Friday, March 14, 2014

Time Has Become Our Enemy

I wanted to share some thoughts that I have had off and on in recent years; thoughts concerning the Body of Christ, and how we are currently functioning.  I've actually addressed it before, here. My experience as a Believer in Christ has been as follows:

Saved at a young age (approximately 10 years old)
Attended church off and on (taken by my aunt)
"Church" consisted of:
    Sunday School, which consisted of:
    a prepackaged curriculum lesson, that lasted 30 minutes IF everyone showed up on time
followed by a main service, or "big church" as some kids call it.
This service consisted of:
  •     Singing a few traditional hymns
  •     Listening to a choir special while an "offering" was taken
  •     Listening to a sermon (which lasted for about 30-45 minutes)
  •     Waiting through an "invitation" (or a call to respond to the sermon)
  •      Going home 
  Repeat the following week

This is the pattern I have followed for the vast majority of my Christian walk.  The only thing that has changed is the style of music, and that, since my teen years, I have for the most part attended services on Wednesday nights that follow the same basic pattern, only on a more casual (for lack of a better word) level.  There were periods of Wednesday nights consisting of "prayer meetings", which is for another blog post! 

Before I continue, I want to address the quotation marks that I have used.  Please do not think that this post is an attack on the Bride of Christ, because as I have stated before, that is never my intent.  I love Jesus too much to ever want to attack His Bride!  What I hope comes through these typed-out words is a challenge to examine ourselves and the Scripture, to see whether or not the what and how we are doing things line up with one another. 

I do not pretend to have reached complete understanding of the Scriptures.  I don't think that any person will ever be able to reach that this side of Heaven.  What I am saying is that I would like to see all followers of Christ come together and examine the Scriptures to see if what we have been taught is true, just as the Bereans did (see Acts 17). 

"Isn't that what we are doing already?", one might ask.  I would simply reply, "No."  If you go back and re-read the format I shared above, you will see that there isn't any time for an in-depth examining of the Scriptures. Most of what we did and are still doing today is observing and listening. Time has become our enemy!

Again, I'm not attacking, condemning or even criticizing what takes place in most church services today.  I am simply asking, "Is it working?  Is it even Scriptural?"

These are questions that I have had for several years now.  I have seen these questions addressed by several friends.  In fact, it was because of some very close friends raising these questions first that I began asking them as well. 

A.D.D. MOMENT: I fear that this post will be too lengthy to keep the average reader's attention.  I place myself in the "average" cateogry, so don't be offended! But please bear with me.  

The thing about asking questions is that sometimes it come across more like poking a hornet's nest.  We don't want to upset things, so we don't ask the questions.  And for those who do ask questions, well, unfortunately they often get stung. 

So, back to what I mentioned earlier about time.  Why do I say that "time has become our enemy"?  Well, because how many of us can honestly say that we have more time than we know what to do with?  I know I don't.  Truthfully, it's not that we don't have time, we're just not making time to follow the New Testament model.  Take Acts 2:42-47, for example:

"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (emphasis mine)

I would imagine that after meeting together every day, the New Testament Church grew to know one another very well.  In fact, the above passage states that "they had everything in common".  WOW!  Can you imagine having "everything" in common with a group of people?  I'm sitting here shaking my head "no" because I can't!  However, with God all things are possible!  (Matthew 19:26)

I long for that.  I crave to be like Acts 2:42-47 describes.  I yearn for the Body to function as Christ intended.  Not only with meeting together, examining the Scriptures, praising God, but also in the exercising of spiritual gifts, where everyone has one and knows how to use it!  (see Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12-14 Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4) And what would be the result?  According to the passage in Acts: "And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." 

With all of that being said, this is what I think God is trying to say (at least to me), "If you aren't going to make the time, I will remove for you those things that are consuming it."  Christian, I believe that a shaking is about to hit!  Hebrews 12:26-28 tells us:

"At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, 'Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.' The words 'once more' indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." 

