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!

John 15

Vs. 17, “This is my command: Love each other.”  As Jesus and the disciples are leaving the Upper Room and heading over to the Garden of Gethsemane, He continues to teach them as they walk.  As they are walking, they probably walked past the temple and were reminded of the doors engraved with vines.  It is here that Jesus reminds the disciples of the picture of the vine as a symbol of our relationship with the Father (vs. 1-11).  Question: What happens when we remain in Jesus?  We grow into loving each other more (vs. 12-17).  But, this wasn’t going to be an easy road.  Just as Jesus had the mixture of Pharisee’s, scribes & Sadducees conspiring together through the Sanhedrin to arrest Jesus and kill him, we too have a world that is not going to be tolerant of this faith (vs. 18-27).

Regarding application…Remain in Jesus.  Vs. 5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  Question: What exactly is this fruit?  The fruit that we bear is from the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23, fruits of the Spirit) and also the fruit we bear when we share Christ (John 4, woman at the well).  Question What does it mean to remain?  Another word used by translators is “abide”, which gives us a picture of being in constant fellowship with Jesus.  When we are connected to Jesus, we will naturally produce fruit.  In my own life, there have been many times when I tried to do this fruit bearing on my own strength.  But the more I learn about the Lord, the more I realize that in our weakness we are made strong.  Let Jesus take this heart of ours and begin to change it from the inside out.  Don’t get discouraged in this walk when it doesn’t seem to be working.  Just keep your heart plugged into the vine!