27 December 2015

OUR COMPASSIONATE SHEPHERD


John 10:1-21

The Lord Jesus has been given many names, He is called……..
  • The Amen [Rev 3:14]
  • The Alpha & Omega [Rev 22:13]
  • The Advocate [1 John 2:1]
  • The Author of Salvation [Heb 2:10]
  • The Bread of Life [John 6:35]
  • The Cornerstone [Eph 2:20]
  • The Great High Priest [Heb 4:14]
  • The Lamb of God [John 1:29]
  • The Son of David [Matt 12:23]
  • The Son of God [Luke 1:35]
  • The Son of Man [John 5:27]
  • The word of Life [1 John 1:1]
  • The Resurrection and the Life [John 11:25]
  • The Son of the Blessed One [Mark 14:61]

But none quit describe the term of endearment that Jesus has towards sinners like the name that He has been given “Great Shepherd” See! A shepherd is someone who guards, guides, protects, tends and generally cares for the well-being of what they are overseeing. The Old Testament predicted this truth about Jesus. “I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them.....” Eze 34:23. In Micah 5:4 says “And He shall stand and feed His flock In the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God; And they shall abide, For now He shall be great To the ends of the earth;"

Who does the Shepherd care for? According to the New Testament, the Church is compared to many things in the Scriptures. It is described (among other things) as a Bride, a Body, a City, a House of Living Stones and a flock of sheep. If you could pick an animal to characterize who are you are, what would that be? I don’t think anyone would choose a sheep. Why? What are sheep like? For one thing, raising sheep has been an important way for people to make a living for thousands of years especially up to and during the time of the Jesus. We as humans have so much in common with sheep….whether you like it or not!

For example: 

Sheep aren't very smart. If a sheep tries to go through a hole in the fence, and the hole is too small, he will just keep on trying to go forward instead of backing out. Like sheep, we aren't very smart either. We keep on doing the same things over and over and expect different results.

Sheep are followers. If one sheep moves, the others will follow even though it may not be a good decision. If the lead sheep jumps over a cliff, the others are likely to follow. Sometimes we are followers too. We follow what other people are doing, even though it may be harmful to us.

Sheep sometimes wander. They graze without paying attention to where they are going. They may be unable to find their way home even when it's within sight.
We sometimes wander too. We stray away from what God has taught us to do. Like the sheep, we sometimes can't find the way home even when it is in plain sight.

So we can summarize that sheep…..
  • Are creatures of habit
  • Have limited intelligence
  • Are prone to listless wandering
  • Can be very timid and stubborn
  • Easily frightened by the most ridiculous things
  • They are absolutely defenceless if ever attacked

As one writer said “the existence of the sheep was the prime evidence against the theory of evolution, there is no way sheep could have survived.” Let me ask you…….Can you relate to some of those character traits that describe a sheep in your life?
  • We are people of habit, do the same thing over and over again.
  • We are people who are limited in our understanding.
  • We are people who are prone to wander.
  • We are people who are shy but aggressive when we want something.
  • We are people who scare easily.
  • We are people who are defenceless most of the time, 9/11 proved that.

This is why the Shepherd came, to save us from entering the wrong door because we are just like sheep! What door?
  • The door of deception
  • The door of false promises and dreams
  • The door of misguided truths
  • The door of false religion and religious leaders (v8, v10, v12-v13)

“Hired hand” represents the religious leaders who perform their duties but don’t sacrificially care for the sheep. They stand in contrast to Jesus because they truly don’t care about the sheep at all….and their job is to shatter the sheep. Paul told Timothy “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,” 1 Tim 4:1-2. False shepherds whose consciences are cauterized and hardened to the truth of God’s word. See according to Jesus there are certain individuals [religious leaders]. Who will try to steal your hearts affections and they will do whatever it takes to destroy your soul, even if it means removing you from the flock. Many will try to deceive fallen sheep from entering the right door! Many will or try to pull the wool over your eyes, so that you don’t see or taste the truth of the gospel. 

In Eze 34:1-31 proclaims this clear warning against the false leaders “And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: "Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. Ezekiel goes on to say for the LORD 'Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock" therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them." But we see the promise from the true Shepherd ‘For thus says the Lord GOD: "Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down," says the Lord GOD. "I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment."  Eze 34:1-31. This is who Jesus is warning us about and to be aware of. Jesus said "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” (v1) And then Jesus goes on to say “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (v10). This is a clear warning to all who would listen…….including the Pharisee’s about the clear warning of entering the wrong door or way. 

