Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday Message; 17 August 2014; Jonah 3:1-5,10

This week’s Scripture: Jonah 3:1-5,10

You can read these Scriptures here: NIV and ESV

Hymns for this Sunday:

UMH 348 – Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling

UMH 171 – There is Something About that Name

UMH 378 – Amazing Grace

This Sunday we will continue with the series of messages on Commitment and what it mean to live lives of commitment to God and to each other and what it means to be in a covenant relationship with each other.

{Click Me} Message # 1 From July 13 based on John 11:1-3, 17, 38-44

{Click Me} Message #2 from July 27 based on Joshua 2:1-24

{Click Me} Message # 3 from August 3 based on Genesis 39:2-5

{Click Me} Message # 4 from August 10 based on 2 Kings 7:3-9

 

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Today we will continue with the sermon series about commitment. Commitment to God is what keeps us connected to God and to each other. Commitment is what translates into action. That is why, as we try to figure out what our church will become in the future and how we will continue making disciples for Jesus for the transformation of the world, we need to look at examples of commitment in the Holy Scriptures.

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Last week we met the four lepers; their story is found in 2 Kings, chapter 7. King Ben-Hadad of Syria besiged the capital city of Samaria in the Northern Kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 6:24). The result was severe famine.

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It is in this context that we meet four outcasts, four men who had some kind of skin disease that resulted in them being cast out of the city.

{Reitterate the story: 2 Kings 7:3-9}

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The story of these four men drives home a point that faith is not about making rational decisions. Faith is about stepping out when we see and feel God’s presence. Commitment to God boils down to being willing to make sure that when God reveals something wonderful to us, we spread the Good News. From a rational point of view it made absolutely no sense for them to return to the city to spread the news to people who had shunned them and left them to starve, but from the point of view of faith and commitment to God it made all the sense in the world. They chose to stay true to their God because they knew who God was in THEIR lives; each of them had a first-hand relationship with God.

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Today we will look at the story of Jonah. Jonah, son of Amittai, was a pastor or a priest in the village of Gath-Hepher (2 Kings 14:25). He lived during the reign of Jeroboam II (c.786–746 BC). It was the time when Jeroboam was able to win back some of the territories captured by Assyrians in earlier battles.

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Jonah was commanded by God to go to the city of Nineveh to prophesy against it “for their great wickedness is come up before me” (Jonah 1:2) Instead of obeying God, Jonah chose to flee (Jonah 1:3) from “the presence of the Lord” by going to the port of Jaffa and boarding a boat to Tarshish.

{some of the reasons why Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh}

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Shortly after they sailed, a huge storm endangered everyone on the boat that Jonah was on. The sailors figured out that it was not an ordinary storm, and they also figured out that Jonah had something to do with it. An interesting detail; as the storm was raging, Jonah was asleep in the hold of the ship (Jonah 1:5); I hope that reminds you of the story about Jesus sleeping on a boat while the disciples were scared by a storm on the sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35-41).

The sailors woke Jonah up and he told them about God, and he suggested that the storm would calm down if he was thrown overboard (Jonah 1:12).

A few other things happened. The sailors tried to save Jonah’s life but to no avail.

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So they finally threw him overboard where he was swallowed by a large fish or a whale. Instantly the sea calmed down. As a result the sailors came to faith in God (Jonah 1:16).

Jonah spent three days inside the animal (Jonah 1:17). That was a time for Jonah to think about what he had done and not done, and what it meant to him to ignore God’s call on his life. I am convinced that God speaks in the silence of our heart; silence so deep that we are not distracted by anything else around us. Being “in the belly of the fish” provided Jonah with a time out and an opportunity to spend time thinking about his life and about his relationship with God. Listening for and hearing God’s voice is the beginning of prayer… Listening and hearing God’s voice requires discipline and a relationship with God because we need to know what God’s voice sounds and feels like.

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His prayer is recorded in chapter 2 of the scroll. It starts by saying, “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 heard my voice.”

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We know the rest of the story. Miraculously, Jonah was released from captivity and told again to go to Nineveh, which he obeyed this time. He delivered a message, and a great revival broke out in the city. People believed in God, people repented, people changed their ways.

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Listen to verse 8 of chapter 3, “Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.”

As a result, “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened” (Jonah 3:10).

The only person that was unhappy with the way things turned out was Jonah. He was angry at God, he was angry at the inhabitants of Nineveh and at the end of the scroll we find him a broken and bitter man (but that is a topic of a different sermon).

We are in the midst of a series about commitment. So what can we learn about commitment to God from Jonah.

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The most important lesson from Jonah is that although it may appear that we can run or hide from God, we are only fooling ourselves. Our stories may not be as dramatic as Jonah’s, but we have a duty to God to carry out our call to the best of our ability.

When we run or hide from God we end up in the “belly of a fish” (Jonah 1:17). Today I want to ask you, what does your “belly of a fish” look like? When was the last time that you called to the Lord in your distress, and because you recognized your own inabilities and inadequacies at the time, you had no choice but to rely on God and the presence of God became real to you.

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The way Jonah describes it, “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 heard my cry” (Jonah 2:2). When was the last time that you felt that you were on the threshold of the “realm of the dead?” When was the last time that you did not know what to do next and things looked bleak, and God carried you through? When was the last time you allowed yourself to be vulnerable and allowed God to touch your soul?

In the last few weeks we looked at examples of commitment to God in the lives of Lazarus, Rahab, Joseph the Patriarch, the Four Lepers from 2 Kings chapter 7, and today at Jonah.

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Next week we will look at different levels of commitment and talk about our own involvement in God’s mission in the world around us.

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