Jonah 2 - Close the distance! - Wed. PM 4/03/19
We are Jonah chapter 2 if you want to go ahead and begin turning there. finish next week
and then the following week just so you can mark your calendar the those that are coordinating the Good Friday service on that evening the Wednesday prior to Good Friday. We will have all of the lights will be on will have an active Nursery. In fact, I think Mitzi and I get to cover the nursery on that night so that this this room can be taken over by pairing Betsy and Missy and that in the choir to do a run-through of so, they won't be bible study on that evening, but the church will certainly be active and so you are welcome to join us on that night.
I'm having having quite a bit of fun with this particular passage. And so let me start this evening by saying that the Sovereign mercy and the centrality of God's plan in place Jonah. In the belly of a fish. I was last week instead of the Grave with condemnation. He lands in a fish. By means of a large creature that the word says fish. I don't want you to get stuck on taxonomy about what type of fish this might have been or whether it was a whale or not instead of taxonomy. We need to be thinking about theology instead that that we would understand that the Lord commands the Sea and the waves as master and creator
Part of the reason. I think we hold the Book of Jonah Too Short book. It's a much-debated book, but part of the reason we hold it in our scriptures is so that we might Focus Less on our circumstances. And that we might lean more on God's existence and goodness that we would depend less or Focus Less on our situation and more on the assistance of God Almighty that that we would see him begin to close the gap between where we are and where his heart is in in prayer for humility. And so that's my aim for tonight that we might bridge the gap and and close the distance. That's our subtitle for this evening. You don't get much lower than the belly of a fish in the great blue deep.
In the Beast that dives multiple fathoms down Jonah receives the unfathomable riches and mercy of God. So how might we transition into a back into God's plan when we like Jonah find ourselves running in the wrong direction or or or departing fleeing accidentally or on purpose when we are apart from God's plan. How do we transition back? How's the question Focus for tonight? We began with the fish last week, and we finished with parallels between the first Jonah and the second Jonah between Jonah Nineveh and the fisher of men Jesus Christ. We sought to walk from from Israel on this particular Journey towards God's heart that that God would see Israel as his own. But that this salvation that we hold it belongs to him.
And he can extended however, he sees fit. Even to our problematic neighbors think of the Samaritan. and even to Nineveh Gentiles God's truth such as this one can be hard to swallow but never the last as we will see with Jonah and forgive me for this. It is hard if not impossible sees me. It is impossible to keep God's Man Down. Good manners stopped all the time.
We know this to be true bad things happen to good people. But hell will never Prevail over God's plan.
Jonah is here to help us see that. So don't aim for good aim for God. So again, how do we get back from Jonah's wrong path on the God's plan? We said last week. It's not the why that matters so much as as your won't. You may have half a dozen expressions of why you will not walk in God's will this week why you will not why you won't abide in him? and its truths all of Jonah and all of his wants they get swallowed up by God's appointed fish.
I think we we get we lose sight of of this and think of it as a story because of the familiarity with our childhood, but would you see this fish and maybe a different way this evening not as I was a sea creature, but as a loving caring mercifully gracious discipline from God. To praise God we serve a god of Second Chances. We'll see that tonight with Jonah you can get that from the New Testament prodigal you could get that same story from Paul or from David or from Joseph or fill in the blank is probably a dozen or so more. God's mercy that saves you is the same Grace that trains you up. That's how God intends it and so may we always be one that would seek to get back onto his plan. Perhaps in the process we will avoid being on the hook for a painful lesson.
Heart of Jonah is far from God in chapter one. That was last week. We get a transformation this week in Chapter 2 and chapter 3. He's going to get even closer. But by the time we reached the end of this the series next week Lord willing, we will see that That he's still not fully there to God's heart.
Is an evangelist by the name of Henry Varley who many many years ago over a hundred years ago how to a Revival one evening and he was preaching to a very young. and still unknown d l Moody He said in that Revival that evening the world has yet to see. What God can do with a man who has yielded to him fully? And on that particular day and response to that message years later Moody would write in one of his journals. He would recount by the grace of God. I will be that man.
spent the rest of his days with his eyes upon Christ aiming for that Val and and as I processed through that this week should the Lord Terry. I want my children to be able to say the same thing me.
