God Calls, Jonah Refuses (Jonah 1)

jonah

Sermon Series: Jonah, a Hard-Hearted Prophet Meets the God of Grace
Message 1 of 5: 
God Calls, Jonah Refuses
Scriptures: Jonah 1:1-3
Offered 7/9/17 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

The message opens with the story of Mandy Harvey, a deaf singing contestant on America’s Got Talent. (Click here for a video.) Mandy tells her story then sings a song she wrote entitled, “Try.” Mandy had every reason to stop trying- to give up on her talents and dreams in music, but she didn’t.

What talent has God given you? What dream has God given you to bless the world?

What’s stopping you from trying? We have a boat load of excuses- I can’t afford it. I don’t have enough education. I don’t have the time. I’m too old/young. I have too much responsibility. It’s too risky.

Beware my friends. There’s tremendous risk in hiding a talent and running from a dream, especially when they’re from God. That’s exactly what Jonah did. God calls Jonah. Jonah refuses and that refusal turn into rebellion.

There are 2 types of calls 
1. “Who I am” call – God blesses and empowers us with gifts, talents, life, purpose, etc. Jonah understood his “who I am” call. Jonah son of Amittai literally means “Dove, son of Truth.” Think of the dove associated with the story of Noah’s Ark. The dove brings grace and good news. Think of the dove associated with the Baptism of Jesus. The Holy Spirit brings the powerful, anointing of God.

Jonah is a faithful, effective prophet of God. Jonah is a gifted, skilled, and anointed seer. Jonah reveals the word and purposes of God to Israel’s king. It was grace and good news that Israel would expand its boarder under King Jeroboam.

2. “What to do” call– a specific mission assignment. Jonah is to “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” (vs. 2) It’s a clear message from God of where to go and what to do. God said get up and go! Instead Jonah shut up and fled.

Problem was not misunderstanding. The problem was willingness. Jonah didn’t want to try. Jonah had every reason not to try
1. Nineveh wasn’t a Jewish city with a Jewish King. Nineveh was the magnificent capital city Assyria, a threatening, enemy superpower.

2. Nineveh was 550 miles away. Imagine that trip on donkey or on foot.

3. Jonah had no desire to preach to “those people.” They were enemies and Gentiles and pagans. He didn’t want to be labeled a “traitor” prophet by his own people.

4. God is a God of grace and mercy. God might extend forgiveness to his enemy and Jonah didn’t want that.

5. Jonah didn’t want to ruin his reputation. If he called out against the city and God spared it, his prophecy didn’t come true.

No God. It’s too risky. Too hard. You’re asking too much.

Does Jonah pray? Nope. Does he ask for help? Nope. Does he go? Nope. Jonah buries his talent, abandons his call, and runs away from the presence of the Lord. (mentioned twice in verse 3)

Jonah refuses and Jonah rebels and it breaks his relationship with God.

The Bible is full of examples which inspire us to greater faith and great acts of service. There are also examples for us to look to and avoid. Jonah is one of them.

How often are we more like Jonah than we want to admit? It doesn’t have to be this way. Step out in faith – try. God has tremendous faith in you. More than you have in yourself. God knit you together in your mother’s womb for a purpose. God empowers you with talents, gifts, graces, and experience for a purpose. Jesus died for you for a purpose- that you might be saved AND that you might join him in saving the world. Step out in faith – try

What is in your power to do for others? Do you have skills to teach and mentor others? Are you in a position to help alleviate suffering financially? Are you a great listener? Prayer Warrior? Organizer? Storyteller? Gardener? Share your testimony? Make an invitation? Do you have creative gifts in writing, music, dance, or art? Are you good with your hands in a way that you can offer practical assistance to people?

Step out in faith – try
You are the hope of the world- try

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to the tech team and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. Videos of these messages are available on the church Facebook Page.

If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording- Today you will be with me in Paradise

thief on cross remember me paradise

Sermon Series: Final Words from the Cross
The Scriptures record Jesus speaking 7 phrases as he hung upon the cross- important and powerful final reminders of who he was and what it means to follow him.

Message: Today you will be with me in Paradise
Scripture: Luke 23:32-43; Luke 4:18-19
Offered 2/28/16 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

SCRIPTURE: Luke 23:32-43
ALL SINGING: Jesus, Remember Me
By Jacques Bethier and the Community of Taizé
United Methodist Hymnal #488

ONE:
Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with Jesus. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing.

ALL SINGING: Jesus, Remember Me
By Jacques Bethier and the Community of Taizé
United Methodist Hymnal #488

ONE:
The people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.

ALL SINGING: Jesus, Remember Me
By Jacques Bethier and the Community of Taizé
United Methodist Hymnal #488

ONE:
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

ALL SINGING: Jesus, Remember Me
By Jacques Bethier and the Community of Taizé
United Methodist Hymnal #488

Three Crosses- Which thief will you be?
The first thief- a cross of Rage, Rejection, Refusal
The second thief- a cross of Reflection, Response
Jesus Christ- a cross of Release, Recovery, Rescue, Regard, Relationship

Resources for this sermon
Final Words From the Cross by Adam Hamilton
Listening at Golgotha by Peter Storey

Extended quote by Bishop Peter Storey in Listening at Golgotha
We know what they were doing! They were busy with things only too familiar to our world:
The greed that sells a friend for money
The fear that denies one’s leader for survival
The cynicism that smears an innocent for political gain
The cruelty that tortures a prisoner for entertainment
The expediency that washes its hand of more decision making
The mob spirit that exults in a victim’s suffering
The stupidity that calls good evil and evil good
That’s what they were doing. If they didn’t know it, we do. We know about this stuff.

Be sure to also check out Paradise Now, a beautiful reflection on this passage by Steve Garnaas Holmes.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

© 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Prayer for a Loved One Who Doesn't Believe in God

mother baby holding handsIn her book Prayers for Life’s Ordinary & Extraordinary Moments, Mary Lou Redding offers a prayer for parents to pray when their child doesn’t believe in God. It could be easily adapted for any loved one.

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I was drawn to the simplicity and honesty of this prayer and my own need for it with so many that I love. It seems especially helpful in situations when you and the loved one no longer live near each other or the relationship is strained.

Be encouraged that God never gives up and continues to reach out to all people, including your loved one, including you. – Lisa <><

Father God, thank you for your unconditional love
for each of your children.
I pray today especially for my child
who says he doesn’t believe in you.

Lord, help my child struggling with cynicism and despair.
I believe that doubt is part of the faith journey.
Please send a sensitive soul to encourage my child–
someone who will say words to gently point
this one I love so much toward you.

Loving God, I lift up __________ to you.
Though it is difficult, I release my child to you,
trusting you to continue to work in his life.
Help me to let go and trust
that the seeds of faith I helped to plant will take root
and that my child will grow in the sunlight of your love.

Thank you, dear God, for hearing and acting.
I am grateful that you love this child
much more than I ever could,
and that though I must let go, you never will. Amen.