29 June 2010

God is More Merciful than His Prophet



Jonah 4: 1-11

What have we learned from this letter that Jonah penned? Chapter 1 we learn running doesn’t solve the problem, it only leads to disobedience......and when we disobey it brings chastisement from the LORD, who will fulfill His plan and purpose with or without you. In chapter 2 we saw brokenness and deliverance by a sovereign God......true biblical repentance by Jonah..... submission.........restoration by a sovereign God. In the 3rd chapter we saw the Mighty power of God Word in how it leads to repentanc, renewal and revival to a people who need a Saviour! (Jonah 3:10) "When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that He had said He would do to them, and He did not do it." God saw the hearts of this once evil Nation. Let me ask you! Would you rejoice with Nineveh's salvation if you knew who they were or what they have done? Would you be as merciful as our Lord to those who have had an evil backgrounds? Did Christ die for all or did He die for to ones who were less wicked and evil? The Bible says “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2. In Heb 2:9 "But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone." We need to understand something! Its God’s salvation....its God’s grace....its God’s forgiveness of sin.....its God’s mercy to all that call upon the name Lord Jesus, no matter how evil a person may seem.Talk about Jeffery Dahmer and his story of salvation! How would you respond if you had lost a child at the hands of this man? Would you truly rejoice for his salvation? Would you embrace him with Christian love as Christ did with you? Remember what I said last week! (Luke 15:10) "Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Jonah didn’t get it. Jonah felt that God should pour His wrath on this wicked and evil nation. Look at (verse 1) “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.” The first question I want to look at this morning is

1) DO YOU REJOICE WHEN GOD IS MERCIFUL? (V1- V4)

Mercy: is the outward expression of pity. It is used of God, who is rich in mercy, Act of God; peace is the resulting experience in the heart of man. Grace describes God's attitude toward the lawbreaker and the rebel; mercy is His attitude toward those who are in distress. (Eph 2:4) "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us," He is so rich in it that He is willing to impart it to others; so rich that he can make all blessed......God’s infinite love is the groundwork of our salvation. Martin Luther says "The law works fear and wrath; grace works hope and mercy." Jonah was “displeased” (v1) means to feel a violent, an irritation, physically. Jonah was feeling violent....irritated:

• With these people of Nineveh
• With their salvation
• With their obedience to God
• With God and His mercy that He showed these wretched sinners

(Ps 86:5-6) For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You. Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. Only the Lord is full of mercy and abounding and ready to forgive all sinners. God is esssentially and independently good, from whom every good and perfect gift comes. Jonah couldn’t see past God’s wonderful grace and mercy to these people who once were wicked. (Jonah 4:3) "Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." Jonah was bitter about God relenting (He had compassion and mercy) and did not destroy them as He planned. See Jonah forgot about the mercy that God showed him:
  • A. By sparing his life
  • B. By chastening him because He loved him “as a Father loves His son.”
  • C. By restoring him to fellowship with a Holy and Just God
  • D. By giving him a second chance to do the Father’s will.
We as Christians are no different than Jonah sometimes..................Think about it for a minute: What would you do if someone walked in that door, a known rapist or murder, and seats down desiring to grow in their Christian walk. Would you embrace your brother in Christ? Or Would you show bitter resentment towards him? Because this is exactly what Jonah is doing! Jonah said “I would rather die than to see a nation come to salvation.” Oh how easy we forget sometimes, when we look others and forget about our own sinful lives. The bible says (Rom 12:15) "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." Rejoice with them that rejoice, (salvation, personal victory.......Sympathize with the joys and sorrows of others. The special duty of Christians to sympathize in each other’s grief. Why? Our Saviour (the sinless spotless Lamb of God) set for us the example! We belong to the same family (the universal church) We are all subject to similar trials and afflictions as our brother and sisters in Christ.

2) DOES YOUR JOY ONLY COME FROM SELF-CENTEREDNESS? (V6-V8)

 Self-righteousness and centeredness does not lead to true biblical joy. (Jonah 4:6) "Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant." We see another great miracle performed by our LORD. God appointed a plant (He prepared a plant for His weeping prophet) In all of Jonah’s bitterness and complaining and selfishness......God still showed Jonah:

1. Compassion
2. Love for His chosen child
3. Comfort
4. Shelter
5. Patience with His selfish prophet

Jonah was very grateful, exceedingly glad (in the Hebrew it means Jonah rejoiced with great joy). Do you realize for the first time in Jonah's letter...he iis happy about something! Jonah showed more joy for this plant that God provided for him. Then Jonah did for 600,000 souls coming to God for salvation. AGAIN LET’S RECAP

1. God commissioned Jonah to preach in Nineveh (He did not like that)
2. Then there was a storm (He didn’t like that either)
3. Then God created a great fish (Jonah didn’t like either)
4. Then the Nation of Nineveh repented and believed (Jonah was displeased with that also)

Nothing pleased Jonah except this plant that the LORD provided for him. Why was Jonah so happy? After all the compassion and attention God was showing Nineveh.....God was finally doing something for Jonah. What do we call this?................ SELFISHNESS! Solomon wrote (Prov 14:30) "A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot." A tranquil heart (means) sound, wholesome, yielding. Brings life to the flesh! Envy (means) jealousy, zeal. makes your bones rot (means) decay, rottenness (thing).
(James 3:14) “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.” Jonah was bitter over this nation and over God for showing mercy and compassion. Jonah selfishness lies both against the truth of God's word and his own conscience. According to James........that would be to....... lie against the truth. We are about to see what happens to our selfishness....when we behave like Jonah did here on this hill top. Jonah loss his joy and happiness once again! Because man made joy is only temporary!! “He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals” Unknown Author. “At this very moment you and I are either committing [selfishness], or about to commit it, or repenting it.” C.S Lewis

3) DOES BITTERNESS AND UNTHANKFULNESS BLOCK YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD? (V10-V11)