"Thieves and robbers!" What does Jesus mean by this statement? They rip-off  the church or into an office, and rob God or Christ of their power and authority; and such were the Scribes and Pharisees….and we see this up front and center today in churches, not just in North America but also around the globe. As this one pastor David Yonggi Cho, founder of world's largest Pentecostal congregation, was found guilty by South Korean court for committing breach of trust and corruption of 13 billion won (US $12 million), after stealing from his church family! To that I say “listen to the warning of  the great Shepherd” because they stand behind pulpits every Sunday deceiving people, robbing people of the true beauty found in the gospel of Christ. Treating people as numbers and not as people created in the image of God. Listen to the heart of a shepherd named Robert McCheyne, a preacher of the 1800 as he warns the people of his day “You know, dear brethren, this is Satan's great object in the world; it is to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. This is the object of Antichrist. This is the object of the world. This is the object of all false ministers. This is the object of your enemies, little flock, for whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Satan comes to rob God of your souls; Antichrist comes to rob God of his throne -- to rob God of his laws; and the world comes to rob God of his Sabbath. So with worldly ministers in like manner, they come to rob you of your soul, of peace, of joy, of holiness. Antichrist robs you of the true way to the Father. And the world comes to rob you -- that pleasant world which says, 'Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant, (Proverbs 9:17). And so with worldly ministers - this is their object, to rob, to steal, and to destroy. 0 my brethren, be warned to flee; be warned to flee from Antichrist; be warned to flee from an ungodly world! See, a shepherd’s responsibility is to teach the sheep how to hear the voice of the Lord. We want to be sure we are following Him and not listening to the voice of a stranger or a counterfeit. This passage, this chapter displays for us what a true shepherd does for His flock! Jesus wants to protect us from people who are selfish and untrue. Who deny the true promise of the gospel! A shepherd cares for his flock, his people! This leads me to the first point!

A SHEPHERD CARES AND PROTECTS HIS FLOCK (v1-v10)

This, first of all, shows the complete knowledge he has of the sheep. Remember of Zacchaeus? When he was a stray sheep, Christ said to him when he was in the tree, “'Come down; for today I must abide at thine house'” (Luke 19:5). Jesus says “I am the Door of the sheep” Go back to the sheepfold imagery once again. The sheep are with their shepherd inside the stone enclosure during the night. There was no door of any kind in these enclosures. In place of the door there was just an open space. At night after the shepherd called in his sheep and herded them within the fold. The shepherd himself lies down across the opening and entrance into the sheepfold…..literally the shepherd was the door. No sheep could get out and no enemy could come in except over his body. In a very literal sense, the shepherd was the door. There was no way in or out except through him. What picture of our Lord Jesus Christ who is one who cares and guards our souls for all eternity. Jesus is saying, “I, and I alone, I and no other am the Door of the sheep.” (v7). Jesus is the one and only gate into heaven. Jesus Christ is the sole way to God. There is no other way as Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6. Remember! If there is no Christ, there is no way to God….(PERIOD). If He is not the Door, there is no entrance into God’s presence. As the Door, Jesus is, the one way of entrance into salvation and rest with the Father.

A SHEPHERD HAS COMPASSION FOR HIS FLOCK (v11-v18)

He will lay His life down for the sheep according to (v11)Where else have we seen this statement about Jesus? Paul wrote “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Eph 5:1-2. That’s the gospel, which is filled with love and compassion for lost, prone to wandered sheep. Where do we see the compassion for lost sheep in the gospels? A prime example of this is found in the Luke 15 when the one sheep wanders off and the shepherd searches endlessly for that lost sheep. And what does he do when he finds the sheep that wandered? Luke pens these words “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” Luke 15:5. See shepherds who tend their flocks according to Jewish custom, did not tend the sheep in order to slaughter them, unless they were used for sacrifice. Shepherds tended them that the sheep might give wool, milk and baby lambs. The bible says “"I am the good shepherd” which means according to scholars, Jesus is “fundamentally good, beautiful or fair” It described Jesus, as the model that others may safely imitate. To call Jesus “good” is to call Him “God”(v11). In Mark 10:17-18 we read “Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” We see this affirmed by Jesus himself in(v17-v18) and in (v30) He is a God who cares and has compassion for lost sheep who are prone to wander and fall! This is why He came to please the father’s wrath for our sin by becoming one of us to lay His life down as a ransom for us. As the Good Shepherd He is the One who cares for the sheep and provides for their salvation at the cost of His own life.

