Abiding, Accountability, Attention, Bible, Confession, Discipline, Distress, God's Will, Hearing, Listening, Obedience, Prayer, Scripture

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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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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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Exalting, Following, God's Will, Light, Scripture

OUT OF SIGHT

JONAH 2:4

“‘So I said, “I have been cast out of Your sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.”’”

I was up on Lookout Mountain recently. That mountain overlooks the city of Chattanooga, where I live. It’s famous for the “Battle Above the Clouds” in the Civil War. That day I was up there was a perfect day with no clouds and nice temps. I could see the cooling towers of the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant which is about 30 miles away. My sight was not restricted. It was amazing.

Jonah feels as if now he has been cast of God’s sight. Well, I guess so. He was in the belly of a fish in the ocean. Yet Jonah says, “Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.”His vision was never clearer. His position wasn’t the issue. He had opened his eyes.

APPLICATION

Have you had your eyes checked lately? I called this week to get an appointment with my eye doctor and found out my last exam was almost two years ago. It’s no wonder my glasses don’t seem to be working like they used to. My eyes have gotten worse since my last exam, but I wasn’t aware.

We need to check our vision regularly. Now, I am not talking about our physical eyes. I am referring to our spiritual eyes. You have to have the right light (Jesus) in order to see our Lord clearly. He calls us to keep our lenses clean through washing them with the Word.

I am so glad I have a good eye doctor. But I am more thankful for my spiritual eye doctor. He makes sure I am looking at the right things and spending the time necessary sharpening my vision with my Master. How are your eyes?

Father, You have given me two eyes for a reason. I need to focus my sight on 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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Advocate, Affliction, Asking, Belief, Bible, Darkness, Distress, Fear, Inspirational, Prayer, Scripture

DISTRESS

JONAH 2:2

and he said, ‘I called out of my distress to the LORD, and He answered me. I called for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice.’”

Have you ever been in distress? Through my illness and my two stem cell transplants, I can honestly say there were times I felt in distress. I was in anguish. I felt afflicted. Those were very adverse times. My health was fading, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. All I could do was turn to the Lord.

Jonah was in distress. His words remind me of Psalm 118:5 that says, “From my distress I called upon the LORD; The LORD answered me and set me in a large place.” I find that kind of humorous – “a large place.” Jonah was indeed set in a large place – the belly of a big fish. He probably preferred a different setting.

APPLICATION

When you are in distress, what do you do? Who do you turn to? Some of us turn to alcohol. Others turn to drugs. Some get so involved in church they forget their distress. None of these work. You cannot medicate yourself or busy yourself out of distress. There is only one answer – Jesus.

Even in the belly of that fish, Jonah knew God would hear him. He did not know how God would answer, but at least He knew his prayers were ascending. They were not bouncing off the walls of that belly. We often feel our prayers are hitting the ceiling and going nowhere. Do not doubt the hearing capability of God.

There are so many examples I could give you of how God came through for me during times of distress. He would send a friend to see me in the hospital. He might burden someone to email me or call me. Just call on Him amid your distress. He can work miracles in and through us, if we will just believe.

O Lord, I have called on You many times, and You have always come through for me.

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Abiding, Advocate, Altars, Bible, God's Will, Hearing, Obedience, Prayer, Scripture

PRAY ANYWHERE

JONAH 2:1

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish,”

One thing I have learned over the years is I can pray anywhere. I have prayed while being wheeled in for surgery. I have prayed sitting in a deer stand. I have prayed in the middle of a hurricane. I know my God is listening to me wherever I am. He doesn’t care if I am kneeling or standing, with my eyes open or closed. He just wants me to pray.

Jonah prayed “from the stomach of the fish.” Now, I haven’t tried that yet (and I don’t want to). He was truly in a pickle. God had assuredly rescued him from the deeps of the sea by sending the fish, but now what. How was God going to rescue him now? Or maybe He wasn’t. Maybe he was going to meet God with seaweed all over him.

