Amazing Grace

1 Hear my prayer, O LORD ; listen to my plea! Answer me because you are faithful and righteous. 
2 Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you. 
3 My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave. 
4 I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. 
5 I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. 
6 I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Interlude 
7 Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. 
8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. 
9 Rescue me from my enemies, LORD ; I run to you to hide me. 
10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. 
11 For the glory of your name, O LORD, preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress. 
12 In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.

Introduction

This is a Psalm of David, written while he was hiding from Saul in either the cave at Adullam or the one at En Gedi. David is being forced to live like a fugitive, like a criminal who has broken the law. He is in a dark place. He feels lonely, depressed and at times paralyzed with fear. Our of the darkness of this experience, he writes this beautiful Psalm that has blessed millions. I am absolutely amazed at the incredible things God did through this flawed man. What a Psalm!

Transition

We have divided the Psalm into four sections:

I. DAVID’S CONFESSION

[v.1-2] Hear my prayer, O LORD ; listen to my plea! Answer me because you are faithful and righteous. Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you
  • This is the seventh and last of the penitential psalms [6,32,38,51,102,130]
  • David’s confession here is brief [v.2] Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you. It is an acknowledgement that David, like all men, has fallen short of the glory of God. David was a sinner and he knew it.
  • The GOOD NEWS is that God loves sinners and He uses them. Elisebeth Elliot says, “Who else does he have, since all are sinners.”
  • Secondly, David confesses the basis of his faith, of his relationship with God. David prayed, “Answer me because you are faithful and righteous.” The priviledge of prayer come via the righteousness of Christ. Paul said in Epheisans 2… But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ…For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 
     
    • Prayer is based on the righteousness of Christ
    • Salavation is based on the righteousness of Christ

II. DAVID’S CIRCUMSTANCES

David’s circumstances were not ideal to say the least. He is was living in a dark musty damp cave.

 [v.3] My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave.  I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. 
I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. 
  • David was in a fix due to Saul’s anger and hatred: David was innocent. He had not done anything deserving of death.
  • David had been knocked down to the ground: Saul had taken his rank and his riches. David had nothing. 
  • Saul forced David to live this way: this is not a choice for David. If David does not hide from Saul, he will be killed.
  • God uses difficult situation and people to hone and polish us. God uses people. He has always used people: [1] Imperfect people [2] Hateful people [Saul] [3] Crazy people [Saul] and [4] obedient people.
  • One way are the other, God is going to use you for His glory but it is best for you to be obedient. God will get glory either way but you will benefit more by being obedient. Your happiness is directly linked to your obedience.

III. DAVID’S CRY

6 I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. 
7 Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. 
  • Desperate circumstances call for desperate prayer. David is crying out to God like a dry thirsty land cries out for rain.
  • David feels like he is in a life threatening situation. If God does not come through for David, he is history.
  • David is depressed and he feels that his depression is getting worse: he cries out for help and hope.
  • All of God’s servants get depressed from time to time. Job, Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah and even John the Baptist all got depressed. The only people who do not get depressed are those who never do anything. We have an entire population of professing believers who have never fired a shot. Like Saul, they are hiding among the baggage. They are passive, do-nothing Christians who live in the saftey of their comfort zone. There is not much danger of getting wounded when you stay in retreat mode.

 IV. DAVID’S CONCLUSION

8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. 
9 Rescue me from my enemies, LORD ; I run to you to hide me. 
10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. 
11 For the glory of your name, O LORD, preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress. 
12 In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.
  • The thing that kept David going was God’s grace, [v.8] His unconditional love. God’s love is based on His character, who He is not what we are or what we have done. God’s love is 100% Grace.
  • These dark and desperate moments force us to put our trust in God. David was in a jam, a tight place, a pickle, between a rock and a hard place and he could see no way out. Thus he prays, “Show me where to walk.” [these situations are a time for us to learn. They teach us that God is our refuge and our hope]
  • David believed that God would vindicate him because he was God’s servant. David was right. I don’t worry about my enemies, God will take care of them in due time.
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Feeling and Foes

Scripture: Psalm 142, NLT

1 I cry out to the LORD ; I plead for the LORD ’s mercy. 
2 I pour out my complaints before Him and tell Him all my troubles. 
3 When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn. Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me. 
4 I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me. 
5 Then I pray to you, O LORD . I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life. 
6 Hear my cry, for I am very low. Rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. 
7 Bring me out of prison so I can thank you. The godly will crowd around me, for you are good to me.”

INTRODUCTION

This is a Psalm of David written while he was fleeing from Saul. He was hiding in a cave, either at Adullam or En Gedi. He was feeling down, alone, trapped, overwhelmed, afraid, unloved and unappreciated. Do you ever get to feeling down, alone, afraid, overwhelmed, trapped, unloved and unappreciated? I think most of us have spent at least one night in the cave a Adullam. Our emotions are strong and they play a big part in our life. We all have feelings and they are important to us but our feelings are not alway reliable. Feeling are fickle, they play to the circumstances. If the circumstances are good, they are good but if the circumstances go sour, they go sour also.

TRANSITION

Tonight we are going to talk about feelings and foes. Both are real and both can become a problem. The key to victory, to overcoming our foes and our feelings is TRUTH. Truth liberates us, it sets us free from the power of both foe and feelings. We sing the song “Always” a lot and it begins like this....”Our Foes are many, they rise against us, but I will hold my ground?”

So, I want to share with you some truths that will help you hold your ground but before I do, I want to share one story…

When Steve Tanner was at Shepherd’s in Atlanta, I visited him one evening just before sundown. When I came out of the clinic to get into my little Honda Civic, it was dark and foggy. Visibility was less than a hundred yards. One of the attendants had shared with me a way to get to I-75 without driving four miles down the ever busy Peach Tree Street. I followed my instructions to a T but there was some turning and twisting and my gyroscope got all out of wack. Those who know me know that I have a good sense of direction most of the time but when I got to the I-75 ramp the signs were wrong. South was North and North was South. I said to myself, “Either someone got these signs wrong or else they have moved down town Atlanta.” I had a decison to make,“Do I go with my feelings or do I go with the signs.” I remembered what Herman Griffin taught us in aerospace about flying a plane, “Always go by your instrument, never trust your feelings.” So I followed the signs and turned right but my feelings continued to screem, “You are wrong, you are going North.” The fog was so thick that I could not see the down town skiscrappers and my feeling continued to protest even after I turned West on to I-20. It was not until I passed the Six Flags exits that my gyroscope flipped back around and suddenly everything was where it was supposed to be.

The moral of the story: your feeling will betray you, don’t follow them. The word of God is our instrument: it sets our course and direction. We follow the word and our emotions will eventually catch up.

I. YOU ARE NEVER ALONE

Matthew 28:20…“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

John 14:16…And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.

Hebrews 13:5-6… Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

We may be alone, even separated from those we love; we may be alone in a lonely place but we are not really alone, it just seems that way. The LORD is always with a believer. This is exactly what Jesus said, “I will be with you always.”

II. YOU ARE NEVER UNLOVED

John 3:16….For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

I John 2:2….He [Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” Jesus died for everyone on the planet and that certainly includes you.

The very heart and soul of the gospel is that God so loved the world, or He loved the world so much that He gave His son. I can, with full assurance and a good conscience, look any person in the eye and say, “God loves you, Jesus died for you.” You may not matter to anyone else, but YOU MATTER to Him.