What am I supposed to do with this passage? You must believe on Christ and trust in Him personally to save you. We are never to trust in possessions or ourselves as a means of salvation. Remember you are a sheep! See, the Door is a person, the Lord Jesus Christ; the only thing necessary for you to do is believe, repent of your sin and trust in Jesus Christ. So my only Sunday question for those who have not tasted that grace of the gospel……………Have you believed or trusted in Him for everlasting life? As for the believer, find great comfort in this passage as the GOOD SHEPHERD leads you along the story book path of your life that He has written for you. Though it’s easy for sheep to wander and leave the God we love as Robert Robinson said in his song “Come Thou Fount” But we also know in his song “Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God; He, to rescue me from danger,” Though we will face and walk through cold, dry days down some ugly dark valleys as helpless sheep, we can find great comfort in the GOOD SHEPHERD! As David said “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” Psalm 23

02 December 2015

TERRIFYING TIMES (PART 1)


2 Tim 3:1-17

I grew up in a time when hair bands of the 80 and 90’s ruled the main stage of my personal life! None of this: Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga or Katy Perry, corporate bubble gum talent sell out garbage! I grew in a generation of talented musicians like: Kiss, Motley Crue, Whitesnake, Ozzy, and Scorpion’s, Canadian bands like: Helix, Kick Axe, Rush and Triumph. But I think one of the biggest bands that exploded on music scene during my time was a band called AC/DC. Sadly, at the young age of only 33, AC/DC's lead singer Bon Scott, “drank himself to death,” according to the official coroner's report. Bon Scott recorded six studio albums with the rock band AC/DC, beginning with 1974's "High Voltage." It was shortly after the release of the somewhat foreshadowing sixth album, 1979's "Highway to Hell," that Scott died (February 19, 1980). In keeping with his rowdy persona, the official coroner's report stated that Scott had drank himself to death. "Highway to Hell" sold over a million copies during its initial run (it has sold seven million to date) and climbed to place at No. 17 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart. Bon Scott epitomized the role of a God-hating rebel, who abused drugs and indulged in sinful living. Scott was found dead in his car after an indulgent binge left his body lifeless and his soul at the reality of the “Highway to Hell” which Bon Scott recorded just months prior to his tragic death. Bon Scott, who wore a satanic pentagram around his neck, sang in his infamous song entitled Highway to Hell “Hey Satan, paid my dues, playing in a rockin' band, I'm on a highway to hell.”Our generation and the next generation are still buying into this lie as I once did, which comes from the pit of Hell. 

In light of these past weeks….. Things are becoming clearer to me! How much worse can it get? The bible says……“Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the Day of Judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” Matt 10:13. Our society is falling apart and the people [even the church] are falling for this world. Our culture is still being adapted by what we see, hear and touch, and they embracing this fallen world! Jesus said “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be”.  Matt 24:37-39. So my question for us is this………Are we ready for perilous times? Are we ready to fight back to protect our marriages, our children, our families, our sexual purity and a biblical world-view? From a culture that says “there is no absolutes, all sexual types orientation is good, there is no God, the world just evolved, let the professionals teach and train your children, majority knows best, do what makes you happy, climb the corporate ladder, don’t think for yourself, live for self and forget about anybody else.” Or a culture that says “Stay busy, prepare for that freedom 55, and so on.” Sadly, our culture is getting more perverse by the minute! Again with the news and entertainment hype about Bieber, Miley Cyrus’s, Lady Gaga perversion and open sin……millions of young people look up to them as a role model. Can I tell you, that they’re no role model for our young people! They are the Bon Scott of this generation who desperately needs Christ. They are on a road that only has one off ramp that can save them from the famous song by AC/DC!.................... The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So again the question is again! Are we ready for perilous times? Increasingly, we are hearing people talk about “The Last Days” or “The End of the World,” “Last days” are not only the days immediately preceding Christ’s second coming. Rather they began at Pentecost and will continue until that day. In other words, we have been and still are living in the last days. The new age arrived with Christ’s incarnation and the old age began to pass away, ushering in the “the Last Days” This world system and the generations to follow are living in perilous times. What does that look like then and today? "……For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Rom 1:16-18. Further down Paul mentions those who suppress the truth! Whose hearts are filled with their own lustful passions (v24-25); whose hearts are filled with sexual immorality (v26-v27). The ones who are “filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” Rom 1:29-32. Do see what Rom 1:32 says? “….they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” Our present world system rejoices, boasts and encourages such wicked behaviour. Society has become ruthless, craving the bloodiest and most horrid behaviours and lack of morals... It’s the promotion of give us more, more, and more!

For Example:
  • Sexual immorality is increasing by the minute around the globe.
  • Decency and morality is being thrown out the window as garbage and old fashion.
  • Young people are giving up their purity so that they can fit into the mold of this generation to find acceptance and love.
  • Having more than 2 children you are considered selfish and overcrowding in an “already crowded world.”
  • Marriage is no longer an institution between two believers under God’s covenant of marriage.
  • Demonic activity is hitting the big screen and taking over the movie box office and the television.
  • Homosexuality and trans-gender is considered a normal sexual lifestyle.
  • A mother killing and drowning her 4 children in a pool is considered murder, but killing a child in the womb is considered “choice”.
  • Helping someone end their life is considered human, but beat or torture an animal is considered barbaric and cruel.
  • The bible is considered hate speech and intolerant, but to be-head someone in the name of “Allah” is considered ok.

