Drifting Allegiance by Pastor Abidan Shah

DRIFTING ALLEGIANCE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson 

Drifting Allegiance

Introduction: What does it mean to drift? There are many meanings. If you’re a NASCAR fan, you know what drifting is. I can say, “Do you get my drift?” which means, “Do you understand what I am saying?” You can also drift off to sleep (as some of you will in a few minutes). There’s another kind of drifting which means “get off course or lose your way.” It happens often in the Christian life. We start out strong in the right way with all the right intentions but then we drift away for one reason or another. Today’s message titled “DRIFTING ALLEGIANCE” will help us get back on track and finish what God has begun in our lives. Here’s the message in a nutshell – “When we drift away, God doesn’t abandon us. Instead, he comes to us in grace and lovingly but firmly he steers us back.”

John 21   15So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, sonof Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, sonof Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, sonof Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

Question: Christ came to Peter because he had drifted away. Have you drifted away? Have you lost your zeal for the things of God? Have you lost your first love? Have you ever received God’s love in your heart. Are you saved?

Overall Background: The Gospel of John could have ended at chapter 20. Jesus had finished his earthly ministry. He had died on the cross. He had risen from the grave. He had revealed himself to his disciples. It was time for Jesus to ascend back to his Father and send the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to empower the disciples to share the gospel with the world. Everything that needed to be said had been said. Everything that needed to be done had been done. But, before he left, one more thing had to be done. In fact, it was one more person who had to be visited. Even though Jesus had already met him after the resurrection and proven himself to him, he knew that this person needed a one-on-one time with him. It was Simon Peter. Things were still not right with him ever since he had denied Jesus that night. You remember – he denied him 3 times and then the rooster crowed just the way Jesus had warned. Peter was still not over it. He was still plagued with guilt, shame, disappointment and self-condemnation. If you are drifting today, here are 5 things to help you return to God:

1. RESULT OF DRIFTING

John 21:3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, ‘We are going with you also.’ They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.”

Background:On the surface, nothing was wrong with that statement. People fish all the time and many times they return emptyhanded. But the next verse tells us that this was not an ordinary fishing trip – But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. You have to read between the lines.Jesus was not just “happened to be” hanging out by the shore. I believe that it was Jesus who made sure that every fish in the Sea of Tiberius was safe that night. The angels had to put on their snorkelers and fins and work extra hard that night! Jesus knew that Peter had lost his focus and he wanted him to remember what he had taught them back in John 15:5 “without Me you can do nothing.” You may still go about your daily activities but you are no longer empowered by God. No matter how much profit you make or achievements you have, you still feel empty.In fact, listen to verse Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.”

Application:Is that you today? You’ve lost your focus. You may still be doing things but you come up empty. Your heart remains empty. A drifting life is a fruitless life.

2. RESPONSE OF THE SAVIOR

And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

Background:You would expect Jesus to come with anger and disappointment. Instead He came with forgiveness and grace. He did not condemn them for going fishing but helped them find fish. That is the nature of God. Just when we think we don’t deserve grace, we receive grace; just when we think we have been discarded, He comes to restore us. Just when we think that He won’t help us. He does. Someone might say, “You don’t know how bad I have been.” Listen to Romans 8   33 “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It isGod who justifies. 34Who ishe who condemns? It isChrist who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Meaning:We not only have the Holy Spirit interceding for us but we also have Jesus praying for us. Jesus, who knows our every weakness, is the one who is interceding for us.

3. RESPONSE OF THE DRIFTER 

John 21:7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put onhisouter garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. John has intentionally placed this information here for us. He wants us to learn from Peter’s example. It matters how we respond when the Savior calls us. It matters how we respond when the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts.

Application: How do you respond when God convicts your heart? Do you wait, deliberate, debate, procrastinate or do you immediately run towards him? Hosea 6:1“Come, and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.”

4.  RESTORATION BY THE SAVIOR

What happened when they all got to the land?They saw fire of coals and fish laid on it and bread. Jesus says to them “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”Jesus not only had the breakfast prepared for them but He even asked them to bring some of the fish they had just caught and included it. He indeed “works all things together for good to those who love God.” Altogether, they had 153 fish. There is a reason for this huge catch. It was a restoration of the call that Jesus had given to them when he first called them – “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19. Now began a heart to heart conversation between Jesus and Peter. Three times Jesus asked him if he loved him. Why? To convey to him that he had lost his first love. Also, each time Jesus told him to get back to the task that he had given him of taking care of the disciples. In other words, Jesus was telling Peter that he was not through with him.

