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“But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord”  Jonah 1:3

“Now the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah….Jonah prayed to the Lord God…..So the Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Johan onto dry land”.  Jonah 1:17, 2:1, 2:10

Why Jonah?  Why you?  Why me?  Who knows that mind of God?

I have no idea: why Jonah?  Yet it is clear in scripture, God chose Jonah.  Here’s what else is clear; God was not going to be denied.  Jonah tried to deny God.  It is important that we understand that Jonah knew that he had a calling from God.  Jonah had no ambiguity about whether God wanted him to go to Nineveh; but, even with that calling, Jonah was bound and determined he was not going to go.

Why was Jonah so set against doing God’s Will?  Why did he try to run from God?  Later in this scripture we get a sense of what Jonah’s mindset was.  You see at this point in time; Jonah was not about God.  Jonah was not about the Ninevehites.  Jonah was about Jonah.  God had told Jonah to go and preach Nineveh’s destruction because of their sin.  Jonah was going to go put his name out there predicting the fall of Nineveh.  But we learn that Jonah had his doubts.  For he went and preached God, the sins of Nineveh and their coming destruction.  And what did the Ninevehites do because of that preaching?  They repented.  Starting with their king who took off his kingly robes and sat in ashes and sackcloth, the entire city repented.  So God forgave them of their sins and was merciful and did not destroy the city.  Here’s the interesting thing; God’s mercy really made Jonah angry.  It seems that Jonah was more intent on having the words of destruction happen that he preached then, seeing the Ninevehites hear God and be saved.  Jonah felt he looked foolish.  Now back to the beginning of the story.  Jonah knew that this was a possibility; so he ran.  He ran from God.

Have you ever felt that you’ve run away from God before; or maybe today your trying to.  I know I have.  I know that there have been times and even today where God is calling me to a task.  The challenge is that the task God is calling me to accomplish requires a significant change; and that change the world would look at as risky if not just plain foolish.  So I run. It’s not as if I get on a boat and physically try to flee as Jonah did.  For me it is more as if I try to ignore in my heart and soul what God is calling for me to do.  I try to go on in the worldly way, trying to fool myself into thinking this is the prudent and wise way to be.  Yet like for Jonah, there are storms in my soul.  My entire being, physical, mental, emotional is stressed as if trying to survive a major tempest.  Understand, God has not forgotten, nor forsaken me.  Actually it is just the opposite.  Why He has chosen me, I can not say.  However, He is not about to be denied.  I am the one in denial if I think I can thwart His plans.

So I feel that I am in need of a fish.  To be whisked away by a God sent messenger, without the ability to resist to find myself thrust out, arriving in the place where God intended; at times would seem like such a blessing.  Yet in reading the story of Jonah, I’m not so sure.  Because even though Our Heavenly Father was very merciful with Jonah, Jonah never still really bought in.  At the end of that gospel story, Jonah is still bitterly depressed, sitting in the desert.

Contrast that Dear Sisters and Brothers with Abraham.  He was called by God to do a very risky thing.  However, Abraham did not run from God, he ran to God.  Abraham bought into the word of God and the world could not overcome the Word or Abraham.

Here’s the thing; you, like I, may feel that you are in need of a fish from God.  You may be trying to flee from God and feeling the effects of trying to hide from Him.  You may be wishing, crying out for help, thinking that it might be nice for God to send some sort of deliverance, some sort of vehicle, like Jonah’s fish to miraculously transport you to God’s destination.  Well truth in fact is that we already have a fish, or at least He who is often shown as the sign of a fish to rely on; and that He is Jesus Christ.  For Jesus Christ did not run from God’s plan.  He did not rebel at the thought of coming down to earth.  He did not shy away from dying for our sins and in a similar fashion as Jonah, after three days Jesus Christ returned to be our salvation.

There are many in the world and some within the faith that doubt that the story of Jonah could actually happen.  It is beyond credible that God could bring about the miracle of the fish and allow Jonah to live within it for three days.  Yet I ask which is the bigger miracle; the story of Jonah, or the story of a God who so loved the world He created, even though much of it hated Him, that He sent His Only Beloved Son, to die for His wayward creation, simply so they could live with Him forever.  Which story takes more love, more mercy, more power?

Have you ever felt like you needed a fish?  Thank God the Father Almighty that He has supplied that and all else we need.  Let us not be like Jonah and stay outside looking in.  Let us be like Abraham, David, Esther, John and yes Jesus Christ, saying yes to the calling of Our Heavenly Father and relying on the sacrificial body and blood of the Lamb of God to see us through.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we admit that we are made fearful by Your calling.  We so often find that Your calling is against what the world would have us do and we ask for your forgiveness when we try the world’s answer first.  Pour Out Your Spirit on us Dear Father, restoring our focus on you and strengthening our spirit to follow You.  We are so thankful for what You have provided us; He who is Immanuel, who is shown in the sign of the fish, who as He did to the thousands, will supply every want and need when it seems impossible that could happen.  That in following Him, we would live lives of praise to Your Name we pray.  In the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

“Father..Glorify Your Son that Your Son also may glorify You.”  John 17:1

“If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself..”  John 13:32

This is the time of year where there is a lot of glorification going around.  It is the time for so many award shows.  In a several week period, there are numerous entertainment award shows for virtually every venue.  Various sports are naming their best players for the year as well as inductees into halls of fame.  People are being named top in their fields for their achievements in the past year.  Yes there is a lot of glory being spread around.  Many things to be giving and taking credit for.

