To Know and Obey Jesus.

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Is it possible to know God and to live like the Devil? Is it possible to truly know God and have no life change?

Obedience follows relationship. If there is no obedience – is there relationship at all?

Adrian Rogers wrote, “Study the Bible to know about God. Obey the Bible to really know God.”

This is the theme of 1 John 2. John’s goal is for the reader to know God rightly and have assurance of salvation, which leads to a life of joy in Jesus. To know God is to love God and to love God is to obey God.

Obedience to God reveals the genuineness of our faith. There is a huge difference between saying and doing. The true Gospel transforms us and leads to obedience. 1 John 2:3 reads, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments”.

The word “Keep”, means to guard, or protect like we would treat a precious treasure. And as we keep this treasure, our assurance in our salvation grows and we enjoy Jesus more. To obey His commands is never a burden, it is a blessing and a natural response to what He has done for me.

However we see in verse 4 that if we do not guard or keep the commands of the Lord, we are spiritual deceivers. We really don’t have a relationship with God.

Verse 5 gives is such a great promise, “but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him.”

Keeping the commands of God is not a condition of knowing God, but it is a clear sign and indication that we do know God.

The phrase, “the love of God”, refers to our love for God, and it is true that the more I know Him, the more I love Him, and the more I love Him, the more I know Him.

The same thing happens in a godly marriage. It should be that the more a husband and wife grow to know one another, the more they love one another. And the more love they share with each other, the more they will desire to know each other.

There is a tradition that on one occasion the apostle John, near the end of his life, was brought to the church on a pallet. All he said to the believing community was, “Love one another.” When he was asked why that was all he had to say, he responded, “Because it is enough.” (Matthew 22:37-40).

So how do we walk in the love of Christ? When we were saved it was so that we might be conformed in the image of His son (Romans 8:29). He saved us that we might “walk just as He walked.”

We have a moral obligation for our walk to match our talk. To truly abide in Christ means I will walk like Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1, Ephesians 5:1, 1 Peter 2:21).

Like Father, like Son. Like Savior, like saint. Christ’s life becomes my life, my example, my goal, and my pattern. And we must note that it is abiding in Him that enables me to live like Him. I don’t do it in my strength. I do it in His!

Looking back to verse 3, how can we tell if we “know” him?

What then does it mean to “know” Jesus? The Greek word used here, “ginosko”, means basically “grasping the full reality and nature of an object under consideration.”

John was writing to people who knew about Jesus but didn’t really know him personally. Today there are millions of people who know about Jesus, but don’t know him as Lord of their lives.

Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me”. Those who belong to Jesus are responsive to His voice.

John does not suggest that relationship with God is established by obedience; rather, that relationship is demonstrated by obedience.

Sometimes people claim to know God but are unresponsive to His Word and His way of life. Such a person may possess accurate information about God and may be able to debate the finer points of theology. I have met people who have a deep grasp of the Bible and doctrine, but their lives do not match their words. Relationship is demonstrated by walking “as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).

Jesus addressed this as he was speaking to the Jews, the scribes and the pharisees in John 8:44a, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”

The religious leaders, knew about God, they knew the Torah, they knew a lot of theology, but they didn’t know God Himself or else they would have recognized His son, Jesus. They were worshipping the law of Moses, but they weren’t hearing the word of God. Jesus continued in verse 47, “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

So, my question today is, who are you listening to?

I always get discouraged when I talk to people who have not been in church for a long time and they say, “well, I am not in church, but I listen to Charles Stanley (or their favorite radio or TV teacher) each Sunday morning.” What they fail to realize is that they are neglecting to gather with his body, disobeying the word of God that calls us to commit to a fellowship of believers to grow together in love and unity.

Listening to good teaching is excellent, but the question is, are you listening to the words of God? Why do we run after the words of the created being, when we can sit at the feet of the creator?

Many Christians wrestle with decisions and they often say the same thing. “I am not getting a clear word from God.” My friends, it’s not that God doesn’t speak clearly, it’s that we don’t listen. It’s time to turn off the TV, YouTube, the cell phone and all the other noise surrounding us and open the Word of God. Make time to listen to the God who created you with the ability to hear His voice.

Are you abiding in Him, keeping his commandments?

Do you know Jesus?

Philippians – Paul’s letter of Joy – Philippians 2:12-13 – Sermon December 16, 2018

Philippians 2:12-13

Who has had the greatest influence for good in your life? We all have people who set an example for us. Mark Twain once said, “few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”

However, a great person can inspire us, but they cannot enable us. Role-models can inspire us, but without us actually beginning to work, we will never achieve anything.

