Monday, January 14, 2013

Struggling with God’s Will

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me. But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish.”  Jonah 1:1-3a

Have you ever struggled with God’s will in any specific area of your life?  The question that I’m often asked, as most ministers are, is, “How do I find God’s will in this matter, or will you help me find God’s will in a matter?”

The prayer I pray most for my family members is, “Lord, help them to seek your will, to discern your will, and to do your will, that they may be blessed of You and be a blessing to others that in so doing, Father, You are glorified and Jesus is lifted up.

In the Old Testament, the minor prophet, Jonah, struggles with God’s will for his life.  In just four chapters containing 48 verses we can learn a great deal from his personal struggles with God’s will. These lessons apply directly to our lives today. 

In Jonah, we see revealed the heart of man in relation to God.  Four areas of a man’s heart are:
1.               Running from God and His will
2.               Trying to hide from God and His will
3.               Repenting to God and rediscovering His will
4.               Embracing god’s will with obedience and commitment

You can read the book of Jonah in less than 10 minutes.  Will you do so?  As you read, listen to the Holy Spirit and you’re likely to see yourself in one of these snapshots, as it relates to the will of God.

First:  Running from God and His will.  Jonah 1:1-2
Over the years, many young people have asked me as they graduate from high school or college or are getting ready to embark on a career path…..”Is this what I need to do with my life?”  Often, I’ve said, “God’s will is more about character than career or conduct.”

Jonah understood what God wanted of him, but he didn’t want to do it.  His problem was not Revelation, but Motivation.  A desire to be obedient was absent and open rebellion ensued. There are lots of folks today who know God’s will, but they’re just not doing it.  In their rebellion they rob themselves and their families of the blessing that our Heavenly Father has for them.

Second:  Trying to hide from God and His will.  Jonah 1:3-6
Jonah ran, but God pursued.  Jonah tried to hide by going down to Joppa, a seaport, where he found a ship sailing to Tarshish.  In verse 5 Jonah goes down below deck in the bow of the ship.  Do you see him trying to hide?  The scripture says in verse 3, he paid the fare.  When we try to hide from God and His will, it always costs us!  It costs us relationally with God, family, and others, financially in dollars and cents.  Add to that the cost spiritually, emotionally and physically.  Jonah 1: 5-6

Third:  Repenting to God and rediscovering His will.  Jonah 1:7-17
God sent a storm and God sent a fish to get Jonah’s attention.  In Chapter 2 we read Jonah’s prayer to God in the midst of his circumstances.  He was miserable being out of God’s will and he recognized it. He responded by repenting, rediscovered God’s will and got about it. That great fish spewed him out, “and it vomited Jonah onto dry land”.  When Jonah hit the beach, I believe he was picking them up and putting them down headed to Nineveh.  God uses the experiences of life to get our attention and to connect and redirect our focus to know and do His will.

Fourth:  Embracing God’s will with obedience and commitment.
In Jonah 2:1-9, we read Jonah’s prayer.  In Jonah 2:10 we see God had his full attention.  He heard his prayer and offered Jonah another chance.

In Jonah 3:1-2, instructions were given again.  Verse 3 tells us, “Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh.”, after God got his attention.

As a result of his obedience and commitment to follow God’s will, the King and servants of the King of Nineveh repented and cried out to God and were spared from destruction.  Jonah 3:10
Make no mistake about this; our actions and attitudes influence others either positively or negatively.  Jonah learned an easy lesson the hard way!  Don’t be like Jonah!

Scripture to Claim:
But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD."  (Jonah 2:9)

Submitted By Donnie O'Fallon

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