Posts Tagged ‘Jonah’


True Thanksgiving

In 1983 I took a trip to Turkey sponsored by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, OPIC. It was a government sponsored trip to seek investment opportunities in Turkey. My last night I spent in Izmir having dinner with my interpreter and a business owner interested in doing business in America. They ordered for me and out came this huge Black Sea Bass (whole) sitting upright on a potato concoction. I ate the fish, but that night I got deathly sick, so sick I missed my early morning flight to Istanbul.

That fish gave me nightmares for several months, because it meant that I had to rent a car and drive 600 kilometers through at least three military check points, in unfamiliar towns and then into Istanbul late at night trying to find a place to stay. It was an exciting and terrifying experience to say the least. That is why I don’t like eating whole fish to this day.

Jonah Eats Fish at Thanksgiving

The book of Jonah relates a story that you are all familiar with, of a man who tried to run away from God’s will, and ended up being swallowed by a giant fish. Now if I had problems eating fish after my experience, I can just see Jonah being afraid to get on a ship or even go near the ocean or a lake. Every time he would hear a splash I can just see him running for cover.

But when I read what he wrote in chapter 2, I know that isn’t the case. In fact from the Psalm he wrote, I know that every Thanksgiving, Jonah would eat the biggest fish he could get.

Jonah 2:1-10 (ESV)

1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. 3 For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ 5 The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head 6 at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. 7 When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. 8 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. 9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” 10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

How did Jonah come to experience True Thanksgiving in the belly of the Great Fish?

1. Remember God (even when your life stinks)

Jonah:

The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever;

Jonah sunk to the bottom of the sea. He saw where the mountains started. He was being choked by seaweed, he was losing consciousness.

He remembered God and cried out.

He thought he could run away from God, but Jonah realized that God was there, even when he was rescued by the fish.

Prodigal Son

He was lying down in pig slop, which if you ever smell will cause you to quit eating bacon for a long while.

Even there he realized he needed his Father. Even in that stench he remembered the love his father had even for servants.

2. Realize God is your only hope of steadfast love.

Remember the song “Looking for Love in all the wrong places?” It is so true for most people. Adam and Eve had all the love they could want, and it wasn’t good enough.

King David had all the women, all the wealth, all the power he could ever want, and it wasn’t good enough. He got into a mess of trouble because he committed adultery with another man’s wife, and then had him killed to cover it up.

We see this today…people making stupid decisions for the hope of love. People’s lives ruined because of choices, choices they think will bring them love, excitement, acceptance.

Jonah made a decision to run away from God rather than witness to some terrible enemies. He put himself and his selfish desires before God. He hoped he could get away from God.

What are you hoping in? Are you running away from God? Are you avoiding Him and hoping He goes away? Are you facing difficulties in your life today because of poor choices in the past?

Let me assure you, even though you are trapped in a stinky mess, being tossed to and fro, facing hardship after hardship, there is a Creator God who made you, knew every one of your poor choices, knew every one of your sins, and yet He desires to take you in his arms and cover you with His steadfast love.

Jonah discovered that God still loved him when he was at the bottom of the sea, breating his last breath. He discovered God’s love when he was in the belly of the great fish. Seaweed and fish guts were all over him. I can’t imagine the stink. Yet God’s steadfast love was there.

What is the secret to discovering God’s steadfast love even though you are covered in rotten seaweed and stinky fish guts? Jonah discovered it, but Paul reveals how we get there, covered in guts and stench:

Romans 1:21-23 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

NOT EXPERIENCING GOD’S LOVE?

So if you are wondering why you are not experiencing God’s steadfast love in the midst of your trials and hardships, understand what is preventing you from experiencing God’s steadfast love:

A.You have a problem honoring God.

Whatever you believe about the great men who founded this nation, it is super evident in 95% of their writings that they lived their lives with a principle that is missing in our leaders today. Our founding Fathers honored God as Sovereign God over the affairs of men. They realized God has the final say so in our lives.

B.You have a problem allowing God into your life.

Not only do we not honor God’s sovereignty, but we fail to give thanks to him in every aspect of our lives. We thank him for the rain, we thank him for winning the lottery, we thank him for food. Do we thank him when we lose our job. Do we thank him when we lose a loved one? Do we thank him when our friends turn against us?

Paul says that when we fail to honor God and allow Him ownership of all that happens in our lives (by giving thanks) our hearts become darkened and our minds become futile (or wasted or stupid) in our thinking. We exchange the glory of God for something stupid like a woman, a car, a job, a house, anything we put before God and say this is mine!

On November 11, 1620, Governor William Bradford and the leaders on the Mayflower signed the Mayflower Compact before setting foot on land. They wanted to acknowledge God’s sovereignty in their lives and their need to obey Him. The Mayflower Compact was America’s first great constitutional document and is often called “The American Covenant.”

Life was hard in the New World. Out of 103 Pilgrims, 51 of these died in the first terrible winter. After the first harvest was completed, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer. By 1623, a day of fasting and prayer during a period of drought was changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during their prayers. The custom prevailed in New England and eventually became a national holiday.

