Philippians 4:4-7 MSG (italics mine) Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up at any minute!
Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
This is truth that I needed to hear today. Truth that I need to hear everyday. This passage, perhaps, is one of the main truths I personally need to be reminded of again and again. When things aren't going right, when my day is full of chaos, when a friend has hurt me, when someone I love is in a bad place, these words meet me right where I am. I am a worrier. I stress. I get super anxious. At the center of my worry, stress, and anxiety is a lack of trust in my good God. I am restless until I find rest in Christ alone. This passage gets at the heart of my greatest struggle.
When we left off with Jonah 3, God had changed his mind and rescued Nineveh. I'm pretty sure the Ninevites were overjoyed. But what about Jonah? How did Jonah react?
Jonah 4:1-4 This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry.So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord?
That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and
compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You
are eager to turn back from destroying people.Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.” The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”
Jonah, Jonah, Jonah. Really? This back and forth? His relationship with God is fickle, marked by a pattern of obedience/disobedience and then being grateful/ungrateful. God challenges his anger. He reminds him of the 120,000 of Nineveh who were living in spiritual darkness. He reminds him that he is a rescuer. Are we like Jonah, questioning our God who rescues those who we don't believe deserve it? When we are wronged, do we believe justice should be served? When we are wronged, do we seek revenge? When we are wronged, do we justify everything to make sure the perpetrator gets what's coming to them? Isn't that the place where Jonah goes? He wants the perpetrators to get what's coming to them. See the bitterness that holds Jonah captive? Gently, God helps him to set it free. Here is a powerful video of someone who did just that. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wz3tkHv5sbg All of the people we've been talking about - Jonah, the Ninevites, Renee, Eric - they are broken and sinful people. Their stories and attitudes change. And yet, only one person remains constant: God. He remains good and he remains our rescuer. This Christmas, I want to celebrate the ultimate rescue. The day that Jesus was born to die so that I might be rescued.
I think it's fair to say that we enjoy being around genuine people. No one likes someone who acts one way around one group of people and another way around another group of people. We tend to call these people fake. But as I think about my life and as we think about the culture around us - is our society shaping us into genuine people or fake people?
Relevant Magazine posted an article on their website called: "5 Things We Will Wish We'd Done Differently." It is suggesting when our generation is old and gray, we will look back regretfully at these 5 decisions.
1. "Most of my spare time was sacrificed to social media. Collectively, Americans spend 100,000 years on Facebook every month." WHAT?! How crazy is that??
2. "I knew more about celebrities than I did about my neighbors...The relationship with a celebrity is one way...you have no opportunity to affect their lives, only observe them." I am guilty of this one, big time.
3. "I was so set on buying things, I never got the pleasure of making them." I see their point, but I'm not sure if I will necessarily regret this one.
4. "I wasted my life entertaining myself...As long as we are preoccupied with self-entertaining, we have little time for reflection on the needs of other people." Ouch, this hits home.
5. "I never found time to be quiet." And yet we wonder why we don't feel connect to God?
Friends, I'm afraid our society is molding us into fake people. We have been reading through the book of Jonah. In chapter 2, Jonah prayed from the belly of the fish for God to save him. And guess what? Our gracious God came to his rescue. In chapter 3, Jonah finally goes to Nineveh and explains that because of their evil ways, they will be destroyed in 40 days. What is their response? They fast, wear burlap, and pray earnestly to God to be saved. Hear the words of the king and God's response...
"Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us. When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened."
God is our rescuer. God hears our prayers. God sees if our hearts are genuine or fake.
I don't want to let my culture turn me into a fake like the Ninevites had originally allowed. I want to be genuine - an authentic follower of Jesus Christ - not a follower of my culture. The only way this will happen is if I stop looking at what my culture says is normal and good for me and start looking at Jesus.