Jonah Bible Study | Week 6

In the sixth and final week of Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer we are hit with the possibility that things do not go as we had hoped or planned. As Priscilla noted, we plan things out and just ask God for His blessing on them. We feel that what we want to do for God should be good enough. One of the main reasons for this is personal comfort.

We do not like to do things that make us uncomfortable, so we seek out comfortable things;e, even though they may not be what God has called us to do. No matter what happens, God is still on the throne. He always has been, and always will be.

Priscilla Shirer writes about making “unspoken deals” with God. For example, IF GOD… (does something), THEN I will (do this). This was an interesting “pause” in the workbook. I have not bargained with God. Making a deal with God demonstrates self-will. This is worldview negotiation…not a Biblical relationship.

Jonah loved God “but still seemed to love his way a bit more.” I believe Jonah is delivering a message through the lens of his own cultural and historical background. So there is a portion of the message which is from the human heart and experience. A prophecy is different than a message. because a prophecy is a direct revelation from Heaven, It must be carefully tended and accurately delivered.

When fasting my obedience is delayed. I seem to do fine with a ritual fast- such as 40 days or Lent. I struggle when it comes to food fasting because I confuse this with dieting. He is still working on me in this area. My emotions tell me “entitled to eat this” and God says “You need to fast from that.”

Priscilla Shirer reminds us about the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge of Scripture. Head knowledge says “I got the degree in Biblical study and put that on my wall of success.” Heart knowledge says “I will never understand all the mysteries of Revelation. I will never understand why God does some things on earth. But I do understand…He is the love of my life and the hope of my future. He is not a degree on paper.” He is a Living God. Not a textbook god.

If you do not feel transformed yet…hang in there! Faith is a journey, not a destination!!! We all walked one step at a time…

“Divine interruptions have had a way of making me more aware of my inconsistent heart,” Priscilla Shirer.

The recent 2020 interruptions have exposed my attitude toward the church. I saw I was attending to make friends, enjoy music, visit family, and be educated with a good sermon. Having this denied by the pandemic lockdowns, I now realize I should be going to WORSHIP the Lord. That is the meaning of church and I lost sight of this. His church, His sermon, His music. I misplaced the focus of my heart. Now I crave the opportunity to worship God again in His church!

When I do not feel the Holy Spirit in the church, it’s probably me attending for the wrong reason. When I show up and WORSHIP the Spirit of God is there. Magnificently there!!! Music can be off-key, the pastor can be off-topic, and friends can be having a cranky day. Yet the SPIRIT is there when we WORSHIP.

Christine Abraham writes for the Bible Cafe™ community. Learn about living by the Fruit of the Spirit as you enjoy her online Bible studies. Join Christine at the Bible Cafe™ University for weekly Bible teaching.

Jonah Bible Study | Week 5

Week five of Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer is certainly one that makes us think. It should make us prayerfully take a look at our own lives to see if we are obeying God, even in the seemingly small things. As I watched the video and worked through the material, I felt God pressing on me the urgency of this message.

God does not look for perfect people that can handle things on their own. If that was the case, we would all be in big trouble. God looks for people who are willing to be obedient in both the large and small things.

Priscilla Shirer writes God places priority on “reaching the lost with the opportunity to receive His compassion.” God makes us- His children- eyewitnesses. Look at the 66 Books of the Bible and eyewitness accounts of history. Now look at today. You are His child, His eyewitness, His legacy of faith story for this generation. Live that out!

The religious stronghold says “They are hypocrites.” The Spirit of God says, “Be visible even when you are flawed.” If the world is looking for unflawed Christians, they are not going to see the visible God until the Second Coming of Christ. So help them see God now, this generation, through our weakness and eyewitness stories. Be His Witness.