I don’t mean to wreck your Sunday morning worship, but we really need to open our eyes to what is going on around the world. Might I remind you that Paul wrote this to Timothy some 2000 years ago? Paul said perilous times were coming for the church. This fallen world is falling into a deep depravity, but the church was going to face this sort behaviour and total disregard for anything that is attached to the name Jesus Christ. “Perilous times” means times of great difficulty, grievous, stressful, hazardous or dangerous, unsafe. It’s like those of public plagues, when death lies at every door, also referring fierce, violent dangerous or even savage.

PERILOUS TIMES: WHEN PEOPLE’S LIVES ARE SELF-CENTERED (v2-v4)

The self-centered people described first had a misdirected love. Paul says “lovers of self”, “lovers of money”, “unloving” .Everyone worshipped something other than the One who created them for His glory. So in these perilous times will see more narcissism (love of self), materialism (love of money), and hedonism (love of pleasures)

PERILOUS TIMES: WHEN PEOPLES’ RELIGION IS A SHOW (V3-V5)

Paul says some merely have a “form of godliness “but their lives a not pleasing at all to a holy God. It’s a person who has external practices, but they are morally corrupt. This means their religion is a show (phonies), false converts, apostates, wolves in sheep’s clothing! They are stubborn and refuse to believe the truth of the gospel; by doing this they don’t see Christ as supreme over their lives. Paul said earlier to Timothy in 1Timothy 4:1-2 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,” And Paul says avoid them! Why? He gave the answer in the second chapter of this letter “But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.” 2 Tim 2:16-18

PERILOUS TIMES: WHEN PEOPLE PROSELYTIZING IS EVIL (V6-V9)

Paul says that certain people would try to win converts to their wicked religion. And they would use subtle ways to do that! How? “capture them in their home” Now “home” might be a spacious home of the wealthy where the church often met. But where it’s a JW, Mormon coming to your home or in a church setting, they come to destroy by “capturing their victims” Look at who the most vulnerable ones are “idle women burdened down with sin” This is a woman (not all women) who is easily led by their emotions and passions. It’s a woman who is immature, childish, silly, weak, and especially burden down with sin. This is a person who is prone to accept new ideas and easily swayed to believe something over the truth. And what’s worse is that they would listen to anybody, but they were never able to come to “a knowledge of the truth.” (v7) Why? Perilous time’s people will be lovers of self, lovers of money and lovers of passions over the truth of God’s word and the gospel. What makes their so-called evangelising evil? “men who oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith” And Paul uses two names “Jannes and Jambres” Though their names do not appear in the Old Testament or early Christian writings, but they are in extra-biblical sources. So Paul applies these two men to the Egyptian magicians who performed counterfeit miracles in opposition to Moses. “Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs. Still Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.” Exo 7:11-13

Paul said something else “oppose to truth” Doctrine would become compromised by the leaders. Doctrine would be distorted by wolves in sheep’s clothing. The church would be faced with greater trials then their predecessors of old. The world system would and will turn against any and those who oppose their ideology of life and happiness. Isn’t this true! Doctrine has been compromised and corrupted in the church, because we don’t want to offend someone or make them feel uncomfortable. Doctrine has been distorted by many false teachers and many are greatly confused to what truth is and what isn’t.

“Doctrine” is a set of accepted beliefs held by a group. In religion, it is the set of true beliefs that define the parameters of that belief system. Therefore, there is true doctrine and false doctrine relative to each belief set. In Christianity, for example, a true Biblical doctrine is that there is only one God in all existence (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8). A false doctrine is that there is more than one God in all existence.

The churches doctrine today is like pinning Jello to the wall, it just won’t stick or stand. This is a battle that we need to defeat in our church. Our doctrine defines who we are in Christ. This doctrine or God’s teachings are worth dying for and worth saturating our lives into. This has fight has been the backbone of the early church to the present church. There has been over 100 million Christians martyred for the gospel since the early church was established by the apostles. We are “knee” or “neck deep” in “perilous times” But in these perilous times, where would we be without Christ and the gospel? Answer! We would be on the side lines cheering and applauding Bruce Jenner’s perversion and dishonoring and offensive lifestyle against all women. We would be no better or different than Miley Cyrus, or Justin Bieber wanting the things of this world to satisfy our lustful passions and desires! Perilous time is why Christ came! To save sinners like us, to die for the sin of this young girl, to take the punishment of the mother who chose to terminate a life. For the sexual immoral, the disobedient person, child, the church. So that we could be saved through perilous times as we wait our Lord’s return. That’s why the gospel so precious and personal! But we need to understand the church is under attack not just from the outside but also from the inside. (v2-v4)

What does a perilous time mean for you and me?

Get serious about your relationship with Jesus Christ. In other words, make Him the number one priority in your life.

Don’t bury your head in the sand thinking that this will all go away sometime soon! Remove the blinders, perilous times are here to stay and we must push on persevere through them until the Lord`s return.

