Monday, May 6, 2013

Jonah 1:4-2:10

Because God loves his children, he will not let us win with sin, but we also discover in the midst of God's discipline there is shocking grace. Jonah experienced divine discipline for his determined disobedience.
God is often like a laser-guided missile with a homing device. If you go left, God goes left after you. If you go right, he goes right. If you go off his road of blessing, he'll pursue you. He's locked in on you. Why wouldn't he? He went to hell for you. He went to the cross and was smashed so sinners like you could be rescued. God is a relentless pursuer of you when you disobey – to bring you back. You cannot outrun God’s love!
Like a major-league pitcher hurling a 95 mph fastball, God wound up and threw a mighty wind into the Mediterranean. God is willing to do the necessary to bring us to where we are glorifying him again, and he has all of creation at his disposal! God is jealous of you and always corrects your straying heart. Often he does it by overwhelming you with something you can't handle in order to remind you that you can't fight against him and win.
These terrified mariners threw dice to determine who had sinned to anger the God of storm. Jonah was found out! He was exposed for the sinner he was. One of the most gracious things God can do for you in sin is to unmask you. He shows you who you really are. He gets it out in the open. But what a gracious pain! God longs to short-circuit your path of sin. If he didn't intervene, sin would destroy our lives! Learn from God's grace of being caught.
Even though he had been exposed as the guilty sinner, Jonah was not broken for his sin. He would choose death on the high seas rather than obey God. But God will not let his disobedient prophet win. And so the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. Notice God was acting again. Long before Jonah was tossed, God had a fish ready.
There Jonah sat in the soggy darkness with limited oxygen and in an average temperature somewhere between 104-108 degrees Fahrenheit. But if we focus on what happened inside the fish, we'll miss what was going on inside Jonah. JONAH WAS FINALLY AT THE END OF HIMSELF. He had made a mess of his life, and God had allowed his sin to take him to places he never imagined.
God will not be denied your heart. If you stubbornly determine to disobey, one day you'll wake up in a place you'll hate. But there is grace for you even in the belly of your own sea monster for God is there waiting for your prayer of confession.
There is hope as long as there is God. From the fish, Jonah prayed, and God heard. He acknowledged his sin had taken him away from God, but now he was turning his heart back to God. As far as Jonah knew, he would die inside the fish, but in his mind, he would die happy because he was finally right and clean again. A clean heart before God will produce joy and release! Why live in misery?

Food for thought: Jonah ran, but God pursued. This is grace. How would God respond if you ran from Him?

-Andy Gleiser
student pastor at www.burgeterrace.org, founder of www.3gministries.org