APPLICATION

Pray! Just pray! There are so many passages of Scripture that tell us to pray. Some even tell us how to pray. Matthew 6:9-13 is what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer.” Have you read that lately? If not, take a minute and go do that. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

How did you like that? Our Lord Jesus showed us how to pray. I think He is a pretty good teacher. He knew how to pray. He knew the value of praying. He did it often, probably much more than is recorded in Scripture.

If you haven’t discovered the joy of praying, you really should try it. It sets you free. And the more you pray, the more you want to pray. You begin to hear His voice so much clearer. He wants to talk to you. Did you know that? Don’t wait to get swallowed by a big fish to begin your prayer time.

I love to talk to You, Lord, and to hear Your voice. Lord, speak!

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Affliction, Bible, Examples, God's Will, Gospel, Love, Protection, Salvation, Scripture

BIG FISH STORY

JONAH 1:17

“And the LORD designated a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish for three days and three nights.”

Anyone who knows me knows I love to fish. I have learned a little secret about sending selfies with fish I have caught. Shh, do not tell anyone. You must hold the fish closer to the camera. Lol

Now, this was a big fish that God appointed to swallow Jonah. Get the picture! Jonah is thrown into the sea during the storm. He immediately sinks below the surface, as it miraculously calms. And then from the deep, a fish emerges and swallows him whole. Some people do not believe this story. They say it is allegory. I would believe it if it said Jonah swallowed the fish.

APPLICATION

What can we learn from this story? Do not swim with large fish? No! Never leave the ship without a harpoon? No! Don’t you get it? God protected Jonah by having him swallowed by that fish. He preserved him so He could use him later.

Notice the time he was in the fish. Three days and three nights. In fact, Jesus refers to this and applies it to Himself in Matthew 12:39-40. “39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves a sign; and so no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as JONAH WAS IN THE STOMACH OF THE SEA MONSTER FOR THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.”

Jonah had to be swallowed by the fish, just as Jesus was swallowed by the grave. Both emerged alive, a miracle. Jonah’s reemergence led to the repentance of Nineveh. Jesus’ resurrection led to the salvation and the promise of eternal life for all mankind. Have you claimed that? It’s yours for the asking.

I love You, Lord, and I thank You for the story of Jonah that reminds me of our Savior’s burial and resurrection.

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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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Accountability, Accused, Battles, Bible, Choices, Consequences, Direction, God's Will, Obedience, Safety, Scripture

SPLISH, SPLASH

JONAH 1:15

“So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.”

Have you ever thrown someone into a pool? You know how kids can play. I can remember picking up someone and chunking them, kicking and screaming. It was all in play. No one was intended to be hurt. We laughed and usually did it again.

This was not the case with Jonah. He did not kick and scream. In fact, he probably laid down on the deck of the ship very calmly as the sailors picked him up and threw him in. Can you just see the sailors’ face when the sea stopped raging? They probably instantly went to the side of the ship and looked for Jonah. But he was not there.

APPLICATION

Maybe you’re kicking and screaming right now as God tries to throw you into the deep end of the pool. Does God do that? He certainly does. Most of us don’t go willingly. We may not kick and scream, but we sure argue with God, don’t we? We have all kinds of reasons why His won’t make sense.

I have been thrown into the “deep end” many times. You think I would have learned to go in myself. But no, I am hard-headed. I guess that is why I can relate to Jonah so well. There have been times when God gave me a clear direction, but I went the other direction.

Splash! There I went! Deep end! But I found when I got in that the water was just fine. I did not drown. In fact, I got stronger by learning to swim there. I could not rely on my own strength. I had to have His power to survive. So, I swam and got stronger. Are you still wearing floaties on your arms or are you allowing God to strengthen you in the “deep end?”

Father, Your Will often confuses me. But I know I can trust it because it’s Your Will and not mine.

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