Today's Verse"Nineveh is a big city. I have heard about the many evil things the people are doing there. So go there and tell them to stop doing such evil things." — Jonah 1:2 ERV
DevotionObeying God can be difficult, especially when He calls us to an uncomfortable task! There are times when we hear God's direction and we question Him. We ask, "Why me? Why there? Why them?"
In our verse for today, God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh, "but Jonah tried to run away from the Lord" (Jonah 1:3). Like Jonah, we try to change plans or run away by switching jobs, churches, or moving to another state just because we do not agree with the assignment the Lord has placed in our hearts. This disobedience not only produces a sense of detachment from the Lord, but it can be a delayed answer to others' prayers. Our obedience could be the answer to someone's prayers, but we sometimes actively choose to disobey. This statement alone makes me weep over the times I have delayed my yes or said no to God. My lack of engagement to God's assignments may have been a delayed answer to the cries of others.
One of the many reasons we disobey the Lord is that we did not come up with the plan or the timeline ourselves. We can be so arrogant to believe we know best (I am raising my hands—yes, I have done that!)
The reason Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh was not because of fear, but because he knew the Lord's mercy so well (Jonah 4:2). Jonah knew that if the hearts of the Ninevites were softened and they repented, they would experience the mercy of the Lord instead of judgement! Because of his opinion of the Ninevites, he didn't want them to have the opportunity to be reconciled with God. What a harsh opinion for Jonah to have—I wonder how many times we have embraced this same mindset?
Today, let us ask ourselves the question: why do we disobey the Lord's promoting? Is it fear of failing, not measuring up, the accountability associated with the task, or our personal views? The fact of the matter is that God selected us and equipped us with exactly what we need for every assignment He has for us! As it says in 2 Timothy, "The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control" (2 Timothy 1:7).
Our calling in life is to share the Gospel. When we do not share the Good News, people continue to live sinful lives and do not experience transformation and joy through Christ. When we do not move forward in our assignment, local church leaders are burdened with more responsibilities and pastors don't have the support they need. When we refuse to share our gift of teaching, children and youth do not experience Gospel-centered programs. When we hide from the assignment, we are delaying the answer God is providing to those that have been praying.
So, what has the Lord placed in your heart? What are the needs that you see? Let us pray this morning that we can say the words of Samuel, "Speak. I am your servant, and I am listening" (1 Samuel 3:10). Pray to have the disposition to say, "Here I am. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8).
By Maritza Martinez-Pereira, Bible League International staff, Illinois, U.S.