Evangelism, God's Will, Eternity, Bible, Scripture, Faith, Promises, Salvation, Gospel, Judgment, Accountability, Destruction, Choices, Belief, Consequences

COUNTDOWN

JONAH 3:4

“Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, ‘Forty more days, and Nineveh will be overthrown.’”

No child likes to hear these words from their mother. “Just wait until your Father gets home.” The countdown begins. Knowing what time dad normally arrives home, the child begins to count the hours or minutes until they hear his car or truck pull into the driveway or garage. I don’t necessarily like this approach to child-rearing, but many parents use it.

Jonah was basically telling the Ninevites, “Dad’s coming, and He’s not happy.” Nineveh wasn’t just going to receive a spanking, though. They were going to be overthrown. The Hebrew word here means to overturn or turn over. In other words, life as they knew it was about to change. This is a dire warning. What would they do?

APPLICATION

God still gives us warnings. He may send it through a preacher (like Jonah, minus the fish smell, lol). He may reveal Himself to you in a passage of Scripture. He may speak through a dream. That still happens in many parts of the world where the Gospel has not been shared. I have heard numerous stories of a “man in white” appearing in a dream, giving a message to turn to Jesus.

Whether you heed the warning or not is your decision. Of course, the greatest message we have concerning our eternal doom is revealed in the Bible. That sounds bad. It’s not meant to. But the Word of God points us to a place of repentance and deliverance. And then we receive all the promises of God. He gives us fair warning. It’s spelled out clearly. We just have to believe.

In tomorrow’s blog we will see what the Ninevites do with Jonah’s warning. But I am more concerned with what you will do with it. Have you given your life to Christ? Have you turned over everything to Him? He desires to make you His own. If you have done that, praise the Lord. Now give someone else the warning. Don’t let them perish without a Savior.

God, my Father, You are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Calling, Commands, Courage, Distractions, Enemies, Fear, God's Will, Gospel, Obedience, Scripture

A LARGE PLACE

JONAH 3:3

“So Jonah got up and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk.”

I’ve been to some big cities – New York City, London, Nairobi, Minneapolis. I could go on. Fortunately, I did not have to walk to them. I had a car or another mode of transportation. But you know, I seldom thought about how big those cities were or too much about all the thousands of people in them who needed to hear about Jesus. I usually was on a mission to get something accomplished and didn’t want someone or something to slow me down. I repent of that. That was wrong.

Jonah was now going to Nineveh, that “exceedingly large city.” It was known for its greatness. Even though it was physically great, it was spiritually weak. The gods the Ninevites worshipped were not gods at all. We know that. Jonah knew that. And he was sent to tell them that.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s think about this for a second. Jonah was sent into enemy territory, to one of their greatest cities, and was told to tell them to repent. He probably expected laughter, at the very least. Jonah may have expected to be arrested and perhaps even killed. Why shouldn’t he expect that? No one likes to be told they are sinners.

But Jonah responded in the positive as fast as he had responded in the negative. He “got up and went” as compared to “got up to flee.” He was ready now to deliver God’s message no matter the cost. How about you? Are you willing to risk it all for Jesus? He may call on you to do just that.

I am finally at a point in my life where I really don’t care if people think I am a little crazy about Jesus. I have seen some amazing things in the past few years which have required me to reexamine how I see the Spirit moving. Living that out may put me at odds with some people. That’s okay, as long as I am true to my Savior’s calling. Will you do the same?

Father God, give me a Nineveh! Show me where you want me to be used.

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Bible, Commands, Distractions, Exalting, God's Will, Gospel, Hearing, Inspirational, Scripture

PROCLAIM

JONAH 3:2

“‘Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.’”

Whenever I have a sermon to prepare, I spend as much time praying about the passage as I do studying the passage. I want to make sure I am hearing from the Lord as to what He would have me say. I can come up with a sermon. That’s not a problem. But I want to speak His message, not mine.

The Hebrew text could be translated “preach to it the preaching.” In fact, the Hebrew word translated as “proclamation” is only used one time in the OT – right here. Why is that? I always wonder that. I believe the Lord wants us to take a good look at His message to Jonah. Notice how His message differed a little from the first time. “Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and cry out against it, because their wickedness has come up before Me.” The Lord, I think, wanted Jonah to get to Nineveh and then He would reveal His message.

APPLICATION

What is the message the Lord has given you today? To whom do you need to go and proclaim it? As I write this blog, I am in Norway preparing to take part in a men’s conference. Our main speaker is always sensitive to receiving “downloads” from God. He wants to make sure what he is speaking is from Him.

Right now, he is still waiting on his luggage to get here. That’s a distraction. He is aware of that. So, we are gathering in few minutes to pray for clarity of thought and message. When we get that message from the Lord, the devil does not want us to deliver it and will do everything he can to distract us. Don’t let that happen.

Receiving God’s message is sweet. Hearing His voice and knowing it is Him is precious. But sweeter still is delivering that message and seeing people come to Christ. It is His message, not yours. It is His results, not yours.

Let me hear Your message clearly, Lord. I want to speak only Your words to others.

