Sermon: Running From God
Scripture: Jonah 1:1-3
ICE BREAKER: Would you rather live in the belly of a big fish for 3 days or have a big fish (5 pounds) live in your belly for 3 months?
This week we started a new series called "RESCUE." For the next five weeks, we will be walking through the story of Jonah. In the first three verses, we learn that Jonah was a prophet, that God called him to go to Ninevah and prophecy to the people there, and that Jonah ran away from God into a foreign land named Tarshish.
For an Old Testament Prophet, these first three verses made no sense! Prophets do what God tells them to do and go where God tells them to go. However, Jonah runs as far and as fast as he possibly could! So why did Jonah run?
We learned that Jonah was a very proud and patriotic Israelite. He hated Ninevah and did not want to go to them. He also was likely very afraid of the inhabitants of Nineveh. They were ruthless warriors who did not hesitate to torture and kill foreigners. In short, God's plan for Jonah did not line up with Jonah's own plan for his life.
JONAH DID NOT TRUST GOD
So he ran as far and as fast as he could!
What is a circumstance that you have struggled to trust God in?
What was the main thing blocking your faith?
As pastor Tim Keller points out, there are two primary ways to run from God's plan:
REBELLION & RELIGION
Rebellion is running away from God into sin and deception. Rebellious runners believe they know better than God and don't need the Lord's guidance in their life any longer.
Religion is convincing yourself that God OWES you something for the work you have done for him. Instead of running to sin - you run towards control and try to leverage your service over God to get him to line up to your will.
Jesus told a story of how Rebellion and Religion play out in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. In the story, a father has two sons. The younger son rebels and runs off into a far country to live in sin. The older brother stays home and works - but not out of love, he works instead so that the father OWES him.
At the end of the story, the Rebellious younger son comes home and the father forgives him. This exposes the Religious older brother's true motives. When he tells the father that he is owed something for his hard work, the father reminds him that he already has everything he needs!
Rebellion - I don't need God!
Religion - God, you owe me!
Jonah plays both roles in his story and God goes to great lengths to bring Jonah home and forgive him - just like He does for us!
Jonah learned a hard lesson:
YOU CANNOT OUTRUN GOD!
For those who are not believers:
What is the main thing keeping you from trusting Jesus for eternal life?
Are you any closer today than you were this time last year to believing in Jesus?
For those who are believers:
What is the primary way that you tend to run from God? Rebellion or Religion?
If Rebellion - what patterns to you typically run to?
If Religion - what is it that you tend to think God owes you?
What is one way you can stop running from God this week?
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the ways you have been running from God. Ask God to give you clarity on all the ways he has been trying to get your attention and bring you back home.