Psalm 139, Jonah – You Cannot Get Out of God’s Sight

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Psalm 139, Jonah – You Cannot Get Out of God’s Sight

You get to know somebody by spending time with them. And I think through the years, the thing that I really wanted you to know about me, I’ve never really wanted you to know about the things that I have gone through in life, because everybody’s gone through something. I, I look at my sister over here, we have something in common, we’re both widows. I can look around and I can point to each person here and say I have something in common with you, but we haven’t walked the same path, but we’ve all suffered things. And I’ve said the only thing that I’m really concerned for you as a congregation is that you come to know what this calling in my life and what this church means to me. I look back and I see 30 years of my late-husband; you can say whatever you want, you can agree or disagree, but when somebody commits to something, 30 years here and 20 years before that, and as a preacher’s kid, I’m probably sure his whole life was lived in some form of church. That’s a great testimony to God. And I’m looking at not just the 10 years behind me, I had to sum up my, my life here in a letter this last week, and I said I have been an ordained minister for 17 years. That, that kind of━when I saw the number, I said, “That can’t be”” I can’t be that old. But what I’m saying is, you know, many of you have many years of being here and committedness and that speaks for something. That says that you have come to know something about God and about this church. We haven’t changed with the flow of things, we haven’t tried to keep up with the, the things that are going on to keep up with, we’ll call it the Jones’s church, but we’ve kept preaching the gospel here, my late-husband for 30 years and myself for now over 10 years And you come to know somebody that way I ask you, as I don’t interfere in your private life, don’t look for things to investigate me or, you know, what is this over here? Look for━this is your concern: the word of God, the church of God Look to that. That’s the testimony right there Everything else is kind of━and everybody has that, what I call grey matter. So for those people who are just kind of coming to the ministry and you’re not, you know, you don’t have a long history here; you make that history as you stay committed And the testimony is you can look back and you can say, “Have I, have I been here this long?” And some of you’ve been here a long time. I know that there are people who have been here 30 years. Show me your hands Anybody more than 30 years? Hands up. So you know, that speaks volumes, that’s not, we’re not talking about the “frozen chosen,” the people who came and they’re never leaving and they’ve got a seat and they’re going to die in the seat. We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about committed people who man the phone lines, who operate cameras, who direct, who man the sound booth; there’s two sound booths up there. Or people who have committed to do different assignments here; that’s committedness. So praise God for those of you who understand that’s really, when we talk about the history of something or our history, it’s that. You get to know somebody by those things, not by the peripheral, not by the gossip, not by the Internet; by right here what you see. So for those of you who are still feeling your way around, stay tuned and stick around, because there’s much more of the word of God that you need to hear, that when that fills your heart, everything else kinds grows dim and you say, “I don’t, I don’t need all that other junk people look for.” Now, I’m going to do something a little bit out of order for me; not that there is ever an order But I’m going to do something a little bit out of order. I’m going to do, I’m going to read; you know traditionally, in some churches, traditionally there is Scripture reading and there’s consecration and then there’s other -ation’s and there’s, then there’s a message-anation. But we don’t do Scripture reading normally before a message, but I’m going to read a Scripture to you if you will turn in your Bibles to Psalm 139. And I may end up rereading this at the close of the service, possibly, but if not, I ask that you certainty revisit it. It’s a familiar one. It’s not my message, it’s just to give you some backdrop for the message; interesting stuff here. Psalm 139, “O LORD, thou hast searched

me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.” I wonder how many people have read this and seen themselves in this psalm. David, of course, wrote this, but you’ve seen yourselves because you understand you cannot get out of God’s sight Do you know that? You cannot get out of God’s sight? That was about 25 percent of you. At the end of the message I may have to ask that again. God bless you, the 25 percenters. