I have been reading Jonah. One could talk about the Whale, or the lesson God taught Jonah. Something else struck me while reading. The sailors on the boat have gave me a revelation on a new testament verse. The verse is Romans 8:28. This verse is usually a verse we quote to bring us some comfort in a storm. However the verse is much more than a comforting verse, it is theological truth. That theological truth is what makes the verse comforting.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-28145A" data-link="(A)" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top; background-color: white;"> of those who love him, who<span class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NIV-28145a" data-link="[a]" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top; background-color: white;"> have been called<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-28145B" data-link="(B)" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top; background-color: white;"> according to his purpose.- Romans 8:28 NIV"
This verse comes alive in Jonah's trip on the boat. Jonah is running from calling that God has given him. A storm hits the boat. The sailors come to find Jonah sleeping on the boat. They wake him and tell him to pray to his god. The others on the boat don't worship the Lord. They began to take lots to see who on the boat is the cause for the storm.
"Then the sailors said to each other, 'Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.' They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-22539M" data-link="(M)" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;">So they asked him, 'Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?'He answered, 'I am a Hebrew and I worship theLord,<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-22541N" data-link="(N)" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top; background-color: white;">the God of heaven,<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-22541O" data-link="(O)" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top; background-color: white;">who made the sea<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-22541P" data-link="(P)" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top; background-color: white;">and the dry land.'" Jonah 1:7-9 NIV
It is at this moment Jonah commands to be thrown overboard so the storm will relent. The sailors begin to try make back to land, but they can not make it cause the storm becomes stronger. I believe at this moment they start becoming conscious of their sin. However they have to toss Jonah. It is a moment of time that has to happen to fulfill God's will. At this point they began to pray to the Lord.
"Then they cried out to the Lord, 'Please,Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man,<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-22546T" data-link="(T)" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top; background-color: white;"> for you, Lord, have done as you pleased'" Jonah 1:14 NIV
This is only the beginning of their repentance. It is in this moment that the Father becomes real to them. They ask for forgiveness for what they are about do to Jonah. They toss Jonah overboard. It is at this point they put their other gods aside and turn to the one true living God.
"At this the men greatly feared<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-22548W" data-link="(W)" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top; background-color: white;"> the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-22548X" data-link="(X)" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top; background-color: white;"> to him." Jonah 1:16
Out of the storm, these Sailors find God. Quite of a few of God's lessons and grace are found in storms of the bible. Here is a situation where Jonah disobeys his calling. However God takes this act of disobedience and turns into a blessing. God worked an event into something good for his purpose and for those sailors' good. At this moment Romans 8:28 becomes real hundreds of years before Paul put pen to paper.
I have been in the book of John a lot since the new year has started. I have honesty starting to realize how truly unique this gospel is compare to the other. For me it is a great insight to another side of Jesus. It has helped me lot to see this side of him.
My blog this weekend is about John 10. Jesus reveals two important things for us to consider in his words. Jesus is the gatekeeper and our shepherd. A common theme that's evident in John is that Jesus is the way of Salvation. Jesus states I am the gate. He is the gate of salvation. He is the gate of peace. He is the gate of joy. He is the gate of eternal security.
However, Jesus states something else here. Jesus says he is the good shepherd. I am going to start going beyond the book of John here. In Luke 15 Jesus tells three parables. The very first one is a story of 100 sheep. 99 of them are with the shepherd but 1 has went astray. The shepherd stops and goes after that one lost sheep. He finds it and picks the lost sheep up to carry it home.
That's the love of a caring leader. That's the love of a caring friend that is never going give up on us. He wants to care for us, he wants to lead us. We spent so much time searching for love. We spent so much time searching for someone to care. The answer has been sitting under our noses the entire time. A lot of time we don't accept those kind of answers. Sometimes it is truth we don't want to accept. Sometimes it is not in the form that we think we want or need. Sometimes we think we know best for ourselves. We are really being our own shepherd. We are trying to be our own leader. We can't lead ourselves. We can lead others but we can't lead ourselves. Even leaders need a leader. Even leaders need people who give advice.
Moses's father in law Jethro understood this. Moses was a leader. However Moses's father in law knew that Moses needed help. He advise Moses to pick men of integrity to help to lead and deal with every day affairs of the camp. Moses wisely took this advice. However Jethro told him to choose men that also fear God. Why? God is the leader of leaders. (Exodus 18)
This brings me to my next point. Jesus says in John 10 that his sheep will know his name. Jesus will lead us. Jesus knows our needs, our wants, and the best means of handling them. Jesus also has work for us to do. He is the leader. He wants others to partake in the gift of salvation. See our work can never be something we can boast about. That why salvation is a free gift. However our work in the kingdom can help others experience that free gift. We can help other people find the gate of salvation. However we can only do this if we follow his leadership. We can only do this if we know his voice. I need to learn to hear his voice. Every Christian must work on hearing his voice. He has people he wants us to reach out to and show that he loves them. He can only do that though us and the Holy Spirit. We must follow our shepherd.
