The illustration of prayer that our Lord used here is one of a good child who is asking for something good. We talk about prayer as if God hears us regardless of what our relationship is to Him (see Matthew 5:45). Never say that it is not God’s will to give you what you ask. Don’t faint and give up, but find out the reason you have not received; increase the intensity of your search and examine the evidence. Is your relationship right with your spouse, your children, and your fellow students? Are you a “good child” in those relationships? Do you have to say to the Lord, “I have been irritable and cross, but I still want spiritual blessings”? You cannot receive and will have to do without them until you have the attitude of a “good child.”
We mistake defiance for devotion, arguing with God instead of surrendering. We refuse to look at the evidence that clearly indicates where we are wrong. Have I been asking God to give me money for something I want, while refusing to pay someone what I owe him? Have I been asking God for liberty while I am withholding it from someone who belongs to me? Have I refused to forgive someone, and have I been unkind to that person? Have I been living as God’s child among my relatives and friends? (see Matthew 7:12).
I am a child of God only by being born again, and as His child I am good only as I “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7). For most of us, prayer simply becomes some trivial religious expression, a matter of mystical and emotional fellowship with God. We are all good at producing spiritual fog that blinds our sight. But if we will search out and examine the evidence, we will see very clearly what is wrong— a friendship, an unpaid debt, or an improper attitude. There is no use praying unless we are living as children of God. Then Jesus says, regarding His children, “Everyone who asks receives . . .” (Matthew 7:8).
From: Charles Spurgeon
“The breaker is come up before them.”
Inasmuch as Jesus has gone before us, things remain not as they would have been had he never passed that way. He has conquered every foe that obstructed the way. Cheer up now thou faint-hearted warrior. Not only has Christ travelled the road, but he has slain thine enemies. Dost thou dread sin? He has nailed it to his cross. Dost thou fear death? He has been the death of Death. Art thou afraid of hell? He has barred it against the advent of any of his children; they shall never see the gulf of perdition. Whatever foes may be before the Christian, they are all overcome. There are lions, but their teeth are broken; there are serpents, but their fangs are extracted; there are rivers, but they are bridged or fordable; there are flames, but we wear that matchless garment which renders us invulnerable to fire. The sword that has been forged against us is already blunted; the instruments of war which the enemy is preparing have already lost their point. God has taken away in the person of Christ all the power that anything can have to hurt us. Well then, the army may safely march on, and you may go joyously along your journey, for all your enemies are conquered beforehand. What shall you do but march on to take the prey? They are beaten, they are vanquished; all you have to do is to divide the spoil. You shall, it is true, often engage in combat; but your fight shall be with a vanquished foe. His head is broken; he may attempt to injure you, but his strength shall not be sufficient for his malicious design. Your victory shall be easy, and your treasure shall be beyond all count.
“Proclaim aloud the Saviour’s fame,
Who bears the Breaker’s wond’rous name;
Sweet name; and it becomes him well,
Who breaks down earth, sin, death, and hell.”
by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Jonah 3:1-2 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-2 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
When the Lord gave Jonah a second chance, He didn’t change His mind about the prophet’s destination. He didn’t lighten the load or change the burden Jonah was destined to carry. There was no negotiation with Jonah where the Lord expressed understanding about his reluctance to go to Nineveh. God didn’t concede to send him to Tarshish just because he’d been heading in that direction anyway. Jonah’s disobedience and repentance produced a clear and simple result: a second chance to do what he should have done the first time.
