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But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed to the LORD, and said, I pray you, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before to Tarshish: for I knew that you are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repent you of the evil. Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech you, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. Then said the LORD, Do you well to be angry?
So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city. And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
And God said to Jonah, Do you well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even to death. Then said the LORD, You have had pity on the gourd, for the which you have not labored, neither made it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more then six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
By Liu Shuo One day, I came back home from the church meeting, my legs aching. I sat on my bed, patting my two legs and humming a hymn quietly, “We have to praise Jehovah, because all things are out of Him. He is the Ruler of the heavens and earth and all things. There is no other God like Him …” Just as I was singing, my husband opened the door and came in. Seeing him back, I was very excited and asked, “You have finally come back. How come you were out so long this time? It’s been nearly two years.” My husband put the things with him on the table, explaining, “I’ve been busy these days with the affairs of the church and I couldn’t get away.” Then he came to the bedside and asked me with concern, “Why are you massaging your legs?” I said, “I received a notice from the upper-level co-workers and had a meeting for a few days. I came home a little while ago. My legs are aching badly. I just massage them to stimulate circulation.” My husband said with a smile, “Did you kneel to pray for a long time in the meeting?” I said gruffly, “That’s right. The two co-workers prayed for more than one hour and called on the name of the Lord for over twenty minutes. In the end, they again prayed for more than one hour. It was almost three hours in all. In fact, after praying for forty minutes, I felt my legs were numb and my calves were swollen. I wanted to stand up to relax my legs and reduce soreness, but at the thought that this suffering was approved by God, I had to kneel there and continued praying. Later, when the prayer was finished, I could hardly stand up. I felt tired and painful. I really couldn’t bear it.” My husband said seriously, “The Lord Jesus has ever said: ‘God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24). Prayer is the most direct way for us to worship God. We need to use our heart to pray to the Lord and speak intimate words with Him. That is, we should talk to God about our true state and actual difficulties, rather than show off our eloquence and exhibit ourselves in praying. In the past, when I prayed with brothers and sisters during my sermon, many times I listed verses and said a bunch of nice sounding words. I didn’t pray with my heart. Instead, I wanted to win others’ favor for admiration and let others look up to me. Now, I am very fed up with the way I prayed.” I said in puzzlement, “Yeah, the Lord Jesus asked us to use our heart and integrity to worship Him. Putting like that, I find I have the same attitude that if I pray with many words, list many scriptures and pray for a long time, I will be spiritual and others will not look down upon me. Actually, we co-workers also list verses to compare ourselves to each other. That’s the reason why each of us prayed longer than the next.” My husband said, “In reality, God pays no mind to our half-hearted prayers. In Matthew 6:5-7, it recorded what the Lord Jesus has ever taught His disciples, ‘And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward. But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly. But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.’ From these words, we can see that the Lord Jesus loathes the prayers of the hypocrites. But we think that the more words of our prayers are, the happier the Lord will be. In fact, it is not. Our prayers are to flaunt ourselves on purpose and to show off, so that others will mistake our outward practices for our devotion to the Lord. How can such behaviors deceive the Lord?” After hearing his words, I nodded and said, “What you said is truly so. Well, I find you have had much progress. Where did you get so much light? I have never heard before.” He said with a smile, “Such understanding was from some words a net friend sent to me the other day. I felt he had his own unique insights about prayer, so I wrote down some of the important passages on my notebook. When I am free, I can ponder them. Let me share them with you.” Saying these words, my husband stood up and walked to the table. He took out his notebook, and began to read, “Prayer is not a case of going through the formalities, or following procedure, or reciting the words of God, which is to say, prayer does not mean parroting words and copying others. In prayer, you must give your heart to God, sharing the words in your heart with God so that you may be touched by God.” Then he said, “You see how these words are accordance with the Lord’s requirements for us. That is to say, prayer is not going through the formalities or following procedure or reciting God’s words. In prayer, we should give our heart to God and speak from our heart to Him.” Looking at these words, I said, “In this light, our former prayers were mainly reciting verses, parroting words and following procedures, but not giving our hearts to God.” My husband said, “Hmm” and continued “Well, let me read another passage about what is a true prayer, ‘What does it mean to truly pray? It means speaking the words within your heart to God, and communing with God having grasped His will and based upon His words; it means feeling particularly close to God, feeling that He is in front of you, and that you have something to say to Him; and it means being especially radiant within your heart, and feeling that God is especially lovely. You will feel especially inspired, and after hearing your words your brothers and sisters will feel gratified, they will feel that the words you speak are the words within their hearts, the words they wish to say, and that what you say represents what they want to say. This is what it means to truly pray. After you have truly prayed, in your heart you will feel at peace, and gratified; the strength to love God will rise up, and you will feel that nothing in your entire life is more worthy or significant than loving God—and all this will prove that your prayers have been effective.’ From these words, we can see: The result achieved by true prayers is to draw our heart closer to God, to make us feel God’s dearness and loveliness. Besides, it can make us enjoy the peace and joy God bestowed upon us, and obtain deeper knowledge of God’s words. If we always recite the Bible verses to God every day, just as a Buddhist monk chants scriptures, how can the Lord accept and listen to our prayers? Should this continue, we will become further and further from God and even be despised by God. Just like a child who always says the same thing to his parents repeatedly since his childhood, are his parents willing to listen?” I was silent for a moment with my head bent, and then I said, “It seems that our former way of prayer is really not in line with the Lord’s will. No wonder even when I pray every day, my spiritual condition can’t be invigorated, and I cannot feel the Lord’s presence. Can it be said that it has a direct relationship with our prayer?” My husband looked at me with approval. Then, I asked again in puzzlement, “We pray twice at a specific time every day, the morning prayer at 5 a.m. and the evening prayer; we deacons and others who have burdens must pray for the brothers or sisters who need help as well as all the other people in the church, asking the Lord to keep these families peace in the Lord; then we pray for the unbelievers, from families to countries, and even pray for the world peace. I don’t know whether such kind of prayer will be listened to by the Lord.” My husband said with a bitter smile, “Compared to the facts, we will know whether God has listened or not. We pray for the world peace every day, but from the world situation we can see that the wars become more and more intense, to the extent of breaking out at any moment. Every country united with each other in military exercises to show his own country’s power. We prayed to God asking Him to forgive man’s sins and remove man’s disasters, but we can see from the TV reports that there are more and more disasters and the scope which they involved is broader and broader. All kinds of phenomena indicate that our prayer has not reached God’s ears, and God doesn’t approve our prayer at all.” I said, “According to the reality, your words are really true. Though we kneel before the Lord to pray for such a long time every day, the Lord doesn’t seem to listen to our prayers.” Then he said seriously, “The fact is the best answer. Let me read another passage to you, ‘Like the people in the Three-Self Church who are limited to daily morning watch, evening prayers, giving thanks before meals, expressing thanks in everything, and other such practices, no matter how much these people do, or how long they practice, they will not have the work of the Holy Spirit. If people live within rules, with their hearts poured into practice, then the Holy Spirit has no way to work, because people’s hearts are taken up with rules, are taken up with human conceptions; therefore God has no way to do work; people will just always be living under control of the law, and this type of person will never be able to receive the praise of God. A normal spiritual life is to live a life before God. When praying one can quiet one’s heart before God, and through prayer one can seek for enlightenment by the Holy Spirit, know God’s words, and can understand the will of God’. From these words, we can see: If we live within the rituals of religion and rules, all we do will not be approved by the Lord, much less receive the Holy Spirit’s work. Moreover, sometimes when we don’t know God’s will, we stubbornly require God to do this or do that, as if we were God’s advisers. We ask that God act in accordance with our thoughts in all things, but don’t quiet our hearts before God to seek His meaning or speak intimately to Him to seek the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and guidance. We should bear the burden for our own lives, seek and pray often for the truths we don’t understand, and pray for the growth of our spiritual life. Only such prayers are in concert with God’s intentions and will be approved by God.” I said with excitement, “Thank God for His guidance. In the past, I always thought that if we prayed to or knelt before God for a long time, it showed that we were devout to the Lord; if we could adhere to all kinds of religious rituals, it showed we were loyal to the Lord. In fact, our hearts didn’t quiet before God and we did not have heart-to-heart talks with God. It appears that no matter how long these outward behaviors last, it’s no use; and we cannot receive the Holy Spirit’s work, either. I must quickly share this new light with brothers and sisters in the next meeting, so that they can change their ways of praying which are not in line with God’s will.” My husband said delightedly, “Let’s leave this here. I am very hungry. Please make some food for me. Then I will fellowship with you about some light regarding another aspect of the truth.” I said happily, “All right, I will do that at once.” You may be interested in this article: The Key Point to Know so that God Answers Our Prayers