In Philippians 2:6-11, Paul presents Jesus as our ultimate role-model, but how well do we put into practice the life that Jesus modeled for us?

Paul continues verse 12 and says, “as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,”

Paul was a role-model for the church in Philippi, and he instructed them to be obedient and put into practice the daily spiritual disciplines of prayer, evangelism, integrity, honesty, humility and preferring others. As a role model, Paul wanted them to continue even while he was not with them in person. What Paul really wanted them to understand was that he was not the ultimate role-model, Jesus was.

What Paul was referring to here is Character. Character is moral strength or integrity. Sadly, true character is hard to find these days as so many people do not have the personal endurance to stick with something until they have seen it through. Christian character is developed over years of practicing personal spiritual disciplines. Character is the backbone of a Christian. As many have said, Character is how you behave when no-one is watching.

“Character is like a tree, and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing” —Abraham Lincoln

Paul then writes, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” which can be a bit confusing at first glance. But notice he doesn’t write, “work for your salvation”. These people were already Christians and Paul told them to put into practice what God has already worked in by His Holy Spirit. We need to be reminded that we cannot earn our salvation by works (See Ephesians 2:8-9).

We work out our salvation because we have already been saved, not to be saved. The works are the authentication of the faith that we already have.

When we become a Christian, we have so much potential opened to us immediately, the tragedy is that too many people view Christianity as simply a way to avoid going to hell. When you become a Christian, you have unlimited and instant access to the throne of the all holy, creator of the universe, and He invites you and I to call Him Father. There is the very real potential in every Christian to be used by God to transform families, neighborhoods, cities, and even nations.

Becoming a Christian is like being given a plot of land that sits on a diamond mine. The mine has billions of dollars’ worth of precious stones just below the surface, all you have to do is dig a little bit and unearth the treasures that are already in the land that you possess. You have the choice to sit on the land, knowing it’s worth, but never realizing its potential, or you can work a bit and get the value out of what it already in your possession.

Our lives filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit have tremendous potential. So many believers are satisfied with just enough when God offers us so much more than we can ever imagine. I challenge you to work out, what God has already placed in your life.

Paul continues, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

The Greek word for “fear”, that Paul uses in this context means, profound respect and awe for God.

As we begin to try to work out our Christian life, we realize that we don’t have the natural ability to do anything for God, and we learn to rely on God to work through us. We work out our salvation with respect and awe for God, trembling, because we realize that we are only operating in the power and the strength that He gives us in the first place (see Philippians 2:13).

For example, we cannot love others, if we weren’t empowered by the Love of God, we do not have compassion without God placing that compassion in our hearts and we are only able to place others first because of the Spirit of Jesus in us.

Before salvation, God works on us, by the Holy Spirit, we are convicted of sin and our need for salvation. After we are saved, the Holy Spirit works through us. The presence of the living God in us energizes us to do the work of the ministry that God invites us to do.

Philippians 2:13 ends, “…both to will and to work for His good pleasure

True Christianity is spending time in prayer each morning, asking the Lord for what He would have us do, and then allowing Him to empower us to do that which He calls us to do. That is the daily effectual Christian walk, of working out our salvation as God works through us.

If we don’t have a desire to be used by God, it is one of two things; 1) we aren’t followers of Jesus, or 2) we aren’t allowing the Holy Spirit to have the leadership in our lives and we are not led by the spirit (see Romans 8:14).

This is all for His pleasure, and this is where our 21st century narcissism wrestles against the truth of God’s word. We were created for God, God is not our creation, we are His creation, and we were created for His pleasure. But at the same time, as we do what pleases God the Father we are blessed beyond compare.

As Bible believing Christians, this should be nothing new, we have heard it before, but is it simply head knowledge? We know that God is able and that He is faithful, that is theological knowledge. But do we know that God is faithful because of experiential knowledge? The only way to move from theological knowledge to experiential knowledge is obedience. Taking that step of faith.

What step of faith is God calling you to do today?  Proverbs 3:5

Sermon Sunday July 8, 2018 – Lessons from the life of Gideon part 3

Judges 6:25-40

One of the most prevalent struggles we face as Christians is Idolatry. Adrian Rogers said, “An idol is anything you love more, fear more, value more or serve more than you do Almighty God. Fill in the blank.”

