Jonah’s Anger [Chapter 4]

A Happy Story With A Sad Ending

This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.” The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant. But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die. “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed. Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?” “Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!” 10 Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. 11 But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

To understand Jonah 4, you have to go back to the last verse in chapter 3–“When God saw that they had put a stop to their evil ways, He had mercy upon them and did not carry out the destruction He had threatened. Jonah is unhappy because God’s showed mercy on the Assyrians. This is very unusual: an Evangelist upset because there was 120,000 decisions. Here we have the greatest revival in human history and Jonah is pouting instead of praising. Most preachers would get snap shots of the repentant Ninevites and feature them in the new brochure. Some would have slide shows galore. they would be so excited with these numbers that you would not be able to shut them up. But not Jonah the A-hole. No, he is mad as an old wet hen; he is hotter than a blue blaze. He is so upset that he can eat nails or chew tacks. He is so mad that he can spit fire and save all his matches.

I have divided Chapter four into three parts: the Pity, the Plant and the Problem

THE PITY

When people get angry like Jonah, they do foolish things. Jonah begins to complain: [1] First, he complains that God is merciful in nature. I think Jonah sees mercy as a weakness. “I knew it all along” Jonah said, “I knew you would show mercy”. The irony of Jonah’s life is that there is nothing that he needs more than mercy. Where would Jonah be without God’s mercy. He either be at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea or rotting in the stomach of a fish. When he was in deep, deep trouble, he had no problem with God being merciful  and sparing his life but now that God has spared Nineveh, he is upset. Everyone needs mercy and Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” If we don’t show mercy, we will not receive mercy. Because we have all sinned, none of us can afford not to be merciful. [2] Jonah complains about life itself, he said, “Lord, I had rather be dead than alive because nothing I predicted is going to happen. Jonah was upset that God had used him. Instead of rejoicing over what God has done, Jonah is resenting what God has done. In chapter 4 he prays twice for death, for the LORD to take his life. He didn’t really want to die. Why did he pray in the stomach of the fish if he wanted to die. The Assyrians are armed to the teeth: if he really wants to die, I am sure they would lend him a dagger or a sword. He doesn’t want to die, he is blowing smoke. He is having an old fashion pity-party. He is feeling sorry for himself because he did not get what he wanted. God’s will was done instead of his and he is upset.

So Jonah is complaining when he should be celebrating. He is resenting when he should have been rejoicing. He is pouting when he should have been praising. He is doing the very opposite of what he should be doing. Let me say three things about complaining…

[1] Complaining is primarily against the LORD. Perhaps you are thinking, “I complain but I do not complain against the LORD.” Are you sure? I think most complaining is against the LORD. I am reading a book on John of the Cross. One of John’s goals was to accept everything that happened to him as the will of God and to never complain. A couple of women in a Bible Study group came to me with a challenge. I think that I probably said something that ticked them off, maybe it was about gossip or minding your own business and they decided to retaliate. They said, “Starting tomorrow [Monday] we challenge you to listen to everything you say and note anything that is negative or in any way a complaint.” I thought, “Old girls, you are on and we are not going to win this challenge.” Before the week had gotten started good, I had caught myself complaining so many times that I had forgotten all about the two busy bodies. I could not believe how much I complained. In the recent drought, I was not good company. I tried so hard not to think of rain or complain about the lack thereof but I know that I fell off the wagon more than once. I don’t think complaining is a good thing and when you give it proper thought, it is generally against God.

[2] Complaining is always unpleasant to man. No one likes a complainer. I loath going out to eat with a complainer. Years ago my wife conspired with some friends and they hornsnoggled me into going out to eat with a “Noted” complainer. Sure as shooting, her steak was not right and she had the waitress take it back. When they brought it back, it still wasn’t right and so back to kitchen with the steak. Meanwhile, I have consumed my food which does not take me long and I am ready to go by the time she gets started. But it doesn’t end there: now I have to sit and listen to her complain as she basically dines alone. When we got home, I told my wife: if you ever do me that way again, I will be ugly. I do not want to go out with a complainer. Generally speaking, people don’t like complainers. Maybe you are like I am and you think…”I never complain”…try listening to yourself. You may be surprised.

[3] Complaining is a subtle form of diversion. We complain in order to avoid the real issues. Bob Pitman tells the story of a revival meeting that he was doing and all week the preacher complained about his Sunday School director. Everything was the SS Director’s fault. The attendance, offering, baptisms, mission giving, everything was the SS Director’s fault. Finally Bob got irritated and said, “If the man is that sorry, why in the world don’t you fire him and get someone else.” The preacher looked at him with some sorrow in his face and said, “As sorry as he is, he is the best I’ve got.” When someone is complaining about their preacher or their Sunday School teacher, it is a given that they are covering their own sin. People complain to divert the attention away from them and on to someone else. A mule that is kicking aint pulling. Complainers are not contributors. I know you have heard the story about the man who got upset when he opened a closet door at church and seen an entire box of brooms. There must have been two dozen. He had a fit and before it was over, he had complained to every staff member, every deacon and anyone else who would listen. “What in the world are we doing, buying so many brooms. Don’t these people know that money doesn’t grow on trees”…He unloaded on everyone. A month or two later, the pastor is having lunch with the church treasurer and he tells him about the man’s rage over a closet full of brooms that cost less than a $100. The treasurer just grinned and said, “How would you like if every thing you have given to the church in the last five years was tied up in a closet full of brooms?” Complainers do not contribute. They don’t have time, they are too busy complaining. Jonah is complaining that God is not right but really Jonah is the one who is not right, amen!