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,” thank God for humor too, “it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: and if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall they hand lead me, and they right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!” I wonder if you’re listening to me and reading along and thinking, “Yeah, I see myself. I know I can’t get away from God’s sight.” “If I should count them,” His thoughts towards me, “they are more in number than the sand: and when I awake, I am still with thee Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred,” imagine that, “perfect hatred.” You’ve got to love the Bible folks. “I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Now I started with the psalm because the psalmist, David, makes a point, which you cannot and I cannot escape, which is God’s presence is all around us at all times. He was with you in your car when you came here, He’s with us now, He’s not just confined to one auditorium, one sanctuary; He’s everywhere! I used to tell some of the people where I’d go preach, I’d say, “Don’t think when you go to the bathroom, God says, ‘Excuse me.’” And you may say, “Well, that’s blasphemy.” Well listen, that’s acknowledging God’s presence everywhere and in all things. Now having said that, the backdrop in reading that psalm is to say, that God, if He wants you, He; I’m going to say it, it’s a Scottism, He ain’t going to let you go that easy If He wants you, you’re going to have to do a lot more work to get away from Him and out of His presence and clearly out of His━and even out of His presence, He still sees you. You see how foolish this is? Quite foolish to think you can run away from God, but somebody in the Bible did, and that’s who we’re going to look at today: Jonah. So if you’d like to turn there, the little tiny book of Jonah, in the Minor Prophets; he’s a minor prophet with a major message. And if you’re kind of flipping through the pages, you’ve got Amos and Obadiah and Jonah, Four chapters, 48 verses, a book that is under 1,500 words and if you comb through the book, some people have said, “What’s, really, what’s the point of this book?” And I can tell you there’s a great point In fact, there’re so many points

I’m going to try to not tell them all today; that’ll hit you later. What I want you to know about Jonah specifically, and I’ve taught on Jonah before and I don’t think I could ever exhaust the message of Jonah, but what I want to tell you about Jonah is we are a lot like Jonah, a lot more than what we would care to admit. You see if you read these four chapters you find out that Jonah was not happy through this whole trip, until God gave Him something to comfort him, a gourd over his head to shelter him from heat, and then he’s a little happy And you might say, “Well, how; God never put a gourd over my head.” No, but you’re happy when God has given you something that satisfies you. You get real happy about that, but things that please God may not be making you that happy, and that’s really, that’s a later message. That’s one we can come back to, because as I said this is a chockfull of things to understand. The main message is really connected to Psalm 139, which is wherever you go God is there. Now that’s a hard lesson for us, because, including yours truly, even though I love the Lord and I live for the Lord, there can be times when I just, I just don’t think that God is there. God surely, I was telling one of the staff people, “Yeah, God’s going to enter in to this thing, but you know the problem with God is He doesn’t wear a watch.” And oftentimes that can be a little irritating because, you know, you think, “God where are You?” And then when you just feel like everything is sunk in your spirit, then you know, God’s come━I just; sorry, but I just imagine God going, whistling, “Yes?” Like, “I saw you the whole time, yes?” So, Jonah, if you want a little background to Jonah, Jonah’s in the line of prophets. He doesn’t have the notoriety of Elijah or Elisha, but he’s in that same line pretty much as a prophet after Elisha, in, in the line chronologically. There is a mention of Jonah outside of, outside of his book in the Old Testament, in 2 Kings 14 and 25, regarding a prophecy that was fulfilled by Jeroboam II. And then of course in the New Testament, Christ says, speaking of His Resurrection, He says, “There’ll be no signs; signs seekers, there’ll be no sign except the sign of Jonah.” So, you’ve got good bookends here of, of something to kind of look around and see, yeah, Jonah has, he’s got some roots. He’s not just a one-hit wonder in four chapter book. So chapter 1, “Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” Now I want you to get the idea, because we read and I haven’t spent a lot of time talking about the different empires, as much as I love history. It’s probably a lapse on my part, but Nineveh will be part of a series of cities that are great and then basically by 612, in this particular case, Babylon will overtake, and then it’ll be Babylon will be the strong nation and will be the powerhouse, and then it’ll be the Medo-Persian Empire and so forth. But right now, I want you to get the mind of this man, Jonah, being told by God to get up and go to Nineveh. Now there’s been a lot of debate: did Jonah really know what was at Nineveh? And I have to tell you the answer’s unequivocally, yes. If you lived in that timeframe you would’ve known the evil, the riches, the greed; you would’ve known the merchandise, the, the whole culture of Nineveh: rich, very, very cruel So the word of Lord saying, “Go to Nineveh, that great city, cry against it, preach against it; for their wickedness has come up before me,” it’s pretty staggering that God calls somebody to go to such a wicked place. Let me put a pause right there for a minute. How tempting, yesterday, I met someone on the other side of town who said, “We really need you to move your church to Austin, Texas.” And I said, “Why, you can watch me on the Internet?” “No! We need you to come preach there.” And I said, “Oh, okay.” “Don’t stay in California, Southern California, they, they don’t care about anything.” And I said, “Well,”

