Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World

Jonah and the Worm

February 28, 2021 Pastor Dave Tucker Season 5 Episode 11
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
Jonah and the Worm
Chapters
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
Jonah and the Worm
Feb 28, 2021 Season 5 Episode 11
Pastor Dave Tucker

"Jonah built a shelter for himself, and sat where he could see the hellfire and brimstone that he just knew was going to happen on Nineveh. Despite all that, God did something very nice for Jonah. He created a bush. That's the thing right there that I want us to catch. We we see the Jonah and the big fish, we see the big storm... we see God in all these things but but God appeared in a small Bush to provide shelter over Jonah's head. If we don't finish the story, and if we don't look for God in a small, we miss the whole point of the story."

Based on Jonah 4:6-8

Originally Preached February 28, 2021
St Timothy Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Bedford, TX 

Show Notes Transcript

"Jonah built a shelter for himself, and sat where he could see the hellfire and brimstone that he just knew was going to happen on Nineveh. Despite all that, God did something very nice for Jonah. He created a bush. That's the thing right there that I want us to catch. We we see the Jonah and the big fish, we see the big storm... we see God in all these things but but God appeared in a small Bush to provide shelter over Jonah's head. If we don't finish the story, and if we don't look for God in a small, we miss the whole point of the story."

Based on Jonah 4:6-8

Originally Preached February 28, 2021
St Timothy Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Bedford, TX 

Unknown:

