November 23

Today 's Bible Reading
     I Chronicles 18
     James 5
     Jonah 2
     Luke 7
''But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord. So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land." (Jonah 2:9-10)                                                                                                                               ·
            The little Book of Jonah contains only four chapters and yet it is one of the most interesting short stories, not only in Scripture, but even in secular literature. Someone has said that Jonah is the best illustration of a sacrifice of praise because he praised God from a foam blubber mattress. It is really no wonder that the Ninevites repented and responded so well under Jonah's preaching. Most of us probably would respond to a preacher who looked and smelled like whale's vomit. Needless to say, he was an unusual preacher that God sent to Nineveh.
            Jonah, too, is really the prayer of a backslidden prophet. To settle the issue, the fish of Jonah was probably a whale, which should disturb no one's faith. The original Hebrew dag gadol means great fish, or a huge, finned sea creature. This word would include true fish like the tiger shark, and mammals (whales).
            Jonah is the classic example of someone who fled from the Lord and disobeyed God rather than going to preach in the Assyrian capital of Nineveh as he was called to do. Then, by God's arrangement,he was followed by this great fish. Someone speculated that Jonah died, but that God revived him. Others citing an actual case in which man was coughed up alive after being swallowed by a whale, believe that Jonah could have remained alive naturally. I, of course, believe that it happened exactly as the Scripture tell s us. Whatever the details, however, we are dealing with God's supernatural intervention on His prophet's behalf. The entire event is certified by Christ Himself and offered as a sign of His own death, burial ,  and resurrection.  (Matthew 12:39-40)
            In his humanly, hopeless position, brought about by his own rebellion, Jonah finally prayed the prayer of a backslidden prophet .  I believe God wants to teach us some things today from this prayer of a backslidden prophet.
1)     Often we do not cry to the Lord until we are in distress. (Verses 1-2)  It is obvious to God that we will not trust Him until we have to; therefore, He sets circumstances that require us to trust Him.
2)     God can hear us in our hour of need when we are in the very depths of despair. (Verse 2) The word sheol, used in verse 2, could be translated ''graveyard." It is obvious that Jonah is crying out from a feeling of total despair.
3)     It is right to acknowledge that our difficultie8 sometimes come to us from God's hand. (Verse  3)  Jonah 's predicament was not an accident. It was the providential hand of God that put him in this situation. It was the sailors on the ship who threw him into the ocean, but God was behind it, and God was responsible for these circumstances.
4)     When deliverance comes, we ought to give God the glory for our rescue. Jonah acknowledges that in verse six. Many times God allows the difficulties and adversities in our lives to teach us that He can deliver us.
5)     We should thank Him for delivering us. In verse 9, Jonah gives thanksgiving to God. 
6)     If we vow to correct our misdeeds when delivered from the depths of our agony and need, we must keep our promise. (Verse 9)
7)     We are obligated to acknowledge that salvation comes from the Lord. (Verse 9) However low we may have sunk, let us not be discouraged; rather, let us take heart that God answers the prayer of the truly penitent person. Let us sink no longer, but rise in prayer, allowing God's power to buoy us up to renewed heights of fellowship with Him.
Pray today for the Gabonese Republic, which i s a coastal, central African state on the Equator - 77% being dense, tropical rain forests. This African nation has 1.3 million people. Christians now number more than 78% of the population because the 1990's have been a time of God's moving in Gabon. The church has grown rapidly Gabon is a spiritual battlefield. The conversion of the President and many government leaders to Islam, the pervasive influence of indigenous secret societies, widespread alcoholism, and ignorance of the Gospel are all indicators of this. While the vast majority claim to be Christian, the people still fall back on their traditional religions in times of need. Pray for these influences to be broken down.
''Sincere repentance is continual.  Believers repent until their dying day."