Close to 30 years ago, we had a child in WEE Care by the name of Beth. Beth was a pistol. She acted out daily. The teachers were getting so frustrated with Beth that they asks me to speak with her. When I talked to Beth, she was unresponsive at first but as I continued to probe, I found the root of the problem: Beth was eaten up with insecurity. She was living in constant fear. Her father had abandoned her mom and her brother when Beth was six and now she was eight her little brother was four or five. Beths mom was lonely and she had been inviting men over to their trailor. She was not a prositute, she did not invite men randomly, but she had gone through two or three boyfriends in the space of a year. Beth picked up on the fact that these men did not care for her or her brother but saw them as extra baggage. She said, “I am afraid that I will wake up one day and my mother will be gone just like my daddy.” First of all, no child should have to live with this fear but her mom did not leave the impression that she was that stable and I was afraid for Beth and her brother myself but I did not let on. Beth was acting out in front of her mother just as she was in Child Care and that wasn’t helping. What was I going to tell this eight year old? “Yeah, your mom worries me too, I am afraid she may run off with one of these men and abandon you and your brother.” Although that is what I felt, it is not what I said. I said, “Beth look at me straight in the eye. I want to tell you something. There is someone who I know loves you very much and His name is Jesus.”

Beth was despisable. She acted so bad that no one wanted to be around her and I knew the workers were having trouble loving Beth and I had serious doubts about her mom but I knew at least one person loved Beth and that was Jesus.

I want you to understand that you and I are Beth, we are eaten up with insecurities. Yes, we put on a proud front but they are there lurking in the shadows of our soul but I can tell you for a fact, Jesus loves you in spite of your fears and flaws. His love is unconditional. It cannot be earned. It is a gift of grace.

III. FEELING ARE FICKLE, THEY CANNOT BE TRUSTED

I did not say that feelings are unreal, they are very real and they are important. We all want to feel good. I don’t know of anyone who wants to get over feeling good, do you? But there is a problem: feelings are not reliable and we cannot allow them to become our spiritual barometer.

Jeremiah 17:9…The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? 

AV…The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?

NIV…The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

NASB…“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

If you allow your heart to call the shots, you are in a heap of trouble. First of all your emotional life will become a roller coaster ride, up and down, up and down. When the circumstances are bad, you will feel bad. Our emotions are not the Engine, they are the caboose. The Engine is the FACT OF GOD’S WORD.

No only will following the heart get you into trouble emotionally, it will get you into trouble morally. Eve followed her heart, so did Sarah and look where it got them. The heart is going to take the easy route, the supposed short cut. God wants you to be happy. Jesus died so you could be happy but the way to happiness is not to follow the heart. The way to happiness is to follow Jesus. You can’t be happy a part from Him or a part from holiness and He is the only one who can make you holy.

The Plant, The Worm and The Wind

SCRIPTURE: Jonah 4:1-10, NLT

1 This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry
2 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 {unrelenting, unconditional}. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. 
3 Just kill me now, LORD ! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.” 
4 The LORD replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” 
5 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. 
6 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. 
9 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?”

INTRODUCTION

As we come to the close of our study in Jonah, there is so much I want to say but out of respect for you and the blessed Holy Spirit, I will discipline myself to share what I feel is most important.
  • Jonah is indeed a flawed character which reminds us that God can use whomever He pleases, however He pleases and whenever He pleases. The book reminds us that the MESSAGE is greater than the messenger.
  • The book of Jonah is about God’s redemptive mission to save the world.
  • The book of Jonah affirms God’s sovereign control over His creation. God is in absolute control of every element and every creature: He hurled the storm, He directed the fish, He caused the plant to spring up, He sent the worm to kill the plant, He sent the wind to bring discomfort to the rebellious prophet. God is in control: there is no need to panic. His KINGDOM will come. His will is going to be done.
  • Warren Wiersbe points out some interesting contrast between Jonah and Jesus
    • Jonah was willing to die for his sin–Jesus was willing to die for yours and mine
    • Jonah ministry was to one city–Jesus ministry is to the entire world
    • Jonah’s obeyed reluctantly because he feared God–Jesus obeyed willingly because He loved the Father.
    • Jonah did not love people–Jesus loved the world and died for sinners
    • Jonah waited outside the city and prayed for his enemies damnation–Jesus died on a cross outside the city and prayed for God to forgive His enemies.
  • In the book of Jonah, God has the first and last word.

TRANSITION: TONIGHT WE WANT TO LOOK AT THREE THINGS….

I. FIRST: JONAH’S ATTITUDE

This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry
2 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 {unrelenting, unconditional}. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. 
3 Just kill me now, LORD ! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.” 
4 The LORD replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” 


Jonah is angry: anger is the emotion we fell when our expectation for justice is not met. Jonah believed that God was in error. He should not have forgiven the Ninevites because they deserved judgment.


James 1:19-20– Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angryHuman anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.


There is a good anger and a bad anger but most of the time our anger is not good. There is a thing called righteous indignation [Jesus in John 2]. Paul told the Ephesians, “Be angry and sin not.” Matthew Henry said, “The only way to be angry and not sin is to be angry at sin.”


Jesus got angry when He saw others being treated unjustly but Jonah anger is personal: he feels that he is the victim of the injustice. It is the anger that arises when we don’t get our way. Jonah is mad because God doesn’t agree with him and did not cooperate with him to carry out his will.


Anger is the frustration of not getting the desired results that we wanted.


Anger is a two sided coin: On one side their is rage but flip it over and you find self-pity. Note what Jonah said, “I am so angry I could die.” Both rage and self-pity are disparaging, they diminish and depreciate us. Rage is a gross waste of energy and nothing makes us appear smaller in the eyes of others than self-pity…poor pitiful me.


God asked Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry?”

II. JONAH’S POSTURE

5 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. 
6 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. 

Some temptations abate as we grow older but some increase in intensity and one of those temptations that gets stronger with time is our “comfort.” We want to be comfortable. I am not an exception to the rule.


There are two things wrong with Jonah’s posture. [1] Like so many professed believers today, Jonah’s posture is passive…he is sitting and waiting.


Don’t get me wrong folks but I have very little patience with these bible study groups who want to meet and indulge their appetite with more knowledge when we are not putting into practice what we already know. If you have a bible study group that is involved in ministry, missions and evangelism, that is a horse of a different color: I applaud such. What we Baptist like to do is meat, eat, blow and go…but we go home to our recliners. We don’t go to the hurting or to the lost. The Reforms are just as guilty of taking this passive position. They want to leave everything to God. Listen folks, God expects us to do what we can. He gave us brains and spiritual gifts so that we could serve others.


[2] Jonah is not only sitting and waiting: he is engrossed in his own comfort. He had made his comfort a top priority.


A part of my doing this series out of Jonah was God prodding me to move out of mycomfort zone.


I am not comfortable with interrupting the lives of others. I have some neighbors who want to be left alone and I want to leave them alone but God is prodding me out of my comfort zone. I had a lot of anxiety over the Block Party: would the weather be permitting, would anyone show up? I finally just had to pick a time and date and say, “LORD, I can’t control weather or people so that part is up to you.”


What is God prodding you to do this week? Teach, go on a mission trip, share Christ with a co-worker or neighbor or to give sacrificially, more than you can afford.

III. JONAH’S RELATIONSHIP TO THE LORD

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. 
9 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?”

