FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
The Sunday Recap includes an assortment of items to help keep the Gospel in front of you throughout the week. Most are from the previous Sunday while a couple look ahead to next Sunday. As you read consider these questions. Did anything land with you during worship? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?
Food For Thought:
“Weakness with watchfulness will stand, when strength with too much confidence fails. Weakness, with acknowledgement of it, is the fittest seat and subject for God to perfect his strength in; for consciousness of our infirmities drives us out of ourselves to him in whom our strength lies.”
"Measure not God's love and favor by your own feeling. The sun shines as clearly in the darkest day as it does in the brightest. The difference is not in the sun, but in some clouds which hinder the manifestation of [its] light.”
“There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.”
– Richard Sibbes
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: Jonah 3:1-10
We Love Thy Holy Name - Adoration
Jesus, I Come - Confession
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross - Grace
Come, Ye Souls By Sin Afflicted - Response
Love Me to the End - Communion
I don't know about you but I haven't made up my mind whether or not I will watch the presidential debate tonight. To be quite honest, thinking about how to even begin speaking to the current political situation wears me out. I recently came across this article by Andy Crouch, the Executive Director for Christianity Today. He is very critical of both candidates, which wasn't really the part that stood out to me. What did stand out to me was the following excerpt:
"[T]here is a point at which strategy becomes its own form of idolatry—an attempt to manipulate the levers of history in favor of the causes we support. Strategy becomes idolatry, for ancient Israel and for us today, when we make alliances with those who seem to offer strength—the chariots of Egypt, the vassal kings of Rome—at the expense of our dependence on God who judges all nations, and in defiance of God’s manifest concern for the stranger, the widow, the orphan, and the oppressed. Strategy becomes idolatry when we betray our deepest values in pursuit of earthly influence. And because such strategy requires capitulating to idols and princes and denying the true God, it ultimately always fails."
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
Psalm 130 (From the Depths of Woe)
Therefore my trust is in the Lord,
And not in mine own merit;
On Him my soul shall rest, His word
Upholds my fainting spirit;
His promised mercy is my fort,
My comfort and my sweet support;
I wait for it with patience
I wait for it with patience
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Our Father in heaven, you know our hearts: how weak, hard and selfish we are. You have shown us great mercy because we have sinned greatly. You patiently endure our many offenses against you. In your Son and only in Him we are saved from the wrath we deserve, for each day we give in to foolish desires and forget the holiness of Your name. We have sinned against you in thought, word and deed. We have neglected to do what is right; to love what you love. We cry out for mercy and rest in the hope of the cross of Jesus Christ, in whose strong name we pray. Amen.
Words of Grace
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text: Jonah 1:17-2:10
1:17 And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
2:1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, 2saying,
“I called out to the LORD, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
3 For you cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
yet I shall again look
upon your holy temple.’
5 The waters closed in over me to take my life;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
6 at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
O LORD my God.
7 When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the LORD,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
8 Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the LORD!”
10 And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.
- Who God disciplines (1:3,4,17)
- How God disciplines (v. 2-9)
- Why God disciplines (v. 1:2-3 w/ Mark 14:36; 2:2 w/ Mark 15:34)
This week we looked at one of the most famous stories in the bible. Jonah and the big fish. It's a story about God's gracious rescue of Jonah the runaway prophet. But it's a story about much more than a generic rescue. It's a story that teaches us God disciplines those he loves. Discipline - teaching, shaping, instructing - is unpleasant and often painful whether you are giving it or receiving it, which makes this a difficult passage to digest. Why? Because according to the bible, discipline - God's discipline - is how you know you are loved by God. If you are left without discipline…then you are illegitimate children and not sons…. [B]ut [God] disciplines us for our good…. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:8,10-11). So God disciplines those he loves and in this passage we learn who God disciplines, how God disciplines and why God disciplines.