Think about an activity you have planned for today. How can you turn your normal daily activities into an opportunity to make disciples?  I am making disciples at home, with two college daughters living here while remote learning. They have both been tempted by worldviews. Both have unsteady feet. God is giving me the opportunity for them to HEAR. As I pray over them, as I attend online church, as I minister to others in my work. They HEAR even when they are not on solid ground with Christ. May Christ in me …be louder than their social networks

This week we examined the “thorn in your side” as it relates to Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7). How does the thorn in your side keep you humble?  The thorn in my side helps me see my faults from Heaven’s view. With the torn, I can see how the roots of my heart need tending by Jesus. With the thorn, I can see where I am weak and Jesus is strong.

Every day of my life. I am most thankful God is in the ER waiting room, the Principal’s office, and the holiday meals where the drunk guest shows up. In my wildest dreams, God will heal cancer, mental illness, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and afflictions. God is there, always!

As we see in Jonah, prophecy is sometimes filled with short messages. The value for Jonah in delivering his short message- he hoped they would NOT repent and be saved. How tragic! God has a bigger plan as we see soon. The value in modern prophets with a short message- it has not been diluted or polluted by the heart of the prophet and comes directly from God.

Christine Abraham writes for the Bible Cafe™ community. Learn about living by the Fruit of the Spirit as you enjoy her online Bible studies. Join Christine at the Bible Cafe™ University for weekly Bible teaching.

 

Jonah Bible Study | Week 4

Week four in Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer, closely follows on the heels of last week’s study. While God loves us no matter what, His desire for us is obedience. Sometimes that means doing something we do not want to do, other times it means waiting for His timing. Neither is easy, and we often seek to take matters into our own hands, much like Jonah did. We often end up with the same result.

While we may not be swallowed by a fish, we end up in situations that are not good for us, and God rescues us. He still wants us to be obedient and do what He has called us to do. Before we can do that though, our hearts must be transformed and we must be willing to obey. Once we are, God will send us out on the path He has called us to. We will not be going alone but with the Holy Spirit.

Nothing we face is too great or difficult because He is empowering us. We should never do things on our own, but through the power of the Holy Spirit so God alone gets the glory. I do not want people to look at what I have done. I want them to stand back from something and say, “Wow! Look what God has done! ”

God gave the Spirit to the disciples as an internal compass to help them find their way. -Priscilla Shirer

QScripture is filled with second-chance stories such as Aaron, Peter, Sarah, and Joseph’s Brothers. As modern believers, we presume all leaders, priests, ministers, rabbis, and such are pure and blameless. Then God reveals pride, rebellion, and sin/ God reminds us they are humans who struggle and need HIS Grace and leadership. Jonah was grateful for his second chance.

Do you normally have trouble waiting on God? Because my history with God is often SWIFT response and answers, when He delays I find myself in a fog. I have not known Him to ignore, so the concept of being patient is somewhat rooted in “being ignored by God?” It’s probably my framework on how I see Him working.

When it seems God is taking His time, perhaps YOU are not His intended “second chance” and He is working on someone around you. Pray on it.

From 2 Kings 5:10-11, Elisha the prophet instructed Naaman to dip seven times into the Jordan. How would you have responded if a prophet told you to do something similar as a cure for affliction? The prophet told him to humble himself. First I would discern if the prophet was of God or a false prophet. When under the Spirit of God, I would obey without hesitation. If I sensed the spirit was an imitation, I would certainly hold back. Be wise and discerning. Many many fake prophets exist today.

This is also why the people of Nineveh responded to Jonah, they knew he was a prophet of God. False prophets may have wisdom but their wisdom is NOT from God. This is why the Bible warns us to stay away from astrology, mediums, and tarot cards.

Be confident in Christ. Bring HIM everywhere you go, in all you say, in all you do. With Christ in YOU… the Bible says YOU can do all things. Remember your identity.

We do not cry out in dark places IF we are not called there. Because God has servants on assignment in those places- fasting and praying. We GO where we are sent… OUR assigned places.

Don’t go to a rally just because your kids, neighbors, or coworkers will think you are “cool” … let GOD direct your steps.

Don’t put on a graphic tee to be cool and accepted and like the world…put on the graphic tee that says “Christ in Me” and WEAR that to your rally!

