Archives For Bible

I’m always befuddled when I read chapter 4 of Jonah, mainly because of what comes before it.

Confused Man

I wrote about chapters 1, 2 and 3 last year. But to refresh memory… In chapter 3, Jonah finally obeys God and brings his message to Nineveh. The Ninevites repent and turn towards God and God shows them mercy and doesn’t bring the destruction that he said he would. Yay right? Wrong.

Chapter 4 begins with Jonah showing anger. WHAT!? Jonah showing anger towards God’s great mercy? Very strange indeed. Jonah has gone back to his old ways of not wanting God’s mercy to come upon the Ninevites. Jonah just can’t make up his mind! At this stage Jonah gives the reason why he fled from God at the beginning of the book.

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

Jonah just doesn’t get it. He doesn’t like that fact that God is showing mercy, he wants God to bring destruction. He doesn’t like it so much that he actually is getting angry with God!

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Jonah 3 is a story of unbelievable change. Such a large change in fact, that if it weren’t written about in such a reliable book as the Bible, I would not believe it. Jonah 3 is a story of the great city of Nineveh.

We know that Nineveh was great, but here we get a better understanding of just how great Nineveh was. It was a major city in Assyria, and it had a population of around 120,000 people. Nineveh was so big in fact, that a visit to Nineveh took 3 days. Not only was Nineveh a huge city, it was also an evil city, an enemy city to Israel. A city that disobeyed God and rebelled against him, a sinful city.

Big Sinful City

Chapter 3 starts with God commanding Jonah to go to Nineveh a second time, and this time, unlike in chapter 1, he does.

So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.

Jonah 3:1a

Jonah went to Nineveh, and he proclaimed God’s word, he said.

“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

Jonah 3:4b

We can assume that Jonah probably said more than one sentence as he travelled through Nineveh, and we can assume that he said it more than once. But what we can’t assume is the Ninevites incredible response.

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Recently I’ve been quite busy, not only with Uni work and Church commitments, but also with job applications for next year.

I’m in my final year of University and I’m hoping to be employed as a full time primary school teacher next year. However, in NSW, it is very rare to get a full time teaching job (unless you’re willing to move). Most grads don’t start their teaching careers in a full-time permanent position but rather start with casual work, which then turns into a block of casual work, which may then turn into a temporary or full-time position.

Chalkboard

This has been stressing me out a bit when it really should have been, that is until God spoke to me through a sermon at Church last Sunday.

Up until then, I had thought that I needed a full-time position, so that I could build relationships and serve God through those relationships, and if I didn’t get a full-time job that I wouldn’t be able to serve God as I wouldn’t be able to build relationships, I’d just be going in and out of schools all the time.

So last Sunday’s sermon was on Philippians chapter 1, specifically verses 12-30. One of the key arguments that Paul makes in those verses is summarised in verse 21.

For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.

Paul is currently in prison for serving God, and knows that he would rather be with God in heaven (who wouldn’t!?), but for now he knows that his life is about being fruitful for God.

Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me;

Philippians 1:22a

We as Christians exist in this world to serve God and be fruitful for him. Our purpose is not to serve God and live for him the way we want to, but to live for him and serve him how he wants us to.

This really hit me. Until Sunday I’d been thinking that there was only one way for God to use me, which is ridiculous as God will use me to serve him in whichever way he chooses. I don’t need to have a full-time teaching position to serve God, I just need to be willing to serve him.

I am really thankful for God showing this to me, I am really thankful that God will use me fruitfully, and I’m really thankful that I’m no longer burdened by stress.

To sum up, God is good!

I’ve been hearing lots of buzz about the Holman Christian Standard Version of the Bible, I don’t know what started it, but I’ve been hearing it. I haven’t given it much thought really as I’ve been pretty satisfied with the ESV recently, and I still think it’s an awesome version of the Bible. But I watched this video (via Dave’s blog) which has a whole bunch of smart Christian guys from around Sydney endorsing the HCSB, and I thought I’d better give it a go.

So I’ve now got the Holman Christian Standard Version downloaded onto my iPhone (for FREE via the Bible App) and I’ll be giving it a go next to other versions of the Bible. Watch the video below and see if you’re going to put the Holman on your iPhone/shelf along with other versions.

(H/T Dave Miers)

Just as a side, how awesome is it that we have so many awesome translations so easily available to us today!

When I was giving the 3 talks on Jonah on the weekend away, chapter 2 was the chapter that didn’t get a talk. The original plan was for the older group of teenagers (years 10-12) to work out chapter 2, and then report back to the group about it. That didn’t end up happening on the weekend, so chapter 2 didn’t get much airtime which was sad, but what I did do was quickly give a summary of chapter 2 in about 30 seconds.

Jonah 2 for the most part is a prayer of thanksgiving from Jonah to God, from inside the belly of the fish.

Big Fish

The prayer of thanksgiving is something that I haven’t given a lot of thought to, but it is interesting to note how much of the prayer Jonah focusses on himself. Throughout the prayer he keeps saying what he has done, and what God has done as a result of this.

I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me

Jonah 2:1

Throughout the prayer Jonah does mention what God has done, but I can’t help but notice how Jonah keeps talking about what he has done. However at the end of the prayer Jonah does say one bold statement about God

Salvation belongs to the LORD!