in my spirit, “maybe this is my Nineveh.” I have no idea, but I’ll get back with you. There’s always that temptation, I’ll get back with you. “But Jonah,” see, you have to make these applications. “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish.” Now let’s put this in perspective: Nineveh and Tarshish. From wherever Jonah was, we’ll say it’s 500 miles north and east of wherever Jonah was, which we have an idea, and Tarshish would be over 2,000 miles away, if Tarshish is west like Spain Some have argued that Tarshish could’ve been some place in England, others have argued for Greece, because it says that Tarshish, in Genesis 10 and verse 4, it talks about the sons of Javan and the descendents thereof, which is Greece, all the way to Tarshish. But there’s good plausibility to say, it’s, it’s that way 2,000 miles. So, “From where you are, Jonah, go 500 miles, or go 2,000 miles.” “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” Now I want to stop Tell me what the motivation could be for him to not want to go to Nineveh, and I will tell you a story about 10 years at Faith Center. Bah-dah-boom! Drummer, you’re not doing your part! Because there is a time for each and every one of us where God will call us somewhere and we think, “Oh I, I couldn’t do that.” Now I’m sure the motivation for Jonah fleeing from the Lord was fleeing from the, oh, the task of going to preach to those people; “I’m going to go preach to those people who are so wicked?” “Yup!” Well, now you know why he rose up to flee from the presence of the Lord. But I ask you the question, the backdrop of Psalm 139 says, “Where can you go out of God’s presence?” Let me ask you the question: where can you go out of God’s presence? (Nowhere) That’s pretty close to almost all of you getting the message. So, he “rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish.” And what have I told you? It’s very convenient that when God calls us to do a great task there will always conveniently be a ship going to Tarshish. I think of the many things in my life, the many duties, the many probably faith opportunities and there was always a convenient way out Now don’t just make this a sermon today, I want some personal application here. I really want you to let this sink in; a 40 year-old ministry really is sitting in the balance because there’s a whole lot of Jonahs out there who have found a more convenient ship, rather than the task which seems too gargantuan and too impossible So let’s, let’s find the next train out of it. Now listen you can make a personal application You know each time you have made a commitment and you vowed a vow to God, “God, if You will do this one thing for me, if You will fix this problem; if You will, I will.” And of course, somehow God enters in, He fixes the problem, and it only takes you about six months, maybe six weeks, maybe even six days to forget about the vow you made, phtt! Off you go, because that’s our nature. We are; we’re like that. Come on, we’re like that, that’s our nature. It’s a sad thing; I’m not going to tell you that I’m any different, because I’m just like you. Thank God I can sing the song, I’m Just a Sinner Being Saved by Grace. God lets me get up again, and “Look, I’m going to head to Nineveh this time; I may be a terrible preacher, but I’m going to Nineveh, because God said so.” Well, not just yet for Jonah, he’s going to get on a ship bound for Tarshish, “to flee from the presence of the LORD.” That’s why I read Psalm 139; it’s quiet silly, where are you going to go? “He found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, went down,” and you’ll notice the words, “he went down to Joppa,” “he went down into it,” the ship, “to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” And I just, I love this, this is one of my favorite books. If you don’t love this book, I urge you to listen to it; there’s several messages in here. “But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea.” Who sent the wind? (The Lord.) Thank you. So just when you know, when the storms of

life are raging, it may be the Lord sending out a great wind; just remember that. I had to remind myself this week that some of the storms, some of the wind that’s been coming; now some of the wind has not been from the Lord. Wow, huh! Boy, and the laugh at the back of room was the best one. “But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.” There’s just a good possibility this was going to become a shipwreck. “Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them But Jonah was gone down,” notice this how many times? He went down to Joppa, he went down into the ship, now he’s down into the sides of the ship, laying fast asleep. And that is what usually happens. When God places a call on your life, and God does still place calls on people’s lives He’s not announcing it through a megaphone, but calls you to a place and you go the other way, normally He’ll let you go the other way and He’ll let you go the other way and really hit rock bottom. And I got a couple of Jonahs here, they’re not in the church, but we pray for them, because we know that they got to pretty close to the bottom of the bottom right now and we’re praying for them to realize that the call on your life, that’s some important stuff, that’s not to be trifled with, you know, when God says, “I want you to do this thing.” Now some folks will say, “Well, the Lord told me,” but you know for those of us who don’t hear like that we read in God’s word, God’s word is sufficient to know what the Lord’s saying. The instructions are right there “So he lay, and he was fast asleep. So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.” Now