Sermon Note and message for 11/12/17

Main: What does Jonah reveal to us? (Jonah: why is he still important? Pt. 5)
Jonah chapter 4
Evening: Book of Colossians study begins
Tuesday: Book of John study
Wednesday: Book of James study

Welcome to our service today. I pray that you will find something special this morning, something that will strengthen your walk with Christ. It is my earnest prayer, each and every day, to be used of the Lord and used in a way that shows others that I really do care. Today we finish our series on Jonah. The story of Jonah has a clear ending and one that not everyone saw coming. He had, what we would think to be, a phenomenal victory in Nineveh, but we see Jonah’s heart revealed and it tells of a, far too often issue, that many struggles with, every day. I hope the lessons we have seen in this series have been ones that have helped us to see the importance of obedience.

It is Monday morning, as I write these thoughts, I am yet, once again, hearing about, thinking about, another tragedy that has taken place in our nation. Most of you have heard by now, about the horrific shooting that took place last Sunday, at a church in Texas. Our hearts grieve for the families that were affected by this senseless act of evil.

I use that word “evil” very much on purpose, for no other word can describe what took place. We are told in

Jeremiah 17:9
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (KJV)
The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out (MSG)

This speaks to the condition of our times right now. We hear these horrible stories and the first question is: why? The next is: how could they? And ultimately the questions move to find some type of excuse. At the end of the day, no excuse can be found beyond the reality of a wicked heart. Certainly, this is not spoken of in politically correct times, because Heaven forbid, that someone gets their little feelings hurt.

Wickedness, evil, rotten hearts, these are real, these truly exist, and it is high time that such is addressed. Our nation has created this fantasy world where everything has to be reasoned out, it has to have some childhood tragedy that is the basis for a horrific act, by a horrific person. The truth of it all is without the presence of God in the heart of man, wickedness abounds. We can look for every reason under the sun for the why, how, where, when and all the components of the questions that are sought after, but the truth is, without a heart change, without coming to know Christ, one is hopeless and indeed, hopelessly lost.

This will not be spoken of on TV. This is not always even spoken of in church, or at least not in a direct and honest way. We have become so accustomed to the soft approach, that anything which deals with something harsh or uncomfortable, is often given a make-over, in order to, make it look better. The fact is: some things are ugly. While some may gasp for air at such a statement, the truth is the truth. Sure, there are reasons for things. There are times that a former experience in life has influenced some sort of action, however, it can never be seen as a justification.

Here is the issue today: justification is often all that is ever looked for. In other words: the why it was ok for something to happen, because something else happened first. It is said this demonic creature, that shot up the church last week, was an atheist and hated people who believed in God. He said that “such people were stupid and had no right to live.”

The Bible says that “only the fool says in his heart that there is no God.” Indeed, we read of a fool and while he is free to have this opinion of believers, he certainly has no freedom to take life from anyone. However, the politicians, the pundits, the “experts”, they will all spend the next several weeks debating gun ownership, his bad childhood, his emotion issues, the puppy he had as a kid that died, or any other pitiful excuse that can be found to mask over the real issue: EVIL.

The wickedness that we see abounding in our nation right now, is a direct consequence of the constant attitude and at times, actions, of telling God to “go away, we do not need you.” It was in mere moments, that many of these people who are called “celebrities”, took to social media and began to blaspheme God with comments about this tragedy. Stating things such as “prayers for the victims? Didn’t seem to help them any, now did it?” many other terrible things were written, but I will not give such the regard of being re-written. My point is, our nation, in general, has taken on this attitude of ignoring reality.

As I stated in last week’s sermon, we are in desperate need of revival in America. While we can point out many moral issues, many divisive issues and other topics of discussion, the true issue is the heart. Until the heart is functioning properly, nothing else works right. It is this way in our physical bodies and most certainly, it is this way in our spiritual life. Those who have no regard for God, they have little to no regard for others.

There are enough examples that could be spoken of, it would take volumes of books, to write them all down. However, at the end of it all, there is but one true bottom line and that is the words of Christ: “you MUST be born again.” The word must, as it is used here, simply means: there is no other answer. We are at such a point in our nation, in fact, in all of humanity: it is a spiritual matter. It is not politics, it is not fame and celebrity, it is not sports, it is not disrespecting the flag or anthem, it is a spiritual issue and the only answer is and always has been: Jesus!!

As Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, He made it very clear that all issues of life, every single one, are tied to the condition of the heart and until one is born again, it simply cannot get better. Our prayers indeed go up for those struggling today. Regardless of the reason for the struggle, we should be, in fact, are called to be in prayer for others. However, while we pray for peace, comfort and all the other emotional issues, may our prayers truly be for the salvation of all who are lost and that along this journey we call life, that they will find Christ. Who knows: it may just be you that will be called upon to introduce someone to Him, are you ready?

Have a blessed week!

Pastor Andy