We all have things we give worth to, we all worship something and if God does not have the priority in our lives, those things we value become idols.

The children of Israel during the time of the Judges thought they were still following God, although they had added some of the idols of the Canaanites to their lives. As a result, God punished the Israelites by using the Midianite invaders. The people cried out to God for help, and God called Gideon to be a judge, a great military leader, to save the people from the oppressive Midianites. God had called and revealed Himself to Gideon, but now it was time for Gideon to do what God called him to do.

God instructs Gideon to take a bull and tear down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah pole and use the wood of the Asherah to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. That night Gideon does what he is instructed by tearing down these false idols and offering the second bull to the Lord. It is remarkable to note that Gideon may only have been twenty years old at this time. But he starts at home and deals with the idols in his own home first.  This is such a vital lesson for us. In our lives today, we have idols, the gods of humanism that draw our attention away from God; comfort, entertainment, peace, wealth, sport, politics and many more, all of these are not bad in themselves, but when left unbridled, they quickly become idols that we need to tear down.

When God tells you to put away an idol, it won’t be easy but whatever God is calling you to do, be completely obedient just as Gideon was obedient.

Notice that Gideon did something that no one could see at the time, it was hidden in darkness, but it had clearly visible and spiritual consequences. This is where the battle is won, not on the battle field, but in the secret place as you spend time alone with God in prayer. Never discount the time spent alone with God as waiting and marking time, it is the most valuable use of your time. Don’t for one moment think that you can live a victorious Christian life without a healthy prayer life. Prayer is where the real church growth takes place, and the kingdom of God is advanced.

The people of the town of Ophrah quickly find out who destroyed the idols and they go to the house of Joash and demand that he hand his son over for execution. Joash reacts quickly and with wisdom, challenging the people to test Baal and see if he will defend himself? Joash was convicted of his own sin, provoked by the faith and obedience of his son. As you and I step out in faith, it will provoke faith in others, others will look at your steps in faith and it will rekindle in them a fresh love for the Lord.

Never underestimate the power of obedience to the calling of God to transform the lives of those around you.

At the same time, the Midianites and the Amalekites were invading the land once more (Judges 6:33). But then we read in verse 34 that the Spirit of God clothed Gideon. Gideon became a physical manifestation of the presence of God and when he blew that trumpet, everyone could see that he was different. Jacob Myers says, “The Spirit of the Lord became incarnate in Gideon, who then became the extension of the Lord.”

We must remember that this is pre-Pentecost, and during the Old Testament God chose to clothe men and women by His spirit for specific tasks. When the Holy Spirit was given to the church at Pentecost, we all, who have given our lives to the Lordship of Jesus have this same Holy Spirit power in us.

Gideon was prepared for battle, as he blew the trumpet the tribes came together in response. What an incredible miracle. Here was a young man who moments ago was hiding and fearing for his life, suddenly filled with power, calls the nation to war, and they respond!

It all seems to be happening so fast and in verse 36 it seems that Gideon begins to waiver in his faith. He asks God for a sign of confirmation of His call. Gideon tests God, and we need to ask ourselves how often do we test God ourselves? As we question whether or not God is leading us we stand frozen in place, asking God for another sign.

The two miracles of the fleece and the dew are powerful miracles in verses 36 to 40, God confirms his presence and call on the young warrior. Gideon is now ready, and the battle is about to begin.

As we look at these few verses, we see a progression:

  • Gideon destroys the Idols. He is all in, there is no turning back
  • The Spirit of the Lord comes on the obedient Gideon and equips him for the task.
  • God confirms His call of Gideon

But Gideon would never have progressed beyond the first step if he didn’t destroy the idols, after that there was no turning back. Retreat is easy when you leave yourself an option, but God calls us to follow Him without looking back. God calls us to destroy the idols in our life and walk with Him.

What Idol is God calling you to destroy?

We make idols out of savings accounts, cars, careers, unhealthy relationships, anything that hinders you from moving forward and experiencing the very best that God has for you. As you trust completely in God for the future you will find that it is the very safest way to live your life.

Sermon Sunday July 1, 2018 – Lessons from Gideon Part 2

Have you ever questioned whether or not God was speaking to you? God sent his only Son in order to restore His relationship with you, why would He not speak to you if you have given your life over to the lordship of Jesus Christ?