 (Jonah 4:10) "And the LORD said, "You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night." This is the second question the Lord confronts Jonah with. The first one being in (verse 4) “is it right for you to be angry? Now the Lord asks Him “is it right for you to angry with the plant? We need to remember.....God is the one who prepared the plant. God is the giver of life to all of His creation. God performed another miracle by preparing a worm to eat the plant. Jonah you did not tend to the plant, help grow the plant; but you are angry over the plant (Prov 26:24) "Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbours deceit in his heart;" If you are harbouring bitterness or a grudge in your mind, as Jonah did with these people. Your heart is full of hate and evil this is what Jonah was experiencing in his life!His plant the Lord provided was dead, the heat was unbearable even for a camel, Jonah wanted to die again! Jonah had selfish pride and bitterness towards God for showing such love and mercy to the Nation Nineveh. He thought he was more important than these wicked people.....John Piper says "It horribly skews the meaning of the cross when contemporary prophets of self-esteem say that the cross is a witness to my infinite worth... The biblical perspective is that the cross in a witness to the infinite worth of God's glory, and a witness to the immensity of the sin of my pride." Remember what Paul said................ (Eph 4:31-32) "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." As Christ forgave you Christian. As God forgave you Jonah and gave you a second chance to bring Him glory!! Jonah do you know that there are 120,000 who cannot discern for themselves. (Jonah 4:11) "And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?" What God is saying is:

1. Jonah don’t you pity the children of this nation, which exceeds over 120,000?
2. Jonah are you telling me that you care more for the plant then these children?
3. Should I not be concerned about that great city Jonah?
4. Was I not concerned before the Flood?
5. Was I not concerned for Sodom and Gomorrah?
6. Jonah is it not right for Me (meaning GOD) to show mercy for their sake?

ASK YOURSELF! Are you like Jonah, bitter and resentful towards God’s people whom He showed mercy to? Have or are you bitter towards a fellow brother or sister in Christ? If so, is this the way you want to live, bitter and angry all the time like Jonah? Do you rejoice over the conversion of another without prejudice? Remember the Psalmist when he wrote (Ps 145:8-9) “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made.” His holy nature is ever inclined to show favour. He is full of compassion - Kind; compassionate; ready to do good. His greatness is shown in his mercy; and the manifestation of that mercy is great. THE LESSONS OF THIS SMALL BOOK ARE MANY TO YOU AND ME AND ESPECIALLY JONAH.........SEE JONAH IS A TYPE OF PRACTICALLY EVERYTHING: He is a type of Christ (who was buried but rose again)....He is a type of Israel (disobedient to the will of God)....He is a type of all Believers (for we all run away from God at times and need to be disciplined). ALSO SOME OTHER LESSONS WE TEND TO OVER LOOK WHEN WE READ THE SCRIPTURES! There are lessons that concern Nineveh and the true meaning of repentance. There are lessons relating to doctrine of God’s Sovereignty over men and nature. BUT THE GREATEST LESSONS WE LEARN ARE: The mercies of God......the compassion of God.....the salvation to a person that come to Him in repentance of sin....the Providence of God...His working things out for His glory....the Love of God to children as God said to Jonah in (verse 11) "And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left." James Boice says “how can we, who have known that mercy and benefited from it, be less than merciful to others? How can we do less than love them and carry the Gospel to them with all the strength at our disposal?” The real mercy of God is that outstretched arms of the Lord Jesus Christ as He hung on the Cross to die for our salvation. THIS LETTER ENDS WITH A QUESTION? Remember as we leave here today, and I really want you to think about it! Because Jesus says......(Luke 15:10) “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repent." Question is......Do you rejoice with them?

28 June 2010

God Of Second Chances


 Jonah Chapter 3


DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU GOT SAVED BY GOD’S UNMERITED GRACE?

  • Can you recall that wonderful day?
  • Who was present?
  • What were you doing at the time?
  • How did you! Hear of God’s wonderful gift of salvation?
  • Who brought you the word of hope that led to your conversion?
THE REASON I ASK THESE QUESTIONS IS..........The Nation of Nineveh had about 600,000 people strong and pagan to core! I would like to think that they would be able to answer those same questions............. or be able to recall that wonderful day of grace if they were here to answer them today. This wasn't your normal or typical day................... and either was the day the Lord purchased you up from the pit of Hell? This is a day that the nation of Nineveh would be changed forever!! A nation transformed by the word of God. Do you realize that the Bible says the angels in Heaven rejoiced over the Nation of Nineveh...... and YOU! When you were saved by His sovereign grace! “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Luke 15:10. The power of God’s word leads to repentance, a transformed life and rest that you only can find in the Saviour. Howard Hendricks says “The Bible was written not to satisfy your curiosity but to help you conform to Christ's image. Not to make you a smarter sinner but to make you like the Saviour. Not to fill your head with a collection of biblical facts but to transform your life”.

1) THE MESSAGE OF GOD’S WORD LEADS TO REPENTANCE (V5-V7)

(Verse 4) “Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be (God’s longsuffering for this wicked nation) overthrown!" Jonah lifted up his voice like a trumpet that everyone might hear. “He called or cried out...” Basically Repent our be destroyed in 40 days. Their belief in the Lord began with hearing a message from the Lord by Jonah. Preaching the Gospel is the ordinary means of salvation. Faith in Christ is the result of hearing the word, the doctrine of God preached. God sends Jonah to proclaim His message of deliverance to this wicked nation that worshiped false idols like the fish god (half man half fish). The word of God, so powerful that it enters even to the deepest and most inward and secret parts of the heart, In this case the Ninevites. Fatally wounding the stubborn, and openly reviving the believers. The word of God leads to repentance.......Remember last week........(Prov 28:13) Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. The Ninevites saw their wickedness.......Their hearts were stirred with remorse............ a brokenness. Repentance begins with acknowledging your own sinfulness, confession to God of sins against Him. look at (Verse 5) "And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth (a display of grief), from the greatest of them to the least of them." Everyone REPENTED, all the way from greatest (the King) to even the smallest child.WAS THIS YOUR HEART THE DAY YOU WERE DELIVERED FROM THE BONDAGE OF SIN? Did your heart cry out to Him for mercy and grace? Did you feel shame.....brokenness over your sin? When you read the word of God does it convict you? “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” Heb 4:12 D.L. Moody says “God has cast our confessed sins into the depths of the sea, and He's even put a 'No Fishing' sign over the spot”.

2) THE MESSAGE OF GOD’S WORD LEADS TO RENEWAL (V8-V9)

Renewal (means) "to make new" "the new man" (in contrast to the old unregenerate nature), which "is being renewed unto knowledge The Word of Truth. A changed nature which we get at the point of Salvation
(2Cor 5:17) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”. A new creation has................new affections, motives, thought life, a hope, a new life. The nation of Nineveh repented of there wickedness and believed the True Sovereign God! They were treated with the mercies of God and were brought into a proper fellowship with God. They were renewed, just like when we came to the Lord in repentance. We were forgiven and we became His “New Creations”. We were given a new nature by a Holy God......(Isa 45:22) "Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. The Ninevites finally understood what it was like to fear the real God of the bible......we see the Ninevites doing this in (Verse 8) “but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands." Basically the King said!
1. Stop living reckless and wicked
2. Stop preying upon the heart of others
3. Stop your worship to pagan deities
4. Stop sacrificing your children
5. Stop everything and come to the True God for renewal of life.

