Ignite: Anywhere This sermon was prepared and preached by Pastor Mike Rose at First Federated Church in Des

Moines, Iowa, on Sunday, June 1, 2008. Copyright © 2008, First Federated Church Scripture Reading: Jonah 1:1-3. 1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, 2“Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” 3But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. PRAYER Currently we are taking a deeper look at the theme of our 2008 Missions Conference I fear that instead of understanding it to be a call to action, that would change who and what we do, we may treat it like so many mission and ministry statements of the past… …Put it in a frame, hang it on the wall, admire it’s truth and correctness, but fail to take specific steps to put it into play As we learned last week, we can write all kinds of inspiring statements;
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“Equipping God’s People for Global Impact” “We’re Changing People to Change The World for the Glory of God.” “A Great Commitment to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment will build a Great Church.” (Saddleback Community Church)

But unless we intentionally implement real, verifiable actions that are driven by those statements, we do nothing more than deceive ourselves with empty words and phrases For you see, words without action are like internal combustion engines without gasoline and sparkplugs, their worthless And that’s why this year’s Missions Conference Theme resonated so strongly with me – It’s not just a theme, but a call to action It’s a call to be Ignited by the Holy Spirit for Bold and Aggressive ministry – A call to pay any cost, go anywhere and do anything to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ known to all people Last week we looked at The Cost for effective ministry Jesus said; “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24, NASB Effective, vibrant ministry for Jesus requires Everything we have, Everything we are and Everything we hope to be. – There is a COST to being on Mission for Jesus! Today, I challenge us to consider this truth: Effective Ministry means Going Where Jesus says Go
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Throughout The Bible, we see God calling His people to GO – Sometimes His call to GO is unsettling to the human spirit Take Abraham for example – He was called to take his family, leave Haran the only homeland they had known – And get this: God didn’t tell him where he was going, only,…Go forth… …to the land which I will show you. When God called me and my family to leave Ohio, at least I knew where I was going – Imagine being asked to leave your home, but not knowing where you were go Moses is another example: After tending sheep in the desert for 40 years, God called him to GO back to Egypt, to confront the most powerful man on the planet, and to demand that he let the Israelites go free What about Gideon – Gideon was called to GO and wage war with the most powerful army of that day with only 300 men armed with pitchers, candles and trumpets In human terms it sounds so ludicrous, but that is so like God – He often calls to things that seem ludicrous, impossible or even undesirable This morning we’re taking a look at Jonah – Famous for being swallowed by a “big fish” and living to tell about it, His was a calling that challenged him to his very core. Jonah, Son of Amittai was a Prophet of God – In other words, he was a man who was called to deliver God’s message to God’s intended audience No doubt, like Obadiah, Amos, Joel, Hosea and other Prophet’s, he likely delivered God’s messages to Israel and there’s no evidence he had a problem performing that calling But one day God called Jonah to deliver a message to a new audience - He called him to GO to the city of Nineveh and …cry out against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me. Who was Nineveh? – Nineveh was one of the royal cities of Assyria, located on the Tigris river about 500 miles northeast of Israel. For a time Nineveh was its Capitol and believed to have numbered 600,000 or more in Jonah’s time The Assyrians were idol worshippers, giving their worship to two primary “gods” – Dagon, represented as half man, half fish and Nanshe, the fish goddess, daughter of Ea, the goddess of fresh water Furthermore, the Assyrians were known as ruthless, cruel warriors - This is the message Jonah was called to proclaim - Jonah 3:4, NASB – Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown. Now think about it – This was a message that you would think Jonah would be thrilled to proclaim Those gentile, idolatrous, murderous, adulterous scum of the earth have exhausted the grace of God and now in forty days they are going to get there’s You would think that Jonah would have tripped over himself to catch the first flight to Nineveh to proclaim that message, but just the opposite happen
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So displeased was Jonah that he immediately went to Joppa to catch the first boat that was sailing in the opposite direction that God said GO What was Jonah thinking? – Jonah’s desire was to …flee from the presence of the Lord. We’ve arrived at a place where we must ask this most logical question – Why would a Prophet of God want to GO in the opposite direction of where God wanted him to be? Why would a Prophet God want to get away from the presence of God? Here’s the answer: Old Fashioned hatred, prejudice and bigotry – You say: Pastor I thought you said God’s message was they would be destroyed in 40 days? – If Jonah hated them, wouldn’t he want to give them that message? There’s a catch – You see, after the “big fish” episode, Jonah obeyed God’s calling – He went to Nineveh and he proclaimed the message, but look what happened – Jonah 3:4ff, NASB: 4Then Jonah began to go through the city… and he cried out and said, Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown. 5Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.
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When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared he would bring upon them. And He did not do it. Now look at 4:1ff – 1But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. 2He prayed to the Lord… was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore, in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, and one who relends concerning calamity 3Therefore now… please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life. We focus so much on Jonah in the belly of the whale that we trip right over this important truth Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh because he knew that when he preached the impending wrath of God, they would repent and God would pour out His mercy rather than His wrath That’s why Jonah didn’t want to GO to Nineveh, he wanted them to be destroyed rather than forgiven When Jonah looked at Nineveh, he couldn’t see men, women and children locked in the chains of sin, people who were created in the image of God, people whom God loved and wanted to save All he could see were people who were detestable, vile, ugly, violent - people he believed deserved to be destroyed What’s really ironic is, that’s how God was viewing Israel at the time, and The Bible tells us that in just 40 years from this event, God used the Assyrians to bring Judgment on Israel because of her empty religion and refusal to obey God Now we come to a point in the message where we need to ask: So What? – What does Jonah’s refusal to GO where God wanted him to GO have to do with us? As we look at our 2008 Missions Conference Theme: Ignite; Anything, Anywhere, Any Cost – I am compelled by our Lord to ask – Is there Anywhere like Jonah that we don’t want to GO?
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It’s just an observation, but as I study the Evangelical Church in America, I see a people who seem eager to share the Gospel as long as they don’t have to do it in their own town Go to Brazil, Mexico, Canada, South Africa? – Sure, and I’ll raise my own money to go But walk across the street to talk to my neighbor, give a gospel tract to the Cashier in the checkout lane, share what Christ as done for me with my co-workers, We don’t seem too interested in that It’s been said to me: Pastor, our people have heard the gospel enough, the rest of the world needs to have the chance we’ve been given Yes, I agree that all nations need to hear the gospel, and I want us to remain committed to taking the gospel to the whole world But let me ask: If America has heard the Gospel enough and other nations haven’t – Then why is the Church exploding in China, but languishing in America? I say the Chinese don’t need us to infect them with our expression of Christianity; we need them to infect us with theirs! Jesus taught us in Acts 1:8, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem (hometown) and in all Judea (The next town) and Samaria (the town after that) even to the remotest part of the earth. (definition not needed) What to Do?

1. Examine your heart. What is keeping you from sharing the gospel with your neighbor? 2. Ask God to Ignite your heart with a passion for all people to be saved and ask Him to open
doors for you to be a witness for Him

3. On your way out, take a handful of Motor Fest Cards and determine that you will
personally ask 10 people, whom you don’t know, to come God’s will for His children is that we be a witness for Christ wherever He plants us – In Des Moines or Beijing Our hearts cry is to be: Anywhere Lord, I’ll be your witness!

The First Federated Church copyright, above, is for the sermon itself, not for any items quoted in the sermon, unless otherwise stated. All quoted items are done so in good faith, and the source is attributed when it is known.

Ignite! Anywhere | FFC | 06.01.2008

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