Application:There are many people here this morning for whatever reason you feel God is through with you but He is not. He is calling you back to love and to the ministry. Have you lost your first love? Are you ready to get back to serving?

5. RELAPSE OF THE DRIFTER

In verse 18 Jesus tells Peter how he would be martyred for the gospel and reminded him to “Follow him.” But listen to Peter’s response– 20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?”21Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, whataboutthis man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, whatis thatto you? You follow Me.” This is why Peter fell the first time. He wanted to make himself look better than others. He is still doing the same things! Old habits and sins do not die easily.

Personal Testimony: I thought for some time that I had disappointed God and that I was no longer worthy. Everything I attempted was fruitless until I met Nicole’s dad. Just a handshake showed me that he loved me. You may not see Jesus face-to-face but you can feel His love in the smiles and the handshakes in this place. That’s what Clearview is all about – “Making Christ Visible” – so that the saved will return to their love and ministry and the lost will be saved.

Have you drifted in your allegiance? Have you lost your first love? Are you doing things but coming up empty? Have you ever received His love?

Be the Gospel by Pastor Abidan Shah

BE THE GOSPEL by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Be The Gospel.jpgIntroduction: Sometime back I was fishing at a friend’s pond with the boys and one of them wanted to use a spinner bait. I thought I knew what I was doing. So I tied it and decided to give it a shot. I did catch a fish for about 10 seconds before the fish took the bait from me. Just like a good dad, I blamed them for tying the wrong knot. In today’s message we will learn how a fish caught a man. It’s not a hoax. The message is about Jonah in the Old Testament and it is titled “BE THE GOSPEL.”

Matthew 12   38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” 39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.

Context: Many of you may remember that 3 years ago I preached a series of messages on the Book of Jonah called “Running from God.” (You can still access them on my blog site and podcast.) The most amazing lesson for me in that series was not that Jonah was still alive after being inside the great fish for 3 days and 3 nights. God can do any miracle. The most amazing thing for me was that the people of Nineveh repented after Jonah preached only 8 words to them (at least in English) – “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” Wow! Jonah must be some preacher! What was so powerful in his message that the people were willing to believe God so quickly? What was so radical in his sermon that even the king would decree that every man and beast would fast, seek God and repent? The answer is very simple – “Jonah became the gospel.”

Question: Before we see what that really means, have you heard the old adage – “You are the only Bible some people will ever read”? Let me tweak that a little – “You are the only gospel some people will ever see.” Meaning: It’s not enough to preach the gospel. We also have to live it out. We have to demonstrate in our lives the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. People around us need to see the gospel of salvation in us. Can the people around you see the gospel of Christ in you? Have you ever responded to the gospel in your life? Are you a witness of Christ?

This morning we’re going to focus on how Jonah became the gospel to others:

I. It began with a wakeup call.

Jonah 1   1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” The word for “arise” in Hebrew is “qum” meaning “up.” Jonah was comfortably asleep when God came to him. I believe that there is a double meaning here. Jonah was not only physically asleep but he was also spiritually asleep. The reason we can say that is because of his reaction to God’s call. 3 “But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” People run from God when there is sin in their lives. Case in point: Adam and Eve hid from God after eating the forbidden fruit. What Jonah didn’t realize at that time was that this wakeup call was not just for Nineveh but also for him.

Principle: When God awakens you to do something, don’t see it as something you are doing for God. Primarily, it’s for you.

II. It unleashed a storm of troubles.

Jonah 1:4 “But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.” Jonah made the same mistake that people make today – I know what God expects of me and I don’t like it. I’m going to take a break from God. I’m going stop coming to church for a while or I’m going to try some other churches because I feel like Pastor Shah is singling me out. I’m going to move to another city/state because I feel like I need a fresh start in my life. Sometimes it’s not physical relocation but mental relocation like a makeover or a new hobby or a new set of friends, anything to keep me from facing God. Jonah believed in the old cliché – “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Principle: God may be out of your sight and out of your mind but you are never out of his reach.