Remember! There is no repentance whatsoever unless there is a change of life. True repentance is an inward thing which has its seat in the mind and heart. The change of life (your new nature) is the proof of the changed heart.We need to understand this nation stopped all there wicked and evil acts. There is over 600,000 people coming to God in repentance and begging for His mercy and forgiveness. Why did they change? (Verse 9) Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish." Relent (means) To become less intense, to soften in temper; to become more mild and tender; to feel compassion. [This is the usual sense of the word. God showed them mercy just as he showed you and me mercy! The Ninevites chose to come to the Lord in repentance and be renewed. Because they knew He was a mighty an awesome God!

1. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
2. The God who delivered the Israelites from Egypt
3. The God who allowed a fish to swallow and spit out Jonah onto dry land
4. The God who said “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"
5. The God of this universe who would have destroyed Nineveh just like He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

J. I. Packer says “Not until we have become humble and teachable, standing in awe of God's holiness and sovereignty... acknowledging our own littleness, distrusting our own thoughts, and willing to have our minds turned upside down, can divine wisdom become ours”. The Ninevites did just that as the King of this nation came to be renewed.

3) THE MESSAGE OF GOD'S WORD LEADS TO REVIVAL (v10)

WHAT IS REVIVAL? An increase hunger for a delight in God’s Word (Ps 119: 107) “I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to Your Word!.” It involves a disdain for sin and renewed desire for obedience to God (Ps 119:37) “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways.” Brings increased commitment and interest in personal prayer. (Ps 80:18) “Then we shall not turn back from You; give us life, and we will call upon Your Name!” It’s God gladly at the center of my Life, experienced and enjoyed (Lam 3:24) “The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in Him."  It’s getting back on the right path again (1John 1:9) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

REVIVAL IS NOT! An emotional extravagance where people are caught up in the moment and fall down out of control. It’s not a long line of anxious sinners waiting for a turn at the microphone to reveal their most secret sinful something. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says “Does it grieve you my friends, that the name of God is being taken in vain and desecrated? Does it grieve you that we are living in a godless age... But, we are living in such an age and the main reason we should be praying about revival is that we are anxious to see God's name vindicated and His glory manifested. We should be anxious to see something happening that will arrest the nations, all the peoples, and cause them to stop and to think again”. This is what happened to Nineveh. A wickedest of all nations repenting as God's name vindicated and His glory was manifested. REVIVAL BEGINS HERE. The greatest revival in all of History........The Nation of Nineveh

SOME OTHER EXAMPLES OF REVIVALS THROUGH-OUT THE AGES:

1. The Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) the beginning of the church.

2. The Corinthian church (2 Cor 7: 8-9) many came to the Lord in genuine sorrow for there wickedness.

3. Jonathan Edwards and “The First Great Awakening” (1734) A village mourned over the death of 2 young people, and over a period of 6 months half the village was converted by the Power of God. From there Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Wesley the church grew rapidly in new England between 1740 and 1742 with more than 300,000 new and revived Christians turning to the Lord in faith and repentance. One Historian called this time “The most glorious and extensive revival our country has ever known”.

4. Clean Hands and Pure Hearts Revival in Scotland (1949) began with 2 ladies praying for their own lives and in the Hebrides Islands of Scotland. One morning a young man read the scriptures (Ps 24:3-5) “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of His salvation.” After he read he asked the question? Are my hands clean Lord, is my heart pure? He and his fellow intercessors fell on their faces in the barn, and their lives were revived as they got their hands and hearts clean before the Lord. By Sunday the next week the whole island was filled with God consciousness. And Churches were filled to overflowing getting right with God.

5. Nineveh a nation once known for their wickedness........ humbled themselves from the greatest to the least. Repented and believed in God. (Verse 10) When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. We as Christians get to see firsthand of what true revival is......600,000 souls turning from their wickedness and believing God. God had compassion for them for they were genuine and truly believed the message (Luke 15:18-20)  is a prime example of God's compassion for lost sinners "And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." This is what the Lord does to every single person that cries out to Him....He runs and embraces you and me.......(V20) “had compassion” We serve a God who is full of compassion for this lost sinners. God had pity for this nation! Why? Because they needed a Savior! For without one they are destined to spend eternity in Hell. The Lord sends true revival, which comes to the humble and contrite (broken-hearted for sin; deeply affected with grief and sorrow for having offended God. Even in all Israel’s sin and backsliding, God’s grace will prevail. Even in all Nineveh’s wickedness, God’s grace will prevail. Even in our sinful and disobedient behaviour, God’s grace will prevail. (2Pet 3:9) "The Lord is not slack (not lazy, doesn’t delay) concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (Matt 9:36) "But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd." This is the same God who was moved with compassion for this nation, a Nation of wickedness “...scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd”.

The Power of God’s Word is transforming to those who listen! A message that leads to Repentance......A message that leads to Renewal........A message that leads to Revival. ALWAYS REMEMBER TRUE BIBLICAL REVIVAL BEGINS WITH

1. FAITHFUL PREACHING AND FAITHFUL HEARING OF GOD’S WORD. Jonah preached what the God gave him to say: (verse 4) “Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"
2. BELIEF IN GOD. The Ninevites did more than just hear Jonah, as soon as they heard they responded by believing God (trusting the One true God). (Verse 5) And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
3. WE (THE PEOPLE) NEED TO TAKE ACTION, THERE IS NO TRUE BELIEF WITHOUT SOME CORRESPONDING ACTION BY THE SOUL THAT HAS JUST BEEN CHANGED BY FAITH. The Book of Hebrews speaks of many actions by faithful followers in chapter 11.
4. TURNING FROM A SPECIFIC SIN. The Ninevites turned from the sin that was most characteristic of them “VIOLENCE” (verse 8) but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.

Steve Lawson says “ if churches today are to see more people come to Christ, then more BIBLICAL PREACHING is needed, not less. God has always been pleased to use the foolishness of preaching His word to bring about the conversion of lost sinners. He did so in Jonah’s day and He will do so now IF CHURCHES will return to solid, straightforward biblical preaching”. (Rom 10:17) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. REMEMBER WHAT I SAID EARLIER....(Luke 15:10) Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

1. Would you like to see a revival in the church of Jesus Christ?
2. Do you sincerely desire revival within yourself (because it starts individually?)
3. Are you constantly on your knees praying to a Holy God to revive this nation we live in?
4. Is serious bible study and prayer a priority in your life?
5. Are my hands clean Lord, is my heart pure?