Walk by the Spirit and not by sight. God will make it clear to you what He wants you to do but you must step out in faith and actually start doing it.

Separate yourself and your family from this present world system and all it has to offer you. Do not be enslaved to the many enticements and distractions that are in the world today. Find spiritual substitutes, for example, fill your mind with Christian teachings, music, meditation on the word

Attend a Bible believing church regularly [meaning more than just Sunday’s] and get plugged in with other believers. As things grow worse in this world this might mean that you will meet much more often than you do now

Don't just believe or follow those with their own radical agendas, use discernment and test all things to scripture. There are many false teachers who will try to steer you away from the truth to the lies of this world.

Redeem this time wisely for the Kingdom of God. The apostle Paul said “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Eph 5:16. Paul also said “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.” Col 4:5

There is an Illustration I came across that speaks volumes to the human soul. “Spurgeon use to tell a story about two men in a boat. They were caught in a very, very severe rapids and they were going to a place where there was a waterfall and even worse rapids and there was really no way, if they ever hit those rapids, that they would ever live. And they began to struggle for their lives. And as they were carried swiftly downstream, they were carried toward the perilous rocks and the falls and some men on the shore saw them and tried to save the two men and they threw a rope out. By this time the men had fallen out of the little boat, were struggling in the current. One man caught the rope and was saved. At the same instant, said Spurgeon, the other man who could have seized the rope, in the panic of the moment, grabbed onto a log that was floating by and that was a fatal mistake. One man was drawn to the shore because he had a connection with the people on the land. The other clinging to a log was carried down through the rapids and never found again. Spurgeon went on to say “Now, you see, what faith does is faith gives you a connection with the shore. Faith gives you a connection to Jesus Christ. Grabbing a hold of anything else is grabbing a log. It doesn’t go anywhere but along with you to your doom.”

Think of these PERILOUS TIMES we live in as a raging sea. All around us the WINDS of CHANGE are blowing. Off in the distance we can hear the rumblings of an approaching STORM. How tempting it is for you and me to take our eyes off JESUS and focus on all the bad things going on around us. As one preacher said “But let me remind you of a very important truth: The fact that the whole world seems out of control just means the Lord has everything in CONTROL!” This is our culture! They are clinging to that log and its guiding them to their doom. Perilous times call for radical Christians, not spectators! Perilous times call for gospel saturated living, not complacency! Perilous times call for selfless love for self-destructive people!

As Isaiah said “…..Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts."…Also 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." Isa 6:5-8. Despite perilous times may we go to the Miley Cyrus’s, the Ninevites of this world with the gospel that saves to the uttermost parts!

24 November 2015

JONAH IS US


Jonah 4:1-11

God saw the genuine hearts of this once evil Nation and chose to save them for His glory. Let me ask you a question this morning! Would you rejoice, knowing a person’s/nations wickedness before they were saved by His wonderful and merciful grace? Better Yet! Would you be as merciful as our Lord was to those who have had evil backgrounds? Did Christ die for all sin or not? 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

(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
  • It’s God’s salvation as He draws sinners to Himself.
  • It’s God’s grace He freely gives to those who repent and believe.
  • It’s God’s forgiveness of sin as He will pardon the wickedest and vilest of people.
  • It’s God’s mercy to all that call upon the name Lord Jesus, no matter how evil a person may seem. 

Jeffrey Dahmer will definitely go down in history as a very wicked man. Being a homosexual who abducted, raped, tortured, murdered and cannibalized his many victims (seventeen men and boys between 1978 and 1991, he is ranked among the world’s worst men in the minds of most.
No matter how depraved a life he led (raping, homosexuality, cannibalism, necrophilia, serial killing…… he repented for his sins according to his testimony and believed upon Christ Jesus. And if Jeffery was genuine (which many believe he was) then God can save anyone. See, Jeffery Dahmer’s testimony is a prime example of God’s relentless grace and mercy for sinners. Just as He chose to draw this man to Himself, is the same way God drew the nation of Nineveh to Himself. Let me ask you and be honest with your answers…..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? The reason I ask this is because of what we read in chapter 4! Jonah didn’t get it and he felt that God should pour His wrath on this wicked and evil nation. Look at (v1) “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.” The first question I want to look at this morning is……..

DO YOU REJOICE WHEN GOD IS MERCIFUL TO OTHERS? 
“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. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us,” Eph 2:4. He is so rich in it that He is willing to impart it to others. God’s infinite love is the groundwork of our salvation and for those who are being saved. 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 and emotionally. He had rage issues!
Jonah was feeling violent towards…..
  • The people of Nineveh
  • With their salvation
  • With their obedience to God
  • With God and His mercy that He showed these wretched sinners

His heart attitude was at this moment unloving, sinful and murderous to a degree. Jesus warned us about this kind of heart behaviour! In Matt 5:21-22 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. This is where we need to be extremely careful in how we look at those who God choses to save for His glory. Because none of us deserve this grace and if you think you do…then you are no different than Jonah. Only the Lord is full of mercy and abounding and ready to forgive all sinners. Essentially and independently good, from whom every good and perfect gift comes as James said. Jonah couldn’t see past God’s wonderful grace and mercy to these people who once were wicked….because like Jonah we look through the lenses of humanity and not through the lenses of Christ.

