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2013-01-13 Compassion for Jonah - by Jessica Wang

Time: 2013-01-16 Click:

By Jessica Wang
13 Jan. 2013 Sunday

 

 

 

 

Media Resources:

Sermon: video audio ppt
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Worship song: Man You Neng Li video audio lyric
Worship song: The Power Of Your Love video audio lyric
Worship song: Jesus Thank You video audio lyric
Worship song: What A Friend We Have In Jesus video audio lyric

 

 
 

 

 

Scripture Reading: Jonah 1:1-4, 15-17
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
4 Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.
15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.
16 At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.
17 But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.

 

 
 

 

Sermon:

 

Good morning, my dear brothers and sisters, I am really happy to see you again and share God’s words with all of us. How about bowing down and praying together?

Dear Lord, thank you so much for your love, for your mercy, for your forgiveness to all of us. Because of the power of your love and compassion, we can be renewed by you, and we can come in front of you. And we want to obey you. So Lord, send the Holy Spirit upon to all of us, review us who God is, and let us know how we can respond to  your love and compassion to all of us. We want to lift our brothers and sisters here in your hands, and please speak to us, show us your scripture, and touch our heart through your love and your compassion. Also, I want to lift myself in your hands, and please be with me, and make my words in my mouth, my dissertation in my mind be pleasing to you. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

  
 

 

Dear brothers and sisters, last Sunday, we started to study the book of Jonah, and we will continue to study the book of Jonah this and next Sunday.

God’s Compassion

From last Sunday, we found out what Stephen showed us----the topic is “God of Compassion.” So that is why today we are going to continue to share about “How can we see God’s compassion in different people?” When we read the Old Testament, many people may think “God is about judgment,” judging on this or that, for instance, the disaster, death and storm. But actually, although God passes judgment, it is not His usual job; it is a strange job for Him. Judgment is not God’s ordinary task. His ordinary task is mercy and love. God is about mercy and love and compassion, not about judgment. As we see, God will bring judgment, but it is the last thing He wants to do. Recently, I read Jonah again and again. It told me again and again the love of God, compassion and forgiveness. So dear brothers and sisters, today I am going to focus on the compassion of God. I am going to focus on God’s “Compassion for Jonah.”

Actually, chapter one tells us that God’s compassion shows up in three groups of people: God’s compassion for Ninevites - the sinful people; God’s compassion for sailors - idol worshipers; God’s compassion for Jonah - a prophet, a servant of God who disobeyed God. So today, because time is limited, I am going to focus on God’s “Compassion for Jonah.”

God showed his compassion to Jonah by warning him, or we can say, disciplining him when he disobeyed God. God’s compassion saved him when Jonah was going to die. So the first point:

Disciplining Jonah When He Ran Away from God

When we read chapter 1, verses 1-3, we find out three things: First, who Jonah was; second, what God wanted him to do; and third, Jonah’s rebelling. From the Scripture, we know that God gives Jonah the specific calling to go to Nineveh to preach. 1:2 tells us that “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

So Jonah was the only one who was sent to preach out of Israel and Judea. It was such a great honor to be sent by God to preach in another country, but it was very sad that the prophet Jonah disobeyed God, and he didn’t obey God’s call. Jonah was not willing to carry out the divine commission which he clearly knew. He ran away from the Lord by going as far in the opposite direction from Nineveh as possible. The Bible tells us that, “But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.” He went down to Joppa, he went aboard, and he sailed for Tarshish.

 

 

 

 

Jonah’s Response to God’s Call

And this is a description for Jonah’s action. And actually when I read this part of the Bible, I found out this description to show us that how Jonah responded to God’s call. But also, it can show us that Jonah’s spiritual life went down and down, because he ran away from God. Jonah might think that, if he obeyed God’s call, it would be very difficult for him. Jonah might think that, it would be much easier to run away from God. And many servants from history might think in this way, that they could flee from God, run away from God by changing their locations. But actually it is not possible. It is impossible to run away from God, because the Bible has told us that, (Psalm 139:7-10) “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” So, this Scripture shows us that, we cannot run away from God, we can’t flee from his presence. No matter where we are, no matter if we can change our locations, God is there.

