Few smells are as pervasive as the smell of smoke. Anyone who’s sat around a campfire can attest. The smell seeps into clothes, hair, and skin. It clings with an iron grip. Only a stronger, more potent smell can banish it.
There is a brief passage in Psalm 55:22 which reads: “Cast your burden upon Jehovah, and he will sustain you: he will never suffer the righteous to be moved.” Follow this advice. Let not your burden rest upon yourselves; for you cannot bear it, and must finally perish beneath its weight. But, confident and full of joy, cast it from you and throw it on God.
Jonah doesn't care about Israel's great enemy. He certainly doesn't want to be the first prophet in history to leave his own country and preach to a people who regularly attack, rob, rape, and enslave Jonah's family, friends, and neighbors. So far as Jonah is concerned, he'd rather drown in a watery abyss than show his face in Ninevah.
As Christians, we are forgiven, justified, sanctified and will ultimately be glorified by the work of God alone. But in the messy middle space before glorification, we remain sinners. And sinners have a lot of reasons to doubt they are righteous.
Her snapshots are images of an actor on the world's stage. She plays the part expected of her by the audience. She conforms to social norms. She smiles her way through pain, to despair, into the grave. Her pictures are not worth a thousand words. They tell a thousand lies.
If we get past Sunday School moralizing what do we discover in the Old Testament? We read about remarkably immoral people loved by God. The Old Testament is one long history of God's reckless love for unlovable sinners. Godless Abraham. Murderous Moses. Arrogant, womanizing Samson. Tyrannical Solomon.
Assurance for the Christian comes not from within; from one’s inner power or strength to believe or from the amount of faith one has. Like salvation, it comes “extra nos” — outside of ourselves. Our assurance doesn’t come from some inner ethereal, subjective feeling.