One of the most entertaining and gripping stories in all of the Bible is found in the book of Jonah. Very few people haven't heard of the account of Jonah and his encounter with this big fish. Even most children are acquainted with it in one form or another. It's a story which contains drama, suspense, horror, sorrow, happiness, and a big dose of humor unless you happened to be Jonah. Although perhaps in his later years as he recounted this harrowing experience, even he too could laugh at himself.
GOD's hand is not shortened (i.e.: in any way hindered)(see Isa.50:2; 59:1) to accomplish HIS purposes in the earth. Men are often lifted up in pride, either thinking that they can accomplish things without HIS help or that they can somehow escape from the necessity of doing HIS will. Jonah fell into the latter category first, and the first category last. But when all was said and done, Jonah learned the hard way, just as Nebuchadnezzar before him, that "all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and HE doeth according to HIS will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay HIS hand, or say unto HIM, What doest thou?" (Dan 4:35).
Now while Jonah learned this lesson, he missed the blessing that he could've enjoyed had he realized the privilege that's given to the people of GOD to be chosen to accomplish HIS purposes in the earth. HE won't fail to accomplish that purpose...whether we enjoy the journey or not. "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." (Heb 12:28).
GOD not only intends to accomplish HIS purpose in the earth of bringing the message [gospel] to Ninevah [sinners] but HE intends to mold and shape those whom HE has called and bring them into conformity with CHRIST. We see a picture of this in HIS dealings with Jonah.
HE prepared a fish. (see Jon.1:17) Before Jonah was born the LORD had already selected and equipped a fish to swallow Jonah. The egg from which this fish was hatched was laid in exactly in the spot marked out for it by GOD Almighty. This fish grew to the exact size it needed to be to swallow and (I might add) to vomit him up. When Jonah was cast overboard this fish was in the exact spot it needed to be to swallow Jonah. Now while it's easy to see that this fish was prepared to swallow Jonah, we must also notice that this fish was there to save Jonah's life. He was cast overboard in the midst of a howling tempest and most surely would have drowned were it not for the fact that the LORD "prepared a fish". The LORD will always deliver HIS people but sometimes HE will place them in the midst of affliction and the "belly of hell" (see Jon. 2:2-7), so that they may learn that "salvation is of the LORD". (Jon.2:9). I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill." (Psalms 3:4).
HE prepared a gourd. (see Jon.4:6) When Jonah was overtaken with grief the LORD moved quickly to comfort him by causing this vine to grow over him and cover him with shade. The LORD will always bring comfort to HIS people when comfort is what they need. Sometimes we cry out for consolation, when we really need correction. The LORD chastens those HE loves. (see Heb.12:6) The LORD will not allow us to be tried above what we are able to take(see I Cor. 10:13) but will provide the needed relief at the proper time.
HE prepared a worm. (see Jon. 4:7) Often in the midst of enjoying the blessings which GOD brings our way we begin to forget from whom those blessings flow. We sometimes begin to take them for granted and become angry at the LORD because they've begun to "wither." We must be reminded that the same ONE who prepared the worm also prepared the gourd. GOD intends to bless HIS people but HE also intends that HIS people be thankful.
HE would have us to trust HIM in the night as well as the day. Paul said, "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (Phil 4:11).
HE prepared a wind. (See Jon. 4:8). Sometimes when it seems that things could not be worse, our troubles increase. These things are not brought upon us to destroy us, but that we might look to HIM who is able to lift us up out of the miry clay and set our feet upon a solid rock (Ps.40:2). HE could not lift us up out of the pit, were HE not in the pit with us. "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb 4:15-16).
Author: Warren Wiersbe
Source: Prayer, Praise and Promises
Scripture Reference Psalm 78:40-53
Read Psalm 78:40-53
The older we get, the more we forget. This is especially true when it comes to our relationship with God.
The people of Israel often remembered what they should have forgotten and forgot what they should have remembered! "They didn't remember His power: the day when He redeemed them from the enemy, when He worked His signs in Egypt, and His wonders in the field of Zoan" (vv. 42,43). How amazing. The Jews had seen God perform ten miracles on their behalf in Egypt. Moses even pointed out that this was the hand of the Lord, yet they forgot all about it. After they were delivered from Egypt and living in the desert, the first time they were thirsty, they complained. The first time they were hungry, they complained. Their constant cry was, "Let's go back." What did they remember about Egypt? The bondage? The taskmasters? Being beaten and whipped? Carrying the heavy burdens? They didn't remember those things. They remembered the leeks and the onions and the garlic and the cucumbers. They remembered the things that satisfied their stomachs. They didn't remember the spiritual victories that God had given, His deliverance or His guidance. He'd fed and led them, protected and provided for them; and they forgot about it. The same is often true of us. We forget what God's done for us, and when we forget, we start to go backward. Forgetfulness has consequences. "Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel" (v. 41). Imagine---feeble, unbelieving man limiting Almighty God! But that's what happens when we forget Him. Don't limit God in your life today. He has unlimited wisdom and unlimited power, and your life has unlimited potential in His hands. Don't turn back. Look ahead. Don't test Him. Trust Him and remember his mercies.
The same God who worked miracle after miracle for Israel is the One who is working for you today. Don't live with a flawed memory. Meditate on God's faithfulness and goodness.
A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further. So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.
The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us.
We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We could never fly!
I asked for Strength...And God gave me Difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for Wisdom...And God gave me Problems to solve.
I asked for Prosperity...And God gave me Brain and Brawn to work.
I asked for Courage...And God gave me Danger to overcome.
I asked for Love...And God gave me Troubled people to help.
I asked for Favours...And God gave me Opportunities.
I received nothing I wanted...I received everything I needed!
"Beloved, do not be astonished at the fiery trial happening among you for your testing, as if a surprise were occurring to you; but according as you share the sufferings of Christ, rejoice; so that you may rejoice exultingly at the revelation of His glory" (1 Pet. 4:12, 13).
"For whom the Lord loves, He disciplines, and chastens every son whom He receives. If you endure discipline, God is dealing with you as with sons . . ." (Heb. 12:5-7, 11).
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1 Jn. 3:2-3).
"For our light affliction, is but for a moment, and works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;" (2 Cor. 4:17).
"Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" Matt. 13:43. "Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal" (Rev. 21:9-11).