This week we prayed over and read Jonah 1:7-10. It’s amazing that from just 3 verses in God’s Word, we get biblical insight into gambling, God’s sovereignty, crafting our story (testimony), owning up to our decisions, and relating God to the hurting and lost people in this world. Although these topics may seem random, we see the sovereign LORD working everything together to accomplish His plan of saving sinners from destruction. And He uses us, His children, to carry out His plans, whether we choose to obey Him or not.
Is the lottery/gambling biblical?
People hope that they will get rich, or get more, by taking risks with God-given stewardship of money. If God created everything, provides everything, and is sovereign over everything, the question should asked, “LORD, is this what you want me to do with your money?”
Gambling is a potential addiction, just like wasting money on obsessive hobbies or substances.
If something is a potential addiction, then it is also a potential stumbling block for someone else. We may feel that we can control our guilty pleasures, but by indulging in them, we could expose a brother or sister to their greatest addiction. Think about that. Jesus had some sobering words to those who cause others to stumble in their faith, “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42)
“Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. . . . and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:9–10).
Do you struggle with wanting/earning more money and resources? This is verse for you: Luke 16:10-11, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?” Trust in God the Provider and be responsible with what He has given you, and He may give you more.
Some pagan (and unfortunately religious) practices involved casting lots in order to determine the gods will. The disciples chose Matthias, the one who replaced Judas, by casting lots between two candidates. If you want to know the will of God, we don’t need to gamble and cast lots. Romans 12:2 gives us a clear picture of knowing the will of God, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Abiding in the Spirit and walking/praying/thinking in the Spirit will help us find and know the will of our Lord.
GOD IS SOVEREIGN! Even as these men in Jonah gamble on a boat to determine who is at fault for the storm, God uses their ignorance for his glory to point to Jonah.
“Jonah, tell us: who are you? What’s your story?”
The men asked Jonah who he was: his occupation, where he came from, his country, and of what people he was. “What does your bio on you Instagram and Twitter say?” Usually it’s your school, your graduation date, and your boyfriend and your relationship starting date.
If you are a Christ follower, then 1 Peter 2:9 tells you who you are: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
Who are you (legal identity), where are you (location), and whose are you (spiritual) are great questions to ask anyone to sum up one’s identity. If I asked you this RIGHT NOW, what would you say? When people ask you, what do you say?
*Sometimes we struggle with sharing our story. One of the signs of a believer in Christ is that you have a desire to tell other people! Pray for an opportunity, and God will put people in your path. Try to run from God and avoid it, and God will still put people in your path. Because this is the mission, and those who claim Christ and to follow Him are a part of that mission.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:32-33, “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in haven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
What does Jonah say? He owns up to who he is, where he is from, and who he belongs to (verse 9).
Jonah related who God is to the sailors’ problems
At the end of verse 9, who does he say God is? “Who made the sea and the dry land.” He’s relating God to their immediate problem and circumstance! To these sailors, in this moment, what is the most dangerous thing in their life? THE SEA! What would be the best thing in the sailors’ lives right now? DRY LAND!!
What is your response to people and their problems? How can you relate the LORD to your friends who are struggling with anxiety and worry? How can you relate the LORD to your friends who are struggling with homosexuality and sexual identity and addictions? What word can you give about our Savior to your friends who struggle with fear and pain and abandonment?
We need to own up to our choices/decisions.
The Sailors recognize that Jonah has messed up.
The world asks us this same question, “What is this that you have done?”
If we preach the Gospel and Christ do not live a life of worship and response to that Gospel, then we look and act like the world. Another word for this is a hypocrite, a person who pretends to have religious beliefs that he does not actually possess.
May God give us a heart that knows Him and is changed by the Spirit to obey Him out of love for what He has done for us. And may we boldly proclaim our allegiance and identity in Christ to this world, and relate God to their sin and struggles.
*Because of the snow, we did not have time for our discussion groups. I have included the discussion questions for the week for you to go over with your children and friends to further talk about spiritual growth and application. Click the link here: 1.20.16