Jonah–The Story of a Prophet’s Judgmental Attitude

“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me” (Jonah 1:2)

Usually, when we hear a sermon of the prophet Jonah the primary focus is on his disobedience to God, running away, being thrown overboard, and being swallowed by the giant fish. Yes, he was disobedient, which is a sin against God. Still, our focus today is on his judgmental posture against unbelievers.

Acts of Disobedience: Jonah questioned whether God was telling him to do the right thing when instructed to go to the wicked city of Nineveh. He disobeyed God’s command by running to Tarsus. “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7).

Many believers have received a command from God to help the homeless, those in abject poverty, feed hungry parents and their children, to comfort widows and widowers. We are told to “Go!” Yet, we discriminate against the people who desperately need to know that Jesus loves them.

What is the root cause of our disdain for those who need our help?

“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets'” (Matthew 22:38-40).

We do not have Christ’s sacrificial love for us or those suffering. Therefore, we cannot love the countless men, women, and children in despair.

Jonah delivers God’s message of pending destruction: “And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!'” (Jonah 3:4).

The people repent of their sins: “So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them” (Jonah 3:5).

God’s grace and mercy: “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10).

Jonah’s true feelings are exposed: “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry” (Jonah 4:1).

We cannot pass judgment on the prophet Jonah who wanted God to destroy the people of Ninevah. When we fail to meet the needs of others and fail to witness Jesus’ love and salvation, we covertly wish for their death and destruction.

The words are harsh that reveal the truth. Yet, Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

If we have amassed large bank accounts or refuse to volunteer our leisure time to help in shelters, food banks, soup kitchens, or elderly neighbors, pass out comfort bags to those living on the streets. Then we are disobedient to God.

The Great Commission: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.'” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Our duty to God and humanity: “Pure and unblemished religion [as it is expressed in outward acts] in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit and look after the fatherless and the widows in their distress and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the [secular] world” (James 1:27 Amplified Bible).

Many unbelievers assist the countless people in need. Yet, they will also be lost if they have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Discrimination against Jesus prevailed when He was on the earth, and it has risen in these last days of earth’s history.

Obedience and servitude are fruits of love for God. Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal your spiritual assignment in helping others. But remember, we must possess a heart filled with overwhelming and unconditional love as Jesus had for God, His Father.

Prayer: God, we have lost our sight of You. We pray for the forgiveness of a selfish, discriminating, and uncaring heart. Please open our eyes and reveal our assignment in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ and helping those in need. We ask this prayer in the Worthy name of Jesus. Amen.

The Back to God Movement

Without the anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit, our archenemy is using social injustice and political division as distractions for the saints of God, and we are failing to meet God’s standards of righteousness.

What does God require of us? Micah 6:8 reads, “He has told you, mortal one, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?”

What is the Christian’s primary focus? To love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37).

What is God’s standard for believers? “Be holy, because I am Holy” (1 Peter 1:16).

The Character of the New Man (Spiritual Transformation)

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:12-17).

The Christian’s Secondary Focus: To love others!

Witnessing: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Giving to those in need: If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? (1 John 3:17). Those in the body of Christ should help their brothers or sisters in their spiritual family first.

God requires much from the righteous!

“To whom much is given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48). We are held responsible for what we have. If we have been blessed with talents, wealth, knowledge, time, and the like, we are expected to benefit others.

For the prevailing social injustice distraction of abortion and mass shootings, God has addressed this heinous act with His commandment: “Thou shalt not kill”–“You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13).

For the prevailing political conflict between Democrats, Republicans, and others, on gun control, and the COVID pandemic, Jesus addressed this, “And He said to them, “…Render [Give] therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

Are Christians supposed to ignore social and political issues? Absolutely not!

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23).

“LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil…” (Proverbs 3:5-7).

The Back to God movement is to get oneself in right standing with God and witness to those looking for peace in all the wrong places. Spread the gospel daily that Jesus, the Son of God, has a perfect plan called Salvation. His Plan of Redemption is life-saving for the sinner. Jesus died for humanity! And is currently serving as our Heavenly Intercessor. Glory to the Lamb of God! When we do our part, and with the sinner’s acceptance of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will initiate and complete the transformation from unbeliever to believer.

