Sunday, July 14, 2013

Joy Wins

“Good morning! Grace and peace to you from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. It is good to be with you.”

~ Two weeks from today we'll be conducting an outdoor worship service at Walt and Gwen Cressman’s house at 4815 Kroll Road. To find us turn off the Canosia Road and drive to the end. Bring your lawn chairs and a food item.

~ New Members class soon… If there is interest please contact Brad.

~ Aug 3 seminar, 9 a.m. to noon. Steven Berger of Covenant Park in Chicago will be here for teacher training and leadership.

The worship team of Ken, Darlene and Chuck led us today. Chuck opened with a reading from Psalm 47, “Clap your hands, all ye people…” as intro to their lively “Heaven On My Mind.” Our worship songs were selected from the silver songbook this morning.

Patty shared a praise report. In November she woke up for a lady’s Bible study one morning… and while making breakfast for the group had an insight about the word Joy. Since that day she has not had a day of depression, which has plagued her much of her life.

During the offering the trio sang the glorious “Yes, I Am.” A time of prayer followed, beginning with prayers for Community Covenant Church in North Minneapolis which was burned. Many other needs lifted up.

Joy Wins

Pastor Brad Shannon began by reading Jonah 2. He then gave a recap with the endpoint of last week’s sermon being that it’s never too late to stop running from God.

One of the problems with the book of Jonah is that we all think we know the story, so we fail to take in the details. Brad therefore asked us to hear the story as if we were hearing it for the first time.

Interesting choice of words in the first part where the giant fish is “appointed” to swallow Jonah. God has given the fish an assignment.

Brad notes that if you have trouble believing this story you’re not alone, and still welcome here. In fact, God is more interested in what you really think than what you imagine you are supposed to think.

More important than whether such things can really happen is this: do you believe that miracles are possible? Because this is an impossible story.

The best word to describe Jonah in this story is “down.” He is told to go to Nineveh, but chooses to go down to Joppa. Then headed down to Tarshish. He went down into the hold of the ship and eventually is thrown overboard, to the bottom of the sea.

Once in the belly of the fish, Jonah finally looks up. He prays.

Why do we so often not pray? Because we are so busy with other things. We have so many other things distracting us to keep us from facing what is going on in our own minds.

In Jonah’s case, he prays because he has nowhere else to turn. He truly hit bottom.

What happens next is something dramatic. The fish vomits Jonah onto the dry land. Not a heroic figure covered with glory. He is, rather, a pathetic figure covered with whatever came out of that fish.

Jonah thought he was doomed as he went down into the sea… But God was near, and in control.

Pastor Brad pointed out some parallels between the life of Jonah and that of Jesus. Jonah was actually from a small town near Nazareth, where Jesus was from. Jonah slept in a boat during a storm, as did Jesus. Jonah’s name means “Dove”… and a dove appeared when Jesus was baptized.

And at one point when the Pharisees challenged Jesus, He said no sign would be given except the Sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah was three years in the belly of a great fish, Jesus would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. In the end death loses, sadness loses, sorrow loses.

In the Roman catacombs where the early church met… most common story recorded on those walls was the story of Jonah

When you've reached the bottom God will meet you there. Brad said, "I will meet you at the bottom. I will meet you at the cross." Joy wins.

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