Sunday, July 22, 2007

Rebelling Against Authority

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress;My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” – Psalms 91:1-4

He wasn’t going. No way – no how! He didn’t care who it was asking. That was one trip he was not going to make! Instead he found a ship going as far away from the town of Nineveh as he could. He boarded a ship sailing to the town of Tarshish. Maybe it was the stress of the decision or perhaps it was the lack of sleep while God was urging him to travel to Nineveh. Either way he was exhausted, and Jonah fell sleep on the boat.

He thought he’d escaped. God had not yet revealed himself to the people of Tarshish so it seemed the perfect destination to get away from God and His demands. But God was watching. The clouds darkened, and settled above the boat. All light was gone from the sky. The seas began to roar and the waves crashed against the little boat harder, stronger, and taller.

The boat was rocking because Satan was knocking! By rejecting the authority of God, Jonah had set in place his own destruction. God had removed the umbrella of protection put over his prophet, and Satan was at the gate - prepared to attack!

The men in the boat were afraid for their lives. They were looking for places to hang on, looking for a way to stay afloat should their boat capsize. Then Jonah told them about his journey from God - his attempt to run. Jonah said to them in Jonah 1:12, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.” Jonah already knew in his heart even before the storm started that he was wrong in running from Almighty God. His heart told him so! A child doesn’t purposefully disobey a parent without feeling guilt. But now that God had removed the umbrella of protection, he was willing to admit his mistake.

As soon as Jonah was thrown out of the boat the seas became calm, the waves stopped rushing the ship, and the clouds dispersed. Jonah had stopped running. He was no longer going to Tarshish. In fact, he wasn’t going anywhere but a water-filled grave unless God rescued him! But that’s exactly what happened! A loving God, who forgives all our sins, placed him in the belly of a whale, and took him safely to shore.

Just as a potter must bring the clay under his submission to make it useful, God has to bring us under his submission as well. When the clay refuses to be molded, it’s tossed aside. Without the potter’s attention it begins to dry out, to crumble, to lose it’s strength, and become nothing more than dust. If the potter does not return to the clay, it becomes completely useless.

God uses different situations to mold us by the authority we allow him to have over us. When we rebel against that authority, we give place for Satan to enter into our lives. Satan is very familiar with rebellion! If you remember, he led the rebellion in Heaven that caused one-third of all the angels to be cast down with him. He knows how to orchestrate your rebellion as well. Just as he whispered into the ears of the angels he’ll whisper into yours!

“If God really loved you, would he allow this to happen? Surely He doesn’t love you as much as he loves Sister Saintly! Look how wonderful her life is!”

“You’re worthless. You can’t do anything right. What does God need with a servant like you? Let someone with talent do the job.”

“The church folk don’t like you. Those people are probably talking about you behind your back, and just wanting you to quit! And you know Brother Bigmouth said you had no talent! Brother Badnews even told you so!”

Friends, Satan is bold – he has nothing to fear! He thought nothing of trying to tempt Jesus Christ in the wilderness. Keep in mind – he was completely aware of who Jesus was. This was not their first meeting. Jesus was in Heaven when the rebellion began, and was with God when Satan and his minions were cast out. Yet that did not discourage him from trying to tempt Jesus. Don’t think he won’t come after you if you allow the umbrella of protection to be lifted through your insubordination to God!

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…“ – James 4:7-8

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