God’s plans most often do not include our personal agendas. Pray and wait on the Holy Spirit for direction before involving yourself in social or political issues. Every evil thought and action indicates that we live in the last days. This is the time to pray without ceasing, study the Scriptures, and wait on God for His answer. We are promised a New Heaven and New Earth. Amen.

The Righteous’ Reward: “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Revelation 22:12).

Bible Reading: Matthew 25:31-46

Prayer: God, we pray for your direction, the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and the strength to resist distractions that change our focus. Lord, reveal to us the agendas that are not in sync with Your will and plan for our lives. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Repentance and Restoration

My greatest desire is to have a heart-to-heart relationship with Jesus. A relationship that brings confidence, courage, and steadfast faith in times of sorrow and darkness and peaceful times. But I have followed my feelings and let the pride of self-reliance dictate my decisions. In anguish, I feel that I am separated from my Father.

I admit that my actions are responsible for the anguish and weakened faith that I possess. Yet, in the height of despair, the Holy Spirit directs me to a video short on Ezekial chapter 36. The God who loves promises to perform a spiritual surgical procedure on those who love Him but have messed up.

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Ezekial 36:25-27 NKJV)

Our Father reminds us that although we have profaned His name through disobedient thoughts, words, and actions, our Restoration brings honor and glory to His Name. “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: ‘I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.'” (Ezekial 36:22 NKJV)

When we have veered off the narrow Path of Righteousness, demonic forces of evil attempt to deceive and convince us that God is punitive in His justice, leaving us feeling dejected. The truth is our Heavenly Father, whose very nature is Love, never crushes us or removes our hope. If we humble ourselves and repent, we will receive a new heart that desires to love and serve Him. We would be the recipients of the removal of sin, transformation, and complete spiritual restoration.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your loving-kindness. We have sinned against You. Our humble prayer is that you accept our confession and restore to us the joy and peace in our hearts that we have lost. We ask you to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And we will give You the glory and the honor that You deserve. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Beyond Human Limitations

The Lord is good, a strong Refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him (Nahum 1:7).

Our spiritual journey is uniquely developed according to our strengths and weaknesses as determined by God. What exactly does that mean? God is aware that we have unique life experiences, so He allows only the struggles that produce a character that reflects the character of Jesus Christ. God does not crush us as some would have us believe. We are not grapes going through a winepress! God is a loving Father who tells us, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

The characteristics of being Confident, Cautious/Careful, Carefree, or Careless are the mindsets and lifestyles that we have embraced. Those who are confident consider the cautious/careful cowardly. The carefree and careless consider the confident as rigid. And the cautious/careful consider everyone else as risk-takers. Yet whichever category we fit in when we face Adversity, the amount of courage we possess matters the most.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Courage is not a stand-alone characteristic. It requires faith and trust, either in oneself or God.

When the stormy hardships produce havoc, many think that their intellect, strategic planning abilities, prior experience, or people who always come to the rescue can resolve any challenge they face. Our demeanor changes once we apply all of our human efforts and tap out the resources of our family and friends, but the storm remains.

Two responses: Either we turn to God immediately and ask for the strength to go through the stormy trials, or we become overwhelmed, discouraged, or angry. The “Why me? or Why now?” questions that no human being can answer, God provides the answers in His Holy Scriptures.

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

Trials and sorrows change and build the character required for eternal life!

When it is evident that our mindsets and lifestyles demonstrate faith and trust in ourselves, God will allow trials and hardships to bring us back to Him. Eventually, we acknowledge that we have reached our limits and, in humility, confess, repent, and ask for Divine help. Unfortunately, some believers only have a superficial relationship with Jesus Christ. They become bitter, angry, or depressed, quickly blaming God for tough times. And willingly join the unbelievers because they do not desire to endure hardships.

If we only persevere, God has promised us a glorious future. Even in our earthly lives, the storms do not last forever! God always lets us know that He is here.

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning (James 1:16-17).

Know that God never expected us to live without His Divine Intervention. We were created to stay connected to God through prayer and study of the Scriptures. Imagine receiving spiritual nourishment from God through our spiritual umbilical cord 24/7. That is the access we have to our Father God, who desires for us to be overcomers.

Yet victory requires faith, trust, courage, strength, and endurance. God’s resources of love, compassion, and power are abundant. God will never fail us! His promises are Yes, to which we respond, Amen.

