Affection, Alone, Asking, Bible, Confession, Despair, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Mercy, Prayer, Rescue, Scripture

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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Advice, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Darkness, Promises, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture

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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Advocate, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Grace, Mercy, Praise, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture

WAVES

JONAH 2:3

“‘For You threw me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the current flowed around me. All Your breakers and waves passed over me.’”

My mom loved the beach. In fact, she convinced my dad, who was no fan of beach life, to buy a small place on the Gulf of Mexico. My mom loved to “jump the waves.” She would not get her hair wet or go in too deep. But she loved to walk in the water and feel the waves break against her body.

Jonah felt the waves and breakers as they passed over him. He seems to quote from Psalm 42:7. “Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.” There is no escape. Only God’s mercy is sparing his life. Jonah is calling on God as he recognizes His power over him.

APPLICATION

Have you tried to “jump the waves” lately? You may get lucky to begin with, but eventually you tire and the waves get you. You cannot keep up with the current that is pushing against you. You need a rescuer, someone who is strong and powerful. You cannot rescue yourself.

God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as the ultimate lifeguard. He is always looking out for our safety. He flies the red flags when He knows there is danger around you. He flies the green flags when it is safe to swim. He has the ability to plunge into the oceans of despair that may entangle you and set you free.

I have known a lot of people who worked as lifeguards. They all had to know how to rescue someone if they were drowning. That might have involved using a hook to pull someone to the side of a pool or throwing a life saving device to someone in the lake or ocean. Jesus has all the tools necessary to rescue us. Has He rescued you?

Father, I am so thankful Jesus tossed me a ring of safety. I am now safe in His arms.

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Belief, Bible, Choices, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, Fear, Power, Praise, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture, Testimony

NOW I BELIEVE

JONAH 1:16

“Then the men became extremely afraid of the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.”

Sometimes seeing is believing. For instance, try to explain to someone who has never seen the ocean what it is. It’s more than a large body of water. It has its own ecosystem with fish and clams and shrimp. It has waves (they may ask what a wave is) that break on the shore. Explain that, lol.

These sailors were now seeing the power of God in the stillness of the sea. They saw His power in the storm, but this stillness was supernatural. The storm stopped when they threw Jonah overboard. His words had come true. They worshipped Jehovah God right there on the deck of the ship and probably offered a sacrifice as they made those vows. They now belonged to Him.

APPLICATION

Many times, we never see the result of our witness. We plant seeds and leave, only to have someone else come along and water and perhaps reap the harvest. Jonah never saw the change in the sailors’ lives. He was swimming for his life. Hmmm, that applies to us today.

In the midst of our trials, we are so often so busy trying to survive that we forget others are watching us. They are observing how we handle this trial. Does our speech match our deeds? Is our walk matching our talk?

Don’t forget that. People are watching to see if your words become true. I am not saying you are a prophet, lol. I am saying that you need to speak truth at all times. Then you are to make sure you are walking in that truth. The people who are watching you are looking for glimpses of Jesus, whom you proclaim. Can they see Him?

O God, my Savior, You may throw me in a raging sea only for the benefit of someone else so they can see Your power. Use me Lord.

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Abiding, Bible, Disciplemaking, Following, Perseverance, Prayer, Rescue, Safety, Scripture

WHAT DO YOU DO IN A STORM?

JONAH 1:11

“So they said to him, ‘What should we do to you so that the sea will become calm for us?’—for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy.”

Our family lived in Lakeland, Florida for several years and had the grand experience of several hurricanes. It’s funny how you react to those things. For the first storm, we followed all the precautions and had our little hurricane kit ready. By the time we went through our seventh or eighth, we hardly paid them any attention. But storms need to be heeded.

The sailors now know that Jonah is the cause of this storm. His God, Jehovah, has stirred up the waves and wind. So, naturally they assumed Jonah had the answer to quiet the storm. This God of Jonah’s could surely stop it as fast as He started it.

APPLICATION

God will allow storms in our lives to get our attention. How long those storms last depend on our response to Him. Have you been a storm a long time? Maybe you need to stop and look at what God is trying to teach you. Are the winds ripping at you every hour? Turn to Him and ask Him what it is He wants you to do.

