Today’s Reading: Jonah 1:1–4:11, Acts 13:1–12, Job 22:1–13
Today’s Theme: God in Operation
Our God is not still, He is not distant or indifferent, He is active and we see Him today in operation in the account of Jonah and the people of Nineveh and in Paul’s dealings with Elymaus.
We can have faith in our sovereign God, the one who is in operation in our lives today. We look at various aspects of God’s attributes, character and presence and consider our response.
God is everywhere
But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD. (Jonah 1:3, ESV)
In reality it is not possible to flee from God’s presence because He is omni (all) present, He is everywhere.
God created everything
And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:9, ESV)
One thing that sets God apart from everyone is that He created everything, Lord You are amazing.
Respond to God’s presence
Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. (Jonah 1:10, ESV)
When we try to run away from God’s presence and purpose we put those around us in great danger. We must fulfil the mission God has assigned to us. We should respond to God’s presence, not run away from it.
God, Sovereign Lord
Therefore they called out to the LORD, “O LORD, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.” (Jonah 1:14, ESV)
These sailors who before worshipped false gods now prayed to the God of heaven. They could clearly see that He was the true God by all that was happening around them.
They also recognised that God has the power, authority and ability to be totally sovereign and perform all His holy will.
Our God saves
Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows. (Jonah 1:16, ESV)
God can even take the rebellious life of one of His people to draw men to Him, these men became believers.
God is in control
And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17, ESV)
Again showing God’s control over the whole thing.
Hope in God’s Faithful Love
Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. (Jonah 2:8, ESV)
This is a powerful truth that speaks for itself. Lord keep me from focusing on vain idols that cannot benefit me. Instead help me to keep my eyes on you in hope of your steadfast love.
Salvation, God’s gift
But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!” (Jonah 2:9, ESV)
Salvation is God’s gift to give, not ours to take. We give God thanks for His grace towards us.
Fruits of repentance
And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. (Jonah 3:5, ESV)
This was real belief in the message, we can tell by their actions. True faith is always accompanied by repentance.
but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” (Jonah 3:8–9, ESV)
This was true national repentance, it is possible for an entire nation to repent, we should pray for our nations with this in mind.
Prayer, the game changer
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. (Jonah 3:10, ESV)
Things can be changed through prayer and repentance, so repent and pray.
God is gracious
And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. (Jonah 4:2, ESV)
This is God’s character and Jonah knew it. God is gracious, merciful and loving.
The God who appoints
When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:8, ESV)
This is the third time in this passage that we hear that God appointed. This shows the extent of God’s sovereign rule and ability.
God cares for His creation
And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:11, ESV)
Jonah had a very self centred attitude, Lord keep us from that. God had pity on the people of Nineveh and even on the animals. God cares for His creation, so should we.
The Holy Spirit sets apart
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2, ESV)
The Holy Spirit specially calls out and selects for ministry, especially for church planters and missionaries.
The word of God proclaimed
When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. (Acts 13:5, ESV)
Their mission was to proclaim God’s word. Again notice that this was happening in synagogues as the Lord by His Spirit reached out to the Jews.
Dealing with opposition
and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? (Acts 13:10, ESV)
Paul spoke with the authority of the Holy Spirit. This reminds us that people can be the biggest hindrances when we share the Gospel. Paul said Elymaus was making the straight path of God’s truth and appeal for salvation crooked by his resistance.
We should pray that God gives us authority and wisdom to deal with human opponents to the gospel.
Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. (Acts 13:12, ESV)
Notice this bending of the Lord’s path was no bending at all because the devil meant it for evil but God turned it for good. It became the reason why the pro-council was saved.
The resistance we receive to the gospel will be the catalyst to many being saved if we stand fast in faith and do not waver.
Be profitable to God
“Can a man be profitable to God? Surely he who is wise is profitable to himself. (Job 22:2, ESV)
Yes, Jesus demonstrates this in the parable of the servants. Jesus said it about Paul.
Bring God pleasure
Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are in the right, or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless? (Job 22:3, ESV)
Yes because without faith it is impossible to please (bring pleasure to) God.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on Acts 13