Sunday, July 7, 2013

What Is Your Nineveh?

Summer is here for a few weeks and we're enjoying it. In his opening remarks Pastor Brad Shannon stated that he is starting a new series on the book of Jonah.

1. Brad mentioned that last week we unanimously voted to proceed with our church building project. When people ask what's happening, you no longer have say, “I’m not sure yet.” 
2. Aug 3, 9-Noon, Steve Berger is coming to conduct a seminar for everyone involved with Christian education

Chuck, Darlene, Brad and Carol led worship today and also sang Master of the Wind during our offering. “He can calm the storm, make the sun shine again; I know the Master of the wind.”

Scripture reading: Jonah 1

Pearl and Ruth Anne shared a drama, involving a seal, a chicken and a seashell… and a story about oceans, with a reference to Jonah. In the same way that we can listen to the ocean in a seashell, we can listen to God and obey Him.

What Is Your Nineveh?

Jonah 1:1 says “The Word of the Lord came to Jonah…”

Jonah was a prophet, not a priest. Priests served in the temple. Prophets are more of a thorn under the saddle for other people and they sometimes get around.

God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against them. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, a cruel people of this time. Brad compared the people of Nineveh to Al-Quida or Nazi Germany. Not exactly the kind of place you want to go alone to preach against. Nineveh is located straight east of Israel. Jonah, however, headed west toward Tarshish. He was running from God.

Running from God is something we have all done. We know what God wants, but we don’t want to do it and we go another direction, to another place. This is our own personal Tarshish.

When he got on the boat Jonah paid a fare, indicating he had money. Tarshish was a different kind of city, a wealthy city, not a military city like Nineveh. Tarshish’s reputation for wealth might be similar to today’s Wall Street or perhaps Cayman Islands. The very name evokes money.

As the boat was en route, "the Lord sent a violent wind…” The actual word means “great.” Nineveh was a “great” city. The great God sent a great storm.

Even the professional sailors on the ship were nervous with this storm and started throwing things overboard. They were in a panic, and it says each one was praying to his own god.

Meanwhile Jonah was sleeping in the bottom of the boat. The captain shakes him awake. “What are you thinking? Get up and pray to your god.”

After drawing lots, the ship’s crew turns to Jonah. “What have you done?”

Jonah testified that the one true and “great” God was behind this. He does it reluctantly but as a necessity. Interestingly enough, Jonah’s failure is what brings these sailors to faith.

Ultimately Jonah tells the sailors that the only way to stop the storm is to throw Jonah overboard, but they do everything they can to avoid having to do this, out of compassion for Jonah. But the storm is too strong and finally they recognize they must yield. They look to God and pray that they will not beheld accountable for killing this man.

The pivot point here is that Jonah had reached his end and would rather die than keep running from God. As soon as he is thrown overboard the sea becomes calm.

There is always a price in running from God. 

In the end the sailors worship God. God was working in ways that Jonah could not even fathom. He was running from God yet God turned even this into an event for His own glory, redeeming Jonah's disobedience for a higher purpose.

"It’s never too late and never too soon to quit running from God," Brad said.

Wherever you're at, Jesus always has the same invitation: "Come running to Me.:

Afterwards we celebrated the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

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