THE PLANT

The plant illustrates God’s goodness and Grace which overshadows our stupidity and ignorance. Jonah is just not right in the head. If I go to Saudi Arabia and preach a meeting, just as soon as the meeting is over, I am catching the first flight to the States. I am not hanging around, hanging out, or even hanging in–I am headed home. But Jonah decides to hang around on the wrong side of town. For Pete’s sake Jonah, at least go back to the West side so you will be closer to home. Hey folks, Jonah was one strange dude.

Again God has mercy on this ignorant sap and allows a vine to grow over the little shelter that Jonah erected. The vine give Jonah wonderful shade from the scorching sun. Jonah rejoices in the vine. He is tickled pink about the vine. I bet he wrote a song or poem about the vine but then the LORD sent a worm who destroyed the plant and Jonah lost his shade. So Jonah goes into another rage about the worm killing his plant. The sun and the wind began to do their work and before it is over Jonah is begging for death and this time he may be sincere.

The LORD said, “It is right for you to be angry because the plant died?” “Yes” said Jonah, “I am so angry I could die.” The LORD said, “You keep this attitude up and I just may take you up on your last request”. Just kidding, the LORD didn’t say that, He could have said that but what He really said was, “So you are sorry about the plant dying but it didn’t bother you that 120,000 humans were going to die had they not repented.” [JEV] The plant was a picture of grace. Jonah didn’t do anything to deserve the plant nor its shelter. We don’t want to miss or ignore God’s grace. Jonah is so obsessed with the destruction of his enemy that he totally ignores God’s mercy and goodness to himself. If we get some grasp of God’s goodness toward us, it should sweeten our attitude toward others. Personally, I don’t see how anyone can be happy without some grasp or understanding of God’s grace.

THE PROBLEM

The problem is simple: We are never to confuse the worth of a soul with things here on earth. I love plants. I love flowers and I love trees. Hey, I love to garden. I like to plant things and see things grow but there is no way that I can be more concerned about plants than people. You may think that this is an insignificant point but I am telling you that we often puts more stress on the value of things than we do people. It is OK to be a plant lover or animal lover but our priority is people.

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe says that we have things inverted. God wants us to use things and love people but we have a tendency to use people and love things. In truth: if you can put a price something than it is worth nothing. My truck cost $20,000 and is would probably resale for $15,000 but it is not worth anything. If I wreck the truck, I can get another truck. It is simply metal and plastic on rubber tires. It may have some temporal value but it has no eternal value. We all know people who love their vehicle more than they love their neighbor and that is not right.

God created everything but His delight is in man. God loves people; so much so that He has made us immortal. We are going to live beyond this life. We live in a mixed up and depraved world. Michael Vick gets sent to prison for killing dogs and Rich Pitino gets a hero’s welcome for paying for his girl friends abortion. Folks, there is something wrong with that picture and if you can’t see it, I can’t help you. I don’t like it when people treat people like dogs and dogs like people. I do understand getting attached to a pet and I see nothing wrong with having pets but we must never exalt the worth of a pet or plant over soul.

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Jonah Chapter 3–The Character of Yahweh

3 Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: 2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.” 3 This time Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all.[a] 4 On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” 5 The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow. 6 When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes. 7 Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city: “No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. 8 People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. 9 Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.” 10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.

INTRODUCTION

The book of Jonah is about Yahweh the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. The great I AM. As Moffatt translates, “The Eternal One”, creator of heaven and earth. The book does bear Jonah’s name but it is about the character of Yahweh.

  1. CHAPTER THREE REAFFIRMS YAHWEH’S  MERCIFUL NATURE
    • Note verse 1–“The LORD [Yahweh] spoke to Jonah a second time. Considering Jonah’s attitude and his previous behavior, why would God give him a second chance? Why does He give us a second change and a third, and a fourth? Because He is a merciful God. David said, “Your mercy reaches into the heavens”. In other words, there is no end to His mercy. God is infinite is all His attributes.
    • I also see God’s mercy in His message–“Deliver the message I have given you”. God did not have to give Jonah a second chance, He could have used someone else and He did not have to warn the Ninevites of His impending judgment but again, Yahweh is a merciful God.
    • Look at verse 10–“When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.” God had mercy on the entire city because they repented. Our God is a merciful God, amen! He is worthy of praise! Jonah needed mercy; Nineveh needed mercy and you and I need mercy. Thank You Jesus for Your mercy.

2.  CHAPTER THREE  REVEALS YAHWEH’S  SOVEREIGN PURPOSE

    • Yahweh initiates the call [sets everything into motion]
    • Yahweh gives Jonah the message [not Jonah’s message] Jonah is simply to deliver the message.
    • The Ninevites believe the message. This is the miracle of preaching. Jonah, who is anything but perfect, delivers God’s message [that he doesn’t agree with] and the people respond in massive repentance.
    • People have always made too much of preachers. Preachers are “Delivery Boys”. God is the owner and editor of the paper…we just deliver His message. Like the Jews, we have a tendency to make icons out of servants. I am sure the book of Jonah  made the cannon for this very reason. Jonah preached the greatest revival in human history and he was an A-hole. How do you put a man like Jonah on a pedistal for simply delivering God’s message? This story has Yahweh written all over it.
    • When we are faithful to preach God’s word: people hear God speaking. It is a miracle. Every preacher I know is like Jonah: they lives are clouded with personal problems and in some cases, bad attitudes, just like Jonah but when they preach God’s word, the people hear God. It is a miracle.
    • In the end, God’s message is preached and He gets credit for the results, getting all the glory just as He deserves. Nobody ever praise Jonah! No one should! Yahweh is to be praised.

