‘WHEN GOD PURSUES’

6 Weeks – 3/16/2015 to 4/24/2015

Overview: My five year old grandson not only loves the story of Jonah, he can tell it to you from memory with vivid detail and sound effects!  And yet, it’s not simply a children’s story, it’s a message of power for today.  Jonah is referred to as the “angry prophet”.  He initially refused to obey God’s command to go and preach repentance to the city of Nineveh, in modern day Iraq.  (The ruins of Nineveh are across the Tigris River from the city of Mosul.  If you watch current events at all on television, Mosul is in the news often.)

Jonah runs away from the Lord’s command by buying a boat ticket to the farthest port of the day from Israel.  He ends up in the Mediterranean Ocean, swallowed by a great fish, then after three days, spit out on the shore.  Then the story gets really hard to believe!  You can read it in 20 minutes.

No other book of the Bible is made fun of or is dismissed as myth more that the Old Testament book of Jonah.  And yet the greatest argument for the veracity or truthfulness of the book was given by Jesus Himself!  He said that in the same way that Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man (referring to Himself) would be in the “belly of the earth”.  It was a reference to His death, burial, and resurrection.  Jesus believed in Jonah’s story, so should we!

 

WHEN GOD PURSUES

Week 6 – 04/20/2015

When God Makes You Angry

Jonah 3:10-4:4, 11

Overview: What makes you angry in life?  What makes your spouse, children, or parents angry?  This week we study the “angry prophet”: Jonah.  Jonah gets angry with God for doing what God does; forgive people who repent of their sin.  Have you ever been angry at someone for doing a good thing?  Maybe you and I have.  Jonah resented the graciousness of God in the lives of a people from modern day Iraq.

This Week’s Podcast:

 

Monday – Part One – We share the story of an unemployed executive, living at campgrounds in the back of his pick-up truck for more than 6 years!   He was angry at God for his situation.  The story leads into the story of Jonah, also angry at God for different reasons.  This man’s comment about being angry at God may surprise you.

 

Tuesday – Part Two – We read the text from Jonah where he vents his anger toward the Lord Himself.  He was angry at God for demonstrating His nature! When God decides not to punish Nineveh because of their sincere repentance, the text says that “Jonah thought this was wrong!”  Think about the arrogance of that statement.  He then became angry, believing the Lord had made a mistake in His judgment.

 

Wednesday – Part Three – We discuss how we need to sometimes analyze what it is that makes us angry.  Most of our anger is self-centered or egocentric.  People didn’t jump when we said jump, people didn’t’ act the way we thought they should, and we get angry.  Jonah was angry because he was more concerned about his image as a prophet than he was with God’s mercy for the people of Nineveh.

 

Thursday – Part Four – To illustrate our resentment of the goodness of God In the lives of others, we look at a parable that Jesus told about a landowner.  He needed workers in his fields and offered to pay a “day’s wage” to all he hired.  He paid all of them the same wage, regardless of the time of day he hired them.  People became very angry.  The owner responds by saying, “Isn’t it my money?  Can’t I do as I like?”  Jesus makes the point; we can resent the goodness of God in the lives of others!

 

Friday – Part Five – We close with a story that I had trouble sharing during the first of three services.  It just may be the most powerful story regarding forgiveness that you have ever heard.  Why? It’s a story of a woman whose life was changed because she just thought her son had forgiven her for past abuse.  He actually hadn’t, but because of her misunderstanding, she thought he had.  It wraps up this message on God’s forgiveness in the book of Jonah in a memorable way.

WHEN GOD PURSUES

Week 5 – 04/13/2015

When God Sees a Response

Jonah 3:2-10

Overview: What would cause you to respond to the Lord and His will for your life?  Would it take a calamity or crisis?  For some people, that’s exactly what it would take.  For others, it just would take a “still small voice” speaking to your Spirit.  Either way, the Lord responds to our response to Him!  That’s the message of Jonah 3 today.

This Week’s Podcast:

 

Monday – Part One – We begin with a true story about a substitute teacher in a high school in Connecticut 23 years ago.  She has kept in touch with a student from that class all these years.  He is a man struggling with drug addiction and now believes that God has given him a second chance in life.  Jonah was given a second chance to obey the Lord.  Let’s talk about that this week.

 

Tuesday – Part Two – Jonah finally gives this message to Nineveh: “Repent of your violence or the Lord destroys your city in 40 days”.  The people of Nineveh actually repented for their sin!  They first believed God and took Him at His word.  That is the first step of repentance for you and me. We need to believe God about our sin and His grace and mercy.

 

Wednesday – Part Three – The second evidence of repentance has to do with a sense of urgency in obeying the Lord.  So many people have the idea of “someday” I will repent, I will obey the Lord, or I will get right with God.  Someday never comes! The Assyrians (the people of Nineveh) were so convicted of their sin, they acted immediately, and repented of their violence.

