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Summary: Know God by obeying him.

Will You?

Jonah 1-4

October 29, 2006

Experiencing God #7

Today is our final Sunday I our series called Experiencing God. We’ve been walking on this journey together for the past 8 weeks spending time in small groups, Sunday School, reading and praying at home.

It has been my prayer and the leadership of the Church’s prayer that we as a church would come to better understand who our God is, how He works and how we can join Him in His work through this focused time of study.

The final reality of this experience is #7. It is printed on the back of your bulletin. Would you read it with me?

"You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you."

Obedience plays a key role in us experiencing God and being used by Him.

Obedience/Faithfulness/Trust in God and His ways is fundamental to you and me experiencing God and being used by Him.

Again reality #7:

"You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you."

One of the qualities of the Bible that I love is that it doesn’t glorify ordinary people. The writers of the Bible didn’t make holy-rollers out of ordinary people. In the many and varied people in the scriptures, we see them both at their best and at their worst. When their faith was extra-ordinary and quite ordinary. The human beings that our Bible talks about went through chapters of both faith and faithlessness, courage and discouragement, loyalty and being disloyal, trust and distrust. And in my opinion, Jonah is one of the best at displaying the full spectrum, the breadth of full out obedience to God and full out rebellion.

I want to finish this series with Jonah, because I don’t believe that these 8 weeks have fixed or cured any of us of our propensity for sin. There aren’t quick fixes, remedies or solutions to the Christian faith. I finish with Jonah because in his story we are given a picture of how an ordinary person kept encountering God no matter his level of obedience or disobedience. God would not give up on Jonah. He wanted Jonah to experience Him and in the same way He wants you and me too as well.

The book of Jonah is 4 short chapters. You can find it on p. 1436. Most of us know this story for the whale, but there is a lot more to it that that.

A quick outline of this book is this. (Back of bulletin).

Chapter 1 is about Jonah running from God.

Chapter 2 is about Jonah running into God.

Chapter 3 is about Jonah running with God.

Chapter 4 - Jonah is trying to run God.

The "from", the "into", the "with" and the phrase "trying to run God" is each very significant. Small things.

Small behaviors

Small words can be quite significant.

So let’s jump in.

1st - Jonah running from God.

In chapter 1:1, we read, "The word of the Lord came to Jonah, son of Amittai and that word was (read with me)

Verse 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me."

God has a request, a command, an assignment for Jonah. "Go and preach to Nineveh, It’s wickedness has come before me." Wickedness gets God’s attention. Evil behaviors and deeds grab God’s attention.

But God in his grace didn’t want Nineveh destroyed.

Didn’t want to write off the people so he wants to send a prophet, a preacher.

Jonah go - Go and preach.

If verse 2 was God’s request, verse 3 is Jonah’s response.

Verse 3, "But, Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish."

Tarshish was in the exact opposite direction of Nineveh. Nineveh was east of where Jonah was. Tarshish was west. A year and ½ long journey west. When Jonah heard God’s request. He heard it - He didn’t ignore it. He didn’t stay put, but neither did he obey it. He acted in disobedience and he knew it.

Though he was running from God, trying to escape God’s desire for him, he couldn’t outrun the guilt. The mixed up, out of balance feelings that one has when not relationally right.

There he was on a boat and headed west, his disobedience was right there with him. Verse 10 - "The crew knew he was running away from the Lord because he had already told them so."

And verse 12 - "Pick me and throw me into the sea and it will become calm. I knew it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you."

When you and I run from God, storms happen

Disobedience brings not freedom and release but captivity and fear.

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