“Righteousness lifts up a nation, but sin is a disgrace in any society” (Proverbs 14:34). Lord, we wonder about the future. Can times of blessing come again to our nation? Yes! They can – but there needs to be a big change in our way of thinking and our way of living. There needs to be less “This is what we think”, and more, “What is the Lord saying to us?” There needs to be less, “Look at what I’ve done”, and more “This is what the Lord has done for us.” Lord, we pray for a revival – a revival of looking to You, listening to you, learning from You and living for You.
"Father, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, let Your will be done" (Matthew 26:42). Jesus was not just a passive victim of circumstances. He embraced the will of God, his loving, heavenly Father. He saw what needed to be done, and He said, 'I will do it.' He said, 'I will give Myself in death so that sinners might be forgiven and live eternally in the heavenly glory of God's Kingdom.
"All of this happened so that what the prophets have written would come true" (Matthew 26:56). "The Son of Man will be coming on the clouds of heaven" (Matthew 26:64). Here, we have looking back to what came before and looking forward to what lies ahead. If we are to avoid becoming like Peter, who denied Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75), we need this big perspective on Jesus. He is much more than a man, more than a prophet, more than a good example. he came from heaven. He returned to heaven. He will come, again, from heaven. When we keep before our eyes what the Scriptures teach us about Jesus, we will not be taken in by those who reduce Jesus to the human level. We will, always by the grace of God, stand up for Jesus, lifting Him up as the perfect Son of God and the perfect Saviour of sinners.
Jonah tried to run away from the Lord. The Lord protected Jonah (Jonah 1:17). The Lord hadn’t given up on Jonah. God had a purpose for Jonah. What a great purpose it was! The call of God (Jonah 1:1-2) wasn’t obeyed by Jonah – but the call of God remained. God was still planning to use Jonah to bring great blessing to the people of Nineveh. Jonah’s attempt to go to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3) was a detour – but God had not forgotten His plan for Jonah. The “big fish” was the beginning of God’s way of getting Jonah to the place where He wanted him to be. The “three days and three nights” were God’s way of getting Jonah ready for being His faithful and fruitful servant. In this time of preparation for service, there is prayer (Jonah 2:1-10). Jonah’s prayer was preparing the way for revival in Nineveh.
“From inside the fish…” – Not a great place to be; Jonah prayed to the Lord our God” – Can prayer change things? – Yes! “I called to the Lord in my distress, and He answered me” (Jonah 2:1-2). Humanly speaking, Jonah’s situation was hopeless: “The deep sea covered me completely… I sank to the bottom, where bars held me forever…” Humanly speaking – Is this all that there is? – No! There is more than this. There is God: “But You brought me back from the pit, O Lord my God” (Jonah 2:5-6).
"Then the Lord spoke His Word to Jonah a second time" (Jonah 3:1). "A second time" - This is so wonderful. This is the grace of God. He doesn't give up on us. He comes to us "a second time." Jonah was to give to the people of Nineveh the message that had been given to him by the Lord (Jonah 3:2). We don't make up the message as we're going along. We speak the message that has been given to us by the Lord.
"Jonah was very upset about this, and He became angry" (Jonah 4:1). After the high points of prayer (Jonah 2 and revival (Jonah 3), we come to this! This is pathetic. It's more than being upset and angry. Jonah became suicidal (Jonah 4:8-9). Why? - There's no good reason for him to feel like this. There are good reasons for him to rejoice in the Lord and give thanks to the Lord. What are we to say about this? "The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). There's something else we must never forget - God knows the heart, and He can change it!
"God is my stronghold, my merciful God!" (Psalm 59:9,17).
God has shown mercy to us. He has forgiven our sins. He gives us the strength that we need to live as His faithful servants. This is the testimony of the Psalmist. It's also the testimony of the Apostle Paul: "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord that He has trusted me and has appointed me to do His work with the strength He has given me. In the past I cursed Him, persecuted Him, and acted arrogantly toward Him. However, I was treated with mercy because I acted ignorantly in my unbelief. Our Lord was very kind to me. Through His kindness He brought me to faith and gave me the love that Christ Jesus shows people" (1 Timothy 1:12-14). Paul looks back to what he used to be - "In the past ... ", and he says, "Everything has changed." He tells us that this has nothing to do with himself. Paul isn't saying to us, "Look at me. I'm a bit special." What he's saying is this, "The Lord saved me. He called me to be His servant." The mercy of God and the strength of God - This is not just for people from a long time ago. It's for us. Whatever we've been can be left in the past - This is the mercy of God. What about the future? - God will give us the strength that we need to live as His faithful servants.
Genesis 1:24 -The “beast” Whenever we read, in God’s Word, about “the beast”, we are reminded that we face constant and determinedopposition from Satan, the enemy of our souls. Whenever we feel that Satan is getting the upper hand, let us remind him that Jesus is Lord. Genesis 1:25 -“every thing that creeps upon the earth” Creep – Isn’t that such a sinister word? Satan creeps around, doing no good. There is One who does nothing but good – our Lord Jesus Christ. He will never be defeated by Satan. Let us rejoice in this: Jesus gives His victory to us.
The repeated pattern of nature – evening, morning, evening, morning … – speaks to us of God’s great faithfulness. Without the sustaining power of God of perfect faithfulness and constant love, our world would return to chaos – “without form and void” (1:2). Whatever changes may take place in our world, let us never forget this: God’s mercies are renewed every morning. He is the God of great faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23).
“Your sins have been forgiven” (Luke 7:48). “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace” (Luke 7:50). At the heart of God’s salvation, there is the forgiveness of sins and the peace of God. These blessings are received by faith. This is “the Good News about God’s Kingdom” (Luke 8:1). When the Lord is crowned in our hearts as King, this is Good News for us because it means that the Lord’s blessing is upon us. To God be the glory!
In Daniel 8, we have a ‘vision’ concerning ‘the distant future’, ‘the time of the end’ (Daniel 8:26,17). Here, we catch a glimpse of Satan, the very powerful enemy of God’s people. Satan’s power is very frightening - ‘His power shall be great, and he shall cause fearful destruction...’. It was the power of Satan which lay behind the ‘stern-faced king’: ‘He will become very strong, but not by his own power’ (Daniel 8:23-24). Satan’s power will be broken. Satan faces certain defeat - ‘He will be defeated’. How will he be defeated? We will not defeat him - ‘He will not be destroyed by human power’. There is only one Power able to destroy the power of Satan: ‘He shall be broken by the hand of God’. ‘Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:57).