Look what Jonah says next! “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." Jonah 4:3Jonah was bitter about God relenting (He had compassion and mercy) and did not destroy them as He planned.
See Jonah forgot all about the mercy that God showed him resently……
  • By sparing his life through the storm and time he spent in the “Great Fish”
  • By chastening him because He loved him “as a Father loves His son.”
  • By restoring him to fellowship with a Holy and Just God.
  • 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 minuteWhat would you do if someone walked in that door a known rapist or murder and seats down wanting to grow in their Christian walk. Would you embrace your brother/sister in Christ? 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. Did Jonah fulfill the mandate that Paul gave to the church? Romans 12:15 says “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

“Rejoice with them that rejoice” for example: a person’s salvation, personal victory over sin and temptation. “Sympathize” with the joys and sorrows of others. It’s a special duty for Christians to sympathize in each other’s grief. This is a nation broken over their sin and they have turned from their wicked ways to follow the true Living God ……just you, just like me, just like Jonah. We are to rejoice for and with sinners who come to saving faith in Jesus alone! As Jesus said “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Luke 15:6. In the second story Jesus said “And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.' Luke 15:9. And in Luke 15:32-30 we see a brother who is no different than Jonah! “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate. "Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.' But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, 'Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!' And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'" Luke 15:32-32

DOES YOUR ANGER TRUMP GOD’S UNMERITED GRACE? 

This is why we see the question in (v4) “do you do well to be angry?” At this point God tried to reason with this rebellious prophet. But Jonah continues to sulk, yet God still pursued him. The LORD did not reproach Jonah but compassionately asked him a question that should have stirred him to the true condition of his soul. Jonah had no right to be angry. He had no right to be angry at what God chose to do with the Ninevites.  He did not have reasonable grounds for his bias against the Ninevites. Notice that Jonah did not answer this question from God.  He just went out obtusely to the edge of the city to see if God would judge Nineveh. (v5). Jonah was determined to see Nineveh destroyed regardless of God’s question. God tries compassionately to awaken us to the true condition of our souls. He will not allow our mistaken values to remain unchallenged. This is especially true in our heartlessness toward those without Christ. Coldness of soul keeps us from reaching out to those without Christ. What is the true condition of your soul about this?

DOES YOUR CHRISTIAN LIFE ONLY CONSIST OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU?

Because! Self-righteousness and centeredness does not lead to true biblical joy and contentment or genuine salvation. Remember the 2 men who went to pray "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:10-14. Jonah is no different than this Pharisee or maybe you this morning! Is the Christina life all about you and your goodness or is it about His relentless mercy and grace towards saving sinners? We see that put to the test! 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 yet another great miracle performed by our LORD. God appointed a plant (He prepared a plant for His weeping/self-righteous prophet). In all of Jonah’s bitterness and complaining and selfishness, God still showed Jonah…..

  • Compassion
  • Love for His chosen child
  • Comfort
  • Shelter
  • Patience
The Bible expresses that Jonah was very grateful, exceedingly glad. In the Hebrew it means “Jonah rejoiced with great joy” For the first time Jonah is happy about something! Which is sad by the way. Jonah showed more joy for this plant that God provided for him. Then he did for 600,000 souls coming to God for salvation. 

AGAIN LET’S RECAP! God commissioned Jonah to preach in Nineveh (He did not like that). Then there was a storm (He didn’t like that either). Then God created a great fish (Jonah didn’t like anymore than the he liked the storm)
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 of God for the other people.....God was finally doing something for JonahWhat do we call this?................ SELFISHNESS!

(Prov 14:30)  A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rotA tranquil heart (means) sound, wholesome, yielding. Brings life to the flesh! Envy (means) jealousy, zeal. makes your bones rot (means) decay, rottenness (thing). As James said “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. James 3:14-16. 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......And according to James, that would be to....... lie against the truthWe’re 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/selfishness joy is only temporary!! As one writer said “He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals”

DOES BITTERNESS AND UNTHANKFULNESS BLOCK YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD?  