3. Return your life to God

Have you given God ownership of your life?

It is one thing to say God is sovereign, but it is quite another to allow Him to be sovereign over all of your life, family and possessions. Can you honestly say that God is in control of everything in your life? Is there anything in your life that you are trying to keep control of, apart from what God may want to do? If you found yourself in the belly of a fish, covered with fish guts and seaweed, would you worship God’s sovereignty over your life, or would you be screaming “Get me out of here!”

From (AW PINK, SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD)

  • „ The sovereignty of God! What do we mean by the expression of the Sovereignty of God?
  • „ We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the Godhood of God.
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God.
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him, What doest Thou? (Daniel 4:35).
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purposes, or resist His will (Psalms 115:3).
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psalms 22:28), setting up kingdoms, over-throwing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleases Him best.
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords” (1Timothy 6:15).

How do you return your life to Sovereign God?

A. Confess and declare that GOD is SOVEREIGN OWNER OF YOUR LIFE.

  • When you declare that God is sovereign over your life, you affirm His right to govern your life, your world, your family just as He pleases, because you were made for His Glory.
  • You affirm that He is the potter and you are the clay: that He may mould you into whatever form He chooses.
  • You affirm that God is under no rule or law outside His own will and nature, and that He is under no obligation to give an account of His decisions to you are anyone else.

Jonah discovered he could not get away from the sovereignty of God. So Job made a decision to accept the Sovereignty of God over his life. When he did, when Jonah prayed with thanksgiving in his heart, Jonah experienced the most amazing miracle. He experienced the love of God in the most horrible of circumstances.

B. Sacrifice with Thanksgiving (todah)

Jonah 2:9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

Discovered the power of tôdah Thanksgiving![1]

Psalm 42:4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

There are two pictures presented by “TODAH”

1. ADMIT

Tôdah has a deeper meaning than simply thanksgiving or gratitude:

At its core, todah is to admit.What a concept! The gist of thanks is to admit – but what are we admitting to? When we say tôdah, we are admitting that we are lacking and that someone else is giving to us. We are admitting that we could not do something alone. We are admitting that you helped us accomplish something. We are admitting, that we have been given “more than [our] rightful share” thanks to God![2]

This is why Joshua told Achan to confess to what he had done by admitting and confessing the Glory of God over his life.„

Joshua 7:19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise (todah) to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

The psalmist pictures the need to confession in proclaiming thanksgiving unto God:„

Psalm 26:6-7 I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.

To give “todah” to God always involves a sacrifice or offering on your part. You give your life to God. You allow Him to own your life. Admit it to Him!

2 Chronicles 29:31 Then Hezekiah said, Now you have consecrated yourselves to the Lord; come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord. And the assembly brought in sacrifices and thank offerings, and as many as were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings.

Jonah had to sacrifice his will, his pride, his prejudices against the Ninevites, and admit that he needed to follow God, he needed the provision of God and yes, he needed the sovereignty of God over his life!

2. WORSHIP LOUD!

“Todah” pictures thanksgiving to God so great that you start shouting and singing at the top of your voice!

Picture a huge Choir Singing thundering Songs of Praise, accompanied by a huge orchestra. Can you hear the SHOUTS of thanksgiving! When Nehemiah dedicated the wall he had all the leaders get on the wall and had a huge assembly of Levites playing instruments and singing praises to God.

Nehemiah 12:27 And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres.

Nehemiah 12:31 Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks. One went to the south on the wall to the Dung Gate.

Two great choirs were on opposite sides, with the rest of the people in the middle. It was like the battle of the choirs, each one trying to praise God louder than the other. It was the ultimate thanksgiving celebration!

Are you experiencing true Thanksgiving this year? I am not speaking of “blessings” or anything you can attribute to what you have done. Millions of families celebrate a thanksgiving based upon how fortunate they have been, or how much they have because of good luck and hard work.

I want you to experience True TODAH Thanksgiving.

Todah Thanksgiving happens no matter how messed up your life is!

Remember…Realize…Return…Admit and Worship.

Believers

If you have already been born again, take this time to examine your life, and remember God and His sovereignty. If you have gotten away from Him by putting other things first, Realize that He is the only source of genuine love. Return your life to Him, Admit your need for him and lay your life on the altar and say God do as you wish with my life. Then Worship Him Loud. Don’t be shy, don’t be afraid your friends will hear. WORSHIP LOUD!

Lost in sin

Remember, life is a journey, and no matter where you are in your journey, God is there. Realize that He loves you even with all of your rebellion and ugliness and stench.

Run to your creator God, just like the Prodigal Son ran home.

Admit you need God, that you have made a mess of your life through your pride and sin and rebellion. Admit you need Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Worship God by believing that He has your life, that the blood of Jesus has cleansed you and made you right with God.

Allow your Worship to be with you whole life, with your whole voice, Constantly give thanks and praise to God out LOUD! Allow the light of Jesus Christ to break through the darkness over your heart.