Bible Reading: James 1

Prayer: God, for too long, we have relied on our abilities. And for this sin, we ask for forgiveness. We need You and ask for the strength and endurance to overcome. We ask this prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Game of Chance

And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. Matthew 24:12

A concept is causing significant dissension and division among Christians–prosperity! When we hear messages based on God promising us wealth, we will react in one of two ways, “It’s a false teaching” or “Yes, Jesus says to ask anything in His name, and He will do it.” Yet, Jesus has told us “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…” Matthew 6:19, first part.

Sin has given us a natural longing to desire the things we do not have. Is it possible for us to be content? The answer of yes or no is an individual one, which reveals our relationship with Jesus Christ. We will explore the response of no, which many hesitate to say. They usually respond with, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19). And the conflict of truth versus error begins.

The Desire–Are you familiar with the phrase, “Some people are their own worst enemy?” We begin the decline into sin by our heartfelt desires. We have entered Satan’s Game of Chance as inexperienced players at this stage. But Pride continually urges us to pursue our dreams. Unsure of ourselves, we seek and select people who agree that we should follow our hearts. We make sure that we keep our strategies a secret, especially from the Saints of God who always say, “Pray and wait on God.” We grow weary of God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11. So, we begin listening to…the Influencers.

The Influencers persuade us to chase our dreams now. Many have become successful in the financial arena. We readily listen to the testimonials of social media’s elite, successful entrepreneurs or peruse the websites of powerful investment companies. JP Morgan advertises, “Set up a call or virtual meeting with a J.P. Morgan Advisor to discuss your investment goals and help keep them on track.”

An unequally yoked relationship is today’s believers’ second most prevalent deception. We have lost control of our senses, especially our eyesight. When children are younger, they are immature and desire the pleasant things they see. Yet, as they mature if taught restraint, they learn that not everything pleasing to the eyes is good for you.

The Rebellion–In these last days, Satan’s two deceptions are causing an internal conflict for first place in our hearts, seeking prosperity and having unequally yoked relationships with unbelievers. Chasing wealth and giving into lustful desires has many “Christians” renouncing God. Because compromise has overtaken the desire to obey God, they worship God with works–attending church or making tax-deductible contributions. But their minds are far from giving God the reverence of total obedience. “For let, not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:7-8).

The desire for what we do not possess has existed since the conflict with Lucifer in heaven. Adam and Eve gave up immortality and face-to-face communion with Jesus in the Garden of Eden for the deceptive lie of having God-like omnipotence–knowing all. We do not care! The Bible provides God-breathed historical accuracy in the Scriptures of fallen humanity and proof of God’s love, grace, mercies, and restoration. Yet, pursuing our desires becomes the driving force, and we willingly become players in the Game.

The Knocking on the Door of Our Hearts–“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).

The Failure–Because our Heavenly Father loves us, He intervenes, and our dreams that we brought into fruition fail. The loss of our financial investment, or the business falters into bankruptcy, and the relationship [no matter how dedicated you loved] is over when the unbeliever continually disappoints or walks away without remorse.

The Choice–God’s Restoration: With heartfelt sorrow, we confess and repent, [leaving the sinful Game] and receive spiritual restoration from the blood of Jesus Christ. “For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight…” (Psalm 51:3-4).

The Choice–Remain a Player: Many become angry and depressed, blaming God for not blessing their pursuits or relationships. They embrace the trending belief, “You can’t have success without failures,” and they decide to develop different strategies and continue to pursue their desires. Pride consoles them as they up the ante, “I’ll develop different strategies or find another individual with different values.” Now they have no need for God’s divine direction. They think of themselves as experienced players in the Game of Chance.

The Apostle Paul has forewarned us in 2 Timothy 3 regarding the condition of the last days. There is no middle ground. The player is seeking earthly rewards. But the righteous believe Jesus’ promise to supply all of our needs. We ask in prayer for God’s will to be done and patiently wait for God’s blessings. “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.” (Revelation 21:7).

Prayer: God, we thank You for seeking us to save our souls when we have wandered away. We pray for forgiveness, not because of the devastating consequences we have suffered. But because we desire to leave the Game of Sinful pleasures. Today, we surrender our hearts and ask to renew our covenant vow with You. In Jesus’ Worthy Name, we pray. Amen.

