By Verse : Jonah 2:1,2 Topic :
The one thing that everyone of us have in common and that is, we go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning. Now, we may not all go to bed at the same time, nor do we all awake at the same time, but there is that going to bed and getting up again. When we head to bed we try and put the days events to sleep, and maybe even tuck them into a folder like I do with my sermons each week. I have a sermon folder on my computer, a newsletter folder, a pastor’s folder, and a personal one as well. I put things in each folder that goes along with that folder so like many of you with your folders, you can find things faster. Perhaps when we go to bed, you know with the days situations, problems dealt with, things yet to be accomplished, or accomplished, you close your eyes and put them to rest in their folders, and hopefully, you fall off to sleep for a good night’s rest. On occasion when you wake in the morning before you get out of bed you pull yesterdays folder up and begin to rehash some stuff, and then you begin to get ready for the day often thinking about yesterday, knowing that today will bring other things into your space.
Maybe that doesn’t happen to you, but it does sometimes to me. My mind always seems to be working, going over things, trying to figure things out and all that. We are told never be anxious about stuff in our lives, but that isn’t always easy for me at times. In fact, tomorrow I go for my 3-month scope and that always brings a teeny-weenie anxiety while I watch the look on the doc’s face as he checks me out. But there are other things that we face as well. I think you get my drift. Many of us face those things in life that need our attention.
I say this because one day, just before Christmas, I was in Scheels and saw this sign kind of hidden on the shelf that I thought had a great message, so I reached around and dug it out to look at. Let me show it to you because one now sits on my desk. As you can see, it says, “GOOD MORNING THIS IS GOD. I WILL BE HANDLING ALL YOUR PROBLEMS TODAY.” I thought what a great reminder when you get up. I bought a few for gifts and I have one at home so that when I get up, before I leave the house, I see that sign as a reminder that it’s not me alone facing stuff this morning. It’s me and God. And not only that, but I don’t have to wonder about those things I might face because he has promised that he will be handling all those problems for me today. Isn’t that a great thought? Imagine getting up heading to the bathroom to get ready to face your day and you look in the mirror and you read GOOD MORINING THIS IS GOD. I WILL BE HANDLING ALL YOUR PROBLEMS TODAY. Don’t you think that would make you feel better about facing new days challenges? I think so.
This morning we turn to the Old Testament to a man who has touched my life. His name is Jonah. His dilemma….one-day God called him to go to a place he hated. His book begins, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah… ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness came before me.” BUT, Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish…”
Could we say that when God called Jonah that when he went to bed that night he had a whole lot on his mind? He had this mission God wanted him to do. He had a place God wanted him to go that he didn’t want to go because he hated the people in Nineveh because in history they had really, really treated his people very bad. As far as he was concerned, God could do what he wanted with them. He wanted no part of going there. So off to bed he went and tossed and turned throughout the night. He perhaps laid awake from time to time thinking, arguing with himself and with God. Jonah came to a decision before day break came. When he awoke that morning, his mind was still full of what God had said to him. He was to preach to Nineveh to repent. No way was he going to do that. He could have looked in the mirror as he was getting ready for the day and saw that sign welcoming him to a new morning. You know that sign. “GOOD MORNING THIS IS GOD I WILL BE HANDLING ALL YOUR PROBLEMS TODAY.” If it had been scrawled on his mirror, he would have wiped it clean, but let’s just say, it came back again and again no matter how many times Jonah wiped it clean. Jonah ignored what he heard from God. He had made up his mind to take a vacation. He had his breakfast, packed his bag, took along a couple of war story books, and left his house and decided a nice voyage at sea would be nice. In other words, he went in the other direction. He ignored God’s calling. He ignored the mission God had for him. Can we go a step further and say he was ignoring God all together? Jonah wasn’t scared of going to Nineveh. He just didn’t want to go there. He had this feeling that with this warning from God something might happen to change God’s mind to destroy that wicked city. He wanted no part of it at all. He could have said to God…. Like Moses did, “Here I am…. send someone else.”
So, he bought his ticket for a nice voyage.