What is the old saying, “God called me to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.” Well, God sent a worm to afflict Jonah, to destroy his comfort. There is a purpose for everything, even worms.


If God can use a worm, a plant, a fish and a rear end like Jonah, surely He can use me or you, amen!


Jonah got mad at God again: [1] First He was angry that God did not destroy Nineveh and [2] now because He allowed the worm to destroy Jonah’s shade, or comfort. This is a sermon within itself but I am going to move on for the sake of time.


Jonah fell in love with the plant. It was a 24 hour affair and he was upset when the plant died. He was not upset by the people of Nineveh dying. He cared more about the plant than he did people. It is OK to love plants and even to talk to them but they are not more important than people. How do we get our priorities so out of whack?


How is it that we get so bogged down in the mire of this temporal world that we become enslaved to it cares and passions. Think of the world as a pit of quick sand and we are in it up to our shoulders. We spend all our energy trying to survive. We have nothing left for God. I one time, we owned a huge house with a huge yard [5 arces]. I had one little riding mower. It took forever just to cut the yard. [the bigger the swing set the more bolt and nuts there are to keep tight]. Now we don’t own a house but we are freer to go and to give. [story of Wang from Ruth Graham Lotz]

CONCLUSION

Did you know that repentance is mutual: We repent and then God repents. We turn from sin and then God [because He is merciful] turns from His wrath. The book of Jonah is about mutual repentance. The Ninevites turned from their sin and violence and God turned from His wrath. 


WHAT DO YOU AND I NEED TO REPENT OF THIS WEEK, TONIGHT?

  • Is our prejudice greater than our love for people, especially those who are not like us and who threaten our way of life?
  • Are we all tied up with earthy cares, so much so that we are not free to serve God.
  • Do we need to repent of our anger and frustration and asked God to fill us with love rather than anger and resentment. {Remember, Jonah’s disobedience robbed him of the joy of leading such a great crusade}
  • How close are we to Jonah’a attitude and how close are we to Christ. Who do we resemble most?

When we decide that we want to be more like Jesus and less like Jonah, we will have REVIVAL is some form. WHY NOT TONIGHT?                                                                                                              

 

“Who Knows?”

Scripture: Jonah 3:1-10, NIV

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 
2“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 
3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it.
4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 
5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 
6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 
7This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 
8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 
9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” 
10 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.

INTRODUCTION

The book of Jonah is about God’s redemptive purpose in this world and that is for all men to come to know Christ. We know because of Jesus teaching, that all will not repent but it is God’s will that all have the opportunity to repent. God wants the gospel shared with the world.

In Matthew 24:14, Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

God said to Israel through Isaiah the prophet…“I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be light to guide the nations.”

PROBLEM! The Jews misinterpreted their call: they did not want to share the gospel. They believed that God’s grace was for them alone. When God called Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah refused, he did not go because he didn’t want to.

Why do we not witness, why do we not share the gospel? [We don’t want to, we don’t have a desire to]

Jonah ran from God which you can do: You can run but you cannot hide–God sought him out and brought him to repentance via the fish. He gives Jonah a second chance.

QUESTION: Why didn’t God get someone else?

  • Jonah had the courage to do the job
  • God wanted to use the prophets experience as a part of his message
  • God loved Jonah

Warren Wiersbe, who is very good at researching the history of these events suggest… 

  1. The ‘FISH STORY’ could have very well preceded Jonah…the story got to them before Jonah did. In other words, there was an eye witness who saw the fish spit Jonah on the beach. They saw Jonah unwrapping the sea weed from his body.
  2. Jonah had lost his complexion. After being in the belly of the fish, submerged in gastric juices for three days has bleached Jonah to an albino white. He looked like a ghost.

TRANSITION: Tonight, my first point is…

I. THE MESSENGER [V. 1-3]

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 
2“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 
3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it.
  1. Jonah is a Jewish prophet Jonah son of Amittai {my truth}, the prophet from Gath-hepher. [2 Kings 14:25]
  2. Jonah means “Dove.” The Jews believed the dove was a peaceful but feeble bird. Jonah was indeed a feeble bird and it is possible that he did not like confrontation. But God knew him and he knew Jonah had what most of us lack: raw courage.
  3. Jonah was not a perfect instrument: he was imperfect, flawed, even bigoted.
  4. Jonah was not the news, he was the news boy. He was not the message, he simply delivered the message.
  5. The Ninevites never discussed Jonah, they did talk about the message.

II. THE MESSAGE [V.4]

4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 

  1. “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” Eight words in English, five in Hebrew. Can you believe it, a five word sermon. [the kind my family would love]
  2. The sign…Jesus said Jonah was a sign, a sign of what. A sign is an uncommon phenomenon. The star was a sign to the wise men but the heavens are filled with stars. The star they saw was uncommon. Jonah was not common. Can you imagine how stunned the Ninevites were when they seen an albino Jew walking down main street.
  3. Message was from God. It was not Jonah’s message.
  4. Paul said, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power [dü’-nä-mēs] of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

III. THE MESSAGE BELIEVED [v.5]

[v.5] The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 

  1. Note: the Ninevites did not believe in Jonah, they believed in God.
  2. The Ninevites believed across the board from the greatest to the least.
  3. Jonah could not reach the entire city but his message was shared, it swept through this huge city like wild fire. [huge city, three days just to walk through it]
  4. Their faith lead to repentance, put on sackcloth. Repentance is a change of mind–they changed their minds about God, about sin, about life.

IV. THE MESSAGE OBEYED [v.6-8]

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 
This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 
8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 
  1. The King stepped down from his throne and sat in ashes and dust.
  2. He issued a proclamation: fast and pray.
  3. Let everyone give us their evil way and their violence. No testimony greater than a changed life.

CONCLUSION

Look at verse 9, “Who knows.” Will God send a great REVIVAL in three weeks…WHO KNOWS?  I do know that God is sovereign and He can move upon people by the power of His Spirit. I pray for the Ruach to sweep across this land, convicting us of sin, stirring us to pray and to repent like the Ninevites.

2 Chronicles 7:14…Recipe

If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

My pastor use to refer to this verse as the Recipe for Revival but technically, there is no such thing. We cannot work a revival up and we cannot pray one down. God and only God, can send REVIVAL….

BUT

When God’s Spirit moves, He will move us to pray. Before every revival in history, people got a burden to pray. You see this here in Jonah. Every revival in history has also been accompanied by the preaching of the word…which you have here.

WHAT IS GOD DOING IN AMERICA TODAY?

He is at work. I’m not saying “I personally know what He is doing,” but He is at work. Did you hear the President’s speech last Friday. Be honest, did you ever think that we would hear that kind of speech from the president?

I’m with the King of Nineveh, “Who Knows” what God will do?

Just remember this: He is a CREATOR, not a DUPLICATOR…Our awesome God seldom does the same thing twice.

  • Only one Garden of Eden
  • Only one Flood
  • Only one Red Sea
  • Only one Calvary
  • Only one Pentecost
  • Only one Revival like Nineveh

So, I am not praying for another Pentecost: I am asking God to do something fresh. I’m just longing for Him to move among us and stir us, to give us a burden to pray and to give us the spirit of repentance because I don’t see either.

Do you have a burden to pray? [I will gladly meet with you]

Do you have a spirit of Repentance?