Jesus made it clear that we are to seek first God's kingdom and His righteousness (see Matthew 6).  Seeking His kingdom, from my understanding of Scripture, is: 

  • frequently meeting with other believers 
  • devoting ourselves to prayer 
  • examining the Scriptures 
  • and then doing as the Scriptures say (see the Book of James)  
The struggle that I come away with is the how.  Practically speaking, how do we do these things?  A big part of me believes that we won't really have to worry about that because, if the shaking that I referred to happens, we won't have any other choice! Therefore our current traditions and formats will be null and void.  We could very likely be forced to stop gathering in such large numbers in fine, comfortable buildings, and once again start meeting secretly in homes.  We very well may be stripped of the conveniences and luxuries that so many of us (including myself) consider necessities, and once this happens we will realize all too well just how much time we have wasted.  
God's ways, even His very thoughts, are so far above ours (see Isaiah 55:9)!  We truly have no idea how huge God is! We say we do, but our actions don't show it.  That is why I believe God is going to shake things up!  He must be glorified!  Jesus died so that everyone can be reconciled to the Father!  If we, His children, are not going to live in such a way that demonstrates this truth, then He will do whatever it takes to get our attention.  

So, Church, let's not be caught unaware!  Let's start now, acting like God's chosen people.  Let's devote ourselves to prayer and examine the Scriptures to see if what we are being taught is true.  And if we aren't being taught the truth, let's get the truth out there and do it!  

Thank you for giving of your time in reading this post.  I know how valuable it is!  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Christ's Example - a word study on Hebrews 5:7

Hebrews is a challenging book for me.  I confessed to God before I began reading it this time that I found Hebrews somewhat intimidating, but I trust that with the Holy Spirit being my Teacher, I will learn what I need to learn.  I want to share a word study I did on Hebrews 5:7.  Let me begin by sharing the verse in its entirety:

During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions [KJV uses "supplications"] with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. (NIV)

Since I am currently on a prayer journey, I take special notice of any reference to it, so this verse in particular stood out to me, especially because it refers to Jesus being the One praying.  In my studies, I have already learned that there are many different nuances when it comes to the words used in reference to prayer, so I wanted to see the specific definition that is used here in Hebrews 5:7 (I use the website I have found that often knowing the Greek word (or Hebrew in the Old Testament) and definition brings much more meaning and understanding to a passage.  This case is no exception. 

The Greek word used for "prayers" in this passage is deésis (deh'-ay-sis), which means: "supplication, prayer, entreaty." Now that doesn't necessarily bring much clarity in and of itself, but there is a more in-depth explanation given below, which is what really helped me to better understand the significance of the word:

Cognate: 1162 déēsis (deō, "to be in want, lack"; see the cognate 1189 /déomai, "praying for a specific, felt need") – heart-felt petition, arising out of deep personal need (sense of lack, want).
[1162 (déēsis) ultimately roots back to 1211 /dḗ ("really") which likewise implies a felt need that is personal and urgent (R, 1149).]  (bold emphasis mine)

Going on to the word "petitions", or rather "supplications" (which is in the KJV, and thus the word used when doing word searches), we see that the Greek word used here is hiketéria (hik-et-ay-ree'-ah).  The short definition is supplication, entreaty, which again does not necessarily give a person an "Aha!" moment.  However, the WORDS Help-studies portion below again gives more clarity: 

2428 hiketēría – properly, an olive branch; (figuratively) earnest supplication for peace (relief, reconciliation), used only in Heb 5:7. (bold emphasis mine)
 [An olive branch, held in the hand of a suppliant, showed heartfelt "supplication, entreaty" (Souter). 2428 (hiketēría) in ancient times was frequently used of a suppliant carrying an olive branch as a token for "seeking peace."]

1. an olive-branch; for suppliants approached the one whose aid they would implore holding an olive-branch entwined with white wool and fillets, to signify that they came as suppliants. (bold emphasis mine)

To think that my Savior, Jesus Christ, prayed such a heart-felt petition, arising out of a deep personal need, and essentially held out an olive branch to the One Whose aid He implored, well, that picture stirred my spirit to so much gratitude and admiration!  But verse seven does not stop there.

The Greek word used for "cry" is kraugé (krow-gay'), which means: a shout, clamor, outcry. 