3.  CHAPTER THREE REMINDS US THAT YAHWEH HEARS OUR PRAYERS

    • Jonah preached but the King of Nineveh and his citizens Prayed and Fasted.
    • Jonah has a prayer in his heart, he just did not articulate it. His prayer was that God would destory the wicked Ninevites.
    • The King of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying and he “Stepped down from his throne.” If we are to experience REVIVAL, we are going to have to step down from the throne, stop trying to run everything and do everything our way. The King of Nineveh humbled himself. [1] He stepped down [2] he took off his royal robe [3] he put on a toesack [4] and sat in ashes. Ashes is wood reduced to nothing but dust. When we get to that point that we are reduced to nothing but dust, we are getting ready for God to move.
    • The King made a decree…[1]Everyone must pray earnestly [2] Everyone must turn from their evil ways [3] Everyone must stop their violence. “Who can tell” said the King, “Perhaps God will change His mind” and He did.
    • Did all your reform guys get that…God changed His mind. I can just hear them now, “God cannot change his mind”….”It is impossible”…”It makes no sense”. Listen friend, Yahweh can do anything He pleases and He does not wait for you to understand what He does before He does it.  Nothing is impossible with Him and His sense doesn’t make sense to you because you don’t have enough sense for his sense to make sense. Put that in your Harvard brain and soak on it. Have you ever meet a Calvinist that was not a pompous, arrogant know-it-all.
    • GOD ANSWERS PRAYER and in this case, the prayer of pagans. I believe that God will answer any prayer of repentance and faith. If I didn’t believe that, I would not have a gospel to share. If I can’t look a person in the eye and tell them with confidence that Jesus loves them, I don’t have any good news.

Blessed Are The Peace Makers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
Matthew 5:9 [NKJV]
 

This sounds like a simple saying but we often get it confussed. Hopefully, we will shed some light upon the truth of this scripture.

LET ME SHARE THREE THINGS ABOUT THIS BEATTITUDE

First of all: Peacemakers are “Workers”

I like the New Living Translation here: God blesses those who work for peace. Peace making is something we do. I am afraid that folks confuse Peace Making with Peaceful Living. The fact that you mind your own business and live in peace with all men does not make you a peacemaker. A true peace maker works for peace. I have known people in my brief that would not harm a fly. People so gentle, so sensitive to the feelings of others that they would never dream of getting involved in any kind of fuss, squable, or misunderstanding. Even if they had a workable solution, they would stay at home and keep it to themselves. You would never get them to involve themselves. There are always “risks” to peace making and there are some folks who are not going to take the risk. They are good people, their mind their own business but they are not peace makers.

Peace makers work toward peace; they are proactive. Years ago, a woman who was not a member of our congregation came to my house. She had a complaint about one of our members. It was one of our older Senior Adult couples and they were fine folks. I listened for a little bit and I didn’t want to be rude but finally I interupted and said, “They just live down the road, how about we go together and talk to them about this problem. I know them and I am sure that something can be worked out.” Immediately, the woman changed her attitude, “O no” said she, “I don’t want to do that: let’s just forget the whole thing. Let us just pretend that I never came and talked to you.” I said, “You don’t understand, these are salt of the earth people: they will be glad to work this problem out. They will not mind talking about it and if they are in the wrong, they will want to do what is right. Let’s go talk to them right now and get this settled once and for all.” “No, no” she said, “No need to go talk, it is settled. I shouldn’t have come to you. I want you to forget the whole thing.” She was right about one thing: she made a mistake coming to me. I knew they were good and peace loving folks and I was sure that we could work things out if we all got in the same room and discussed the problem. Her complaint was petty and she was embarrassed as well she should have been. Now, you would think that the lady would have become an enemy for life: just the opposite happened. That woman never said another critical word to me about anyone from day on. I never saw her that she did not compliment the church or one of our members. Peace makers work toward peace. Peace is not something that will just happen: we have to work for it.

Secondly: Peacemakers are willing to Sacrifice themselves

Paul said in Ephesians 2…13 But now through Christ Jesus you, who were once far away, have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 So He is our peace. In his body he has made Jewish and non-Jewish people one by breaking down the wall of hostility that kept them apart. 15 He brought an end to the commandments and demands found in Moses’ Teachings so that he could take Jewish and non-Jewish people and create one new humanity in himself. So He made peace. 16 He also brought them back to God in one body by his cross, on which he killed the hostility. 17 He came with the Good News of peace for you who were far away and for those who were near.

Jesus was and is the ultimate PEACEMAKER. He literally worked for peace and even sacrificed His body on the cross so that you and I could have peace. Had not Jesus been pro-active and willing to step out of the comforts of heaven and come to this crusty earth, you and I would have no peace–with God or anyone else. Jesus was willing to give his life for peace. He made His body a sacrifice for peace. You will never be a peace maker as long as you are thinking about your own self interest.

There is an interesting story in Fox’s Book Of Martyrs that illustrates this point…Telemachus was a monk who lived in Asia Minor around 400 AD. During his life time gladiatorial games were very popular in Rome. The gladiators were often slaves or political prisoners who were condemned to fight each other unto death for the amusement of the spectators. The sight of blood and gore on the arena floor fascinated people. Telemachus was very disturbed that the Emperor Honorius (who was a Christian) sponsored the games and that many people who called themselves ‘Christian’ went to see them. What, he wondered, could be further from the Spirit of Christ than the cruelty of these gladiatorial games? The bishops and priests spoke against them, but most people were deaf to their message. Telemachus realized that talking about this evil was not enough. But what could he accomplish – one lone monk against the whole Roman Empire? He had no power and the games had been part an established part of Roman life.One day in prayer, Telemachus sensed that the Holy Spirit was encouraging him to leave his community and go to Rome. When Telemachus arrived in Rome he was caught up into a celebration of a recent victory by the Roman Legions over the Goths. As a part of a holiday festival a circus was being staged for the jubilant multitudes. Telemachus didn’t know exactly where he was going in Rome… but he allowed himself to be swept along by the crowds. He soon found himself on the way to the Coliseum for the circus.

