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Thursday: A Two-Way Street — 11 Comments

  1. I don't know if any of you have tried to grow pumpkins or cucumbers (both members of the gourd family) but they can grow phenominally fast. We used to say that when you planted a pumpkin seed you had to step back really quick so that it did not grab your ankles as it grew. It is reported that some pumpkin tendrils have grown more than 30cm overnight. That is racing-car fast in the plant world.

    So Jonah enjoyed the blessing of the cooling shade of a gourd for a day, and then got angry when the worm ate it and killed it. Part of Jonah's problem was that he had got his perspective wrong. His view was short-sighted and self-focussed. He wanted his picture of God to be vindicated. And God as much as told him that he had got it all wrong.

    I come back to the real reason for the inclusion of this book in both the Jewish and Christian scripture. It is a warning that we too may have the wrong perception of the big picture. Israel was more concerned about their own image among the nations, rather than making a difference in those nations.

    And I ask the question of ourselves: Are we backing a fast growing pumpkin that can wither overnight?

    • Hi Maurice ... and all others

      I am writing here because of the intersection of 2 concepts:

      1) the lesson's question: what does keep ourselves in the love of God (actually) mean?

      2) your discussion regarding backing a fast-growing pumpkin that can wither overnight.

      Once upon a time I was introduced to a fast-growing pumpkin called 'doctrine' - which was mostly about what I could and couldn't do. But I soon found out that this wasn't enough when life fell apart. And I've since also found that it isn't enough for others too whose lives have fallen apart. I guess I would describe this as doctrine apart from relationship.

      Now I learn 'doctrine' - the truth of who God is and how life operates. This I would describe as relational-doctrine which is living and active. It 'causes' me to grow and equips me to deal with life when things fall apart (and also when they don't). And it gives me something of value and practical relevance to share with others when their lives are falling apart too. This 'doctrine' doesn't just give me words to share with others - but more fundamentally it gives me the desire to want to get alongside others and help them in whatever way I can. That may involve provision of practical assistance or moral support which sometimes includes discussions about what alternative options might be helpful for their situation.

      I once had a doctrinal pumpkin that withered in the heat of life's challenges. Now I have a 'relational-doctrine pumpkin' that that provides shelter and sustenance to myself and, in so doing, enables and equips me to share with others in appropriate and practical ways that they too can partake of that 'pumpkin' (John 6:48,53; 7:37,38).

      Thanks for asking a very relevant question.

  2. I hadn't read Jude for quite a while, and when I read it again I was struck by the warning that there could be people who fellowshipped with us but could be leading us astray by their teachings. It reminded me that Paul also repeatedly warned about people teaching "another gospel - different to what he had taught them"
    Gal 1:6-8, 2Tim 4:3-4
    Even Jesus warned "do not be deceived"
    Matt 24:23-25. At that time, if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There He is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders that would deceive even the elect, if that were possible. 25 See, I have told you in advance.

    So I believe some are called to go to those who don't know the LORD and others are called to protect the flock from wolves in sheep's clothing. Matt 7:15

    • Amazing is our God. You are correct on the protection of the flock. I have noticed that there are some very persistent people, who express what you believe. Prayerfully, you try to be a good neighbor, yet they want to push over on you. According to 2 Timothy 2:14 We should not argue over God's word. Thank God for the Holy Ghost and for us to talk to God and prayerfully allow Him to guide us if we are obedient to His call.
      Do you think that because Jonah for a split second doubts God so much from misinformation or too much self-reliance?

      • Janet, you asked:
        Do you think that because Jonah for a split second doubts God so much from misinformation or too much self-reliance?

        I don't know the answer but I believe it would be interesting to study Jonah's background and find out the attitude of the Hebrews to the surrounding nations at that time.
        Were they to try and convert them?
        Were they to avoid mingling with them because they might lead the people into worshipping other "gods"?
        Had those nations been allowed to oppress them because they had strayed from the Principles of God?

  3. Jonah needed the gospel as much as the ninevites did. God pursued him, would not let him go, and held on to him untill jonah recorgnized His mighty hand.

  4. Imagine how effective every pastor, evangelist, and lay worker would be if they were true “partakers of the divine nature” through a constant abiding in the Vine. Clever sermons have no power if the one delivering the message is void of the Holy Spirit's presence in the life. It would appear that Jonah delivered an effective message, which the Holy Spirit used to convict sinners in Nineveh, though the messenger seemed himself to be void of the Spirit as evidenced by his fleeing from duty and reaction to the results of his warning to the inhabitants of Nineveh. Sometimes God must speak through a “donkey” in order to save souls. There may also be times when the only voice will be the stones crying out due to the silence of those who profess to be God's people.

    There is no rest in Jesus for any who are not “following the Lamb withersoever He goeth”. Following Jesus means to imitate His example of daily living according to our individual circumstances. Not all are called to be itinerant preachers, but all are invited to be witnesses of the Lord(Acts 1:8), and in this we will find the promised “rest unto your soul”(Matt 11:28-30).

  5. The scripture tells us that God is no respecter of persons as it relates to applying the law - 2 Chr.19:5-7KJV, as well as His spirit - Acts 10:34-35KJV. Deut.10:17KJV - "For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward. 
    Jonah had a difficult time understanding that even he, a by God called prophet, needed to accept the sovereignty of the Will of God. God taught him to have mercy and forgive using the example of a lowly gourd.
    I see Jonah as the example of people who are unwilling to let go of their own perception of right and wrong, especially when it effects themselves. 
    They conduct their lives by self-righteousness, not by the righteousness of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. 
    They are judgmental about their fellow man's experience of God's Grace and Mercy; by Him who knows the heart and forgives freely.
    They hold on to grudges and do not let go until they decide it to be beneficial to themselves.   

    Our willingness to see our shortcomings and be forgiving opens the door for our Father's Mercy and Grace to remove our sin as far as the East is from the West. Who are we do insist to do otherwise for others?

  6. Happy Sabbath family. We become discouraged just like Jonah because we are only fulfilling evangelism programs or attempting to make those we engaged become Seventh-day Adventist. We should be happy to participate as His coworkers without preempting future.

  7. One take away from the book of Jonah may be an old testament version of what Peter was shown in Acts 10. God loves every one of His children and goes to exceedingly great lengths to save them all.

    God's love and mercy are not limited to some people, some religions or some nations and we might be pleasantly surprised by who we get to spend eternity with (Revelation 7:9).


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