The Foundation of Faith

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Faith is dynamic–ever-growing through trials, sorrows, hardships, and the everyday challenges of life. Faith is based on the child-like belief that if Mommy or Daddy said it, then they believe it.

Throughout the Old Testament, God performed many supernatural miracles based on a prayer of faith. We must know [and believe in] God’s promises found in the Scriptures to receive Divine Intervention. God’s promises are for His believers. The human effort of knowledge, obedience, and faith enables us to live a worry-free life.

So, if faith is that simplistic, why do we suffer from anxiety, fear, and frustration? Answer: We have accepted and adopted the world-view of pursuing success–Doing it for yourself, chasing your dreams, following your heart, etc. We possess faith in our financial status, material possessions, and careers. Our future plans rarely include prayers that ask God for guidance.

Our most significant obstacle is self-reliance, which leads to disobedience. Many Christians do not believe in God’s promises. They acknowledge that God exists but have placed Him on reserve. Trusting in self results in happiness that vacillates like a roller-coaster. The believers who please themselves have an internal war. When their lives are peaceful, they celebrate the blessings of God. Yet, when the unexpected hardships arise, doubt escalates, and they ask, “Where is God?”

Hardships, Trials, and Sorrows Reveal Faith or Faithlessness

How do you perceive God? If you accept God as your Heavenly Father, then you believe that He has perfect plans for your life. When overwhelming challenges rise up, we must ask ourselves? Is the hardship self-inflicted? Did I make decisions based on my experience or desires? Was my plan developed and presented to God without waiting for His approval? “Good understanding gains favor, But the way of the transgressor [unfaithful] is hard.” (Proverbs 13:15).

Or is the hardship a trial to strengthen my faith and develop my character? “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12). Living in obedience gives us the assurance that God will deliver us at the appropriate time.

Our Response Reveals Our Relationship with God

The “Ephesian chapter 6” soldier of God responds to unexpected challenges with fervent praying. They pray for Divine help, and include God’s promises in their petitions. With confidence, they approach God because obedience is practiced daily in their walk with God. Yes, their faith is steadfast: “Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14 NLT).

With the desire and a simple prayer of confession, we can become faithful soldiers of God. There is a better way to live. Develop a relationship with our Heavenly Father. He has promised to take care of us. And God’s promises are “Yes, and Amen.”

God’s People Are Comforted

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Prayer: God, we ask for forgiveness of the sin of self-reliance. Hear our prayer and give us the strength to withstand our consequences. And if our hardships are fiery trials to develop our characters, we pray for the strength and patience to wait for You. In Jesus’ Worthy name, we pray. Amen.

The Journey of the Overcomers Audio

Our spiritual journey of Sanctification–spiritual transformation is lifelong. And for those mercies, we should be forever grateful and full of joy. After reading 1 John chapters 1-2, I have concluded that we can negatively impact our spiritual growth and development by seeking after our desires and pursuits. Jesus forewarned us in John 16:33 that His disciples would suffer a life of trials and sorrows, but to be courageous because He has overcome every challenge.

Seeking God in prayer and asking Him to reveal any undesirable characteristics is our first step to aligning ourselves with His will. God’s plans for us are perfect. Yes, our journey is full of hardships. Even so, when we possess humility, obedience, and a spirit of self-sacrifice, we are confident that we have divine intervention on our side. Allow God to manifest His Greatness in your life by praying daily, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” In Jesus’s name, Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

Grace and Perseverance: If we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He will also deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:12-13

The Potter and the Clay

But now, O Lord you are our Father, we are the clay, and you our Potter; And all of us are the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

Timothy constantly sought Paul’s advice and instruction. He exercised consideration and calm thought, inquiring at every step, Is this the way of the Lord? The Holy Spirit found in him one who could be molded and fashioned as a temple for the indwelling of the divine Presence. TT 109.1

The question is, Are we surrendering to the power of the Holy Spirit and allowing Jesus Christ to transform our character? God is not intrusive. He does not force us to change into His image. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

Prayer: God, we desire to be molded in the Character of Christ. We pray for forgiveness of our sins. We ask to be molded in your hands. As we prepare for your soon coming, we pray for guidance in every aspect of our lives. In the powerful name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

© 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry