the four short chapters of Jonah for over a month. Hidden in this story I have found the grace of God-the same grace that sent a son to die for the sins of the world.
Most of you know that Jonah was swallowed by a fish for disobeying God but lived to tell the tale. It's the great Moby Dick story of the Bible. What you will miss, if you don't read closely, is the story of man's selfish heart met by the grace of God's love-over and over again.
Jonah went on a three hour tour to get away from God (as if one could "get away" from God) and ended up in the belly of a fish. The reason? God asked him to go preach against the sins of a great nation, Nineveh. The very nation that had persecuted God's people. He was to preach a warning message to turn them from their evil ways. Jonah's reason for not wanting to do this was not because he was afraid of the people in Nineveh, it was not that it was a terrible place to visit as it was a rich land, his reason for not wanting to go was because he knew that if he warned them of their evil ways and they repented and turned to God that God would forgive them.
Jonah didn't want God to forgive the people of Nineveh. Jonah had decided their sins were too great to be forgiven. Aren't you glad that God is in charge of the forgiveness department and not Jonah or you or me? Left up to us, there would be a lot of nonredeemable people in the world.
Jonah does get out of that fish, praising God for His grace and he goes to that town and obediently preaches as God instructed. As the King called the nation to repentance Jonah hiked to a nearby mountain top hoping God would still destroy their city. I can picture him staring up at the sky waiting for fireballs to drop down on Nineveh. His waiting was in vain.
Jonah was flat out mad that God forgave the people of Nineveh and showed mercy. I love God's response in Jonah 4:10-11
But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
In other words, I made these people. I created mankind and I alone will determine how to love them. And I choose grace. I choose to pursue them when they sin against me and reward them as they draw near to me. This is my relationship and the only law that dictates is love.
The theme of this first week of Advent is hope. As we anticipate the upcoming anniversary of our Savior's birthday, let us find hope in a God that loves with grace unbound. Let us extend that hope to others as we offer them grace and not judgement. Just as Jesus did.
Be sure to read all these blogs that are part of the Prepare Him Room blog hop.
Wrapped in Grace – by DeanaLynnRogers.com
Welcoming Jesus is less about perfect preparations and more about scooching over.
Prepare Him Room - By Going The Distance
Read about the love language of Advent season.
Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room – by Living For God
Pause, Reflect, Enjoy, Praise, Accept, Rejoice, Exclaim
Prepare Him Room – by Revelations of a Southern Girl
Revelations about celebrating the season with an illness.
This post is part of the Prepare Him Room Blog Hop as part of the Woven Vow Blogger Group on Facebook. Join us for blog talk and faith filled encouragement.
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Where was God? This is the most commonly asked question when something bad happens.
Where was God when I had a miscarriage?
Where was God when her husband left her?
Where was God when that young mother dies of cancer?
Where was God when that candidate won the election?
Where is God in all this crazy hatred in the world?
I am currently doing a study on the history of the early church. It is a study of how the church established itself after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Here is what I am learning as I really study the scriptures. When I look past the miracles and gifts of the Spirit, I see a darker story.
The church actually grew through persecution. When people had to flee their country of face certain death for being a Christian the gospel spread to new lands. When people stood firm in their faith at the cost of being beheading, or shouted to God to forgive the crowd as they were being stoned to death, a statement was made. My God is bigger than the evils of this world. Wasn't that the point of the cross. To proclaim once and for all that evil could not, would not, conquer good. As a result the gospels spread and many believed.
So where is God now? In a crazy world of genocide and racism and power hungry leaders. A world where a dollar is more important than a life and being right is more important than love? Where is God?
He is in each story of triumph that builds hope in the oppressed. He is in each hand that reaches out to help the poor and sick. He is in each word that says I will not lash out when I don't agree but I will lean in and listen and try to help. He is in generosity. He is in each act of love.
Loving in hostile times can be hard. Overcoming affliction with hope can be daunting. I like how Moses handled it in Psalm 90. As his nation was sinning against God he talked to God. He pleaded with God for help, he asked God to fill him up with joy and love, and then he ends the prayer asking for God to establish the work of his hands. He didn't know what to do so he asked God for direction.
Good idea Moses. Good idea.
Psalm 90:13-17 NIV (A prayer of Moses, man of God)
Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us--
yes, establish the work of our hands.
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Hey, you, my friend. Did you know that God did not create you to be a beat down Christian?
Look we all have troubles and trials that easily overwhelm. Yesterday, I talked to my boss after he received some bad news. After processing it, he said something profound. "The reality has not changed because I now know the news. So it's not bad news. It's the opposite. Now I am aware of a reality that already existed and I can respond to it."
Awareness of your troubles is an opportunity to respond. You can respond in fear or anger or worry or you can respond in seeking God for strength and courage and joy. You can choose to live joyfully triumphant. Either way. Your reality does not change.
The Prophet Habakkuk explains it like this:
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
Habakkuk was living in a time when injustice surrounded him. Nothing made sense. Nothing seemed fair. But he chose joy. He chose to tap into the strength of his creator.
Did you know that you have the power to tap into the joy of God's spirit anytime you need it? You do not need to embrace your emptiness and reduce yourself to dry bones when you face troubles.
Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
Don't get me wrong, we can do nothing without God but if we tap into his spirit we can do everything with him! We may have trouble mustering up joy on our own but we can find it in God! Seek Him, find joy. Isn't this good news? Isn't this reason to preach on our wholeness and not our brokenness?
Hebrews 13:5 “So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
We must maintain hope which brings joy.
Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer”
We must be thankful which stems from appreciation not anxiousness.
Philemon 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Don't worry, thank Him for all the good He is, all the wholeness He extends, and then make your requests known. Be patient as you wait for the response and kill the time with being hopeful. Joyful. Triumphant.
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I'm just a girl, standing before my God, knowing that He loves me and wanting others to know that love too.