Jonah 1: 1-3 Jonah Flees the Presence of the Lord
1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.
Have you ever been where we find Jonah at today? Having a great ministry and love for the Lord only for Him to ask you to do something for Him that you really don’t want to do? So we like Jonah, tend to flee the Presence of the Lord. As we continue to read thru Jonah, we find the Lord pursues Jonah. In fact, he makes life miserable for not only Jonah but for those who Jonah is hanging out with at the time. The Lord will pursue us as well, maybe not to the extremes that He did to Jonah but God loves us too much to let us just go away. This should be very encouraging to the child of God today, knowing that no matter what we struggle with God will be there. We can also be encouraged to know that God has a plan and purpose for our life just as he did with Jonah. And yes, that plan and purpose may include a few things that we really do not want to do! But remember, God’s plan in sending his son Jesus to die for your sins and mine. Jesus asked for the cup to be taken from Him but Jesus did not flee the Presence of the Father. He prayed not His will but the Father’s. Let Jesus be our example in all things, especially those things we really do not want to do.
In this psalm we find a psalmist that is preaching to himself.
“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!…. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God”
We find a psalmist that is resolving to fix his gaze upon God.
“I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”
And he is giving fuel to his sermon and resolve by actively remembering all that God has done.
“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless”
If we look closely we will see that this practice of preaching to self is one that reoccurs throughout the psalter, and it is my prayer that it is a practice that would reoccur in our lives as well. So today, on this Memorial Day, as we reflect on all the brave men and women who have fought to afford us the freedom that we so greatly appreciate, let us not neglect to also reflect on what Jesus has done. Let us fix our gaze upon Him, understanding that it is He alone that affords us our ultimate freedom. And let us rest in His sovereignty, continuing to place our final hope in HIm.
Have you ever finished a big project, or closed the final chapter of a thrilling book and asked: What’s next? Where shall I go from here? What deserves my attention? What’s my next step in life?
The church in Colossae was asking those very questions. They wanted to know what the next step of the Christian life was and how they ought to proceed. Some among them were tempted to lay out “new plans” and “growth charts” that incorporated everything from mysticism to asceticism. But Paul speaks a careful word into the midst of their search…
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” 2:6-7
In the same way you received Jesus for salvation, walk in him for new life. Be rooted in Jesus. Let the roots of your life dig down into the ever-nourishing soil of our Lord Jesus. Be built up in Jesus. Build your life on the foundation of Christ’s lordship, not the shifting sands of speculation and philosophy (2:8-15) or of personal effort (2:16-23).
What are the steps to rooted-ness? How do you build your life on Jesus? By continually looking to Him. The path to rooted-ness is trod with continual looks of faith on Jesus. As we turn our backs to sin and selfishness to embrace and behold Jesus, we are transformed in His image and our walk becomes His walk.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. – Ephesians 5:15-21
To understand what the will of the Lord is, is to yield to the law of the Spirit of life. We do not have a visible path to walk, only direction from the One who wants us in His kingdom. In v.16 Paul says” making the best use of the time, because the days are evil”. Paul is reminding the church in Ephesus to remain in the faith and be cautious of plans made apart from Gods will for us. We are to love one another the way Christ loves us. It is only through His guidance that we will find our way home.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. – Psalm 91:1-4 (ESV)
The Easter season should be a very poignant time for Christians in that it represents the culmination of the hope we stand in. For, without the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus, His birth would have much less significance. To be sure, while His life would have still been noble and righteous, it would have been absent of the ultimate saving quality that gives us our hope. Therefore, as we come out of this time of reflection on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, let us exit the season with hearts that respond to all that He has done. Let us enter these next days with hearts that find shelter in Jesus. Let us dwell in His shelter and abide in His shelter. For it is only in the shelter of Jesus that we find deliverance from the sinfulness of this world. Moreover, it is only in Jesus that we find ultimate redemption and reconciliation to our Heavenly Father. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty”
The Celebrated City
Psalm 87 is a glorious celebration of Zion, Jerusalem, “the city of God,” as the special object of God’s love and the royal city of His kingdom. It represents all that is holy and good in the plans and workings of God among His people. It looks ahead prophetically to the ingathering of the nations into Jerusalem as the reigning religious city of the world in the coming messianic kingdom. Israel will remain the chosen nation of God as the nations of the world will come to Zion to worship God.
To this present time, Jerusalem remains the apple of God’s eye, the city in which He has promised to uniquely show His glory. It was outside of Jerusalem, that Jesus died for our sins. It was outside of Jerusalem that Jesus rose from the dead, having victory over death and the grave. It was outside of Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, that Jesus went back to heaven. It was inside Jerusalem that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the first Christians. It was in Jerusalem that Jesus built the first church. It will be outside of Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, that Jesus will set foot again on earth to usher in the end-time events. It will be in Jerusalem that Jesus will rule for a thousand years. These events explain how special Jerusalem is to our holy God, so should it be the same with us who love God.
How gracious of God to lead us to begin reading in 1 Corinthians the very day before we will begin considering it as a congregation on Sunday mornings. For the next 8 weeks, Lord willing, we will be instructed, encouraged, and rebuked by this strong letter to a struggling church.
In the opening section today we read of both the status and pressing issue of the church. The status of the church was sanctified, righteous in God’s sight by trust in the Lord Jesus. The pressing issue of the church was division. Groups within the church were dividing into camps based on their preferred leader and preacher. Some followed, Paul, others Apollos, and still others preferred Cephas. This is just the leading issue among many to follow, but Paul’s treatment of their ailments is steady throughout. “Look to your status in Christ,” he encourages them, “because in Christ you are secured by God and united as brothers and sisters under one head, the Lord Jesus.”
Throughout this long letter Paul reminds this struggling church over and again to turn away from sin, laziness, and selfish desires and turn to Christ, the head of the church. Our hope is that over the next 8 weeks God will use his word to grow our church and draw us into health and vibrancy as we lift up the name and good news of Jesus.
Will you devote a few moments now, and again as you drive to church tomorrow morning, to ask God to send his word out with power in our midst. That he might transform, encourage, and build us up in the grace of our Lord Jesus as one body.