Summary: A New Year’s message to challenge listeners to follow God’s will in the New Year

The Good Ship Lollipop

Jonah 1: 1 – 7

( I read this anology in a book a while back and thought it wourl preach).

Here we, the first Sunday in the year 2000, the long awaited day has finally arrived. We find ourselves embarking on a journey into the unknown and we are launching into a new era. We are going where no man has ever gone before. The last half of the 1900’s saw many movies being made about the new millennium, predictions have been made and now we are moving into this mysterious time in human history. Will the world come to an end, will the earth be invaded by aliens? Will intelligent life on other planets try and contact us and answer the age old question, “Why am I here and where did I come from?”

Whether you celebrate surviving an old year or the beginning of a new one; we find ourselves with a great opportunity. January is named after the Roman god Janus who was described as having two faces. One face looked backward to the previous year and the other looked forward to the new year. January is a month to begin again. It is a time to set goals and then chart a course for achieving those goals. Many people have resolved to do things differently this year than they did last year. Perhaps you have already identified areas that you did not do so well in this past year. Friend, you can purpose in your heart today to let 2000 be the greatest year of your life. Spiritually, I believe 2000 stands to be the most exciting year in the history of the church. As we rapidly approach the end of the age, the time when Jesus will return, I believe for a great spiritual awakening. I see revival on the forecast for Bethel Temple if we will faithfully and obediently follow God’s lead.

I feel somewhat like Elijah on the mountaintop, as I peer into the sky, off in the distance, I see a cloud brewing. There has been a spiritual drought for too long. Folks, we’ve been praying and fasting for years. We’ve been meeting in homes across the county in our Houses of Prayer, we’ve been praying together on Wednesday before Bible study, seeking the face of God. I believe these are the days that we will see the heavens rolled back and the glory of god revealed in ways we can’t even fathom. This cloud is not just any cloud, but a divine cloud representing God’s glory. I came to say this morning, “get ready for I hear the sound of an abundance of rain. I see God waiting to pour out His spirit on all those who will pursue Him. I see God poised to do things in and through us that would make our ears tingle if we were told.

I feel like Joshua this morning who stood in front of the children of Israel as they prepared to posses the Promised land. He said, “sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” This is what I’ve come to declare this morning, if we will sanctify ourselves, which means to set aside. If we will set aside ourselves and consecrate our lives to God; if we will “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” God will do wonders among us.

In our text this morning, Jonah was called by God to go to Nineveh and preach against its sins. Jonah answered the call and said, “Here I am….send someone else. I’ve got other plans, in fact, I’m on my way to catch a ship to Tarshish.” God said, “God” but Jonah said, “No.” Friend, God is calling each of us this morning to go to Nineveh. You say Pastor, “I don’t even know where Oklahoma is and you’re telling me that God is calling me to Nineveh.” Nineveh represents the will of God for our lives. God has a plan and purpose for us. You were not born by accident and you weren’t a mistake. God has a plan for you and it is a good plan. It is a plan that will bring you great joy and much glory to God. Nineveh represents the will of God. For each of us here this morning, Nineveh may represent something different. For some, it may be to teach a Sunday school class, to others it may be to work in our children’s ministry, still for others, it may be to start a ministry that we do not yet have. Whatever the call of God is on your life, this is your Nineveh.

God is calling us this morning saying, “Go to Nineveh.” My question is, “where are you headed?” The truth is there are only two roads from which to choose. The Holy Ghost is not God’s Monte Hall who stands offering a choice of curtain 1, 2 ,3 or box 1 – 4. There are not many ways to choose from, there are only two. One road leads to Tarshish and the other leads to Nineveh. One leads toward revival the other leads toward ruin. One is leads to peace and joy, the other leads to chaos and misery. One is obedience to the will of God and the other is disobedience. God is saying to us, “if you are willing and obedient you shall eat the good of the land.” How about it this morning, are you headed toward Nineveh? Are you doing what the Lord called you to do? If not, start today. When you look back over 1999, did you accomplish what God wanted you to accomplish? Were you faithful to God? How many people did you lead to the Lord or invite to church?

God called Jonah to go and cry out against the sins of Nineveh. God has called us, the church, to cry out to a sin sick world and let them know there is a better way. It is a sad commentary on Christendom, but the cruise business to Tarshish is booming in the 20th century church. The “good ship lollipop” is doing a whale of a business as many of God’s people are fleeing from God’s will.

I think among the saddest words in the Bible are, “But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish…” I mean, here was a man, called and commissioned by God to go and preach to a nation that was in peril of divine judgement. We must remember, God is not willing that any perish, but that ALL come to repentance. God has always had a witness to preach the gospel. Jonah was to be that witness to Nineveh. Judgement was coming, someone needed to stand up and preach Jesus. Unfortunately, the one called to do just that, was headed away from the field instead of into it. To make matters worse, he was fast asleep. I can’t help but wonder how many Christians today are cruising through life on the good ship lollipop fast asleep totally oblivious that down my street, at my work place, in my family, people are headed for hell. Jonah had the mentality that is prevalent in many believers today and that is, “I’m saved and on my way to heaven. Who cares about anyone else?” Friend, I’ll tell you who cares, God care. Jesus cares, when he hung on the cross, he did so because he cared. Our world is destined for judgement. God has left us to witness to a lost and dying world. The prime directive of the church is to continue to proclaim to a darkened world that the light has come in the person of Jesus Christ. The message of 2000 is still Jesus saves, Jesus saves.

I could spend much time analyzing the life of Jonah, but I’m here this morning simply to ask you, “Are you headed to Nineveh?” Jonah paid a price much more than he ever expected for his disobedience. The price of disobedience is much too high friend.

God has a plan for this church and that plan includes you. Don’t get side tracked by superficial things. Don’t get mad and quit when things don’t go your way, don’t let your feelings keep you from doing what you know is right. Don’t be a pawn that the devil will try to use to disrupt what God is doing. Keep your eyes on the prize. Keep looking to Jesus, and let’s take Johnson County for Jesus.

As I look ahead to 2000, lets work together to see 1000 people saved. Let’s dare to believe that we will retire the debt this year and let’s see 600 active members by the end of the year. Let’s see families restored and strengthened. Let’s see believers mature and grow in faith. Let’s see sicknesses and diseases healed. Let’s see the power of satan defeated and people delivered by the power of the gospel. I can tell you that Johnson County needs us to keep growing for Jesus.

Where are you headed this morning? Are you headed toward Nineneh or are you headed toward Tarsish? Are you doing what you know God has called you to do? If not, today is the day to start fresh. It is time to begin again and realign the your priorities. 20000 can be the best year of your life if you will head toward Nineveh. Were you faithful to God in 1999? If not, make a renewed commitment today to “seek first the kingdom of God…” Make a commitment to “not forsake the assembling together” and join with us as we make a difference in Johnson County.

I need your help, this church needs your help if we are to fulfill God’s plan and purpose. Will you stand with me? Will you serve with me?