Who God Disciplines
God disciplines those he loves and in this case it is Jonah the runaway prophet who, up to this point, has had a rather illustrious career (2 Kings 14:23-27). But when God calls him to go to Ninevah, the arch enemies of Israel, Jonah's categories are blown apart. He experiences "spiritual dissonance" and instead of asking God for help, he runs the other way. But God doesn't let him go. He pursues Jonah in and through the deepest and darkest experiences a human can experience. God disciplines those he loves, not because they are lovely but because he is a God of love towards the unlovely.
How God Disciplines
Because God pursues Jonah we get a front row seat to how God disciplines those he loves. Jonah's prayer reveals a rich tapestry of God's loving discipline. We see at least 6 facets of God's discipline all of which work together to turn Jonah's heart back to God (re: v.8-9). God disciplines patiently (1:3-17). From the moment Jonah turns and runs from God to the three days and three nights in the belly of the fish God uses Jonah's decisions to bring him to his senses just like the younger brother in Luke 15. God disciplines sovereignly (1:15; 2:3). Through his experience Jonah discovered God's sovereignty over his life in and through his disobedience. He began to view his life from God's perspective; God working for his good through terrifying and distressing circumstances. God disciplines relationally (v. 3,4). At first Jonah is concerned about his dire circumstances (v. 3) but through them discovers his deeper problem, the breakdown and disintegration of his relationship with God (v. 4). God disciplinesresponsively (v. 2). God's patient, sovereign, and relational pursuit of Jonah led Jonah to cry out to God in his distress and God hears and answers. Even from the depths of the sea (v. 5-6) God heard his cry. God disciplines mercifully (v. 3 & 6; v. 4 & 7). Jonah's sin had cast him down but God brought him up. Jonah's sin had cast him out but God brought him in. God disciplines miraculously(1:17; 2:10). Jonah needed to learn that God's grace wasn't a commodity he could control. Salvation belongs to the Lord! What better way to teach Jonah this lesson than through the great fish. God's salvation is uniquely suited to Jonah's desperate plight. In this way the big fish is an echo of the cross of Jesus Christ. God's salvation in Christ is uniquely suited to our great need and is the only means by which we can be rescued! All of these facets of God's discipline are like hand holds or signs to help us discover God's loving discipline even and especially in the midst of overwhelming experiences.
Why God Disciplines
But why does God discipline those he loves? Jonah knew God in a sense. He knew things about God but had he experienced the power of what he knew in his own soul? God disciplines those he loves because we need to feel our need for God's grace and experience it for ourselves. (v. 6, 9) Why is that so important? It's how God equips us for participating in his mission to show grace and mercy to others, who like us, don't deserve it (v. 8). But the biggest reason God disciplines those he loves is because of the Gospel. How can you be sure God is not out to get you or pull the rug out from under you when life is unraveling? How can you be sure God will pursue you and hear you and rescue you out of your deepest grief and despair, even when it's your fault? On the cross Jesus Christ got the opposite of what Jonah got. When Jonah was faced with going to Ninevah for his enemies, he ran the other way. When Jesus was faced with going to the cross for his enemies, he didn't run. He said, "not my will be done, but yours" and he went (Mk. 14:36). When Jonah was faced with the death he deserved, he cried out and God heard him and rescued him. When Jesus was faced with the death he did not deserve, he cried out and got silence (Mk. 15:34). On the cross Jesus was forsaken and abandoned so that all who trust in him would be rescued and welcomed in as beloved children (2 Cor.5:21). How can you know that no matter what is going on in your life God is for you? Only by looking at the cross where God's perfect justice and costly love are freely given to you through faith in Jesus.
- What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
- What questions does this passage raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- What is your reaction to the teaching of this passage that God disciplines those he loves?
- Which facet of God's discipline do you struggle with the most; do you cherish the most?
- Can you relate to Jonah's experience? How so?
- Why do we need the gospel if we are to truly understand and receive God's discipline?
- How can you tell if God's discipline is changing you at the heart level? (v. 8-9: compassion, consecration, and confidence)
Confession of Faith: Westminster Shorter Catechism Q. 88
Q. What are the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption?
A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption, are his ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.
So those who received [Peter's] word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.