Only you can answer those questions!

23 June 2010

Brokenness Results in Restoration


Jonah 1:17 to 2:10

There is one truth that each and every one of us can’t deny!! There is only so much person can take before God’s breaks their stubborn will......We must realize as Christian’s, when God chastens His children!He will break you! We all have a breaking point that leads to the very situation that Jonah was about to face. When God wants to get your attention or correct your behaviour! Trust me, He will.......Jonah chose to disobey and when we disobey it is always accompanied with chastisement from a holy and righteous God. Look at what we have seen so far...........3 miracles performed by God:

1. The storm was created for Jonah
2. The Lots fell on Jonah
3. The Ceasing of the Storm

The 4th God provided the means to save and chastise Jonah with “a Great Fish” “And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Jonah 1:17. Can I ask you something personal? Only you can answer these questions

1. What do you do when you don’t get your way?
2. Do you enjoy wallowing in your own self pity?
3. Do you cry out to God and beg for forgiveness so that you can be delivered from the present situation?

Look what happened to Jonah when the Lord finally broke him of his disobedience. Jonah had sorrow, anguish over his behaviour

1) DELIVERANCE REQUIRES GENUINE REPENTANCE TO GOD’S MERCY (V1-V3)

AN HONEST DECLARATION OF PERSONAL GUILT! “Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying, "I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and He answered me; out of the belly of Sheol (grave, hell or the pit) I cried, and You heard my voice. Jonah prayed to God (I called out to the Lord). He invoked God to help him in his trouble (in my distress). He relied not on his own strength. He looked not for human aid. He looked to God alone because he knew this was for him. We need to remember God always hears our prayers when we want to be restored to fellowship through repentance! Jonah is crying out to the Lord in repentance. I like what John R. W. Stott says “Sin and the child of God are incompatible. They may occasionally meet; they cannot live together in harmony.” The Reason God was listening to Jonah because Jonah thought his life was over and he wanted to be delivered from his act of disobedience. Repentance (means) “comings to a right mind; "a sense of regret" an uneasiness of feeling at the past or present, and is applied even to the remorse. Sorrow for anything done or said; the pain or grief which a person experiences in consequence of the injury or inconvenience produced by his own conduct.” Examples of Genuine Repentance:

1. Job after being rebuked by God (Job 42:6) “therefore I adhor myself (means I despise myself) and repent in dust and ashes”

2. Isaiah when God reminds him of his unworthiness (Isa 6:5-6) “I am a man of unclean lips”

3. David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba (Ps 51:3-4) “for I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight....”

4. The Thief on the cross when he asks Jesus to remember Him (Luke 23:40-41) “Lord remember me when you come into Your Kingdom”

5. Jonah here in this chapter “I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and He answered me”

Ask yourself: When you have disobeyed God does your heart cry out to God for forgiveness? Does your distress bring you to the foot of the Cross in repentance? Can you relate to Jonah’s situation in your life today.......maybe even right now? (Prov 28:13) "Whoever conceals (covers it up...hides it) his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy." What this verse is saying! If the sinner does not acknowledge his sin.......If he chooses cover and excuse it away. God will never admit a sinful, unhumbled soul into His kingdom. But if you confess your sin with a repentant and broken heart.....Forsaking every evil way or our reasoning to the issue. The Bible also says “you shall attain mercy” and deliverance from God. Jonah knew the significance of the situation he was in as he was trapped in this large fish!
1. He knew he disobeyed God’s command at the beginning
2. He knew the terrible storm was made for him
3. He knew he had to be thrown overboard
4. He knew this great big fish was made for him
5. He knew he was standing at deaths door as in (verse 2)
6. He knew the only thing left to do was to confess to God his sinful

The only thing next was Repentance a genuine brokenness over your sin (verse 1-2) The same kind of brokenness the church in Corinth felt after Paul confronted them about their sinful and immature behaviour
“As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” 2 Cor 7:9-10. Repentance always brings restoration and forgiveness when it’s done in a godly sorrowful manner. Genuine repentance accompanies God’s sovereign mercy “you have cast all my sins” You have forgiven me of my wickedness! (Isa 38:17). Jonah didn’t want that feeling to be separated from God any longer listen to Jonah’s heart here in his prayer (verse 4)........This brings us to what happens next when we are being delivered by a holy God!

2) DELIVERANCE RESULTS IN SUBMISSION TO GOD’S MERCY (V4-V6)

AN HONEST SELF-SACRIFICAL HUMILITY TO HIS SOVEREIGN AUTHORITY! “at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.” (Verse 6) A.W Tozer said “People who are crucified with Christ have three distinct marks: 1. they are facing only one direction, 2. they can never turn back, and 3. they no longer have plans of their own.” We are His instruments for His glory.....We are here for His good pleasure not the other way around......He decree’s in Himself (His good and perfect will) we don’t tell God what we are going to do......We must submit completely to Him......WHY? Because as Jonah said “he saved me from the pit of Hell” So let me ask you....Are you being submissive to God in your life today? We must submit to God and resist the devil or the flesh of selfishness as Jonah did earlier.....Are you drawing near to Him and His merciful grace and love? We must come to him, Jonah must come to Him. Jonah has to approach draw near to God in order to attain His mercy (that’s humility). Jonah cries out to “the” LORD, my God” because He is the God of all creation! (Verse 6). Jonah had no hope of deliverance from the fish. He couldn’t see ahead like we can in this chapter. But he found the grace of God again. That same grace we receive through the privilege of prayer (Heb 4:16) "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." .....“The throne of grace!” Isn’t that a beautiful expression when it comes to the privilege of prayer? A throne is the seat of a sovereign completion. A throne of grace is designed to represent a sovereign Lord who distributes mercy and pardons. The same grace God shows each and every one of us even in our disobedience!

