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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Are You Jonah?


Romans 12:1-2
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”


Each night before bed, Riley Grace takes us through an extremely long bedtime routine. It seems that every week, we are adding something new to the routine!

Here’s the rundown after bath time:
-       Choose 3 books for story time
-       Read 3 books in Mama and Daddy’s bed
-       Cuddle with Mama and Daddy (She makes us both lie down. She sits in the middle of us and rubs our backs at the same time because that’s what her teachers do at school for nap time!)
-       Potty one last time
-       Take nighttime meds
-       Tell Daddy “goodnight” again
-       Turn on lamp and sound machine
-       Put on chap stick
-       Read “Bible book” (one of four children’s Bibles!)
-       Put on socks
-       Turn off lamp
-       Turn on fan and Olaf nightlight
-       Sing 2 songs and say prayers
-       Turn off Olaf nightlight
-       Get in bed and say another prayer while Mama rubs her back and head
-       Say, “I love you forever, I like you for always, As long as I’m living, My baby (or Mama) you’ll be!”
-       Kiss and hug one more time
-       Close the door “just a tiny crack”

This routine takes 30 minutes!! She loves her routine and is quick to mention if we miss a step. And just like she likes her routine, she also gets into a rut of choosing the same Bible story over and over again. We will be stuck on the same story for weeks at a time. Her favorite stories used to be Abraham and Sarah and the First Christmas. Her current favorite story is Jonah. I’ve recently begun to understand why this story has become her favorite.

While we were reading the story of Jonah one night she concluded that, “At first, Jonah was not listening to God, but then he started listening!” She was so proud of her conclusion. Usually when we read Bible stories, she will state that the character in the story was either listening to God or not listening to God, but Jonah did both! He didn’t listen at first, but then (after being in a fish’s digestive system for three days!) he started listening (even though it was reluctantly). The next day while Riley Grace was being corrected for something, she said, “I’m like Jonah! I didn’t listen at first, but now I’m listening!” Oh dear. She was so proud to be like Jonah. She likes the story of Jonah because she relates to Jonah’s disobedience! What a connection to make for a three-year-old!

As I thought about her connection to Jonah, I pondered my own connection to him. We are all like Jonah. The Lord calls us and commands us to do things that we don’t want to do or not do things that we do want to do, and so we run.

Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.

Serve others even if you are tired.

Give your time, money, energy, resources, and ultimately your heart to the Lord.

Go to the ends of the earth for the Gospel (or just go across the street!).

Show kindness to your spouse even if you feel like they don’t deserve it.

Give grace to your kids even when they’ve tried your patience.

Share Jesus with the stranger beside you even though you are introverted and don’t know how to begin the conversation.

Ask the cashier how you can pray for her even though she may reject your compassion.

Hold your tongue in the midst of a disagreement.

Run away from gossip.

Choose to have a positive godly outlook in the midst of a troubling circumstance.

Study the Word even though you're exhausted. 

Etc.

There are many things that God calls us to do or commands us not to do. And many times, we simply choose something else rather than following Him. Just like Jonah, we run away from obedience many times. Obedience is too hard. It’s too costly. Sin looks more enticing. We are tired. We are busy. We are weary and frustrated. The person God is calling you to love just doesn’t deserve grace or mercy or love or kindness. We can list a myriad of excuses, and just like Jonah, we run. We choose disobedience. Jonah boldly chose disobedience as he physically ran in the other direction. We do the same thing, too.

But as Riley Grace pointed out, Jonah had another chance to obey, and he took it! He endured some pretty strong discipline from the Lord in the midst of his disobedience. In the end, he obeyed even though it was hard, and he still didn’t want to do it. (Jonah’s heart wasn’t rightand that’s another topic for another day) Many times, we may fail and feel like failures and think that it’s too late to get back on the right track, but it’s not! Our God is a God of second and third and fiftieth chances. He is full of mercy, grace, and love. Yes, He is a God of justice, holiness, and discipline, but His discipline is loving and good.

So can we all relate to Jonah? Yes!

Can we choose obedience NOW even though we have chosen disobedience BEFORE? Yes!

Is choosing obedience EASY? Not usually.

Is choosing obedience WORTH the cost? Absolutely!

APPLICATION
-       READ: Reread Romans 12:1-2, focusing on the fact that the only way we can successfully live obedient lives is by the MERCY OF GOD! Also, read James 1:19-27 about living out obedience practically being doers and not just hearers of the Word.
-       STUDY: How do these scriptures convict you about disobedience? How do they encourage you to follow the Lord? How can you “DO” the Word and live it out practically?
-       EVALUATE: What are some areas of your life that you struggle to be obedient to the Lord? Being faithful to pray instead of complain about a situation? Trusting God with your family, finances, future, etc.? Being obedient to verbally share Jesus with others? Take an honest evaluation of where you have run from God’s direction instead of following Him obediently in faith. Don’t dwell on these failures; rather, pray that the Lord will enable you to be obedient!
-       PRAY: Praise the Lord for His mercy, love, grace, justice, discipline, and presence in your life. Praise Him that He cares too much about you to let you continue on in sin. Ask Him for strength, conviction, and discipline to obey Him in the hard things.

I pray that you will be a doer of the Word. I pray that the Lord will gently, but firmly convict and challenge you to be obedient. I pray that He will give you the strength, passion, and discipline to be obedient even when it’s hard, and it will be hard. I pray that you will have the resolve to choose Christ over every worldly “pleasure,” even when those around you are choosing to follow the world. I pray that even if obedience is hard, that you won’t run away like Jonah, but rather you will run to the Lord for strength as you seek to obey Him!

Always, Jacquelyn 

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