John 3:17-19 (NKJV) 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Do you love darkness rather than God’s light? Have you accepted the stink of your sinful, rebellious life? Wake up and take a good sniff! It is time for you to cry out with Jonah: Salvation is of the Lord.”


[1] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “tôdāh”

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What you BELIEVE truly matters:

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though they were a very large mammal their throat was very small. The little girl stated Jonah was swallowed by a whale. The teacher reiterated a whale could not swallow a human; it was impossible. The little girl said, “When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah.” The teacher asked, “What if Jonah went to hell?” The little girl replied, “Then you ask him.”

An atheist buys an ancient lamp at an auction, takes it home, and begins to polish it. Suddenly, a genie appears, and says, “I’ll grant you three wishes, Master.” The atheist says, “I wish I could believe in you.” The genie snaps his fingers, and suddenly the atheist believes in him. The atheist says, “Wow. I wish all atheists would believe this.” The genie snaps his fingers again, and suddenly atheists all over the world begin to believe in genies. “What about your third wish?” asks the genie? “Well,” says the atheist, “I wish for a billion dollars.” The genie snaps his fingers for a third time, but nothing happens. “What’s wrong?” asks the atheist. The genie shrugs and says, “Just because you believe in me, doesn’t necessarily mean that I really exist.”

Today we will look at one of the greatest verses in the Bible. These Verses hold the Secret of Having a Christian walk that just staggers around or keeps Climbing Upward!

Romans 4:19-22 (KJV) And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Beneath the Text:

  • weak (asthenéō) = “without strength, powerless, sick”. Also “to doubt, hesitate, vacillate, as meaning weak or double-minded”. CWSD
  • considered not = “paid no attention to the physical obstacles”
  • staggered not (diakrinō ou) = To be in strife with oneself, i.e., to doubt, hesitate, waver CWSD

“to judge between two,” thus, “to vacillate between two opinions or decisions.” Abraham did not vacillate between belief and unbelief with respect to his difficulty and the ability of God to meet it. He did not waver. Wuest’s Word Studies

  • promise (epangelia) = “Primarily a legal term denoting a summons or promise to do or give something. Used only of the promises of God” (except one verse) CWSD.
  • unbelief (apistia) = uncertainty, distrust, unbelief. The lack of acknowledgment of Christ; want of confidence in Christ’s power. In general, a lack of trust in the God of promise! CWSD
  • strong (endynamoō) = grow stronger and stronger; “inwardly strengthened,” suggesting strength in soul and purpose. Vines “to make strong, endue with strength,” Wuest’s

Hebrews 11:34 (ESV) quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

  • faith (pistis) = firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth, veracity, CWSD

That is, his faith was strengthened in God to meet his impossible difficulty with a miracle. The thought is not here that Abraham’s faith was strengthened so that his physical powers again became equal to bringing children into the world. Isaac was the result of a biological miracle performed by God in answer to Abraham’s faith. The glory would therefore be to God. Wuest

  • being fully persuaded (plērophoreō) = “To fulfill, thoroughly accomplish, equivalent to persuade fully, give full assurance. CWSD
  • able (dynatos) = from dunamis – “strong, powerful”. CWSD

The Point of our Text

Abraham firmly believed in what God promised, because he firmly believed in God’s power. Abraham’s belief in God allowed him to overlook the visible problems to see the power of Him who was invisible. His ability to see and trust the invisible kept him from staggering over the obstacles of doubt that surrounded him. By believing, Abraham climbed to the very heights and gave glory to the Power of God! God declared Abraham righteous because He believed Him!

Faith Is Not The Means By Which We Get God To Work In Our Lives; Faith Is The Means By Which We See His Will For Our Lives!

Unbelief and the Christian Walk

A.  Unbelief is not:

  • Unbelief is not the absence of faith.
  • Unbelief is not a negative state of mind.
  • Unbelief is not an intellectual attitude, or state, caused by a want of sufficient evidence.
  • Unbelief is not a state of blank ignorance of God and of his truth.
  • Unbelief is not the state of ignorance of the existence and attributes of God.
  • Unbelief is not disbelief or belief in the opposite of what the Bible says is true.
  • Unbelief is not an intellectual state at all.

The Bible represents unbelief as sin; therefore it is not a state of mind, it is a condition of our heart.

B.  Unbelief is:

1.  Unbelief is SIN.

Hebrews 3:12 (ESV) Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.

2.  Unbelief is a CHOICE.

Mark 16:14 (ESV) Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.

3.  Unbelief is a lack of CONFIDENCE.

Withholding of confidence in one who is worthy of our confidence. Unbelief of the heart darkens one to committing your heart and soul to the will of God. Belief is giving God our confidence, in voluntarily yielding ourselves up to him, confiding in him, trusting in him, casting ourselves upon him, voluntarily receiving his truth, and committing ourselves to him.

UNBELIEF IS AT THE HEART OF OUR LACK OF COMMITMENT TO GOD!

