Lent | Jonah: Day

Obedience, take two

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Today's Text: Jonah 3:1-4

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Text: Jonah 3:1-4

The grace pendulum can swing both ways, and in my life I’ve touched the ceiling in each direction. I’m referring, of course, to my response to God’s grace. He is unchanging, loving, merciful, just – and somehow all at once. I, however, am a little less, ahem, steady.

Many times I’ve tried my hardest to earn the un-earnable, to deserve the un-deservable. I’ve been intent on not just striving for God’s grace, but striving well, attaining what is in me to attain, knowing deep down (in that part of you that just knows) that it won’t be enough. And there I swung on that pendulum, so far in the direction of legalism-wrapped-in-pride that I could sweep the ceiling with my fingertips.

And then there are times I’ve tried my hardest to drink it in, striving in a different way. I’ve been hell-bent on being free, not understanding what that truly means. I’ve consumed grace in the same way I indulge my diet soda addiction — grabbing a swig whenever I need a lift, whenever I need to feel OK again. I’ve lived in false freedom and called it the liberty of grace, swinging high in the other direction to touch that same pride-ceiling on the other side.

It’s tough to find the balance, isn’t it?

Here is why I love these four verses in the middle of the book of Jonah: Jonah guzzles grace like he’s never been thirstier for it. But then, without missing a beat, he does something revolutionary. He obeys. And he obeys, it would seem, without hesitation. No calculating all the possible risks, no predicting all the possible reactions of all possible people, no wondering the least amount of obedience he could get away with in the given scenario. God says go, and Jonah went. He “arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord” (Jonah 3:2). And it was no quick trip, you guys.

I picture Jonah with a renewed determination in his eyes and a bolstered courage in his heart, making the three-day trek to deliver a message he knows may very well be ignored. I sense in him something that wasn’t there on the day he fled to Tarshish — the responsibility to obey.

Obedience is not a way to earn God’s grace.
Obedience is not a way to prove worthy of the grace we’ve already received.
But obedience is a responsibility we carry as children of the Lord.

We are commissioned by the Most High to carry His Word to the world — in small, everyday ways and big, go-to-Nineveh ways. Grace should not be the blanket under which we hide from our calling, but the buoy that lifts us to obedience.

“What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
(Romans 6:15-18)

  • Patrick Hospes

    It’s difficult to find knowledgeable individuals about this topic, but you are like that you know what you are talking about!

  • Samantha

    Prayer warriors please pray for me as I get back on track with quiet time. I’ve strayed off the path as we all know is so easy to do, I’ve let life get in the way and laziness make me a slave to the world. Pray that I can get into a quiet time routine again, I’ve got a new book that will help but I need you all to pray that I can stay dedicated and not let the world distract me. Also I’m struggling at work, God has put me in a position of authority and I willing jumped into that role but now I feel like I’m barely staying afloat. Pray that I can let go and lead how God wants me to Ans that I can have peace in the decisions I have to make. Thank you sisters!

  • Sometimes God asks us to do hard things. When I do hard things I often want those around (especially my husband) me to know it's hard and that I'm making sacrifices. At Bible study a few weeks ago we had a guest speaker and she shared about hard things. "God is looking at me with knowing eyes. He sees every need, sacrifice, and struggle. He cherishes my soul." God sees.

  • Christie Hughes

    Wow. That last sentence just shook my day and rocked my world. Help me not to hide under the blanket, but instead, be moved to obey. Whew. Thank you Lord.

  • I don’t have words…so “thank you” will have to be enough. Thank you…so much.

  • EssieJean

    Oh my goodness, Amanda. This was entirely about me! Although I definitely favor the legalism side of the pendulum…
    Romans 6:17 spoke such truth into my heart today – obedience from the heart. From the heart. It isn't true obedience if we do it trying to earn something (grace, or anything else for that matter)! Our obedience is only truly pleasing to Him when we obey from the heart – because we know Him and we know that what He asks us to do is for our own good, and the good of His kingdom.