Gideon was called by God to be the deliverer of the Israelites from the oppressive hand of the Midianites in Judges Chapter 6. It was an overwhelming task and Gideon is understandably cautious.  Gideon was almost certain that he was talking to God, but he needed a sign. He rushes off to prepare a meal from his meager supplies, killing a young goat he makes some unleavened cakes and some broth, bringing it to this Holy Messenger.

It is quite possible that Gideon was thinking that this meal would be a test to see who this messenger was. If he ate the meal, then he was a prophet, but if he didn’t eat the food, maybe disposed of it some way, it just might be a divine messenger.

The angel tells him to put the meat and broth on the rock, which was probably the winepress stone, and then proceeds to touch the meat and the unleavened cakes with the tip of his staff. Immediately fire came up out of the rock and consumed the meal.

That was enough for Gideon, he knew that he had not been talking to a prophet, but this was a supernatural being. But more than that, Gideon knew that he had been talking to God, because he immediately begins to fear for his life (Judges 6:22). Gideon used the Hebrew word YHWH, the unspoken name of God. He knew that he had seen God and should not live (Exodus 33:20).

There has only ever been one person pure enough to be able to stand in the presence of the holiness of God. That person is the pure spotless lamb of God, Jesus himself. All humanity is born in sin and as a result, we could never live if we were to be exposed to the holiness of God, it would consume us. That is why, what Jesus did on the cross, by providing a way for us to have communion with God, is so incredible.

The Angel of the Lord disappears, but God doesn’t stop speaking to Gideon, the physical manifestation of his presence has gone, but God continues to speak and calms him down. God says to him, “peace be to you, do not fear, you shall not die”. God’s presence and name brings peace. Maybe you are lacking peace right now, you are worried about finances, your future or maybe your child’s future. Have you spent time asking the Prince of Peace for his peace in your life?

The Bible is full of promises of peace from God, here are three verses you can meditate on, Hebrews 13:5-6, Psalms 27:1 and Isaiah 41:10. My friends, fear and anxiety must melt in the presence of the Lord, go to him, spend time with him.

As soon as Gideon calmed down, he built an altar, and he called it Jehovah-Shalom, the Lord is Peace. In a land where there were idols and altars to false gods, Gideon builds an altar to the one true God, a place that he can come back to and remember his encounter with the Lord. Gideon knew that he would need a reminder and a place he could come back to when times got tough.

We also need altar moments in our life, we need to commemorate those key moments in our life when God speaks to us. Those moments when the course of our life was altered because God met us. The day we became a follower of Jesus is an altar, it is our testimony. The day we were baptized is an altar, a remembrance of what God has done for us. The day we were set free from an addiction is an altar of remembrance to what God has done for us.

God spoke to Gideon and called him to be the next leader of the people of Israel. The Bible is full of accounts of people that God spoke to, and God still speaks today, calling people and activating them in ministry.

You may say that God doesn’t speak to you, you are not unique in this feeling, but the truth is that if you have given your life to the Lordship of Jesus, God will speak to you and direct you, you are just not listening!

Psalm 46:10 says” Be still and know that I am God.” Just be quiet and let him speak! There are so many things competing for our attention that it is hard for us to hear God’s voice, we need to get away from the noise of our busy lives and spend time quietly before God.

God speaks to us primarily through His Word the Bible.  When Joshua led the Children of Israel across the Jordan in Joshua 4, the Lord told them to take twelve stones out of the river and set them in place on the west side of the Jordan, so that they could remember what God had done for them.

We should have memorial stones, and the best memorial stones are Bible verses. Verses from the Bible that we can go back to and be reminded of His faithfulness and His promises. As we memorize and meditate on these memorial stone scripture texts, our lives will be enriched as we grow in our relationship with the Author of the Bible.

Sermon Sunday June 24, 2018 – Lessons from Gideon Part 1

Judges 6:1-16

Have you ever been put into a position of leadership that you felt totally unprepared for? God constantly puts his children in positions where they feel stretched even uncomfortable. And that is okay, God seldom calls you and I to lead in an area in which we are fully equipped. Gideon felt the same way when God called him in Judges chapter 6.

The book of Judges covers a period of roughly three-hundred years in the life of the nation of Israel. Joshua has died and left the nation with two instructions; defeat the remaining Canaanites and obey the law of Moses. The children of Israel fail on both accounts. As a result, God uses the nations surrounding them to punish them and cause them to cry out to Him for help.

As the chapter begins with a familiar phrase, “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord…”

Israel had begun worshiping the idols and follow the pagan ways of the tribes that remained in the land. They had turned their backs on God after all that God had done for them.

