sermons delivered September 16, 1995

by Pastor Don Gettys of McDonald Road SDA Church, McDonald, TN

Running FROM God

Last week we noted how Jonah shunted God's will by heading for Tarshish when God wanted him to go to Nineveh. From that moment Jonah started a sad downward course as he tried to run from God. PK266- "Had Jonah obeyed unquestioningly, he would have been spared many bitter experiences, and he would have been blessed abundantly."

Jonah quit the ministry. He is a deserter. AWOL. Even today when someone decides to quit the church or give up the faith, their life will take a downward course. Trouble will be just over the horizon. For Jonah it happened so quick.

JONAH 1:4-5a - A TREMENDOUS STORM CAME. God sent a great WIND on the sea. Ships never sailed in the season when the infamous MELtimi winds from the North made sailing dangerously impossible. This was the season of smooth sailing. This savage wind was supernatural.

It would take a super storm to make seasoned sailors begin to send significant cargo seaward. These pagan seamen seize their sharp scabbards and scurry forth to save their sinking ship. Each send their own SOS to their gods.

God sometimes sends trouble when we stray from His will. Our God is too merciful and too loving to let his children drift off into open rebellion without trying to save them. God uses special circumstances to try to salvage his backslidden people. HEB 12:6--The Lord disciplines those that He loves. Here is how this works: Perhaps you have been lax in your Christian life. You know you are losing your hold on God. God realizes this also. Then one day something unusual takes place. Maybe you suddenly get a serious sickness, or perhaps you experience a major setback. It could be that God is trying to wake you up by not preventing certain bad things from happening to you. In Psalms, David experienced God-sent trouble. David says: "Before I was Afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word."--Psalm 119:67

God does not do it to get even. Psalm 103:3 "He does not treat us as our sins deserve.." If He did, we would be chastised every moment of every day.

Perhaps you may be wondering why Storms are raging around you so often. The storms of life could be a wake up call from God for something in our life that is not in His will. I'm glad God doesn't easily give us over to sin. He probably could, if He did not love us so much. God has a CRUSH on us. Really! God is Love. God was trying to save Jonah.

>h3>JONAH IS SOUND ASLEEP! -- Jonah 1:5B In a DEEP sleep. Slumbering in a crisis hour. At ease while the ship is sinking. When men or women leave God this usually happens. It takes something powerful to wake us up when we are deep in spiritual sleep.

Jonah was sleeping during the time of trouble. Do you know why he could sleep so sound? Because he has a false sense of security. He did find this ship. It must be God's will. So he sleeps on. Jonah was the only human being on board who knew the true God. He was the only one who could lay hold of God for true help, and here he was dead to the world.

It is hard to comprehend how he could sleep while the storm is raging. It shows how insensitive we can get. Sin quickly hardens the heart. EPH. 4:19 describes such: "They have LOST all SENSITIVITY, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more." The Blanco Paraphrase says they have become CALLOUSED. A Callous is just skin that has lost its sensitivity. If you lose your callouses you will have tender feet or hands. Sin makes us spiritually insensitive. Our hearts are hardened. We do not respond to God.

Children are sensitive. I will never forget the strong feelings that came over me one day when I was a boy standing in our front yard. I had in my hand a new slingshot. Over my head towered the largest Elm tree in our little town. On a limb about 30 feet above me was a bird. He was singing. I took aim and pulled back on the strong rubber cords. My rock went straight for the bird which fell from the tree and landed dead at my feet. I was silent. As the implications of what I had done came over me, tears started down my cheeks. I vowed never again to take the life of a little innocent creature

Do you remember the pain you felt the first time you did something that plagued your conscience. Maybe a lie you told as a child. Or perhaps later an act of thievery or immorality. You knew you should not have done it. Do you remember the struggle you had. You finally fell. Can you recall the pain that came over you afterward. Shame, guilt, the dirty unclean feeling. Many of you may have stopped right then and there. A few may have repeated the sin over and over. Finally you started a life of insensitivity.

Every time God tries to help us and we insist on continuing our trip to Tarshish, our spiritual sensitivity weakens. The callus gets thicker. Our sleep gets deeper. Insensitive to the killer storm. Unaware that our very life is on the line. Are we sleeping while the world rushes on to its destruction? When Jonah should have been praying he was sleeping.

JONAH 1:6 The Skipper finally found him and shook him awake and said: How can you sleep? Get up and call on your God. When the waves of Death were beating against his ship even the Captain suddenly believed in prayer. Too many are using prayer much like they would use 911 or a fire extinguisher. In case of fire break the glass. Too many are foul weather Christians. When the sun comes out we go out.