So you'll stand with me. Will look into Jonah and Nineveh both turning both were enabled by God, but surprisingly one was quicker to turn than the other and both of them have truths for us to apply put the text upon the screen. 10 vs Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish. Saying I called out to the Lord out of my distress and he answered me out of the belly of sheol like ride. And you heard my voice?
Can you cast me into the deep into the heart of the Seas the flood surrounded me all your waves and your bill has passed over me. Then I said I am driven away from your site yet. I shall again. Look upon your Holy Temple verse 5. The waters closed in over me to take my life. The Deep surrounded me weeds were wrapped about my head that the route roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed on me forever. Yet you brought up my life from the pit. Oh Lord my God. When my life was spanking away verse 7 says I remembered the Lord and my prayer came to you into your Holy Temple. Those who pay regard to Vain Idol's forsake their hope of steadfast love but I with the voice of Thanksgiving will sacrifice to you what I have vowed. I will pay salvation Belongs to the Lord. And the Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah out upon the Dryland Heavenly Father help us with this passage to see your grace more fully and to receive your assistance more readily. May we buy your spirit respond to your gospel truth? It's in your name. We pray may be seated.
Genesis II called out to the Lord out of my distress. You know what I believe him.
How about you?
I've heard many a prayer but but this recording after the fact I I think I understand. I am inclined to receive his earnestness because because I know this to be true that God is not looking for a flowery prayer from you and I he's looking for a full-throated prayer. one of desperation I wonder if you might consider this evening the difference between your evening meal time prayers. And becoming of a mealtime prayer and the earnestness involve. This certainly was recorded after the fact, I doubt that Jonah had pen and paper with him in that place. Maybe a quill from a bird or ink from an octopus, but but certainly no paper. We hold these truths before us this day that Jonah would record later after the fact that we might truly receive how attentive God Is To Our Calling particularly when he has placed Us in those exact circumstances. In order to remind us of his presence.
Part of me that wonders if if Jonah inside the belly of this fish whether he heard the booming sound of the whale's heart in the Silence of that belly. The weather he was reminded of God's heart. for all of humanity, but particularly for Nineveh the testimony of Jonah's prayer carries us from his desperate need to God's holy provision. We cover a lot of ground for not leaving a fish this evening. How do we close the dis distance from from where we are to Gods hard this this valve that he makes we are not privy to the the circumstances or the the exact wording of this promise that Jonah makes but I'm I am willing to wager you that it had something to do with Nineveh right? We can bet some fish sticks on it. He was instructed. We're going to see when he gets out of this fish. He's instructed again in the instructions. They have not changed.
The distance from where Jonah is in the belly of the fish in his in his distress and deep and Shield versus to will say in the Deep of the sea covered by billos verse 3 will say driven from God's sight in verse for he will say underwater and wrapped in Weeds and verse 5 catching the picture. He is adding a stock up on stock at the base of the mountain with the bars preventing and verse 6 says when he was fainting away verse 7 in all of that in that great distance with all of those obstacles between him and God. He says these words He remembered the Lord.
Remembering is key.
But obedience is the way forward.
This picture that we have before us tonight is certainly one of repentance clearly Jonah was in a downward spiral until he had a change of heart. He had this remembrance of the almighty that that is the very picture of repentance. There is a Direction Change. There's a heart change from tarshish to Nineveh. From man's way to God's plan.
My friends you do not close the gap from where you are to where God is without the lordship of Jesus Christ. You don't grow by saying no.
Do you want to close the distance? It is not by your performance tonight's message is not about trying harder. It is about trusting him Fuller. You will not close that distance without receiving youth the Glorious inheritance that has been given to you in Christ. I think this is a a Fitting Place to remind us even as we're halfway through this book that as his follower. You have been similarly commissioned in a great way toward sharing the love of Christ.
And while it is we'll just say unlikely. It is unlikely. The God's plan for you will see you travel through a fish.
Would we be prepared? To walk through the loss of employment. forgot to get our attention would we be prepared to walk through the loss of our health without of a loved one would Would cancer be a road that any one of us would willingly choose to walk to be reminded of God's presence in our life. Probably willingly probably not.
Would we forfeit Earthly Treasures in order for God to convince us of the absolute value of him his awesome worth in our life?