When the crowds arrived at the Coliseum they began to get excited by the sounds of the lions roaring their challenge and the gladiators preparing for combat. Telemachus followed the crowd into the Coliseum. There to his horror he was confronted with callous gut-wrenching carnage. Gladiators fought one another to the death. They slaughtered their hapless foes without pity as entertainment for the bloodthirsty crowds.Telemachus felt he had to do something. He simply couldn’t stand by while human beings were being beheaded, disemboweled and dismembered before his very eyes. He ran down the steps of the stands, leapt into the arena, and began darting back and forth between the fighters crying: Stop, Stop, in the name of Christ I beg you to stop!.’When the crowd saw the scrawny figure of the monk running frantically about the arena, ducking and weaving between the combatants – they took Telemachus to be a bit of welcome comic relief and roared their approval. But as time went on some of the people in the crowd began to hear what ‘the mad monk’ was saying and more and they came to realize that Telemachus was actually trying to spoil their bloody fun. Then they turned against him, hissing and booing, and bellowing at the top of their voices for his quick dispatch.The gladiators lunged at the monk with thrusts of their swords… and the audience buried him under a hailstorm of projectiles and stones. When the furore was over Telemachus lay dead in the middle of the arena.During the silence that followed his death – it was as if the monk’s last cry began to echo around the arena: ‘Stop, Stop, in the name of Christ I beg you to stop!.’Telemachus died – but not in vain. His work was accomplished the moment he was struck down. The shock of his death changed the hearts of the crowd. Then they saw the hideous aspects of this vice to which they had surrendered themselves. Emperor Honorius issued an edict that day – forbidding all future gladiatorial games. 

Telemachus was a peacemaker in every sense of the word. He was willing to interceed, to step into the fray, to take a blow from either side for the sake of peace.

Thirdly: Peacemakers are “Pure In Heart”

Peacemaker are pure in heart, they have to be. Dishonest, disinguine, duplicious and divisive people cannot be peacemakers–Peacemakers have to have a single motive, they have to have a pure heart. I cannot reason for peace if my motives are selfish. I can take only one side and it must be that of Christ. I must want what He wants if I am to be a peace maker.

Fourth and Finally: Peacemaker are “Reflections Of Their Father”

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” Who is doing the calling. I think Jesus is referring to people: people will associate with the Father when they see us work for peace. I love the Story of the Loving Father found in Luke 15…You remember the story, the older brother came in from the fields and he heard the sound of music and he sensed that something special was going on. When some of the servants told him about the party for his younger brother, the older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once did I refuse to obey you. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

Do you see what the father is doing in the story: he is between his two sons–one is in the house and the other is outside, the father is at the door begging the older brother to come in and join the party celebrating the younger brother’s return. He is trying to make peace. He is working for peace.

I am sorry to be so blunt but “Troublemakers” have nothing is common with our Heavenly Father. No one is going to associate a troublemaker with the Father or His children. If we want to be called Children of God, we must act like Children of God.

Blessed Are The Pure In Heart

The reredos in St Stephen's Church, Bournemouth.
The reredos in St Stephen’s Church, Bournemouth. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. [Matthew 5:8]

INTRODUCTION:

Of all the beattitudes, this one facinates me most. Each beattitude has a principle and a corrosponding result if that principle is obeyed.

    • The poor in spirit will inherit the kingdom of heaven
    • Those that mourn will be comforted
    • The meek will inherit the earth
    • The hungry will be filled
    • The merciful will obtain mercy
    • The pure in heart will see God, Wow!

This beattitude, especially the promise, fills my mind with wonder. How can I see God? Moses wanted to see God but God would not allow it…We find this in Exodus 33:17-23

17 The Lord replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.” 18 Moses responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.” 19 The Lord replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. 20 But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” 21 The Lord continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. 22 As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.”

Today I want to say two things about the principle: Blessed are the Pure in Heart and then three about the promise

1.  FIRST THE PRINCIPLE–PURITY OF HEART [What does it mean?]

For one thing: Purity of heart may be referring to the Mind

    • I have always assumes that the pure in heart are those who have a clean mind. David said in Psalm 51, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”
    • In Psalm 101 David made a contract with his eyes…He said-“I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.” The NASB says “I will set nothing worthless before my eyes.” The NLT really gets clear, “I will set nothing vile or vulger before my eyes.”
    • [Aside] They say that women have cleaner minds than men because they change them more often.
    • I study a lot and of course that involves reading and I cannot read a thing without my glasses. I keep tissue and a tiny bottle of lens cleaner on my desk. I clean my glasses two or three times a day. I cannot see clearly with dirty lens.
    • Our minds are like a computer. I can tell you what’s in my computer, what someone put in it, either the programmer or myself. Our minds have a hard drive and especially images can be burned into that hard drive is seconds. There is an old saying, “Garbage in, garbage out”. You must guard your mind. Discipline yourself to think pure thoughts.
    • This may seem to be an unrealistic goal but by God’s grace, we can move toward pure thinking. Holiness is transparency. A holy person can speak their mind and not be compromised. Jesus could say anything that was on His mind and not compromise who He was in anyway. He was totally transparent. There was no guile in Him. He did no acting.

