Saturday, March 3, 2018

A Whale of A Tale

Who would have ever dreamed that one of the most valuable lessons taught by the LORD, would have taken place inside the body of a whale...I bet Jonah was surprised as well…

Our beautiful, magnificent Father, the God of wonders, will do ANYTHING to reach us. He will strip us down as He did Job, have us walk on water as Peter did and yes, He will have a giant fish swallow you up if that's what it takes to get us to listen!
The book of Jonah, albeit a short one, packs a whole lotta spiritual and physical punch. This man, much like the Jonah's of today, went through so very much affliction and reproach in his walk with the LORD.
Although he was a believer, he clearly struggled to listen to the LORD’S calling in that precious moment.

1 Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,

2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

Jonah chose to run from God in that moment. He silenced his spirit and he fed his flesh. Fear and anger will do that to you.

Jonah seemed to carry much burden and reproach about his actions though. As many of us can attest to today, when we have found ourselves ignoring His still, small voice that is guiding our paths.

So there he sits, being torchured by his spiritual and physical afflictions, in the belly of a beast. He had a moment of pure understanding in that darkness I believe. He understood he cannot run from His Father, nor should he and he learned of a father's love.

2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.

4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.

5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.

6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.

7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.

8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.

10 And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

Our Father surely loved Jonah and He loves us. We are not living in spirit though when we run from His will. Sometimes we need a second chance with the listening part…

1.And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying,

2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.

So this merciful Father gave forgiveness to Jonah, much as He does for each one of us today. He sent him to fulfill His will for those one hundred and twenty thousand people who had turned against the Lord...and those people were spared. They were forgiven.

10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

Those people were given another chance because they listened.
They heeded Jonah’s warning from the LORD and they dwelled in their spirits to hear it.
If He answer.

So far, we have a man of God who has given into fear, ran from the LORD, returned to his spirit in the depths of hell and has finally followed the call of the LORD...but it's not over for Jonah yet.

See, Jonah was a lot like us. He had faith in the Lord and His will but in times of trouble the flesh likes to get really, really loud. So loud in fact that although Jonah had answered God's call and had overcome his flesh, he returned right back to the bottom of those mountains he had been pulled from. He became full of anger.

1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.

2 And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

3 Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

4 Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry?

The best of intentions will always fail when we lead with our flesh and not our spirits.
Jonah struggled to trust God. He, like us, will listen for a time then like the wind, go rushing back to our selfishness of flesh.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Jonah had every right of his flesh to be hurt by the succession of those that he despised. Ah, but his spirit, his spirit that is and should be dwelling in the LORD and HIS will should be rejoicing. Rejoicing in that many more were to be saved in the name of the LORD.
Thy enemy in flesh is still thy brother in spirit.

Our friend Jonah continued to struggle with acceptance of the LORD’S will. Our Father gave Jonah one last chance to learn a thing or two about compassion, wisdom and faith…

So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.

6 And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.

7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.

8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

9 And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.

10 Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:

11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Romans 5:19

See, Jonah completely missed the big picture! Running from God, repenting in fear, allowing for anger to seep into his spirit and literally getting mad at a tree!
He, as we often do, could not see that God's glory will always prevail. He will fulfill His will with or without you. He did not need Jonah per se to bring the Assyrians to understanding HE WANTED HIM TO!!
He wanted Jonah to understand that we must have faith in His will, even when it's really and I mean really, hard to do.
Those people, on that day, came to know the LORD. And despite all of Jonah's failings, of which I pray he corrected in due time, they came to the LORD through him.
What a gift it is to be called a son of God. To be called to serve in His will for OUR gain...we just have no idea how much we are loved.

So...whether we are called to open the door for a stranger, work a double shift or help bring salvation to one hundred and twenty thousand people who we REALLY don't like…
We listen.
We obey.
We trust.
We find joy.
We give thanks.
And we PRAY...that is doesn't take the LORD throwing us into the belly of a whale to get through to our spirits.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Jeremiah 29:11

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. John 14:23

Have faith.
Be blessed my friends xo

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