Testimony: Running Away from God Does Not Make Your Life Easier

And the second thing is that if we think that when we run away God, our lives will be much easier. But actually it is not, because this reminded me of my own experience. I don’t know if you know or not, I grew up in a Christian family, and I went to church when I was very young. And my mom always prayed for me and wanted me to commit myself to God. When I was 17-years-old, God called me to serve him when I was baptized. I was very happy at that time and decided I would become a full-time pastor in the future to serve God. But later on, I regretted my decision to serve God at church, because I found out it’s very difficult. Because I found out many of my friends’ dreams are so beautiful, are so great. But mine didn’t seem so good. So, I ran away from the Lord for eight years. I went to college and became a teacher. Strangely, even so, being a teacher in China is a good job——I had a good salary, security, and holidays. But I didn’t like it. I had no joy in it. I was not satisfied in my deep heart. I was not happy during those years. Life without God became so difficult. So I think maybe there are many brothers and sisters who have this kind of feeling. It was very hard for me during those eight years, because I thought I could have a very happy and easy life, because I thought I should have my own dream. My own dream must be much greater, much more beautiful. But, when I really ran away from God, I couldn’t feel satisfied in my deep heart.

God Didn’t Let Jonah Go

I was the same as Jonah. Jonah ran away from God, where he thought God couldn’t come and follow him. But God didn’t let him go. Instead, God used the wind to remind him about his calling. In 1:4, it tells us that, “Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.” Brothers and sisters, when we read this part of the Bible, many people may think, “Oh God, you are so powerful. You always punish people. If I don’t obey you, you will punish me. That’s why I have to obey you.” But actually it’s not. When I read this part of the Bible, it reminded me of my own experience. It reminded me that the discipline of God is for good purposes, and because of his love, because of his mercy, because he didn’t want Jonah to run away and stay in sins for a long time from Him. That’s why he used the wind, he used the environment to remind us what our calling is, to remind us what is the will which God wants us to do in our own lives.

God Reminds Us of His Calling in Our Lives

And also, I had a similar experience in my life. During the eight years, God reminded me several times through the environment. But at that time, I didn’t understand. I didn’t realize. I just complained to God. I just felt that, God, you don’t love me, you don’t care about me. But actually, that’s not how it is. Actually, because God cares for you so much, that’s why he uses a different environment to remind us who God is; to remind us what are the good things we need to do in our lives. But, it’s very sad that when the sailors--who were idol worshipers--did pray to their god, and threw things into the sea to make them safe; Jonah didn’t. He fell into a sleep very deeply.

Jonah’s Sins Caused the Storm

So it also reveals to us the terrible influence of sin in his life. He didn’t care about others. He didn’t pray to God. He didn’t regret, he didn’t confess his sins and he didn’t come to God. He’d rather die than obey God. When the captain found him and asked him “Who are you? Where are you from? What are you doing?” Jonah very proudly told them, “I am Hebrew, I worship God, who is the one who created heaven, earth and the sea.” But it’s so funny, he didn’t fear God, he didn’t respect God, and he didn’t ask God to forgive him, even though he knows that it is his fault that they’re in this storm. He told them to “just throw me out, and then everything will be ok.” But actually, I thought God wants to use this storm to draw Jonah back, will not let him go. But Jonah even wanted to die. He was not willing to serve God, to listen to God, to obey God’s will.  

 

 

God Had a Plan for Jonah: A Storm of Compassion

I know there may be some specific reason, because people in Nineveh were so bad, because Jonah knew of the compassion and love of God. But no matter what the excuse is, we can’t not obey God. because God’s will is much higher than ours, and He knows everything. Dear brothers and sisters, I want to let all of us know that this storm is not the punishment from God, this storm just shows the compassion and love to Jonah from God. Second, when Jonah was going to die, God still showed His love and compassion to him. When they were facing the great wind on the sea, the normal reaction to danger--even of the idol worshipers--is to seek the divine God. They want God to save them. But Jonah didn’t, he said them: “Throw me away and then it will be ok.” All the sailors were afraid. Each cried out to his own god, but Jonah didn’t. He just told them about his faith, his God, about he himself, and what kind of mistake he made. But, he didn’t regret and confess his sins.

