Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday, May 11, 2015 Jonah 1-4; Matthew 5:27-48 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Jonah 1-4; Matthew 5:27-48

Scripture: Matthew 5:43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[c] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Observation: Do the hard stuff because it will be what no one else would do.

Application: The story of Jonah can apply to this passage. God commands us to love our enemies. Love the people we can't stand. Love the sinners...and we are all sinners...and pray for those who intend to hurt us. Hmmmm....that doesn't sound like something that is easy to do. And. It. Isn't.

When Jonah was called to Nineveh, he was called to the city of sinners. Nineveh was evil to its core. Jonah literally wanted nothing to do with this city. He bought a ticket in the opposite direction to get away from loving his enemy. Of course, Jonah learned the hard way that we can never out run God and ended up getting a crash course in God's "time out chair" to reflect, repent, and receive God's mercy and forgiveness.

Unfortunately, Jonah still doesn't fully comprehend God's message when Jonah's message is not only heard but received by the people of Nineveh. When they reflect, repent, and receive God's mercy and forgiveness Jonah is furious. They become even more detestable in Jonah's eyes and Jonah wishes he could die instead of living with the knowledge that they have been saved despite living their evil ways in the past. Jonah can't even see that the Ninavites are just like him....sinners who have been redeemed.

It's easy to love the people you like. It's downright difficult to love the people you don't and people don't usually do it. However, when they do, God can use their love to draw them closer to Him. When we love as Christ loves it stands out. It makes people wonder why. What am I doing to make people wonder why?

Prayer: Lord, you are the God of love. You have demonstrated perfect love to us. We  constantly fall short of your perfection. Thank you for your abundant love and mercy. Help us to model those same things when we are interacting with others. Give us ability to love like you do so that others may wonder why. Amen.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Kings 1-2; Matthew 6:1-18


Conrad said...

The book of Jonah is a great illustration of God's grace. He loves his people everywhere, and this book proves the importance of us, as believers, spreading the Word of God to the unbelievers.

Our reading in Matthew continues with this thought in loving our enemies. God showed compassion to the Ninevites, whom Jonah would have rather avoided, but we are called to love and show compassion to everyone, just as Jesus did.

TammyIsBlessed said...

If I'm being brutally honest, I confess that I can relate to Jonah's sinful and merciless/graceless attitude. Especially when it comes to really evil people (Hitler, etc). I know that if, at the end of his life, Hitler would've truly repented and turned to God, God would have forgiven him, and he would be in heaven, despite all the extremely wicked things he did on earth. And I admit to wanting people like him not to repent so that they can get what they have coming to them.

Except, I am "them". We are all them. Yes, we vary in degrees of wickedness, but we all fall short of God's standard of absolute perfection. And a little bit short, and extremely short - are both still short. I don't deserve God's forgiveness - that's what makes it mercy. And if I'm not willing to extend that same mercy to others, I need to re-evaluate some things, just like Jonah had to.