Have you ever done that? You know, believe God has called you to do something and you really have decided no way, no how? Maybe you’ve struggled with something sometime not sure if it is the right thing to do. You’ve missed sleep because of it. It isn’t just being called to preach, or go on a mission trip, it could be something else dealing with family, friends, work. Things in your life you deal with that sometimes eat you up. How do you think the disciples felt when they ran away that night and left Jesus alone to face the burden of the cross? As they gathered in the Upper Room do you think they got much sleep? Did they hear the marching feet of Pilate’s soldiers looking for some of them so that they would not be able to bust up this trial, or the crucifixion, or start a riot? Were they afraid when they laid down their heads and heard the noise of feet scampering down their street as they waited for someone to burst into this place? Think about it. They were filled with fear. Windows closed. Doors locked. Hearts pounding. Lights out so others would think no one was there. And they hid there, not sharing their feelings for fear someone might hear them talking. Each to his own thoughts, like now what were they to do? It must have been a restless night, no sleep. They could have used that sign reminding them that God was about to handle all their problems that day. And when daylight came that Sunday morning, and the sun began to shine, a knock came on their door, a voice that they knew was shouting for Peter to tell him that the grave was empty, someone must have stolen the Master’s body. And off Peter and John ran to see if it were true, and as we know, it was, the tomb was empty, not because someone had stolen Jesus’ body, but because He had risen! God was handling their problems. Jesus was alive!
Jonah is another of my favorite stories because I relate to him. My problem wasn’t that I would be going to preach to people I didn’t like, but that I was going to preach at all. I’ve told this story a few times how God called me into the ministry and I fought the call for a long, long time. When I finally surrendered, so I thought, we put up our house for sale and waited for a buyer. I was confident, and I believed I was ready. When the day came that someone had come to make an offer, things changed. I became panicky. I was not a happy camper, nor were our children. Let’s just say for the next few weeks I was like Jonah. Some sleepless nights struggling with my call. Not wanting to tell others we had a buyer. And each morning I would do my devotions, and each morning I could hear God say GOOD MORNING THIS IS GOD. I WILL BE HANDLING ALL YOUR PROBLEMS TODAY. It might not have been those words, but there were words through my devotional that spoke to me, and words in the Scripture that spoke to me as well. And each morning I was ready and willing to do what God called me to do. I was ready to face the day and all it’s problems, mine really being, going off to college and seminary and into the ministry. But by night time, well, fear set in and I doubted my calling. Long story short, like Jonah I went in another direction finally as I went to book my passage on a boat to someplace else besides Wilmore Kentucky and college. I went to see a lawyer and found out, like Jonah did, and perhaps like some of you have found out, you can’t run away from God. It was then that I fully surrendered, and the rest is history. It was true. God was handling all my problems as doors opened for us to go, and my heart was no longer in fear, but totally surrendered to God’s direction in my life.
Jonah, had to ride out the rough seas of a storm, didn’t he? The amazing thing to me was that he was able to sleep in that boat during that storm until the crew woke him up to do what God called them to do, toss him overboard. And when they did, it became calm. And it just happened a big, big fish came along, opened its mouth and swallowed some stuff we don’t want to know, along with Jonah. We should not be surprised at any of that, after all, didn’t God say he would take care of Jonah’s problems?
That brings us to this morning’s scripture. “From 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 the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”
In the midst of his own pity party, finally realizing that God would not let him go, perhaps what he saw on that mirror that morning came back to him… “GOOD MORNING JONAH. THIS IS GOD. I WILL BE HANDLING ALL YOUR PROMBLEMS TODAY.” Or maybe that sign popped up in the belly of that big fish while Jonah sloshed among the other stuff that the big fish swallowed. The next thing we know is that Jonah is, now get this… this is what the Scripture says… “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah on dry land.” You don’t have to ask where he landed, for you know. He was where God wanted him to be so that he could do what God wanted him to do, to preach to the people of Nineveh how God was not happy with the way they were living. And we know the ending. The people weren’t like the people in Noah’s day who were destroyed because there was no repentance in their hearts. These people from the king right down to the animals repented in hopes that God would not destroy any of them. And as you know, God heard their repentance and that place was spared for a little while longer.
Moral of the story…one, you can’t run away from God no matter how hard you try. Two, and most importantly for us on our faith journey, that no matter what we face from day to day, we need to remember we don’t face them alone, because God walks with us. You may not remember this thought like I do. You may not have a sign to remind you of it each day, but I believe those words are what we need to think about when we rise in the morning to face what God has planned for us. It’s like listening to God’s voice speaking to us through Scripture each morning as we prepare to go out that door into a world that awaits us, knowing we don’t go alone.
Hear those words again, maybe think about them, maybe write them down, paste a post-it note on your mirror if you want, as a reminder. These words might change your day, ease your burden, so that when you lay your head down on the pillow in the evening hour you will be able to thank God for solving all those problems for you on this day and you can rest assure that while you sleep, he is already on the job for those things you will face tomorrow, so you can rest comfortably. You might even want to share this little saying with someone else;
“GOOD MORNING THIS IS GOD SPEAKING TO YOU. I WILL BE HANDLING ALL YOUR PROBLEMS TODAY.” Maybe it will put a snap in your step, a smile on your face, a joy in your heart as you walk out your door to face the world. You, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, powered up to face the world. What a great thought, and what a great way to begin any day.
May we take those words into our hearts today, amen.

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