Sr. Pastor Darrell G Vaughn
                                                        Faithfulness - A Key Step to Happiness
Feb 24, 2010                        "Running Back to God!" "To Listen the Audio with this Great Sermon click"  "Here"

Sun Am Worship             

Text: Jonah 2:1-9  (King James Version)

 "Father, I am your servant, willing and desiring to be used to bless your people."

On New Year's Day, 1929, Georgia Tech played UCLA in the Rose Bowl.
In that game a young man named Roy Riegels recovered a fumble for UCLA.
Picking up the loose ball, he lost his direction and ran sixty-five yards toward the wrong goal line.
One of his teammates, Beeny Lom, ran him down and tackled him just before he scored for the opposing team.
Several plays later the Bruins had to punt. Tech blocked the kick and scored a safety, demoralizing the UCLA team.

I know a lot of people who may have never ran the wrong way on the football field, but are running the wrong way in life.

Question: What happens when you find yourself going in the wrong direction in life? When it seems like you've made your life a failure, and there is seemingly no hope for a new direction?

Question: How does the Bible respond to that?

Often times, people tell me the Bible is old fashion, and really doesn't have an answer to today's fast pace society.

But my response to them is that is does has answers. The Bible is as pertinent today as it was when God inspired different authors over a span of some 3500 years to write its words.

And the situations men and women faced, their emotions, their ups and downs, are identical to what you and I face every day!

A father was approached by his small son who told him proudly, 'I know what the Bible means!"
His father smiled and replied, 'What do you mean, you 'know' what the Bible means?'
The son replied, 'I do know!'
'Okay,' said his father. 'What does the Bible mean?'
'That's easy, Daddy....' the young boy replied excitedly,' It stands for "Basic information Before Leaving Earth.'

The Bible addresses the issue of going in the wrong direction in the life of Jonah, God's prophet.

Jonah has been called the Prodigal Son of the Old Testament. God had told Jonah to go to Nineveh to preached to the Assyrians, the most wicked and hated people in the world at that time. Perhaps they would take heed and repent before God destroyed them.

But Jonah refuses. He didn't like God's plan - so instead of going to Nineveh, Jonah buys a one-way ticket on a ship headed to Tarshish, some 2000 miles in the opposite direction.

But the ship doesn't get far out of port, when God causes a gigantic storm to rock the ship, forcing the sailors to throw Jonah overboard who discovered Jonah was running away from God.

And we pick up the story in our Jonah 1:17 where it reads --
Jonah 1:17 (NIV) But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.

Some criticsand even some theologens scoff that Jonah couldn't be swallowed by a great fish, this is just a fairy tale.

I like Billy Graham's response to such criticism: JONAH SWALLOWED BY A FISH? I'd believe it if Scripture said it that  Jonah swallowed the fish! You see It's not difficult to believe if you believe in a God of miracles.

God has shown himself as a God of miracles in both the Old and New Testaments, and yet men and women, even boys and girls still have problems believing.

A 7-year-old boy's mother asked him what he learned in Sunday school. He said, "Well, Mom, today we learned about the time when Moses was leading the people of Israel out of captivity in Egypt across the Red Sea. They got there at the Red Sea, and Moses realized the Israelites couldn't make their way over. So he asked the Israeli corp of engineers if they would erect a pontoon bridge over the Red Sea, and all the people of Israel walked over that pontoon bridge. But when the Egyptians got there, they had their tanks and their guns and all their heavy artillery, and they sank in the mud. So Moses had the Israeli air force come over, and they bombed them and they wiped out all the Egyptians."
Well, the mother was horrified. She said, "Is that what they taught you in Sunday school this morning?"
He said, "Well, not exactly. But if I told you what our teacher told us, you'd never believe it." For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Jonah now speaks to God, for his unusual deliverance.

No doubt, Jonah had expected to die in the waters of the sea, but now he wakes up, and inside this big fish, and Jonah realizes that he's not dead, and that God has graciously spared him.
And, so Jonah prays to God.
And we look at this prayer this morning, I want you to notice that Jonah doesn't even mention the small problem of his residency in the fish. Instead, Jonah gives thanks and praises God for giving him his life back to start all over.