It is hard to love a God with all your heart, soul and strength if you don’t believe Him!

Let’s take a little time to understand unbelief by looking at the New Testament words for doubt and unbelief.

C.   Understanding Doubt & Unbelief

1.  Doubt: Diakrino & Distazo.

To be in strife with oneself, i.e., to doubt, hesitate, waver.  Being uncertain of what to believe or do.

  • Rom. 4:20 He staggered (diakrino) not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith giving glory to God.
  • James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering (diakrino). For he that wavereth (diakrino) is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

This doubt comes through giving up one’s conviction of faith based on what one sees or feels.

Mat. 14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt (distazo)?

Peter was fine walking on water as long as he focused on Jesus. But as soon as he looked at his surroundings, focusing on the physical, on the wind, and the waves, he was a goner.

2.  Doubt Leads to Unbelief

Doubt, or focusing on circumstances or your own resources, allows unbelief to grow. When unbelief starts to grow, it destroys confidence, makes one uncertain, and builds distrust. Unbelief then leads to further unbelief and finally a hardening of one’s heart!

a.  Apistia

Lacking confidence in the performer, to put no confidence in, to disbelieve; uncertainty, distrust, unbelief. In general, a lack of trust in the God of promise. Apistia is a form of unbelief that often shows a lack of a confidence in God to do what He has promised to doApistia is a choice!

  • Mat. 13:58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief (apistia).
  • Heb. 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief (apistia).
  • Rom. 4:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief (apistia); but was strong in faith giving glory to God.

Apistia can develop into:

b.  apeithéō

Obstinate, rebellious, disobedient; refusal to believe, apathetic. A person who does not allow them self to be persuaded or believe, in fact, he stubbornly disbelieves and is even disobedient.

  • Eph. 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience (apeithéō).
  • Hebrews 3:7-8 (KJV) Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
  • Heb. 4:6 We see they entered not in because of unbelief (apeithéō). (Notice their unbelief in Heb 3 became hardened disobedient unbelief in Heb 4)
  • Heb. 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief (apeithéō).

1. Unbelief is the Basis of all Sin

All Sins Come from Unbelief in God’s Word and Promises. Anxiety, misplaced shame, indifference, regret, covetousness, envy, lust, bitterness, impatience, despondency, pride—these are all sprouts from the root of unbelief in the promises of God.

Consider the message of 1 Timothy 6:10:

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

What did Paul mean? Is the love of money behind every sin? Is money on your mind when you sin? I believe that the evils of the world come from a certain kind of heart that loves money.  Now what does it mean to love money? It’s not being like Scrooge McDuck and going into your vault and playing with your money! What is money? Money is simply a symbol that stands for human resources. Money stands for what you can get from man, from man’s resources.

God resources can’t be bought with money! “Ho everyone who thirsts, come to the waters. He who has NO MONEY come buy and eat!” (Isaiah 55:1).

Money is the currency of human resources. So the heart that loves money is a proud, independent heart that places its hopes, pursues its pleasures, and puts its trust in what human resources can offer. So the love of money is the same as faith in money—belief (trust, confidence, assurance) that money will meet your needs and make you happy. Therefore the love of money, or belief in money, is the flip side of UNBELIEF in the promises of God.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:24—you cannot serve God and money. You can’t trust or believe in God and money.

Belief in one is unbelief in the other. A heart that loves money—banks on money for happiness, believes in money—is at the same time not banking on the promises of God for happiness. So when Paul says that the love of money is the root of all evils, he implies that unbelief in the promises of God is the taproot of every sinful attitude in our heart.

2. Unbelief is Calling God a Liar.

1 John 5:10 (ESV) Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar…

Unbelief, doubt, withholding of confidence, is a practical denial that God is worthy of confidence. You are denying His trustworthiness. What an infinitely awful sin it must be to make God a liar!! If anyone here was to stand up and say God is a liar, I’m sure some of us might grab them and forcibly remove them. We would call that person a blasphemer.

Hebrews 6:17-18 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

It is impossible for God to lie. Yet when you doubt God’s word, when you do not believe what God says, you are calling Him a liar. We are to agree to the truth of his promises, and the certainty of their accomplishment.

RC Sproul, Jr. wrote a book titled – Believing God: 12 Scriptural Promises Christians Struggle to Accept

These verses, while promises of God, are not really believed by many Christians.

  • 2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
  • 1 John 3:1 (ESV) See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
  • 1 John 1:9 (ESV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  • James 1:5 (ESV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
  • Psalms 127:3-5 (ESV) Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
  • Psalms 37:4 (ESV) Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
  • Malachi 3:10 (ESV) Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
  • Mark 11:22-24 (ESV) And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
  • Romans 8:28 (ESV) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
  • John 16:33 (ESV) I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
  • Philippians 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
  • 1 John 3:2 (ESV) Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

III. The results of unbelief.

A.   Unbelief produces a heartless religion.

There is only ritual, no satisfying of the soul. If it is not up to God, then it is up to you, and that produces frustration and sorrow. There is no enthusiasm of the heart. Are you filled with the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit? Do you wake up with a spontaneous love for God? Then your heart is filled with unbelief.

