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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Jonah

This is a requested reprint of a worship service i wrote many moons ago. i have left it as is except for removing the song titles out of it. It not only shows us through the story of Jonah that God can use even the unwilling but that He loves all His creation, not just his 'chosen' people. God's chosen is anyone who will listen and humble their hearts before Him... and that includes prophets...


Welcome to New Life at Five Points. Welcome visitors, welcome back family. It is good to be here. The world gets one hundred and sixty-six hours a week to preach its message. Here we give God two for counterpoint. Ordinarily that thought would depress me. But God has given me a message this week that allows me to say that with a wry smirk. Yeah, that’s not just my normal expression. At least not today. For today I have a tale to tell you that has lifted my heart every time I thought of it this week. The service today might sound disjointed, the music may not seem to jive with the story. But it does, oh yes, it most certainly does. For no matter what we see going on around us here, no matter how dark it gets or how hard the tempest rages. No matter how far, how distant, how mythical, how impossible it can possibly seem:

God is in control. Jesus is on the Throne. The Spirit is with you and the worship of God never ceases.

I know, you’re skeptical. That’s fine. As you are about to see, God doesn’t need your full cooperation. But with that mustard seed of doubt firmly planted, the Not-Quite-Ready-for-Picklehead Players present…

The story of Jonah.

1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose 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, away from the presence of the Lord.

4 But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”

Jonah Is Thrown into the Sea

7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 And 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, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of theLord, because he had told them.

11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them.14 Therefore they called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.


So the Moral of the Story is…do what God tells you to do or He’ll kick your butt. Yeah, maybe. But you know what God showed me this week? He told me that He loved a bunch of scruffy sailors. And that he used Jonah to present the Gospel to those sailors. He showed them that they needed to be saved. He showed them that their gods couldn’t do that saving. He told them that someone had to die for them to be saved. Still they tried to do it on their own, well-intentioned works! No God, killing is wrong! We can try harder! We’ll be good! But in the end, someone had to die. Someone willing and those sailors got it. And He got all that done, not with some great champion of the faith who lived a blameless life, but with a grumbly, disobedient, self-centered jerk. And I find that very encouraging.