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Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"Getting Back on Course"

April 8, 2005

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"A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." Matthew 12:39

In the fall of 1985, a 45-ton humpbacked whale, supposedly heading for warmer ocean water to the south, made its way into the San Francisco Bay, swam up the Sacramento River, and “landed” in a slough. A great deal of effort was required to get it back to its habitat.

Human beings, too, at times go off course, and one who did so deliberately was the prophet Jonah, who had a message to deliver. God had called him to preach the Word in Nineveh, the pagan capital of the Assyrian Empire. But, like the above whale, he got into the wrong channel. Instead of going east, to Nineveh, he boarded a freighter at Joppa and sailed west on a ship that was bound for Tarshish on the other end of the Mediterranean Sea.

But God put Jonah back on course. During a severe storm Jonah was cast overboard and was swallowed by a large fish. Preserved alive, the prophet heeded the second call from God and preached repentance in Nineveh. Jesus refers to Jonah’s experience and applies it to Himself: “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a hugh fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). By being crucified, buried, and raised from the dead, Jesus Christ put a lost and floundering humanity back on course – the course of salvation by faith in Him.

Although Christians have been put on the right course, they sometimes have difficulty staying on the course. They sometimes wander far from home, as did the whale on the West Coast, as did the prophet Jonah. But they can get back on course, for they have Jesus as the Captain of salvation; they have His saving Word. So they pray: “Chart and compass come from Thee: Jesus, Savior, pilot me.”

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I need Your guidance in all areas of my life. Keep me on the right course as I travel through this life, so that one day I may live with You eternally. Amen.

(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at

Today's Bible Readings: Joshua 7-9    Luke 9:37-62

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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