3) DELIVERANCE RESPONDS IN OBEDIENCE TO A MERICFUL GOD (V7- V10)

OBEDIENCE IS ALWAYS RIGHT WITH THE LORD! (Verse 9) Jonah says “But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to You; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!" Jonah vowed to be obedient to the Lord.......Jonah is saying “I will do what you ask of me LORD if you gave that chance again. (Jer 11:4) “.......I commanded your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Listen to My voice, and do all that I command you. So shall you be My people, and I will be your God,”. We as Believers must be obedient to the Lord in everything we do in every situation. John MacArthur says “The question in salvation is not whether Jesus is Lord, but whether we are submissive to His lordship.” Jonah said here in this chapter “But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to You; what I have vowed I will pay....” Why? “Because salvation belongs to the LORD and the Lord only". Jonah was acknowledging with a thankful heart for being brought back to a Father and son relationship with the Lord. (Ps 119:67) “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” I will praise You in everything, even while I’m here in this fish. I will forever praise Your Name no matter what the outcome is......I offer up sacrifice and praise to my Yahweh! Because you are worthy of all my praise. Why is Jonah praising and thanking God for his situation? The previous verse it shows the heart of a self righteous man! (Verse 8) “Those who pay regard (those who cling to worthless idols) to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” This is the opposite of Jonah’s praise to God. He wants nothing to do with that kind of worship or falsehood.....Idols that were created by man for man. A god made in our image. WHAT JONAH IS SAYING! “Whenever a believer puts something else in place of God and thereby turns from Him, he inevitably also turns from God’s mercy and grace.” James Boice says “God is not less merciful, but when a believer has rejected that mercy, they therefore deserve all that comes on them!” We must cling to the Cross of Jesus Christ and hold on for dear life. He is our:
• Source of life
• Our Redeemer
• The Light of redemption to a lost a broken world or generation

“keep (to guard, to watch) yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” (Jude 1:21) Love and obedience to God is our HOPE our sanctification! It endures forever and to all generations (young and old). “Keep” falling in love with God and wait patiently until He call us to Himself. This is our hope to meet Him in Heaven for all eternity........Not because He spared us Hell (which He does).....But because He is worthy of our praise and adorned for His mercy and forgiveness! Jonah knew he was unworthy to be in the presence of God, But he also knew the God he served was full of mercies and grace “But I with the voice of thanksgiving..................Salvation belongs to the LORD!" But that's not all!!! Look what happens next. this should make us all fall on our faces in reverence! Just as God called the stars by name. Just as God knows the number of hairs on your head. Just as God spoke life into existence and gives it air to breath.......God speaks to His creation and they obey! This is the 5th miracle in this prophet’s letter!!! (Verse10)And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.” Deliverance requires repentance so that we can be restored to a Holy God......Deliverance results in humility to the Lord in everything.......Deliverance demands obedience to His every command. Oswald Chambers says "Obedience to the call of Christ nearly always costs everything to two people- the one who is called, and the one who loves that one." Do you have anything that you need to repent to God about today? Do you feel like Jonah this morning? (Caught in a web of sin and don’t know how to get out of it).....If your here today....there still time for you!! Do you want to serve the Lord in everything you do? Because it starts here.....today.............Right now! There is victory in the Cross of Jesus Christ. He can take any situation you’re in and turn your heart to give Him the glory!! He can bring you peace and comfort in those dark hours like nobody else.....He can take your rotten circumstance and turn it into a growing time....He can transform your heart of selfishness to a heart that has anguish over sin and a desire to serve Him because He is worth it! I hope He is your greatest treasure. Remember what Jonah said “........salvation belongs to the Lord” Listen to the Hebrew writer when he penned this about our loving Lord!
“looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the Throne of God.” Heb12:2. The author and finisher of our faith. Jesus himself is our Captain, who willingly sacrificed Himself for you and me......You are His crowning glory and joy...........Deliverance always ends in right relationship with God.....“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” But it begins with a brokenness over YOUR SIN!

18 June 2010

Where Are You Running To?



What would do if you were in a situation that would possibly cause you endure PHYSICAL HARM, or worse yet! DEATH!.................All for the blessed Gospel of Jesus Christ? What would you do if someone asked you to go and share this blessed news to a hostile group or community of people? What is the easiest thing to do when something is causing you to get out of your comfortable Christian life? Do you ignore the situation? Do you run away hoping the problem will eventually go away or get solved by someone else? DO YOU REALIZE the further you runway harder it is! Why? It will always catch up to you.........Running does not solve the problem. As Christians! It is our duty to face whatever the Lord puts in our path and not run from His sovereign will for our lives. Turn with me to a story of one man who didn’t want to follow God’s instruction and thought it would be better to go his own way “Jonah”
• Jonah was a prophet from God (going back to 2 Kings 14:25)
• Jonah represented God to the 10 northern tribes during a time of relative peace and prosperity
• Jonah proceeded Amos as a prophet to the Northern Tribes
• Jonah and Amos were living in very similar political and cultural conditions
• Both Syria and Assyria were weak, allowing King Jeroboam II to enlarge the northern borders of Israel

Things were going relatively well for Jonah! Until the LORD came to Him and said “Arise Go to Nineveh...” Can I tell you something that is very important! We ALWAYS needs to obey God when He says go....... or when we are to do something.....Andrew Murray says "Just as a servant knows that he must first obey his master in all things, so the surrender to an implicit and unquestionable obedience must become the essential characteristic of our lives." Jonah wasn’t listening to God and His commands.........Jonah knew all to well about the people of Nineveh. He hated them becuase they were so wicked and pagan. See Nineveh wasn’t your normal or typical city!

• Nineveh was situated on the Tigris River
• Nineveh was the capital of the mighty Assyrians

Nineveh was one the.........
1) Wickedest
2) Heavily into Pagan Idolatry
3) No Bible knowledge of any sort
4) Haters of anyone outside their city
• Nineveh was known to be heavily protected by huge inner walls: 50 feet wide....100 feet high....8 miles around.
• Nineveh was feared for the cruelty of their soldiers to captives of neighbouring nations

Nineveh was widely known for:
1. Sacrificing their children to pagan deities
2. Shameless in their disregard for human life in general
3. They were known as “the Bloody City” (Nah 3:1) Woe to the bloody city, all full of lies and plunder-- no end to the prey!
4. Basically they were a barbaric nation! A great example of human depravity
This wasn’t an easy city or situation for Jonah to enter! What would you do? Would you go and preach to this wicked nation? Would you run like Jonah as far away as possible? Or Would you walk by faith in God’ providential care to see you through this situation. Jonah had a duty to perform and a responsibility to the message of God! But! Jonah choice to run!! Let me ask you!!!Where are you running to Christian?

1) RUNNING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION ONLY LEADS TO A LIFE FILLED WITH DISOBEDIENCE (V1- V3)

“Fleeing from the Lord’s Command” Disobedience (means) To neglect or a refusal to obey; a violation, a breach of duty prescribed by authority. In the OT "disobedience" is frequently described as "a refusing to hear. (Deut 18:19) "And whoever will not listen to My words that he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him." I will require it of you; I will punish him severely for it. The act of disobedience is going to be required of you. Nothing goes undone by a holy a sovereign God! See when God calls a person Like Jonah here to proclaim His Word, we must do it and not say “I don’t think so”................... because you will have to stand before God.