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By Gao Han Referring to life, we all know that man has life as long as his flesh lives; life is what supports our physical life to live; when the flesh dies, his life disappears. People in the world all sigh: Our life only lasts for a few decades, and it passes in the blink of an eye. So, whether kings and princes or common people, they all hope to get a way of having eternal life. The biography of historical characters recorded that Qin Shihuang searched for the elixir of life in his whole life by making an inspection tour of his country. When he just got to the border of Shaqiu, he suddenly caught a severe chill and later died of it. Emperor Wu of Han took the so-called exotic medicines like golden elixir (jindan) and edible jade to live long. But these kinds of medicinal stones had toxic side effects, he still didn’t get longevity. In fact, man’s life is only a breath. People who don’t believe in the Lord Jesus think they have life as long as their flesh lives. We believers in the Lord think we have gained life because we’ve believed in the Lord. As a matter of fact, this is absolutely wrong. For the physical life will disappear in a flash; our belief in the Lord doesn’t mean we’ve gained life. Then, what is real life? About this, let’s see what the Lord Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). “I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). From the Lord Jesus’ words, we can see: Real life refers to the word of God, that is, God’s word itself is life. When the world began, God created the heavens and earth and all things with His word. God said let there be light and there was light; God said let there be air and there was air. As a result of one sentence of God’s words, there were birds and beasts, and living things flourished on the earth. Moreover, the life of all things is endless. Grass and trees are withered in this winter and will grow leaves in the next spring. As the words of God were spoken, the growth patterns of all things and the changes of four seasons were set forever. God’s word is the authority of life, and has God’s authority. God’s word is truth, and truth itself can be man’s life and man’s everlasting life. This is the way of eternal life God bestows on us. If we really live out the truth, if the truth can really be our life, then we will never die. This fulfills the words in the Bible, “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life” (John 3: 36). If we can accept God’s words in our heart, understand and accept the truth from God’s words to achieve changes in our life disposition, then when the truth becomes our life, we will surely live forever. However, it is undeniable that we believe in the Lord, but we do not focus on experiencing and practicing the Lord’s word. We spare no effort to suffer and bear the cross, to expend and give up things and work hard for the Lord, but we were still bound by these sins, such as, arrogance, selfishness, jealousy, hate, craftiness, and so on, living a life of constantly sinning and confessing. Whatever we live out is what our inner life is. We indeed have no life. How can truth become our life? In fact, truth becoming our life is the process of truth changing our life disposition. In seeking the truth, when the truth enters our heart, we can abandon everything belonging to the world and hate sin; when we act according to God’s words, the truth will form a new life in us and our living out will be the likeness of a new man; when we live by truth, we will love and obey God, worship God, and love others as we love ourselves. Only in this way can we have the truth as our life. The Lord Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life. He mainly did the work of redemption of mankind by being crucified. Thus the word He expressed was limited, so is the truth we understand. When He returns, He will speak again. Just as John 16:13 records, “However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.” This verse tells us clearly that when the Spirit of the truth comes, He will lead us into all the truth. The Spirit of truth comes, that is, God Himself comes. Leading us into all the truth means that God will say more words. If we receive God’s words, practice and experience His words all the time, and finally understand the truth from God’s words, our inward sin will be collapsed. This is the process of gaining life. For example, we originally liked telling lies and deceiving God. When we prayed to God, we said nice words, but after that, we didn’t practice them. Even though we did little things, we were to conduct a transaction with God. Our mouth said we were willing to satisfy God, but when we encountered things which were not in line with our conceptions, we would complain about God. After we understand the truth, even though we confront things that make us miserable, we can pray to God and obey, not complaining any more, and can rebel against our own motivations. When we get some knowledge of God, we will do negative and sinful things less and less, and we will practice the truth and live out the reality of positive things more and more. If we always pursue and experience the truth in this way to the point that we have no corrupt dispositions at all and our living out is entirely the reality of the truth, then we really gain the truth. Truth is life, and the word of life is truth. When we experience the truth and gain the truth, we can live by the truth and live out the likeness of a true human. That is the fruit of having truth as our life. When we gain the truth, we will gain the everlasting life and will never die. Only then will that be the real immortality. You may also like: To Gain Eternal Life, You Must Know the Source of It