My personal belief is God uses trials as way of strengthen us and drawing us closer to him. Apostle Paul story is prime example of it. Paul went though many trials in his life and he took pride in his suffering. He had this great understanding about them. The more I read from him the more I am just amazed. Some verses to explain what I mean.
Romans 5:1-5 (NKJV) "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have[a] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
Here Paul saying that God uses trials to strength us and mold us for what he want us to be. He has a purpose for us, and he prepares us though the spirit to go where he want us to go. There are times he is going call us into a ocean like Jesus called Peter. We may not want to go, however if we go God is going bring us something. Sometimes it is a blessing, sometimes a deepen of faith, sometimes it is to give a deeper understanding. Storms mold us though grace into his perfection.
Paul has this real beautiful moment, where he states everything he lost is in gain of Christ. Paul was man who brought Jesus to Gentiles when God called him to do so. There was nights he spent in jail for his belief and in his end he had his head cut off. However though suffering the gentiles heard the message of Christ. Though his blood,sweat, and tears thousands of people have come to Christ. People are still coming to Christ of his work. Paul's life for Christ has made one of the biggest impacts on history.
Paul also says something where he question God him self. Paul had something he was struggling with that he called his thorn in his side. Gods words to him were this: "The Thorn in the Flesh 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinithians 7-10 (NKJV)
God uses storms to teach us things and strengthen us. The Old Testament is full of them, and the new Testament explains and full of them as well. He works though these things teach us and draw close to him. Sometimes he has goes though something, to help someone down the road who goes though the same thing. Sometimes he has go though things to become leaders. Sometimes he uses them have us grow closer and surrender to him. I hope this explain some of this to you guys. If you guys want more, I can go more in depth guys. I will leave you with this. James 1:5 (NKJV) "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."
God is more then willing to help us if we surrender our issues to him.
I think it is very important to step back and remind ourselves of a simply true. Jesus came to save and not condemn. Yes we will be judge by God's law. The only way we get into heaven, is though Jesus Christ's grace and salvation. It is only when we deny ourselves, bear our cross daily and come after Jesus is when we find true peace. It isn't always going be easy but is always will be rewarding. We may not see his plan, but we should trust him. There is one more important truth is remember. Jesus came to save us all, not who we think should be. We aren't better then anyone. We should see others as potential children of God. God see us as what he has planned us, not what we are now. See Gideon's Story in Judges if you don't believe me. So lets stop spreading the hate. Lets stop mistaking to word of God for hate. God word is truth. If he says it is wrong, then its wrong. He says we should do this, that what we should do. He tells us not to judge in Matthew 7:1. So even if you dislike someone, still share the word of God with him, and give the guy a smile. We are here to serve him, and to love others. Does this mean we should waver on what we believe and be quiet on issues that we need stand by? No, we should stand by the word of God. If people didn't stand on the word of God in the past we would not be here. To deny yourself and to bear your cross is make stand for him and God's word. We may lose a friend, we may lose a spouse, or even a job for putting Jesus first. However, we are to put Jesus first and to die daily to leave behind our own selfish desires. "Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."- Luke 9:23 NKJV
Sometimes they are times in life where we ask why has something happen.. It hard to understand God's will. However Job stood strong in his faith when he had the whole book threw at him as Satan tempted him to deny God. He lost his kids, his livestock, and went though severe health problems. Job never lost faith and he was blessed beyond his belief. Paul was in prison but he never lost his faith. His used to opportunity for the glory of God. He even said that all he lost was in gain for Christ. I never understood this lesson till my tools were stolen. I understand getting your tools stolen from you is not the same thing as the things they went though, but it did help me understand their perspective on things. The experience actually help me grow closer to God. I was telling people there was blessing in it, they were like well let me know what it is. The blessing was a deeper relationship with God. At that moment I have lost two years worth of building those tools for my job. I lost my main livelihood there. I was mad for a long time, I even said some thing I should have not said. However, I counted as gain for Christ. It help me grow closer to him. I understood Paul's words. I have let go of that anger, and if I ever came across the guy I would like to think I would thank him. He would never understand but he might get blessing out of it. I am not living for me anymore, I am living for Christ. So dont get discourage, ask God to help you though your trial and learn what your blessing is in this storm. So lets stand strong in faith, and live second.