B.   Unbelief produces a legalistic religion

Unbelief will cause you to do a great many things without regard to God. Unbelief clouds your eyes and heart to seeing God’s will and His glory. Unbelief leads to an obedience that is selfish, and based on getting what you want.

C.   Unbelief produces an religion void of salvation

Belief in God is absolutely essential to knowing God, and knowing His salvation. If someone doesn’t believe in God, what interest is heaven to him? It’s only a selfish interest, lacking any desire to glorify God, or of having fellowship with Him.

D.  Unbelief produces a disobedient heart.

Disobedience of heart to God is always a result of unbelief. Unbelief will lead you to disavow God’s sovereignty, God’s government, and will lead you to do what is in your heart, what you believe is best.

This is the root of sin in man–withholding confidence in God.

E.   Unbelief produces RESTLESSNESS in your Soul.

Now, when you do have no confidence in the promises of God–do not believe that “all things shall work together for good to them that love God”– your are carrying your burdens upon your own back, and you will grow weary.

Matthew 11:28-30 (KJV) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Your unbelief keeps you from resting in Jesus, it keeps you from His yoke, and it keeps you from His faithful promises.

F.   Unbelief results in an absence of peace in your life.

Where there is real faith, although there may be much to disturb and distress the mind, there is deep peace and joy in God, in the midst of it all; but where persons have not peace, real joy, and great satisfaction in God, in his truth, and in his promises, you may know that there is unbelief there.

Just as Paul told the sailors in Acts 27, that despite the furious storm, if they remained in the ship, no lives would be lost. Even in the most furious of storms, Paul had complete peace in the power of God

G.  Unbelief results in bondage to sin

“There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” Now, when you are in bondage to any sin, you are under the influence of the world, and are condemned by the law.

I John 5:4 declares “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith.”

If you are living in bondage to sin because of unbelief, you are living in a state of condemnation; your own conscience condemns you because of your unbelief.

H.  Unbelief produces Servants and not Sons

By servant, I mean one who serves his master from fear, not love. People who don’t believe see God as someone who must be worshipped, who must be served, or they run the chance of getting on His bad side. There is no love, no anticipation, and no patient waiting upon a loving Father. There is no child-like belief in a loving heavenly Father! They don’t rely on the Father every day; they never ask Him for anything unless they get desperate. They pray, but only out of duty.

Belief will lead you to come before the throne with anticipation, with expectation, for you are a son needing the Father, depending upon the father!

I. Unbelief produces a Worldly Person.

You are given over to a worldly way of thinking and acting. After all it is up to you, because you don’t believe God. You mind earthly things; you don’t layup treasures for heaven. The Word of God is not your constant companion. The Holy Spirit is not your paraclete. No one neglects the Bible if you believe it!

IV. The Power of Believing Faith

Believing Faith Glorifies God!

A.  We glorify God by believing his promises.

Faith . . . honors him whom it trusts with the most reverent and highest regard since it considers him truthful and trustworthy. There is no other honor equal to the estimate of truthfulness and righteousness with which we honor him whom we trust . . .On the other hand, there is no way in which we can show greater contempt for a man than to regard him as false and wicked and to be suspicious of him, as we do when we do not trust him. (Martin Luther, Selections, p. 59)

Trusting God’s Word is the most fundamental way that you can glorify God. You can say “Glory to God” all you want, but if you do not believe His Word, stop wasting your breath! When you believe a promise of God, you honor God’s ability to do what he promised and his willingness to do what he promised and his wisdom to know how to do it.

  • If our goal is to glorify God in all that we do, then we must make it our aim in all that we do to believe the promises of God.

Because it was when Abraham believed the promise of God that God was glorified. John 3:33 (ESV) Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.

  • Believing God is like setting your personal seal on God!
  • Sarah received power to conceive:

Hebrews 11:11 (ESV) By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.

This is of the nature of faith: “The judging him faithful that promised and agreeing to the truth of his promises. You See and Believe in the Power of God!

1.  It Is Future Oriented

Belief that honors God means banking our hope for happiness on the promises of God. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac… He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead…Heb 11:17-19

People who say, “I believe that Christ died for my sins, and that he rose again from the dead,” but then don’t bank their hope on his promises day by day—those people don’t have faith that honors the God who justifies sinners.

  • Paul says, “That is why his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness.” So how did Abraham get justified in God’s sight? Why did God look at this imperfect man and count him as righteous in his sight?
  • Answer: because he believed the promises of God. It was future oriented faith that justified.

Now read on in the application to us. Verses 23–24,

The words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord. Notice! It does not say, “It will be reckoned to us who believe the past historical fact that God raised Jesus from the dead.” As utterly crucial as that is! It says we will be reckoned righteous if we believe in God! Like Abraham believed in God!