Christine Abraham writes for the Bible Cafe™ community. Learn about living by the Fruit of the Spirit as you enjoy her online Bible studies. Join Christine at the Bible Cafe™ University for weekly Bible teaching.

 

 

Jonah Bible Study | Week 3

In our third week of Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer, we look at what happens when one disobeys God and allows her life to get off track. Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh. Even worse, he did not want the Ninevites to experience God’s redeeming love and grace. He judged them and declared them guilty with no means of restitution. God saw them in a different light and knew they would repent and radically change their lives to serve Him.

Jonah wanted no part of it, so he ran away not giving a thought to God’s plan or what he may encounter. I doubt Jonah would have counted on being tossed overboard on a ship during a storm and being swallowed by a fish. That is what is so amazing about God. Often, when He moves, it is in such a way that one cannot doubt that it is Him.

When we fail to follow God’s plan, things can become a mess. We screw up and hit rock bottom thinking that there is no way that God can use us now. It is in those times that God sometimes uses us the most. Our mess becomes His miracle.

Are you currently walking down a path that you chose to get away from God’s call? Have you recently experienced a Divine Interruption? If you have, it is not too late. Cry out to God in prayer. Ask Him to help you turn from your ways and align yourself with His. No matter how far in the depths you feel, God can and will redeem you. There may be discipline, but it is for your good and His glory. Walk with Him. It is the sweetest walk you can take.

True repentance requires a change in direction. -Priscilla Shirer

Christine Abraham writes for the Bible Cafe™ community. Learn about living by the Fruit of the Spirit as you enjoy her online Bible studies. Join Christine at the Bible Cafe™ University for weekly Bible teaching.

 

Jonah Bible Study | Week 2

We’re on the second week of Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer. We learned this week that when God gave a command to Jonah, the prophet covered his ears and ran! He did not want to receive further instruction from the Lord, so he skipped town and turned away from prayer. Jonah was not willing to obey the Lord.

During the week we had an opportunity to examine our own lives and chances to obey or disobey when called by God. We examined our lives for personal allegiance and purpose. We easily fall into a downward spiral of disobedience as we run from God like Jonah did and become “sleepers.”

Jonah was on a run from God not only with his feet but with his heart as well. -Priscilla Shirer

Priscilla Shirer reminds us there is “no neutral ground.” Neutral ground theology was the exact concept Satan used with Adam and Eve! Neutral ground = Did God really say that?

When the worldview is stronger than our Biblical foundations, we listen and sometimes accept that neutral ground. What happens then? Being outside the will of God impacts our prayer life. We distance our hearts from Him.

“When God’s prophet is out of fellowship with his God, it causes problems not only for himself but also for those around him.” (KJV Commentary)

Think about a time when you rebelled against God. Did you run away mentally, emotionally, or spiritually? I rebelled in college, and ran away emotionally as I feared man more than God. I knew God would continue to love and forgive me. Like Jonah, I tried to hide in the wrong relationships, and like the prodigal, I hid inside pride.

Jonah wanted distance from the presence of the LORD.  In my prodigal season, I avoided Christians. Anyone who looked like Christ lived like Christ, and talked like Christ was NOT allowed near me. A very typical college experience here in California. “Don’t see me” was written on my heart back then. Then hardship and crisis brought me closer to God.

Priscilla Shirer writes, “We find the people who are most subject to bad consequences and join them in their negative results.” We will always find someone who MIRRORS our rebellion. They are easy to locate. The harder step is walking away from that…and living like Jesus.

In college, I thought I was putting distance between myself and God. Not really. He was always present, I was not seeking or seeing Him because I made the decision NOT to look.

Going down is a metaphor for Jonah… he goes down to Joppa, down to the port, down below the deck of the ship, and lying down he falls into a deep sleep. Then he goes down into the water.

Temptation comes from our desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. (James 1:14-15 NLT)

God in his mercy calls us back from self-centered flight.

Christine Abraham writes for the Bible Cafe™ community. Learn about living by the Fruit of the Spirit as you enjoy her online Bible studies. Join Christine at the Bible Cafe™ University for weekly Bible teaching.