The book of Jonah reminds us that God is in control. Even though it was obvious that the Ninevites were off course, and it was clear that Jonah had some issues against following God’s command to share His message with the Ninevites, God knew just what was needed. He knew that the Ninevites were open to hearing His truth, and He also was prepared to pour out some grace upon His not-so-compliant prophet too.
The word “wayman” means appointed or prepared. In the book of Jonah, we read that God appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah after he was tossed overboard. At first glance, it seems as if this big fish was a punishment, but in fact, it was a picture of the awesome grace of God. Without the fish, Jonah would have most likely succumbed to the stormy waters. Instead, he was safe inside the great fish, and able to enjoy some quiet time with God alone.
Later we read in Jonah 4 of more appointments. God appointed a plant to grow to provide shade. God appointed a worm to eat the plant. God appointed wind to provide more heat. Again and again, we read of God’s preparation—of His appointments. Now don’t misread the situation—not everything that happens is not some pivotal part in God’s grand plan. Some situations and circumstances are not meant to be signs or tests. However, God does ordain each one of your days. God does promise that everything will be used for His good purpose. God is in control today, tomorrow, and forever. He reigns! No matter what you are dealing with today, remember Who is above all. Remember your Father and trust in His Word. His Word never fails. Today, thank Him for His goodness, His faithfulness, and His great plan.
“And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” – Jonah 1:17 [ESV]
“Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.’” – Jonah 4:6-8 [ESV]
“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” – Psalm 139:16 [NASB]
On my morning walk today, I passed by this block of cement that was different from the pavement. It is a very white cement, instead of the typical off white pavement color. Most people wouldn’t know what happened last year. When you look around today, the trench that was dug the previous year is no longer visible. Grass has grown over the nasty construction area. The block of pavement that was missing, is no longer an area of stones. Instead, we have the block of cement.
Over the years, you probably noticed change around you. God has given us different seasons of the year. We also have different circumstances, different periods of rest and rhythm, and time of pruning and growth. It is good to look back and remember what God has done. This keeps us humble and provides us an opportunity to praise God. It is also good to look back and remember what God has gotten us through in the past. We are reminded of His faithfulness. As we remember the trenches of the past, we now see the great growth He alone provides.
Today, you may be going through a trench. Remember that you will not always be in the trench. One day, there will be no more trench. Be reminded of the faithfulness of God. Be reminded that this time is temporary. Be reminded that God has a great plan and He will see it to completion.
“He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness. He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever—holy and awesome is his name.” – Psalm 111:6-9 [NIV]
“For he loves us with unfailing love; the LORD’s faithfulness endures forever. Praise the LORD!” – Psalm 117:2 [NLT]
In Genesis 8, we read that “God remembered Noah.” This doesn’t mean that God forgot Noah, but then remembered Him later. When saying God remembered Noah, it means that God faithfully did what He told Noah He would do. This verse is saying that God was going to fulfill the promise He made to Noah (see Genesis 6:13-22).
Our God is faithful. Don’t think for a second that He has forgotten you or overlooked you. He remembers you and He remembers the promises He made to you. If you don’t know what He has promised you, spend more time in His Word seeking out these promises.
Just as God remembered Noah, God also remembers you.
“But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede.” – Genesis 8:1 [NLT]
We do not think like God thinks (Isaiah 55:8). That being said, there are many times when we are unable to grasp what God is doing and we become frustrated. We may even cry out to the Lord, “You have don’t nothing,” just like Moses did.
Moses was upset with God. He was angry because his requests of Pharaoh, requests that were refused, brought about consequences. The Lord had Moses go before Pharaoh and it continued to bring trouble. But Moses couldn’t see what God was doing. He only saw the consequences. This caused him to claim God did “nothing.”
Perhaps today you are crying out these same words—You have done nothing. Perhaps you feel abandoned. Perhaps you wonder where God is even at right now because you cannot see Him moving in your life. Remember, even when you do not see God’s presence around you, He is alive and active. He continues to work everything out for His good purpose. Keep your heart open to hear Him. Dive deeper into His Word. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Trust in His faithfulness.
“Then Moses went back to the LORD and protested, ‘Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!’” – Exodus 5:22-23 [NLT]
As you read Genesis, you learn of the Promised Land, the land that God had promised to Abraham as part of the Abrahamic Covenant. Remember: blessing, land, and descendants. This Promised Land was eventually inhabited by Abraham’s descendants when Joshua and the Israelites entered Canaan. Nonetheless, Abraham never got to claim the Promised Land—He never got to reside in this area, the Promised Land.
In Genesis 23, we read of the death of Abraham’s wife Sarah, and we read of her burial. Here we read of the patriarch’s wife dying and Abraham attempting to purchase land to bury her. Why did he need land? He had none! Despite God promising him land, there was no land. Abraham was a sojourner. But Abraham negotiates a deal with Ephron the Hittite for a cave and a field to buy and then bury his beloved wife. In making settlement on this land, in purchasing the deed, Abraham was buying a very small piece of the Promised Land.
You may think, why should Abraham have to buy a piece of land that God promised him. God said that land would be his, but it didn’t mean it would happen overnight or even in his lifetime. But as Abraham lost his precious wife, this situation gave Abraham a reminder of what would come. By purchasing this small piece of the Promised Land, he was able to lay down roots in the land that would one day be the land of his descendants. He was burying the first of many of his family, in the land that God promised would all be his. As he was making this purchase, he was trusting in this great promise from God—and declaring His faithfulness.