don’t you love this? I’ve got a whole series of parallels between the sailors and Jonah. But don’t you think this is ironic? I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at the book this way, but isn’t it ironic that sometimes you will meet people; I don’t like to use the word “heathen,” but they’re unsaved, they don’t really know about God, they say a God exists, but they don’t know the God of the Bible, and they will be more Christ-like in their behavior than some Christians you meet. And I’m talking about Jonah as a type. Here’s a guy going the other way, fast asleep, does not care if the whole thing’s going to fall apart and crash, and these people are saying, “Pray to God; pray to your God, that He might have favor on us.” That’s pretty incredible, but that’s not it “Then they said every one to his fellow, Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.” It’s the second message to this. You know, a lot of times stuff happens in our lives and we reap the consequences, not recognizing that in many times, many occasions, some of these things we brought upon ourselves. Now thank God for God entering in, but many times we bring things upon ourselves, and then here come the consequences, so the lot fell on him, he’s the one that brought this trouble into the ship and upon all these people. “They said unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil━what’s going on? What is thine occupation? Where are you from? What’s your country? And of what people art thou? And he said unto them, I am a Hebrew (ahem); I fear the LORD, the God of heaven (ahem), which hath made the sea and the dry land (ahem).” I’m sure all those eyes were glaring at him like, “Wait a minute! You just recognized you serve the God of creation, you serve the God who made it all!” “Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them Then they said unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up,” I love this, “and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know” that all this has come upon you; you’re facing this situation because of me, “I know that for that for my sake this great tempest is upon you Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not.” It’s like God

was saying, “Oh, no, no, no, no! You’re not going to get away that easy here. I’m going to keep, I’m going to keep just trumping this up until&”━“for the sea was wrought, and was tempestuous against them Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and they said, We beseech thee, O LORD,” listen to these men, “We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee.” These are more like believers than the believer! So they took Jonah up, “and they cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.” Now let’s stop here for a minute and let’s compare these men, the sailors and Jonah. They were praying; Jonah didn’t pray. The sailors tried to save the ship and themselves; he was deep in a sleep. The sailors had compassion on Jonah; Jonah was indifferent to these men. They tried to save Jonah, the sailors did; for him, Jonah, no great concern for the sailors. The sailors wanted to live; but Jonah wanted to die. I mean, you just kind of put all of these in parallel. The sailors are worshiping; Jonah, no worship at all. And you kind of, you think to yourself maybe there is, there’s multiple messages I’ve said. Sometimes, sometimes, God will let these terrible storms and troubles. I’m not one to preach gloom and doom, but I’m just telling you sometimes God will let these storms and troubles come upon the believer because we’re not listening to God. Now I don’t believe like that woman somewhere in California or somewhere; I can’t remember which universe she came from. She said that we’re in a drought because the things that are going on, people’s behavior, such as abortion and other things. Listen, the God we serve, He is able to speak something and make it come to pass. Now I wonder when they were having a drought in Texas, did they say that in Texas as well, because now they have flooding in Texas? I’m just saying, you know, maybe it’s time to stop being so silly Yes, I think there are certain things that God does not like maybe that are happening in this country, but I don’t think that that’s the way He judges us as a people, because there are people still standing, just like Elijah, that are still standing for a good thing, which is to stand and preach and proclaim a truth that brings comfort, that brings salvation, that brings understanding, that gives us something to hold onto that is solid in a time that is very changing, and quickly at that So the first thing I want to tell you is a lot of times God will let a storm come in when we decide to disobey and do our own thing. That’s number one. And I labeled this chapter, because there’s really, there’s just a decision here; it’s either the desertion or duty. And really, there’s not too much in the middle, because the people who have come to an understanding of who God is and He’s all around us, it’s almost like there is this paradox that needs to be understood. When a person commits their way unto the Lord, when you commit yourself, when you start committing your way and you start trusting God, you don’t lose your identity. Jonah didn’t stop being Jonah once he made a turnaround and God got him straightened out, but when you begin to serve God and obey God’s word, you find out that the real you, the one who you were designed to be, begins to come out, begins to show forth, because walking according to the pattern that God has laid out lets us understand God has something better for us than the base things that we can only see. No matter how good our vision is, it’s still base according to the good things He has ordered for us. So verse 17, “Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah”” And many people say, “That can’t be so!” First of all, God didn’t create the fish and then say, “And it’s there.” There was one already prepared and there was one just hanging out, just conveniently there. Isn’t that the way it goes? “Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly.” Oh, boy, you know the message is coming real quick here, because I’m, I’m going to get to a point and may stop there; I’m not sure, but Jonah said, “I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD.” I had to do a translation of this, which is