God used the pagan nations of the Midianites and the Amalekites to punish the Israelites for a period of 7 years. The first six verses of the chapter describe the fear and the oppression of the Israelites. The Midianites forced them out of their homes and towns and caused them to hide in the hills, they were hiding in caves to get away from these invaders. The midianites came in vast numbers and raided their crops, taking their livestock and their tents.

In verse 11 we read that Gideon is also hiding, as he is beating out wheat in a winepress. Normally one would grind wheat in a large open area so that the wind could blow away the chaff. But a winepress was a smaller area, hidden in trees for shelter, probably a hollowed rock in the ground. Gideon was hiding and grinding out just a small portion of wheat, probably just enough for his family.

When the Israelites had nowhere left to turn, their own resources and means were over, they remembered the Lord and cried out to him (verse 7). The Lord responds by sending a prophet with a clear message (verses 8-10). The prophet tells them the obvious, he tells them all that God has done for them, and then he tells them how ungrateful and disobedient they are. The prophet declares the obvious, but the people needed to hear the obvious.

Sometimes we also need to hear the obvious as we miss the mark in our Christian walk. Maybe you have been blessed with a family, a home and many good things, but along the way you have lost your first love, you have stopped worshipping God, you have stopped spending time with God everyday in prayer and reading your Bible.

The prophet ends his message from God with a powerful accusation, “but you have not obeyed my voice.”

In the very next verse, we see the plan of deliverance that God began working out. God’s plan of salvation for his people always involves a person. God used Abraham, Noah, Sampson, David and many others in the Old Testament. But ultimately God sent His only son, Jesus Christ, to bring his perfect and eternal plan of salvation.

The Angel of the Lord appears to Gideon and sits under the Oak tree (V12). But this is no ordinary angel. The writer begins by calling him by the Hebrew term, “Malak”, which means messenger, but as the account progresses, we see in verse 13 that Gideon addresses him as, “Adonai” or my Lord, and then in verse 22 he calls him “Yahweh” – The Lord God. This messenger is God himself, the second person of the trinity, the pre-incarnate Christ. God was implementing a rescue plan for his people and as a foreshadowing of what is to come a thousand years later, God the Father sends the Son.

The angel addresses Gideon with a dramatic introduction, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor

Gideon must have looked around to see who the Lord was talking to. Here is was hiding in a cave and grinding a little wheat to make some food for his family. But God saw the real Gideon, the man that He had created.

When God calls you and I to serve him, to witness for him, to be his ambassador, He knows our weaknesses, but he also knows what he created in us. We must never respond to God’s call by explaining to Him our weaknesses, he knows them, but he also knows everything about us, because He created us and His ways are perfect.

The Lord responded to Gideon with a firm directive (verse 14). But Gideon continues to try do persuade God by pointing out his weaknesses in verse 15. Some of what Gideon said was out of humility, but mostly he was simply stating the facts, and asking “why me?”

And that is precisely what God wanted to hear. Gideon could not do anything in his own strength, and this is the position everyone who is to be used by God must come to. God loves to use people who are keenly aware of their weakness. Because when someone is fully conscious of their weakness, then God can begin to use them for His glory.

The person who relies on his own strength, intellect, skills and financial resources, is not likely to lean into God for courage and provision, and that person is also not likely to give God the glory for anything that is achieved.

Gideon tried to voice his lack of skill, and the Lord responded with an amazing promise in verse 16. God promised to be with Gideon, and that he would strike the Midianites as one man!

Remember, if you are doing what God has called you to do, you will always be in the majority – even you and God alone is the only majority that counts.

Jumping forward over one thousand years, when Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 he gave the church an impossible mission, but just like the Lord said to Gideon, Jesus said to the Disciples, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

What is God calling you to do? Where is he calling you to go? What excuses are you using?

God can use you like He used Gideon, because he promises to be with you always.

Lessons from Jonah – Part 1 April 30, 2017

Jonah lived sometime around 760 BC, in one of the best times for the nation of Israel. Under the leadership of Jeroboam II, the northern Kingdom had a significant recovery, you can read about this in 2nd Kings 14.

Some forty years before the Assyrians destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the prophet Jonah was sent from Israel to preach in the enemy capital of Nineveh. The Assyrian nation was a regional superpower at the time, and for decades the Assyrians were threatening and terrorizing the Israelites. Jonah probably enjoyed being a prophet to the Hebrews, but when God asked him to preach against the enemy nation, he began to run into some problems.