 

Thursday – Part four – The third evidence of repentance is a change in behavior.  We give an exciting and humorous example of that!  When people truly are repentant, they not only confess the sin, they seek to do everything they can to rectify their actions.  How does this story speak to you and your life?

 

Friday – Part Five – We close with a fascinating story of God using our “second choice” in life as His first choice.  It just may speak to you in a powerful way, dealing with something that is going on in your life right now!  Any regret you may have in life will pale in comparison to the regret of having to stand before the King of Kings not having accepted Him into your life as Lord!

WHEN GOD PURSUES

Week 4 – 04/06/2015

When God Speaks in the Darkness

Jonah 2:8-3:1

Overview: Most people feel some uncomfortability with darkness.  It’s not just children.  There’s something unsettling about the darkness.   Yet God can and does use the “dark experiences” of life to teach us something we can’t learn in any other way.  That’s the message of our message this week in Jonah.  There’s nothing darker than being in the belly of a fish!

Weekly Pod Cast:

 

Monday – Part One – Jonah is in the belly of the great fish.  He gets a message from the Lord, believe it or not.  God can speak to us anywhere, any place He wants!  Often, in the darkness of illness, job loss, financial setback, or family crisis, God speaks to us.  Have you ever had an experience like that?  Perhaps you have; perhaps you will!

 

Tuesday – Part Two – Jonah was told to go to city named Nineveh, right across the river from the town of Mosul in modern day Iraq.  (Mosul is in the news regularly!  Chances are, you’ve read about Mosul recently or hear something on the radio/TV.) Jonah refused to go!  We ask the question, “What’s your Nineveh?”  Your Nineveh is anything you feel the Lord wants you to do, but you won’t do it! We all have a “Nineveh” in our lives.

 

Wednesday – Part Three – Your Nineveh can be the prompting of the Lord to forgive someone or to seek forgiveness from someone you’ve wounded.  Be careful when you refuse to do what you honestly feel the Lord is prompting your spirit to do.  Life is short; we can miss doing what God actually is wanting us to do and encouraging us to do.

 

Thursday – Part four – An idol is anything in your life or my life that takes the place of the Living God!  We live in a nation that doesn’t’ necessarily have idols; we just practice idolatry on an everyday basis.  Jonah got a “message from the Lord” in the belly of the fish.  The message was this: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the love and grace of God in their lives.”   What a message back then; what an even greater message for our world in 2015.

 

Friday – Part Five – God is the God of the second chance.  The Lord gave Jonah a second chance to obey Him in doing what He had told him to do.  God can do that with you?  Sure, God may done that recently in your life.  Some people have been given a third and fourth chance to obey Him.  What about your life?   God can speak to you in the darkness of depression, the darkness of defeat or disappointment.  Listen to Him! Be open to His word and will for your life.

WHEN GOD PURSUES

Week 3 – 03/30/2015

When God Gets Your Attention

Jonah 1:17-2:1-7

Overview: Has anything ever happened in your life where you felt that maybe, just maybe the Lord was trying to get your attention?  Sooner or later in your life, you will.  It may be health related, job related, or family related.  But God can and does get our attention!  God got Jonah’s attention when he was in the belly of a great fish in the Mediterranean ocean.  What would it take for God to get your attention?

Weekly Podcast:

 

Monday – Part One – We begin talking about a criminal investigator from the Washington State Highway Patrol.  He felt that God was trying to get his attention through an emergency appendectomy.    It worked.   He’s now in the ministry.  We read from the book of Jonah that he was swallowed by a great fish that God had prepared or appointed.  It sure got his attention!

 

Tuesday – Part Two – Most people would say that they really can’t relate to Jonah being “swallowed by a great fish”.  It doesn’t compute with life in 2015.  Really?  We all know people who have been “swallowed up” by a bad marriage, a serious illness, or a family crisis.  We’ve known people feeling “adrift” in the sea of financial failure or job loss. It’s not so far-fetched, is it?

 

Wednesday – Part Three – Jonah says that “God threw him into the water”, even though the crew of the ship actually did it.  But Jonah was perceptive enough to know that God had something to do with the act.  God can use people, circumstances, and even strangers in our lives to fulfil His purposes for us!  We give examples of that in real life.

 

Thursday – Part four – We talk about God’s capacity to deliver us from the “pits” of life.  A pit in your life is anything that seems like a prison; it’s something we can’t climb out of or rise above.  We’ve all had experiences in life in the pit of something.   Yet Psalm 103 says that God delivers my life from the pit!  Jonah discovered that; so can we.