Distress And Revival

SCRIPTURE: Jonah 2:1-10, NLT

1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish. 
He said, “I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble [tsarah], and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, You heard me! 
3 You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves. 
4 Then I said, ‘O LORD, you have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’ 
5 “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.
6 I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O LORD my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! 
7 As my life was slipping away, I remembered the LORD . And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple. 
8 Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies [checed]. 
9 But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the LORD alone.” 
10 Then the LORD ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.

INTRODUCTION

Four Act Play

If the book of Jonah was a play, it would have four acts:

  • On board the ship [in the storm]
  • In the belly of the fish [in deep distress]
  • In the city of Nineveh [shouting judgment]
  • Outside the city [waiting to see God destroy Nineveh]

 

This morning– we are in act 2, inside the fish.

I realize that the last thing any of us wants today is ‘stress’

...that is the emotional strain or tension that results from adverse or very demanding circumstances…

…and we certainly do not want any ‘distress’ which is extreme stress or extreme anxiety, sorrow, pain which can lead to anguish, suffering, agony, torment and heartbreak.  

Jonah is disobedient to his call…

God called Jonah to go to Nineveh and warn them of judgment but Jonah had other ideas. He was not in agreement with God. He wanted the Nivevites judged but he did not want them to get a warning. So Jonah did not obey. He went in the opposite direction. Thus, God send a storm which lead to the conversion of the entire ship’s crew but had little effect on Jonah. It may have caused him some stress but certainly no distress.

Jonah knows Yahweh sent the storm and why: he calmly tells the crew to throw him overboard. I don’t think Jonah had any hopes of swimming to shore; I think he thought at that moment, that he would rather die than repent or even pray and he certainly had not changed his mind about going to Nineveh. Sometimes, we think we want to die and then when the opportunity presents itself, we change our mind.

Jonah’s confinement inside the fish causes his distress…

Jonah hit the water like a rock and began to sink into the depths of the sea but before he could drown, God sent a fish and the fish swallowed Jonah whole. It had to be a large fish. God sent a great storm so He had no problem sending a great fish. Personally, I think it was a whale but that is not important. The important thing is that Jonah is incarcerated inside the stomach of the fish. This is the cause of his distress. The Hebrew word translated trouble in the NLT is translated ‘distress’ in the NASB, NIV, ESV and NRSV is ‘tsarah’ and the t is silent. The word pronounced almost sounds like ‘sorrow’. It means to be in a strait or a tight place. As the old adage, “between a rock and a hard place.” It means to be confined, restricted, caught in a bind.

Jonah cannot save himself. The US Navy with their most sophisticated equipment could not have rescued Jonah. He was hidden from the view of mankind, only God could see him. It is in the helpless position that Jonah feels the distress.

Today, I want to show you from scripture how God used DISTRESS to nudge Jonah in the right direction…I want you to see how God used DISTRESS to turn Jonah’s life around.

I. FIRST OF ALL: THE DISTRESS LEAD JONAH TO PRAY

1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish. 

He said, “I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble [tsarah], and He answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, You heard me! 


Jonah is in deep trouble and he knows it. Only one person can save him now and that is the LORD to whom he prays.

Remember, the Ship’s Captain could not get Jonah to pray. The crew could not get him to pray. He was not speaking to the LORD. His decision to be thrown overboard was a decision not to pray. They all wanted him to pray and repent but he refused. So notice the first word of the text…“Then”….after all that is happened in chapter one, Jonah prays.


How many of you think the distress helped him to pray? When are we most fervent in prayer? When we are sailing under blue skies or when we are in deep, deep trouble?


We all know that Jonah’s relationship with God is not going to be fixed until he prays and prays earnestly. The distress moved him to pray.

Are there some things in your life that can only be fixed by you talking to the LORD.

II. THE DISTRESS REMINDED HIM OF WHO WAS IN CONTROL

You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves. 

Note what Jonah said,YOU [Lord] threw me into the ocean depths.” I thought the sailor threw him into the ocean. They did but they did so as God’s instruments. Jonah knew that God was behind the storm and that he was exactly where his own sin had put him and where God providentially had placed him. Jonah knew, that from His heaven, God was pushing all the buttons to make these things happen. The storm was no accident nor was the fish: God sent them both.

God in control not us…

It was inside the fish that Jonah realized that God was in complete control and that he was at God’s mercy.

Some of you tonight may think you are calling the shots but I can assure you: “You are not.” God is at the control center and the sooner we realize this the better our lives will be. Jonah created this storm by his own pig-headed rebellion. He took great pride in how he handled the storm but when God sent the fish to swallow him alive, it opened his eyes and he realized, I am not in control: The LORD is in control and I am at His mercy. We are all at His mercy tonight.

III. THE DISTRESS GIVES HIM TIME TO THINK ABOUT THE DIRECTION OF HIS LIFE

4 Then I said, ‘O LORD, you have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’ 
5 “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.
6 I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever.

Jonah probably acknowledged that he was a sinner but inside that fish he realized he was a death and hell deserving sinner. He felt the distance he had put between himself and the LORD and he knew he was sinking lower and lower. 


I was in my late 20’s when the LORD began revealing my depravity. That when the process began, it continues to the present. There was a time I thought highly of myself and then God began revealing me to me.


I visited an old friend a few weeks ago and I knew that I needed to witness to him because he seldom attends church. I chickened out but as I was leaving his office he followed me to my truck and he said, “Jack, I know you are concerned about me and I appreciate it. I want you to know that I was saved when I was 14 and I remember being baptized.” I was both shocked and ashamed. I thanked him for his testimony but cautioned him about relying on any righteousness other than that of Jesus. As I shared with him a part of my depravity, he took issue. He said, “Jack, you are a good man. I have watched you for years. You are devoted to helping others.” I said, “That’s what you see but it is not what God sees.”

Without giving you details that would prove my depravity, how about you take my word word, I am depraved. There is nothing good in me.

 

Trust me, I have been searching for the good for years and it isn’t there but I’m OK with that because I am going to heaven on Jesus righteousness not mine.


Do you know what opened my eyes to my depravity: a horrific storm. It was out of my distress that I cried out to the LORD.

IV. DISTRESS CAN BRING US TO REPENTANCE

But you, O LORD my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! 
7 As my life was slipping away, I remembered the LORD. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple. 
8 Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies [checed]. 
9 But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the LORD alone.” 
It was inside the fish that Jonah repented. He turned to the LORD and away from his selfish pride. To prove his sincerity, Jonah vowed to sacrifice, to sing and to keep his commitment as a man of God. Inside the belly of the fish is where Jonah changed his mind and decided to go to Nineveh. 


Right out of Seminary, in my first pastorate, I encountered a man who claimed to be an atheist. I knew after meeting him only once, that all he wanted to do was argue and I did not want to argue with him. He was not open to the truth and I did not want to cast pearls to swine. He began having some physical problems, went to the doctor and they diagnosed him with cancer. His brother in law asks me to go see him but his attitude had not changed. He was going to lick the __________ stuff. They sent him straight to Birmingham and again, his brother in law insisted that I go. I did not want to go. We visited him right after the Birmingham doctors had told him he had 6 months to live. For the first time, he listened but he was not ready to make any changes. We stayed in his room until almost midnight. To be honest with you, I thought he was hopeless. We went down to the lobby to spend the rest of the night and about 3-4 am his wife came and got us. She said Kenneth has something to tell you. We walked in and you could sense the change, Kenneth had repented of his evil ways and had given his heart to Jesus. He took chemo and that extended his life a few months but Kenneth never stopped praising Jesus and witnessing to others.

