Thursday, October 2, 2008

Repent--a hard word

Please read Jonah 3 before you read the sermon...

I need to ask this morning, what did it take to bring this Assyrian Evil Empire of to her knees and repent?

What does it take to bring anyone to his or her knees?

What would it take today to repent?

All over the world today, there are prayer movements setting aside days, weeks and months for repentance!
  • 11/1 is one of them. (At the Higashi Kurume Seibi Kaikan at 6:30-8:30 P.M.)
  • 10/6, there is a Prayer walk around the Diet Building.
  • 10/5 is the World Wide Day of Prayer for Jerusalem. 6:30-8 PM at Shalom Ch. in Shinjuku.
  • 10/4 Prayer for Kanto in Higashi Kurume.
(If you have any questions about these prayer times, contact ICCS at for more details.)

Because God has called us to seek His Face and repent.

All our respective countries need our governments to come to some form of repenting and mean it. There are things that go on in the halls of government around the world that would make you and I sick if we knew of their intent. The Bible tells about some who even dream evil so that in the morning they can put those actions into practice.

Cold and heartless laws are in place that put the poor out of proper housing. Laws that do not protect the orphans or widows. Laws that cover Big business’ budgets all the while taking huge cash windfalls on unfair loopholes in the law that are unknown by the public. It seems unfair that some get away with murder while others are heavily fined for the slightest miss-spoken word.

There is a teaching out ‘there’ that says Man is really bigger than God because we can change His mind. (Manipulate God.) In fact, God does not really know what to do in certain circumstances because we have not yet made up our mind what to do. That is a very low understanding of who God is! God is eternal. He is Lord of ALL that is! He made it all and we are part—just part—of His creation. He knows our heart and will deal with us in light of that and within His perfect plans—made from the foundation of the world. If you feel uncomfortable with that, sorry! That is the way IT is. Get over it. We are not bigger than God. His ways are far beyond our own YET He wants us—desires us to have a close relationship with Him. That is why He made us. And that relationship brings Him Glory…somehow.

Here in this passage, God sends Jonah BACK on the mission He wanted Jonah to do earlier. Because of his stubborn heart, Jonah rebelled and went the other direction. God in His Mercy—both for Jonah and for the pagan city of Nineveh, now has His man doing what is best.

Resistance is futile. Even when Jonah ran away, God was there to bring him back. It is best not to resist God’s pull on your heart.

Be like the frog that comes out of his well and see the ocean. Much more to life than what I can see.

Obedience is a wise choice. Jonah obeyed the Lord.

Because the bigger picture was not just this city of Nineveh’s need for repentance! No, it was deeper than that! It was for JONAH and Israel to repent and see that God would have ALL people come to Him. Not just the Jew-but the American, the British, the Japanese, the Singaporean, the Ugandan, the Nigerian, the Norwegian, the people from the north, south, east and the west…until ALL people have heard! And Nineveh.

What do we know of this great city? Does not really matter/we can’t compare them to us! But they are like us…cruel, mean-spirited, and selfish, you fill it in…

But "IF" we repent? What is the problem with that? Nineveh’s reputation was not a good one. Assyria was mean and nasty. Taking babies from the bodies of expecting mothers was common practice. Skinning the enemy alive of their tattoos was expected. Not to mention the server tactics of the military on the battlefield. Serious bad guys. At this time of Jonah, the Assyrian king was Adad-Nirai, the 3rd, (810-783 BC). He had promoted the worship of a single god, Nebo, thus getting the people ready for this major change from the monotheistic others around them.

Jonah 3:8b says: "Let them give up their evil ways and their violence."

This is a matter of the will on their part. What do they have to loose? Look at this man Jonah! We know what happened to him. The oral story had come to us even before he showed up outside our city with the message God had for us. We really know what the God of Israel is like—even when His own people reject Him: we know!

If we repent, well… …He may relent… "Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from His fierce anger" 9

The question might be better asked: “What is the worst that could happen?” The history of the God of the Hebrew People was known! It was feared from before the battle of Jericho. They knew what God did in Egypt. They learned what He did at Jericho and beyond.

“What if we do repent ... we know that this God they call Jehovah could change His mind and let us live. What not repent? We know we are evil! We know we kill. We know we lie. We know we have lived our lives outside God’s plan for us. It is known in our heart of hearts. Let’s do it! Let’s repent!”

And they did. And He changed His mind-from our point of view and that of Jonah’s. He gave them a second chance. Just like what He’d do for us and we are not even anything like the Assyrian people—yet we know we have done wrong. We know our heart has pushed Him out. We know we have not given Him first place—in our lives. We do not get what we deserve; the One who made us has MERCY for us to respond.

We are to seek Godly wisdom from His Word. From His revelation. SEEK Me and you will find Me! It does not come to us on autopilot. A matter of our WILL!

God is FULL of Mercy—just for us! God is FULL of Compassion—just for us! Yet, He is also a just God. A God who cannot go against His Own Word! “If you are not with Me,” Jesus said, “you are against Me.” “Those who have not put their trust in Me will perish.” “If you follow Me, you will keep my Word!” “If you love Me, you WILL keep what I say!”

Reject Me & you reject Life itself. Apart from Me, there is no life.

I am not making this up! ‘Good’ is not good enough! Putting your best foot forward does not merit eternal life. First John says that if we say we have not sinned, we lie and the Truth is not in us. Why did he say that? Wouldn’t it have been easier for God to say, “do the best you can and I’ll see you in Heaven!?”

Best’ is not what He is looking for. What He is looking for is found in what the people of Nineveh did. And we will look at that next week. But for this week, what is my job? What should I do with this?

Don’t push it away with those old questions of doubt and miss-information we have stored up over the years. Know that He is God and He is calling you and me to Himself. Where He is, He wants us to be and where He is, He has prepared a place for us to be with Him.
  • No more tears.
  • No more pain.
  • No more trying.
  • No more doing-the-best-you-can.

"It is finished!" That is what Jesus said on the Cross. The way to the Father is now ready for ALL to come to Him.Through Jesus. He is the Way! He is the Truth! He is the Life. No other way. All I have to do is follow.