III. It brought discipline from God.

Jonah 1:12 And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.” Jonah knew right away that he was the reason for the storm and that God had come to deal with him. But please don’t misunderstand – Jonah was not committing suicide. If this were the case, he would’ve just jumped overboard. Jonah was a prophet of God who knew the ways of God. He knew that God did not punish his children but he disciplined them. By the way, there is a big difference between punishment and discipline. In punishment the goal is the past but in discipline the goal is the future. God’s purpose in Jonah’s discipline was to change his mindset about the gospel. The reason Jonah ran from God was because he didn’t want to go to Nineveh. He felt that God had no business saving the pagans. God had to change Jonah’s understanding of the gospel. God was about to give Jonah a glimpse in the coming death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  • To start with, Jonah did not just jump overboard. Instead, he asked the sailors to throw him into the raging sea. So also, Jesus was taken by lawless hands and nailed to the cross.
  • As the great fish nose-dived into the deep, Jonah cried to God “For You cast me into the deep.” (Jonah 2:3) So also, Jesus was not a victim of the cruel and the evil. He was “delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God.” (Acts 2:23)
  • Jonah felt abandoned by God and cried, “I have been cast out of Your sight.” (Jonah 2:4) So also, Jesus, at the ninth hour from the cross, cried out with a loud voice – “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)
  • Jonah described his physical condition inside the great fish as, “The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head.” (Jonah 2:5) So also, Jesus felt the death grip of sin rising around him. And what did he have on his head? A crown of thorns.
  • Jonah described how he was cut off from the earth – “I went down to the moorings of the mountains. The earth with its bars closed behind me forever.” (Jonah 2:6) So also, Jesus was “cut off from the land of the living…” says Isaiah 53:8
  • How long was Jonah inside the great fish? 3 days and 3 nights. How long was Jesus in the grave? 3 days.
  • What happened to Jonah after that? Jonah 2:10“So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry” What happened to Jesus on the third day? God raised him up “having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” (Acts 2:24) Just the way God told the fish to spit out Jonah, God told death to spit out Jesus.

Can you see how Jonah got a glimpse of the gospel in his discipline?

Principle: When God disciplines his children, his goal is not pain but progress. He doesn’t leave you bruised and battered. He leaves you resembling the image of the crucified, buried, and risen Savior.

IV. It led to a great outpouring of salvation.

Jonah 3   1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” Before we jump to the reaction of the Ninevites, we need to say a word or two about Nineveh – It was one of the most ancient cities in the world. Its name was from the Sumerian logogram NINUA, which is fish. There was another town with a similar name “NINA” which worshipped the fish goddess Nanshe. More than likely, the people of Nineveh also worshipped the same fish goddess. Her symbol was a “fish.” Also, a Greek historian by the name of Berossus tells us that the Assyrians had a myth that a half-fish, half-man god called “Oannes” or “Uanna” had come up out of the sea and brought them wisdom, sciences, and art. An archaeologist from the 19th century tells us that outside a large chamber in Nineveh there was a bas relief of a half-fish, half-man being.

The text doesn’t tell us but I can only imagine what Jonah looked like when he approached Nineveh. They say that whales have a multilayered stomach like cows, sheep, and deer. In the first stomach, food is crushed and in the second stomach, the gastric juices break it down. I don’t know how far he made it. I picture him as totally bleached from top to bottom. He looks creepy to say the least. Plus, people must have seen a big fishing floating to the shores. As they got near, they see this man being vomited out! I believe word got out that this Jewish prophet had just come out of a big fish. He goes to a city whose very name is dedicated to the fish god. Imagine their shocker when they ask him – “What’s your name?” Jonah. Sounds very much like “Uanna.” Are you god? “Of course not. I am a prophet of the Living God. My God told your god what to do. He put me inside the big fish to show me that one day He is coming and he will be face death and sin for all, including you. You have 40 days to believe in him and if not “Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

Someone might say – “That’s too much speculation.” Listen to what Jesus said in Luke 11   29 And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation.

Do you understand now that it was not 8 threatening words that turned Nineveh around? Jonah represented the gospel through his very life.

Invitation: We do not need a big fish experience to become the gospel to others. Everything we go through in life should testify to the watching world of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and our obedience to the Word of God, we become a sign of the gospel of Christ to the lost world around us.

Have you received this gospel? Are you running from God?

REMOVING OBSTACLES TO GETTING SAVED PART 2

REMOVING OBSTACLES TO GETTING SAVED – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Removing Obstacles to Getting SavedWe are in our 5th week of our series on salvation and guess what? Someone else got baptized! So here’s another message titled – “REMOVING OBSTACLES TO GETTING SAVED.” As I’ve said before – There’s a world of difference between excuses and obstacles. God hates excuses but He welcomes obstacles. Excuses – crazy busy, one of these days, hypocrites in church. Obstacles – real questions, issues, struggles. He is more than willing to help us with them.