The storm was raging. Storms expose character. You can hide for a while, but eventually people will know about you. Numb- 32:23 "Be sure your sin will find you out." It is a sad day when one of God's people have to be exposed before an unbelieving world. Every time a Christian falls it hurts the cause of Jesus. We do untold harm to Jesus when we claim to be Christians and do not live like it. We say: I'm an Adventist, but we don't pay our debt or keep our word.

JONAH 1:8-10---They threw the dice. Jonah was found out!

Jonah had lost his testimony. It is a sorry day when a prophet of God has to be asked: What is your occupation? If someone has been around us for a period of time and they have to ask us if we are Christians then we have lost Jesus.

Jonah had concealed his identity but it did not work very long. You can run but you cannot hide forever. Do the people that you work with know that you are a Christian?

Verse 9 is interesting-------

Jonah made a statement about himself-I Worship the Lord. But he didn't. If he did, he would have been enroute to Nineveh. Jonah was deceived about his Christian experience. His practice did not match his profession. He used to be a follower of God. But that was now in the past. You can't be saved on past experience. Our walk with Jesus must be fresh, and new every day. Christianity is like the manna that used to fall from heaven. It did not keep very long. It had to be constantly renewed. Paul said: I die daily!

JONAH 1:11--- Storm was getting rougher!

Praise God for that storm. It was a sign that God was not through with Jonah yet. If you are running away from God you will be similar to Jonah. Your trip will be an unhappy one. God will follow you. He will pursue you. A loving God will chase you. Like the hound of heaven, God will find you clear down in the bottom of life. Jonah was discouraged and perhaps he thought: I've failed! God can never use me again! Just let me die in this storm. But often storms are an indication that God is not through with us yet.

The Storm obeyed God. In fact if you think about it, Everything in the whole book of Jonah obeys God's will except Jonah. The waves obeyed His will. The dice obeyed. The storm obeyed. The Sailors obeyed. The fish obeyed. The sinners in Nineveh obeyed. The Gourd obeyed. The worm obeyed. Of all of God's creation, professed Christians seem to have the roughest time following God's will.

PURPOSE OF THE STORMS OF LIFE-----

Every storm provides an opportunity for growth. Jonah grew stronger because of his experience. Storms also come to test us. There is a difference between testing and trials. Testing comes from God to cause the Christian to stand. Trials come from Satan to cause the Christian to stumble.

JONAH 1:11-----What should we do to save our lives?

Jonah had endangered the very lives of others by being out of God's will. The storm was his fault. Men, think about your life. If you are not following God's will, what legacy are you leaving for your children or your wife or your loved ones? Like father like son! Your spiritual apathy endangers the life of your whole family. If you go fishing on Sabbath and later tell your son he can't skip church to be with his friends, your example is jeopardizing his spiritual future. At least Jonah could say in verse 12-- this storm is MY FAULT.

Jonah 1:12- The only prophecy of Jonah that ever came true!

This hurricane will stop the instant you throw me overboard. I will die, but you will be saved. Running from God is strange. Jonah would rather die than do the will of God. At this point, was Jonah the worst minister in the world? Yet look at all his converts! All the sailors were saved.

1:13-16 They tried hard to row to shore. "But they could not". Salvation is not by effort alone. Our best effort is like a filthy rag. It is a happy day when we finally realize that our best will not cut it. Andrew Murray once said: The Christian life is not difficult; it is impossible. We cannot live it. Our only hope is Christ in us---Col 1:27. Salvation does not come by trying but by dying. Jesus death fully pays for our life of sin.

Their best efforts could not get them back to land. You need to let this sink deep into your mind: WE may row as hard as we can but it will never be enough. You can throw all your cargo overboard but it will not stop the storm or save you. Salvation comes from above. Rowing & throwing will never save us. We can't row our way to heaven.

For salvation to come, Jonah had to be sacrificed. The sailors believed in the great doctrine of SUBSTITUTION. We are saved because of the death of Jesus our substitute. Jonah here becomes a symbol of Jesus. Both spent 3 days and 3 nights buried in a tomb thereby saving others. What a picture we see in Jonah of Jesus. He died to save others. Jesus was cast into the sea of sin to die and rise again for our redemption. The noble ship of humanity was battered by waves of judgment. Only Jesus can still the great storms of life. Jesus paid it all. There is only one way to be saved: Surrender all to Jesus. "By His wounds you have been healed,"-I Peter 2:24 Accept Jesus as your substitute.

Salvation is not by rowing or throwing but by Jesus Christ. Friend, if you are in the same boat as Jonah, if you have been running from God, why not come home today? Come to Jesus. He lived the life we can't live, He died the death we don't want to die. Accept Jesus as your substitute just now. You can avoid a whale of trouble and misery.



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