  • rightpurelovely

    Oh friends, today I am Jonah. Last night instead of letting God handle and see me through a situation with my prodigal husband, I took matters into my own hands. I let my flesh win. I let fear and doubt win. I let my insecurities win. I went to bed thinking I've ruined everything…all of our progress, all of the work we've put in to reconciling this marriage, wiped away in one 30 minute phone conversation. But this morning I see that isn't true. I am Jonah, who didn't listen to God for a moment because I thought I could do better, I didn't want to let my husband get away with this one like Jonah didn't want Nineveh to be let off the hook.. My storm was a flurry of angry words, accusation and tears. After it all was said and done and I realized the mess I had made, I threw myself overboard in the form of a crumpled, tearful mess crying out to God in my closet. But this morning, God has rescued me. Even though I didn't listen and even though I disobeyed, his work is not over. It's still happening. He had to remind me that I CANNOT do this on my own. His grace is sufficient for me and His power is perfected in my weakness. I can rest and let him take over. My mistake does not negate his work – He is the almighty God and all He asks me to do is obey.

    Sisters, please pray for my husband and I!

  • Janee White

    Just like the sisters before me, I love the pendulum analogy – and it reminds me that it is just another trick of the enemy. Jesus never intends for us to swing back and forth, He is steady and begs us to stand on the Rock. The pendulum is the shifting sand and Jesus is the cornerstone of our foundation. His Grace is sufficient, and though I seek grace from my friends and family, His Grace is sufficient for me.

    As one of our sisters put it, we all have a Nineveh. I add to that that we all have a Canaan – a promised land. We all started in the Garden, got called to Nineveh, some of us ran to Tarshish, but are all promised a Canaan. Just as the Israelites were never supposed to wander the desert for 40 years, I don't believe God's perfect plan was for Jonah to land in the belly of the fish. I pray that we all skip that rotten place; obey the Word of the Lord, head straight to Nineveh, and then on the promised land.

    • EssieJean

      Wow. I definitely seek grace from my family and friends when I should be relying solely on His grace. Thank you for this insight into my ife, Janee!

    • Mrscoop62

      Amen! Unfortunately I have been in the belly of the fish and I thank the Good Lord for pulling me out. But at the same time I thank him for my trials and tribulations for it has made me stronger. Shameful but yet strong if that makes any sense? Now I head towards my Nineveh to do his will. He gives me the strength to do things I can't do alone. I want to share to help bring others to Christ it doesn't matter where your at or where you've been he's a gracious and forgiving God. Thank you for sharing Janee
      Sandra

  • Obedience is a responsibility we carry as children of the Lord. Love those words. Grace should not be the blanket under which we hide from our caling bt the buoy that lifts us to obedience. Amen. Have a blessed day everyone. Im blessed by these words, Glory be to God.

  • justemmahh

    To my praying women:

    I have an important prayer request on my heart today. I used to be a GAP group (mentoring/devotional) leader at my old Christian school, and one of the girls in my study group who is now 17 years old has been missing since March 22nd. The school came together at the flag pole early this morning to intercede on her behalf and she has been in my fervent prayers as well. Could I have some of your help in joining me in prayer for her and her family? I know they need peace and comfort at this time. Also praying for her safe return. I would really appreciate it. Love you ladies <3

    I so relate to the pendulum analogy. And LOVED this, "Grace should not be the blanket under which we hide from our calling, but the buoy that lifts us to obedience." … Dwelling on that today.

  • Dori McCormick

    I am picking up the storytelling of our Saviour again as the story continues … it was going to take him 3 days to deliver God’s message … 3 days that had caused him to turn and run before. 3 days in the tomb. And then they had 40 DAYS to repent. And here we sit smack dab in the middle of 40 days of Lent …and 40 days our Lord spent being tempted. And I think how Jesus said to his disciples the night he was arrested:(literally)”don’t you get it YET?” I know the countless times I’ve sat in church pews, prayed, studied … as I begin over and over and over again to”get it.” And I”arise” again in renewed humility, grace and awe.

