walk in the word
God Can Use You
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? Psalm 139:7
Fill in the blank: “Jonah and …”
I bet you said, “the whale.” If you did you wouldn’t be alone. But surprisingly, as you’ll learn on the broadcast this week, the book of Jonah is not about the fish. The fish is only mentioned four times. Ninevah, the city where God sent Jonah, is only mentioned nine times. The book is not even about Jonah—he’s only mentioned 18 times.
The book of Jonah is about God. Out of the 48 verses in the entire book, God is mentioned 38 times. In this tiny Old Testament book, God is put under a magnifying glass and in amazing detail we see how loving, merciful, patient, and pursuing He is. When God lays His hand on someone’s life, it’s there for good. They may run, they may struggle, they may rebel, but when they do, God is coming after them. He is absolutely relentless in His pursuit. If you think that when someone turns their back on Him He shrugs it off saying, “Well, there she goes. Bye.” That is so not God. Just look at Jonah. God could have easily given up on him. He could have said, “You know, you really haven’t been the best prophet anyway. Thanks for freeing up the payroll.” No—when Jonah ran, God was hot on his trail.
Let me speak to you very directly. God is going to be coming after you on some very specific stuff this week. You may think, we’ve got to talk about this again? And God says, Yes!
If there’s one thing we see from Jonah’s life it is that we can’t out run God. When we try, it’s rebellion. Rebellion is when we know what God wants us to do and we refuse to do it. Personally, it may mean you refuse to do what God clearly requires in your marriage, with your time, kids, finances, or lifestyle. Of course we never call it running from God, but so often that’s what it is.
I laugh when I read Jonah 1:3: “Jonah rose up to flee . . . from the presence of the Lord.” I wonder where that is? How crazy was his thinking?
How about you? Have you convinced yourself that you’re running from the presence of the Lord? Maybe there’s an addiction that has been eating away at your life. Maybe it’s a relationship that you’ve allowed yourself to be in and its unrighteous and you know it. Or maybe you’ve chosen a group of friends whose influence is totally contrary to God’s Word. Maybe there’s a lifestyle choice that you’re making and it’s not right and you feel convicted about it. The spiritual poverty that you’ve been experiencing is proof positive that your choices have been wrong. You probably have known that for a long time.
Or maybe it’s a positive action. Rebellion is not always doing the wrong thing, sometimes it’s avoiding the right thing. Maybe you’ve been resisting God’s call to draw closer to Him. Is 2003 another year when you’ve said, “This is the year that I’m going to take big steps in my spiritual life” and here it is May and you still haven’t made any progress?
I tell you, the longer you run from God the harder it is to get back. Every day of rebellion is another plank kicked out of the bridge back to God. And yet, turn your face to Him and you’ll find Him faithfully, relentlessly pursing you.
And you know, the same God who still the storms of life and says “peace, be still” (Mark 4:39) in the life of the submissive one creates a storm in the life of the rebellious one. God’s whole program is designed to draw people to Himself—whatever it takes.
Next week on the broadcast we’ll go into detail about how Jonah got right with God but here’s the thing, you don’t have to wait. You don’t have to get thrown off a boat or live in the belly of a fish for three days to wake up to this spiritual truth. You can kneel down on the deck right now and get your thing right with God—right now. Invite God to get really specific with what He wants to do in your life. Welcome Him to take hold of the largest area, the most important area in your life, that place that would cause your faith to flourish the most. Say, “Spirit of God, place your hand on that thing, bring it to my mind. What is it, Lord?” Then listen for His voice. And do what He says.
God loves you very much and He is coming after you.
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