(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 (v4) “is it right for you to be angry? Now the Lord asks Him “is it right for you to be angry about the plant? (v9)

We need to remember
  • God prepared the plant for Jonah.
  • God is the giver of life to all of His creation saved or unsaved.
  • 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

Why Jonah? Because as 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! This plant the Lord provided was dead and the heat was unbearable like it is when Marvin touches the thermostat in the sanctuary. Again, Jonah wanted to die! Jonah had selfish pride and bitterness towards God for showing such love and mercy to the Nation Nineveh. Sadly when this happens our relationship with God seems distant and severed. He thought he was more important than these wicked people. How could you save someone like that LORD? But as John Piper saysIt 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 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. Eph 4:31-32
Just as Christ forgave you Christian! Just as God forgave Jonah and gave you a second chance to bring Him glory!! And have you forgotten Jonah? That there is 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:
  • Jonah don’t you pity the children of this nation, which exceeds over 120,000?Jonah, you are telling me that you care more for the plant then these children?
  • Should I not be concerned about that great city Jonah?
  • Was I not concerned before the Flood? 
  • Was I not concerned for Sodom and Gomorrah?
  • 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? 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? James Boice said “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?” As Psalm 145:8-9 says “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 for you and me! We can learn a great deal from this disobedient prophet. SEE JONAH IS A TYPE OF PRACTICALLY EVERYTHING:
  • He is a type of Christ (who was buried but rose again, but that's it!)
  • 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 man and our sin nature. BUT THE GREATEST LESSONS WE LEARN ARE:
  • The mercies of God. 
  • The compassion of God. 
  • The providence of God working all things for His glory and our good. 
  • Salvation is the power of God for those who repent and believe. 
The real mercy of God was displayed when He sent His Son to outstretch His arms as He hung on the Cross to die for our salvation. THIS BOOK ENDS WITH A QUESTION? Remember as we leave here today, and I really want you to think about it! (v11). Because Jesus says......(Luke 15:10)  “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repent” The question is "Will you rejoice?"


18 November 2015

THE NEED OF THE HOUR


Jonah 3:1-10

We live in a culture where the church today is desperately trying to find new ways to entice or keep people in the church, instead of the plain preaching of the word and the simple truth of the gospel message. Some, if not many churches feel that biblical preaching is outdated and irrelevant. For some churches use drama, pursuing the latest church growth programs, open dialogue (conversation over preaching), and storytelling and never open their bible. Self-motivated worship (as if God needs me to accomplish His will, or if worship is all about me). Contextualization of passages to make them feel more acceptable (watered down or trying to make everything the bible speaks about relevant in my life. The removal or never lack of mentioning words like: sin, accountability, conviction, false teaching, self-examination and Hell and Damnations. 

Some churches have even encouraged and allowed secular means to bring people in! Now, I’m not picking on the church because I enjoy doing this! It absolutely breaks my heart to see how far the other way some so-called evangelical churches have gone to reach the lost. Remember, I love the church. And again, I’m not picking on the obvious ones who are apostate and are only entertainment centers that claim to be a church. Because that’s all they are! Sadly they tag “Church” in their name. I’m talking about the ones that profess the same things we do! Who hold to the inerrancy of scripture? Who say they believe in the sufficiency of scripture but somehow or somewhere forgot its power and now they feel unconvinced so they use man centered ways to reach and keep lost people in their churches.

Here are a couple of examples: A large church in Winnipeg called “The Rock” This Easter, Church of the Rock will embark on another epic adventure to discover the true meaning of Easter. Join the gang as they turn back the clock to save the day. Pastor Mark Hughes will be preaching the message "Back from the Future." This is from their website. New Springs Church in South Carolina, praise band perform Miley Cyrus', Wrecking Ball, under the "pastoral care and direction" of their pastor Perry Noble. See, to witness this for myself, through their Own Websites and their own You Tube channels, is very disheartening to say the least!

Why? This is not what God intended for His church. This is not what the word of God says we should do. This is an abomination and a disgrace to the True Church. 

As Steve Lawson said “the crying need of the hour is for divine power to be restored to the evangelical pulpit.” When we substitute God’s Word for schemes and secularization, it becomes hazardous and very dangerous…….. not only for the church but for the soul of man. What is the need of the hour?  Expositional preaching and exhortation of God‘s precious holy Word. We as a church family get to see this first hand (front row seats) as we continue in this Minor Prophet’s Letter. Jonah went into a pagan culture, where people had little if no previous knowledge of biblical truth. Jonah went into this city where many would say this is hopeless and the there is no way they will listen to what he has to say. This is what makes this letter so powerful and amazing and relevant today! All Jonah did was simply preach.God’s strategy is for sinners to come to understanding of the gospel is the preaching of His word. As the bible says….“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Cor 1:17-18

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Cor 2:1-5

“For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.  But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” 1 Thess 2:3-8

The Book of Jonah is a prime example or account of how God uses simple broken people to proclaim a powerful message to lost and broken sinners. Again as Steve Lawson said in his commentary on this passage “one man (Jonah), equipped with one message (God’s), committed to one method (preaching) who effected great spiritual change. It is no different today. God’s work must be done God’s way if it is to know God’s blessing.” This is a statement that should be hanging over the door way of every sanctuary across North America and around the globe.