There really isn’t any other way to respond to storms in our lives. Remember, everything that touches you as a child of God goes through His hands first. That storm that seems to never cease has passed through His approval. That may sound horrible, but it isn’t. Those storms are meant to drive you to your knees where you are the closest to Him.

It is so true in my life that I never feel as tall spiritually as I do when I’m on my knees. Prayer is like a fresh breath. It invigorates you and energizes you. And when I am in prayer during a storm, I feel His presence. I know He is right there with me. Join me.

I don’t like the storms, Lord, but I trust You in them. I know You have not lost sight of me even in the tallest waves.

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Advocate, Battles, Bible, Courage, Fear, God's Will, Hiding, Peace, Protection, Rescue, Scripture, Storms

CRYING TO THE WRONG GOD

JONAH 1:5

“Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried out to his god, and they hurled the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the stern of the ship, had lain down, and fallen sound asleep.”

So many times, we get in a mess and try to figure it out all on our own. Or we enlist the help of others who make things worse. I remember one time I was trying fix something on one of our cars. I struggled for hours to put this part on, but it just would not go on for me. I asked my neighbor for help the next morning. You know what happened? It went on for him on the first try. He had the expertise I didn’t.

These sailors are crying out their gods for help. The problem with that is those gods did not exist. They had no power to calm the storm. This was a God storm. This was one created by Him. Only He could calm it and only when it was time. It wasn’t time yet.

APPLICATION

Who are you crying out to right now? If it is anything or anyone but God, you are wasting your breathe. Why do you think you can’t find the answers anywhere else? Is it pride? Or just plain stubbornness? I know you probably think I am being a bit harsh. I guess I am. I don’t want to offend you, but I do want to move you to the right place.

Jonah was sleeping during this storm not because he was at peace. He was simply ignoring it. He was hiding from God in the stern of the ship, oblivious to what He was doing to get his attention. We do the same thing. We withdraw and hide, pretending the problem will just go away. It won’t.

Thanks be to God that He does not quit. He does not let up. If that storm had calmed down at the cries of those sailors to their gods, they would have thought their gods did it. God was teaching those sailors a lesson as much as He was Jonah. Are you learning anything in your storm?

I hate the storms, Lord, but I do love the peace that comes afterwards. I will trust You through the storm.

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Advocate, Battles, Bible, Brokenness, Darkness, Destruction, Devil, Grace, Horror, Rebellion, Rescue, Safety, Scripture, Storms

BREAKING UP

JONAH 1:4

“However, the LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea, so that the ship was about to break up.”

I lived in Florida for about eight years and witnessed the destructive power of hurricanes on several occasions. Those storms can literally destroy a city. I have seen homes obliterated. I have seen neighborhoods so damaged you could not tell where the streets were. It is horrifying.

I imagine the storm Jonah and his shipmates faced was like a hurricane. When God sends a storm, He does not mess around. I bet they had 20- and 30-foot waves. The pounding of those waves on the hull of the ship was beginning to break apart the ship. They were taking on water and getting scared.

APPLICATION

Have you ever been that scared? It seemed the waves of life were crashing in all around you. You are taking on water. You look around and there are no lifeboats to jump into. You are panicking. All hope is gone.

And then you come to the Master who can still the seas. No storm is so dark that He cannot walk right through it. No waves are too high that He cannot safely navigate. No vessel is so wrecked that He cannot put it back together better than it was before. Call out to Him!

Wow! This picture of Jonah in that ship sure is vivid. We can all relate to it. We have done the same thing. We have run from God and gotten into more trouble. When we flee in the dark, we are apt to get hurt. We, instead, need to head toward the light. Then our path is exposed. Then He will lead us safely home.

The storm-tossed waves of life are out there, Lord. But with You at the helm, there is no fear.

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Accountability, Advocate, Bible, Brokenness, Cleansing, Confession, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Hope, Inspirational, Redemption, Rescue, Scripture

RETURN TO FORTUNES

AMOS 9:14

“I will also restore the fortunes of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the desolated cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine and make gardens and eat their fruit.”

