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Summary: This sermon speaks especially to congregations and communities experiencing stress, and a lack of unity; reinforcing the call to obediently seek and follow the will of God.

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January 26, 2003

"A Call To Obey"

Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Mark 1:14-20

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, ‘Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.’” Now, if the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, it only makes sense to think that the word of the Lord came to him a first time as well. As a matter of fact, if we look at the first three verses in the first chapter of Jonah, this is exactly what we read:

(Jonah 1:1-3 NIV) 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.

Question: Did Jonah obey God?

Answer: No!

Question: What happened as a result of Jonah’s disobedience?

Answer: Well, for the rest of chapter 1 and all of chapter 2 we read about how Jonah’s disobedience got him tossed overboard, swallowed by a huge fish, and then vomited back up on shore three days later. That takes us to the words of our opening Scripture passage for today, saying: “The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time...”

Needless to say, but by now, God has got Jonah’s undivided attention, and vs. 2 tells us that there are 3 things and only 3 things that God wants Jonah to do; 1) Get up. 2) Go. 3) Proclaim. The results are not up to Jonah. The direction and the choice that the people of Nineveh make are not up to Jonah. It was not Jonah’s responsibility to control the ways and the means of the people’s response. Jonah’s one and only task was to obey God.

The call of God is always, first and foremost, a call to obedience. In today’s Scripture we can see within God’s call to obedience ... God’s summons to repentance, God’s summons to living in a manner that seeks God’s will, God’s summon’s to following Him!

In Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, there is an urgency to obediently focus on what God is accomplishing, because the present form of the world is passing away.

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus himself makes it clear that the time frame for our obedience is immediate ... not when we think it feels good to us, or when we think it’s convenient to us, or when we think we’d rather hear it from a different messenger. It’s Jesus who says, “The time IS fulfilled, and the kingdom of God HAS COME near; REPENT and BELIEVE in the good news ... FOLLOW ME.”

Question: When’s the last time you honestly asked God to reveal His will for your life? When was the last time you went to God’s Word seeking to obediently follow His desire and direction? What have been the consequences of doing things your own way instead of God’s way?

I ask the question not for the sake of making any one person feel guilty, but for us to see that this call to obedience applies to our congregational life as well. What does it mean for us at Elim Lutheran Church to be obedient to God? How do we BEGIN to be obedient to God? Listen to what it says in 2 Chronicles, chapter 7:


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