Jonah is grateful to be alive and in God's keeping, even if he remains in the fish's belly forever.  Ahhh Church Weeping may indeed endure through the night but JOY cometh in the Morning

Notice with me verse 1 of chapter 2:
Jonah 2:1 (NIV) From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God.

Understand, Jonah is happy!! His ability to breathe and to live is a cause of rejoicing. Jonah is throwing a party now inside the belly that fish.

Why is Jonah so happy?
Jonah 2:2a (NIV)
2 He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.

Because Jonah was going to die-he had been thrown in the sea - We have no record that Jonah knew how to swim, and even if he did, the waves were too big for him. Death was a given!
Death is a subject we don't like to talk about, or if we do, we lighten the thought with a joke or two.

Hebrews 9:27   And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
You and I if we don not go in the rapture we are going to come face to face with this reality

But Jonah was about to die; he had been thrown in the sea. To say Jonah was distressed is an understatement.

Hebrews 10:31   It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
And God responds!!

As water filled Jonah's lungs, in his inner being screamed for help!!

Jonah 2:2b (NIV)
2 . . . From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.

Jonah was struggling for his life, as he sinked to the depths of his grave, literally Sheol, in Hebrew thought, the place of the dead.

. . . He answered me . . . you listened to my cry!!

Vacationing in Arizona, a group of British tourists spotted a cowboy by the side of the road with his ear to the ground.
"What's going on?" they asked.
"Two horses, one gray-one chestnut, are pulling a wagon carrying two men," the cowboy said. "One man is wearing a red shirt and the other a black shirt. They're heading east."
"Wow, You can tell all that just by listening to the ground?" said one of the tourists.
"No" replied the cowboy. "They just ran over me."

Jonah was screaming! He knew it was curtains! And then God's resuces him. God heard him and saved him!

Jonah 2:3a (NIV)
3 You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the sea, and the currents swirled about me;
The sailors didn't cast Jonah into the sea; God did it!
Jonah not only recognized God's hand in his being thrown into the sea, but also saw the "waves and breakers" that swept over him belonging to God as well
Jonah 2:3b (NIV)
3 . . . all your waves and breakers swept over me.

Creation is tools in his hands

Martin Luther correctly stated, "Jonah does not say the waves and the billows of the sea went over me; but thy waves and thy billows, because he felt in his conscience that the sea with its waves and billows was the servant of God and of His wrath, to punish sin."

Jonah has finally come to grips with His creator, the author of his life. He realizes that God is in control of all his life.

He is not here this morning to shoose sides he is here to take over completely

Jonah 2:4 (NIV)
4 I said, "I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.'

Jonah felt like he had been banished from God's sight;

The term "banished" is used in Leviticus 21:7 of a woman whose husband has divorced her.

Jonah felt like he had run away from God, so God had divorced him of any kind of relationship.

Jonah had been buried in the deepest of the sea, but God was there and wanted Jonah back. God rescued Jonah and give him a second chance at life to prove himself.  Arnt you glad this morning you serve a God of Second Chances

Jonah's expression of confident faith in the latter part of the verse, "yet I will look again toward your holy temple," refers to his intention to forever be in God's presence-He will from that point forward never leave God:

L. C. Allen in his commentary on writes, "He is soon to demonstrate a willing spirit by accepting the commission he formerly had rejected. In line with this change of heart, even now in this testimony to God's grace he looks forward to seeking the special presence of God to offer his praise."

Jonah 2:5-6 (NIV)
5 The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. 6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God.

As Jonah lay in that great fish, he continued to marvel how God saved him from the sea.

"Engulfing waters threatened me." The waters closed in over me,
"To the roots of the mountains I sank"
I was in the deepest part of the ocean. Any help or hope was completely out of reach.
"The earth beneath barred me forever."
The weight of the great masses of water pressed on me; There's was no way humanly possible that I could float back up. The sea had entombed me.

If you looked at Jonah then, it was hopeless. But hopelessness isn't all bad when God is the one who brings hope.