As we read Jonah ran away from God and goes to Joppa which is near modern day Tel a Viv in Israel. Jonah pre-pays for his ticket, making certain that he can get a place on the ship heading to Tarshish. The port of Tarshish was at the southern end of Spain and at that time it was the furthest west any ship would venture.

Jonah had a one-way ticket, it was a journey to the ends of the earth, such was his fear of the task that God had called him to.

The Lord caused a great wind to blow on the Mediterranean Ocean, the hardened sailors are terrified and they begin to cry out to their own gods. They had probably been in storms before, but this one was different and they were convinced they would all perish, so they were looking for a way out, they were looking for salvation.

It is no different today when people encounter the storms of life, they look for relief and help any way they can. People today try to fix spiritual problems with medication, counselling or drugs, but only God can heal the brokenness of the human heart.

In the middle of the storm, Jonah slept. Just like we read that Jesus was asleep in the bottom of the boat in Mark 4 as the storm is raging around the disciples in the boat.

But there is a difference between the sleep of Jonah and the sleep of Jesus.

Jonah had given up on life, he had left all behind and had a one-way ticket to oblivion, he did not care if he lived or died. But Jesus slept in absolute security and peace, knowing that God the Father was going to protect and keep him from all harm. If you know that you are doing what God has called you to do, you can sleep in absolute peace, because He will keep you from all harm.

The sailors cast lots, they roll a dice to see who caused this unprecedented storm, the lot falls on Jonah and they begin to interrogate him. We read in verse 8 that they ask him 5 short but very direct questions. Jonah’s answer is clear and to the point (see Jonah 1:9).

Notice something about Jonah’s response, even though he is hiding from God and he is hoping to die, he still says; “I worship the Lord…”. Deep in his heart, Jonah knew the truth and it came out in his time of desperation.

The Bible says that His answer terrified the other sailors. They knew he was running away from God, but now they saw the terrible consequences of his actions, and they began to realize that Jonah’s God was the one true God. Notice again another similarity between Jonah and the account of Jesus calming the storm in Mark 4:41.

It took a raging storm for the sailors to be terrified of the one true God in Jonah 1, but it took the calming of the storm to terrify the disciples in Mark 4. When anyone encounters the undeniable presence of the all Holy God, it changes you. These sailors were being changed as they encountered God.

Jonah takes responsibility for his actions and one would think he would repent and ask God for a second chance. But he is so determined not to preach to the Ninevites, that he would rather die – “Throw me into the sea” he says.

The sailors on the other hand, do everything they can to save Jonah, in their compassion they try to row back to shore. Soon they realize that Jonah is the problem, but before they throw him overboard, they cry out to the Lord. Notice that the sailors cry out to the Lord, nowhere in this chapter do we read that Jonah cries out to the Lord, he would rather not talk to God because he knows the answer and he doesn’t want to hear it.

The heathen sailors start praying to God and ask for forgiveness for what they are about to do, then they pick the prophet up and toss him into the sea. Immediately the sea is calm. The sailors feared the Lord and in repentance they offered sacrifices and make vows to God. These sailors were converted to worshipping the one true God.

What was the real sin that Jonah committed? We always assume that the sin was rebellion, but I believe it was more than that.

It wasn’t his fear of the Ninevites, that made Jonah go in the opposite direction, it was the Character of God that made him run away. Jonah knew Psalm 103:8, he wasn’t afraid the Ninevites would hurt him, he was afraid that God would remain true to His character and forgive them. The real sin of Jonah was not rebellion, but rather prejudice.

Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that we are to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44), reflecting the character of God. The Great Commission still applies to us today, we have been given a message and so often our prejudice towards other people stops us from being obedient to God.

We all have prejudice, we shy away from people who are not like us. Those neighbors who are maybe a different skin color, or speak a different language, or maybe they don’t fit our social circle.

Sometimes the Lord must bring a storm into our lives in order to reveal the prejudice in our lives.

When we read the account of Jonah, who do we identify with? Most of us identify with Jonah, the disobedient messenger. But the story of Jonah is not our story, our story is that of the Ninevites. We were once alienated from God, we were enemies of God (see Romans 5).

Jesus is the greater Jonah, Jesus was obedient to the Father, he came to us, those who were his enemies. Jesus was obedient to God to the point of death. Jesus, the greater messenger, the one who paid the ultimate price, so that we can be reconciled to God.