I can’t begin to imagine being ripped from my home and sent off to a foreign land with no hope of escape. The horrors of war are all around us. We are all watching the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. We are all heartbroken at the scenes of children crossing a border into a country that is not their home. What do we do?

Israel had been removed from their land. Now God is promising to restore them after they have been through this trial. The Hebrew text for “I will restore the fortunes” literally could be translated “I will bring back the captives.” So, the Lord is promising not just a return of fortunes but freedom.

APPLICATION

Beloved, listen to me. God knows where you are. He has not lost contact with you. You may feel that way, but He is completely aware of where you have been and where He is sending you. Don’t forget Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”

Rest in Him. Trust that He will restore you. But you must first return to Him. Repentance is required. You cannot expect a holy God to return you without movement on your part. Oh, but when you take that first step towards Him, He rushes to you to restore you.

I have made the decision too many times to trying to wait out God. Let me tell you – that doesn’t work. The eternal, timeless, ageless God literally has all the time in the world. He can outwait you. Don’t waste that precious time. Run to Him now. Enjoy your restoration.

I love You, Lord, and will quickly return to You, not for any fortunes, but to enjoy Your presence.

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Bible, Calling, Choices, Covenant, Disciplemaking, Eternity, Evangelism, God's Will, Heaven, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture

INCLUSION

AMOS 9:12

“‘So that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name,’ declares the LORD who does this.”

Today we hear a lot about inclusion. No one is to be left out, even if it means lowering the standards that have been set. No one should be excluded because of their gender or sexual preference. Inclusion has become a means in which anyone can claim anything and demand entrance into any place.

Well, God was the first to introduce inclusion to the world, but He had a different definition of the word. He meant it as a means to include everyone in His salvation plan. James, at the Jerusalem council quotes this passage. He says in Acts 15:17,

“‘“SO THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, AND ALL THE GENTILES WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME,”’”

APPLICATION

I am so glad my heavenly Father decided His plan included the Gentiles. I am so thankful He extended His salvation to a young man in Southwest Georgia who had no clue he even needed to be saved. He gave me an eternal salvation and the promise to live with Him forever.

How about you? Have you heard His calling on your life? Have you surrendered your all to Him? He is just waiting. His plan is all inclusive (better than any all inclusive vacation you will ever experience). If you are a believer, then invite others to join you. They will not be disappointed.

Inclusion can be a good thing if we practice what God meant by it. He wants to accept everyone, as far as it relates to salvation. All can come to Him. He wants to use us to help with that. So, we have to get rid of any views that would prevent us from reaching out to a lost and dying world. Do that today.

I am thankful You included me in Your plans for mankind. I am thankful that I can be called by Your name.

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Affliction, Battles, Bible, Comfort, Drought, God's Will, Rescue, Scripture

I’M GOING TO FAINT

AMOS 8:13

“On that day the beautiful virgins and the young men will faint from thirst.”

Have you ever felt like you were going to faint? When I went through my chemotherapy a couple of years ago (boy, it feels like yesterday), I had several episodes of fainting. One second I’m upright and talking. The next I’m on the ground. It’s really a strange feeling.

But I have never fainted due to thirst. The young virgins and the young men, who are the ones filled normally with the most hope, are at their end. They see nothing in their future when it should be full of hopes and aspirations. So they collapse as if fainting from thirst.

APPLICATION

Let me turn this a little. How thirsty are you for Jesus? Do you pant after Him? Do you crave His Word like you do a cool drink of water on a hot day? We should! We need to have our thirsts quenched by Him each day. We shouldn’t let ourselves get “spiritually dehydrated.”

Just picture yourself sitting before a flowing fountain. The water is crystal clear. A sign is there telling you to drink to your heart’s content. It also says the water will allow you to live forever. Would you turn that down? Of course, not. So, why aren’t we diving headfirst into the Word each day?

My thirst is quenched each and every day through the Word. Writing his blog fills my soul. I can’t imagine not hearing Him speak to me through His written Word. I pant, but I don’t pant out of desperation. I pant because I long for His Word and because I know how it refreshes my spirit. Will you join me?

O God, You are the source of all life. Quench my thirst with Your Word.

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