EXAMPLES OF GOD CALLING HIS PEOPLE TO GO!

1. Moses at the burning bush (Exo 3:1-8)
2. Jeremiah and his call to preach (Jer 1:5)
3. John the Baptist (Luke 1:15-17)
4. The twelve disciples (Mark 3:13-14)
5. The apostle Paul (Gal 1:15-16)

(v2) “Arise, go to Nineveh” See this is a command not a request again if the Lord tells you to do something you do it! Jonah knew the Law of the Lord, and he also knew he was suppose to listen and follow God’s commands. Jonah did the exact opposite of what God commands from His children. Jonah chose to “flee” and go as far away from Nineveh as possible. Are you doing this today? Does God want you to do something that would require you to go? Disobedience leads to heartache or worse death! Adam and Eve, eating the forbidden fruit (Gen 3:6-11)................Lot's wife, in looking back upon Sodom (Gen 19:26)........Moses in making excuses when commissioned to deliver Israel (Exo 4:13-14)...........The Israelites refusing to enter the Promised Land (Deut 1:26; Num 14:1-10)..........And Jonah disobeying a direct command from God “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me." Jonah thought he could flee to Tarshish and escape the presence of the Lord. HELLO JONAH, think about it for a minute!...............................God is what? Omnipresent!!

Omnipresent (means) God is everywhere present at the same time; He is unbounded. “If God is everywhere, it is foolish to think we can hide from Him. However, it also means that a believer may experience the presence of God at all times and know the blessing of walking with Him.” John MacArthur(Jer 23:24) "Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? Declares the LORD. To think that a person can run away from the eternal presence of the Lord is plan foolishness. Sadly though there are many Jonah’s today....who do the same thing he did. Fleeing (disobeying or make excuses) when the Lord demands us to go!!

• I’m too afraid
• They are not going to listen to me
• I don’t know what to say to such wicked people
• I don’t want to offend

What does Jonah Do? He goes in the opposite direction of Nineveh “So he paid the fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.” (v3)


2) RUNNING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION ONLY LEADS TO CHASTISEMENT FROM GOD (V4- V9)

Chastisement (means) to rebuke or discipline. A child of God realizes that he cannot be beneath God's wrath, and hence, that the chastening which he endures is not destructive, but corrective. (Heb 12:6-7) For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline Disobedience is Sin! And Sin always needs to be dealt with quick and swiftly by a sovereign God. Because if it isn’t. We have broken our fellowship with Him. We are ineffective as servants to Him. In a sense we become useless to the Gospel that saves to the uttermost. We are about to see firsthand how God disciplines a child of God......His prophet Jonah! Look at (Verse 4) “But the LORD hurled a great wind (this is a miracle) upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up”. Not only was Jonah seeing firsthand the chastisement for his disobedience. But we also see the ripple effect of Jonah’s disobedience...which is what happens when we disobey God.....we cause a ripple effect to those around us. (Verse 5) “the mariners (heathen men) were afraid and every man cried out to his god (false gods, pagan gods). Jonah's world was crashing down all around him and it’s all because he chose to disobey God. What he was doing was wrong (sin) BY NOT FOLLOWING GOD’S INSTRUCTION! When he woke he also knew in his heart the storm was for him not the other men in the boat. So what do they do? The Bible says “they cast lots”...........Lots (mean) God sometimes sanctioned this mode of deciding in difficult cases. “Lots,” according to the ends for which they were cast, were for dividing; consulting; divining. Sort of like throwing dice. Lots were made from the ankle bone of a sheep. Another example (Matt 27:35) And when they had crucified Him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.We see God overruled the lot in the case of Jonah which makes this another miracle! “the lots all fell on Jonah” in (verse 7).
3) RUNNING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION ALWAYS ENDS IN MAKING A CHOICE (V10 - V16)

Remember you cannot outrun the Creator of the universe who spoke life into existence. (Ps 139: 2-8) You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to Heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! You know when I sit down and rise......The Lord knew Jonah was asleep in the lower part of the Boat. You discern my thoughts.........He knew Jonah’s decision before he made it. You are there............The Lord is everywhere. He knows where you are in your walk and He definitely knew where Jonah was. It was time for these men to make a decision. Verse 12 And he said to them “pick me up and throw me onto the sea”; then the sea will become calm." Jonah was willing to die then to face the fact that he disobeyed the true living God who was sending him to a pagan and evil nation to repent and worship the God of Creation. Jonah would rather die than to follow the Lords command. Jonah would rather die than go to Nineveh! But look at what these men did (v13) 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. What do we notice here in this verse? These men were willing to work harder so that they could save the life of one man. These men had more compassion for him then he had for 600,000 souls! Ask yourself something? Do you care about the lost who are perishing into Hell every minute of every day? Is your attitude like Jonah’s, I would rather die than preach repentance and salvation to a lost a fallen world? Is the soul of a lost person worth taking you out of your comfort zone?
These heathen sailors had something Jonah didn’t have “Compassion and concern for others.” Someone said “non- Christians never look better than when they are compared with some Christians” But we see an amazing change in the life of these sailors (Verse 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." These men cried out to the God that created them why? Look at (Verse 8-9) We need to understand there was a change in the lives after hearing Jonah’s answer! They were not pleading unto their gods as they did in verse 5......But unto the true Jehovah, the God of Jonah. The God of the Hebrews (the one who parted the Red Sea.....the Nile) This is what I love about God. He can take any situation to display His Glory and He did all this with a disobedience and unwilling prophet named Jonah.
1. God created a storm
2. God controlled the lots to fall on Jonah
3. God puts these sailors into his life for a purpose
4. God also by His sovereignty stopped the terrible storm from continuing

