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:
A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you. – C.S. Lewis
The Gospel is good news of mercy to the undeserving. The symbol of the religion of Jesus is the cross, not the scales. – John Stott
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: Philippians 1:6; 2:3; 4:8
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name - Adoration
Arise, My Soul, Arise - Adoration
Amazing Grace - Grace
The Church’s One Foundation - Response
Rock of Ages - Communion
Last week at our Hope For Birmingham meeting I suggested two books for anyone looking to go deeper into the issues we only began to touch on. The first book is by Tim Keller called Generous Justice. It is an excellent, very readable book which unfolds the biblical rationale for loving the poor and the vulnerable. The second book is by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett called When Helping Hurts. It too is a very readable book that dovetails well with Generous Justice by addressing the realities of poverty and how we may wisely work for poverty alleviation in a dignifying, mutually transforming, sustainable way.
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
Abide With Me
I need Thy presence, every passing hour.
What but Thy grace, can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, abide with me.
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not one day of my life has passed that has not proved me guilty in your sight. Prayers have been uttered from a prayerless heart; my best efforts to love you and others are but filthy rags. All things in me call for my rejection but all things in Christ plead for my acceptance. I appeal from the throne of perfect justice to your throne of boundless grace. Grant me to hear your voice assuring me of the gospel of your Son: that by his stripes I am healed, that he was bruised for my iniquities, that he was made sin for me that I might be declared righteous before you, that my grievous sins, my many sins, are all forgiven. I am guilty, but pardoned, lost, but saved, wandering, but found, sinning, but cleansed. Give me perpetual broken-heartedness, keep me always clinging to the cross of our Lord and Savior in whose name we pray. Amen.
Words of Grace
He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 2:22-25
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text: Jonah 4:1-11
1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?”
5 Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. 6 Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
- We need to admit our contradictions
- We need to receive God's counsel
- We need to look for God's character in Jesus Christ
This week we concluded our series on the book of Jonah. The most distinctive feature of Jonah compared to the other minor prophets (the 12 short books toward the end of your bible) is it reads like a biography, like a story. One commentator calls Jonah "didactic history." In other words, it's a story (like a parable) that is intended to teach us about God, his mission in the world, and our participation in it.
So what is the book of Jonah all about? It is a front row seat to learn how to love as God loves. Often times we tend to think of biblical characters as examples to follow. However, just a moments reflection suggests otherwise. The Bible is full of characters that would probably not be allowed to be members in most of our churches. Just think of Abraham and David and Sampson to name a few. Or think of Jonah. Yes, he is a prophet of God but he is a mess spiritually. He rebells against God. He tries to run away from God. God mercifully rescues him and only after a short time Jonah is outraged again over God's willingness to show mercy to people Jonah thinks shouldn't receive mercy. What's the point? Learning to love as God loves, to participate in God's mission to the world will require dealing with the ugliness of our own hearts even as God uses us to bless other people.
The final chapter of Jonah serves as an apt summary for what we need in order to be changed by the very mercy and grace God so freely gives to the Ninevites...to the world in and through Jesus Christ.
We need to see clearly and admit honestly our own contradictions. Jonah illustrates what this looks like. At the end of chapter 2 Jonah demonstrates real change after what he has been through. He shows compassion for others (v. 8). He consecrates his life to God anew (v. 9). He confesses great confidence in God's salvation (v. 9). But in 4:1 everything changes...again. He is now outraged at the mercy God has shown to Ninevah. Jonah is a contradiction. He is an enigma. He seems to get it and then shows he clearly doesn't. Jonah's story is reminiscent of the Apostle Paul when he writes in Romans 7, "I do what I don't want to do and I don't do what I do want to do." The best doorway to go through to discover our own contradictions is to pay close attention to our anger, especially at God. What lies beneath your anger? Is it the fear of losing something you love? Is it disappointment over failing to get something you long for? What does your anger reveal about your attitude toward and expectations of God?
You see discovering our contradictions doesn't come easily. Why would it? An aspect of self-deception is the ability to make things seem true and accurate in our hearts that under God's counsel are exposed for what they really are. Therefore, we need God's counsel if we are to see ourselves aright and in turn discover the beauty of his mercy. God serves as a counselor to Jonah in vs. 5-9 in order to bring to the surface his sense of superiority and self-concern that prevents him from learning to love as God loves. Through the plant, which God provides and destroys, God draws out of Jonah the strongest possible response. Verse 6 says Jonah was exceedingly glad for this plant. Negatively, in verse 9 Jonah is so distraught over the loss of the plant he is ready to die. In other words, Jonah loved this plant, he delighted in it. God uses this plant as an object lesson to teach Jonah about his love for the world. If Jonah so cared for this plant, even to the point of death, how much more does God care for Ninevah? What's God saying to Jonah, to us in this story? God cares for sinners so deeply, even he would rather die than lose them (v. 10-11). This is the good news of the gospel shining through at the end of the book. Jonah has felt the cost of losing his plant. God would bear the cost in sending his beloved son to secure God's full and free mercy for all who trust in him. For God so loved the world that he sent his only son!
Jonah speaks of God and his character in verses 2-3 as gracious, merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and relenting from disaster. What does that mean? How can we be sure it is true for us? How can knowing God like that lead us to love as he loves? The answer is realizing that God's character always and most clearly is found in Jesus. To see Jesus with the eyes of faith is to see the Father (Jn. 14:9). In other words, we must look for God's character in Jesus Christ. Only that has the power to transform our anger into love. Only looking to and resting in the mercy of God in Christ will we be happy enough to participate in his mission no matter what he asks of us!
1 John 4:8-11 Anyone who does not love does not know God, becauseGod is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, thatGod sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved Godbut that he loved us and sent his Son to bethe propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
- 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?
- Can you relate to Jonah's anger? How?
- In what ways do you struggle to delight in God's mercy, especially toward others?
- What is one aspect of God's character you can ask him to help you discover in Jesus? (v. 2-3)
- What encouragement can you draw from Jonah's story especially in light of how God uses Jonah despite himself?
Confession of Faith: The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 90. How is the Word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation?
A. That the Word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation, and prayer; receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.