Acts 25:22-25 22 Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— 23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” 24 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” 25 But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.

Overall Background: Last week we saw how Paul gave a defense of his faith before Governor Felix. Sadly, all Felix could say was Acts 24:25 “…Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” He would listen to Paul but kept putting him off. Two years later, Felix was replaced by another governor and there’s no record that he ever got saved.

Now Paul is standing before another ruler, whose name was Festus. As Paul witnesses to him, listen to his response in verse 24…Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!”

Application: When people are under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, they have one of two responses – either they humble themselves and submit or they get defensive and lash out. Festus became defensive and lashed out. How do you respond when the Holy Spirit confronts you with the truth? Do you submit or do you lash out?How did Paul respond? Verse 25 But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. The KEY WORD is REASON. Meaning: He kept giving reasons for the gospel. He kept removing obstacles to getting saved.

This morning I want to use this word as a launching pad to answer some more questions about Christianity. Just like Paul we will try to remove some more obstacles to getting saved.

OBSTACLE #1 –  HOW ABOUT THOSE WHO ARE UNABLE TO UNDERSTAND THE GOSPEL?

When someone makes that statement, they are talking about either babies/children or people with medical conditions or even people who have died.

1. Babies and children

There is an incident from the life of David that sheds light on this matter. After Nathan had pronounced God’s judgment upon David that because of his sin of adultery and murder, the child would die, David began to fast and pray. Sure enough the child died. Instead of continuing in grief, listen to 2 Sam. 12:20-23   20So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22   And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

The point – David had the assurance that he would see his child one day in heaven.

2. Disabled

Those who are not physically and mentally capable to receive the gospel are covered by the grace of God.

Psalm 86:15But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.

3. Already Dead

I’ve had people ask me about loved ones who are dead that they’re not sure about. This is a tough one because they feel like they are betraying them by talking about going to heaven while their loved one has gone to hell. I tell them trust God’s providence. Could it be that they received Christ as Savior as a child in Sunday School or Vacation Bible School. Could it be that someone shared with them the truth. Could it be that they lost their way and never shared with anyone, even you, that they knew Jesus Christ as their Savior. Even in a comatose state they can hear. You make sure that you’re saved. Don’t jeopardize God’s plan for your life. Your loved one might be in heaven hoping you would join them.

Matthew 20:16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”

So what about people who cannot receive? Trust God’s grace and providence.

OBSTACLE #2 – HOW ABOUT THOSE WHO’VE NEVER HEARD THE GOSPEL?

This is one that I often hear – “If Jesus is the only way, why is it that some people have never heard the gospel?” In other words, “why would God punish someone for never hearing the truth?” That’s unfair!

For e.g. If I was going through a foreign country and I do something illegal, not knowing that it was illegal, is it right for me to be punished for it?

That question implies that people everywhere are dying to know Jesus Christ. Not true.

Did you know that even when Jesus was on this earth, many people rejected Him?

John 6:61-66 61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this (his teachings about the coming cross), He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” 66   From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

Can you believe that? God in flesh came to people and they rejected Him. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

We have a very naïve understanding of people. We think they are all innocently trying to live a decent life. Not true. People are just as sinful there as they are here. It’s just that things make the news here. People reject God here for the same reason they reject Him there. They don’t want to let Him lead their lives. They want to be the Boss of their lives.

What happens when a person is willing to open his/her heart to the gospel? Then God sends someone with the gospel. Somehow they hear the name of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the coordinator who connects an open heart with an obedient heart. He is the dispatcher who, when He sees someone open to the gospel, sends someone else with the good news. That’s called Missions.

Paul was a missionary. Listen to Acts 26:19-20   19 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.

Application: Is God calling you to go on a mission trip? It is because there is someone somewhere who is searching for the truth.

So what about people who’ve never heard? 1. Most don’t want to hear. 2. For those who do want to hear God sends His people to bring them the good news – that’s missions.

OBSTACLE #3 – HOW ABOUT THOSE GOOD PEOPLE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE THE GOSPEL?

This is another one that I often hear – Do you mean to tell me that just because Gandhi did not believe that Jesus is God’s Son and received Him as his Savior that God will send Gandhi to hell? That’s just not possible.

That statement implies that we know the true condition of the heart of a person. We don’t. What we see is the outside – the veneer.

I’m not here to judge whether Gandhi will be hell. That’s not for me to decide. What I can tell you is that except for Jesus Christ there has never been a righteous person on this earth. There might be a lot of good people but not righteous people.