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THE SECOND TIME

JONAH 3:1

“Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,”

My dad was not one to repeat himself. He believed if he told you to do something, you should do it – period. He was not a demanding father, but he was a firm one. He always made sure you knew exactly what he wanted you to do and might even show you how to do it. Then he expected you to get it done.

Jonah should have listened to God the first time. He could have avoided that trip in the sea. But here we are in chapter 3, and we find Jonah hearing again from the LORD. The LORD had not given up on him. He still had a job for him to do. So, He speaks to him the second time.

APPLICATION

The Lord does not give up on us either. He is patient and kind. He is tolerant of our failures. He is right there ready to pick us up and re-instruct. If you are like me (and Jonah), I don’t listen to the Lord the first time every time. I think I can do it better. I think my way makes more sense. But after He tells me the same message four or five times, I finally get it.

Most of the time, the Lord tells us what to do so we can avoid the belly of the fish (trials). But sometimes, He tells us what to do and we still have to go through that trial. He is just preparing us for what is to come. He wants to teach us a truth to apply to what we are about to live.

I can think of several times in my life when that was the situation. I remember quite vividly how the Lord kept drilling in my head to focus on the eternal and not the temporal. This was right before I went through my second stem cell transplant. Living through that will definitely make you focus on the eternal. There were a few times I thought I was closer to heaven than I was to earth. My point? Listen to God. When He speaks to you, do what He says. He kind of knows what He is talking about.

O God, my Savior, You have spoken and I will obey. I want to listen the first time.

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Abuse, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Encouragement, Scripture

VOMIT

JONAH 2:10

“Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.”

I don’t like to vomit. Excuse me for using a biblical word (lol). The disease I have has attacked my stomach and digestive system. Every two to three weeks, I have a bout of vomiting and upset stomach. My doctor says my gut just shuts down and has to “rest” to keep going. I hate it, but that’s my life.

Jonah, on the other hand, wasn’t vomiting. He WAS the vomit. That big ole fish just upchucked him onto dry land. Wow! I bet that changed some beach lovers’ lives. What would you have done if you had seen that? So, here is Jonah, lying in a puddle of fish vomit. Now what?

APPLICATION

Have you ever been puked on? Once, when our family was at a theme park, I got sick on a simulation ride. I puked everywhere. My kids were so embarrassed. But I didn’t do it on anybody. Luckily, I was sitting on the end of the row up front. But people do get vomited on, and I don’t mean physically.

Being mistreated and devalued is like being vomited on. The feeling of being treated unfairly or abusively are hard to shake. You feel like getting a shower to wash off the disgust. But this stuff doesn’t wash off easy. I have the secret ingredient. It is Jesus.

Before Christ we all feel “less than.” We believe we do not really matter. Our lives are not important. But when we come to Christ, He gives us our value. He tells us we matter. He sees us differently – glorified. There is no vomit here. Only love and mercy. Is that something you want? You can have it in Him.I

give You all the praise, Jesus, because You picked me up in my slimy mess, cleaned me off and called me Your child.

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VOICE OF THANKSGIVING

JONAH 2:9

“‘But I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD.’”

I love Thanksgiving. This U.S. holiday in November each year celebrates the Pilgrims’ settlement in the New World. They lifted their voices in praise and thanksgiving to God for sustaining them during their first year. It was a tough year, with many lost lives and food shortages. Coming out of that season, they were indeed grateful.

Jonah (still in the belly of the fish) gives thanksgiving to the Lord. He recognized his “salvation is from the LORD.” He did not know, at this time, whether he would escape his fish prison or not. Regardless, he was giving praise. And God heard it.

APPLICATION

What are you thankful for today? Family? Health? I thank God every day for six things. I thank Him for family, friends, my ministry and my health, my country and my church. I don’t just say those flippantly. I truly am thankful for each of those.

When you have a grateful heart, I believe you are more at peace with the world. You see things differently. You get a more spiritual vision of things. Thankfulness is expressed in our worship of our Lord, and that can be done anywhere. You don’t have to wait until you are in church on Sunday.

I am so thankful for all the blessings God has given me and my family. But I am also thankful for the trials God has allowed us to go through. I may not be in the belly of a fish, but I have probably felt just as low as Jonah. Through those times, just like Jonah, God drew me to Himself.

Thank You, Lord, for holding me close, even when I am pushing You away.

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ABANDONMENT

JONAH 2:8

“‘Those who are followers of worthless idols abandon their faithfulness,’”

I worked for over 30 years in the child welfare field. In all those years, I saw a lot of children who had been abandoned. Abandonment is not a pretty thing. The feelings of loss and neglect are awful. Those who abandon are thinking only of themselves and not the lives they are affecting.

Jonah draws this analogy in referring to those who have abandoned their faith in favor of worthless idols. Those idols (or really those who peddled them) offered sensual or physical pleasures as part of their worship. The people’s hedonistic tendencies led them to choose those idols over true worship. They walked away from God. They abandoned their faith.

APPLICATION

Have you abandoned your faith? Have you tried to find something else to meet your needs? There is nothing else. Just like Jonah said, those things are “worthless.” They have no true meaning, no eternal purpose. They promise all sorts of things but never deliver. They only enslave.