CONCLUSION

The book of Jonah is about repentance. Both the prophet, the one who announced judgment, the pagan sailors aboard the ship and the wicked folks of Nineveh needed to repent. Jonah was not cruel like the Assyrians but he was full of pride and indifference and he needed to repent.

  1. We all need to repent.

  2. We need to repent to the LORD. {False gods are incapable of showing mercy, saving us}

  3. It is not too late to repent.

  4. You can repent anywhere. Don’t have to be in a church at an altar. Jonah was in the belly of a fish.

 

The Message

SCRIPTURE: Jonah 1:1-2, NLT

1 The LORD gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: 
2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”

INTRODUCTION

One of my Seminary professors use to say, “It is fun to preach when you have a message.” I have a reoccuring nightmare: [usually on Saturday night] I am being introduced to preach and I have no message. God gave Jonah a message and that is very important. It is always good when the message comes from God.


LORD willing, we are going to talk about the MESSAGE this morning and then tonight, we will get into the story of Jonah which God has laid upon my heart. 


 

Before we get into this fantastic story, I want to dispel some myths

I. THE FIRST MYTH: GOD ONLY USES CLEAN VESSELS

The book of Jonah shoots down this fabrication. Jonah had a terrible attitude. He hated and despised the people he was preaching to. I don’t know about Bro. Wayne, but if I called a man to come preach for me and he told me: “I’ll come but my heart is not in it. Matter of fact, I despise the people of Danville and I hope they burn in hell.” I would tell him to forget it. When I was a pastor, I wanted preachers who came to help us in revival to love us.


I do understand where this myth came from: it came out of the holiness movement and I have nothing against holiness but holiness is not the way to Jesus–Jesus is the way to holiness. If we are not careful, we will put more emphais on our purity rather than His. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying: God desires that we be holy but He is not limited by our unholiness.


As you are going to see in our study of Jonah, God is SOVEREIGN which means He can do as He pleases. The truth of the matter is: He uses whomever He please, whenever He pleases to accomplish His purpose. God used Pharaoh. He used Nebuchanezzer. Dr. Jack Taylor said, “He even uses the devil.” When you think about it: God did use Satan to carry out the sacrifice at Calvary. The devil thought he had won a great victory when in truth, he had fulfilled God’s eternal plan.


The emphasis in Jonah is not on Jonah. It is not on the messenger. Jonah is no hero. He gets no glory and rightfully so. This short book is about what God can do through a flawed character like Jonah. God used him in spite of this rebellion, pride and predjuice.

Jonah is probably the only Prophet that is not quoted by someone in the N.T. No one quotes Jonah. How many verses have you memorized from the book of Jonah?


This book is here for a reason. Most of us are intimidated by characters like Paul. We don’t feel worthy to carry his books but we can identify with Jonah because he was so flawed, so messed up. JONAH STRUGGLED… do you struggle? I do; I can relate to Jonah.

  1. Jonah struggled with obedience. I have been struggling for three weeks with these messages. I felt God leading me to this book but I have never preached these messages before. I had rather do something tried and proven: something familiar. I have struggled to obey.
  2. Jonah struggled with compassion for people. Jonah had a good theology and he knew how to pray. His struggle was with loving people, especially gentiles. Are you struggling with loving people? I am. The Assyrians, whom Jonah loathed, were terrorist. They murdered, plundered, raped, tortured–you name it. They were the most hated and feared people on the planet…yet God loved them and wanted them to get warning about impending judgment. I don’t hate Assyrians, I’ve meet only one in my life time but what about Muslims? How do you feel about Muslims? I have to admit, I feel by them the way Jonah did by the Assyrians. I am struggling to love Muslims.
  3. Jonah struggled with pride. If he announced judgment and the Ninevites refused to repent and God destroyed them, that would be fine. He could return to Israel as a hero but the last thing he wanted was for them to repent. He would be viewed now as a traitor. Jonah cared more about his reputation than he did the Assyrians salvation. 

What are you struggling with today? [God uses struggling people]

II. THE SECOND MYTH: MAN CAN THWART THE PURPOSE OF GOD

There is a Greek word for this, ‘bologna’. This is horse feathers: it is not true, not even remotely true. THERE IS NO PANIC IN HEAVEN. God is in firm control of His kingdom and He has the power to make it come, and it is coming, and He will get the glory. No one is going to stop His KINGDOM FROM COMING.


When it comes to our personal obedience, there may be cause of concern but do not worry about the COMING OF HIS KINGDOM or God’s ultimate purpose being done: it is going to happen. I have no doubt about that…I may doubt a lot of things but that is not one of them.


God told Jonah to “Get up and Go to Nineveh,” but Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction. He did not cooperate with God. God did not panic, He simple sent a violent storm to stop the ship that Jonah was aboard and then He sent the fish to swallow the rebellious prophet and carry him back to the shores of Israel. Jonah’s rebellion did not stop God nor will yours or mine.


Psalms 106:3 reads, There is joy for those who deal justly with others and always do what is right. Folks, joy comes with obedience. Disobedient Christians are never happy folks. God wants you to be happy: He wants you to enjoy life and that comes only through our obedience. OBEDIENCE is very important for us and it pleases God–He loves obedience but our disobedience is not going to throw a monkey wrench into his eternal plan of redemption. God worked His will through Jonah…Jonah’s disobedience cost him his joy but it did not stop God.

III. THE THIRD MYTH IS THAT GOD DOES NOT LOVE THE WORLD [ALL PEOPLE]

According to the Reforms, “Some Lives Matter,” according to scripture, “All Lives Matter.” I heard a Hyper-Calvinist say from the pulpit, “I know that John 3:16 is in the bible but there are more verses than John 3:16.” What if we could have only one verse…John 3:16 would be the one I would choose...“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everylasting life.” There is a hell to be shunned which is why Jesus used the word ‘perish’. 


God did not send His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. Jesus said Himself in Luke 19:10, The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost. There is a judgment against anyone who refuses to believe in Christ. All who refuse to acknowlege Christ as Savior and Lord will be condemned, matter of fact, if you have not believed, you stand condemned now and if you were to die in this condition, you would be eternally separated from God which is not good.


Peter said,  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance [2 Peter 3:9, NKJV]


Paul said,For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 


I don’t know about you but I will take their word anytime over that of the Reforms or the hyper-calvinist. Listen folks, God loves YOU and He demonstrated this at Calvary.


BUT IF YOU DO NOT REPENT…You will perish


Story of the Prodigal Father. Some years ago {many} I got a call, I knew from the sound of the womans voice, something terrible had happened. I got to her house ASAP and it was a grusome scene. She was screaming in agony and her husband lay dead on the bed. He had already turned purple from a massive heart attack. He was not a believer, not was his parents. As a matter of fact, his father had lead a wicked life. Never once had he darkned the door of a church. Countless preachers had witnessed to him but he had never shown any signs of remorse, let alone repentance. When his boy [age 43] died suddenly with a heart attack, it shuck him up. I was there and saw it with my own eyes. When he got to his sons house, he would not go in: he fell to his knees and began praying…God don’t let my boy burn in hell. He prayed this same pray over and over until he was without voice. I was a young man then and I had never seen anything like it: I am old now and I never seen anything like it since. I pray I never will.


Folks, you do not want to die without Jesus and you do not want your family and friends to die without HIM either.

