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Jonah Had Problems
May we learn not to follow his example, as this was written for our instruction. (Romans 15:4)

How often does God put people across our path that we don't like?
Ever wonder why?
It could be a boss, a co-worker, a former friend, a neighbor, a family member, and even a brother or sister in Christ, or anyone else we feel animosity toward.
The reason for these people entering your life is because God is conforming you to be the image of Christ, teaching you to love even your enemies so that you can be used by Him to be a vessel of compassion.

Matthew 5:44-47
"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, {45} "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. {46} "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? {47} "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?”

God Is Teaching Us Love
If we don't love people who curse us, hate us, use us, and persecute us then we are no better than any non-Christian.
If we hate or dislike anyone can we really claim to be children of God?
God brings these people into our lives for our spiritual benefit and growth, and we do not realize it.
If we obey God it will be for the benefit of our enemies also.

God Is Teaching Us Love
The Lord tells us how to love our enemies.
We are to bless them, which is speaking good things to them.
We are to do good to them.
Most important, we are to pray for them.

God Is Teaching Us Love
Doing these things will turn our hate into love and then God can send His compassion through us to them;
touching them with the most powerful force in the universe, LOVE.
Love always conquers hate as light conquers darkness.
Our natural flesh response is to just get away from them, thinking then our life will be better.

Jonah Was Wrong
That is what Jonah thought.
The story of "Jonah and the Whale" told in the book of Jonah in the Bible tells of the Prophet Jonah's ordeal when God commanded him to go to Nineveh and preach the word from God to repent or be destroyed.
Nineveh was the capitol of the Assyrian Empire.
The Assyrian's were a heartless, cruel, and evil people.
They were great enemies of Israel.
Jonah did not want them to repent, Jonah did not want God to have mercy and compassion on such people so he fled in the opposite direction getting on board a ship to escape from doing God's will.

Jonah Was Wrong
We know the story.
The ship crew tried to row to shore but it was futile, and they thought they would die.
Jonah explained he was the reason for the storm and convinced the crew to cast him overboard.
The crew prayed to God, which they probably would not have done if this event did not happen.
The great fish swallows him.

Jonah Repents
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God.
He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD."

Jonah Does What God Wants
Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time:
"Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you."
Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh.
Jonah did what God wanted him to do, but we will see later that Jonah was not happy about it.
There might be times in our lives where doing God’s will interferes with our wants.

Now Nineveh was a very large city.
A visit required three days to go through the whole city.
On the first day, Jonah started into the city.
He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.“
Now here is the part Jonah did not like.

The Ninevites believed God.
They had never listened to a prophet of God before.
Perhaps no other prophet preached to them for the same reasons Jonah did not want to preach to them.
They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.

The King Proclaims
Then the king issued a proclamation in Nineveh: "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.“
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

Jonah Was Angry (very angry)
But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.
He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home?”
That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish.
I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.
“Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live."
But the LORD replied, "Have you any right to be angry?"

Jonah Was Angry (very angry)
Jonah goes east of the city and sets up camp.
He built a shelter and God provided a vine to cover the shelter so Jonah would be comfortable in the shade.
Jonah was waiting for the destruction, but it did not happen.
To teach Jonah a lesson, God caused a worm to attack the vine and kill it.
Then a hot dry wind was sent upon Jonah and he suffered greatly and wanted to die.

Jonah Was Angry (very angry)
Jonah complains that God killed this plant.
But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?“
"I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die."
But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"

Lessons Learned
Through this experience God was not just working on the people of Nineveh He was also teaching Jonah a lesson about true love and compassion.
God wants us to be vessels of His compassion that He can use to reach a lost and hurting world.
The people that we don't like are probably the people who are hurting the most on the inside.
Who are we to judge that they don't deserve the love of God to touch their hearts?
Who are we to withhold good, and blessing, and our prayers for them; thus keeping the knowledge of God from them?
The Christian life seems to be a series of lessons about how bad we can be and how great God's mercy and compassion is.

Lessons Learned
We must never forget that we are not in a war with people, we are in a war with Satan.
The people that we consider enemies are just prisoners of war taken captive by Satan.
(Ephesians 6:12 NKJV) “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”.
The power of God, which is the power of love, can turn an enemy into a best friend.
Showing love to an enemy pleases God and proves that we have great spiritual maturity.
(Proverbs 16:6-7 NKJV) “In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil. {7} When a man's ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him”.

Lessons Learned
We must always remember that as citizens of heaven we are ambassadors sent to represent the kingdom, and our King, Jesus Christ.
Only by compassion and love can we represent the God of love, the God of compassion.
We show love even to our enemies by doing good to them.
By blessing them, which is saying good things to them, and saying good things about them behind their back, speaking blessings and not cursing.
(Proverbs 18:21 NKJV) “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit”.

Lessons Learned
The most important way we show love is through prayer, this is where spiritual battles are fought and won.
Doing all these things will cause the compassion of God to flow through our hearts as a river of life.
It will change our enemies' life and even if they are not affected it will definitely change our life, which is God's plan anyway.

Remember What Jesus Taught
(Matthew 5:44-47 NKJV) "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, {45} "that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. {46} "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? {47} "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?”
(Matthew 5:9 KJV) “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”.

Don't try to avoid God's will for your life or you will run into a storm.
If it is your destiny to be conformed to the image of Jesus, you will be conformed whatever it takes.
(Romans 8:28-29 NKJV) “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. {29} For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren”.
Do not make the mistakes that Jonah made.
Do what God wants you to do.

By Carey Scott based upon an article from an unknown author

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