  • this really hit me. I too swing from one side to another, calling on God's grace when I feel desperate, then basking in it if I feel good, without realizing that I can't earn it. I don't have a sense of that freedom unless all is going well. As soon as things start to fall apart, so do I.
    I need to focus on obedience, and if that is small, daily gestures that God puts in my way to accomplish, then I will do it without questioning. I keep thinking I need to hear his grand plan for me, and don't focus on my daily obedience to him.

  • Wow. This is great. So often, I definitely either let grace become false freedom or something to earn. Either way, satan gets me all in bondage over it. What I noticed in her analogy was that each side's ceiling was pride. How do we stay away from abusing grace? Staying humble and asking God, when we feel pride or entitlement or complacency cropping up, to change our hearts and to remind us of what we've been, to humble us. "So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” Lord, help me to receive your grace and to use it to do what you've been calling me to all along. Let it give me strength, like Jonah.
    Blessings, sisters. xo

  • So many incredible insights into our faith in the book of Jonah that I had never taken the time to see before. And I was struck today by how yesterday's post tied into today's….just as forgiveness inspires repentance, grace inspires obedience. Why do we so often see those things as happening the other way around? Repentance does not inspire our God to forgive; the cross already did that. And obedience does not bring more grace; God is bigger than that. I think I often make God too small, perhaps so that He can fit into the realm of my understanding. But He cannot be contained, and He shows us that every day (ahem, #shebuildsapps!)! Praise Him!!!

    • Kat

      "Just as forgiveness inspires repentance, grace inspires obedience." So perfect, so grace-filled, such a picture of God's loving-kindness.

  • How wonderful that today's devotion is about obedience … In the shower this morning an idea came to me, to do something I haven't done in a long time – to lead a Bible study for a group of girls, that are part of a larger group I volunteer with. My thought was to wait until the summertime, since everyone will likely have more time (as I'm a teacher), but now I'm not so sure. I DO know the study I want to do with them … the SRT Women in the Bible! It would be such a great focus for these young ladies. Please pray for me as I figure out the logistical side of it … and OBEY!

  • Love this!

  • Steph_Lilac

    "Grace should not be the blanket under which we hide from our calling, but the buoy that lifts us to obedience." Wooooow! What a profound quote from such an eye opening devotion! I'm soaking it all in , thank you Lord!

  • Jonah learned some very valuable lessons during his time of disobedience . . 1) he could not hide from God 2) his disobedience brought hard times to others 3) God's grace is far bigger than anything he could imagine 4) God will use our disobedience to bring us back to Him & 5) his disobedience did not prevent God's power & message from being shared. When God showed him mercy and brought him out of the belly of the whale, I believe Jonah saw his God in a whole new light . . . no matter how we run from God or how much we dislike or fear what he commands us to do, His Will will be done. I praise God, that Jesus shows me the same mercy & grace when I attempt to run from him, that he will always draw me back.

    Have a blessed day!

  • Joanne Sher

    Obedience as a responsibility. Help me, lord, to obey not to earn a grace I already possess, or show I don’t need, but because it is my desire.

  • JessicaLoves___

    I'm an all-or-nothing gal. So, I know well the pendulum that swings so far towards obedience that it results in pride, and likewise the pendulum that leads so far the other way that I can think I'm entitled to my bad behavior.
    Lord, help me to live out the responsibility I have to be obedient without thinking it earns me anything.

  • Arise…..what a word…and from God, ….I imagine being knighted….becoming one of high importance, respect, chosen,…. Jonah for all he'd been through, his running from God, his near death experience(being thrown into the sea), 3 days alive in the belly of a whale, his cry out to God in repentance, his praise and worship of God, his being spewed up out of the whale, his realisation that God is in pursuit of Him, and that He has a plan and purpose for him( and Nineveh)……yeap, I reckon, I would feel pretty darn special, chosen, loved, forgiven, and want to do whatever God asked me to do…..Arise …..
    God's grace, God's amazing grace can do that, can make us believe we are chosen, loved, forgiven and in a place of awe……of God…..and we are!!….Praise be to God….AMEN.

    Happy Tuesday sisters….. Arise…and be blessed…x

    • EssieJean

      Oh Tina, what a lovely summation of the Jonah story, and so true. What a marvel that we, like Jonah are pursued even after all our wanderings!