The thought of giving and taking credit takes me back to a critical conversation that I had decades ago when I was in the Air Force.  We were on deployment and I was rooming with a person in our squadron who I didn’t know well.  My roommate saw me reading my bible and asked me a couple fantastic questions:  “Why do you read that?  What is that all about?  By the tone of his voice, he wasn’t being critical; he simply was curious.  I briefly spoke to him of the blessings that I felt that I had been given based around certain professional accomplishments and other life areas like family life.  Then he responded with such a hugely important question that I so dearly wish I would have had an equally important answer.  He asked: “Don’t you believe that you deserve credit for those things?”  I vaguely remember answering about God being in control; but all in all I think it was fairly unpersuasive.  But that question reverberates throughout this world:  “Don’t I deserve the credit? The glory?”

That question reverberates not just in the world but as importantly and maybe even more so within the faith community.  What credit/glory do I deserve?  Let there be no doubt, human beings do some incredible things.  There have been some amazing civilizations filled with magnificent art and buildings.  We come up with cures for horrible diseases.  We peer deep into the depths of the universe.  We travel, not only to distant lands but to distant planets.  If you truly look to your own life, you have accomplished many things for which you could claim credit.

If I wanted, I could claim credit that this site has been visited thousands of times by people in over 30 different countries!  Yeah Me!  Really?  First at least for me, let’s break it down.  I chose to be born in a country with the education that it has, to parents who loved me?  I decided that I would have the mental faculties to allow me to read and write?  I am responsible for the bible, which is the source of my inspiration?  I built the internet as well as am responsible for the company that hosts this site? I could go on and on (I know you’re saying please don’t we get it already).

Okay maybe those things I just mentioned are really mainly mostly random chance kinds of things.  I can at least claim complete credit for what I do with them? Right?  Let’s look at the answer this way (oh oh).  If I claim the credit, doesn’t that also mean I take the complete responsibility.  If I claim complete credit, want all the glory for my past triumphs, aren’t I also completely responsible for any future victories?  And if that is indeed the case; doesn’t that mean I have to be in control of most, if not all the possible variables involved in my future endeavors?  And if I need to be in control for my victories and you need be in control for your victories, then aren’t you and you and you my enemy?  Even if that kind of control were possible, it sounds like a pretty lonely, fearful existence to me.

So here’s the thing and my answer to shouldn’t I take credit for “those things”, for my achievements.  I’ve come to realize how few things I not only actually control but have even the possibility of controlling.  The fact that so many things align to allow me to have one achievement might be fate, that is statistically possible.  That so many things have aligned so many times to allow for my many achievements can only logically be seen for what they are:  blessings.  So yes, I could claim, I could even believe that I deserve credit and glory.  However, should I choose to do so, that would forever chain me to the horrible limitations of my own intellect, wisdom and power.

Jesus Christ knew better.  Even as the Son of God, He lived to honor and Glorify the Father.  The depth of His relationship with the Father taught Him that by honoring and glorifying the Father, the Father would in turn glorify the Son.  Or if the Son should find Himself being glorified; the only proper response was to, in turn, give glory to the Father.  If you and I could truly, completely see and understand, that by giving glory to the Father, we are not giving Him something He needs.  We are actually, empowering ourselves by forging a connection to the All Powerful, All Knowing, All Perfect Resource.  A God who knows that all creation glorifies Him and instead of wanting to hoard it all to Himself; wants to share it with His creation.  We can and will be glorified in  our Heavenly Father; through Jesus Christ His Son.

You and I have a choice.  Do we do as the world and claim all glory for ourselves?  Do we fool ourselves into thinking we have complete power and thus control over our lives?  Do we turn our backs on the offers of Help, Security, Joy and Love because of a selfish desire to keep all the glory for ourselves?

Or, do we humbly acknowledge the blessings of and give the appropriate credit to the One who has the true power to orchestrate all the pieces to the successes we have?  Do we receive the rest that comes from no longer taking responsibility for or relying solely/souly on ourselves but putting our trust totally in Him?

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we understand and declare that You are not in need of receiving Glory from us.  It is we, Your Creation whom receive blessings when we give You Glory.  Give to us a humble spirit, Blessed Father, that in our triumphs and victories we will shout praises to You and Glorify Your Most Holy Name.  Forgive us Most Merciful Father, when we fail to give to You the credit that You deserve.  That in giving Glory to You, we might also share in that Glory.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord.  Amen

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