Called into righteousness

What really happens when mercy goes unheeded? (Nahum 1:1-8) When we leave Jonah on the outside of God’s grace and mercy he is learning one hard lesson. Oftentimes, we fail to see the big picture. Have you ever missed the forest for all of the trees? See Nineveh, it really is like all of us, we all fall short of the glory of God, we prance our way down the path until we see a squirrel. Squirrel! I’m sorry what were you saying? We lose focus and before we know it, we are lost. Anyone who wanders away from God is lost. 

Well Assyria, who God raised up to punish Israel, gets lost. This time there will be no whale of a tale, no Jonah nor a modern-day Michael Packard, 56, of Provincetown, Mass. who was recently swallowed up and taken for a ride by a humpback. If you’ve ever given a thought to what happens when we don’t heed the mercy’s call, Unheeded Mercy brings us to the door of judgment. Reminding us why Christ is so important, for He is the door. (John 10:9) The righteousness of our sovereign God always prevails. 

Nahum 1:2-3~The Lord is a jealous and avenging God…and keeps wrath for his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. (ESV) Nahum says the Lord is slow to anger, great in power, and He does not acquit. Both Testaments place great emphasis on the compassion and mercy of God for all who repent. In fact, the Bible’s pages are filled with nations, groups, and especially individuals who fail to heed the word of the Lord and so they lose out on God’s compassion because of unheeded mercy.

Pauls writes to Rome (Romans 3:20-25) saying, there is no righteousness apart from God. Righteousness only comes from God comes through faith in Jesus to all who believe. Everyone has sinned and falls woefully short of God’s glory. That’s why God sent His only Son Jesus as a sacrifice. Romans 3:25~God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—(NIV) 

Do you know the righteousness of God? If not, today is the best day to pray and ask Jesus into your heart. He wants to come in and make His home in you. (John 14:23) If you already know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then what area of your life is the Lord at work on. Unless you have already arrived, you probably have an area or three that needs a little bit of work. Take a few moments and pray, asking God to reveal how and where you need to respond to the changes He is making in your life. This will bring in His peace and fill you with His joy and strength as you say yes to Him.

The Meaningless & Mundane — Search And Find — Ecclesiastes 7:15-29…Handout

What are we to do when life is puzzling?___________ We are to turn to God. Some puzzles take a matter of minutes while others, can’t be solved quickly or over a lifetime but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a good answer. Search And Find: Clearly, Don’t, Refuse, Lean, Refocus.

1)____Day—Clearly (Ecclesiastes 7:15) The Apostle Paul tells us life’s like looking in a fogged-up mirror, but God completely understands. (1 Corinthians 13:12) This takes aim at the age-old question: Why do good people suffer while bad people prosper? Any answers?____________ You might say it’s a perplexing puzzle of life. Can you name Johnny Nash’s smooth reggae tune that helps us with opening our eyes?________________ When we all get to heaven what a day that will be because we will see and know so much more.

2) Don’t Be Self-___________(Ecclesiastes 7:16-18) Do you find that a difficult task? Yes / No. As Mac Davis said: Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble When you’re perfect in every way. Ecclesiastes 7:16~Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise…(ESV) Is Soly suggesting we live a life of spiritual mediocrity or be moderately religious? Yes / No. Instead, keep this verse in context. Have you ever put God to the test? Yes / No. Some think that’s allowed because in Psalm 91:12. That is not the case, choices have consequences. Listen we are all tempted like Jesus in___ different ways. (1 John 2:16) Soly warns us to pay attention to his words because when we fear God, we will avoid both extremes.

3) Refuse To Be__________ (Ecclesiastes 7:20-22) We all stumble and fall into sin with either our attitudes or actions. Psalm 37:24~though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. (NIV) At other times the trip may come from a critic. Do not pay attention to every criticism. After all, anyone mutter words about a parent? Yes / No. Chronic critics and constant complainers are everywhere and can find fault with everything. So what are we to do? _____________ Proverbs 15:31~Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. (NIV) We’ve all been guilty of unfairly judging or criticizing others, right? Yes / No. We have all gossiped about others. Why? ___________

4) Lean On God’s________ (Ecclesiastes 7:19,23-26) Biblical wisdom is not an accumulation of facts. It is the inner strength that comes from knowing God’s way is always best, and so we choose the correct application of knowledge. Who or what is your faith in?______ Understand we cannot make ourselves wise because wisdom is a gift from God. So, when we lack wisdom, we are to ask God. (James 1:5) There is an old saying: God is not in the business of explaining but sustaining.

5) Refocus On God_______For You (Ecclesiastes 7:27- 29) We may not understand what God is allowing, but we can understand the kind of people He wants us to be. Ecclesiastes 7:29~See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes. (ESV) As a believer, we must fight against the schemes of the devil and our world. We do so by taking a step of faith and working on our relationship with God. 


A Not So Righteous Indignation

Are you angry with God? (Jonah 4) Jonah was angry with the Lord and it caused him a lot of grief and pain. I believe that there are a lot of believers who are angry with God. Perhaps you are or have been one of them. It could be an election that threw you for a loop because you like the prophet did not understand the words of God. Could be that God has told you to do something and you have rejected Him because you don’t think it is worth your time. Paul says in Romans 12:3~As your spiritual teacher I give this piece of advice to each one of you. Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself of your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities…(JBP) 

Jonah, where are you? Are you in the storm raging, lost at sea tumblin’ in the belly of the beast, released from incarceration vomited up on the shore of life, are you running to do what you have been called to, or are you basking on the banks of denial, angry with God? Jonah is reclined outside of the glorious move of God, boiling in bitterness. When we read the scriptures, they are not sanitized like the world is attempting to do with our own history, rather revealing all of our warts and flaws.

Yes, the good book is not about painting in a flattering light, rather it shares the unadulterated truth. Make no mistake Jonah is angry. Jonah 4:2~he prayed to the Lord and said…for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. (ESV) Yet God still offers Jonah mercy. Jonah 4:6~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. (ESV) 

The storm did not take Jonah’s life. The whale took Jonah for a ride to reset him, and now stewing in anger the prophet reveals even a servant of God can have the wrong perspective needing a heartitude adjustment. Where God has to reform the proper perspective and parameters of our hearts’ attitude towards His amazing love and mercy, at work in others. He still does this work in the church today because He desires us to reach out to the not-yet-believers of our world today. Church we represent the choice of Jesus Christ to a world in desperate need.

It is the same choice Ole Mo offered back in Deuteronomy 30:19. It is a choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. O that all would choose life. To apprehend that which has apprehended us (Philippians 3:12) Everyone should know that God’s overflowing mercy is still available in Jesus Christ. Psalm 103:8~The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (ESV) God does not change! (Malachi 3:6) However, there is a limit. Don’t be angry with God who desires to extend mercy, Christ came to save sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15) Some wrongly think that showing mercy means that we have Perverted Justice. 

Understand our role is not as the judge, that is God’s role. Our role is that of the priest. We listen to people and their plight, we pray and offer encouragement and words of hope. Sure there may be times where we are asked by God to weigh in on a situation or conversation but we are to always do that in love. Remember the story of the Gospel is that love can cover a multiple of sins. (1 Peter 4:8) Our role is not to be the savior or the judge, we are His divine agents of grace. That is why God empowers us with the Holy Spirit with grace-filled gifts to minister to those near us. To whom will you share God’s amazing grace.