 

Friday – Part Five – One of the great tragedies of life is to experience a moment where God is trying to get our attention, and we miss it.  Lamentations says that, “though God brings grief into our lives, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love for us.”  The God, who does permit disappointment and grief in our lives, is the One who loves us more than we could ever love ourselves!

WHEN GOD PURSUES

Week 2 – 03/23/2015

When God Intervenes

Jonah 1:4-17

Overview: Does God ever intervene in people’s lives?  Well, He did in the life of the Old Testament prophet Jonah.  He intervened in little ways and in major ways.  We talk about both this week on CrossHope.  If the story of Jonah really did happen, then it at least implies to me that God intervenes in our lives.  Perhaps you have sensed that something that happened in your life was more than just a random event.  It just may have been the hand of God!

Weekly Compilation:

 

Monday – Part One – We continue reading the story of Jonah from chapter one of the book bearing his name.  Many people (including Bible scholars) want to dismiss this story as a parable or allegory.  And yet we pose the question, “What if it’s true?”  What if Jonah did run from the command of God to preach against the city of Nineveh and bought a ticket on a boat to Spain?  We talk about those implications in your life and mine!

 

Tuesday – Part Two – According to the story, Jonah is thrown overboard by the crew of the ship traveling to Tarshish in Spain.  Why?  Because the Mediterranean was wild with a storm and Jonah is blamed for the wind and waves.  We discuss the most important lesson out of Jonah today!  Don’t miss it!

 

Wednesday – Part Three – Today we discuss a secondary lesson from this passage.  It’s this:  there are things that we do that impact the lives of other people.  There are not only consequences to what we do; there are consequences to the consequences!  Meaning what? Meaning that there is fallout in our lives and in the lives of others to the choices we make in life.  What if we really believed that?

 

Thursday – Part four – We tell the story of a young man who made some bad choices in his life one weekend.  He then made the observation that we choose what we do and where we go, but we can choose the consequences.  Most people live with the consequences of “forgiven sin”.  God does forgive, but His forgiveness doesn’t remove that which was set in motion in our lives.

 

Friday – Part Five – The word is “historicity”.  It means historical reality or fact.  The greatest argument for the historicity of the story of Jonah is that Jesus Christ referred to Jonah’s story as a “prophetic sign” for His death, burial, and resurrection.  If the expert on life, death, and eternity believed in Jonah and his story, I have no trouble believing it!

WHEN GOD PURSUES

Week 1 – 03/16/2015

Man on the Run

Jonah 1:1-3

Overview: The most mocked and maligned book of the Bible in my opinion is the book of Jonah.  Even non-believers have a familiarity with the story.  Yet people say, “You really don’t believe that a man named Jonah was swallowed by a whale or fish, do you?”  Did you know that Jesus referred to the story of Jonah as historical fact?  He even claimed it as a “sign” regarding His death and resurrection! (Luke 11:29-30)  Jesus certainly believed in the veracity of the book of Jonah.

Weekly Compilation:

 

Monday – Part One – We introduce the series and book by looking at the first three verses.  Jonah is a prophet of God who is told to go to the city of Nineveh and preach “against” the city for their barbaric wickedness.  (Nineveh’s location is in modern day Iraq, across the river from a city that is regularly in current news: Mosul.)  What does Jonah do?  He buys a boat ticket to the farthest destination in his day!  Verse three says he was “fleeing from the Lord.”  Have you ever “fled from the Lord”, figuratively speaking?  Perhaps we all have!

 

Tuesday – Part Two – Verse one tells us that the “word of the Lord came to Jonah”.  Has the word of God ever “come to you” through your reading or hearing a message.  I think it does!  Every time the word of God is shared, something happens.  The word of God penetrates to the deepest recesses of our being.  Sooner or later God’s word will come to you in a special way.

 

Wednesday – Part Three – The book of Isaiah says that the city that Jonah fled to was a city that “hadn’t heard of the Lord”   Not only was it 2,500 miles away; it was a city that had no awareness of the living God.  It’s no accident that Jonah wanted to get away from the Lord or from anyone who reminded him of God!  We do that with the Lord.

 

Thursday – Part four – We share five things today that people do to “flee from the Lord.”  Maybe you can identify something from this list.  People can run to a place, a job, an activity, a relationship, or even to an addiction to get away from the Lord.  If you and I are honest, we can relate to that list in our own lives. Jonah isn’t the only person in history to want to “flee from the Lord”!

 

Friday – Part Five – God can find us through the change points of life.  God can find us through the crisis moments of life.  God can find us in the “chance encounters” of life.  We talk about all three today.  God pursues us because He loves us!  God has pursued us through the cross of Christ!  That’s the ultimate proof of His desire to have a relationship with us.

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