“God’s work must be done God’s way if it is to know God’s blessing.”

What is the need of the hour? As I we go through this passage! Keep in mind to the question!  What is the need of the hour? What is it that the people of Nineveh need? What is it that the people of Killaloe and surrounding area need?Answer: Gospel and Biblical Exposition to grow in His amazing love and grace, which leads to eternal life. Remember salvation is the sole workmanship of God. As john penned “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:12-14. As Paul said “….for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Rom 1:16. And later penned these words “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Rom 10:17. We need to hear the word of God for life changing/transforming power unto eternal life. We see that power hear in full color HD1080 in this chapter. What is need of the hour? God’s word to transform lives.

THE POWER OF GOD’S WORD LEADS TO SALVATION   (V5-V7)

“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!" (v4)

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 worshipped 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 in 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 genuine remorse............ a brokenness. Repentance begins with acknowledging your own sinfulness. The condition of freedom is confession to a holy God. The One whom we’ve offended. Look at what it says in (v5) “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 homeless person who lived on the street. Why were they so convicted? “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. When you read the word of God does it convict you? Just as the Ninevites, you must repent before you die, because after death there is no conversion of the soul.” We MUST come to the Lord in genuine repentance and He will forgive you. God will pardon you from your sin.

THE POWER 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. As Paul said “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”. 2 Cor 5:17. A new creation has: New affections, motives, thought life, hope and aspirations. The nation of Nineveh repented of their 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 you came to the Lord in repentance. We were forgiven and we became “New Creations”. As Jeremiah penned In Lamentations 5:21 “Restore us to Yourself, O LORD, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old.” Restore us to our former estate which is speaking of the Nation Israel. But, we can put this verse into application for the nation of Nineveh. See the Ninevites did just that……(v8) “…..Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.”
  • Stop living reckless and wicked lives.
  • Stop preying upon the heart of others.
  • Stop your worship to pagan deities.
  • Stop sacrificing your children.
  • Stop everything and come to the True God for renewal of life.

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. Keeping in mind! There is over 600,000 people coming to God in repentance and begging for His mercy and forgiveness. Why did they change? (v9) “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 milder and tender; to feel compassion. God showed them mercy, just as he showed you and me mercy! The Ninevites submitted to the Lord in repentance…….Because for the first time they realized He was a mighty an awesome God! 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”. That’s the power of the gospel and the Word of God.

THE POWER OF GOD’S WORD LEADS TO GENUINE REVIVAL (V10)

WHAT IS REVIVAL? An increase hunger for a delight in God’s Word as Ps 119: 107 says “I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to Your Word!” In order for this revival to happen, something must take place! 

First, it involves a disdain for sin and renewed desire for obedience to God. As Ps 119:37 says “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways.” 

Second, it brings increased commitment and interest in personal prayer.  Ps 80:18 says “Then we shall not turn back from You; give us life, and we will call upon Your Name!” 

Third, it’s God gladly at the center of my Life, experienced and enjoyed. Lam 3:24 says “The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in Him." 

Fourthly, it’s getting back on the right path again. As John wrote “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

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. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones said “Does it grieve you my friends, that the name of God is being taken in vain and dishonored? 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 THROUGHOUT THE AGES:

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

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.” It says “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.

Here in this text! Nineveh a nation once known for their evil humbled themselves, from the greatest to the least. They repented and believed in God. (v10)  “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.” Again, 600,000 souls turning from their wickedness and believing God. God had compassion for them for they were genuine and truly believed the message A beautiful picture of this demonstrated for us in Luke 15:18-20 “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. He seeks the lostLuke 15 in the prodigal son (v18-v19) “I have sinned against Heaven and before you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” and in (v20) it says“had compassion” We serve a God who is full of compassion for these lost sinners. God had pity for this nation! Why? Because they need a Savior! For without one they are destined to spend eternity in Hell. The Lord sends true revival to the humble and contrite. The broken-hearted over sin; the ones who are deeply affected with grief and sorrow for having offended a holy 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 behavior, God’s grace will prevail.

As it says in 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack (not lazy, doesn’t delay) concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. In 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! Always remember true biblical revival begins with faithful preaching and faithful hearing of god’s word. Jonah preached what the God gave him to say:  (v4) “….And he called out, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" The Ninevites did more than just hear Jonah, as soon as they heard they responded by believing God (trusting the One true God)  (v5) “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.” The Ninevites turned from  the  sin that was most characteristic of them “violence” (v8). It’s the power of God to transform a life and He uses His word today to do it! 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”. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Rom 10:17. What is most needed today? Gospel preaching and the proclamation of the gospel to lost sinners. And God is inviting you to do just that when we leave this place. The world or communities are filled with Ninevites! What is most needed for our community? The Gospel