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Jonah: Obedience

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On Sunday, Pastor Ed Allen continued his series in Jonah and Nahum with a message about Obedience from Jonah 1.  But before the sermon, Bill Russell told a striking story about when he felt a strong urging to speak to a stranger - and it ended up being God's perfect timing.  Then another striking instance happened a year later.

The Key Truth from Jonah 1 has a front end and a back end:

Our God Is Sovereign.

See Psalm 24:1-2; Psalm 135:6; Job 42:2; Ephesians 1:11; Matthew 26:19

We Must Obey.

In Matthew 7:13-14, we're told to enter through the narrow gate.  That's not talking about believing the right thing, but about taking the way of obedience.

Obedience is for our best.

Jonah disobeyed as hard as he could.  His disobedience got him and a whole boatload of bystanders into deep trouble.

Obedience is a stinking big deal.

Lives have been ruined by disobedience.

You cannot enjoy the benefits of a relationship with God unless you're actively obeying Him.

Daily we make choices that have far-reaching consequences to ourselves and others.

Jonah used what he wanted to decide his action.

Yet he knew it was disobedience.  He knew what God wanted.

Disobedience always involves some level of kidding ourselves.

God surrounded Jonah with undeniable circumstances.  The sailors asked Jonah why he would disobey such a powerful God.  Not a God to be trifled with.

Jonah wasn't surrendering to God.  He chose death, or so he thought.  Jonah was quitting, refusing to choose.

Almost all of us know the searing pain of disappointment in our lives.  Sometimes we choose big or little disobedience.

Stepping outside of God's will puts you outside the fortress of His protection and out of the best direction for you.

Our desires and our culture tell us that God's will for us should be easier and more convenient, so we choose a different destination.

Examine the story our culture is telling us.  We know from evidence that our culture's ideas do not work.

We then spent some time in prayer affirming the truth:

God is Sovereign.  We Obey.

Jonah: God Speaks

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Today, Pastor Ed continued his summer sermon series in Jonah and Nahum by looking at Jonah 1:1-6.

We often ask, "Lord, are you there?  Are you involved in this?"  An important theme in the book of Jonah is this:

God is intimately and lovingly involved in our world (His world).

There are many times when it seems like God has gone radio silent.  We also get inoculated to this truth.  It's always worth looking at.

Jonah was a prophet some time between 800 and 740 BC.  He was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel, which wasn't great about following God.  But they were in a period of ascendancy.  This was about 30 or more years before Assyria took Israel into captivity.

Verse 2 - "Jonah ran away from the Lord" - would have been shocking.  What Jonah was about was speaking the word of the Lord.

Tarshish, where he headed, was probably on the coast of Spain, the opposite direction from Nineveh.

In the storm, the pagans were all praying, but the prophet wasn't.  He was asleep - may have been drained and depressed from contorting his life to avoid what God was saying.

God's prophet had to be implored by a pagan to pray.

God is intimately involved in our world.

God speaks to His people.

Jonah never doubted that God was speaking.  God spoke throughout the Bible and still speaks today.

Ed gave personal examples where God spoke to him through Scripture, through thought bombs, and through strange urgings (example was an urging to pray for someone who turned out to have lost their job that day).

God still speaks today.  Yes, the culture thinks we're crazy.  (He said, "I barely believe it, and it's happened to me.")

The story of Jonah is powerful testimony that God speaks to His people.

We ask, "Why doesn't He always speak?"

That's a good question.  It means you're taking God seriously.

If you're not yet hearing from Him, let Him know.  That's what the Psalmist did, over and over.  The Psalmist often says to God, "This would be a great time to show up!"

God moves in the circumstances around us.

Here Ed told the story of when Gateway providentially moved into Mercer Middle School before getting our building.

Was Jonah's story all a coincidence?  Are the circumstances around us all coincidences?

God is lovingly involved in our world.

God loved the Ninevites, too.  It has always been hard for God's people to understand God's love -- even for their enemies.

That's a big part of why Jesus came.

In conclusion, we talked about challenges to believing that God is intimately and lovingly involved in our world.

Circumstances get in the way - dreams dying, difficulties, diseases.  Any circumstance when God seems silent makes it harder to believe.  That is the challenge of faith.

But God extends His mercy to all.

We don't need answers; we need Jesus.

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