Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Words of Encouragement

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me." But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD. – Jonah 1:1-3

The Message. The Prophet Jonah – The Reluctant Servant. Most of us have heard the story about Jonah being in the belly of the fish quite often. We have heard of the story of Jonah’s reluctance to do as God has instructed him to do. Jonah’s reluctant to do what God is telling him is because of the treatment they have received from the people of Nineveh.

If we look at this from our times and situation, this is what that means. God wants you to go to the person that has treated you the worse, and tell them the message of salvation. Maybe you just don’t want to tell them, partly because you know if God says he will save them, he will. Your desire for your worse enemy is vengeance. Yet, we must be willing to let go of the desire for vengeance against those that hurts us, because God says vengeance is his.

So here we have Jonah, receiving a message from God to go and preach against the wickedness. Instead of going as the Lord instructed it says, “He went down…” When Jonah went down to Joppa, he was also going down spiritually. For everything after this leads down for Jonah. He ran from God and he went down to Joppa. He went down into the ship and then he ended up down in the sea, and finally down in the belly of the fish for three days.

What’s the message for us today? When we refuse to heed what God is telling us to do, we can expect to take a downward trip. The things we are trying to accomplish will go down. The self-promotion will go down, the activities will lead down, until finally we find ourselves trapped in a “fishy” situation. But the merciful God of heaven allows us to be trapped in some fishy situations because it is in those places he has our full attention. It is in those places that we must humble ourselves, if we ever hope to find release.

I pray for us today that we would not be reluctant to hear the word of the Lord and his instruction for our lives. I pray that when he calls, we listen. God is calling, are you listening?