A second thing: Purity of heart may be speaking of Motive

    • The pure in heart have a single motive…to Glorify God, Honor Christ
    • The pure in heart have no duplicity, no double mind…they are like lasers
    • To see God, one has to focus…remove all the distractions

2.  THE PROMISE–THEY SHALL SEE GOD

We see God in manifestations [a manifestation is an event, action, or object that clearly shows or embodies something else]

    • Moses saw God in a burning bush [a natural thing]…He did not literally see God but He saw His glory which is a manifestation of God. I saw God in Niagrua Falls. I have never sensed His awesome nature more than when I climbed out of the car and looked at those massive falls.
    • The Disiciples saw God in Christ. Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9 Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!
    • We see God in Scripture
    • We see God in Israel…A king asked one of his court servants, “Can you show me any proofs of God?” The servant said, “The nation Israel, my lord.” There are two things that this evil world has been trying to destroy since eden: [1] The word of God [2] the people of God and both are still with us.
    • I see God in American History…do you? Million do not but that is because they have never seen God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

The Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beattitudes which are nine spiritual principles that govern kingdom life. The Beattitudes begin with humility, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Humility is essential to all other spiritual virtues. We cannot be saved unless we humble ourselves. We cannot serve others until we humble ourselves. You can’t wash feet standing up: you have to get down on your knees. This is why we have so little foot washing in our churches, no one is willing to humble themselves to wash or to be washed. If you want to put your congregation to the test, have a foot-washing service with your next communion service. You will be shocked at those who respond and those who don’t. Some people cannot stoop.

Before we get into the second Beattitude, let me remind you that Christ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is radical. It was the opposite of the Hellenistic world view. The Romans, Greeks and the Jews put a lot of stock into pride, sterness and not showing mercy. Until Jesus came along, no one preached on humility or putting the needs of others before your own.

The second Beattitude has the same radical tone as the first–“Blessed are those who mourn.” The Greek word for mourn is used only 10 times in the AV. In the AV it is translated mourn 7 times, wail 2 times, and bewail once. The NASB translated it mourn all ten times. This word mourn speaks of anguish and grief that cannot be concealed or hidden. We have all seen it from time to time and some have experienced it firsthand.

Many years ago, I widow woman from the local Methodist Church called me and told me that her friend was having a routine surgery and that no one knew about it. She said, “I have a feeling that you should be there.” Her friend was a member of a church in Hartselle but had not been able to attend for years because she severely crippled by rhumitoid authritis. I knew the family well and had made several visit to their home. I got to know this sweet lady when she became a part of our weekly shut-in minstry. Long story short, I went and sat with the family while she was in surgery. I was laughing and talking, doing my usual routine of entertaining when a nurse came out and took us to a small room. I had been at this particular hospital many times for many surgeries and I had never been in this little room. No more laughing and joking. The atmsophere was a little more somber. After a long wait, the doctor came in and began talking in circles. He said somewhere in his conversation, “I want you to know that we did all we could,” but he did not come out and say that this sweet lady had been promoted. Finally her son interupted him, “What are you trying to say: is my mother dead?” The doctor then confessed plainly, “Yes she is. Her heart just quit on us shortly after we put her to sleep. We tried everything but we could revive her. Her heart was just worn out.” Then I heard wailing from every family member in the room. This family could not conceal their grief. This is just one of many stories I could tell about grief breaking out into the open. So Jesus is talking about a grief that cannot be hidden.

Jesus is saying, “Blessed are those who are visibly sorrowful”, but sorrowful for what? I will venture to say that the first thing Jesus had on His mind was SIN. Clovis Chapell once said, “The greater our sensitivity to the anguish and suffering that sin brings upon us, the greater our sorrow.” The number one problem in the world then and now is sin. Sin is by nature self-destructive. Ben Franklin said, “Sin is not hurtful because it is forbidden, it is forbidden because it is hurtful.” Some people picture judgment as God destroying sinners but in reality, sin destroys sinners. Jesus came not to condemn us but to save you from the condemnation of sin. Sin carries its own judgment. I had a brother that smoked his entire life. He started when he was a boy. He loved to smoke. Even after the doctors told him that cigerette’s were killing him, he continued to smoke. After he was diagonised with COPD, he continued to smoke. He died of lung and throat cancer. He was a good man and I love him. I miss him. Our family will never be the same without him. Sin has awful consequences and eventually all sin leads to death. When you or I sin, something dies. It may be an opportunity, a relationship, a hundred-thousand brain cells but something dies everytime we sin. Sin bothered the spirit of Jesus. The scripture records Jesus getting angry three times and all three times it was because of sin and what it does to people.

No child of God should be perfectly content in this world simply because there is too much sin, suffering, injustice, violence and death in this world. Sin should grieve our spirit the way it did Jesus. We should be mourning the state of our world. Chuck Swindoll tells this story in LIVING ON THE RAGGED EDGE. A college professor became extremely annoyed at the indifference of his class so he stopped in the middle of a lecture and wrote across the black board in big letters A-P-A-T-H-Y. Two jocks were sitting on the front row and one of them said to the other, “Hey dude, what is A-P-A-T-H-Y?” The other said, “Who cares?” That pretty much describes our culture, “Who cares”…

  • 42 Million babies aborted each year but who cares?
  • 115,000 babies murdered each day but who cares?
  • 75,000 Americans lose their lives due to Alcohol but who cares?
  • 600,000 Drug related deaths but who cares?
  • More people die now from drug abuse than in automobile accidents but who cares?
  • Our National debt is almost 16 trillion dollars but who cares?
  • 288 billion have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ but who cares?
  • There are 7,000 people groups that we don’t as of now have a way of communicating with but who cares?
  • 21,000 children die everyday from starvation but who cares?
  • Almost 80% of the world lives on $10 or less a day but who cares?
  • Almost 50% live on less than $2.50 per day but who cares?

