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The Plans of a Loving God

Jonah  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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God's sovereignty in man's free will

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Jonah 1 NKJV
1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” 3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. 4 But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.” 7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous. 12 And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.” 13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows. 17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
In our study of last week’s text from Jonah, we saw that our own disobedience to God brings about it’s own set of problems.
Yet, though disobedience is a current problem among Christians and God does not overlook it in any way, we must not forget that our Lord is a loving, gracious God who’s plans are not for our destruction, but for our benefit.
And so examining the text of Jonah, if we are short sighted in our interpretation, we might conclude that God is more gracious to a cruel and unbelieving people such as the Assyrians than He is to a beloved child of God!
Now, in order to approach the topic of this message today, which deals with God’s sovereignty in our free will, we need to establish some truths:
God does not react to our will. He has a plan.
From having chosen us in Christ from the foundations of the world, to having a plan for our lives to make us into the very image of His divine Son, so that we might bring glory to His name!
The problems and hardships we face are not designed to punish us, but to refine us.
Let me ask some hypothetical questions that I believe will help us to understand God’s sovereignty.
What if Jonah obeyed God from the beginning and went to Nineveh?
Would the Ninevites have repented?
Would the Ninevites have repented?
And if they hadn’t, what would that have meant for Jonah?
And even if they had repented, would the sailors on the merchant ship from Joppa had become proselytes of Judaism. or at the very least had such an incredible witness of God’s power?
What if Jonah had been killed by the Ninevites?
What if?
What if?
What if?
In our finite thinking, we suppose that the free will actions of Jonah would determine the outcome of these events, thus rewriting Biblical texts!
Is tis what we think?
Let me propose something different.
What if God knew the Ninevites would repent because the bleached out hairless body of Jonah was a key sign needed to verify the message?
And what if God needed Jonah to be in that fish’s belly for three days and three nights for that purpose and also to act as a type for the crucified and resurrected Christ?
And what if the way God desired to accomplish this task as well as the “salvation” of the Sailors was for a disobedient Jonah to get on a ship heading to Tarshish and be thrown over board to appease God who brought the Storm that would have destroyed everyone?
You see, there can be no varying results.
God had a plan and carried it out perfectly using imperfect people who make imperfect choices, and yet, those people are still accountable for their actions, while God’s plan is perfectly fulfilled!
There are two verses I’d like to share as we get into the heart of this message:
Psalm 139:7 NKJV
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?
Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
You see, God has a plan for you and me just as He had for Jonah.
And so-

I. His plans are designed to move us into place.

As I’ve previously said, the fish was not a curse for Jonah, but a refuge and a transport to bring him to shore.
In order for God to move Jonah to the fish, He brought a typhoon to move the crew to doing the unthinkable!
And this might be more bewildering to us, when we think that God would move others to do things against us in order to move us to where He wants us!
This kind of thinking does not sit well with us, but we can move through the uncomfortable trials if -
We can patiently wait on the Lord and trust Him through the trial.
Going through a trial is never easy and it may take a very long time.
I’ve noticed that for a small church we seem to have an over abundance of people who are suffering through various trials!
Is this because we are greater sinners?
Why don’t the bigger churches have a proportionate amount of trouble?
Perhaps the answer is that we are involved in each others’ lives and living out , and are more aware of them?
B. We need to trust through the struggle.
Nonetheless, we all need to be patient through the trials, not only those going through it, but also those who are praying and supporting those going through them. Because this just might be your trial?
Patience does not mean emotional disconnection.
B. We need to trust through the struggle.
Patience involves hurt, sadness, anger, etc.
As we run from God’s commands and a perceived trouble, we are actually running into a different trouble, and yet that trouble is nudging us along the path that God has for us.
As we run from God’s commands and a perceived trouble, we are actually running into a different trouble, and yet that trouble is nudging us along the path that God has for us.
We have no recourse but to trust Him through this time and not seek to run, as that will only bring more trouble.
We must tell ourselves that I am a child of God and that He loves me and is holding me up.
We also find -

II. His plans are perfect.

II. His plans are perfect.

What if we fall apart in a moment of despair because of the circumstance we find ourselves in, does this mean we don’t trust God?
Do we think that the God of the universe does not factor in our fragile emotional state?
The ability to trust God in these circumstances is directly proportionate to what we think of them.
If we know and believe that God is perfect and the plans He has for us are perfect, then we will trust Him explicitly in the trial.
let’s take a moment to look at a few verses that demonstrate their perfection::
A. Our patience.
A. Our patience.
A. Our patience.
James 1:3 NKJV
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
B. Our Christlikeness.
1 Peter 4:12–13 NKJV
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
1 Peter
C. His superiority.
Isaiah 55:10 NKJV
10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,
Isaiah 55:8–9 NKJV
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:
D. Overall good to them who love Him.
Romans 8:28 NKJV
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
If we know that the thoughts and plans God has for us are good, to bring us hope and a future, s it says in , Why do we think they’re bad when we are going through them?
If the God of the universe, the Mighty, immutable, sovereign King, Who chose us in Christ before the world ever was, who loves us with a perfect and undying love, has a plan for your life, do you think for a minute that that plan would not be the greatest plan ever imaginable by any human mind?
My life and your life, and the plans of our Lord, are working out to a glorious ending!
2 Corinthians 4:17 NKJV
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
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