Not all of these things are easily explained and my heart would make sure that that you know that I am not strip trivializing any of your struggles that you have gone through from from job losses to health things to the fender benders this evening, whatever they maybe I'm not seeking to trivialize them. I'm certainly not wanting to weaponize them as if God would use that as the only man man or two to get your attention and get you to submit in an unwilling fashion. That's not how God works. God works he longs to have you know him. So well that you would just trust him fully.
I will willingly do almost anything. That my bride asks of me. Most of the time without asking a whole lot of questions. If you asked me to do the same thing, I'll probably have a small sit down with will discuss some things I may still do it. But but my wife has my full inattentive response because I have I have invested My Life in Her.
And I I know that I know that I know that she loves me. When we see that as an illustration of how God would how you interact with him in this world because we're going to have a lot of distractions about us bad things. They they happen to good people we eat. We ask that question periodically the news likes to to bang that drum every time something falls out of the sky. Bad things happen to good people because sin is pervasive in this world and and we are sinners and in the wage of scripture is clearly evident throughout this world that these these things happen in our lives.
The circumstances and the opportunity is is there for redeeming value because they are certainly in God's hands. That's the promise Romans 8:28, isn't it?
I'm not seeking to lay everything with a causation this evening. I have simply wanted to raise your attention to this fact that to exhort you that there is no shortage of evil things in this world.
And so hold close to Christ abide in him. That is the only real protection that I can speak of. Training in righteousness is a far easier path. then corrective discipline is and might we just receive that Grace from him tonight rather than testing the limits of his Mercy. What we learn? To thank God even in circumstances such as Jonah that's pretty extreme. I've never had anything close to what we learn to thank God for his forgiveness, even in those momentary places where we we don't fully understand that we've received that I'm sure that in the belly of the fish. When when Jonah prayed he he had his face. But he had not seen the reply at this point.
And I wonder if you miss this. I had to read it a couple times cuz I think I kept missing it and felt like I was missing something in this prayer from Jonah that we see here tonight there. There's a notable piece that is absent from most of my prayers. When I'm in a Jonah like circumstance. We have him crying out and verse to we have evidence of him being heard in the very same verse. We have acknowledgment of God leading in verse 3. We have evidence of his hope and Verses 4 through 7. We have a declaration of God's goodness that finishes out the chapter in a description of his circumstances, but there's there's an absence. He doesn't ever say get me out of here. I think that's how I would have started that prayer. Maybe just passed the teeth past the epiglottis that that's probably all I would have been.
Too often we get stuck in our circumstances we get stuck in this rut since we we pray the same thing on repeat Lord get me out of this ticket Lord get me out of this ticket. Maybe somebody's here in that tonight Lord get this cold to be gone get this runny nose to leave. My little one. We pray the same thing over and over again knowing that God hears, but we still have it on repeat and
Jonah closes this time. He does not he does not go for the obvious prayer. He closes this time with with Thanksgiving.
I don't know that I can celebrate Thanksgiving inside of a Thanksgiving dish anybody else.
John finishes with a sacrifice and willingness to worship and abandon his won't for the sake of God's will not outside of the fish but inside of the fish.
I am at United beta this you can settle the disagreement later on with her when you see her next I said that this would be appropriate for Wednesday night. She wasn't so so so certain Jonah acknowledge God before he was act act act up on the beach. I don't think that Sunday morning material, but I think that flies in here. This realization that occurs to Jonah and verse 9 is one that we in the church would do well to recall your pastor included. That salvation Belongs to the Lord. That means it's his. He extends it. We do not learn it. The scriptures are clear. And and if he has given it to you. He has also directed you and I to share it with others. God can save anyone he chooses. So do not give up.
Do we believe that church?
And why doesn't it motivate us more into action?
James would be puzzled over are in activity with the expression of our beliefs.
I find it amazing that the fishermen at the end of chapter 1 were more willing to keep people from perishing. then the prophet was
I think it's a beautiful expression of God's grace think it's the power of the Gospel that the ninevites wholeheartedly and whole nation idli. I think I'm going to join that word for tonight for this passage whole nation that lie they turn faster than the hardened heart of Jonah. Who supposedly knew the grace and mercy of God? Nineveh turns at a mere threat of God's judgments Jonah needed the throat.
total touch on chapters 3 and 4 will kind of pushed us together to close next week, but the wouldn't you like to see America respond to God again?