What do we care about? What do you care about? I want to challenge you to make a list of things that you care about. I am sure that family will be on the list, possibly sports and entertainment but just make a list of the top ten most important things in your life, the things that you care about most. Stephen Covey is a brilliant man who authored SEVEN HABITS FOR HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE. He also has a seminar called WHAT MATTERS MOST. Stephen Covey in a Morman, not a baptist. He does not teach in churches; he teaches in the corporate world. He understands the truth that you must identify your core values in order to set your goals and direct your life. The first thing he will do at your plant, business or corporation is work with you in identifying your core values, what matters most to you.

When I preached this sermon to our congregation of 300, not one soul that I could see got out a pen and pad and made a list. How hard is it to think about what things or persons are most important in your life. You can make a list. Take a pen and pad and make one. Remember the words of Robert Pierce, “Let your heart be broken by the things that broke the heart of Christ.”

Now, what is at the top of your list? What are you most concerned about? Is it money issues, family issues, faith issues or perhaps concern for friends. Maybe integrity is on your list. I don’t know what is on your list but I know there is a list and I know that something is at the top.

My point is simple: you are concerned about some things but the big question is–are you concerned about the right things? What about Matthew 6:33, where does the kingdom of God come on your list.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” The word comforted [parakaleō] is the same used in reference to the Holy Spirit. It means the one called along side, the one summons. Jesus said in John 16–“But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you.  But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate  [paraklētos] won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send [summons] him to you.”

Jesus knew that those who are concerned about the right things [Matt. 6:33] will be the reciepents of comfort when they need it most. If we show concern for others then others will show concern for us. Of course the greatest blessing is the Parakletos, the Holy Spirit who stands beside us and gives us aid and comfort.

The truest of all men was the man of sorrows. [Herman Melville]

Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

The Beattitudes are nine principles that govern kingdom life. If these principled are practiced they will lead to happiness. Jesus did not share them randomly but in perfect sequence. In the beattitudes and the other teachings of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount, there is nothing that requires supernatural power. We think of the life of Jesus as being unique and it was but this has lead us into a false belief: that false belief is that we cannot obey Jesus teaching. He was the Son of God and we cannot live up to His standard. Whereas we cannot be perfect as He was perfect: we can do the things He taught us. He would not have taught them had He not known that we would be able to do them.

G.K. Chesterton once said–“Christianity has no so much been tried and found wanting as it ahs been found difficult and left untried.” Have you really tried to follow the model that Jesus taught in the sermon on the mount and by His own example? Dallas Willard has put together a good list of the spiritual disciplines that Jesus taught and practiced. Most of them are found in this one 13 minute sermon.

  • Solitude
  • Silence
  • Fasting
  • Frugality
  • Secrecy
  • Study
  • Sacrifice
  • Worship
  • Celebration
  • Ministry
  • Prayer
  • Fellowship
  • Confession
  • Submission

NOTE WHAT IS ON THE LIST…

[1] NOTHING ON THE LIST THAT YOU CANNOT DO IF YOU COMMIT TO DOING IT

[2] NOTHING ON THE LIST REQUIRES PERFECTIO OR SUPERNATURAL POWER

[3] NOTHING ON THE LIST THAT JESUS DID NOT DO HIMSELF

[Use John 13 and footwashing as illustration]

He begins with humility because it is foundational to all the other principles or attitudes. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” The word poor here means absolute poverty. It describes a person who has nothing. We think of the poor as those having less but the poor that Jesus is talking about have nothing. Like a beggar, they are destitute, powerless and helpless. [Max Lucado quote]

The poor in spirit realize their spiritual bankruptsy. They sense their destitution and know that they have nothing to offer God. They have no illusion that salvation can be bought or earned. The poor is spirit are not– Self-reliant, self-confident, self-centered, or self-sufficient. The poor in spirit are conscious of their sin and they know that Salvation has to be by grace.

The poor in spirit realize that even our assets are liabilities before God. The Prodigal Son did not get blessed until he got broke. We he came to his senses, he realized that his father had everything and that he had nothing. He returned home broke. He had not one thing to offer his father. The only think he could give him was surrender of himself.

Jesus began with HUMILITY because humility is foundational to everything we do in the kingdom of God. It is basic to every Christian virtue. Moses taught ten principles [Ten Commandments], Jesus taught nine. Moses dealt mainly with external behavior but Jesus focused on the attitude of the heart. Each beattitude teaches a virtue that results in a reward. Gregory of Nyssa put the Beattitudes in the negative to give himself and other the full impact of what Jesus was saying:

Oh the misery of the proud, those who do not realize their need for Christ: they will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Oh the misery of those who are apathetic and indifferent, who do not care about the suffering of others: they will hurt someday and no one will care for them.

Oh the misery of those who have no hunger and thirst for righteousness: they will never be satisfied.

Oh the misery of those who show no mercy: someday, no mercy will be shown to them.

Oh the misery of the impure in heart; they will never see God.

Oh the misery of those who have never been persecuted for righteousness sake; they are going to miss the kingdom of God.

Oh the misery of those who have never been rediculed, mocked or slandered; they will never be truly happy.