Today's story like last week's story tends to focus on the huge manifestations of God. The huge storm that caused the sailors to toss Jonah out of the boat to save themselves, the big fish that swallowed Jonah and put him on the shores of where he was supposed to go in the first place. We often leave out what Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story. The part of the story where God showed up in the small and the ordinary. So that's where I'm going to focus this week. So before we open God's word this morning, please join me in the prayer for elimination as we invite the Holy Spirit to join us. God in the midst of our everyday lives, we pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. You come to us with ancient truths, reminding us who we are, and who's we are. You have called us and claimed us. renew your covenant with us this day, that our lives might shine with the light of your covenant, and our souls might reflect the light of your love. Amen. Our scripture readings for today are a softer lesson is found in Psalm 2223. To 31 you who fear the Lord, Praise Him, all your off all you offspring of Jacob, glorify Him, stand in all of him. With all you offered offspring of Israel, for he did not despise or horror, the affliction of the afflicted. And he did not hide his face from me. But heard when I cried to him, from you come my praise in the great congregation, my vows I will pay before those who fear Him. The poor shall eat bread and be satisfied. Those who seek Him will praise the Lord, may your hearts live forever. All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to God. And the families of the nations shall worship before him. For Dominion belongs to the Lord. And he rules over the nations. To him indeed shall all whose sleeping the earth bow down before Him shall bow all those who go down to the dust, and I shall live for them, posterity will serve them. Future generations will be told about the Lord and proclaim His deliverance to people yet unborn, saying he has done it. Our Old Testament lesson and where we'll be spending most of our time today is found in Jonah chapter four, verses six through eight. The Lord appointed a bush and made it come up over Jonah to give shade over his head to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was very happy about the bush. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that withered. And when the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind in the sun beat down on the head of Jonah. So that he was faint, and asked that he might die. He said, it is better for me to die than to live there the Word of God for the people of God. So I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time retelling a story that I told a few weeks ago, up to the point that we're going to pick up I will give you the cliff notes version or a summary like previously on Jonah. So here we go. God called Jonah to share a message of justice to a wicked city, Nineveh and Jonah didn't want to go. So he decided it would be a good idea to run away from God and go to the opposite direction to Java. On the way to job a huge storm Rose and the sailors were trying everything they could to keep the ship above water and tried everything try praying to their gods and tossing cargo overboard. And when Jonah was found sleeping in the bottom of the boat, the sailors were like, What the Hey, and they eventually tossed Jonah overboard. Two things happened when Jonah went overboard. The sea instantly became calm and a big fish came up and swallow. Jonah. Eventually, the fish belts Jonah on the shores of Nineveh where he was supposed to go in the first place. How's that for summary? They do. Okay. So let's cue the theme music. Random thought the song Gilligan's Island popped in my head. Anyway, let's continue with the rest of this episode. So often we tell the story of Jonah and the whale, which really wasn't a whale, it was a big fish. That's what the Bible says it may have been a whale, it may have been just a big fish that swallowed Jonah. And we stopped right there. We don't go any further. When we do that, when we stop the story there after talking about the big manifestations of God, we don't do the whole story justice. We miss the opportunities to see God in the small in the ordinary. So our story continues with Joseph, Joe, Jonah, Jonah, preaching to the city of Nineveh 40 days more, and the city of Nineveh will be overthrown. Now to most people, at least in today's society, you see a person a guy holding a sign saying the end is near? What do we do? He's crazy. You look the other way. We go about our business and pretend like he's not there, especially if he smells. Do you follow my logic here? You can't tell me that Jonah went and took a shower before he went and did his message. He probably smelt like fish barf. He probably didn't look very good either. He was by a scary looking dude after that. So today in today's society, we would look the other way and move on. But something different happened in Nineveh. as Jonah was telling the news, we see the ninevites, showing remorse for their sins. And there was an edict that went out from the king saying, put on sackcloth, sackcloth and ashes, and pray to the living God, that He spares our lives. And so people did that. And they didn't ask any questions. And, and you didn't. I don't and I look forward. I don't see any occurrences where people looked at the king and said, well, that's an invasion of my rights. I don't look good and sackcloth. No, they were truly sorry for their sins, and they put the sackcloth on and they put the ashes on, in fact, what I do read in the Bible, and you could, you can prove it if you want. You can see it, it's there. They even put their cattle and livestock in sackcloth and ashes. Can you imagine that? That's how sorrowful they were. That's how serious they were about wanting God to change God's mind about the destruction of their city. So Scripture tells us when God when God saw what they did, how they turn from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them. And he did not do it. Amen. Yeah, that's a pretty good, amen. Right? However, Jonah was not happy. Now, most evangelists, you know, when they do a meeting, or remember the old tent meetings, you know, and you'd have a big altar call, and people would come forward, and that's a success right there for an evangelist, right. And, and the evangelist is praising God and all these wonderful things are happening and people are being baptized and all this other stuff. And, and, but that wasn't Jonah. Jonah was ticked off. And Jonah had the audacity to look to the sky and have a few words, choice words with God. And this is what he said. I knew, I knew that you were gracious God, and merciful and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and ready to relent, relent from punishing. So congratulations, God, you made a fool out of me. I hope you're happy. Why don't you just kill me right here right now. Just take me out of this world. I don't I don't want to live anymore. I don't want to live with this embarrassment. And I don't know about you, but about this time at about this point in the story. I'm beginning to realize that this story is a lot less