  • Mrscoop62

    Good morning sister's, what another beautiful devotion to wake up to this morning. My one desire is to be obedient when I start to trip I know he will catch me before I fall. Sometimes working in the atmosphere that I do it's so easy to find yourself just doing that. I pray for obedience and for the Lord to guard my heart and thoughts and not get caught up ,thank you Jesus for my worship and praise music that I can listen to during my day it helps me as I fill myself with your spirit through music. Father in heaven help be to be obedient and share your word today with someone, have a Blessed day sister's…..

  • God gave Nineveh 40 days to repent. At least they knew how long they had. I look around and even at myself and wonder why we put off repentance till tomorrow when we aren’t even sure we’ll live till then. Sobering thought but true. My prayer today is for loved ones who don’t know Jesus yet and for myself that I take the daily bread– daily grace offered to me. That I take the chance to grow deeper in him daily. Wringing out all the grace he offers, drinking it, soaking in it. I am so so weak and he is so so strong and unchanging. My heart is grateful.
    Thankful for all my sisters, thankful for your insights

    • Gema Muniz

      Wow! I love your post thanks for sharing it with us. Is so true that we live life as if we knew our dead line, when in reality we should live as if every minute of our lives was our last. God bless!

  • Right on time. Because of grace we obey and don’t run in the other direction.

  • But obedience is a responsibility we carry as children of the Lord.

    So true :-) thank you for this will hold onto it today- loved the romans passage as well

  • "Obedience is the responsibility we carry as children of the LORD.."
    Yes! "Jonah obeys without calculating the risks…"
    Grace is "the buoy that lifts us up to obedience,

    This post really resonated with me. Obedience. Lord may you cleanse me, renew me and give me an obedient heart in response and because of your all sufficiemt grace in my life!

  • Thanks for the quote from Romans at the end…. really brings it all together. A challenge. If we're not being obedient to God….then who are we being obedient to? To me, this adds a sense of urgency to do what God asks.

    Thankful that He is a Grace-full God!!!

  • Ruth Rouchard

    This post and the story of Jonah as a whole, serves to remind me that sometimes God calls us to do hard things that cause us to want to run fast in the other direction, like Jonah. I think we all have a Nineveh, a hard obedience that looks like eminent death if we were to obey. But it’s usually just a death to our “what will people think of me if…” issue. I think the grace culture somehow allows us to think we are exempt from those hard obediences and likewise the dire consequences of turning away. God is good and trustworthy, this story should encourage us to be brave, willing, and ready for the next seemingly hard thing he asks us to do.

    • AnnaLee

      Amen! It is definitely usually a death to "what will people think of me." Grace gives us the means to truly let God change us into who we're meant to be, it gives us strength to do His will… unfortunately, we in selfishness sometimes use it to inhibit growth and get lax in doing God's work. Lord, give us strength to receive your grace with humility and resolve to do your will, to let you change and grow us in however you see fit.

  • The pendulum analogy is perfection. I find myself swinging back and forth so many times. Thank you so much for this reminder that we are not to diminish or abuse grace, but receive and respect it with obedience. I needed this. :)

    • AnnaLee

      Amen Sana! So often we let lies come into our heads about what grace is, how it's earned, and what it means for us. I'm so glad that we don't have a God who has set us free to be yoked to sin again, but that He's saved us for something.

  • Take 2. I love the thought of a second go. I also feel it’s on those second tries (after being knocked down and tossled about) that I ARISE stronger. Humbled. With clarity and greater purpose. Ready to obey because I see the grander goal of it all more clearly. The slimy pits are always tough and I, for one, beg and plead to be freed from them, BUT I am always more grateful for having gone through them. God is God. He is good and in control.
    “Grace…lifts us to obedience.” Amen.

    • Steph_Lilac

      Beverly I loved your comment! It's like us getting knocked down, allows God to knock some sense into our heads. It's definitely a blessing to go through some trials because it heightens our passion for the Lord.

  • Yes. You’re doing it. Thank you.

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