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Jonah 4 Bitterness

February 2nd, 2009

This is a hilarious chapter. The first sentence genuinely makes me laugh out loud.
 
Then I notice myself in Jonah and stop laughing.
 
God is not a liberal or a conservative. Jonah is a conservative and thinks it only right that God should waste Nineveh. He is outraged that they should escape the very stiffest sentence. But true to form, God doles out more mercy. We have no reason to think that Nineveh stuck to their repentant behaviour. The Assyrian Empire (of which Nineveh was capital) continued in its idolatry – as nations do. But God is so kind.
 
Much of our ‘mercy’ does not truly reflect God’s extravagant ways. He is scandalous in his mercy. And if we’re honest, we are very uncomfortable about this sometimes.
 
But that’s when we show that we still don’t get it. We think we have some kind of claim on him. Only when we see that God owes us nothing do we begin to grasp his mercy for what it is.
 
God plays a game with Jonah to point this out. Jonah’s highly unbalanced emotional life is fruit of the fact that he is still all out of perspective. His eyes are not on God – but on himself and his own superficial comforts. God uses the plant to show Jonah still cares far too much for trivial matters.
 
Jonah, again, points to Jesus by contrast. Jonah would rather die than see mercy on the city. God would rather become a man and die than see destruction on the city…
 
(The curious mention of ‘cattle’ in the last verse is not so odd when you see it as a reference to the city’s economy.)

 

You can watch or listen to this sermon here

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Jonah 3 Warning

January 29th, 2009

Jonah 3:1 is beautiful. God heals us by sending us again. When we thought we were unsendable (and if you have not come to that point you are certainly unsendable).
 
Have you heard God’s word to you for Brighton? It’s ringing in our ears.
 
HE HAS SENT CCK TO BRIGHTON – AND HE IS SENDING US AGAIN…
 
Why has he sent us? It is (3.3 Hebrew) ‘a great city to God’. He is jealous to have a dwelling – a house – here in this ‘pagan’ place.
 
Our message, like Jonah’s, is one of warning – and has to be. In Jonah’s case it came with terseness. But God’s mercy can only roll down to wicked cities because of one who came to the city of his rightful throne, knowing it would utterly reject him – and still sobbed out his warnings without relent for their sakes and not for his own.
 
God will turn people. Some will be within our ‘reach’ and some will surprise us. Kings are destined to shut their mouths because of him (Isaiah 52:1-12). Some big pillars of the temples of our city will become pillars of the church. God has many in this city – in spite of how weak we are as messengers.
 
How did they respond to God? Be sure to give your heart in repentance and prayer – they ‘called out mightily to God’
 

You can watch or listen to this sermon here

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Jonah 1:1-10 Defiance

January 12th, 2009

Brighton is a place of worship. But most of the worship is misdirected. God sends us into the city to make it a dwelling for Him.

 

He sends us to lead the city in true worship. This is a horribly unwelcome calling if we are worshipping the wrong things ourselves. In Jonah’s case it was his own race, background, upbringing, status, comfort and lifestyle. He was entirely unfit to preach about idolatry while he clung to idols himself.

 

So he ran. ‘Away from the presence of the Lord…’ As if.

 

Not that it is impossible. God does give up on some people eventually. But this is out of His choice – not ours. If He is after you He can use ANYTHING (including the weather) to reach you.

 

And awesomely, He can even use our stupidity and rebellion to get his saving work done… The pagan sailors became worshippers!

 

We can cooperate with Him or not… the one thing we cannot do is thwart him.

 

Watch the vodcast or listen to the podcast for more.

 

You can watch or listen to this sermon here

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Jonah 1:11 – 2:10 Turning

January 1st, 2009

Jonah was tossed overboard and died in the sea. There is dazzling Christological significance to this.

It took physical death and resuscitation in the belly of a fish to resuscitate Jonah spiritually. True repentance (for us) is that dramatic and miraculous. It really is a matter of life and death and is something that is well beyond us – ‘salvation belongs to the Lord!’

True repentance means a stripping down of everything we’ve clung to and an acknowledgement that nothing we desire besides God can be GOD. We must take God on His terms or not at all.

When God brings us to this place of glad submission we are vessels fit for his hands again. And he can do anything to get us back into the centre of his will again.

You can watch or listen to this sermon here

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