But it was not just for Nineveh’s sake. God cared for Jonah, just as He cared for Nineveh. If His concern was only about Nineveh, the Lord could have sent someone else for the task. But He definitely wanted Jonah to go, because He wanted to change and to soften the prophet’s heart; to make him more like Himself…
Jonah’s identity and calling as a prophet by no means meant that God was finished shaping him. You may have a significant calling on your life; a “prophetic” or “pastoral” role, known as a leader, a man or woman of God. You may know His will, and His word. You may even have some level of intimacy with Him….but all this could also be a basis for presumption, self-righteousness, pride, distance from those less holy than you, and maybe even an unsuspected level of disobedience bordering on rebellion. Something profoundly important can be missing from your character…
Jonah’s experience is an excellent example of the Lord’s desire to transform His faithful saints. The apostle Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 13 of a “more excellent way”. The preceding chapter, 1 Corinthians 12, is all about spiritual gifts; and Jonah was certainly gifted as a prophet. But what he lacked was of such great concern to God that He was willing to put Jonah into the most dire circumstances imaginable; because what Jonah lacked was a most essential characteristic of God’s nature, the love we call “agape”….. the “love” which God Himself is.
by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Jonah 1:14, 16 Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.”
Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows.
While most read the story of Jonah focusing on Jonah’s journey, I want to pause and examine the lives of the pagan sailors. What a journey they were on! We see the hand of God touching them providentially through Jonah’s disobedience. Talk about God bringing good from evil. Here He draws them into a desperate sea voyage and almost incidentally reveals to them the impotence of their gods, who have no power whatsoever to stop the deadly storm. In their total helplessness the God of Heaven then introduces Himself through his runaway prophet. And suddenly, the sailors are crying out to YHVH.
They are not crying out to their gods any longer – but now are crying to the true God of Israel.
And God performs a miracle for them, when Jonah is tossed into the sea, the storm suddenly calmed… and the amazing miracle evokes what sounds like prophesying, as they offer sacrifices and vows in worship to YHVH. “For You, O Lord, have done as you pleased!” The whole crew is converted. So, while Jonah is fish food – there’s a revival happening on board.
And now these wonder struck sailors have quite a fish story to tell in all their subsequent travels concerning the wayward prophet who disappeared beneath the waves as his God stilled the perfect storm. And the Lord has a boat full of newborn missionaries heading to Tarshish…
Our God desires all people throughout the world to hear His message. His providence is such that anywhere His servants find themselves becomes a place and a moment of opportunity for Him. The apostle Paul writes to Timothy “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; [2 Timothy 4:2] Even Jonah’s gross disobedience didn’t stop the Lord from using him as a testimony. We need to be aware of who we are and what we carry for Yeshua (Jesus). His love and faithfulness to us is such that even our discipline can become a vehicle for expressing His love to the world.
by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Picture this — you come home from a long day of work — you walk into your living room — plop down on your couch in exhaustion — and there in the corner of the room — your eyes are drawn to something moving — it’s a rattlesnake! Do you say to yourself, “Oh, I’m too tired to worry about that now, I’ll deal with it later?” Of course not! You jump up right away, find a bat or something, alert your family, call the neighbors, 911, the fire department, the national guard, and start praying with all your might! It’s a life-threatening situation!
Though it may sound extreme, negative thoughts, which are lies, opposed to God’s truth and character, should be treated the same way when they enter our minds. We ought to immediately sense their danger and rise to action; take that thought captive and bring it under submission to the truth of God’s word. These thoughts are as poisonous to our minds and souls as rattlesnake bites are to our bodies. If we realize that danger, we’ll be extremely vigilant to watch what we allow to sneak into our minds and remain there. Thoughts cannot be taken captive until they appear and are recognized. So we need to watch them carefully and consider whether they’re good and true or not.
Bad thinking comes in many forms. Dangerous thoughts can be obvious and easily recognized as sinful and evil or destructive, lustful, vengeful, spiteful, and vain; or they can be subtle as snakes, quietly lying in the background like clever rationalizations or spiritual pride. Whatever form they take is dangerous to our spiritual well being, and this word from Paul exhorts us to deal with them on the spot, just as if a snake had entered the house.
Your mind is active and thinking during every waking hour, (and also of course in your dreams). Developing a habit of watchfulness over your thinking is a challenging discipline that will change your life and protect your spiritual house. Knowing the word of God is a tremendous help since the word contains God’s thoughts which are the corrective for our bad and wrong thinking. So pay attention! What was that my mind just told me? Is that true and good, blessed and holy…or is it a snake? Respond accordingly…and fast!