The Perfect Storm

Scripture: Jonah 1:1-16

1 The LORD gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai {my truth}: 
2 Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” 
3 But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD . He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish. 
4 But the LORD hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. 
5 Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. 
6 So the captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.”
7 Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit. 
8 “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?” 
9Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” 
10 The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the LORD . “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned.
11 And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, “What should we do to you to stop this storm?” 
12 “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.” 
13 Instead, the sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it. 
14 Then they cried out to the LORD, Jonah’s God. “O LORD,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O LORD, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” 
15 Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! 
16 The sailors were awestruck by the LORD ’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him. 

INTRODUCTION

Jonah was a character to say the least: He was certainly different.
  • Jonah is one of the most popular books in the bible. Practically everyone loves the book of Jonah and there is a reason: Jonah had a bad attitude. He is a unique creature who did not fear God or love people. It is easy for us to feel superior to Jonah.
  • Jonah was such a rear end that we don’t mind comparing ourselves to him. I know my attitude is not right but at least, I’m not as big of a jerk as Jonah.
  • Jonah is the only prophet not quoted in the N.T. Jesus spoke of him but did not quote him.
  • How many verses have you memorized from Jonah?
  • How many people do you know with the name Jonah?
  • Jonah is popular but for the wrong reasons. He is more of a villain than a hero. No one worships Jonah. No one idolizes this prejudiced prophet.
  • Yet God, Yahweh, used this misfit to ignite the greatest revival in human history. Unparalleled even in modern times. Jesus Himself did not see such a massive response. Billy Graham has never had a revival like Nineveh. There is only one way to explain the REVIVAL at Nineveh–God!
  • The Revival is a fact but the glory does not go to Jonah or his five word sermon that is 8 in English: “Forty days from now, Nineveh will be destroyed.”
  • I’m not professing to be better than Jonah. I am timid compared to Jonah, I don’t have his boldness or audascity.  Jonah was a ball of courage: he feared nothing. True: he hated Gentiles, especially Assyrians but he was not afraid: [1] to rebel against God [2] storm [3] Sea [4] To go to Nineveh which would be like me going to Iran and telling them that God was about to destroy them.

Oh to see God work here like He did in Nineveh: I pray that He does!

Tonight we are going to talk about the gospel, the good news and Revival.

I. THE PREAMBLE OF THE GOSPEL IN VERSE 1-2

The LORD gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai {my truth}: 
2 Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” 

I was saved at age 9 and my primary motive was to escape hell. I grew up in a very conservative Christian home and attended a bible preaching church so I had heard about hell all my life and I knew for certain that I did not want to go there. As we will see in this chapter, fear is the basic instinct that drives us to God. God used a violent storm: not only to get Jonah’s attention but to bring the pagan sailors under conviction.


The sailor aboard this vessel that Jonah was on were heatherns. They believed in multiple gods. Many sailors in this part of the world believed in dagon, the Philistine fish god. When this violent storm hit, these sailors feared for their lives. They all began crying out to their gods but the storm was getting worse. Their prayers were ineffective. Had there been no storm, there would have been no fear; had there been no fear, they would not have awakened Jonah who told them about the real God. It was their fear of perishing in the storm that drove them to Jonah who told them about the One True God who hears and answers prayer.


Verse 14… Then they cried out to the LORD [YHWH], Jonah’s God. “O LORD,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O LORD, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” They are no longer praying to a idol, they are praying to the one true God.


THE FIRST TENENT OF THE GOSPEL IS JUDGMENT…ACCOUNTABILITY FOR OUR SINS


Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce My judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” 


Before God is anything else: He is holy and His wrath will be poured out on sin and sinners. Because He is righteous and always does what is right, He will hold us accountable for our sins.


God told Jonah…this is the message, I have seen their wickedness and I will destroy them if they don’t repent. Jonah kicked off this evangelist campaign with a stern message on JUDGMENT.


I know what you are thinking: Bro. Jack, shouldn’t we first announce that God loves them? I know where you are coming from but God told Jonah to announce JUDGMENT. It is true that God loved the wicked Ninevites and they were indeed a wicked and cruel lot. They were inhuman, savages who were not content to steal and kill, they enjoyed torturing people before finally executing them. They were the scum of the earth. You would be hard pressed to find a worse sort which is one reason Jonah despised them.


You have to understand that sending Jonah with the message of Judgment was an act of love of Yahweh’s part. Had God not loved these pagan butchers, He would not have warmed them to repent. You cannot divorce Salvation from Judgment. The cross is proof of this statement. The two great judgments to this point was the FLOOD and the CROSS. Both were stern judgements that resulted in salvation. To save us to heaven–God must save from sin and our selves. The CROSS is an instrument of death: it crucifies the flesh. It is the instrument of our spiritual circumcision.

II. THE PROBLEM WITH THE GOSPEL

But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD . He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish. [v.3]


God told Jonah to get up and go but Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction. Jonah, the prophet of God, rebelled. He disobeyed God’s direct command to go and preach. God told him to go East and Jonah went West. He may have thought, I will get so far away from Nineveh that it will not be possible for me to go until its too late and God judges them for their sin. Jonah did not want the Ninevites to be warned: he just wanted them to be judged.


Here is the problem: God loved the wicked Ninevites and Jonah did not. God wanted them to have a chance to repent: Jonah did not. He wanted them to be annihilated. Instead of longing for their salvation, he longed for their damnation.


The greatest problem with the gospel these days is not the message. The gospel still has power: the problem in not the content or the message, the problem is that we do not want to share it with those who need it most.  When it comes to sharing the gospel, we have cold feet and cold hearts.


Although he did not intend to, Jonah did bear witness to the sailors. He didn’t say that much but what he said was effective… “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” Jonah said, I worship Yahweh, the God who made made the sea and the land.

That is not much of a witness: matter of fact it is pitiful but God used it. While I was in Seminary, I pastored a very small church in East New Orleans. I was doing a follow up visit on a profession of faith and I encountered an angry mom. When I told her that her daughter had been saved, she too offense. She informed me that her daughter had been raised right and did not need saving. I saw that she was upset and I began back peddaling trying to get off her front porch but I couldn’t leave without telling this woman the truth. I told her that every person was a sinner and that we all needed salvation in Christ. Trust me, it was not a slick presentation. My mouth go dry and I struggled to find the words. I felt so bad about my presentation that I pulled over to the side of the road and cried. The next Sunday, the mom was in church sitting by her 16 year old daughter. She didn’t look happy. You can imagine my surprize when she responded on the first verse of the invitation. God had been dealing with her and she wanted to be saved. This sweet lady has been my friend now for 46 years. She is 90 years old and still lives in New Orleans.

III. THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL

The sailors were awestruck by the LORD ’s great power, and they offered Him a sacrifice and vowed to serve Him. [v.16]

I know you are probably thinking: this is jail house religion or boot camp religion or fox hole religion– I have no way of knowing how many of these sailors were sincere but they prayed to Yahweh the ONE true God. I have no idea what they sacrificed but had it not been acceptable, I think the scripture would tell us and they vowed to serve the LORD. I would have been thrilled just to get them praying instead of cursing.

GOD GETS ALL THE GLORY

Let me tell you what is wonderful about the book of Jonah: “God gets all the glory”. God called the prophet, God gave him the message, God sent the storm, God convicted the sailors, God transformed the sailors, God sent the fish, God showed mercy to the rebellious prophet, God got him to his location, God moved the Ninevites to repentance. God did it all. Greatest Revival in history and God did it through a rebellious, hard headed, back slidden preacher.

