Thursday, June 11, 2009


Wasn't able to post last week due to District Assembly, sorry. I'm back this week.

I had a chance today to preach at one of our area nursing homes. We had a great crowd present and a wonderful sing-a-long. That's right, a sing-a-long. We played the good old stuff! I preached a short message on the book of Jonah. Here's a shortened version of my message:

We discussed two big problems Jonah had. The first was that…

1. God’s plan of salvation was too big.

Jonah 1:1-3
Jonah ran from God because He knew God would allow the Ninevites (which are Assyrians) to live if they listened to His message and repented. Jonah couldn’t understand why God would want to save them and include them in His plan of salvation. Israel was God’s treasured possession and the Assyrians were always knuckle to knuckle with God’s treasured possession.

As a matter of fact, the Assyrians in just a few short years after Jonah sweep down into Israel and completely wipe out the Northern Kingdom of Israel (which is where Jonah is from).
However, you have to keep in mind (and this just amazes me!) that God wanted to reach other nations through Israel (Genesis 12:3). This was God’s message to Abraham a few years back. Jonah had a hard time understanding God wants to bless others through Israel. Jonah struggled with that and how big God’s saving arm stretched. Even up until the end (Jonah 4:5) Jonah was hoping God would destroy the Ninevites.

It’s like God telling us he is going to completely destroy Iran/North Korea unless one of us goes and preaches to them. So, we think that if we don’t go, if they don’t hear God's message, God will wipe them off the face of the earth (and of course that would be good in our minds!).

That was what Jonah was thinking when he headed for Tarshish. He was thinking that if he didn’t go to Nineveh God would just go ahead and destroy them. To Jonah that was great! The Assyrians were enemies to the Israelites and this would be one less threat to them.

The second problem Jonah had was that...

2. God's love was too different.
What do I mean by too different?
Jonah 3:10
Jonah couldn’t understand how God could love and show mercy to the Assyrians and decide not to destroy them. This is just what Jonah feared would happen if he came and preached at Nineveh.

The Assyrians were a pretty ruthless people. They were heartless and liked to fight. They were known to impale their foes alive on large wooden stakes. So, you can see why Jonah was so confused as to how God could look at them and love them? Because from a human point of view, it just wasn’t possible. Jonah discovered in all of this that God’s love is different than mere human love. There is a difference between Godly love and human love. Apparently God can love His enemies. God can love those who intend Him harm. How does He do that?

To see God's love we can look at Jesus. In Luke chapter 5 Jesus calls a tax collector to come and follow him. These individuals were not liked very well, especially by their own people. They were the bottom of the barrel. Jesus takes one of these individuals and makes him one of His 12 disciples. After He calls him He is found partying and eating with Levi at his house. The Pharisees couldn’t understand why Jesus would associate with people like this. It’s because He really loves them!

Another story is found in Luke 7. Jesus enters another tax collector’s home and is sharing a meal with him and his guests and a sinful woman comes and anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. Instead of rebuking her and kicking her away, He lets her worship Him. Why? Because He loves her. He even goes so far as to tell this woman that her sins are forgiven. Why? Because He loves her.

Jonah learned a little about God’s love during his journey to Nineveh. It was not an easy lesson for him either.
Jonah 4:2 (Exodus 34:6-7), 11
God is full of compassion/or love and that was a tough lesson for Jonah to learn.
Has that been a tough lesson for you to learn? I encourage you to continue on in God’s love. We are never too old to show someone God’s love. I am so thankful we have Jesus Christ as an example. The ultimate expression of His love was His willingness to die for us on a cross. Aren’t you thankful for that?

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