Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Jonah 2:7

"When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, LORD,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
(NIV)
Jonah is now saying to the Lord, not in a sarcastic way, but with a sincerity of heart in his desperate situation, "Remember me? I turned to you. It may have been on my death bed, but my prayer rose to you."

It doesn't have to be a life-threatening situation for you to feel like your life is ebbing away. It could be any number of stresses of life or trials of life that are impacting you. It could simply be your kids or your boss or your spouse or you job... It doesn't matter. The point is that you humble yourself and turn to God.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Jonah 2:6

To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you brought my life up from the pit,
O LORD my God.
(NIV)

You have to wonder how deep Jonah sank. In the last verse he was talking about seaweed, and in this verse he is talking about being down with the roots of the mountains. Regardless, it was God who brought Jonah up.

In this verse Jonah acknowledges that God was the one who brought him back up. He was not out of God's reach. Even though Jonah was trying to run from God, it was God who brought him back.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Jonah 2:5

The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
(NIV)
I have the tendency to take this very literally for Jonah. After he was tossed into the water over the side of the ship, the waves would have been overwhelming in the middle of the Mediterranean. Then as he began to sink, before he lost consciousness, the deep surrounded him and the seaweed was wrapped around his head. It is a miracle that he survived.

The story of Jonah is a truly amazing story that we tend to forget or leave for the children's classes. Kids love the story. That a man was swallowed by a whale (or big fish) then spit back up in the direction that he was supposed to go... It almost sounds like a fairy tale.

But the story of Jonah is a real story. It was a real man that was thrown into a real sea. He really shouldn't have made it, but God had a distinct purpose for him. God did something extraordinary with Jonah: He changed his heart. While Jonah was in this predicament, he turned to God, when he had been running from God.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Jonah 2:4

I said, 'I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.'
(NIV)
In Jonah's prayer we see repentance. He knows that his actions have brought him far out of relationship with God, but he is turning. He is looking again toward the dwelling of God. In the Old Testament times this turning of the face, or looking toward something had the idea of squaring the shoulders. He obviously wasn't really doing that because he was in the belly of a fish, but it had to do with the mind and the heart. Setting your face toward something was telling about your mindset. Jonah was set on God.

Where is your face set today? Are your shoulders set toward God? I need to be asking myself these questions today, not just in some things, but throughout the day. In everything we do, we need to look again toward God's holy temple.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Jonah 2:3

You hurled me into the deep,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
(NIV)
It is necessary to point out that God is in control in this situation. Notice that it says, "You hurled me..." Even though we know it was some fishermen that did the deed, Jonah attributes this action to God. Notice also that Jonah attributes ownership of the waves and the breakers to God. God is in control of all things and He owns all things.

This isn't really all that difficult of a concept to understand. Some tend to make the sovereignty of God into a big debate. They are more concerned about arguing over the fine points or trying to convince others with their eloquent talk, than they are about how God's "in-controlness" is affecting their own daily walk with the Lord.

Whether you can debate it or not, be glad that He is over all. That when the bad stuff happens to us, He is there, He is in control. God never scrambles to fix things. Nothing happens that He hasn't allowed.

Maybe you are in a situation that you have been hurled into. Quite possibly you may feel that the waves and the breakers are pounding you and pushing you under. Whether or not it is for the same reasons as Jonah, turn to God now and acknowledge that they are His waves and His breakers. Trust that He knows what you can handle, and seek His purposes.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Jonah 2:2

He said:
"In my distress I called to the LORD,
and he answered me.
From the depths of the grave I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
(NIV)
For many, there is no prayer until they are in distress. I know I have been that way before. If I am honest, I am still like that now. It takes a stressful situation before I get (even figuratively) to my knees. For some it is when they are in the depths of the grave that they begin to cry out to the Lord. Whether the "depths of the grave" is speaking about what they feel like, or if it is like Jonah and they are genuinely near death, when they get to that point, prayer begins to happen.

We know from other places in scripture (Deut. 8:1-3, Psalm 119:67, Psalm 119:71, I Peter 1:6-7) that trials and afflictions are used by God to bring us to Him. One of the first signs of that new closeness between a person and God is that calling out. The Bible is packed full of examples of people who cried out to God when they were in a hard place. There have been many times in my own life that I have cried out to Him.

The best part of all is that He listens and He answers. If that does not amaze you.... Well, it should! It is an amazing thing that the God of the Universe will listen to our cries when we are in our distresses. It is an amazing thing that He responds to us when we are approaching the grave.

But He wants us to continue that cry. Long after the distress is gone, He wants us to continue the fellowship with Him. If you are in a distress and this has brought you to Him, that's OK. Allow the God of heaven to use this in your life to grow that relationship. He is the God who sees and the God who saves, He is worth talking to.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Jonah 2:1

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.
(NIV)
I have never been in a fish. I hope to never be in a fish, but there have been many times that I have been in a similar predicament.

I have been like Jonah. I have been walking the opposite way from the way God would have me to go. Sometimes it has been a life decision, like Jonah's. I knew that God wanted me to go a certain way, but I didn't want to go that way. Eventually I convinced myself that I was doing the right thing. I was acting "wisely" to some observers, but in my heart I knew the truth.

Sometimes it isn't some major life decision, but a simple command. God's way has been laid out for me, but I just simply don't want to do it. I want to do things my way instead of His way. So I head the opposite direction and find myself in a fish (figuratively speaking).

Have you ever been in a "fish" situation in your life? You have gone the wrong way and you end up in a smelly, sticky situation. I don't believe that Jonah is the first one to end up in a fish, and I am sure he won't be the last one.

Notice though that Jonah, once he is in the belly, begins to pray. Jonah chapter 2 is that prayer. As we read through it, I hope that you consider your own belly of the fish situations. Many people truly find God when they are in the worst of situations.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ephesians 5:33

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
(NIV)


This passage seemed to go back and forth between the two ideas of Christ and His Church and the husband-wife relationship. Paul (the author) ends up here back where he started, and in the context, that is the main point that he is trying to get across.

This whole chapter is about earthly relationships and behaviors, but if you go back through you will find "Christ" sprinkled all through it. He is our example, our motivation, and our reward. He is our all in all! It is hard to talk about anything good without mentioning Jesus Christ.