Thursday, January 8, 2009


It strikes me as a bit fishy that Jonah, who is supposed to be proclaiming God’s message to Nineveh, simply says, “Forty days from now, Nineveh will be destroyed!” How would you feel if your minister preached, “you’re all going to die... you’re dismissed, go in peace.” I'd be a little confused, especially if he smelled like the open sea!

We know from his Word that God is not willing that any should perish. God is compassionate and gracious. Jonah leaves out all such good news from the Good News. Yet an amazing transformation takes place in Nineveh. The entire city repents and turns to God!

I can’t help but think that even though Jonah did obey God by going to Nineveh (the second time he was commanded), he fudged a little on the message, by leaving out hope. In spite of the hopeless finality of his brief word, everyone in Nineveh believed the Word!

There are three points of encouragement in this story for those who want to witness to others for God’s glory, but may be intimidated.

1. It Only Takes a Seed!
Jonah left out all the good parts of the message. He left out the hope - no escape clause; no bailout plan. One thing was in Jonah’s favor: He told the truth. You know those words you say when being sworn in at court, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” Jonah got three out of four right.

1. Jonah Told the Truth
2. Jonah Told Nothing But the Truth - short bu true!
3. Jonah had the help of God - Remember the fish?!?

The only thing Jonah left out was the whole truth. He didn’t tell the whole story. He didn’t tell about God’s love and mercy, about God’s kindness that leads us to repentance! But it only takes a seed! Jesus said the Word of God is like the smallest seed, that grows into the largest plant! If you can just leave them with a seed, God will work on the growth!

2. It’s Your Father Speaking!
Even though Jonah went to Nineveh, and Jonah gave the word, the Bible says, “they believed God” (Jonah 3:5).

Jesus said its not you speaking - but your father speaking through you. Yes, some people could be in danger of misrepresenting Jesus. Some people could be in danger of making Christ and his cross and his church look really, really bad! But Jesus expresses what sounds like a confidence in his disciples! I realized something: Jesus isn’t expressing confidence in their ability, but in God’s ability! Jesus doesn’t stake his Gospel on the disciple’s speaking ability, but in God’s ability to speak through them!

What did these disciples have that put them in the ranks of great evangelists? What was there prerequisite for God speaking through them? Acts gives the direct correlation between these disciples speaking the right words, and the cause of such words: It wasn’t education, it wasn’t skill, it wasn’t articulation - it says “they took note that these men had been with Jesus!”

If you’ve been with Him, then He will be the one speaking! So, don’t worry, God will give you the word, as long as you’ve spent some time in his presence!

3. It’s Not Your Gospel It’s His Gospel!
Even though Jonah gave an incomplete Gospel, even though Jonah gave a Gospel seemingly without hope, the people accepted the message, because, “The Ninevites Believed God,” not Jonah!

After you’ve done all you know to do, whether in the planting, or the watering, when God steps in, he causes the increase. It’s liberating to know that you’re not responsible for causing the change in people’s lives. That’s God’s job, and he does it so well!

So, when you’re given the opportunity to witness, don’t let is frighten you. You don't have to say the Roman Road verbatim, or recite the Four Spiritual Laws word for word. Remember these tips, and then open your mouth and let God fill it!

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