YIELDING TO GOD'S WILL
1. This morning, I am going to start a series of lessons from the book of Jonah.
2. When you think about the book of Jonah, the first thing that usually enters your mind is the great fish swallowing Jonah.
3. But there is more to Jonah that just the fish story. There are some great spiritual truths that we can benefit from.
4. Did you know that some scholars believe that the book of Jonah is nothing more than an allegory or a parable? They believe that the book contains some spiritual lessons, however, they do not believe that the story actually existed. In other words, they feel that it is not a true story.
5. I personally believe that everything written in the Jonah is a true historical fact. I believe this because our Lord referred to the story of Jonah as something that actually took place.
Jesus said in (Mt. 12:39-40), ‘‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
6. If Jesus believed Jonah was a true event, then so do I! We can trust that everything written in Jonah is a true and accurate story.
7. Before we move into the book of Jonah, I would like to give you some background information that can help us to better understand the story.
8. Who was Jonah and what is the book about?
a. Jonah was a prophet of God who ministered to the nation of Israel and other nations around the 8th century BC.
b. The book of Jonah can be summed up like this: One day, God told the prophet Jonah to go and preach against the great city of Nineveh who at that time was the most important city in Assyria, the rising world power of Jonah’s day. Within 50 years, Nineveh would become the capital of the vast Assyrian empire. Within a few years, the Assyrians would eventually conquer the Northern Kingdom of God known as Israel.
c. But several years before Assyria wiped out Israel, God sent Jonah to Nineveh, the great city of Assyria, to preach against its wickedness. This is the basis of the story.
FROM THE BOOK OF JONAH, WE WILL LEARN SEVERAL IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES THAT CAN HELP US IN OUR SPIRITUAL WALK WITH GOD.
I. FIRST, IN OUR SPIRITUAL WALK WITH GOD, WE MUST ALWAYS HAVE A YIELDING ATTITUDE TOWARDS GOD’S WILL.
1. As I told you earlier, God told Jonah to go and preach against the city of Nineveh. Well let’s see how Jonah responded to God’s instructions.
“The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD” (Jonah 1:1-3).
2. God had a specific duty for Jonah to fulfill, however, he did not want to do it, so he tried to run away from the Lord.
3. The reason why Jonah refused to go to Nineveh and minister to the Assyrians was because he hated them with a passion.
a. You see the Assyrians were a cruel, brutal and wicked people. They were ten times more wicked than the Nazi’s of the last century.
b. For example, after they defeated a city, they would burn the whole city and carry away the women and children to be there slaves.
c. They would torture their prisoners by cutting off their hands and feet and would also burn them at the stake.
d. One way the Assyrian kings boasted about their military might was to decorate their palace with the heads of their victims.
4. Now you can see what Jonah disliked these people. He despised them so much that he tried to run away from the Lord because he did not want the Assyrians to repent and get right with God.
5. In fact, although God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh, he instead headed for Tarshish, which was in the opposite direction.
6. Let us read (vv. 3-17) to find out what happened to Jonah while running from God.
7. Since Jonah disobeyed the will of God, his life began to fall apart.
8. Brethren, if we purposely disobey the will of God, then we will experience turbulent and difficult times.
a. God had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that their descendants would occupy the land of Canaan. However, in (Numbers 13), the Israelites refused to follow God’s plan for taking the Promised Land.
(1) Because the Israelites did not follow through with God’s will, they had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years until every one who was twenty years old or older died in the wilderness. Someone has calculated that there was 1 funeral every 20 minutes, 24 hours a day, for 40 years. Disobedience is costly!
b. God told His people not to commit adultery. However, David did not obey God’s commandment.
(1) Because David disobeyed God’s will, his family was torn a part. I believe that many families are in turmoil because they are not following God’s will.
9. If we disobey God’s will, then our lives can wind up in disarray. God has a way of getting our attention when we stray away from His direction.
Brad grew up in a Christian home and attended the Church of Christ in Euless, TX.
However by the time Brad reached his late thirties, he was divorced, had no church home, and was living in a 6 by 6 prison cell.
What happen to Brad?
Drugs invaded his life and before he knew it, he had lost everything.
Today, however, Brad, who by the way is a friend of mine, a nice place to live, a college degree and is a regional prison director for the Churches of Christ.
How did he change from a drug dealer to a Minister?
While in prison, Brad realized that God had brought calamity on his life in order to get his attention. Brad woke up, as did Jonah, and got his life back on the spiritual track.
10. My friends, if your life is in turmoil or disarray, it may be because you are not following God’s will for your life.
a. Jonah, because of his disobedience, wound up in the belly of a large fish.
b. Brad Davis, because of his disobedience, wound up in prison.
c. King David, because of his disobedience, lost a child and had severe family problems.
11. It is time for us to stop being disobedience to the will of God and start yielding to the will of God. Amen!
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 7:21).
12. What is God’s will for our lives?
a. His ultimate will is for us to be saved.
b. His immediate will for us is to obey His Word!
Jesus put it this way in (Lk. 8:21) “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s Word and put it into practice.” (Mk. 3:35)
13. When we start yielding to God’s Word, then our lives will flourish.
“But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does” (Jam. 1:25).
“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Josh. 1:8).
Roger Stauback who led the Dallas Cowboys to the World Championship in 71’ admitted that his position as a quarterback who didn’t call his own signals was a source of trial for him. Coach Landry sent in every play.
He told Roger when to pass, when to run and only in emergency situations could he change the play (and he had better be right!). Even though Roger considered coach Landry to have a “genius mind” when it came to football strategy, pride said that he should be able to run his own team.
Roger later said, “I faced up to the issue of obedience. Once I learned to obey there was harmony, fulfillment, and victory." When we begin obeying God's plays, then we will likewise have harmony, fulfillment, and victory!
1. This morning, we have learned one spiritual principal from the book of Jonah.
a. We need to yield to God's will.
2. If you feel that your life is out of control and headed down the wrong direction, then chances are it is because you are not yielding to God's will.
3. God rescued Jonah from the belly of the fish and he can do the same thing for you if you are willing to change the course of your life and start following His will.
4. If you would like to respond to the Lord this morning, please come now as we stand and sing.