Listen to Romans 3:10-12   10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”

There are people who are trying to get to heaven based on the good they have done. If you could get to heaven by your good, then Jesus did not have to come and die on the cross for your sins. Galatians 2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

So how about good people who do not believe in Jesus? They may be good but they are not righteous.

INVITATION: Did the Holy Spirit just remove your obstacle to getting saved? What will you do now? Felix procrastinated, Festus called him mad, and there was another king by the name of Agrippa – Acts 26:28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

WHAT IS YOUR EXCUSE?

THE POWER YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR

THE POWER YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Running From God  (1)We are in our series on the Book of Jonah, called, “RUNNING FROM GOD” and this morning we are in our fifth message titled “THE POWER YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR.” We are talking about the Resurrection Power. The power that brought Jonah out of the great fish after being inside for three days and three nights. It is the same power that brought Jesus out of the grave after being dead for three days. It is the same power that brings a dead sinner to everlasting life. It is also the same power that gives us victory over sin and effectiveness in service. This power is not optional. It is essential.

Jonah 2:10 – 3:3 10 So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. 1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.

Overall Background: Listen to verse 10 once again – “So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” I want us to think about that for a moment. I’ve spoken to our dog and she does what I tell her to do (most of the time). I’ve spoken to our cat and he never does what I tell him to do. I’ve seen animals like horses, elephants, tigers, and even dolphins respond to their trainers. But how do you get a great fish (probably a whale) to respond to you? We’re not talking about just any trick from Sea World like jumping through hoops or tossing a ball in the air. We’re talking about spitting up a human being that has been in its stomach for three days and nights, for all practical purposes is dead. By the way, it’s not just spitting him up because the fish could have done that in the middle of the sea. But spitting him up on dry land!

What kind of power is this? This is God’s Resurrection Power. It is God’s power to bring life where there is death. Human beings may try recreating this power but all they can come up with is Frankenstein.Jonah was brought to life from his death like existence by God’s Resurrection Power. He wasn’t the only one. Seven hundred years later, Jesus compared Himself to Jonah in Luke 11:30“For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation.” Unlike Jonah, Jesus was literally dead in the tomb for three days.

Now listen carefully – This power was not limited to just Jonah and Jesus. It is the same power that brings a sinner dead in trespasses and sins and makes them alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5). If you are lost this morning, I can’t make you alive. I can only point you to the one who can make you alive. Only God’s resurrection power can make you alive.

Let me go a step further – If you are saved this morning, this is also the only power that can give you victory over sin and victory in service. Paul says in Philippians 3 8 I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection,

Lost or saved, you need resurrection power in your lives. Let’s see how this power works first in the lost and then in the saved.

I. RESURRECTION POWER FOR THE LOST.

Let me make a rather obvious statement. To be resurrected, you have to die first.

Jonah 1:17 “…And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”

Background: That phrase “3 days and 3 nights” is a popular Near Eastern motif. It was often used to portray the time taken to go from the land of the living to Sheol or back. Many times in the Old Testament we find that phrase. Abraham’s journey to Mount Moriah to sacrifice Isaac took three days. The Israelites wandered in the desert for three days before God provided water for them. Hosea says in chapter 6,1 Come, and let us return to the LORD; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. 2 After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight. So 3 days and 3 nights was a picture of death. This does not mean that Jonah died inside the fish but he was in a death like state. He was powerless. Unless an external source of greater power than the fish were to step in, he is as good as gone.

Jonah acknowledges in Jonah 2:6 “…The earth with its bars closed behind me forever…7 “When my soul fainted within me,

Those who are lost – Eph. 2:1 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Every person comes in this world alive and dead – alive physically but dead spiritually. You are born inside the belly of the great fish – dead in trespasses and sins. No matter how much you try, you cannot get out. Some people trust in their good works to get out. They try helping the poor. They try to be neighborly (visit the sick and help the elderly). They try to be good parents. They try to be good citizens. Some people even try to help in church. Nothing helps. Listen to Ephesians 2:8-9 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Jonah acknowledges in Jonah 2:9c “…Salvation is of the LORD.”

You have to acknowledge that you are dead. All the good you are doing is wonderful but you have to trust in the cross of Jesus for God to bring you out of the great fish of sin and death.

Application: Have you come to a place where you have acknowledged that you are dead in trespasses and sins? Have you looked up and said “God unless you save me, I will die in my sins?” Have you prayed to receive the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for you?

