Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Jonah 3 - a big fish & a big question

This Sunday we are back on track with Jonah and I am covering chapter 3. Jonah is vomited out of a big fish and I find myself asking a big question. You see, I think Jonah is dumb because he ran away from what God asked him to do. If God clearly tells you to do something, who in their right mind would disobey? No-one (except fools).

But the question I find myself asking is 'But how do you know when God has asked you to do something?'. I want to look at this because a fundamental assumption in the book is that Jonah knew that God had told him to go to Nineveh.

So what I need to hear is: #1 How has God clearly spoken to you in the past? #2 What are you questions regarding 'How can God speak clearly to us today'? It is time to post those comments!


Dave Burt said...

#1 - In 2003 God told me and Jas to move from Maidenhead to Reading and we felt he clearly told us RFC was where we were supposed to be as a couple. Looking back, we or Jasmine specifically, heard God correctly and we're glad that we listened and obeyed!

God spoke to me through an evangelist who told me I was going to have conversations with people in coffee shops and that I was going to turn the conversation from negative conversation, into positive Christ centred conversation and that part of my overall make up as "Dave" was to be a mini-evangelist - 5 years on I've just seen 2 colleagues saved and added to RFC through the Alpha course - and it all started in the coffee shop at work.

#2 - In terms of questions, I think what would be helpful from conversations I've had with new Christians is "how do you know when you're hearing God's voice?" So is God's voice audible or as Mr Rob Rufus suggessts, is it more of an "inner audible voice"? And what does that mean!?

Also, if we could tune into the voice of God better and more regularly, we'd hear him more? And therefore, how do we do that? And what stops us from tuning in to the voice of God regularly?


thebluefish said...

This afternoon I was sitting in Starbucks in Bristol supping my coffee and then you quoted me. Freaked me out a bit.

I guess God speaks through thoughts, instincts, feelings, words, people, Scripture...

One question is how you know? How does my deceptive heart fit in? How does testing stuff fit? Is there a difference between the Prophet's commissioning at us? Is there a similarity?

Very appropriate to talk of fools... when we disobey what God says it's tantamount to atheism isn't it, which is the definition of being a fool.

Anonymous said...

My answers to your question, I think the only way you can be sure you hear God speaking is when it is prophetic and there is an immediate response, either you stating there is someone who has a strange condition etc, or a prophetic word is spoken over you and you resonate with it's content. I'm trying to think of examples from my life! Will keep you posted.
Q2. I guess you can question whether it was God when you feel you have been told something (i.e someone will be saved) and you make a call and no one responds. However listening to Rob Rufus last year at Brighton, he talked about submitting to the prompting of God (when praying for sight for a lady on the street who was not healed) but the fact that because he was humble enough to step out in that situation meant that God used him to open the eyes of a baby at a later time. (If you listen to the story, you realise there was further submission to God in that situation as the baby was hidden from sight, and he had to step out in faith to bring the word of knowledge).
I think that further answers to the 2nd Q would be that even when you act on a prompting and it is not God speaking, God can still use this (whether or not it is in line with bible teaching and done in submission to God).
Finally, Irwin McManus talks about his friend who won't do anything because he is not sure what God is calling him to , but Irwin says to him Just do something! God is able to use all our actions even when he hasn't spoken directly to us!
Hope that kind of answers the questions!

Simon Starling

Anonymous said...

god speaks to us first and foremost through his word – and on some issues it is very clear and we should not be looking for any other guidance from god.

On other issues, I believe it is quite clear that god has chosen to speak to us through our minds and hearts Jeremiah 31 ‘ I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts’. I believe there are times, as Christians – by his spirit, when we just KNOW when god is telling us to do something or not do it (My sheep know my voice)....and we feel unsettled in our hearts, in our spirits when we do not obey....we may try and rationalise it away or seek biblical evidence to argue against it, but truth is, we KNOW we are trying to avoid it and it will be more evident when we are contemplatively praying about it – and the more we practice the presence of God the more we become sensitive to God asking us to do things.

There however times when we do not what God wants eg us going to Australia – it would be audacious for us to say God has called us there – but equally he has not called us to stay in Reading – I do not think our God is one of default – as I have over the last 2 years spent time with god on this issue, I have not sensed God calling us, or keeping us in either place....so what do we do? We get on with the business of living – sometimes God wants us to just start walking and then he will guide us ‘whether you turn to the left or to the right, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying this is the way, walk in it’. If we have earnestly consulted with him; and our hearts are turned towards him; we should walk in confidence trusting and believing that he will guide us if we are out of his will – God has always warned his people when they are rebelling him – hence jonah being sent to Ninevah – I trust the spirit that god has placed within me – i trust his promises: He will guide me; He will be found when I seek him...I therefore walk in faith knowing that if I am walking the wrong way he will let me know....how mostly through an unsettled spirit when I am with him in prayer. Can I fool myself? No, not without me knowing it – we KNOW when we are wriggling out of gods will – that is what being a child of god is all about – knowing the fathers heart because we know Christ and we have his spirit in us. The job of the spirit is to convict us of sin – and if we ignore it God will arrest our attention through our friends; prophecy ; storms at sea.

The question in a way is how much do we expect God to tell us what to do? Does he choose our house and tell us; does he choose our job? Or does he allow us to make our own choices and he works through them to our good? Are we expected to look to him to give us direction in everything or are we to commit everything to him in prayer and then get on with using our talents and skills to make decisions and live our live in a godly way open to his guiding us when we chooses. I am fairly convinced that there are times in our lives when god chooses to direct us specifically and we know about it. There are other times when we get on with the business of living and we only see later how god has weaved it all into his great plan.

In short when god speaks to us; we will know. Whether it is a quiet voice inside; an audible one; or just a sense of what it is he wants without it being put in words. We will equally know when we are rebelling against what he asks.

Regards Michelle Manson