We don’t know how God will work in a situation. We don’t know the steps, the plan, or even if things will happen during our time on earth. But we do know we have a faithful God and His Word never fails.
“So Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.” – Genesis 23:17-20 [NIV]
Every morning, there is the usual routine. After our daily walk (weather permitting), the dogs sit inside the kitchen awaiting their food. Typically, I’ll grab their bowls and get them water, followed by their food. There are moments when I need to do something quickly before feeding them. They still stand in their places, patiently waiting for their food. They know that their master will feed them. They trust it is coming. In time, the food comes.
The Bible references many promises of God. In Matthew 6, we read about how God cares for the birds—He makes sure they are fed. This illustration is shared to show us the importance of leaning into God and not succumbing to anxiety. Too often, we allow fear, anxiety, worry, and doubt to keep us from stepping into what God has ready for us. Rather than following His will and patiently trusting Him, we try to do things on our own and life becomes frazzled. We were never meant to do life alone on our strength.
Worry will get you nowhere. It cannot add a single hour to your life span. It cannot make the problem go away. It cannot change your circumstances. It cannot help in any way. Like my dogs stand patiently waiting to be fed, trusting in their master, we are to stand before our Master, trusting in Him. Even when nothing seems to go well—even when the circumstances look bad—cling to Him and His promises. Even when things are falling apart around you, stand firm in your faith. Wait obediently. He is faithful!
““Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Matthew 6:25-27 [ESV]
Whenever it rains, I don’t feel so great. My body aches from the dampness. The dogs cannot go for their walks if it is raining too hard, which means I don’t get my normal exercise, and more importantly, my special alone time with God where there are no interruptions. The weather report notes that the rain is going to continue for the next few days. Part of me dreads possibly not getting out there for our usual walks, but yet I know that the rain is a blessing to us and it is certainly needed so I’m trying to be grateful.
In Hosea, we read that God “will come to us like the rain.” I always love when I can read something that paints a visual picture for me. But what is this verse saying? Rain isn’t always falling. Does it mean God will come and then go and eventually come again? No. This passage is talking about the faithfulness of God. In Deuteronomy 11, read about the blessings and the curses. It was plainly laid out for people to understand. If you obey – if you love the Lord and serve Him with all your heart and soul—then He will bless you with rain. There were two big rains acknowledge—the spring rain and the autumn rain. This was needed for the people to have a good return.
When we read in Hosea that the Lord comes to us like the rain, it is saying that we can trust that the Lord is faithful. Just as the rain comes in spring and autumn as promised, so will the Lord come and restore. The promises of the Lord are true. Next time it rains, be reminded that God is faithful. He will come like the rain to us. Ask Him to come and rain down on you.
“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.” – Hosea 6:3 [NASB]
“And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil.” – Deuteronomy 11:13-14 [ESV]
God’s timing is always the best timing. Oftentimes we consider how we don’t receive a particular blessing until just the right time when it is needed, but He also keeps us from seeing or experiencing things until it is the proper time as well. Not only can we look at His perfect timing when it comes to the blessings we receive, but we also can look at His perfect timing when He protects us or keeps us from something until the timing is more appropriate or better for His great work.
This past week was Holy Week. It was a full on week of preaching and ministering. Throughout the week, I kept myself fixated on God’s Word, continuously in prayer, and I tried to balance out things so I had rest built in within the busy schedule. But in the midst of it all, God was not allowing me to see things that would throw me off course as well. We don’t often consider how He is fighting for us, moving behind the scenes to ensure His children stay the course and run the race before them. He is a faithful God. He is a merciful, gracious God.
God’s timing is always perfect. Today, consider what you do not get to see happening—the protection of God, the hand of God keeping you from items hidden from your view. The Lord embraces you—covers you with His protective wings. It is not by chance that you missed a particular newspaper article. It is not by chance that you caught that red light that didn’t seem to go off like the normal traffic timing at that time of the day. Everything is under God’s control. Today, thank Him for His protection. Thank Him for seeing things through to the end. Thank Him for using you for His great work and for never letting you go. He is faithful! He is awesome! He is Lord of all!
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!’ For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.” – Psalm 91:1-4 [NASB]
I was walking Max the other morning. He is quite the rabbit chaser. The second he notices a rabbit, he wants to go hunt it down. However this morning was different. The rabbit stood still. The rabbit never had to run for cover. There was a big dog in the yard ahead that caught Max’s attention. He became fearful and that fear caused him to focus on the fear and miss out on his “fun.”
Fear can cause us to not take chances. Fear can cause us to act differently. Fear can cause us to cower down. Fear can cause us to second guess ourselves. Fear can cause us to not reach our full potential. Fear can cause us to miss opportunities.
For many years of my life, I was very fearful. I let fear rule different areas of my life and it caused me to be enslaved by fear. It also caused me to miss out on a lot of opportunities. God has a lot for you. Yes, YOU! There’s work to be done. There’s doors to be taken. There’s a need to stand firm. There’s a reason to speak up. Do not let fear rule you. Remember what God promises. Remember Who your God is and remember He is a big God, a faithful God, and that you have no reason to fear.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10 [ESV]