II. RESURRECTION POWER FOR THE SAVED.

Those who are saved – It’s wonderful that God delivered you out of the fish of sin and death. But there is another fish. This is the fish of self-effort – in dealing with personal sins and serving the Lord. Before you can have victory over sin and power for service, you also have to acknowledge your utter helplessness without the power of God. We think that once we get saved, we need to get busy living for God and serving Him. If you do these in your own power, you will have nothing but defeat.

Let’s look at Jonah’s story once again – Jonah ran from God. Did that surprise God? God knew that Jonah would disobey Him. God knew that Jonah would get into that ship to Tarshish. He was not caught off guard. As David said inPsalms 139, 1 O LORD…2 You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. 3 You comprehend my path and my lying down…16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.” If God wanted to stop Jonah from running, He could have stopped him before he even got out of bed. If God wanted Jonah in Nineveh, He could have prepared a great bird to airlift Jonah and drop him at the gates of Nineveh.

So why did God let Jonah run? God knew that Jonah was not ready to go to Nineveh. Don’t misunderstand me – disobedience was wrong and costly. But God knew that Jonah had no power against Nineveh. Nineveh was a wicked city, a sinful city, and a corrupt city. In his own strength and power he couldn’t do anything. God knew that before Jonah could go to Nineveh and preach, he had to die to self and be filled with God’s resurrection power.

Application: Many Christians are living in defeat and many Christians are living without fruits because they are trusting in the power of the flesh. They are trying to live for God and serve God in their own strength and power and they keep falling on their face.They may be sincere. They may be passionate. They may even claim, “It’s not me. It’s God.” But they are still working in the energy of the flesh. This kind of power does not come by singing louder, preaching harder, or praying longer. All that is good. But, God’s resurrection power only activates by drawing closer to the place of death. You have to come to place of helplessness and acknowledge – “God, I can’t but You can.” This has always been God’s way.

Jesus said in John 12:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” Although Jesus was talking about His crucifixion and burial, He was also laying out the principle of the Christian life.

Paul said in Galatians 2:20“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Jonah had to come to the end of himself before he could go to Nineveh. God was going to use Jonah’s disobedience to bring him to a place of death.

Jonah 1:17 “Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah.”

Background: The word “prepared” is the Hebrew word “wayman” which can be translated “selected.” In most places it is used to convey the idea of carefully selecting the best option for the situation. What’s the point? The fish was not an afterthought. God purposely selected the fish beforehand. So He did what He always does with His children – He was going to let Jonah run and then use that to “work together for good in His life.” (Romans 8:28)

Isn’t that what God does in our lives as well? Even when we sin, He turns our disobedience, weaknesses, failures, and mistakes to work together for our good.

For e.g. Have you ever heard someone say – “Even if I were to go back, I won’t change anything.” Did we say that at the time? Of course not! Why do we say that now? Because God turned even our mistakes, failures, and sin into something positive in our lives. What is this positive? It is to bring us to a place of utter helplessness and weakness – a place of death – where we turn from relying on ourselves to relying upon God.

Application: Is God leading you through the valley of the shadow of death? Are you inside the belly of the fish? Has it been one day, two days, or three days? Don’t give up. Hang in there. He will not leave you there. He is bringing you to the end of yourself so He can give you His victory over sin and His power for service.

How did it go for Jonah? Jonah 2:10 So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. What happened next? Did Jonah continue his trip to Tarshish or return back to his home? Neither. Listen again to Jonah 3:1-3 1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, Aren’t you glad we serve a God of second chances?

Once again it is the same command. 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” The first call simply said to cry out against the city. Now it is the message that God will give Jonah. 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. There is a marked difference between the man who “arose to flee to Joppa” and the man who “arose to go to Nineveh.” What do you think he looked like? What does a man look like who has been inside a fish for three days and three nights? Probably bleached from head to toe because of all the gastric acids. But there’s more than that. He was a broken man. This man was not going in his own strength and power but God’s resurrection power. One of my friends always reminds me – “God’s going to break you to the level He’s going to use you.”

I’m jumping ahead but Nineveh was a city where people, and even animals, in God’s words, could not tell the difference between right and left. Jonah went to this city, full of the resurrection power, and preached a simple message – “Turn or Burn” and the entire city repented. Wow! What was the secret? It was the Resurrection Power operating in Jonah’s life. Before, he was just a prophet of God. Now, he was full of the power of God.

Paul is his prayer for the Ephesians says – 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know…19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead…”

Are you living in God’s Resurrection Power? Are you saved?

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