I am going to say something that you might find shocking: we are not going to work a revival up, I can’t preach one down nor conjure one up. None of our formula’s will work. I believe with all my heart that REVIVAL is a sovereign act of almighty God: He and He alone can ignite spiritual renewal or awakening. I do confess that history bears witness to the fact that REVIVAL is accompanied by prayer but this prayer is a part of the revival itself. The sailors prayed, the wicked Ninevites prayed but who moved them to pray? When God stirs us up to pray? Is God about to do something in our generation?  I don’t see that burden today. Prayer meeting are no longer popular.

When I see people burdened to pray, I know God is up to something.

The sobering question today is: How many of us really want REVIVAL? How many of us want to see the fire fall and burn up everything that is not like Jesus? How many of us want to see God do something that we can’t explain?

Perhaps a better question is: How many of us are willing to make a vow tonight, a vow to serve Yahweh. Tonight, I am going to challenge you to do just that: to make a public vow to serve the LORD. When I was growing up we called this a rededication, something we don’t do anymore and I think this is one reason we do not have REVIVAL

The Sailor’s prayed: the Ninevites prayed but both did more than pray. Both repented and made vows to serve the LORD. {Jerry}

The Prodigal Son and The Flesh

1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 

2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! 


11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 
12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. 
13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 
14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 
15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs.

such sinful people—even eating with them! 

16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. 


INTRODUCTION

I love Luke 15…Actually I love the stories that Luke recorded that are not found in the other gospels. Stories like the Rich Fool, the Good Samaritan, The Rich Man and Lazarus, The Pharisee and the Tax Collector and Zacchaeus. Today, I want to introduce a series from Luke 15. I will be speaking to you three times and LORD willing I will talk to you today about the Prodigal Son, then next The Loving Father and last The Elder Brother. To understand any of the three messages we have to begin with verses 1-2…


As I speak today, our convention is divided. The reform movement has made a huge surge into Southern Baptist circles and I yet to hear a hype-calvinist preach from Luke 15. The Reforms are fond of quoting a statement the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” When you here this quoted more than John 3:16 beware. Jesus stated clearly in Luke 19:10, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.” There is no debate about God’s love for sinners–“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”


The Pharisees and Scribes were the Reform of their day, at least those in the Baptist Church. Our Presbyterian brothers do not press the analogy so far as this group in our convention. They did not believe that God loved sinners and they were upset that Jesus was eating with them. Tax collectors were hated by practically all Jews but these folks the Pharisees are refering to our Jews who have abandoned Judaism. They have stopped the practice of keeping the laws of Moses. In other words, they don’t attend church and make no pretence of being religious. The Pharisees did not see themselves as sinner but they labeled others as sinners. They refused to have any dealing with these sinners. They would not associate with them, do business with them and they certainly would not eat with them.


Jesus tells three stories in succession about things that are lost. First there is a lost sheep which of course had value. Many of the Pharisees were invested in livestock and they understood the worth of a sheep. The second story is about a lost coin and again, they understood the value of money because they were lovers of money themselves. The third story which we call the Prodigal Son actually has several parts and three main characters. 


The first two stories are to get the Pharisee’s attention: they can identify with these stories but the third story is an indictment against them. They are profiled in the third story in the person of the Elder Brother. The Tax Collecters and sinners are profiled in the Prodigal and God is the loving Father. So our plan is to talk about the PRODIGAL today, the LOVING FATHER next Sunday and then the ELDER BROTHER on September 17.


We have three sermons on the Prodigal but the good news this morning is that I’m going to do only one and it’s the shortest of the three.


When Adam and Eve fell in the garden, it left us with a selfish, self-centered nature. The bible refers to this nature as the ‘flesh’and we see it up close and personal in this story.

 Note verse 12 to begin with… The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’

I. FIRST OF ALL: THE FLESH ‘WANTS’ 

{A gluttonous appetite for things}

Note his words: ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’

  • The flesh wants its way. Isaiah said, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have each turned to our own way…”
  • The flesh wants independence…This boy wanted some distance. He wanted to be away from his father, the power and influence of his father. He didn’t want his father telling him what to do.
  • The flesh wants things…My share of your estate…which he was going to liquadate immediately. The flesh has an insatble appetite for stuff, for things.
  • The flesh wants pleasure…it craves pleasure. Those who give into the desires of the flesh live undisciplined lives and go from one pleasure to the next just like Esau.
  • The flesh wants and it wants now…the flesh does not want to wait.
We have a four year old granddaughter who wants practically everything she sees. Every time I walk in the house, she asked for something…Chucky Cheese, Targets, money for her piggy bank, go swimming, Chick-Fil-A, etc. She is never satisfied. The more she gets, the more she wants. She is a child but unfortunately, some people never grow up and they continue to indulge the flesh. As we will learn today: it is not a good idea to give the flesh everything it wants. I would weigh 300 pounds if I gave into the flesh.

II. SECONDLY: THE FLESH WASTE

Verse 13…“A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. The Greek word for Estate in verse 12 is bios, if you have the King James it is translated as living. The young man quickly converted his share of he estate to cash, money which is father had spent a life time earning. He packed all his belonging and moved to a distant country and there he wasted all his money on wild living.

  • First lets look at the word waste. The Greek word diaskorpizō means to scatter abroad, to disperse, to strew, to squander or to waste. It is the picture of a farmer scattering seeds, only in the case of the Prodigal, he was literally throwing money to the wind.
  • To waste to use use or expend carelessly, extravagantly, or to no purpose.
  • Now lets look at the word ‘wild living.‘ The KJV translates this word ‘riotous’. The NKJV uses the word ‘Prodigal’. The ESV translates it ‘rckless.’ The NASB reads ‘loose living.’ Really, what does the word riotous mean? According to Strong, the Greek word could have been translated three ways: riotous, dissolutely, or profligately. The problem is: I don’t know what any of these words mean. Well riotous means without order or disorderly. Dissolutely means lacking restraint; especially, over indulgence.  Profligately means careless, foolish and reckless. I think all of these characteristics apply to the Prodigal: He was disorderly, over indulgent, lacking discipline or restraint, careless, foolish and reckless.

 WASTE

  • Waste is a sin. At the top of my daddy’s list of sins was wasting food.
  • It is also wrong to waste money which this young man did.
  • But he wasted more than money, he wasted a part of his life…He was living without purpose. He spent all the money but to what purpose?

When he got to this distant country, he should have found a job but he didn’t, he began living it up and wasted all his money. When the money was gone, he was not only broke, he was alone. He didn’t even have one friend. Note the last line of our text…But no one gave him anything. 

All this time and he had not built one enduring relationship. How sad!

III. THIRD: THE FLESH DOES NOT SATISFY, IT ALWAYS LEAVES US EMPTY

Verse 14-15…. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs.

  • Ironically, the KJV says, “he began to be in want.” The NIV reads, “he began to be in need.” NLT hits the nail on the head, he was hungry, starving. So hungry, so empty that slop was tempting.
  • The flesh is big at boasting but it cannot fulfill what it promises. It will leave you empty, hurting and dissatisfied every time.

CONCLUSION

Don’t waste your life pursuing riches, things, stuff. Begin today, if you have not began already, to live with purpose and build relationship instead of building a bank account. I was at least 40 years old before I understood this truth. Relationships trumps riches every time. The highest relationship is one with Jesus. Repent of your selfish ways and come to Christ today.