You don’t get justified by believing that Jesus died for sinners and rose again. You get justified by resting your hope on the promises that God secured and guaranteed for you through the death and resurrection of his Son.

2.  It Produces Fruit

Abraham became the Father of a multitude. Of many nations! He is the Father of every born again Christian!

Romans 4:16 -That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all…

Believing Faith in the promises of God produces what Paul calls the “work of faith.” Two times, once in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 and once in 2 Thessalonians 1:11 Paul refers to the “work of faith.” What he means is that there is a dynamic to this kind of faith that always changes the heart (Acts 15:9 (ESV) and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.) and produces the works of love.

The clearest statement of this is Galatians 5:6: “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.” God was able to give Abraham a Son because He Believed.

What fruit has your belief produced?

Faith is a power. It never leaves the life unchanged. What you place your hope on always governs your life. If you bank your hope on money, if your bank your hope on prestige, if you bank your hope on leisure and comfort, if you bank your hope on power or success, it governs the choices you make and the attitudes you develop.

If you bank your hope on the promises of God every day, it will change the way you think, pray, and act. Belief in the promises of God is the taproot of all righteousness and love. Belief in the promises of God is not a dead and fruitless thing. What you bank on for happiness controls your life.

B.  We Must Battle Unbelief Every Day

Paul said to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold on eternal life to which you were called.” Fight against sin by fighting against unbelief in the promises of God. Fight for righteousness and love in your life by fighting to maintain faith in the promises of God. Unbelief requires a conscious decision.

Take warning from those who fell away in unbelief:

  • Some no longer have faith at all (II Thessalonians 3:2).
  • Some have shipwrecked their faith (I Timothy 1:19).
  • Some have left the faith for the doctrines of devils (I Timothy 4:1).
  • Some have denied the faith by not providing for their family (I Timothy 5:8).
  • Some have cast off their first faith (I Timothy 5:12).
  • Some have turned aside after Satan (I Timothy 5:15).
  • Some have erred from the faith for the love of money (I Timothy 6:10, 21).
  • Some are reprobate [disqualified] concerning the faith (II Timothy 3:8).

The saddest example of unbelief comes from the generation of Israelites who failed to reach the Promised Land.

“But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief”(Hebrews 3:17-19).

Those Israelites were initially saved: they were delivered from the bondage of Egypt, they were spiritually baptized in the Red Sea (I Corinthians 10:2), and they were led by a pillar of cloud and fire through the wilderness. But they refused to believe when God promised that He would give them the promised land. They looked at their own resources and refused to see God’s.

So we read in Jude 1:5: But then, “the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not” (Jude 1:5);

As a result, that generation did not reach their final destination of salvation in the Promised Land.

  • “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness” (II Peter 3:17).
  • “Therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it …Labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrews 4:1,11).

How is your Christian walk? Are you stumbling, or are you climbing? Examine your hearts. Is there doubt and unbelief in your life?

  • Does your life have Stability?
  • Are you growing in Christian maturity?
  • Do you seem to stagger in your Christian walk?
  • Is your Christian walk stagnating?
  • Is God producing visible fruit through your life?
  • Do you struggle with doubts and fears?

Are you ready to climb the Mountain, trusting God’s Word? Abraham did with his boy Isaac. Abraham staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

Come to Jesus, Believe in Him, and He will give you rest!


Jonahs family eats fish at ThanksgivingIn 1983 I took a trip to Turkey sponsored by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, OPIC. It was a government sponsored trip to seek investment opportunities in Turkey. My last night I spent in Izmir having dinner with my interpreter and a business owner interested in doing business in America. They ordered for me and out came this huge Black Sea Bass (whole) sitting upright on a potato concoction. I ate the fish, but that night I got deathly sick, so sick I missed my early morning flight to Istanbul. That fish gave me nightmares for several months, because it meant that I had to rent a car and drive 600 kilometers through at least three military check points, in unfamiliar towns and then into Istanbul late at night trying to find a place to stay. It was an exciting and terrifying experience to say the least. Mudpreachers experience with fishThat is why I don’t like eating whole fish to this day. The book of Jonah relates a story that you are all familiar with, of a man who tried to run away from God’s will, and ended up being swallowed by a giant fish. Now if I had problems eating fish after my experience, I can just see Jonah being afraid to get on a ship or even go near the ocean or a lake. Every time he would hear a splash I can just see him running for cover. But when I read what he wrote in chapter 2, I know that isn’t the case. In fact from the Psalm he wrote, I know that every Thanksgiving, Jonah would eat the biggest fish he could get.

Jonah eats the biggest fish he can catch

Jonah eats the biggest fish he can catch

Jonah says in his Psalm recorded in chapter 2: “But I with the voice of thanksgiving will I sacrifice to you” This he prayed while still in the fishes belly.

The Hebrew word for Thanksgiving has in view a Choir Singing Tremendous Songs of Praise, accompanied by a huge orchestra. People with SHOUTS of Jubilation!