A SHIPWRECKED MAN managed to reach an uninhabited island. There, to protect himself against the elements and to safeguard the few possessions he had salvaged, he painstakingly built a little hut from which he constantly and prayerfully scanned the horizon for the approach of a ship.
Returning one evening after a search for food, he was terrified to find the hut completely enveloped in flames.
Yet by divine mercy this hard affliction was changed into a mighty advantage.
Early the following morning he awoke to find a ship anchored off the island. When the captain stepped ashore, he explained, "We saw your smoke signal and came."
Everything the marooned man owned had to be destroyed before he could be rescued.

Everything Jonah was had to be destroyed, his rebellion, his self-worth, everything. And when Jonah had came to the end of himself, and everything hopeless - that's when he cried out to God, and God rescued him.

Jonah 2:6c  "but you brought my life from the pit, O LORD my God"
God, you're incredible. You brought life to my dead life. You retrieved me from a hopeless situation.
Jonah 2:7 (NIV)
7 "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.

"I remembered you, Lord"

The verb "remember" (zakar) refers here to the mental act of focusing attention on something. It is almost always the basis for action. It means "to act on the basis of knowledge."

Jonah now remembers how good God is, and returns to Him.

remembered the goodness of God  Some of us this morning need to remember the Goodness of GOD

The last phrase of v. 7 is identical in Hebrew to the final phase of v. 4. Jonah knew that his prayer reached God's heart.

Jonah 2:8-9 (NIV)
8 "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. 9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD."

"God," Jonah says, "You alone are the source of salvation!" You rescued me spiritually when I first believed. And now you rescue be physically, even though I turned my back on you and ran from you.

Jonah 2:10 (NIV)
10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

The literal Hebrew reads, And the Lord spoke to the fish. Unlike the prophet, the fish responds promptly, as soon as it knows God's will . . .

And Jonah was returned to dry land, thus completing God's rescue.
The prodigal has returned home.
From these verses, we find Jonah is educated; he comes to understand that God is in control of life. God is the one who rescues the hopeless. He is the one who enables deliverance.

Neither Jonah nor the fish had control. It was God and God alone.

It was a bright Sunday morning in 18th century London, but Robert Robinson's mood was anything but sunny.
All along the street there were people hurrying to church, but in the midst of the crowd Robinson was a lonely man.
The sound of church bells reminded him of years past when his faith in God was strong and the church was an integral part of his life.
It had been years since he set foot in a church-years of wandering, disillusionment, and gradual defection from the God he once loved.
That love for God-once fiery and passionate-had slowly burned out within him, leaving him dark and cold inside.
Robinson heard the clip-clop, clip-clop of a horse-drawn cab approaching behind him.
Turning, he lifted his hand to hail the driver.
But then he saw that the cab was occupied by a young woman dressed in finery for the Lord's Day.
He waved the driver on, but the woman in the carriage ordered the carriage to be stopped. "Sir, I'd be happy to share this carriage with you," she said to Robinson. "Are you going to church?"
Robinson was about to decline, then he paused. "Yes," he said at last. "I am going to church."
He stepped into the carriage and sat down beside the young woman.
As the carriage rolled forward Robert Robinson and the woman exchanged introductions.
There was a flash of recognition in her eyes when he stated his name. "That's an interesting coincidence," she said, reaching into her purse.
She withdrew a small book of inspirational verse, opened it to a ribbon-bookmark, and handed the book to him. "I was just reading a verse by a poet named Robert Robinson. Could it be…?"
He took the book, nodding. "Yes, I wrote these words years ago."
"Oh, how wonderful!" she exclaimed.

"Imagine! I'm sharing a carriage with the author of these very lines!"
But Robinson barely heard her. He was absorbed in the words he was reading. They were words that would one day be set to music and become a great hymn of the faith, familiar to generations of Christians:
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace'
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
His eyes slipped to the bottom of the page where he read:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it-
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
He could barely read the last few lines through the tears that brimmed in his eyes. "I wrote these words-and I've lived these words. "Prone to wander…prone to leave the God I love.'"
The woman suddenly understood. "You also wrote, "Here's my heart, O take and seal it.' You can offer your heart again to God, Mr. Robinson. It's not too late."
And it wasn't too late for Robert Robinson. In that moment he turned his heart back to God and walked with him the rest of his days.