 Cognate: 2906 kraugḗ (from 2896 /krázō, "cry out") – loud crying, done with pathos (great emotion); clamorous screaming (shrieking) that is extremely boisterous, like a wounded person emitting "unearthly" (non-human) types of sounds. (bold emphasis mine)

WOW! Can you picture the Son of God crying out like that?  

And finally we read at the end of verse seven that Jesus was heard "because of His reverent submission".

The Greek word here is eulabeia (yoo-lab'-i-ah): reverence, fear of God, piety.
Cognate: 2124 eulábeia (from 2126 /eulabḗs, "reverent, godly fear") – properly, "a taking hold of what God calls good"; "holy caution," inducing circumspect behavior. See 2126 (eulabēs). (bold emphasis mine)

It's amazing to me to think of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, crying out to the Father with reverent submission - taking hold of what  the Father calls good, using "holy caution" in His approach and response to the Father! 

How often do we toss up our prayers to God expecting, and at times inwardly demanding that He answer them according to our expectations?  

In this passage of Scripture we are reminded of Christ's humility and love for the Father.  Jesus desired what His Father desired, regardless of the pain that He knew He would experience: the pain of personal rejection, the pain of public humiliation, and the pain of physical torture that led to death!  If Jesus humbled Himself to follow God's will, who are we to do anything less?  

There are many times when God's will brings us pleasure and prosperity.  However, there are times when His will allots trials and discomfort.  Why?  In my opinion it is to make us stronger, more appreciative, and quite frankly to weed out those who are not sincere in their faith. 

So to wrap up this word study on Hebrews 5:7, I want to encourage you to follow Christ's example in regards to prayer.  Let's agree to cry out to God with a heart-felt need, recognizing that He is the One who can help us.  Let us not be too proud to even at times cry out with great emotion, even to the point of clamorous screaming when the occasion arises.  And above all, let us approach the Father with holy caution and take hold of what God calls "good" instead of what we call good. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Life Puzzle

Have you ever wondered what God's will is for you?  If you have been a follower of Christ for any length of time, more than likely you have heard Jeremiah 29:11 quoted: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." That is a beautiful verse, and it is true.  Some people point out that this verse was given specifically to the Jewish people, therefore, it is not one that Gentiles (non-Jews) can Biblically claim today.  I agree that the verse was written directly to the Jewish people, but I do think that it is applicable to ALL believers still to this day. After all, God does not change.  God does know the plans He has for us, and He confirms throughout His Word that His plans are for our good.  However, this verse is not what this post is about.

As I read my Bible, I mark key words and passages so that when I come back to find something, it is easily recognized due to the specific markings I use.  One key thing that I look for as I read are places where it is clear what God's will is for me. I simply outline the passage in purple and color it in with orange.  It's amazing how often God tells us what His will is!  Take the book of Ephesians for example. This book has multiple places where the writer, Paul, clearly tells us what God wants us to do and how He wants us to do it.  In chapter four, verses 1-3, he says:

"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."  (emphasis mine)

Then in verses 25-27, he instructs:

"Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.  'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." (emphasis mine)

There is more in chapter four that I highlighted, and practically the entirety of chapters five and six!  And this is only one book of the Bible!  Christian, we truly are without excuse when it comes to knowing God's will for us! 

Now I know that you might be thinking, "Sure, it's easy to know God's will generally speaking, but what about specifically? How am I supposed to know what God wants for me to do and how to do it?"  Let me just say that the more I read the Bible, and the more consistently I follow the general will of God, the more He reveals the specifics to me. 

Just this morning as I finished reading through Ephesians, I went back and re-read all that I had highlighted. I began to talk to God about it and He gave me a mental picture.  I saw myself putting a puzzle together.  God showed me that the highlighted passages in my Bible are the same as the border pieces of a puzzle.  As I complete the outer edges, it is easier to begin on the rest.  Each time I read God's word and obey the passages that I understand and know are His will for me, another piece of the puzzle is put into place.  This picture made me smile, as I pictured Jesus sitting there with me, helping me to put the puzzle together.  It was a pleasant and enjoyable thing, not one where I got frustrated and scooped all the pieces back into the box.  I thanked the Lord for helping me with the pieces, and I prayed that once the puzzle is finished, that anyone who is standing around to see the final product will see a picture of Jesus Christ Himself!