The word depicts worship by the presentation of songs of thanksgiving and praise that extolled the mighty wonders of the Lord (Neh. 12:27; Ps. 26:7; Isa. 51:3). It refers to shouts of jubilation and thanksgiving (Ps. 42:4[5]; Jon. 2:9[10]). It describes the purpose of the choirs used by Nehemiah, i.e., they were choirs of praise (Neh. 12:31, 38).—Complete Word Study Dictionary, The

Walldedicated with todaWhen Nehemiah dedicated the wall he had all the leaders get on the wall and had a huge assembly of Levites playing instruments and singing praises to God. This is the picture Jonah presented in his prayer while lodged deep in the stinking stomach of a huge fish! Now how was Jonah able to praise God while he was deep in the belly of a stinking fish? Because Jonah had a firsthand lesson in something which many of us are not familiar with.

Would that our Thanksgivings featured such spontaneous expressions of Joy and Rejoicing over what God has done in our lives.

Face it, most of our Thanksgiving meals consist of a few arguments over such and such, a short prayer of blessing, then maybe a forced “What are You Thankful For?’ and then the guys go and watch football or go to a movie or such like that. Even in my family I can’t recall spontaneous shouts of Joy over what God has been doing.

Festival of BoothsGod wanted His people to have festivals and feasts where there was spontaneous rejoicing! One Such Event was the Festival of Booths held once a year in the Fall:

Leviticus 23:39-43 (KJV) Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Sovereignty vs. Thanksgiving

Sovereignty of God vs ThanksgivingThe story of Jonah is so appropriate at the time of Thanksgiving, because it addresses the conflict that most of us experience at this holiday time. This is the conflict we have between our experiences with the Sovereignty of God and the Joy (or lack of it) we feel in our Soul!

We used to know what the Sovereignty of God is. The Pilgrims who settled in America had a profound sense of the Sovereignty of God…

On November 11, 1620, Governor William Bradford and the leaders on the Mayflower signed the Mayflower Compact before setting foot on land. They wanted to acknowledge God’s sovereignty in their lives and their need to obey Him. The Mayflower Compact was America’s first great constitutional document and is often called “The American Covenant.”

Life was hard in the New World. Out of 103 Pilgrims, 51 of these died in the first terrible winter. After the first harvest was completed, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer. By 1623, a day of fasting and prayer during a period of drought was changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during their prayers. The custom prevailed in New England and eventually became a national holiday.

Because they understood the Sovereignty of God they could rejoice regardless of whether there was rain or drought, death or life. We have lost our concept of what the Sovereignty of God is. Let me share just a bit from AW Pink:

From (AW PINK, SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD)

The sovereignty of God! What do we mean by this expression? We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the Godhood of God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him, What doest Thou? (Daniel 4:35). To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purposes, or resist His will (Psalms 115:3). To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psalms 22:28), setting up kingdoms, over-throwing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleases Him best. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords” (1Timothy 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible. The sovereignty of the God of Scripture is absolute, irresistible, infinite. When we declare that God is sovereign, we affirm His right to govern the universe, which He has made for His own glory, just as He pleases. We affirm that His right is the right of the Potter over the clay: that He may mould that clay into whatsoever form He chooses, fashioning out of the same lump one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor. We affirm that He is under no rule or law outside His own will and nature, that God is a law unto Himself, and that He is under no obligation to give an account of His matters to any.”

The Exercise of His Supremacy

The sovereignty of God may be defined as the exercise of His supremacy. Being infinitely elevated above the highest creature, He is the Most High, Lord of heaven and earth. Subject to none, influenced by none, absolutely independent; God does as He pleases, only as He pleases, always as He pleases. None can thwart Him, none can hinder Him. So His own Word expressly declares: “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” ( Isaiah 46:10); “He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand” ( Daniel 4:35).

Divine sovereignty means that God is God in fact, as well as in name, that He is on the Throne of the universe, directing all things, working all things “after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11).

We affirm that He is Sovereign in the exercise of His power. His power is exercised as He wills, when He wills, where He wills.

  • God is Sovereign in the exercise of His mercy
  • God is Sovereign in the exercise of His love
  • God is Sovereign in the exercise of His grace.

God’s Throne is Supreme

  • To declare that God is frustrated by sin, is to dethrone God.
  • To say that God has no control over the evil of this world is to dethrone God
  • To say that God has no control over the bad things that happen in our lives is to dethrone God.

Sovereignty speaks of God’s divine control over everything that happens. There is nothing outside the control of his loving hand. Romans 8:28 tells us that all things work together for the good of God’s children and verses 38- 39 implies that there is nothing beyond the control of God’s sovereign hand. God’s sovereignty reminds Christians to fear nothing as God is always in charge, no matter how dreadful the situation.—AMG’s Encyclopedia of Bible Facts

We have lost our sense of God and His Sovereignty in our churches, our preaching, our Thanksgivings!

Man-Centered vs God-Centered

A recent survey found the number one question people would ask God is “Why do you allow suffering?”