I would love to see an outpouring of sackcloth and Ashes as we'll see in Nineveh or a repenting and a humble worship of God Almighty and not just a whole heart. But but let's ask for something big. How about in whole political parties in whole states whole counties?
That we would see America turn to Holy truth.
How does that happen without us speaking prophetic gospel truth over the lost and the saved? Would we be so bold as to speak the gospel or would we in our silence watch our nation swallowed up in judgment?
Might you stop and consider the frustration with John his actions this evening that it is an indictment of our silence in the ownership of Matthew 28 Great Commission. It's very easy for us to look down upon Jonah, but we're looking in a mirror when we do so When you be very careful. Still rings in the back of my head in the manner in which you judge in Jesus say something like that Matthew 7 you will be judged.
Is a generation of ninevites that Jesus says we'll be the judge of those who saw Christ in his form but not in his glorious salvific Godly function during those last days there there is a generation of none of it. It's going to stand in judgment. But the rest of those Generations will soon pass. I only have time nahahum another minor Prophet Nahum will see the ninevites dissolve away in less than 150 years from this pronouncement. As Nineveh Retreats back into old ways. It shouldn't surprise us to see that just after one generation. Nineveh will be back to their old habits. Just as Israel was when we study the Book of Judges one generation is all it takes. We need to see from this passage tonight. That's that the heart of man in in God's hands and in the spirits hands are hard as softer to respond. Then the prophets hard-headed Defiance of chapter 1.
Would we see? the spirit of God soften us up and soften Jonah up more than any long soak wood softly prune your hands in the water. May may we see the spirit of God do that for us this evening?
If you've been in a situation similar to Jonas. I think that's probably a big that's a big fishtail right there. We haven't been in any situation similar to Jonas, but when we have been in our troubles
Maybe your past this point in your Christian maturity, but I I know the Temptations still there in my heart to bargain with God.
God if you'll just get me through this test, I was all throughout school will get me through this test.
To get me through this traffic stop again, just so we're clear. I know.
Rudolph and Rudolph Mary Catherine always say you don't have to worry about traffic stops. If you just drive the speed limit, and I have not been stopped in over a decade. So I don't knock on wood just real quick just in case. But I remember that prayer well.
God if you would just remove this health issue if you would just remove this job issue. If you would just address this issue with a problematic neighbor or co-worker fill in the blank. If you'll do that. I will be fully committed anybody ever given God one of those blank checks that we let bounce I'll be fully committed. I will read my Bible every day. I will follow you. I will work in the nursery will hold on. I will work wherever else you need me to work you fill in the blank. We've all made.
Bargain like that at some point. You're quick to bargain with God think we see that in Jonah one question is when will we learn to be quick and just listen and abide to God when we learn to trust him with our details. When will we see him as our provision when when will be the day when that might be translated into our willingness to speak to one in line at the grocery store, even when we have stuff to do even when they have more than the appropriate amount of items, right? Because they clearly need Jesus. when we speak to the co-worker who is always struggling and yet has no hope
I know many of you pray for loved ones. When will we see that opportunity for blood family to become Eternal spiritual family for the adoption? bar good father
cease we're seeking to close this gap between our heart and God's heart. God is seeking to close the gap between this world and And the world to come closing the Gap was his business with Jesus's cross work.
Ramos to the end of our time tonight what I want to say next I want to make sure that you receive is a challenge and not as an excuse, right? So it's going to be difficult and it has It is kicked me in The Shins all week long. So it's your turn for me to share that with you. This is a challenge. This is not an excuse.
Here's the challenge. What would the church look like in 10 years? If every new believer that we saw come to face looks just like you.
They prayed like you and they obeyed like you. Challenge with the church be better off the mission of Christ fee Advance with the inertial inertia of the Gospel stall or would it be like watching a ball rolling down hill what a roll faster and faster. I really hope that's the case. I hope that we would see the gospel pick up steam and then move ahead particularly on our County and then beyond I pray that that's the direction we're walking. But I know that overwhelmingly that that term Christian that we we call ourselves by that term has been watered down. It has been overused. It has been misunderstood to being well, I've got nice manners or I'm an American.