Humility is the realization that all gifts and blessings come via the grace of God. Life begins with a gift: our mother gave us birth. The poor in spirit feel their emptiness. God can’t fill our cup if its full of pride. D.L. Moody said, “The only ones who walk away from Christ empty are the ones who are full of themselves.” Humility the key to every spiritual blessing. We cannot be saved unless we humble ourselves and become like little children. It takes humility to be a disciple, to learn from a teacher. It takes humility to serve others. Jesus humbled Himself to wash the disciples feet. At that point in their sanctification, they lacked the humility to do such a thing.

I love baseball. My favorite recreational venue is a major league baseball game. I am not a Braves fan but I like to go see them play. In baseball to score you have to touch home plate but there are some things you have to do before you touch home plate. First you have to bat and then you have to reach base safely. You cannot score without touching 1st base. Even if you hit a homerun, you have to touch 1st base. You can’t hit one off the wall and run straight to 2th, you have to go by first and tough it as you go. In the kingdom of God, HUMILITY is 1st base.

Think about the kind of world we would live in if every person was poor in spirit, if everyone was humble. James the brother of Jesus said, What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?  You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers!  Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy?But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.”

When we become aware of our spiritual poverty, we become concerned about our sin and the suffering that sin causes to others. We become comforters and that leads us to meekness. We serve others in a spirit of lowliness without regard to our own rights or wishes. This leads to to be hungry: to want more of Christ and this leads to us being merciful and compassionate. Then we take the giant step upward to purity of heart. We not only want to do right, we want to thing right thoughts. We want to be people of integrity. Then we graduate to peacemaking. You cannot be a peacemake without pure motives [pure in heart], without showing mercy, meekness or humility. Notice the upward progression:

  • Humility
  • Concern over sin and others
  • Meekness
  • Spiritual Hunger/Thirst
  • Showing Mercy
  • Pure Motives
  • Peacemaking
  • Praise when persecuted
  • Blessedness

Blessed Are The Merciful

The sermon on the mount changed the world. It changed how people think. I understand that we still live in a sin cursed world and nothing here is perfect but when Jesus came, the world view was much different from now. In our Judaeo-Christian culture, we value humility, meekness and mercy. In the Hellenistic world of the first century, humility, meekness and showing mercy were considered weakness. Jesus teaching on mount was radical and revolutionary. His teaching was also organized. We sometimes assume that it was random thought but that is not the case. The Beattitudes are sequential. You begin with poverty of spirit or humility. It is first base in the Kingdom of God. Humility is foundational to everything we do in the Kingdom.

What I am saying is: a person doesn’t jump in on Beattitude five, “Blessed are the merciful.” Self-centered people do not have the ability to show mercy. Jesus started with humility because it is basic: He moved to mercy because it is essential. In this brief message: I want to say FOUR THINGS ABOUT MERCY.

FIRST: MERCY IS SOMETHING THAT EVERYONE NEEDS. All have sinned and come short of the perfection we see in Christ. No one is perfect. Solomon said, “ Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.” [Eccl.7:20] David said, “For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.” [Psalm 51:5] Isaiah said, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have each turned to his own way.” [Isaiah 53:6] This is the verse I use with children to help them see that they are sinners. The essence of sin is that we “turn to our own way”. This is what Eve did and it is what we do. We are selfish to the core. If God gave me what I deserved, it would be death and hell. Mercy is God not giving me what I deserve [Hell]. Grace is Him giving me what I don’t deserve [Heaven]. I don’t want justice. I don’t pray for justice. I need mercy and so do you and so does everyone else. In that same Psalm 51, David prayed, “Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.” David understood that he was at God’s mercy and so are we. I like the simple prayer of the Tax Collector in Luke 18–“But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” The Reform crowd says there is no “Sinner’s Prayer” in scripture. The tax collectors prayer sounds like a sinner’s prayer to me. Everyone need mercy past, present and future. We have always been at God’s mercy and we will always be at His mercy. This is not a bad thing because He is good, infinitely good.

SECOND: MERCY IS SOMETHING THAT GOD HAS IN ABUNDANCE. I love the passage in Micah…Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people. You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing mercy [unfailing love]. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago. [Micah 7:18-20] God delights in showing mercy. When I think of this, I picture the Prodigal’s father. Here was a man who delighted in showing mercy. When Jesus told this story, He had His Father in mind. His Father is our heavenly Father and He gets a thrill out of showing mercy. It is His nature. He is a merciful God.

I am also talking about God’s attributes being infinite. God is never diminished when He gives something away. The more God gives, the more He has to give: this is why we cannot out give God. In other words, God is not running short on mercy. You may be thinking: He ran out of mercy with the Israelites. He was grieved with certain generations but he is not running out of mercy. If I go to the bank to borrow money and the banker refuses to lend to me: it does not mean that the bank is out of money. It simply means that the banker does not trust me. God is not out of mercy: if that were true, hell would consume us.

THIRD: MERCY IS SOMETHING THAT GOD DEMANDS. God not only shows mercy to us but he demands that we show mercy to others. Jesus told a story that illustrates this point. “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him.  In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.  He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’  Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars.[l] He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.  “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me.  Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.” God expects, yea demands that we forgive and that we show mercy. How do I reconcile this with grace? I not sure that I can but it doesn’t matter whether I can or cannot. I believe that a Christian, a true believer will eventually yield to the convicting power of the Spirit. We will not be able to harbor unforgiveness for a long period of time. We may struggle with it from time to time but we are going to show mercy when all is said and done. If you are unmerciful: I doubt that you understand anything about grace. The first by-product of grace is thanksgiving and right close behind is showing mercy.