Dear Friend, I pray that you will ask God to help you with your life puzzle.  He truly desires to work with you one-on-one.  He has given you His Word to let you know the what and the how.  Take time each day to search His Word.  Make a point to find those passages that will give you another piece to add to the border of your life puzzle, and enjoy the process of Christ filling in the rest alongside you.

Ephesians 5:10, "find out what pleases the Lord." 


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Yesterday's Regrets

Toiling within,
Feeling inadequate,
Tied up in knots.

No one to blame.
Yesterday is gone.
Regrets remain.

Knowing, yet not believing
Things don't really matter.
Internal struggles rage war,
Mind and spirit wrestling within.

Light ahead, 
Legs dead weight.
Hope calling out, 
Body resists.
Not wanting to be left,
Too tired to try again.

This started out as a simple vent of mild frustration with my not excelling in certain areas of my life. However, it took a darker turn.  I kept it just because I thought it was something that others could relate to because I have been in a dark place before. 

I thought about trying to make it end on a happier note, but there are times in our lives when we simply need to express those unhappy thoughts.  We just need to let it out there, and in doing so, most often than not, what we're really doing is fishing to see if someone, anyone else has an inkling of our despair.  Well, I do!  BUT, I also know that there truly is hope.  There really is a way out.  There is Someone Who not only knows, but has come out of the other side and offers LIFE - abundant life! (see John 10:10) Jesus Christ is my Redeemer.  He is my Healer.  He is my best Friend!  I am so thankful that He didn't allow me to stay in that dark place, but pulled me out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock! (see Psalm 40:1-3)

If you can relate to the poem I shared, I pray that you will eventually call out for Jesus, if you haven't already.  If you ever need a listening ear, I am available.  I might not have all the answers, but I'll be glad to listen, and if you like, share my journey. 

There is Victory Over the DarknessJesus is  The Bondage Breaker.  There is freedom in Christ

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Father and Son

I don't know why my thoughts travel through my mind the way they do sometimes, except that on many occasions it is the Holy Spirit driving.  I think today was one of the times.

I was cleaning the house and thoughts of my 14-year-old son came to me.  I was thinking about what a fine young man he has become.  When his father is not home, I can depend on Dawson to handle most, if not all, of the things that his dad usually does.  This gave me pleasure and comfort.  An imaginary conversation of sorts entered my mind.  I wondered what I would say if someone were to ask me, "How can you have such confidence in your son?" and I would reply, "Because I know his father."  Then I had an "Aha!" moment.  I realized that's what Jesus meant!  

"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it".
 John 14:1-14

This is something that I have "known" in my head for years.  But today the Holy Spirit just made it more real and personable to me by showing me the analogy of my husband and my son.  By intimately knowing my son's father, knowing his character and his ways, I can have confidence in my son. Also, because I see character and strength in my son, I can have confidence in his father.  

I don't know, perhaps this doesn't seem that big a deal to anyone else, but it meant a lot to me.  I was grateful to have been given that insight from the Lord.  

 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
 John 14:15-31
(all emphasis mine) 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Living, Breathing Miracle!

I am currently reading the book, Welcome, Holy Spirit, by author Benny Hinn. The chapter I am reading is about the different names of the Holy Spirit.  Among those names He is known as The Spirit of Life. I want to share this portion of the book from pages 109-110 with you:

     I love the words of the Lord Jesus, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).  Abundant life - there is something so compelling about that.  Something that says within us, "Yes, I must have this." And who ministers this abundant life to us? The Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).  Now the life that's being referred to is salvation, but it is also true that "what God promises for eternity, He begins to do in this lifetime." 

      Oh my dear friend, when the Spirit of the Lord comes, He brings life, breaking the power of canceled sin and death as the hymn says. And not just endless life, but better life right now.  Paul says, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2). 