Did used to mean that used to be a pejorative. I think I've said that before Christian used to mean little Christ. That's that's what they were trying to to slander us with as we were made in the image of God all the way back in Antioch. The earliest slander of the of the way, that's what it was called not Christianity back then it was the way People would say you're different than everybody else. You and your holy Pursuits, you look just like your Jesus. That's what we're going to call you when I call you little Jesus little Christ that Christians, that's the word. That's what we're going to use. If only that were true, right? as a follower you are to be the spitting image of your master. T Fashions Adam we learn this in Genesis from the dust of the ground before breathing life into his body and and I'm sure you probably done this. Maybe it's been a little while if you've ever fashion something out of dirt. Little moisture goes a long way. You were intended to be the spitting image.
So they are obedience facilitate the whole world hearing God's truth in this matter because there is no better news MN.
but if that's not you if if the church would not be advanced in 10 years. And tonight is not about an excuse tonight is about getting that corrected.
mayor obedience facilitate the change
Do not make it as an excuse to not fall into paralysis by analysis by analysis. I don't know who says that but that's what I feel like sometimes we get so stuck on how how far we have to go that we don't take the first step. That's not the goal for tonight. Avast now a number of X how to close the gap in the reason I keep asking that is not just so that we might answer it, but that's so we might take that answer and apply it to our life. because my gut is that there are more of us that lack then that have
I don't believe that we are a gathering that have it all figured out. If you have it all figured out maybe you can come give me some pointers after the service tonight.
Now we gather as a church because we hold this book and this God and high esteem because he has all of the answers.
The word is clear about God's heart and and we want to get on board with that. We want to do things his way. We want to do his will. Even though we fail at it. My friend you cannot lead people to Christ if you are not abiding with him. You're tired of doing things your way. I wondered tonight. Would you yield the frustration that comes from always having to give your very best effort. Would you be willing instead of giving your best effort to look to Christ afresh. Bible says look and live. You are among imperfect people. You can look to the left look to the right. I don't see any exceptions. And if I had a mirror I would hold it up to. We are imperfect people who have been called to the gospel. We are ones who have committed our lives at least. I hope this is you we have committed Our Lives to a perfect save your in our imperfect mess. We are the ones that are grateful to receive not just the second chance that Jonah got but even the 940 third chance that we need this year alone. That we would come again to God's grace through repentance.
What's the Salvation gets cut explained? A lot of ways a lot of ways that I feel like we need to step back and make sure that we're saying things properly. When you get into a one-on-one relationship with Jesus Christ, he will not wave a wand and magically fix all that ails you I get tired of hearing that on TV.
I'm not going to promise you gifts like the like the TV preacher will.
But I will promise you his presents.
Not Prosperity. That's not what we're after but Eternal perpetuity that God would love us and hold us and keep us for the rest of our days and I guarantee you if you'll do that if you'll trust Christ your life will be given hope You will have a glorious future beyond what I could describe in the time that we have left and I don't mean just before the clock turns. I mean for the rest of our days we we could not do it service. If you place your trust in him. He will address your sin. He will walk with you through broken relationships. He will restore your soul. He will walk with you through the darkest of valleys. He will close the gap between Heaven and Earth that you might know God and truly understand love if we would just be ones that would call on his name. We do that the Bible says calling his name and you shall be saved. He'll do that for you.
For many of you in this room, I know he is done that already.
So if the ladder is you will you Echo this call? That I am seeking to make tonight outside of these walls.
I asked you again one more time. Who is your one because you and I have a Nineveh that awaits us.
to pray with me Heavenly Father this is your time. And we we come before you as ones who constantly get it wrong, but your grace is enough to bridge the gap of our foolishness. Your forgiveness is strong enough to repair the depth of our sin in the fractures that we continually bring to the surface you are you are God and you are good and you have given us Christ and by his righteousness. We have our standing not by our own. What's the following may we try to bring you all the praise and glory may we seek to aim for your heart and in the process of these things as we place our faith in you and you you call us unto good works and all of these things follow me. May we never confuse our efforts for your finish work? And may we never hold those outside of these walls to standards that we have yet to even meet.
You love each individual that's it is seated in this room tonight and you love every individual that's outside of these walls as well. May we may we understand that and carry that with us as we leave here tonight.
We thank you in advance for all the chill. Do we? Thank you for christ. the Forgiveness of sins the life Everlasting it's in your name. We pray amen.