Posted by: lepages | November 8, 2009

Reflections…

“The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven.” John 3:5,6 (New Living Translation)

Reading this recently brought home to me afresh the scripture in Ephesians 2:8 (New International Version) “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” It’s only by God’s grace, by his revelation that we can come into a living friendship with him – we can go and get baptised in water – but that doesn’t save us – that’s a work of the Holy Spirit to bring us to spiritual life, brought to us from heaven – we can’t engender a spiritual dynamic – it’s a gift from heaven. “Come Lord Jesus, pour out your Spirit on us today.”

The story of Jonah is an incredibly honest story of how we as human beings struggle with the grace of God! Sometimes we feel God should show grace to us, but there are others which we don’t think he should. Such was the struggle for Jonah, to the extent that he was angry with God, the world and anything he could find to be angry with. (Ever been there??!!) Having fulfilled the task God asked of him (with some help along the way! 😉 ) he goes outside of the city to see what happens. We pick the story up fro Jonah 4:5-11 World English Bible (a Public Domain translation available from http://www.worldenglishbible.com/ which provides some helpful translation insights at times, though isn’t always brilliant on the English fluency)

“Then Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made himself a booth, and sat under it in the shade, until he might see what would become of the city. Yahweh God prepared a vine, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to deliver him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the vine. But God prepared a worm at dawn the next day, and it chewed on the vine, so that it withered. It happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a sultry east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he fainted, and requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the vine?”
He said, “I am right to be angry, even to death.”
Yahweh said, “You have been concerned for the vine, for which you have not laboured, neither made it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night. Shouldn’t I be concerned for Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred twenty thousand persons who can’t discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much livestock?”

Jonah left the city angry – got himself in a rough situation in the heat of the day. God provided shelter for him and he was grateful for the shelter (though not to God as far as we can read) and then God took the vine providing the shelter away. Jonah suffered in the heat of the sun, with a drying wind – fainted under the conditions wanted the easy way out – to die (Wonder how this relates to the ongoing discussions about assisted suicide/euthanasia?) and he was angry about the vine (in truth, probably angry about his own situation) and God questions him about his anger and says ‘you’ve been concerned about a vine which you had no part in bringing into being.’ Jonah 4:11 WEB “Shouldn’t I be concerned for Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred twenty thousand persons who can’t discern between their right hand and their left hand…”

God has compassion for those who have lived in rebellion to him, lived without him. His people who know his presence are more concerned for themselves and their needs. I wonder where our concerns are? For our own needs, and with anger over felt injustices, or for the many who don’t have the privilege of knowing God for themselves?

Some reflections from this week.

This morning I went to Woodside Church. Great to see another multi-ethnic congregation. Tim Green led an appropriate moment of remembrance and prayer in the worship at 11am. Andy Martin was speaking as part of a series entitled (I think) ‘Encounters with God’. The church had obviously looked at encounters with God in the Old Testament. Last week Tim Green had led thoughts on the shepherds encountering Jesus. This week the focus was on encountering God through the giving of the Holy Spirit. An excellent bit of teaching with a thorough theological base on the giving of the Holy Spirit and its implications. I’m sure the preach will be available on the Woodside Church website within a few days – well worth a listen – even if it was long, and bless him, Andy did keep apologising, but it was worth it!

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