(Jonah 1:15-16) So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows. And look what happened “sea ceased from its raging” another miracle performed by our LORD. Immediately stopped, and became a calm; and the wind also ceased from blowing the storm was over! Same thing happened with the disciples.....(Matt 8:26-27) "And He said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?" Then He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of Man is this, that even winds and sea obey Him?" This is the same God who feed and keep the Israelites from harm in the desert. This is the same God who made the blind to see......The deaf to hear......The lame to walk. This is the same God that rebuked the storm for the sailors and His prophet Jonah. (Verse 16) “Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows” This was not a natural fear, as before, not a menial fear or a fear of punishment, but a reverential godly fear. Remember what Solomon said “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” Prov 1:7. They began to worship the true God..................The One who wonderfully delivered from this storm. The God of the Hebrew’s Lord Jehovah! The Great Provider!!The God that delivered the Hebrews out of Egypt! The God who parted the Red Sea. The God that protected them by a Cloud in the daytime and a Pillar of Fire by night! The God that came to saves lost sinners!! I love what John Calvin said "Since no man is excluded from calling upon God the gate of salvation is open to all. There is nothing else to hinder us from entering, but our own unbelief”. God can take this chosen prophet Jonah in all his disobedience and use him to display the wonderful grace and mercy of a Sovereign God to those around him. These men offered sacrifices and vowed to Him (Vow means: a promise to the one and only God)! We will serve you Living God. We serve a wonderful and amazing God who will take any situation we are in and us it for Good! God is sovereign and He is in total control of ever situation, whether we like it or not! ASK YOURSELF THESE SUNDAY QUESTIONS AS WE CLOSE! Are you so afraid to used by a holy God? Is running away the answer to my problem? What does running away accomplish? Do I care about the lives of those who are perishing in our community? Are you facing a storm as a result of disobedience today?
Do you believe that God is Sovereign and that He will use you whether you like it or not? The answers to all these questions can be found in this Minor Prophets account! Jonah’s situation can be applied to every single one of us today? May we walk in obedience even if it seems tough to do so, in a world that hates Jesus Christ and His Gospel? “So many times we say that we can't serve God because we aren't whatever is needed. We're not talented enough or smart enough or whatever. But if you are in covenant with Jesus Christ, He is responsible for covering your weaknesses, for being your strength. He will give you His abilities for your disabilities!” Kay Arthur. As the prophet Isaiah said in 6:8 ‘..............I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." “Remember as you leave this building you are entering the mission field” The question we need to ask ourselves is........ARE YOU GOING TO RUN OR GO?

13 June 2010

It Was Love by Sovereign Grace Music

The Beautiful Gospel that saves to the uttermost! The Lover of my wretched soul....To Him be the glory for saving me from what I was......lost and without hope! Thank you Lord Jesus!!

05 June 2010

The How To Manual


How To Manual
1 Thess 5:12-28

What is the one thing that gets overlooked by most people especially men.... when they buy something? A MANUAL!!! This is supplied by the franchisor to his / her as part of the franchise package to provide him / her with step-by-step instructions on how to set up and operate a franchised unit to the specifications and standards of the franchise. Basically a manual shows you how to maintain and use the product properly!

A owners manual shows you how:• To clean you’re electronic properly
• To put your new purchase together (table/entertainment unit)
• Many times of day you are to take your medication
• To install that part correctly to your car or truck
• Maintain and preserve your vehicle so that it runs at its best and last’s for many years to come

Why does everything we buy come with an instruction manual? The answer is simple! It’s important and vital for the purchaser...so that they get many years out of their purchase.....If we didn’t pay attention to the manual we could be in serious trouble!!! Though this might be extreme but it makes my point very clearly! In 1984 an Avianca Airlines jet crashed in Spain. Investigators studying the accident made an eerie discovery. The "black box" cockpit recorders revealed that several minutes before impact a high-pitched, computer-synthesized voice from the plane's automatic warning system told the crew repeatedly in English, "Pull up! Pull up!" The pilot, evidently thinking the system was malfunctioning, snapped, "Shut up, Gringo!" and switched the system off. Minutes later the plane ploughed into the side of a mountain. Everyone on board died. A tragedy that could have been averted if someone paid attention to the instrument panel; if someone had followed the franchises manual of operation!!!! The same principles can be applied to the Christian life.....God has given us a book (a manual so to speak) about what He requires from each and every one of us.  It’s a book filled with 66 letters about His glory and goodness towards His creation. It’s a book that will either guide you to Him or a book that will draws you away from Him “shut up gringo, shut up God." As we come to a close to this wonderful letter that is filled with God's:

• Promises
• Riches
• His sovereign grace
• His providential plan for His elect
• His plan for those who deny His grace and mercy

Paul finishes his letter with a sort of a manual for the Christian life.....”A to do list” of things until that blessed day comes! We have to remember how important the church is to God!

 The church is the most blessed institution on earth
 The church is the ONLY one built by the Lord Jesus Christ HIMSELF
 The church is the ONLY institution He promised to eternally bless “.....that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Eph 5:27
 The church is the institution that Jesus Himself declared “the gates of Hades will not overpower it” Matt 16:18
"Princes, kings, and other rulers of the world have used all their strength and cunning against the Church, yet it continues to endure and hold its own." John Foxe
 The church is a pillar and support of the Truth that God has given us through His word....."Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, there a church of God exists, even if it swarms with many faults." John Calvin

BUT!! We also need to understand also the church isn’t immune to: Difficulties, imperfect people, hardships, persecution, weak immature brothers/sisters and possiblly even unsaved (unregenerate people). But AGAIN!! We as a church need to recognize and deal with and build were building is needed: The weaknesses, imperfections, difficulties caused by sin! Why? Because the church is also faced with very strong opposition from:
Satan and his demons, his human elements (the unregenerate person who is here only to cause turmoil and division among the children of God......Paul finishes this letter by giving us a list of things to do keep a healthy church body as we wait....watch....anticipate the Lord to call us home! Because we need to realize that “if one part of the body is sick........ It affects the rest of the body!” And the first thing Paul says........look at (verse 12).

1. VALUE YOUR PASTOR (V12) you are my responsibility when I stand before the Lord one day!! Heb 13:17 “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” I care deeply for you and this church.......................I need you! I don’t do this for money or a job....................I do this because I care about your soul! I’m not here to win a popularity contest..................I desire your love for God and His church! I don’t find enjoyment in preaching messages that are going to make you upset with me or God. But the Bible says “I’m to preach the whole council of God” Paul says “who diligently labour (spiritual sweat) and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction” (verse 12) Al Mohler said when he talked to a group of pastors “We study, we stand before our people, we read the text, and we explain it, we reprove, rebuke, exhort, encourage, and teach and then we do it all over again, and again and again.” This is my life...............................He called me to you so that we could grow together. Will you help me or will you be against me?....................You have a choice to make.

