Mercy Not Destruction

Group Discussion // April 27, 2022

This is a lesson I prepared for a community group discussion. I have reworked it a bit to provide a summary of the discussion points during our time spent together in Jonah chapter 3.

Jonah 3

3:1-5 Take two… with an amendment

  • God gives Jonah the same message as in the beginning except that instead of focusing on the sin of Nineveh, he focuses on Jonah’s faithfulness. God seems a little more direct with Jonah this time as he specifically commands Jonah to give the message he is told.
  • Jonah’s response is obedience. There doesn’t seem to be any hesitation with Jonah this time. He obeys the Word of the Lord.
  • This is every preacher’s dream response. Not only did the people listen to the message he delivered, but they were convicted of their sin.
  • Picture Jonah’s appearance and then hear the message God gave him. How does his appearance affect the people’s response?
    • Jonah had to look like a ghost almost. Someone that has been recently in the grave. Which is not far from the truth.
  • The people didn’t believe Jonah… They believed God.
    • This is key for us to understand. We want to personalize the calling God has given us and take ownership of it.
    • We see success and failure based on how the people respond to us. We get our feelings hurt or our pride is wounded when people reject our message and by extension they reject us.
    • But the key element is that the people believed God and not the messenger. This is important for us as well. We want to make everything, even ministry, about us doing the Lord’s work. We are so self-righteous and full of pride that we take even the gospel message of hope and cloud it with our sin.
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Nurturing Sin

Journal Entry // April 26, 2021

During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him,

John 13:2 ESV

Even after the heart of Judas had been deceived and he was committed to betraying Jesus, Judas spent intimate moments with Jesus. Many close fellowship times with the Lord and his fellow disciples. Known active sin being nurtured in his heart all the while spending time outwardly playing the part of follower. So much so, that the other disciples could not even conceive of the betrayal to come.

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Weaned Child

Journal Entry // April 25, 2021

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Psalm 131:2 ESV

A calm and quiet soul is one that is at rest in the loving providence and care of Almighty God. This soul understands the fear of the Lord and in wisdom chooses to be calm and quiet. This soul does not eat the bread of anxious toil, but has decided to be humbly reliant upon his good good Father. To be like a weaned child with is mother.

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Full Joy

Journal Entry // April 30, 2022

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

John 15:11 ESV

What are these things that Jesus has spoken of to me? It is the importance of abiding in his love by obeying his commandments just as he abides in the love of the Father an obeys his commandments. The key to abiding in Christ is simply obedience. I want to overcomplicate this and focus on other good things that are also important, but if I am to abide in the love of Christ there is only obedience. How important is this principle? Abiding in the love of Christ through obedience is the source of joy in my life. Abiding in the love of Christ is the pathway of His joy being in me and consequently my joy then being full. Not just a measure of joy, but the fullness of joy. Not just the fullness of any joy, but the fullness of joy in Christ!

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Week 18, 2022

Week Eighteen of Cultivate Delight, where we are actively planning our spiritual endeavors this coming week with the goal of a consistent time spent engaging our hearts with Christ in his word, in prayer, in reflection, and in music. Below are some starting points for reflection, and I hope you find them helpful. The goal is to not just rush through these and then get on with your day. Take your time and reflect throughout the week on these items.

“When God’s justice falls, we are offended because we think God owes perpetual mercy. We must not take His grace for granted. We must never lose our capacity to be amazed by grace”
― R.C. Sproul, quote from The Holiness of God

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Waiting in Sheol

Group Discussion // April 20, 2022

This is a lesson I prepared for a community group discussion. I have reworked it a bit to provide a summary of the discussion points during our time spent together in Jonah chapter 2.

Jonah 2

2:1-2  Prayer During Distress

  • Assuming this is day three in the belly, What do you think it’s Jonah’s current state of mind? What is he feeling?
    • Jonah had to be feeling desperation, hopelessness, helpless. He doesn’t have any indication of how long he has been in the bell of the fish. In the darkness, the days all seem to run together and I am sure this just adds to his disorientation. He has to be feeling hurt, remorseful, ashamed, guilty even.
  • What do these first two verses of prayer tell us about those the days?
    • He is in distress. It is out of his distress that he prays. He likens his situation to being in Sheol, the grave. And truly that must be what it was like. This filthy, pitch black, putrid belly of a giant fish. It had to beyond unpleasant. 
    • They also tell us that Jonah is beginning to see the folly in his previous line of thinking. For it is here in Sheol that they Lord not only heard him, but answered him. The man than was trying to flee the presence of the Lord finally realizes that even in the depths of despair in the belly of a fish at the bottom of the sea the Lord is present with him.
  • When we are most overwhelmed, most troubled, most anxious – these are times when we need to cry out to the Lord. We can rest assured that he not only hears us, but answers us. Even when it doesn’t feel that way. When  everything around us seems hopeless, God is near.
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Anxious Toil

Journal Entry // April 23, 2021

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Psalm 127:2 ESV

What does it mean to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? One indicator of how my life is oriented can be seen in this phrase, “eating the bread of anxious toil.” This is such a good and helpful picture to help reflect on my trust and rest in the Lord alone for all things.

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Feet Washing

Journal Entry // April 27, 2022

Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”

John 13:8 ESV

Peter in the Gospels is so often a mirror that reflects the inner thoughts and determination of my heart. He is generally the one that is not afraid to put into words the thoughts that are bouncing around in his head. This passage is no different. Jesus is demonstrating humility and the necessity of servant leadership. None of us are above the necessary role of serving others in our leading capacity, but this washing of the feet was a picture of our necessity to have a heart of repentance. Our bodies are clean if we are in Christ and have been cleansed of our sin through the washing of his blood in our life, but our feet get dirty as we continually walk in this world. We need a daily washing of our feet. We need a daily, humble repentance that keeps bringing us back to the grace and mercy of Jesus.

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Knowing and Known

Journal Entry // April 22, 2021

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,

John 10:14 ESV

There are a lot of interesting phrases and insight that Jesus gives in this section of the Gospel, but the one that stood out to me this morning was his knowing of his sheep. This is not a general knowing like he states elsewhere about knowing what’s in the heart of man. This is a deep intimate knowledge of a person. And it’s reciprocal. We know Jesus deeply as we follow him and obey our good shepherd.

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Choosing to be Yoked

Journal Entry // April 24, 2022

So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.

Numbers 25:3 ESV

As I was reading this passage, I became interested in this notion that Israel had yoked himself. He was not forced into this, but freely chose to be yoked with Baal. There are some interesting definitions surround this word yoked:

  • Servitude and bondage
  • An oppressive agency
  • Wooden frame by which two animals are joined for working together
  • Device placed on the neck of a defeated person

All of these definitions draw out the image of a person that has lost their freedom. A person with a yoke is under the control of another. In this case, Israel had yoked himself to a different master and had chosen to give up their freedom in the Lord for servitude under a yoke.

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