Intro : Started a series of sermons from Jonah. Why? To remind us what church
is to be, to do. Disclaimer: Truths about Church in general, not necessarily specific
criticisms of East Side. ("What's Pastor Craig got against us?") But if the pew
fits! Review: Moved by His mercy, God commanded Jonah to tell Nineveh to repent.
(Also our job!) Jonah disobeyed God's command. (Something we're tempted to do!)
As we continue story, confronted with questions, "Is America experiencing God's
judgment?" and "Does the Christian church hold any responsibility for the moral
decline of our country?"
The Lord's Power! (Read Jonah 1:4) The Lord's response to Jonah's disobedience:
He "threw" the wind onto the sea. Huge storm blows up, the boat is in danger of
sinking. The Lord is angry over Jonah's actions. He will get Jonah's attention!
Wildfires, sinkholes, heat waves, continuous rains, hurricanes, super tornadoes.
Is America experiencing a growing storm of God's judgment? Yes! (Read Jeremiah 18:1-12 (nationally); Romans 1:18 (worldwide); John 3:16-18, 36 (individually.) God, the All-Powerful One, is
moving in holy judgment against sin!
The Sailors' Powerlessness! (Read Jonah 1:5a) Sailor's (Heb., "salty" ones!) response: Terrified,
desperate to save their lives. They are crying out to their gods, they are pitching
their cargo. Doing everything in their power to survive, and it's not working!
God's judgment darkens the skies, how do people typically respond? Get religious,
lose their addiction to material things. 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, Tornadoes out west.
Short term: Church attendance goes up, people share money. But notice: what is the
effect of the sailors' actions on the storm? Is it helping? Are they causing God's
anger to cease? They are powerless! The All-Powerful God is moving in holy judgment
against sin. The world is doing everything in its power to survive, and it's not
The Prophet's Slumber! (Read Jonah 1:5b) Where is Jonah? He is below deck, in a deep
sleep! Why? Tired from all his decisions. Depression, exhaustion! Avoiding unnecessary
conversation with the crew. He shuts everyone else out, and shuts down! Notice something,
though: Jonah's disobedience is affecting others! No matter how much Jonah imagines
otherwise, his sin has a profoundly negative effect on the sailors!
Where is the church in this passage? Below deck with Jonah! Through the years, God
has called out to His church to intercede for a dying world! (Read Genesis 18:16-33, Isaiah 59:15-16, Ezekiel 3:17-21.) Do you hear God's voice speaking
through His Word? Sometimes I hear Christians complain about the condition of our
country, of our world. But the world is only acting like the world. "Why do we Christians
complain about the way the world acts when it depends on us whether the world is
set before the Savior's cross?" (Jacques Ellul) Has America, has our world been
going downhill, morally speaking? Yes. Who is responsible? We are! We're the light
of the world, the salt of the earth, the city on a hill! But we've abandoned our
mission! We're huddled below deck, anesthetized by the world's diversions, ignoring
the tempest raging around us, the people struggling to survive. The All-Powerful
God is moving in holy judgment against sin. The world is doing everything it can
to survive, but it's not working! Meanwhile, the church isn't working either...it's
sleeping! But we don't belong below deck! It's time to wake up!
God forbid that Jesus comes back to earth to find you, me, the Christians of East
Side Church huddling below deck, shut off from the world, snoring. It's time to
wake up! We don't belong below deck! We have a job to do. We have the hope of the
Gospel to share with a powerless, desperate world!
Fancy speech, pastor, but not very practical! How to share the Gospel? Next week,
we'll learn the most important strategy for sharing our faith effectively!
Benediction : I Peter 4:17-18
Next Week : What is the most important, the most practical strategy for sharing
your Christian faith effectively?