Brothers and Sisters,
(Jonah 1:17) Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
We talked about Jonah yesterday in our morning devotions and how we shouldn’t run away from what God has called us to do. I guess “fear” is the one thing that I can point to that causes us to shy away from God’s calling on our lives.
As I look at our text verse this morning, I can only thank God that just because there are times in our lives where we run away from the Lord, He never runs away from us. The Bible says that when Jonah boarded the ship to flee unto Tarshish, that the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. You all know the story very well how that God called Jonah to go preach to the city of Nineveh, but instead of following God’s call Jonah boarded a ship and headed in the direct opposite direction to the way God had called him. You see Tarshish is 180 degrees in the opposite direction from Nineveh. While on the way to Tarshish there was a great storm and the crew of the ship was afraid that they were going to sink, so they began throwing overboard all of the cargo of the ship. Jonah was asleep in the bottom of the ship while all of this was going on. Notice what the shipmaster said to Jonah when he came to wake him up. (Jonah 1:6) So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.
When we refuse to follow God’s calling it is inevitable for us to fall asleep on God and be completely unaware of our surroundings. We neglect to pray as we should which leads to other problems like neglecting to read our Bibles and our worship and church attendance becomes sporadic. This is what we call a backslidden condition and this is where Jonah found himself.
With all that Jonah did that was contrary to God’s will for his life, I take comfort in the fact that the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. God didn’t have to do that and He doesn’t owe any of us anything either. God is justified in turning us over to our own way of living without interference, but I’m so glad that He loves us enough to chastise us when we get out of line. (Hebrews 12:7-8) If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
The chastening hand of God is proof that we belong to him. This is why I believe that many who attend our churches are lost because they can live any way they like without any chastening. To me this proves that they don’t yet belong to God. I think we would all be surprised to know how many in our churches have never truly been born again. They get nothing out of church except a little social interaction with their friends and neighbors. Going to church occasionally helps to soothe their conscience. They have never experienced true worship which is why we go to church to begin with. Jonah certainly belonged to God as evidenced by how God dealt with him when he was running away.
I realize that not everyone is going to be called to preach, but just because God doesn’t use you to be a preacher doesn’t mean that He is not calling you for another area of service. We call this finding God’s will for our lives. Lots of people want someone else to tell them what God’s will is for their life. They especially expect the preacher to let them know what God will is for their life.
We as pastors preach the Word of God, but it is up to each individual to search out the will of God for their lives. This comes from dedication to Bible study and prayer. These are the ways God uses to speak to us. Listening to a sermon can certainly help guide you and may even help reveal to you God’s will and plan for your life, but this is something that requires your willingness to submit to God and listen to that still small voice and one day it will just happen and you’ll know for sure without a doubt what God is calling you to do. Once you discover God’s calling and will for your life and begin to follow it, you can have the peace and contentment you’ve always been searching for. I truly believe that real peace and contentment comes from living in the center of God’s will for your life.
May God Bless you on your journey with Him!!