Through the Mouth of a Giant Fish, Jonah Was Saved by Grace

In the end, Jonah was thrown into the sea. Dear brothers and sisters, what do you think Jonah was going to face when he was thrown into the sea with such violent winds? What? Death. Yes, it told us that when Jonah was thrown into the sea, what he was going to face is death. But the Bible told us that (Romans 6:23) “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” Even the sin makes Jonah want to die, but the gift of God is to save him, is eternal life. So God didn’t want him to die. God’s purpose is not to destroy but to rebuild. That’s why God didn’t let him go, even though he didn’t confess his sins, even though he didn’t obey God. But, our Lord saved Jonah’s life by using a great fish. It seems impossible to use a fish to save one’s life, and it is impossible to survive in such strong storm on the sea. But in God everything is possible.

Although All Things Are Possible with God, He Will Not Force You to Obey Him

From this part of scripture, it reveals to me that our God is great enough, can control anything. Our God can control the wind, the violent wind. Our God can control the great fish. Our God can control anything. But only one thing he didn’t want to control, that is our hearts. God, even though he is so powerful; even though he created the earth, the heaven, the universe, and all of us, everything is in his control, but he didn’t force myself, he didn’t force Jonah to obey Him. But he uses his love to soften our hearts, to let us realize who God is and to let us come back willingly. So dear brothers and sisters, when we read the Bible, we find that for His anger lasts only a minute, but His favor lasts a lifetime, weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

God’s Discipline = Love

So dear brothers and sisters, this part of the Scripture told us the compassion and love of our God for Jonah, because he disciplined him when Jonah ran away from him, because he saved Jonah when Jonah was going to die. This part of Scripture shows us our God’s concern for people who are in danger. It is a great theme of this book. God showed his compassion for Ninevites, the sailors and Jonah. But Jonah showed little compassion to the Ninevites, sailors and even himself. And he really wanted the wicked people to die, and he didn’t want to share God’s good news with them. Even though he didn’t care about his own life, he wanted to die more than obey God. But God cared so much about him, God so loved him, God was so good to him.

God Won’t Let You Go, Even If You Have Already Let Go of Him.

It also reminds me of myself. After eight years I ran away from God, but God didn’t let me go. I never thought that I’d be standing here, I never thought that I’d be a pastor in the future because I had decided not to do this anymore, because I didn’t think God loves me. But finally, in the end of 2002, God called me again. He didn’t force me into anything. He had used my mom to always remind me. But, after four years, my mom didn’t remind me anymore because she prayed to God. She said, “If you want Jessica to go to serve you, please do not speak to me, but speak to her. Let her realize it herself.” So, in my life it seems that God kept silent for eight years, but actually not. And there was such a long time that I didn’t read the Bible, I didn’t pray, I didn’t go to church because I didn’t think He loved me. But God didn’t let me go.

So, dear brothers and sisters, how can we respond to God’s love and compassion towards us? I know each person has his or her own experience of how God loves us. I myself have my own experience. Every time I read the book of Jonah, I want to cry because it reminds me how deep God loves me, and of His compassion for me. So, dear brothers and sisters, at the beginning of the year, I want to think about: What is the call from God for you-- for your entire life? Dear brothers and sisters, we know that God called Jonah to be a prophet his whole life. And also, in a specific time in his like, God called him to preach in Nineveh.

 

 

 

 

 

We All Have Our Own Calling from God

All of us are so unique; we are so special to our God that no one can replace us on this earth because God created all of us in His own image. So, I am sure that God has His own calling for me. It’s the life-long calling to be a pastor and to preach His Gospel. I am sure that God still has a special calling for you: maybe a doctor, maybe a farmer, maybe a mom.

One day, a sister shared with me about her experience. She had a good job, but before she got married, she decided that in the future, she will raise her child by herself. But life is so difficult, especially living in Beijing. We have so much pressure to live, to survive, and to earn money. After she had her daughter, she decided to raise her daughter by herself. There was so much of a challenge for her. In the end, she found out that in this specific period of her life, her special calling from God was to be a mom. So that’s why in the end, she quit her job and became a full-time mom.

So brothers and sisters, please do not think that only being a pastor is God’s calling. But each of us has a special calling from God. And each period in our life has a certain calling from God. So at the beginning of this year, I am going to remind myself and all of us the compassion and love of our God for us. I also want to remind all of us how we can live for Him.

Psalm 116:12-13 says:

“What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.”