pretty close, “I called in my distress to Yahweh, and then He answered me from the depth of Sheol, I called for help.” “And I said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, he heard me; out of the belly of the hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.” Do you; do you kind of get the feeling that sometimes God will let you get tossed around to drive you to more prayer, to drive you to call out to Him? Have you figured out that lesson yet? Good, because it will be one that you practice often, right? Because that’s our nature; everything’s going good, God entered in to solve the problem, everything’s find, everything’s straightened out, there are no more problems; suddenly there’s a problem and now prayer has ceased and suddenly now things are getting desperate and more desperate and more desperate until finally you cry out to God, “Ahhh!” Then God enters in and it’s this whole cycle that we, we just━it’s like this pattern we keep going through all of our lives, because we think, “Boy, I’m glad that’s behind me! All my troubles are over!” No? No. Cheer up, saints, it’s what? (━going to get worse.) That’s what I said. If you’re here for the first time, Lord have mercy on you! But the real reality, and we know this, the more mature the saint the tougher the trip, the more challenges. I used to think, you know, if you come to God and God will work it out. No. It’s the other way around, the more I grow in Him I realize He must really love me because He’s training me. So He knows just about how much pressure I can take and there He goes applying just a little bit more. “And I cried by reason of my mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I.” That’s sometimes where we have to get to the point of feeling like we’re in the belly of hell before we cry out; “and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: and all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.” You notice he says, “Thou hast cast me,” “thy waves,” “thy billows,” it’s all about what God did in recognition that God brought, if you will, brought the crisis to bring him to cry out to God. If some of you who, especially some of you who have loved ones who are in bad situations, where you just, you are the onlooker; you can’t seem to do anything to help them, this is a message for those people. At some point God maybe will let them just hit to that point where they feel like they are in the belly of hell and there’s no way out. And the only way out is to cry out to the Lord. So he says, “Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet will I look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed round about, the weeds were wrapped around my head.” I always have images of this in a caricatured way, but “I went down to the bottoms of the mountain; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God”” And I had to translate this, because it bothered me. That verse in the Septuagint reads beautifully, because in the Septuagint it reads, “Let my ruined life be restored.” And I read that and I thought okay, that’s I’m sure that’s a word for many of us, “Let my ruined life be restored,” because, you know, you do get to a point Please don’t just make this you’re hearing something and you say, “Yeah, yeah,” because the truth of the matter is you do get to a point, at some point, like feeling like nothing is going your way, nothing is working out the right way and you are, you are driven to it You are forced to the point of crying out and you know that only God can help you and then a right attitude. In Jonah’s case he says, “Even though I’m cast out of Your sight, yet I will look again to Your holy temple Even though, God, You seem to be blotting me off the map, I’m still going to be looking to You.” Doesn’t that sound a little bit reminiscent of Job? “Even though He; yet He slay me, I’ll still trust Him.” And that’s part of the problem, I think, with some people passing through their tribulation; they start to think, “Well, God, God doesn’t care. God’s not entering into this thing.” Was that Melissa Scott talking this week? But probably that was half of you, if not more than half of you saying, “What is God doing? Why isn’t He fixing this problem of mine?” Now I want to ask you a question, what if. Play this

