by Kurt Mahlburg—Features Editor, Canberra Declaration
God gives us his heart of compassion so we can extend his heart of compassion to others.
“You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”—Jonah 4:2b
Read Jonah 4:1-11.
These are some of the most profound words said about God in all of Scripture. But there’s a great deal of hidden irony in them. The one who spoke these words was Jonah—the prophet sent by God to Ninevah, who wasn’t interested in his mission and had no concern for the people he was called to reach.
In fact, just before Jonah uttered the words above, he got angry at God and said, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God…” In other words, “Why couldn’t you just judge those Ninevites instead of saving them?” It’s a comical scene—and Jonah is a comical book.
The fact that you are on this 31-day journey of prayer and outreach likely means that your heart is softer than Jonah’s. But Jonah’s story is still instructive for us. God has an uncanny ability to love the whole world, and love an individual at the same time. Even as He has worldwide revival in view, he still takes the time to pursue a single, precious heart.
But the most profound lesson of all in the book of Jonah is that it is precisely events like Nineveh’s repentance—and Go 2020—that God uses to change the hearts of his people. Whether you feel ready or not; whether you fear man or not; whether your gift is evangelism or not, God has you right where he wants you. He’s in pursuit of your heart.
He has compassion on broken people like you and me. His grace and abundant love transforms us. And it is from that place of transformation that he then calls us to proclaim the Good News to those who haven’t heard it yet.
God is bigger than all of our fears, greater than all of our failures, and he even uses the reluctant. The grace he extends to a lost and dying world is always, constantly extended to us. The plans of revival He has for the masses, He also has for our hearts each day. That’s what He’s best at.
Dear Lord, thank you for your heart of compassion. Thank you that you are always in the business of revival, beginning in the hearts of your people. Revive us and fill us with your compassion so that we can take it to others. Use your church, not as reluctant messengers but as bold witnesses of your great mercy and love. In Jesus’ Name.
31 Days Prayer Points
1. Pray for five people and share the Good News of Jesus with them
2. Pray that God would use his people to reach one billion people this May
3. Pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic, both in Australia and globally
Kurt Mahlburg served in Indonesia for two years and pastored for five, and now works with the Canberra Declaration. He is also a qualified teacher and freelance writer.
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