Summary: 3 of 4 in the series "Inside~Out: Developing the Heart of God" More sermons by Charles Sackett at Audio also available at

3 of 4 in the series "Inside~Out: Developing the Heart of God" More sermons by Charles Sackett at Audio also available at

I admit to just a little twinge of guilt every time it happens. You sit down in an airplane and you are waiting to take off. You finally get to the place that it’s near time to go, and the flight attendant comes and says, "Please take that card out from the seat in front of you and open it up and we are going to walk through all of these instructions." And I always feel just a little bit guilty about not doing that.

I mean, the first time or two I was on a plane I was pretty compliant, and I went ahead and did that. And the more I thought about this is, what difference is it going to make anyway? At 35,000 feet if it comes down, it comes down, you know. Having read the card probably isn’t going to help. So I either sleep through it or read through it, and I have learned to not be guilty. It’s amazing how little attention I, in fact, pay at all on an airplane.

Until coming back from Baltimore one night flying into St. Louis I heard the noise under the plane a couple or three times, tried to figure out what it was, couldn’t. I’m no mechanic. Pretty soon when the flight attendant came down the aisle with a flashlight looking at the floor I thought, that’s not a good sign. Pretty soon the lights came up and the announcement came on. The flight attendant is going to be giving you instructions about how to prepare for an emergency landing. I listened. Carefully.

I can teach you how to get into the correct position, and the correct position, if you ask me, is nothing more than a recipe to break your neck immediately so that you don’t have to feel the crash when it actually happens, because the way they have got you bent over your head is right against the back of the seat. I’m thinking it’s a done deal. It was amazing to me how the thought --

Oh, by the way, the problem was a simple little problem, shouldn’t have been a major issue. We just couldn’t tell whether or not our landing gear was down. I suppose if you are going to land a plane, that’s a bit of a problem.

I was amazed at how much attention people paid during that announcement. It was almost like the recipe for destruction was enough to get your attention. It reminds me just a little of Jonah Chapter 3. Have you read this chapter? I trust that you have been reading through the book of Jonah as we have been looking at it, and quite honestly it’s such a simple message. It just is so brief and to the point. Jonah Chapter 3, the verse is Verse Number 4. Excuse me. Verse Number 3. Well, I’ll find the right chapter, and then I’ll know. Verse Number 4, right in the middle. "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned."

Now, that’s my kind of sermon. Eight words. Well, I mean, it’s my kind of sermon if I’m listening. It wouldn’t be my kind of sermon if I’m preaching one. Essentially five words in Hebrew. Eight words. Forty days and Nineveh is going to be overturned. You know that Jonah didn’t want to say that, because he really wanted Nineveh to be destroyed. But for some reason that brief message spoken as often -- and it may have been spoken in the three days. Well, frankly we don’t even know how long Jonah preached because it only identifies the first day. It says that Nineveh was a big city, enough that it would take three days to get all through it, but we only know about the first day. In fact, we only have one speech.

But somehow those people responded. Now, it’s striking, isn’t it, in its contrast to Jonah. Jonah, arise and go to Nineveh. No thanks. I think I’ll go to Tarshish. But one message, Forty days and this place will be destroyed, and people began to respond. It’s really a simple message. It’s a simple message all the way through scripture. You read it in Ezekiel Chapter 1. "Repent, therefore, and live." That’s it. Few words. Repent and live. It shows up in the sermon in Acts Chapter 17. "God commands all men everywhere to repent." That’s it. It’s the bulk of the message. It’s a simple request. The word literally means to turn around, to go the other direction.

The response in Nineveh is frankly quite unbelievable if you ask me. I look at Verse Number 5, for example, in Jonah Chapter 3. "The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them from the greatest to the least put on sackcloth." I mean, it kind of reminds me of the guy at the Quad at the University of Illinois standing out there on the Quad shouting about God and repentance, and if your experience is anything like my experience on college campuses, students just walk right on by, and the best that happens is they don’t throw anything at him. But nobody stops and says, oh, God, I’m sorry. They just keep right on going about their business.

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