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Praising God in the Storm

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Relentless Grace: Lessons from the Life of Jonah  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  26:19
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The story of Jonah always makes me think of who I relate to most in the story. Far too often, it’s Jonah.
Last Week: When following God gets uncomfortable, most try to run from him. But as the story of Jonah teaches us, you can't outrun God or his Relentless Grace.
Jonah was called to “those people” in Nineveh.
Jonah was angry with God because he didn’t believe the people even deserved a chance of hearing a message of repentance.
Yet throughout the first chapter it is the pagan, idolatrous sailors who pray to God, take vows in his name, and offer a sacrifice to God. What does Jonah do? He’d rather die than go preach the Word of God to “those people.”
Jonah 1:17 NIV
17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

God Provided

The fish was not a punishment for this unrepentant prophet, but rather a means of saving his life, and a push from God to motivate Jonah to do the right thing.
This action is God not only saving Jonah’s life, but trying to save his soul by giving him an opportunity to repent!

Jonah’s Psalm

Jonah’s prayer is delivered in the style of a Thanksgiving Psalm.
In a world where people didn’t have access to the written Scriptures, they came to know God through the Psalms they sang in worship. The Psalms shaped their entire world-view.
Imagine having no access to a Bible and only knowing God through the songs you sing, and seeing others live this out. Could you walk faithfully doing this?
When Jonah is at his lowest point, near death, he “remembers” the Psalms and sings/prays one to God. A song of rededication to God.
Last week we spoke of how sin is referred to as “forgetting” and the need to “remember” all throughout the Psalms. Jonah does that here!
Psalm 138:1–8 NIV
1 I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. 2 I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame. 3 When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me. 4 May all the kings of the earth praise you, Lord, when they hear what you have decreed. 5 May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great. 6 Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar. 7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me. 8 The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.
Do you hear echoes of Psalm 23? Do you hear echos of Jonah’s prayer?
Jonah 2:1–9 NIV
1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. 3 You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. 4 I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ 5 The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. 6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. 7 “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. 8 “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. 9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’ ”

God Hears & Answers

Did God answer the way Jonah wanted? He saved him, but probably not the way Jonah would have liked.
Yet he still praises God and acknowledges his attentiveness even though it’s not what Jonah would have chosen!

Confession to God

Jonah opens up and confesses how he felt, what he went through, and who he attributes his situation to…It’s God doing this!
Jonah feels God is reversing the situation...”I ran from you, now you banish me to the heart of the sea.”

Commitment to God

Jonah vows to “look again toward” God’s temple. Basically, Jonah will stop looking for his own way, and look to God for direction.

God as Savior

Even though Jonah doesn’t have all he wants at the moment, he praises God for what he has already done and trusts/begs God to continue to move.
Many of David’s psalms work this way as well. “Thank you for what you’ve done…now about this...”
Jonah chased the idol of comfort/prejudice. He realizes that doing so is turning away from the love of God…the grace of God. But Jonah has decided to do so no more.

A Different Storm

How would you respond in a storm? How are you currently responding to the storm? Are you running, or are you praising? Are you hiding, or are you trusting?
How you practice is how you will perform.
Jonah was so saturated in the Psalms that when a storm came he responded with praise and recommitment to God.
What are you preparing for?
Mark 4:35–41 NIV
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
We can run from God, or we can draw near to God. We can try to face the storms on our own, or we can praise God in the storm. We can walk with the one that can end the storms!
Why do storms happen? I don’t know, but I do know the one who is greater than any storm we will face.
Even when we are the cause of the storm, God’s relentless grace pursues us.
Are we going to trust God through the storm and walk with Jesus who calms the raging storms in our lives?
That is the decision each of us has to make.
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