Instead of focusing on God and His Sovereign Right to Act as His Nature Dictates, we focus on ourselves and we go “boo-hoo”, why did you do this why did you allow that. We are so man-centered, that every time something doesn’t go our way we shake our fist at God!

When you learn to focus on the Sovereign Will of God, you trust in an all powerful God who works His Glory in whatever happens in your life! You know that nothing is by accident, that He is working all to accomplish what please Him, in accordance with His Word and His Nature!

The whole issue is whether we live lives that are man-centered or God-centered.

In the Book of Jonah we see an obstinate, self-centered man who runs headlong into the mighty Sovereignty of God.jonah centered

Jonah-Centered

  • Jonah centered world results in captivity
    • Jonah wanted to do what he wanted when he wanted
    • He was swallowed by the fish, held captive.
  • Jonah centered world results in damnation.
    • Jonah experienced Hell.
    • The people of Nineveh were doomed.
  • Jonah centered world results in anger and hatred.
    • Jonah was mad that Nineveh was saved.
    • Mad at what God had done.
    • Dependent on Circumstances

God-Centered

  • God-centered world results in deliverance from the storms of life
    • Sailor saved
    • Jonah rescued
  • God-centered world results in deliverance from the hell of life
    • Jonah deleverd from the Hell of the fish.
  • God-centered world results in deliverance from sin
    • Nineveh repented and was saved
  • God-centered world results in Rejoicing and Thanksgiving
    • The people of Nineveh rejoiced because God spared them
  • Jonah learned to shut up and started eating Big Fish

Why Does a God Centered World result in Repentance, Deliverance, Mercy and Salvation?

  1. The Sovereignty of God means that God seeks to Deliver Repentant man.God seeks to deliver repentant man
  2. The Sovereignty of God means that God’s Mercy is for Repentant manGods Mercy is upon repentant man
  3. Gods Salvation is for repentant manThe Sovereignty of God means Salvation for Repentant man.

We have so much to rejoice in. If you have turned from you sin and embraced Jesus as your Savior, Rejoice, you have been delivered, you are wrapped in the Mercy of God, You are being saved. Rejoice and tell your relatives – make em think you are crazy. Jonah was stinking like a fish when he told the people of God’s coming judgment. Rejoice because God is sovereign. Why don’t you put God on His Throne in Your Life!!! He is on His throne. Whatever you are going through, all you need to do is repent of your sins and rejoice in God’s Mercy. He will do all according to His Will.

YOUR CHOICE

You can live this Thanksgiving Man-centered or God centered.

You Can Brood and Burn in Pain!

You can be on your own throne or you can submit to God on His throne. Jonah go upset at God for bringing revival to Nineveh. God asked him: “Do You Do Well to be Angry?”(Jonah 4:4)

That little word angry is “hara” which means to cause fire to burn- pictures a “burning sensation in your throat.” This is a kindling or simmering of anger. When you put your self on the throne you set in motion the kindling of your soul as you react to what God does in your life. Instead of praise and spontaneous rejoicing, your throat is burning, your are mad and resentful because God has not done as YOU wanted.

You can Seek God and BURN BRIGHT with Joy!

Psalms 105:3 (ESV) Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!

You can realize God is Sovereign and is actively governing as He pleases upon His throne. You can repent of your selfishness and sin and seek after Almighty God and His reign over your life.

Then you will know SAMAH!

  • SAMAH means to burn bright, to make joyful, merry. This joy comes from within your heart and lights up your eyes! (TWOT)
  • SAMAH results in spontaneous emotion and extreme happiness which is expressed in some visible manner.
  • When David killed Goliath, the women danced in the streets and shouted with JOY! (! Sam 18:6)

Psalms 32:11 (ESV) Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

The True Shining City on the HillPresident Ronald Reagan gave a famous farewell speech on Jan 11, 1989. He talked about the “shining city on the Hill”:

The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the ‘shining city upon a hill.’ The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free. I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.

And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was 8 years ago. But more than that: After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.

America may no longer be that shining City on the Hill, but God still Reigns. He still seeks men to repent and come to Him. All the financial and political travail that is going on is the Throne of God giving us one last chance to Repent and Honor Him as Sovereign God!

One day He will place His Son on that Shining City on the Hill, Jerusalem. All nations will come to Him there. He will reign.

Do you know King Jesus as your Savior. Is His Father your Sovereign Lord? Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins. He paid the price for your freedom with His precious sinless blood. Will you come to Him?  Will you repent of your sins and say “Jesus I need you to be my Savior!” Will you come and make Him your Lord, so that He can shine bright in your life?

God Still Reigns. God is Sovereign.

Samah - Jumping for JoyWhat will be your visible expression of joy before God this thanksgiving!!!!

Will You allow God to be on His throne in your life? Will you jump for joy because of his deliverance, his mercy, his salvation for you?

That which you think has most injured your life, God can enable you to rejoice in it, even eat it! Never fear it! Even if it swallows you!