But Johan ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he want aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD. (Jonah 1:3 NIV)
When was the last time you had a good hardy workout strengthening your heart? God’s Scripture can provide that very thing. There are times when it delivers a warm-up or even a good yoga stretch session, but not the book of Jonah. It is a full-on run which can condition your heart to love God and love others (yes, even the unlovable!) the way the LORD instructs.
During the month of October, the Refining ministry is conducting one-hour online sessions on Monday nights to provide verse-by-verse studies over this minor prophet’s historical account. Each meeting will include a 10-minute video segment from Erin Mason along with application questions to furnish a true heart workout.
Jonah was a runner! He wore his finest athlete sandals proudly and even was in tune to the voice of the LORD. He had been trained in theology and knew the Torah. He identified himself as being on God’s team (Jonah 1:9). Yet, his heart was in poor condition and the challenges the Father instructed revealed his lack of exercising under full authority of the LORD.
Here are a few takeaways from last night’s study:
|Verses||GOD||JONAH||Questions to ask yourself|
|1-3||Coaches Jonah in the direction to run: GO!||Runs fast and furious: the opposite direction||How are you running from God currently?|
|4-6||Sends a violent storm message to Jonah’s disobedience||Jonah not only endangers those around him, but he doesn’t feel the least amount of guilt instead he sleeps||Are there areas of your life where you have allowed your conscience to be like Teflon to obedience to God?|
|7-10||God used the situation to demonstrate His ever presence||Jonah claims his identity in God, yet it is the non-believers that have a clear vision of Jonah’s disobedience||As an identified Christian, are you open to the reproof the LORD sends through a non-believer? Have you ever given this any thought?|
|11-12||God wants Jonah to repent and run the direction He told him||Jonah feels it would be better to die than to go to Nineveh. He could not stand Assyrians and did not want good to come to them. However, Jonah felt it would be better for the sailors to kill him by throwing him overboard than for him to take his own life||Do you harbor feelings or stubbornness against someone who you deem unlovable and undeserving? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to let them stay living in darkness where you feel they belong? (Running from obedience)|
|13-16||God stands firm. He patiently waits for Jonah to submit and take responsibility for his actions. He even gains the fear of the sailors and becomes a true Lord to them||Jonah realized he could not outrun the Lord. Don’t be fooled though-Jonah did not repent and he still had a heart issue against Nineveh. Despite his heart condition, he was a missionary to the sailor. God used Jonah whether he liked it or not||Are there times when serving God is a duty and not a delight? Have you carried out tasks to the LORD even though you didn’t want to? (running from God within)|
|17||God’s timing and ways are always planned. 3 days & nights- sound familiar? (Read Matthew 12: 39-41)||Running from God does not bring conditioning and good health. It brings pain and frustration because the effort is fruitless.||What will it take for you to run in the direction God directed? What commitment do you need to make to fully obey His calling?|
Jonah really believed running away from God’s calling was the best thing for him. He thought his rebuttal was a good one—I don’t like those wicked underserving people—I am not the person for the job. He knew his heart wasn’t in shape to extend grace and mercy to Nineveh so why bother. Seriously? So, not only did he run to avoid the Father’s calling on his life, but he was willing to sacrifice his life! Why? He was determined to never step a foot onto that foreign soil. Could this be pure hatred?
Whether you are running with God’s calling or away from it-what is the condition of your heart? How deep can you really love God and love others?
“Most of us like what God says, until we are called to action.” – Eric Mason
Join us online next Monday night via Zoom for one hour starting at 6:00 pm (CST). There are so many more fitness lessons in Jonah to be discovered. Message us for the link. Feel free to email us a firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be blessed by it!