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Dr. Jay P. Cook, Pastor

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One Whale of a Story – A Reluctant Servant
Jonah and The Big Fish

Fish stories are popular. I have always been amazed at my brother-in-law David Merryman – the one and only weekend that I went fishing for trout David got me up at some horrible hour in the morning so we could get to the fishing holes before anyone else.  He had me cross a swinging bridge that wasn’t there the next day.  I would have thrown up but I wasn’t lean over – good thing I wouldn’t be here today.  He said he would have his limit by 8 AM – he did; I was still figuring out how to bait a hook at that time.  I did catch a golden trout; a tree and some rocks.  Catching the rocks was really pretty comically because half of my rod was gone until Chuck my other brother-in-law retrieved it (I really was hoping it was gone so I could watch them) he stepped into a deep hole and got his waders full of water – he said something about the water being ______ cold and that we ought to leave me back with the girls. I am glad this happened before cell phones with video capability because I am sure I would have been on you tube or funniest home videos.  That was the last time I went fishing and you know what Chuck and David never invited me to go with them again.  I wonder why?  
I want to tell another fish story.  What do you remember about the story of Jonah?  Like most fish stories we only tell half the story.  So I would like to tell you the whole story of Jonah along with some important points and truths about Jonah and about us. 

  1. Jonah was called to preach a repentance message to the people of Nineveh.  The Ninevites were Gentiles / non Jews – they were the enemy.  
  1.  At this time, Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria one of the cruelest nations in history.
  1. Jonah’s reaction wasn’t so much due to cowardice or timidity as his conduct on the ship proved. No, it was because he had 3 theological problems:
  1. Jonah hardened his heart against God’s call and took off.  He compounded the wrong by trying to distance himself from the city to which he should have gone. The problem is that God is omnipresent and the One from whom there’s no escape.
  1. For Jonah the moment of truth came as we read “But Jehovah sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.”
  1. We may deliberately choose our own way but we can’t evade the consequences of our actions. Sooner or later we must face the One we’ve wronged and render account of what we’ve done.
  1. God in His mercy often places a road block in the path of the backslider before it’s too late, and may even give a fresh opportunity of fulfilling God’s plan.  He isn’t going to let us get away with it. 
  1. The crew wrestled with the onslaught of the storm at sea, even jettisoning the cargo to lighten the ship and Jonah slept. The sailors became increasingly concerned for their lives and “each cried to his god” but the storm only got worse. The captain sensed something was seriously wrong and aroused Jonah from his slumbers. “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us.”
  1. What can we learn from this?
  1. But what an experience! He was troubled physically - how could he possibly escape from where he was imprisoned? He was in trouble mentally – how would it all end?
  1. He was in trouble spiritually how could he get back into fellowship with his God? The answer was in prayer!
  1. Prayer is a means of grace Prayer should be used at all times, not only when we’re in a fix, but God’s ear is ever open to the cry of His children. We can pray anywhere and in any time of trouble.
  1. Jonah did what the Lord wanted with the result that Jonah knew was going to happen. Jonah wasn’t happy about the results.  He knew that God would be gracious and forgiving.  “The Ninevites believed God … he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.”
  2. Pray God that we are willing to be realigned to His will.  
  1. Our attitudes, beliefs and character traits may have to change in the re-commissioning process. Who can tell what blessing we can be if we’re humble enough to be used by God in our own sphere of service?
  1. There is more to the story – most of us stop with the Ninevehites repenting but there is more to the story.  Even though Jonah went and preached the word and had wonderful results he became despondent.  

Lessons from Jonah:

Take God’s 2nd Chance & Ride the Waves for Him

Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.