Jonah

Tuesday Devotional: Jonah 3

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The Gospel is the worst news and it’s the best news.  The Gospel means that the life that you’ve known is now over.  That the pleasures you pursue for satisfaction are no longer permitted.  That your plans prepared to affirm your self-worth and value have now been changed.  The Gospel means that in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ you have now been buried alongside the Son of Man.  The Gospel means that the authority you’ve once held over your own life has now been passed on to someone else.  That the life that you’ve known is over.  This IS the Gospel and this IS the only Gospel.  The message of any other Gospel is no Gospel at all.

However, with this death of the self comes a new life, incomparable to the life you’ve known and more fulfilling than you could have ever imagined.  The Gospel declares to the world that God is God.  He is the authority that known best.  You no longer have to pretend that you have everything under control.  You don’t.  He does.  He is the judge that can truly judge, fairly upholding an unwavering standard of justice to all people of all nations.  You no longer have to be the sole defender of fairness, justice and equality, fighting an uphill battle that only ever gets steeper and higher.  He is the God who understands precisely who we are, yet has decided to pursue His love for us in spite of our sins.

The Gospel never declares to you what you want to hear.  It never declares to you what you think you can handle hearing.  It never declares that you are good and merely in need of subtle adjustments to your daily habits and routines in order to obtain righteousness, peace, joy and persistent strength.  The Gospel says give up.  Give up your fight to claim authority on your life as if you were God.  You can’t and won’t win.  The Gospel says that the world we live in is under the watchful eye and in the caring hands of a creator who will not leave the persecuted without a savior, nor the persecutor without a judge and jury.  The Gospel is truth and truth does not alter depending on the audience.  Truth is truth to the slave as much as it is to the master.  We are all under the standards of the living God and we will all be assessed and measured according to the standards of His image we find alive and active within each of our hearts.  We don’t need affirmation that we are good.  We need the truth that we need a savior from ourselves.  We don’t need affirmation that we are special and above the rest.  We need the truth that identifies us children of God in a family of others no different than us.  The Gospel is a convicting, uniting and empowering truth that has the means to transform our world.  But the Gospel must be seen as bad news if it can ever be perceived and believed as good.

 

Tuesday Devotional: Jonah 1

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The pride of man is continuously fed by man’s ability and man’s accomplishments. The more success we have through our own effort, the more we believe “I can” and the less we are willing to hear “You can’t.” This foundation of pride grows in strength alongside us and, although unreasonable or perhaps ridiculous to those around us, in our mind and heart we begin to possess more faith in ourselves than anything else in the entire world. The only way to break this foundation is for us to repeatedly collide head-on with defeat or limitation. For some, the foundation of pride is cracked after only one violent collision. However, for others, this crack only appears after years of repeated collisions. While these collisions are painful, once this foundation is cracked the desire to build a stronger one ultimately emerges. In this moment, God is revealed not as a force bent on destruction but one built on construction.

The purpose of these collisions is not for God to establish himself as simply superior to us. The purpose of these collisions is for us to realize that our ways are futile against the ways of a creator God. The will of God is immovable and unshakable, and when confronted with this power we can finally come into a place where we begin to believe. Without the collisions, we find no need or no place for a power stronger than our own. Without the collisions we still have faith in our ways, and hope that our desires will lead us to the satisfaction we so deeply desire. Following these collisions, we are not left with the impression that we merely crashed and were subsequently injured, at a loss. Following these Godly collisions, we can see clearly that it was our feet on the gas and our refusal to deviate from the course we committed to which caused the collision, and that God and only God is willing to assist in our recovery. From these moments we can finally understand the concept of “Fearing God.” It is not simply his ability to prevent or circumvent us that instills an the fear of God. Rather, the fear of God inspires awe for a God who can and does forgive the destructive pride of the human heart to defy him.  It inspires the most heartfelt change, to be loved by him and to truly love the one that saves us from our own collisions. The fear of God is defined by awe, and the awe is built on the power of His love.