In recent weeks we've discussed 1) God's guidance as the result of where our relationship with him is placed on our list of priorities, 2) Receiving God's guidance from prayer, Bible study, and fellowship at church, 3) If you're receiving "cloudy" guidance from God, reprioritize your relationship with Him now, and 4) When I've rejected God's guidance I've always regretted it!
The "fish belly experience" may happen, where A) I meet with God in an isolated place, B) He makes me aware of my sins. After my sins have been confessed I'm released, then I apologize to those I hurt and end up doing what God guided me to do originally. Today we will discover from Jonah chapter 2 at least 3 reasons why Jonah was saved from the fish, and something more important.
Reason 1: Jonah prayed to God: Jonah prays about his predicament, faithfully believing God would deliver him from deep waters. Jonah recognized God was capable of saving him from his mistake.
This time of the year we can find ourselves in deep waters, allowing ourselves to become so busy we snap at people. Praying to God about your problem and faithfully believing He will deliver you is the first step to being saved. Please note that while Jonah is about to be "saved" by God's power alone, God usually guides us to be involved in the "saving" process (such as restoring a relationship).
Reason 2: Jonah recommitted to God's guidance: In verse 9 Jonah said, "What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord." Jonah basically said "I renew my commitment to follow your guidance in my life. You are God. My salvation is in your hands." Have you had to do this before? Due to stubbornness, has an issue become more important than a loved one? In these times, recommit to God's guidance.
Reason 3: God is everywhere: Psalm 139:7 asks "Where can I go from your Spirit?" Verses 8-12 indicate it's impossible; the heavens, depths, far side of the sea, darkness, cannot keep you from God's presence. Jonah 2:10 says "the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land." God is always present, and He will deliver you when the time is right! God was with Jonah the whole time, heard his prayers, and when the time was right (3 days later) He saved Jonah.
Have you felt God deserted you? After spending money on presents according to your budget have you received a bill that blindsided you? Did you think "Thanks for deserting me God. I really tried to be accountable this year." He was with you when the bill came, will always be with you, and at the right moment (His timing, not yours) He will deliver you!
Two final points from the rest of Jonah: 1) Jonah honored his commitment and amazing things happened (120,000 people may have been saved). The same will happen for you if you correctly prioritize your relationship with God, and 2) Jonah sinned but God loved him anyway.
God knows we will make mistakes, but He loves us and while we must do all we can to avoid sin and sinful lifestyles, if we confess our sins, His forgiveness waits for us!
May God bless you this coming year.
Scott Hoberg is the pastor of Prairie City Assembly of God Church.