2. BE AN ENCOURAGER AND COME ALONG SIDE THE IDLE (V14) Paul says “admonish the unruly” “Unruly” refers to: someone who behaving in a disorderly manner, someone who is idle and watching things happen before their eyes.... or someone who has a rebellious attitude towards a person or the church. (2Thess 3:11-13) Paul says “admonish the unruly” warn, or alert someone of their behaviour! It doesn’t mean being judgemental or critical in “I’m better then you mentality."  Rather in a caring kind of warning against danger that lies up ahead if they continue. A great example is found in Act 20:31 “Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”

3. COMFORT THE FEARFUL AND DOUBTING SHEEP (V14)“The fainthearted” literally means the small souled....the worried sheep...They lack boldness to accept challenges whether they required being more involved or new challenges presented by the church. “The weak” the fragile who are in the faith...those who’s faith may not be strong enough to enjoy the freedom in Jesus Christ. “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.” Rom 15:1-2. Paul says “encourage and help those who display this in their lives...come along side don’t stick your nose up and look down on them as second class citizens

4. BE PATIENT AND PURSUE WHAT IS GOOD AND NOT WHAT IS BAD (V14-V15). Display or show genuine longsuffering, grace even if that person tends to irritate you to resentment or anger. We are to show that same patience that Jesus did or does with you and me today! We all know the natural tendency is to lash out or strike back with an even heavier blow (v15) “evil for evil” Listen to this very carefully! There is no place for this behaviour in a Christian’s life at any time. You have no right to retaliate or the right to have personal vengeance on anyone. Paul wrote in Rom 12:19 "Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. God is the ONLY one who has that right! You don’t even if you have a legitimate reason too! Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers! Jesus said we are to be gentle as doves among wolves. Seek what is beautiful and worthy for you and for those around you!! Not just the saved but the unsaved as well....Why? Because the world is watching us

5. REJOICE ALWAYS (V16) This literally means “at all times be rejoicing” this is the shortest verse in the Greek New Testament. See joy is the appropriate response at all times even despite your present circumstance. John MacArthur said “truly joyful Christians will always have a deep seated confidence in God’s sovereign love, and mighty power on behalf of His own, and in His providential working of all things according to His perfect plan” Paul talked about his true joy previously in this letter (1 Thess 3:9).

6. NEVER QUIT PRAYING (V17) This is God’s divine mandate (unwavering command by God) to His set-apart children“without ceasing” means “constant” Prayer is not some unending activity of kneeling and intercession; it’s a heart attitude and a way of life! Prayer is a continual attitude a Christian who takes God’s command seriously. The last thing you want to do is take what a holy God says lightly! Especially when He demands...commands you to do something!! Which in this context.....prayer!......Paul says never stop talking to God.......no matter what! Take for example found in the parable of the man who needed bread for his guest (Matt 11:5-10).

7. ALWAYS HAVE A THANKFUL HEART (V18) Do you realize the opposite of this....... is the very essence of the unregenerate heart? Giving thanks to God should be the Christian’s natural response! Shouldn’t it?
When you read this in the context of this letter! We find such great examples through this newly born again church. They were thankful despite what they and Paul were facing “persecution for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This direct and bold statement leaves no room for the Christian to be unthankful! Col 3:17 “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Heb 13:15 “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Eph 5:20 “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ," The Christian life should be a constant life that demonstrates your love for Him and your love for others......That only comes by having a thankful heart! Why? (verse 18) This is your sanctification (your practical sanctification)!! What is God’s will for my life?.................ANSWER is found in these 3 verses 16-18!

8. BE SUBMISSIVE TO THE HOLY SPIRIT (V19) How do I do that? By not quenching the Holy Spirit “Quench” means to extinguish...stifle, to suppress, to suffocate. Don’t douse the Spirit by engulfing yourself in deliberate unrepented habitual sin! Paul is saying sin quenches the Spirit’s work in us! Ryrie said “the Spirit is quenched whenever His ministry is stifled in an individual or in church." Do you realize when we quench the Spirit it causes a ripple effect! We grieve the Holy Spirit!..................... “by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Eph 4:30. We must be submissive to the Holy Spirits’ leading and directing in our lives. Paul said further in to the church in Ephesus to continually being filled by the Spirit.....Eph 5:15-18 “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,” When we are submissive to the Spirit................ your cup will overflow with His goodness and understanding in your Christian life. We must submit to Him! We must walk with Him as He is in the light. When we do this.............. you won’t stumble in the areas that He wants you to walk in!
“Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Gal 5:16, again this only comes by submitting to Spirit!

9. TAKE AND STUDY THE WORD OF GOD SERIOUSLY (V20-V21) Peter wrote “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20-21. When God’s word is being preached or read it is to be received with great seriousness!!!Let me ask you! Do you take this seriously?

• This is for our instruction
• This is for our benefit
• This is for our sanctification
• This is for us

Why? Because it leads us to directly to Him and all His glory in Heaven....“Prophecy” in the New Testament is above all meaning to speak the word of God.... Declaring the mind of God as it has been revealed in the Bible keeping with the context of this letter. The Bible says we are to be discerning and testing everything that comes before us
• Is it of God or man?
• Is it true or false?
• Is it authentic or a forgery?

Paul says “examine everything” Test everything to the Scriptures! We must have discernment (the ability to distinguish divine truth from error and half truths......) Act 17:11 “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” Hold fast what is good and throw out what is false!

10. OSTRACIZE WHAT IS EVIL (V22) As I said a few weeks ago “Don’t do it” flee from all forms of evil or sinful pleasures. Paul uses strong commands here! “Abstain” means to hold, to restrain oneself from anything that goes against what God says! What is that? Paul says anything that is“evil” anything that is harmful or malignant. Could be even a distortion of truth or moral perversion. Basically anything that will cause you to grieve or quench the very Spirit of God that illuminated the very thing you’ve been saved from the evil from which you came out of. There are too many Christian’s that have one foot in the World and one foot in Christ. They want to see how close they can get to the edge before the fall or worse yet die!John spoke of this behaviour.......“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17. Paul says RUN, RUN, and RUN as far away as you can....because everything that is evil is not of God!!

What is the one thing that encourages a young Christian......a tired Christian........a restless Christian............or someone who is going through a really tough time? To Hear that someone is praying for you! Look at (verse 23-28) Paul finishes his letter by sealing it with a prayer of encouragement for the church..... He calls them God’s people..... set apart by Him............He calls them........ faithful.

Paul started his letter with the word of grace, now he closes this letter the same way....Remember Christianity is grace from the beginning to end! This is my prayer for you and me this morning!!! That we show one another that same love and grace to this body of Christ. Follow the instruction manual that you hold in your hands because it’s what shows you how to function as a Christian: No matter the culture is! No matter what generation you’re from!No matter what the world thinks! THE SUNDAY QUESTION: Are you taking God’s instruction manual seriously in your life? Because it's for you......