Focus on What God Has Done for You Rather Than What Someone Did to You

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Grace for Everyone
After venting his frustration regarding God’s response to Nineveh, Jonah has gone out and sat down east of the city, and from there, he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade, and waited to see what God would do to the city. Then the Lord provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort. Jonah was very happy about the plant, but at dawn the next day, God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. After this, God provided a scorching east wind and the sun blazed on Jonah's head, so that he grew faint and he wanted to die. So, God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” After all, Jonah didn't do anything to have or earn the shade while he had it. It just was there by God's provision. And yet he felt entitled to be angry with God; the God who brought that good thing into his life. Jonah feels it's fair for him to be angry that the good thing is no longer present in his life. We see this root of bitterness and selfishness that has turned into entitlement. The Lord said to Jonah, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” Surprisingly, that’s how the book of Jonah ends. Jonah is angry and bitter because he wants God's grace for himself, but he doesn't want to give it to other people. If you've been blinded by bitterness, there's probably a part of you that wants to hold onto your anger and resentment. You may think by letting go that you're letting the other person get away with it. You might think by extending forgiveness that you're justifying or minimizing what was done to you. But because of Jesus, we have been forgiven and washed clean. And so, because of what we've received from him, we have it freely to give to others.  DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: Is there someone in your life that seems impossible to extend forgiveness to? Why do you think this is? After spending some time in prayer to think about the sins that you have been forgiven of by God, does that change your perspective?
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Wind and Waves
When the wind and waves start becoming overwhelming, we read in Jonah 1:5-6 that, “All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, ‘How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.’” You can’t dismiss or glaze over what this pagan captain says to Jonah. The captain says, if you call out to God, maybe he will have compassion on us. The sea keeps getting worse, and the sailors start to recognize that there's something supernatural going on here with this storm. Jonah is finally forced to come clean to reveal his identity as a Hebrew and his goal to run from God’s command to travel to Nineveh. Even these pagan sailors recognize all the errors that exist in Jonah’s plan and that this storm has been caused by Jonah’s disobedience. They are so convinced that they begin praying to the real God to not hold them accountable for Jonah’s death as they throw him over. The raging sea grew calm as soon as Jonah is no longer aboard this ship. Isn’t it ironic that these pagan sailors realize how foolish it is to attempt to run away from God that they don’t even believe in, yet Jonah believes his plan will work to escape God who is all-knowing and all-seeing?  DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: When have you interpreted “waves and wind” as God’s abandonment? In hindsight, can you see that God’s grace was present during those events? 
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Rooted in Self-Righteousness
Most of us have been hurt by someone in our past, and as much as you’ve possibly tried to leave that hurt in the past, it remains present. It might seem like it's even grown bigger in your life and it begins to affect others relationships that you don't intend for it to. In fact, the more you pretend like it isn't a thing, the bigger thing it becomes. This is how bitterness works. If left unchecked, it begins to take root and take hold. Bitterness can grow little by little, until it becomes anger that dominates your soul. Maybe your anger is towards God instead of another person, because you prayed for something to happen that didn’t come to pass like you wanted. It can become easy to feel entitled to the bitterness that you're going through, and that was probably true for Jonah as well. Jonah probably could have justified the bitterness. There may have been some violence committed upon his family, or he would have known similar stories from neighboring families by those in Nineveh. And some of you feel the way that Jonah did; that you deserve to be bitter for the rest of your life. Bitterness can be described as lighting yourself on fire hoping the smoke will bother the other person. It just doesn't work, and if left unhindered, it begins to take over everything. When we are bitter, it makes it really hard to go in the direction that God's calling us. So, Jonah stands at this port of Joppa, and he knows what God wants him to do, but he's blinded by his bitterness.  DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: Think of a time where you have felt entitled to your bitterness. Who were you bitter at? Why did you feel entitled to it? Where did this bitterness lead you?