So, how can we repay the love and the goodness which God gave to us? And we should lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. This is our Great Commission. We call this the Great Commission because all the Christians have the same calling: Go and make disciples of all nations. Also, for each of us we have a specific calling in our lives, in this year. So, dear brothers and sisters, at the end of this sermon I want to encourage you to ask yourself four questions:

Application Questions

1) What is my life calling?

Many people may not know their life calling. It was so difficult for me to know my life’s calling. I struggled for so many years. So, my mom said if you didn’t know God, if you couldn’t hear from God, that’s because you didn’t want to have a grace relationship with God. So, brothers and sisters, this may be your problem: that you don’t know your life calling. How about building up a close relationship with God through reading the Bible, through meditating on His Word, through prayer, and through lifting up our Lord in your daily life? And then, you may know God’s calling for you-- step by step.

2)  What is my call for this church and my life this year?

God has a specific calling for each of us for our whole life. And also, to finish this great calling, each year, God will give us special callings. For example, before I got married, I always thought about single brothers and sisters. But after I got married, I got a special call this year to think about married couples. Maybe after next year, I will think about another ministry. That does not mean that I will forget about the single brothers and sisters. So this year I want to pray to God to let me know how this church can take care of married couples, how God can let us know how to take care of the single brothers and sisters, how to take care of the full-time mom. So what’s your special call in your life, in your job? How can you reveal God to your friends and family around you?

3) Did I ever run away from God?

Maybe sometimes we know, clearly know like Jonah, that God called him to preach to the Ninevites. And like myself, that I clearly know that God called me to the seminary to study and to serve Him. But, I didn’t want to go. I wanted to run from God. Do you have the same experience? If yes, every time I share my own testimony, I will confess my sins again and again. I will know that I am not worthy to be called by God. But because of His compassion and His love, I can stand firmly.

4) How can I fulfill God’s will in this year?

I wish all of us can make our own plan. I wish all of us can pray to God and ask Him to give you wisdom to know His will in your life this year. May God bless all of us. Amen.

Dear Lord, thank you so much for your love and compassion for Jonah. You didn’t let him go even when he didn’t obey You. You didn’t let him go even when he would not choose You and would rather die. But God, you saved him, You renewed him, You rebuilt him, restored him by the power of Your love.  Lord, thank you so much for the power of Your love in my life, in the life of each of my brothers and sisters. God, speak to us continually. Seek us when we run away from You. Tell us and reveal to us Your will in each of our lives. Reveal to us your will for this church for this year, Your will for each of my brother’s and sister’s life each year. Let us follow You. Let us seek You. Let us serve You. And let us reveal Your love to our friends and to many people who don’t know You. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

HOLY COMMUNION

Dear brothers and sisters, this Sunday as usual we are going to have the Holy Communion service and we do the Holy Communion to remember the love of our Lord Jesus Christ for dying for us in our place. Before we do the Holy Communion, we take the blood and the body of Jesus Christ, let’s stand and confess our sin.

Dear Lord, thank you so much for Your love and salvation for me and all my brothers and sisters. Thank you so much for reminding us that You are a God of love, You are a God of compassion, You are a God of salvation. Even though judgment may come, this is the last thing You will do. So today, we are willing to confess our sins. We are willing to come in front of You by the power of Your love. Lord, please shed Your blood among all of us and wash away our sins and clean our hearts. And, let us be satisfied in You, in Jesus Christ. Lord, please bless the cup and the bread. Let it become holy. Then, when we take the Holy Communion, we can be united through Jesus Christ, we can live like You, we can be as Jesus. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Holy Communion is for all who believe in Jesus Christ. If you have not been baptized yet, please do not take the cup and the bread. And all the brothers and sisters who have already been baptized, please stand up and wait for the volunteers to deliver the cup and the bread to you. When you receive it, you may sit down. Wait for all the brothers and sisters to receive the Holy Communion, and we will take it all together in the end.

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Now let us take the bread and the cup with a thankful heart. Let us pray.

Dear Lord. Thank you so much for Your body and blood for all of us. Once we were lost, but today we are found in You. Lord, thank you so much for Your forgiveness through Your blood. I thank you for Your love to build up this church, this fellowship, for all of us. Lord, please let us be in You always, and let us love each other always. And let us build each other up in Jesus Christ in Truth. We thank you so much for Your promise which You give us that You are going to come back again. We are looking forward to seeing You face to face in the future when You come back. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

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