Jonah 2:9

A great truth. Only through God was Jonah saved, and only by what God has done through Jesus are we saved.

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Jonah 1 is an interesting chapter, in that we see a prophet of God (i.e. someone who brings the word of God to people) running from God’s presence. In chapter 1, we see God’s word coming to Jonah.

Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.

Jonah 1:2

Jonah gets told to head off to Nineveh, a big city in the land of Assyria, enemies of Jonah. But instead Jonah heads off to Tarshish by boat. And from this point in the story, we see three aspects of God’s character: God’s mighty power, God’s righteous judgement, and God’s great mercy.

A Great Storm

God’s mighty power

In verse 4 we read that God brought a massive storm upon the ship.

But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.

Jonah 1:4

I’ve always found God’s power in nature to be amazing, and to think of a storm for me is to think of how powerful God is. He made the heavens and the earth and has power over them. He has power over creation. God is a powerful God, and the sailors that we’re on the ship with Jonah as he was fleeing to Tarshish knew this.

It’s also cool to see how this story parallels the story of Jesus calming the storm (read more about that here).

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Talks On Jonah

July 24, 2011 — 3 Comments
Big Fish

Is Jonah only about a big fish?

I recently had the great privilege of giving a series of 3 talks (plus a short one) on Jonah at the St Stephen’s Normanhurst Youth Weekend Away. It was a huge honour to preach the word of God to 20ish high schoolers.

Jonah is an interesting book and I really enjoyed diving into the book while I was preparing the talks. Over the next little while, I’m going to be doing some blog posts on the 4 chapters of Jonah. They’ll be linked to below.

Stay tuned…

Last week was Ancon. It was a full on week of learning from God’s word about church and what it means to gather together as God’s people. I’m planning on writing a few blog posts with some reflections of the week, and to start with I wanted to start with some quick reflections from the week. These may not make sense to everyone, as they’re not all fully explained. I will however expand on some of these points in future posts. If you were on Ancon, add some of your reflections in the comments. If you weren’t on Ancon, check out Twitter to see all the #ancon11 goodness.

Ancon about to kick off

  1. The word church (ecclesia) means gathering.
  2. The laws in the old testament help the Israelites understand how to love God and love others.
  3. In 1st century Israel, there was a problem in that Rome had taken over. Different groups had different ideas about how to continue living as God’s holy people and responded to this differently: Sadducees were the ruling elite and cut a deal with Rome, Pharisees were concerned with keeping the law, Essenes chose to run and start again and theZealots wanted to violent revolution for God.
  4. The confession that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, is what separates a Christian gathering from any other gathering (From Matthew 16:16-18).
  5. We’re not a shadow, but an outpost of the heavenly church.
  6. You become part of Jesus’ church when you become a Christian.
  7. All Christians are members of the body of Christ. It is not optional.
  8. The new testament refers to church in two different ways. Either as the universal church (referring to all Christians from all of time) or as the local church (a local gathering of believers).
  9. The local church is the precious body of Christ.
  10. If three Christians are hanging out together, it is not necessarily church. What makes it church is when the word is taught faithfully.
  11. Church is where the body of Christ functions together as a church.
  12. Church is not about me and God. It’s about God, his people and how I fit into it.
  13. There are some issues in the church that are worth fighting over, but often we must love each other and submit to authorities (more on this in a future blog post). Continue Reading…

If you haven’t heard yet, then you haven’t been listening to the news. According to Harold Camping, May 21, 2011 will be the day when the world as we know it ends. Nearly every news network has reported on this, mainly due to Harold Camping having a massive network of Radio stations that broadcast over the world from the US. Read some of the news stories at independent.co.uk, smh.com.au and heraldsun.com.au.

End of the World?

The idea of May 21 as the day of judgement comes from a series of calculations that Harold has made dating back to Noah’s ark. I couldn’t follow the logic in the argument enough to explain the details, but if you would like to read more about it then you can at their website, here.

So… Is the world as we know it really going to end tomorrow? Will Jesus return tomorrow…?

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I think I may be too young to think about my last words, but that hasn’t stopped me from thinking about the last words of others.

Recently in Bible study, we’ve been reading 2 Timothy, which was the last letter that Paul wrote. In 2 Timothy, Paul is passing on his final words of wisom to Timothy, his mentee. Although the letter does not represent his final words, they are some of the last words that Paul wrote from the chains of his imprisonment in Rome.

Before I get on to some of my favourite last words from Paul, I thought I’d have a search for some other famous last words.

“Don’t worry, they usually don’t swim backwards.” (From TopTenz.net)

These are the last recorded words of Steve Irwin, the Australian conservationist and crocodile hunter. These were sadly his final words before he was killed by a stingray spine.

“I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.” (From World of Quotes)

The last words of Leonardo Da Vinci.

“Nothing, but death.” (From corsinet)

Were the last words of Jane Austen when asked by her sister what she wanted.

Graveyard

Thinking through the last words of people can be quite sadening, as death in this world is scary and unknown. However, some of the last words of Paul are quite the opposite. They are victorious and encouraging. Read them below.

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