imaginary thing with me just for a minute. What if we could put up a partition and you don’t know who’s on the other side And let’s just say we’ll take, I’m going to be one side. I’m employer and I’ve got employees on the other side. They don’t know that I’m on the other side And I’ve got some employees that are just, they’re just working real hard and they feel like they’re not being recognized, and you know, they’re on the other side lamenting and they’re saying, “You know, if Pastor Scott even knew,” mind you, I wouldn’t want somebody here with an attitude like that, but I’m, indulge me for the sake of the illustration. But I’m right on the other side. Not only do I know about all the things that they do because I see it, because I see what they’re doing, but I’m also right on the other side of the wall and I hear, and I’m thinking, “Really?” Now forgive me, because the analogy will fall apart, but I want you to imagine we are separated by the same partition of the visible with the invisible, walking around saying, “Oh, you know, if God only knew about this. Or maybe God’s forsaken me. Or where do I go?” Well, I, we really are finding out way in the darkness, and yet, God is there. And I think probably sadly at some times, and other times maybe it amuses Him to watch━I’m not saying that He revels in our silliness, but wait a minute You started off walking and faithing and trusting God and believing that God was doing this thing in your life, and now suddenly, you think because you’ve lived long enough as a Christian, you’ve made a couple of mistakes along the way that somehow God’s just, God’s just X-ed you out. You are X, X, X, out. Now if that’s the type of god you serve, I don’t want to serve that god, because I serve a God of grace, a God who gives second chances, a God who understands that I am not perfect. And He understands you’re not perfect either. He knows our ways. Psalm 139 kind of says it, though. No matter where you go, you are going to have to deal with His presence, and when you forget that you are dealing with His presence, I want you to go back and read this psalm and maybe read it a part of Jonah and recognize no matter where you go, God is there. It’s one of God’s names: Emmanuel, God, the with us God Back to the text, he says, “When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.” Please let me give you a good translation, a better translation; “those clinging to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” And that is a translation from the Masoretic text and the Septuagint. That’s the older Hebrew and the Greek put together to put one translation, so “those clinging to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” You could be hanging on to God, but instead you grab for something else. “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.” Lucky dog; he could have been vomited back out into the sea See, what a merciful and gracious God we serve! Now, “the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” Now we only have this in two chapters and two verses, but read the 3rd verse here of the 3rd chapter, “So Jonah arose, went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. And now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Now if you want to read about all the doom and all the pronouncements on Nineveh, you go to Nahum, another prophet. There are two or three other prophets, including what Isaiah 10 says There are many other passages that tell you that God’s preparing to tear down and overthrow the Assyrians with the Babylonians, but interestingly enough, this peace that Jonah preached would last approximately 150 years, and then that kingdom would essentially just kind of fizzle out. So God stayed whatever judgment was coming for the preaching of Jonah and this is what I love when it says that he preached, he cried, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God,” they amened God, “and proclaimed a fast, put on sackcloth, from the

greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, laid his robe from him, covered him with sackcloth, sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let there neither man nor beast, heard nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: but let man and beast covereth with sackcloth, cry mightily unto God,” man, I wish I could preach a sermon like that, turning the most wicked city just like that into a fast declared across the land and people praying unto the Lord. Now he says, “Let every one turn from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.” And it says, “God saw their works,” verse 10, “that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil,” so that He didn’t do what He said He would do. Now I stop there, because that’s kind of the bulk of what I wanted to address, which is a lot of times━and I speak first for myself. I never stand here and say, “Well, hmm, hmm, hmm.” I speak first for myself. I look at my life and I think I’ve made many decisions along the way when I was immature to God’s word. Now God doesn’t demand and say, “This I will have, and this is the law!” God gives grace, but it took that first step for me to trust God to see will God actually do this thing? Will God actually do this thing? And there was a time when I felt like I should, I should run away, in my situation, fleeing was I’m not qualified, and somebody more qualified or somebody better, but look at exactly what God does. He calls a person, He says, “Go,” expecting us to go and listen to the word of the Lord. And God worked it out for Jonah. And I’m not saying this is a “See, it will work for him, it will work for you.” The moral of the story is we are more like Jonah in our frame of reference towards the church, towards the things of God in our life than probably you’d like to admit. And if there’s one thing I’d like to really emphasize as pastor of this church, but more importantly as someone who cares deeply about the eternal things and the eternal principles, is recognize that if you’re reading this with me today and you’re saying, “Yeah, I, I’ve shrugged off some of the commitment, because