Sunday, March 16, 2008

Running From God

Jonah 2:8 "Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

I came across these verses years ago and began to turn them into prayers:

Psalm 90:12
12 Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 39:4-5

4 "Show me, O LORD, my life's end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.

5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath.

God has really honored this prayer and He constantly reminds me that I need to live in the light of eternity with my heart set on pilgrimage to my heavenly Jerusalem (I am not saying I live that way every second...but I want to). I used to drive down a long road each day and pass a cemetery and it was a constant reminder to me that if the Lord tarries I to will die someday and I want my life to have mattered. It truly does comfort me to know that this life is not as good as it gets...Praise You Lord.
I have been reading Jonah a lot lately and the Lord has been posing a question to me through that profound book in His word. Simply: Am I running from Him?
If I could throw a few things out there I would say that keep us from fulfilling our purpose in Christ here would be my short list:
1. Refusal to deal with sin in the mirror and to repent of that sin.
2. Idols in our lives. The things we cling to that we think will bring us satisfaction...but it is only temporary.
3. Unbelief
4. A refusal to accept Gods forgiveness and go on with Him after we have truly repented. If we don't go on with Him we will live a life of misery buying into the lie that we have blown it past God's ability to pour out His grace and redeem our lives and still deem us useful (which is the same as unbelief).
5. Allowing the cares and burdens of this world to choke out the Word in our life.
6. More time focusing on this world system instead of holding Gods word in highest esteem. The lusts of the flesh and the deceitfulness of riches.
7. We lose purpose when we compare ourselves to others 2 Cor 10:12.
8. Immorality, living to please "self", jealousy and envy.
9. Legalism.
10. The biggest of all for me: Not setting my affections on God--Having a divided heart.

I love the book of Jonah because of the display of the Awesomeness of Almighty God. The word of the Lord comes to Jonah that he is to go and preach against Nineveh and he decides that he for one is not going to obey so what does he do:
3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
As if I want to shout as I read it...As if we can hide from the Lord (see Psalm 139:7-9)
In my opinion Jonah was a brat. He worshiped God but he was not about to go and preach to Nineveh and have God show them mercy. He kind of reminds me of the other brother in the story of the prodigal son. He may have had the attitude of No way Lord, I am not going to preach repentance to them when they have sinned so greatly and I have kept your way. That may have been his self-righteous attitude. He really didn't get that no matter the degree of sins that we are all sinners before a pure, perfect, and holy God.
This brings me to another point. Do we limit God's grace on other peoples lives? I was so burdened lately as I have read other Christians blogs about the recent governor who took a major fall. With their words they were throwing their own stones. I have done the same before, so I can't claim innocence...I have certainly been judgmental. I have also been forgiven of much so as I get a little older I realize more and more the grace on my own life and how I could be in their shoes apart from Christ. I am not without sin and I am not about to limit God's grace on their lives. When I first heard about the whole heart did not rejoice at this mans fall or thrive on some juicy gossip. My heart broke for his family, and for the state of his own heart, and even for the prostitute involved. Why? Because they are lost. When we look at everything with human eyes and not spiritual eyes of course we are going to pick up our stones to cast. The bible is very clear to that pride comes before the fall (1 Corinthians 10:12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!). We are all capable of any manner of sin apart from Christ. And as Christians we all fall in many ways. I am not agreeing with this mans sin but I am very scared to set myself up as Judge when God is the Judge and I pray that He has mercy on that whole family.
When I think about even the prostitute involved my mind can't help but think about what kind of life she had (and the many more like them)? What made her turn to prostitution? How many pieces of her heart had she given away so cheaply? Hear me again....I do not agree with the wrong doing but my heart is grieved for all of them that they do not know the Lord Jesus.
So when God calls us to go to others with love and grace and share the gospel of Christ and that even the vilest of sinners can turn from their sin and turn to God...will we go or will we decide that they can't be forgiven? Regardless of our own judgments God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy (Romans 9:15-17). I would like to suggest that you and I would humble ourselves quickly when we begin to spout out judgment on others. We are waving a red flag to the enemy with our pride when we think others are beneath us and setting our own self up for a pitfall when we think that we can't fall. It is only by the cross that you and I stand and are cleansed by grace alone. We deserve wrath and yet because of the blood we are washed and cleansed with His mercy. God will right every wrong and He may even use a human court to show justice on earth but we are just wise to trust Him to be God and pray for mercy on others. His kindness leads to repentance. It is not His will that anyone should perish yet we in our flesh at times don't want others to be forgiven. You can disagree with me but I think it to be true just like Jonah not wanting to go and preach to Nineveh.
Jesus offered forgiveness to the prostitute, the adulterer, the tax collector, the Pharisee, the prodigal. His heart will always be that people would turn from their sins and turn to God. Yet many won't turn to Him and they will face consequences in His hands of being eternally separated from God and that should make us sick as believers in Christ that we would not care about others souls. That should be a huge wake up call to us that our hearts are growing cold and that we don't even have a clue of the grace on our own life and the debt that was paid for us.

part two to come and I didn't even make it off the first couple of verses oops!


Profbaugh said...

You know it's interesting to see how the Holy Spirit works. A couple of months ago my spiritual life coach opened one of sessions by asking me, "what are you running from?" Yikes, what a question! While I've worked on really identifying and answering that question in my own life, your post just "appears" with exactly the right words/scripture to pray. So thank you Ms. Jennyhope for the good word.


Hillary said...

Oh yes...a great post that hit a nerve! It's almost like I've been dumbfounded lately to realize how selfish and self-seeking I am! It simply is NOT about me!

Faith said...

What a great post! I have been working with someone recently who is a "champion runner" ... and she has helped me recognize the many subtle ways in my own life that I run from God.
I also love your challenge to live with an eternal perspective--that's something God has put on my heart a lot in the past few years!

Rachel said...

Great verses to read as I sit at the Heart Hospital with my Dad who is fighting the depression he feels with the process of healing from a massive heart attack. He's only 66 and here he is thinking about how God know the days He has for him. Thanks for sharing scripture on your blog. It's always refreshing!

Jenny said...

Great post! I love reading where I learn something and I am challenged to grow too!

Have a great night,

StaceyStace said...

I really like this post. It is full of truths which touch my heart deeply.

NYC said...

Great post! My Tuesday night bible study group will be studying the Book Of Jonah. I can't wait!