If you have left your faith or it is weaker than it used to be, return to Him now. He will never abandon you. He will always be there. His love is eternal. His support of you will never end. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

So, is your heart completely His? If it is, He promises to “strongly support” you. There is no reason to abandon your faith. If you are struggling right now, turn to Jesus. He can carry you through. I pray you will stay close to Him. Do not abandon!

I will stay with You, O Lord. I know You will never abandon me.

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PRAYERS HEARD

JONAH 2:7

“‘While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple.’”

I have heard of some incredible answers to prayer. I am sure you have also. Some of those answered prayers are just about too good to believe. If I had not known the person and situation personally, I would have never believed it. But God has a way of making believers out of unbelievers, doesn’t He?

Don’t forget our scene – Jonah is still in the belly of that fish. He’s been praying to God for the several verses. In the written book we have what may seem to be a short prayer. This prayer may have been given over that three-day period. Here in today’s verse, he is fainting away. I am assuming he must be towards the end of those three days. No water, no food, no light! He is week and feeble, yet he prays, “and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple.” Wow!

APPLICATION

Even in your lowest hour, when you are at your weakest. None of us have been where Jonah was. So, we can surely pray to the Lord. We don’t have seaweed and stuff floating around us. But we may have other things trying to drown out our access to our holy God. We can’t let anything distract us from praying.

God is always listening, no matter where we are. We must not forget that God placed Jonah in the belly of that fish for a reason. He places us in our “fish’s belly” for a reason also. He wants to draw all our attention to Him.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to not learn my lessons in a fish’s belly. I want to walk in obedience and do what the Lord asks me to begin with. I have still got a lot to learn about obedience, but I am trying. I am listening. Are you? Or are you content to wallow around in your “fish’s belly”?

Thank You, Lord, for teaching me obedience. I want to learn quickly and do exactly what You tell me.

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THE PITS

JONAH 2:6

“I descended to the base of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, but You have brought up my life from the pit, LORD my God.

You may have heard the expression, “this is the pits.” But where does that come from? Well, I looked that up. It can refer to armpits which implies body odor, something that is undesirable. It also can refer to someone who is in the depths of despair. That is what I think of when I hear this. Well…Jonah was in the pits.

Remember where he is when he says what we read in today’s verse – the belly of a fish in the depths of the sea. It’s hard to get much lower than that. He was low. He was in despair. Look what he says, though. He says, “You have brought up my life from the pit, LORD my God.” Wait just a minute. He’s still in that fish. But now he realizes no matter the circumstance, God can lift you up from the depths of despair.

APPLICATION

If you are like most people, you have found yourself in “the pits” at some time. How did you manage that? How do you get out of “the pit”? So many of us turn to counselors or doctors for help. They can be very helpful. But so many of us don’t look at the spiritual side of our despair. We are spiritual creatures, as well as physical.

I want to encourage you the next time you find yourself in “that pit” to turn to Jesus. Ask Him why you are feeling the way you are. Ask Him what He would have you do to get out of that low place. He may reveal some hidden sin in your life that needs confessing. He may point you to someone who has gone through what you are going through at the time.

I have had the privilege to share my journey through chemotherapy and stem cell transplants to others who are going through the same thing. Let me tell you – chemo will bring you down into a pit. You need others to encourage you during that time. What have you gone through and what lessons have you learned that you can share with someone today? Do that.

Being in “the pits” is no fun, Father. I thank You that You have lifted me up each time I have called on You.

HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY TO ALL THE MOMS OUT THERE READING MY BLOG!!

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SEAWEED WRAPS

JONAH 2:5

“‘Water encompassed me to the point of death. The deep flowed around me, seaweed was wrapped around my head.’”

Did you know there are spas that specialize in seaweed wraps? Can you imagine having your body wrapped in seaweed and lying there on a table? I’ve only been to one spa in my life. That was for a massage. It was okay, but not good enough to get me to go back.

I don’t think Jonah would agree that being wrapped in seaweed is a good thing. Here he is in the belly of fish praying to God. He is lying in a pool of seawater and seaweed, and he is not sure of his outcome. Remember that while he is lying there, the fish’s stomach acids are beginning to bleach his skin. He can probably smell those acids. He’s in the dark praying to the only one who can rescue Him.

APPLICATION

We all have stuff “wrapped around” our heads. We find ourselves in the dark, feeling the burn of our circumstances. What do you do? Who do you turn to? Many of us just continue to struggle and fight. We think we can release ourselves. We can “figure it out.” Men, we are the worst. We don’t want to ask for help.

But, just like Jonah, we can’t get out of our circumstances by ourselves. We need a Savior. Jesus is the answer. He has the power to lift us up out of that miry clay. He can remove the seaweed that is wrapped around our head. Stop fighting and turn to Him.

I am thankful the Lord has rescued me. I was deep in the bottom of the barrel. He scrapped me up, cleaned me off and set me on the firm foundation. He can do the same for you. Stop wherever you are today and reach out to Jesus. He is reaching out for you.

How can I say thanks for all You have done for me? I am thankful for my salvation and my life in You.

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