Mary Magdalene

SCRIPTURE TEXT: John 20:1-18, NLT

1 Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 
2 She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” 
3 Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. 
4 They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 
5He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. 
6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, 
7while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. 
8 Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— 
9 for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 
10 Then they went home. 
11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 
12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 
13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 
14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 
15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” 
16 “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”). 
17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 
18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message. 

INTRODUCTION

We don’t know much about Mary’s past…

  • We do know that she was demon possessed when Jesus found her and obviously He healed her but the account in not recorded in the bible. We do know that she was from Magdala, a tiny village on the North bank of the Sea of Galilee, within walking distance of Capernaum which was Jesus head quarters. 
  • We know that Pope Gregory I {591} gave her a bad rap. He characterized Mary Magdalene as an adulteress or prostitute and identified her as the prostitute who anoints Jesus’ feet {Luke 7:36-50}. It is my understanding that the Catholic Church reversed it’s position on Mary in 1969 but the damage had been done. Practically every movie made about the life of Christ portrays Mary Magdalene as a prostitute. There is no evidence that she was a prostitute.
  • Luke identifies her as one of the women who supported Jesus ministry financially and it is not likely that a prostitute who be in a position do do so. Her income would depend on her working and we all know that Jesus would transform anyone who followed Him. Magdala was known for textiles and for dying fabrics. Mary probably gained wealth from the textile business. This is a hunch, we do not know where she got her wealth.
  • We do not know the details of her demon possession: some say it was mental illness; others speculate that she could have dabbled in the occult. Could it have been an addiction that lead to the demonic possession? We do not know. We do know that any form of demon possession would be bad. The devil and his demons are tormentors. Any form of possession was bound to have made Mary miserable. She may have felt overwhelmed by guilt or had deep self-loathing for herself.
  • We do know that she was filled with gratitude, she loved Jesus. She was loyal through thick and thin and she did not shy away from the cross. She was right there giving Him her love and support.
  • I am quite sure that Jesus was the only man who had ever loved Mary without abusing her, using her, or demeaning her.

THREE THINGS I WANT TO SAY ABOUT MARY MAGDALENE

I. UNDERSTAND: SHE LOVED JESUS AND HE LOVED HER BUT HE DID NOT ANSWER HER PRAYER

Mary went to the tomb looking for a body, a dead lifeless body. When she got to the tomb, she was shocked to discover it was empty. What should have thrilled and elated her caused her much grief. She ran from the tomb to find Peter and John, they came immediately to check it out but then they returned home…not Mary, she wasn’t going anywhere until she got some answers.

Mary looked back into the tomb and saw the two angels but before she could asks them about the missing body, they spoke to her…“Dear woman, why are you crying?” [Mary]  “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they have put him.” 

Mary is in distress over the missing body. This has heighten her anxiety and deepened her grief. She turns away from the angels in disappointment and frustration and there stands a man that she supposes is the care taker of the cemetery…and He repeats the Angels question….“Dear woman, why are you crying?” Then Jesus asks a second question... “Who are you looking for?” ……“Sir,” Mary said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”  

So Mary’s prayer after  seeing the empty tomb was…LORD help me find the body.

Mary did not go to the tomb expecting to see a resurrected Jesus; she went looking for a dead corpse. What a wonderful surprise: Jesus is alive. God did not give Mary what she asks for: He gave her exceedingly, abundantly more than she had even imagined.

Aren’t you glad that God does not answer our small, petty, shallow prayers but goes beyond anything we can imagine or articulate and gives us what our hearts truly desire even though we had never realize what it was that we truly desired.

II. MY SECOND POINT IS THIS: JESUS IS VERY MUCH PRESENT ALTHOUGH MARY DOESN’T KNOW IT.

You talk about near, Jesus is within arms length and Mary is looking for His body. She’s not looking in the right direction. She is looking for DEAD among the LIVING but as long as you look for a dead, lifeless, powerless Jesus–you are not going to find HIM. He is not in a tomb, nor is He on a cross.

I want to make this truth clear: Jesus presence is one thing, our recognizing His presence is another. He is always present, that is a fact: He cannot be otherwise. He is to creation what the sun is to our solar system. I see the sun in the day time but at night I cannot see the sun. Doesn’t matter, I know it is present, even if I don’t see its reflection off the moon, I know it is still there because I am still here. Without the sun, we would live less than 8 minutes. What the sun is to this tiny solar system, Jesus is to creation. He is the cosmic glue, the one who holds it all together and He is LIFE. He is the life giver and the life sustainer. If Jesus were not present, you and I would be dead. Jesus is real no matter how you feel. Mary didn’t feel His presence but He was present, so don’t confuse feeling with facts.  Actually, she felt sorrow and grief even though it was He who was addressing her. How can this be? She simply did not recognize His presence.

Then Jesus calls her by name…“Mary!”…Mary turned to HIM and cried out “Rabi or Teacher.” When she heard Him speak her name, she knew it was Him. Once she knew, once she became aware of His presence, the horrific storm in her soul began to abate. Obviously, no one spoke her name like Jesus.

III. THE THIRD AND FINAL POINT IS THIS–NO ONE, OTHER THAN JESUS, COULD MAKE MARY HAPPY. [Heal her broken heart]

I suppose Angels have pretty thick skin. I sure they saw the disappointment in Mary’s eyes when she looked in the tomb and found them instead of the body of Jesus. I would get excited to see two angels but they didn’t move her–she was fixed on one thing and that was Jesus. She preferred a dead Jesus to two live Angels. Of course the good news is: she was getting a living Jesus, One who was victorious over sin, death and the grave.

I want you to imagine dealing with this distraught and grieving woman. Let’s put you at the tomb to talk to this heart broken woman…

  • Mary, I know you came here looking for the body of Jesus but no one knows where the body is and besides, if He is dead, what difference does it make. I can’t give you the body of Jesus but I can give you the keys to a new condo on the Sea of Galilee. Just take these keys and forget about Jesus. [Mary] “You know what you can do with those keys don’t you? You can keep them. I don’t want a new condo on the Sea of Galilee, I want the body of Jesus.
  • [A second person tries] Mary…I can’t produce a body for you but I will give you a brand new 4 bedroom pent house in down town Jerusalem, that should make you feel better and forget about the body of Jesus. [Mary] You guys just don’t get it do you. You could offer me the world and it would not take away my grief. Nothing is going to satisfy me other than the body of Jesus.
  • [A third person tries] Mary…what about a ten year supply of makeup? [Mary] No, I don’t want makeup, a new house or a condo on the beach, I want Jesus.

By now, you get the picture, nothing is going to please this woman other than Jesus. Jesus is on her mind and in her heart and she will not settle for anything other than Jesus.

CONCLUSION

Wow! What a powerful testimony Mary has given…You can have this entire world, just give me Jesus. Oh that you and I might have a similar testimony.

Jesus love you folks: He gave His life for you just as He did Mary. He will give you a new life, a better life just as He did Mary but you must repent of your sins and accept His forgiveness. You can do that today. Right where you stand, you can left up a prayer to heaven: Dear God, I am a sinner and I need a Savior. Today I put my trust in Your Son Jesus, I believe He died for my sins. I believe He was buried and rose from the dead. I believe He is in heaven and listening to this prayer. Save me Jesus, save me now.