03 February 2008

God Provides (Jonah 1)

Read Jonah 1. (It's only 17 verses long.)

Have you ever found yourself running from God? What about in too deep? How do you get out? Is it possible to get out? Today at UCC, pastor Ryan Hayden talked about the ways in which God provided as shown in Jonah chapter 1. These are just my sermon notes. You can go to uccmanhattan.net and download podcasts of the entire sermon.

I. God provided Jonah - Jonah's story was this: "Hi, I'm Jonah, and I'm running away from God." There was this town called Nineveh and it was pretty much the worst town. The people were said to have not had consciences. They pretty much did everything God didn't want them to do. So God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh and talk to these people. He provided Jonah for Nineveh as a solution and as a messenger of hope.

God told Jonah to go 550 miles northeast. Jonah was scared and didn't want to go, so he paid his way on a ship to go 2,500 mi. southwest.

II. God provided a Choice - Jonah declared his priorities and decided the people of Nineveh and God's commands were not as important as what he wanted to do. God provided him with that choice and also provided a boat. It was just a cargo ship and wouldn't be very fun to travel on from 2,500 miles, but the captain was willing to take Jonah's money and let him come anyway.

III. God provided difficulty (v. 4-6) - Scripture says that God hurled a wind in the path of the boat. God uses difficulty to nudge us and guide us. Difficulties cause us to look at what's working for us in terms of our faith and what's not working. If you're not going in the right direction, things might get tough because God wants to turn you back onto the right path.

IV. God provided a priority check - the crew on the boat cast lots to see who was at fault for the terrible winds and storms. The lots fell on Jonah. The crew decided that life was better than luggage, so they threw all of their cargo overboard to try to save the ship. The shipowner lost a lot of money because Jonah decided he was going to reject the job God had given him. How many people have lost out because we selfishly rejected God's will?

V. God provided a test of strength (v. 8-10) - The men ask Jonah about himself and he tells them that he worships the Lord. The men want answers and they ask him what he has done wrong. Jonah comes clean and tells them he is running from the Lord. God provided a storm that they needed to survive. The men on the boat tried their hardest to row to shore, but they could not do it by their own strength.

Jonah told them that if they picked him up and tossed him overboard, the storm would be calm. Jonah was willing to die. He had no idea at the time that God would provide a way out (a fish to swallow him and that he would not be killed by the fish).

(v. 13+) Even though the men on the ships were pagans who worshiped false idols, they cried out to the Lord. They told Him to forgive them for killing an innocent man and then they threw Jonah overboard. The storm was immediately calmed and all the men on the ship believed in the Lord. Through Jonah, God provided for the men on the ship by changing their fear into a fear of God, teaching them how to pray instead of praying to idols, and Jonah displayed that God was more valuable than life.

At this point, Jonah gets swallowed by a big fish. This probably seems horrible for Jonah and he's barely clinging to life, but God has provided once again: he gives Jonah a place to think, free of distractions.
Jonah 1:17 - But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.


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