Jonah 4

Vs. 2, “He prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”  Question: Why did Jonah flee to Tarshish?  Because like we were reminded yesterday, Jonah knew how compassionate God is.  Even though the Ninevites were an evil people, they are just as deserving!  This is what Jonah struggled with.  He was angry and upset that he had to deal with his enemies in this fashion (vs. 1-4).  It’s easy to be quick to judgment with Jonah’s response, but think about it.  How would we respond if someone kidnapped and killed our own children?  The last thing most of us would want is abundant love and compassion.  How quick Jonah responds to the reprieve of a vine that helped shade him (vs. 6).  But that temporary happiness reverts back to anger as a worm came and at the vine (vs. 7).  God would use these things to give Jonah a lesson about what is really important in life.  Jonah allowed the things of this world to bring happiness and anger, but forgot what is most important (vs. 10-11).

Regarding application…Being Angry.  Vs. 4, “But the Lord replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”  Haven’t we just been so exasperated and angry we say things like, “Just kill me now!”  That is exactly what Jonah was doing and he stated it three times (vs. 3, 8, 9) for emphasis.  Jonah perhaps had a right to be angry, but God is slow to anger (vs. 2).  Over the years, I’ve had reasons enough to be very angry at situations in my life.  But God is teaching me to realize that anger is not something we should be quick to do.  Certainly, there are appropriate times to be angry (Remember, Jesus’s anger at the temple on two occasions).  But, we should be slow to anger at all times.  I still remember quite vividly the first youth group I was a Youth Pastor at.  One of the older high school students who had a car took a younger student and he peeled out of the parking lot and raced down the street.  The church was located in a neighborhood.  I was angry because of the inherent danger.  I was angry because of the bad example to this young man.  I was angry at our own testimony to the neighbors around us.  When those two came back, I yelled at the top of my voice at the two students and the other group members who didn’t even do anything.  I was in mid-twenties and allowed my emotions to get the better of me.  In the end, God reminded Jonah and us that His compassion is for all people; Jonah, the sailors and the Ninevites!

Jonah 3

Vs. 5, “The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.”  A second time God would call Jonah to go to Nineveh, this time he obeyed (vs. 3).  Remember, Nineveh was a incredibly evil city full of people (120,000) who practiced such things.  It almost seemed inconceivable that they would listen to what this foreigner Jonah would have to say.  I’m sure we get a shortened version of what Jonah preached for three days (vs. 4), but it certainly was effective!  Can you imagine a Gospel outreach turning a whole city in repentance in today’s time?  We certainly can credit the Ninevites for hearing God’s message and responding without delay.  But, I believe there was more than what we may see.  When God wants to achieve something, it will be done.  The Ninevites ability to repent and the fact that they are Gentiles and enemies of God should bring us much hope.  This generation of Ninevites were certainly saved.  Unlike the Israelites back in the Divided Kingdoms, these people had not yet heard such a message!  I also like how the King of Nineveh also humbled himself as a leader.

Regarding application…God’s Compassion.  Vs. 10, “The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.”  Question: How could God forgive instantly a people of such evil?  This was a question that Jonah struggled with.  How could a people sincerely change so quickly?  Yet, Jonah’s own people were turning constantly away from Yahweh.  I believe that is the call and the challenge of the church today. We have a two-fold responsibility: to grow God’s church spiritually, but also take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  People who have had the grace of God for many years of their lives could learn from the newly converted!  Thankfully, God’s compassion is given to all.  We must take the opportunity no matter what stage of life we are in to respond to it!  Pray for your churches this weekend that we would respond in praise and repentance to our compassionate God!

Hosea 11

Vs. 4, “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.”  Our Father in Heaven is teaching us how He created us to be relational.  Hosea gives us a picture of the Father’s love for His child (vs. 1-4).  But, like a rebellious teenager, Israel shuns the Father’s love (vs. 5-7).  God had given his children every opportunity to turn back to Him, but He will not force a relationship on those who do not want it.  Yet, despite this decline of love toward the Father, we are given some insight into the heart of God (vs. 8-9).  And lastly, we see God will come like a roaring lion calling His people back to Him (vs. 10-11).

Regarding application…God’s Compassion.  Vs. 8, “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel?  How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.”  Question: Do you see it?  The love and compassion of God is amazing!  We see the covenant (promise) that God follows through and remains true and faithful despite our own weaknesses.  The Father in Heaven does not give up on His children.  It doesn’t make sense to our limited human minds why God would be so compassionate to a people who did not deserve it.  But, while it may not make logical sense, I think deep down inside we have realized this in our own lives.  So often we turn away from God, but He is so faithful despite what we do.  Knowing of this type of love should compel us to share it to the world that is dying in sin and loss of hope.  God’s love is not earned on merit, but by grace (undeserved acceptance and love).  Don’t let this truth be contained in your own heart, but shout it out to the world!

Lamentations 3

Vs. 1, “I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.”  This was a very difficult time for Jeremiah.  In the midst of all this devestation, Jeremiah is grieving…but we also see him have some hope.  Jeremiah in an incredilbe example for all of us.  I really don’t know how he was able to keep such faith in the midst of tragedy.  This is faith.  He took his eyes off the horizontal world and looked up veritically to God as his lament continued.  Noticed as the chapter continues, he then calls upon his people to turn back to the Lord because of their sin.

 

Regarding application…God’s Compassion.  Vs. 22, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”  Perspective.  That must be what it is.  Jeremiah had a bigger perspective.  All those years that God’s people had a chance to turn back, they didn’t care.  Consequences came, but God would promise Jeremiah that He would restore the very people He is disciplining.  God wasn’t just keeping a covenant, He had compassion.  So many of us want to blame God when bad things happen.  Yet, we should be thanking Him for His compassion that we even have air in our lungs.  Thank you Lord!  This is the God of Jeremiah and this is the of God today!