about Nineveh. And maybe more about About Jonah, in the transformation needed to happen in Jonah's life. And God replied to Jonah, john, God showed grace to Jonah to God said, Is it right for you to be so angry Jonah? In the Bible says that Jonah went out of the city, in south east of the city. And Jonah built a shelter for himself, and sat where he could see the Hellfire and brimstone that he just knew was going to happen on Nineveh. And despite all that, God did something very nice for Jonah. He created a bush. That's the thing right there that I want us to catch. We we see the jonalyn the big fish, we see the big storm we see God and all these things but but God appeared in a small Bush to provide shelter over Jonah's head. If we don't finish the story, and we don't look for God in a small, we missed the whole point of the story sometimes. And the Bible says that Jonah was happy about the bush. I'm sure he was. He kept the sun off his head. And I can imagine, and I don't know this, but I can imagine Jonah was bald because because every time I was talking about shade, it talked about Jonah's head. So maybe his head was uncovered. And you know, I have hair but some of you who don't know what, how hot sun feels on a bald head. So Jonah was happy about the bush, but yet he continued to wait for the city to go up in smoke. And so that night, in early in the morning before the dawn, God sent a little, insignificant worm. to devour. The Bush was providing shelter over Jonah's head. God was in the bush, God was in the little worm. Because it got Jonah's attention because when the heat of the day came, john is looking around, and he's feeling the sun coming down on his head. And he gets upset. In fact, he was downright miserable. Just kill me now, God, Jonah proclaimed again, but God said to Jonah, Is it right for you to be angry about the bush? And Jonah said, Yes, angry enough to die? I'm quoting from the Bible here, you can read this, the dialogues there. Then the Lord said, You are concerned about the bush, for what you did not labor, in which you did not grow. It came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and so many animals, God was telling Jonah, you know, better, you know, better. And I save these people, and you introduce these people to me, and they repented. You know, better Jonah? Why shouldn't I spare these people? You see, without the rest of the story about the bush and the worm, you know, the ordinary, we don't get a complete image of a loving and gracious God, who is not willing that any should perish without reading the rest of the story. And without looking at the ordinary. We don't see how God tried to redeem Jonah, as well as the ninevites. You see, the mission had more to do with Jonah than the ninevites God needed Jonah's heart change. God was trying to redeem Jonah, as well. There's small and the ordinary ways God reaches out to us in our disappointments. Jonah was very disappointed. And how many of you have plenty of how many of us have had disappointments in our lives? But But this was more than just a disappointment for Jonah. This was a life and death thing for a whole city of 101 20 some odd 1000 people and animals. Jonah was disappointed about the wrong things. And yet, God reached out to Jonah and his disappointment. How foolish of Jonah, we know better we as Presbyterians, we know about the grace of God available for all right. We know better. Jonah was foolish. Or do we? How do we respond when the wrong guy moves into the White House? I'm gonna get real here. How do we treat others who think differently than us politically, theologically? ethically? Can I go a little deeper? I was told by a pastor not long ago, not from this church, not from this denomination. I want to clarify that I was told by a pastor from another denomination that this table is for righteous people only. Really, that means nobody can take to this table, right? He used the term I had never heard before. And I had to have him explain it to me, he says you need to fence the table. fence the table? What does that mean? You need to keep people who are living in sin from this table here. Can I tell you as long as I'm your pastor, I will never fence this table. And the only people I will keep from this table are those who are too holy for this table. my soapbox, take it or leave it. But I'll tell you one thing. The last thing I want to do is to get it get in the way of God reaching out to others. And, and the cup. It's such a small thing. You know, barely a swallow in the cup. And and the wafers that we're using on the top of the cup that tastes like styrofoam, and they're tiny, too. Soon, we'll get to use real elements. But still, they're small. It's a small thing, but God, through the mystery of the Holy Spirit is present in the elements. Why would I or anybody else want to stand in the way of anybody experiencing God and God's grace, no matter how small those elements may seem. So let us remember the story of Jonah, and how God works through our our disappointments as God worked through Jonah's disappointments. Unfortunately, the author leaves us kind of hanging. We don't know what happened to Jonah after. We don't know if Jonah repented of his ways or not. And maybe that was my intention, you know, the people who wrote this book was written by humans, inspired by God. But it's still written written by humans. And there were some really brilliant authors in this book, and the book, the books that comprise the bigger book. And there is there are reasons why I believe the author of the book of Jonah left us with that tension of wondering, just wondering, what happened to Jonah? And maybe, just maybe, as I'm standing here thinking, maybe we're to be identifying with Jonah. Maybe we're to be asking ourselves and searching our hearts and saying, How do I treat others? How do I look at others? How do I show love and grace? Do I show love and grace? Please continue to engage in this book, every moment holy, how many do you have this book? How many are enjoying it? This thing goes with me wherever I go, and helps me to remember that God is with me in everything in the ordinary of life. So continue to engage in that I'm not trying to get you started in reading rote prayers or whatever. But this is a good start to help us discover God in the ordinary. So continue to engage this book, continue to do your five daily gratitudes everyday, everyday, everyday everyday. So that when you're having a bad day, you go back in your journal and you look at how God has blessed you in the past. And you remember that you truly are a blessed person, blessed of God in highly favored. Okay, the next two journal prompts. In what ways do I put fences around God's grace to prevent others from experiencing it. In what ways do I put fences around God's grace to prevent others from experiencing it? And the last journal prompt is, what disappointment do I carry? That prevents me from experiencing God's grace that prevents me from experiencing God's grace. And what does it look like to give that disappointment to God? Let me read that one more time. What disappointment do I carry that prevents me from experiencing God's grace? What does it look like to give that disappointment to God?