LAST: MERCY IS SOMETHING THAT IS BENEFICIAL. It will bless you to show mercy. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful”. Some people translate this word blessed as happy. Happy are the merciful. David Augsburger is a Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and a certified counselor. In his counseling with Missionaries, he came to the conclusion that “Happy people don’t think about their won happiness…Happy people are people are are focused on Christ and serving others.” This is why you do not see many unhappy missionaries. In other words, if you aim for happiness, you will not get it. Happiness cannot be your goal. Happiness is not the way to Christ–Christ is the way to happiness. God will not give you happiness a part from His Son. Merciful people will be happy whereas the unmerciful are very unhappy. Put the sermon on the mount into practice and you will become happy as a by-product but if you aim for happiness simply to pacify your lust, you will end up unhappy.

Jesus the master story teller has a story that illustrates this point. It is found in Luke 10 and we generally call it the story of the GOOD SAMARITAN.  “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by.  A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.  “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.  The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’  “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.  The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.

Did you notice? “We feel compassion” but we “Show mercy”. Who do you need to show mercy to today?

“Let Us Pray” [Jonah 2]

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said, “called out of my distress to the Lord, and He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice. “For You had cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the current engulfed me. All Your breakers and billows passed over me. “So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ “ Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me, weeds were wrapped around my head. “I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, but You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. “While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to You, Into Your holy temple. “Those who regard vain idols Forsake their faithfulness, but I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the Lord.” 10 Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.

Dr. Jack Taylor was fond of saying, “We think we have to pray and then get on with the business but prayer is the business.” Jonah made the almost tragic mistake of getting on with the business before he prayed.

I. I WANT YOU TO NOTE FIRST OF ALL–WHEN HE PRAYED. Jonah 2:1, “Then Jonah prayed.” Note the then, it is in reference to everything that has happened previously. Jonah did not pray when God called him to Nineveh. He did not pray about the purchase of his cruise ticket nor the direction he was taking. He didn’t even pray when the Captain begged him to pray. Here is a backslidden preacher who does not even pray when someone has made a special request. Jonah finally prays but it is in Distress. There is an old adage–“There are no atheist in foxholes”. During the coward attack of the radical muslims on 9/11, I can almost guarantee you that people were praying in distress. Sometimes distress can not be avoided but in Jonah’s case, he created the distress. Had he been praying on a regular basis, had he been in fellowship with the LORD, he would not have been inside a fish and he would not have had to pray in distress. Everyone prays in distress. He not only prayed in distress, he prayed in Darkness. There is no light in the belly of a fish. No one takes a giant step into prayer. E. M. Bounds, George Mueller and David Brainard did just wake up one morning and discover that God had given them the gift of intercession. These men started small. They prayed daily for years and over time they became giants in prayer. We don’t wait until we understand the dynamics of prayer to pray, we begin in the darkness, we begin where we are. I am not sure that Jonah understood where he was but God heard his prayer. Thirdly, he prayed in Desperation. Verse 7 in the Good News Bible reads– “When I felt life slipping away, then O LORD, I prayed to You.” Jonah’s prayed when things got desperate. I hope that you and I don’t wait until things get desperate to pray. The only thing that saved Jonah was the mercy of God, otherwise God would have ignored his prayer.

II. NOTE NOT ONLY WHEN HE PRAYED BUT HOW HE PRAYED. Jonah had his weaknesses but familiarity with the word of God was not one of them. Jonah prays Scripturely. In this short prayer, Jonah quotes eight O.T. scriptures. He begins with a direct quote from Psalm 121, “And I called out in my distress To the LORD and He answered me.” It is never a bad idea to pray scripture because you know that you are praying within the bounds of God’s will. I John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Jonah prayed Fervently. I am telling you folks, I know that my prayers lack passion. It is sad that we have to get into a desperate straight to pray with passion. Elijah was a human being just like you and I but he prayed with passion. He prayed Honestly. If you cannot be intimate with your Heavenly Father, who can you be intimate with? He knows everything there is to know about you so why try to pretend. In prayer you should be yourself. You may as well tell him how you feel because He already knows. If He already knows, why tell Him? Because you need to remind yourself that He knows and until you agree with Him in confession, you are not going to have intimate fellowship and until you have intimate fellowship, you are not going to have passion in your prayer life.

III. THE THIRD AND FINAL POINT IS THE OUTCOME: WHAT WAS THE RESULT OF JONAH’S PRAYER? It is amazing: God heard and answered Jonah’s prayer. Jonah is the O.T. poster child for grace. There is no way that he deserved salvation. God would have been more than just to have allowed the bigoted rebel to sink to the bottom of the sea or be eaten by sharks. But God heard and God saved. Jonah made the fish sick at his stomach and the fish puked him up on or near the beach. So we have marvelous results here: Jonah gets his prayer ANSWERED. He gets RAISED UP from the pit, from the deep. Jonah was sinking low but God raised him up. Folks, we need to rejoice that Jesus is in the raising business. I may sink into the depths of physical death but I have nothing to fear because Jesus is going to raise me up hallelujah. God gave Jonah a SECOND CHANCE, a new beginning. No wonder Jonah exclaims– “Salvation is of Yahweh”…the Eternal One who has no beginning or no end. Our God is an awesome God and He does awesome things. He has no rivals. Jonah had contempt for pagans who worshipped idols, he knew that Yahweh was the creator of heaven and earth, that He is a living God and the God of the living. Buddha is not going to save anyone, Islam is not going to save anyone, no religion on earth will save anyone because Salvation is of the LORD and Jesus is LORD… “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Look to Jesus and live.