     Are you experiencing all the life the Holy Spirit has for you?  Someone gave me this quote, and I think it sums up the issue so magnificently: "I believe that only one person in a thousand knows the trick of really living in the present. Most of us spend fifty-eight minutes each hour either living in the past, regretting for lost joys, or feeling shame for things badly done (both utterly useless and weakening); or living in the future which we either long for or dread.  The only way to live is to accept each minute as an unrepeatable miracle, which is exactly what it is - a miracle that will not be repeated."  The Spirit of the Lord is waiting just now to heal your past, guarantee your future, liberate you to experience abundant life right now.

I thought this was very relevant considering we just began a new year.  The quote the author shared talks about how we waste our time by not living in the present. But this part particularly spoke to me: "The only way to live is to accept each minute as an unrepeatable miracle, which is exactly what it is - a miracle that will not be repeated."  I started thinking about how we typically take life in general for granted.  Sadly, many people, including Followers of Christ, don't think that miracles still happen today.  So what I want to challenge you to do, and I'm including myself in this challenge, is to take time each day to stop and think.  Think about the fact that your lungs are taking in air, your heart is beating, your eyes are blinking, you are regularly swallowing - ALL without you telling your body to do these things! The fact that we are alive IS a miracle!  And if you are a Follower of Christ, not only are you physically alive, but you are spiritually alive as well!  That means that you will only experience physical death!  That is what Jesus meant when He said that He came to give us "abundant life".  How amazing is that?! 

Again, my challenge to you this year is to stop and think about what a living, breathing miracle you are! 

Psalm 139:13-19 

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

God Heard, God Forgave, God Delivered

Yesterday, sharing from the book of Jonah, I talked about how our decisions and choices affect not only ourselves, but those around us as well.  Today, I want to share more of Jonah's experience. 

After rebelling against God, and openly admitting it, Jonah was thrown overboard a ship and into the tumultuous sea.  God brought forth a giant fish to swallow Jonah.  Chapter two records Jonah's thoughts, which was actually a prayer:

1From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said:
“In my distress I called to the Lord,
    and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
    and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the depths,
    into the very heart of the seas,
    and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
    swept over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished
    from your sight;
yet I will look again
    toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me,
    the deep surrounded me;
    seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
    the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
    brought my life up from the pit.
“When my life was ebbing away,
    I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
    to your holy temple.
“Those who cling to worthless idols
    turn away from God’s love for them.
But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”
10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

There are several things that I see in this prayer that I want to share with you:

First, Jonah says his "distress" he "called to the LORD" (verse 2).  I can't think of anything more hopeless than sinking into the depths of the sea with no life vest, no air tank, no one above willing to pull me back into the boat.  Yet, Jonah still "called to the LORD".  Even though Jonah willingly rebelled against God, he still knew that if he called out to Him with a repentant heart, God would hear

Second, I want to point out that Jonah realized it was God who allowed this to happen (see verses 3-6a) .  Because God is a holy, righteous, and just God, Jonah knew that God had to bring punishment for his open rebellion.

Third, Jonah still had hope.  In verse 4 he says, "I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple." (emphasis mine)  I'm no Bible scholar, but this verse says to me that even when we sin against God, we can still look to Him and hope in Him. 

Fourth, in verse 8, Jonah claims that those who "cling to worthless idols turn away from God's love for them."  Hmmm. What worthless idols did Jonah have?  Was he talking about himself, or generally speaking?  I had the thought, and of course I have no way of knowing for certain, but I wonder if Jonah's idol was his work.  He was a prophet.  Prophets, for the most part, were held in high esteem.  He was in the belly of a fish because he didn't want to use his God-given office of prophet the way God wanted him to.  Just something to think about.

Fifth, back in verse 7, Jonah says, "I remembered you, LORD."  This sort of lines up with my thought on what his idol might have been.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we are doing in the name of the Lord, that we forget the Lord Himself.  It took an extremely drastic event to get Jonah to remember his Lord. 

And finally, after Jonah cried out in repentance to the LORD, we see that God "commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land." (verse 10)  God heard, God forgave, God delivered. 

Child of God, God desires for you (and me) to experience His forgiveness and to live in His deliverance!

1 John 1:8-9  

"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."