Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

5 Consider the Cost and Consequences of Disobedience – Part 3

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Jonah 1:5-16

“5 Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. 6 So the captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.” 7 Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit. 8 “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?” 9 Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” 10 The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the Lord. “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned. 11 And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, “What should we do to you to stop this storm?” 12 “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.” 13 Instead, the sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. “O Lord,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” 15 Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! 16 The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.”

One of the repercussions of rebellion is that Jonah ended up expending lots of energy running from God, disobedience is exhausting. Following our way over His Will leaves us worn and weary because we not only end up doing things in our own strength but we waste time and energy fighting the Father. It is here that we see the rest of the results of a rebellious heart:

  • Without prayer we are powerless

 “Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. 6 So the captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.” Notice that everyone was praying except the prophet Jonah. As far as we can tell Jonah was the only believer on board, yet he was the only one not praying. It is a sad day when the only ones praying are the pagans and not the people of God. Why was Jonah not calling on God, I mean there was a storm raging and everyone else was fearful for their lives? I don’t think his lack of prayer was just the result of a stubborn heart; no this was the result of sin. Instead of walking by faith Jonah had forsaken God and fled, this was more of a case of he couldn’t than wouldn’t. When we live in open rebellion, refusing to repent, we ruin our relationship with God. Unconfessed sin corrupts and costs us communication with God, when we settling for sin our prayer life suffers. One of the telltale signs that you may be running from God is that you don’t pray anymore. Are you running to a relationship with God or from it? Disobedience always wants to direct us away from God and create distance in our relationship with Him. It might be that you are mad at God, Jonah felt justified to judge God and thus dismiss and distance himself from God’s Will.  Rather than seeking to serve he sought sleep, because sin always saps our strength. May be you just don’t want to surrender your sin, you have gotten comfortable catering to it and you want to cling on to and coddle it. It’s easy to rationalized rebellion and buy into the belief that it’s not that bad.  Is there any area in your life where you are cultivating sin instead of confessing it?  Is there any area where you are trading His Will for your wants? Regardless of the reason for rebellion the result is always ruin. Disobedience leaves us powerless in the face of sudden and severe storms and fourth:

  • Sin always surfaces

“Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit.” Sin will always cause you to draw the short straw, you can’t live a disobedient life and it not show. We may think that we can sin and no one will know but sin has a strange way of surfacing, and this is one of those times when the sinner gets seen. It is interesting to see how the heathens determine who is disobedient, they seem to turn to chance for an answer, and many people may think that such things are determined by chance or “Lady Luck” but scripture shows us that God is in control of what happens. Proverbs 16:33 says: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” The bottom line is that you can’t hide your sin from a holy God in the hull of a ship. Jonah is found out, the sin surfaces and the prophet is identified as the cause of the problems. So the sailors ask Jonah a series of questions, I picture them yelling at the top of their lungs, trying to be heard over the sound of the storm “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?” 9 Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” 10 The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the Lord. “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned.” Notice that when the men found out that Jonah worship the true God they were terrified. These veteran sailors were more afraid of this news than the storm. The irony here is that Jonah tells them he is trying to run from the one who made the sea using a ship! The truth about Jonah’s rebellion creates terror because word of Gods wonders had been heard all over the world. These sailors had heard stories of this God’s strength. For  this was the God who had brought his power to bear on the once great nation of Egypt. This was the God who had pounded them with plagues, parted the Red Sea and then drowned Pharaoh’s army.  This was the God who had brought down the walls of Jericho and caused the sun to stand still for Joshua. This great and powerful God was the same one who was pursuing and punishing Jonah, no wonder the sailors worried. The sailor’s questioning should cause us to ask ourselves some serious questions:  1. If you really fear God then why do you disobey Him? The sad reality is that these unbelievers feared God more than the man of God. 2. If He is the God Of heaven, then why would you want to run from Him? Why do we as Christians say that we long to spend eternity in God’s presence yet run from pursuing Him in the present? 3. Why did you involve us in your sin? What you do has the potential to harm those you say you love and who love you. As the sailors seek to find out how to stop the storm Jonah speaks up and tells them: “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.” It is here in Jonah’s response that his hard heart is revealed. Jonah could have responded to the question, What should we do to make the sea calm by saying “It is obvious what we must do, God wants me to go to Nineveh so turn the ship around and go back.” Yet instead of repenting and renouncing his rebellion he responds: “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.” Jonah would rather die than do God’s will, yet the sailors are not willing to help him commit suicide for verse 13 says: “Instead, the sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it.” They tried, but man’s strength is not enough to overcome sin, and just like them we too will discover our limits. So they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. “O Lord,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once!” Why do we try to wage war against the winds and the waves, why do we fight against the Father? It is the silencing of the storm that speaks to the sailors, so they offered God a sacrifice and vowed to serve him. Had the sailors made their vows to serve God prior to the end of the storm, it would not have been nearly so impressive. Today there are many who claim that they will surrender and serve prior to the calming of the storm. We have all witnessed people making vows when they were in trouble yet as soon as the emergency passes they forgot all about the vows and forge ahead with their own plans. But not these sailors, they made their vows after the danger had passed and in an ironic twist, we see God purposes fulfilled in spite of the prophet’s stubborn rebellion. God’s purpose will be fulfilled with or without you, but He would prefer to have you with Him. His desire is not to drown you but to redirect you away from disobedience. How far are you willing to run from God? Just like Jonah God will pursue you with power. May be today you find yourself tossed about in a storm of sin, remember you are not the only one suffering. It’s time to stop trying to hid from the holiness of God confess and come clean. But this is more than just admitting your rebellion it’s repenting from it.

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