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Read Jonah 1:1-3:9. Click on this link to read the passage. You may select the translation you prefer on the Bible Gateway website.

Jonah 1:1-2  This was no small order. Jonah and most of the Jews hated the people of Ninevah. But God told him to go and tell them that He was going to destroy their city because they were so wicked.

Where is there a Ninevah in or near your community? Are you willing to go to them and share the Gospel with them?

Jonah 1:3  What did Jonah do? He bolted and ran in the opposite direction. He spent his own money to purchase a ticket to run away from God.

What do we do in response to God’s directive to teach the Gospel to the world? Are you reaching out to the Ninevah in your community? If not, what is holding you back?

Jonah 1:4-17  Jonah paid a high price for his disobedience. Not only the price of his ticket to board the ship, but the price of being thrown into the sea and being swallowed by the fish (whale).

What price(s) have you paid at times when you rebelled against God?

Jonah 2  Then Jonah came to his senses. He hadn’t run far enough to get away from God, and God came to his rescue. Jonah’s prayer from inside the whale is powerful. It tells of his desperation as his life was ebbing away, of his vow to keep his promises to God. Then God commanded the fish (whale) to vomit him on dry land.

When have you been in the pits of despair and prayed for God to rescue you? Can you relate to Jonah’s prayer? Sometimes this is the manner that God must use to get our attention. Have you thanked Him for bringing you to your wit’s end so you would again reach out to Him? If not, thank him now.

Jonah 3:1-2 Again God called Jonah to go to preach to the Ninevites.

Has God given you a second chance to respond to his call?

Jonah 3:3-4  Jonah went immediately this time. It took him three days to cover the city and give the message to all the people.

Have you taken advantage of second chances to obey God’s call on your life?

Jonah 3:5  The people heard Jonah’s message and repented at once. I’m certain that Jonah’s appearance helped him to get their attention, and his explanation of why he looked like he did caused them to take God’s message seriously. If God could cause a fish (whale) to swallow Jonah and then spit him out again after three days, what might He do to the city of Ninevah?

Have your hardships ever opened doors for witness that you might not have experienced otherwise?

Jonah 3:6-9  Even the king repented and commanded all people and all animals to fast in sackcloth and ashes.

If it happened in Ninevah, perhaps it can happen in the USA. Where is your Ninevah? Are you willing to go to them?

Father God, give us listening ears and willing hands, feet, and hearts to hear your call when you speak to us. Enable us to be willing to see the Ninevahs in our community and to reach out to them. It wasn’t comfortable for Jonah to reach out to the Ninevites, but you didn’t accept that as an excuse from Him. Neither should we expect you to accept that excuse from us. Grant us courage of heart and willing spirits to reach out to others with your Gospel and your love.

© 2009 by Janice D. Green

Read John 14 (Click on the link to read it in NIV or select your prefered version when the window opens.)

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

You hear it a lot today… “I’m a good person. I don’t need the church or all that Bible stuff. I’ve tried to live a good life like Jesus said we should. I’m not worried about the afterlife because I believe God will be okay with how I’ve lived my life.”

Others will ask, “How can God punish these ‘good’ people?”

I don’t believe God wants to punish people as much as people want to imply. That isn’t the problem at all. The problem is that God didn’t create a perfect and glorious place like heaven for people who don’t want him.

At the beginning of time God created the heavens and the earth. He brought mankind onto this earth, and he gave them the choice to accept or reject his commandments. Just as Adam and Eve rejected his first and only commandment in the Garden of Eden, man has continued to reject his commandments unto this day.

God gives us the opportunity to accept his forgiveness for our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. It was no small sacrifice for Jesus to endure the crucifixion and death on a cross to pay for our sins. The choice is ours. Do we want God or don’t we? If we choose Jesus we choose God. If we don’t choose Jesus we are saying we don’t want his Father, the God of all creation.

Those who don’t want God, have no right to expect him to open heaven’s doors to them when their time comes. By choosing not to follow God’s commandments people have messed up the earth already. The problems of humankind’s sins are escalating before our very eyes. Why should we expect God to allow this to happen to his glorious heaven as well?

So what about the punishment of hell? Do people who have tried to be good in their own strength but didn’t choose to accept Jesus have to be punished the same way as terrible criminals do? I won’t attempt to give an absolute answer here, only food for thought. If all the people who accepted Jesus go to heaven to be with God, Jesus, and all the heavenly angels; and only those who chose not to accept Jesus are left outside to fend for themselves with Satan and all his demons who are eager to offer their brand of spiritual help, what is it going to be like? 

The final word will be one of two: You wanted him and accepted him. {Or} You didn’t want him – you rejected him.

Father God, I pray for those who don’t understand, for those who are so willing to let themselves be fooled into believing their only measuring stick for entering heaven is how they measure up to the persons around them. Wake us all from our slumber and give us eyes to see who you really are. Show us your compassion.

Read the entire passage of John 14. It is so powerful.

© 2009 by Janice D. Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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Isaiah 11:1-3  Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

Jesus is the branch that was to come up from the stump of Jessie. This is one of the prophesies of the Old Testament that predicted the coming of the Messiah. Jessie was the father of David, and the Messiah was foretold to be descended from King David.

The rest of this passage elaborates on the attributes of Jesus as they were foretold by the prophet Isaiah. Jesus came with the Spirit of the Lord resting in him including the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and of power, as well as the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

Verse 3 tells foretold that Jesus would not judge by mere appearances and here-say, but he would be able to judge correctly by seeing deeper.

Father God, thank you for the Scriptures of the Old Testament which foretold of Jesus’ coming long before he appeared on this earth, for by them we are given yet one more piece of assurance that you are who you say you are and that Jesus is truly your Son. Help us to worship him with our whole hearts.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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