the motive for me, my motive for fleeing,” and here comes the justification. And there’s always a spiritual justification, there’ll always be a superspiritual rational that says, “Well, the reason why, and let me tell you why.” And God says, “Really?” because take a look at Jonah. And Jonah messed up and you might say, “Well, Jonah’s Jonah.” Well, there’s another one in the New Testament that did likewise, and that’s Peter; pretty much the same pattern. He was given an opportunity to go and do and yet Jesus said, “And you’ll deny Me,” and he did. And a special message was given to him when Jesus was risen, “Go and tell my disciples and Peter.” That shows the grace of God saying you can indeed fall down or take a wrong turn, but God in His grace, He wants you to get up and He wants you to start walking in His ways. And this is not the law and the ways are not “I’ll put on my appearance here.” The ways are in your heart. What does Psalm 84 say? “Blessed is the man who” what? “whose strength is in thee” and what? “whose heart” is what? (“are the ways of thee.”) Thank you. So something tells me that there’s a lot of Scripture to back this up that the motive may be thus and so, but looking at God’s will, there is no excuse for this. Secondly, the method, the idea might be━now let me talk to some of my backsliders and some of those people who, who are whatever their issues are. Let me just tell you this: God loves you. Sometimes I’d like to tell you I don’t know━thank God I’m not God, because I’m a very loving person, but at sometimes I think how much, like Peter, how many times do you say to somebody it’s okay? Now that’s not for me to say. I’ve said arms are open, you come, arms are open, God’s grace is sufficient, but I always ask the same thing of the same people and that is the method. You change your place because you think, “Well, it will be better somewhere else,” but the reality is you cannot escape you being you and you cannot escape God being God, and when you settle that you will settle something that is 50 percent of your frustration. No matter where you go, whether you sit here at Faith Center or you sit across

town or wherever you go, God is still going to be God. And if God wants you, just like Jonah, it’s going to be a lot harder to get out of His will and out of His way and out of His eyesight and out of His care than you thinking, “It just doesn’t matter.” Now the message is pretty simple: God loves and leads His children. He gave us free will. Remember, last week, I taught on Luke 15 and talked about the lost, the sought, and the found. This is a great message right on the heels of that to say, you know what? Sometimes we can easily say we’re part of the found, we’re part of those people who were drifting and could not see and had no way and we didn’t, we didn’t know about God. Here, I didn’t know about God, I honestly did not know. I knew the word, I knew the name, but I didn’t know about the One who is revealed on these pages so powerful, life-giving, forgiving. And then; and it happens and I see it happen a lot, forgetting that God is going to be wherever I go Remember Jacob? He wanders out and he’s at Beth-el, what does he say? “Surely the LORD was in this place and I knew it not.” He did not recognize God’s presence; but after that time he sure did. And I’m saying to you maybe it’s time for some of us today to look afresh, don’t look at this as a sweet little Sunday school lesson, because although it’s a sweet Sunday school lesson, it’s a powerful punch for some people who will look at themselves like a mirror in the word of God and recognize we’re a lot like Jonah. Man, when the call of responsibility comes, it’s so much easier to say, “Hey, there’s better than me, there’s smarter than me, there’s more eloquent.” How many have said that in your lifetime? Come on now: “There’s somebody better than me to do the job.” But what did Dr. Scott say? And I’ll say it just the way he said it, “There’ll never be another you”” There’ll never be another, you are as unique and as individual as snowflakes, as water drops, as flowers; there are no two alike. And yes, some of you men, I just called you flowers. But what I want to say━I didn’t mean it that way. But, but what I want to say to you is when you think that God doesn’t have a plan for you and you are not in His will and you’re not in His way, I want you to go back and I want you to read Jonah and recognize that God still wants you. God wants to lead you in the right path, and it does start, by the way, with turning back to God. Now I don’t know if you have to be swallowed up by a large fish and be vomited out somewhere; pray not. Pray it only takes the word of God to tell you the first message that Christ came to preach, which was, “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Now repentance is not some self-flagellating, self-abasing It’s just turning from my way and the way I’ve been going; “All we like sheep have gone astray,” and turning to God and following Him. And what is the message for following Him? He says, “Follow Me; I’ll make you something you’re not.” So I’m talking to all you Jonahs out there, I’m talking to the people who feel like, you know, they can escape God. You can, you can run; Psalm 139, but you can’t hide because God is there, and He’s a loving God. He’s not a god like I remember I was teaching some of you how Martin Luther viewed Christ as some judge meting out with horrific power on the people, but rather with compassion, knowing our frame, knowing our failure, knowing our ways, and yet giving us grace to get up and point ourselves towards Nineveh, whatever that Nineveh is in your life, and going according to God’s words and not being afraid and not turning back. And lastly, I’m almost done, the last thing I learned from Jonah this week. I started off by saying this. Jonah went to that land to preach, did according to what the word of the Lord said, obedient to the Lord and did exactly that. And you read at the end of the book, it’s kind of interesting: Jonah was angry He was downright mad, “displeased Jonah,” very angry Now God gave him a gourd. The next time you pray and you’re angry with God, look out, He

might give you a gourd. You like that? “Oh, Lord,” ━whish! “It’s an eggplant,” or whatever it is But the Lord gave him, “prepared a gourd, made it to come up over Jonah,” that he got relief, he got a shadow “to deliver him from his grief.” This is the first time that Jonah was “exceeding glad of the gourd,” he was happy. So this is what I started off by saying, be careful that you don’t become like Jonah, being more happy for the things that comfort you in the now in the flesh, than the things that are of God that God wants you to do. Be careful of that. Be mindful of that, because it’s very easy in the world we live in to seek comfort for you, “Seek the security, seek everything that is ease that makes me happy, and then we’ll deal with God.” Now I’ve told you many times Matthew 6 and verse 33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, then his righteousness; and all these other things will be added to you,” and hopefully they do not contain gourds. But you see what happened; he loved that gourd, “I love you, gourd.” “But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And then it came to pass, when the sun arise, that God did prepare a vehement east wind; the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted and wished himself to die, and he said, It is better for me to die than to live. And God said to Jonah,” really, are you doing yourself a service to be angry about the gourd, I mean, really? Even unto death? But here’s the message I want you to hear. The Lord said to him, “You had pity on the gourd,” but listen to this. “You had pity on it, for the thing that you didn’t labor for, neither did you make it to grow; it just came up by night, and it perished in a night: should I not spare Nineveh, that great city?” Now the message is simple: you who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, you’ve seen and known God in your life and then you suddenly stop and you get angry when you hear me saying we are not done building here, we are not done reaching out, we are not done doing what the Lord has called us to do, which is being light, being a beacon of light, a place, a compass point for the truth. Oh, nowadays, a GPS. But don’t despise the idea that somehow there are people in this basin and all around us who have not heard. For some people they just shutter at the thought that that there’d be somebody here that God would want to save and this is why God said, “Don’t be angry at Me. You loved that gourd and you took pleasure in it, but you didn’t make it.” Essentially, “I’m,” God is saying, “I’m sovereign. I can save whom I want; I can do what I want. You will recognize my presence,” and of course, in Jonah’s case recognize it in his life. And now I’m asking you today to recognize it in yours. We have a great work to do. Now I’ve had a lot of ups and downs here, and I’m thinking to myself, “Whoa, put the brakes on.” Some of you need to put the brakes on today Get back to what you know is true that God has called you for a purpose. Just like Jonah, there’ll be a ship to Tarshish waiting to take you, conveniently off and lull you somewhere until you don’t have to think about the responsibility, but God will be around you, so you may not have to deal with Pastor Scott or Pastor So-and-so or Dr So-and-so, but you are going to have to deal with God, because He’s going to be watching. Now that shouldn’t scare you. That should comfort you to know that you’re one of His and He cares about you, and the roadmap He’s given is one that says, “If you’ll, if you’ll live this life of faith, which I don’t guarantee to be easy, but if you’ll trust Me, I know that that I’ll make it much better than when you did it on your own.” Now if Jonah can find a ship to Tarshish and then find the ship headed into the right direction, and head off to Nineveh, wherever, however he got to Nineveh, certainly we are able to pick up today, especially you who have fallen off your commitments and stopped your walk and kind of fallen back a little bit, you’re able to pick up today and say, “This is indeed my first walk, my first step of faith. I’m getting up today. And no, I’m not going to run. I know the Lord can see me The Lord is all around me. I don’t have to come into this building for the Lord to be with me, but the Lord is with me, He’ll guide my steps and I’m going to just take a page out of this book today and say desertion or duty: I signed up for duty.” And some of you, remember, signed up to be drafted for the duration. So I’m counting on some of you Jonahs to listen to the message today and pick up and begin to rise and walk in the right direction: walking with God by faith today That’s my message You have been watching me,

Pastor Melissa Scott, live from Glendale, California at Faith Center. If you would like to attend the service with us, Sunday morning at 11am, simply call 1-800-338-3030 to receive your pass. If you’d like more teaching and you would like to go straight to our website, the address is