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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Marcus Mecum » Marcus Mecum - Three Gifts Everyone Needs - Part 1

Marcus Mecum - Three Gifts Everyone Needs - Part 1

Marcus Mecum - Three Gifts Everyone Needs - Part 1
TOPICS: Spiritual Gifts, Easter

Matthew 16, and I want to show you why it's appropriate to look at the story of Jonah on Easter. Jesus is dealing with a religious crowd in Matthew 16 that want a sign from heaven. They're really looking for him to clear up who he is through some supernatural unmistakable sign from heaven. And Jesus says to them in verse 4, "A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given to it except the sign of Jonah". Now, drop down to verse 21 and Jesus breaks down to those who are closest to him, his disciples, exactly what he was trying to get across to those religious leaders when he said, "I'll give you only one sign and it's going to be the sign of Jonah". He says, "From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things". It goes on to say, "And that he must be killed and on the third day be raised back to life".

Jonah would be really what the entire Old Testament is, every law, every prophecy, every historical event for 6000 years as we have record of, is pointing to this one moment where Jesus shows up on the planet, and he lays his life down, he sacrifices his life, and that God raises him from the dead. Everything that you read, everything that you come across points to that moment. This is the culmination of it all. And so, for example, a foreshadow that we see in the life of Jonah would be that as Jonah was swallowed by the great fish, so our sins swallowed up the son of the living God.

As Jonah sank into the dark, deep waters, so Jesus was buried in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. As Jonah was in the belly of that fish for three days and three nights, and finally he comes to himself and prays, so Jesus would be in the belly of hell for three days and three nights and preached to the prisoners that were still in prison. On the third day, God commanded that that fish vomit Jonah out of its mouth, and in the same way, God commanded that death, hell, and the grave let loose of Jesus on the third day, and he rose again in a striking, triumphant, and miraculous manner.

And so, it is that we can get an understanding of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection by looking at the story of Jonah. Jesus said that this famous story will be a great illustration for you to understand how I came, defeated death, hell, and the grave. Now, because Jonah is one of those stories we've all heard since Sunday school, if you grew up in church or you're around church at all, you would have heard this story as a child. If you have a children's Bible for example, you would know there's a lot of stories that make their way into the children's Bible, but there's a lot that don't make their way there.

Jonah is going to be, the colorful picture of Jonah being swallowed by this great fish are going to be in every children's Bible. Jonah is one of the twelve minor prophets in your Bible. Minor just meaning that they have smaller books than that of Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or Ezekiel. Not less than, just more compacted what we have to read about when it comes to the minor prophets. And so, you've probably heard of Habakkuk or Malachi or Micah, Zechariah, Zephaniah. We could on through them. But if I were to ask you today to tell me the story of Habakkuk, would you tell me the story of Micah, would you give me some insight into the life of Zephaniah, I'm guessing that all collectively together, we would not have much to say about the life stories of any of the minor prophets except for Jonah.

But when it comes to Jonah, we would all be able to, in some way, shape or form explain what happened in his life. This is why Jonah is the most relatable of all the prophets. He's relatable because commentaries tell us that he is the author of this book. And so, with that in mind, you have to think about how vulnerable Jonah is, think about how transparent he's willing to be because he gives us an inside look into his flaws, his weaknesses, his mistakes, his mess ups. God comes to Jonah in the very first chapter in the very first verse and says, "Jonah, I want you to go to Nineveh. I want you to head to Nineveh".

And Jonah runs in the opposite direction, runs from the Lord. Jonah wants nothing to do with what God's asking him to do, which helps all of us who sometimes have a problem with the things that we don't like that God tells us to do. The things in the scriptures or the things that you hear in church. Sometimes, like, "I don't like that part of the Bible". And so we put on our ear muffs, "La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la. I'm not gonna do that". And like Jonah, God says, "Go that way," and we run in the opposite direction. I love that Jonah 4 explains to us why Jonah decided to run. It says that he does not believe that Nineveh is deserving of mercy. He doesn't believe that Nineveh is deserving of God's compassion. He gets angry at God. He actually says to God, "You are wrong for wanting to show mercy to those people".

Jonah believes that Nineveh deserves justice. He believes that Nineveh deserves for God to go and get 'em, not for God to show 'em mercy. And when you think about that, I can relate to Jonah in that way. Every now and then, not very often, but someone will enter my world and I'll think to myself, "God, get that person. God, sic that person". In my own prayer life, have you ever David pray that prayer, "God, break the teeth of my enemies"? Sometimes, I'm that way. Anybody else? You're just like, "God, get 'em". We want justice, but God extends mercy. This bothers us, gets under our skin, it irritates us. "God, how could you show mercy to that? How could you show mercy to them"?

Let's bring it home. Even in our own lives. The reason a lot of times we don't show up much more than Easter, no shame in that, but let's just be honest with each other for a second. That when we look at our own life, we think of the messes we've made, the mistakes that we've made, where we're at in our life, and that we're the furthest from someone that should be considered a candidate for God's mercy. We keep making mistake after mistake. We keep running back to the same thing, the same hang up, the same issue over and over and over. And so, it's just so easy to run from it and avoid it because in our minds, even when it comes to ourselves, we can't believe that God relentlessly just wants to keep coming back and showing us over, and over, and over again his mercy and compassion.

And so, Jonah decides he's going to go on the run. He's the evidence that you can be in church but inside you're running. Jonah teaches us that you can be in church but on the inside you still don't wanna deal with your issues. On the inside, you still have a unforgiving heart. On the inside you still harbor prejudices. God's pointing one way but like Jonah, you're running the other way. So, in his story, it teaches us that God sends gifts to all of those who are on the run. The first gift that we see God gives Jonah is an unusual gift. God is not a normal gift giver. God is the giver of gifts. The Bible says, "Every good and perfect gift comes from the father of lights, in whom there is no shadow of turning".

However, when we think the kind of gifts that God's going to give us, the good and perfect gifts, we have an idea of what that gift should look like. However, verse four of chapter one says that God sends the storm into Jonah's life. So, God gives him the unusual gift of a storm. Did you know that storms in your life are a gift? Did you know all that stuff that you're looking at right now that's bringing all kinds of chaos, and confusion, and pain into your life, did you know those storms can be a gift and that those storms come wrapped in all kinds of different packages? You could be in a marriage storm. You got financial storms.

If you're dating, you're single, well, that's pretty much all a storm. You got raising kids a storm. You have health storms. We could go on and on. But God gives us storms and they're sent to shake us, they're sent to disrupt us, they're sent to get our attention. They're sent to shake us to the core of who we are. And I've never had God send me a storm that did not get my attention. Now, I don't like the storm that God sends, I don't appreciate them, I don't sit back and thank God for them. I don't like pain, I don't like chaos, I don't like confusion, I don't like the negatives that life dishes out to all of us.

And so, I respond like Jonah. I don't run into the arms of a loving God when the unusual gift of a storm, it's my life. I, like him, I'm running as far away from God. I'm not proud that I respond that way, but Jonah gives me the permission that if he can talk about the real life then maybe I can spend some time and just say, "Hey, it's normal for all of us when the unusual gift of the storm shows up". This ain't, "Nah, God, I'm not into this". And we run away from him instead of run to him.

So, this gift of a storm hits Jonah's life, and he goes out and he finds a vessel, a ship, a boat that will take him the opposite direction of the way that God had asked him to go. Which you'll always be able to find that by the way. You'll always find a vessel. You'll always find a relationship. You'll always find some wrong people that will help take you in the wrong direction. They're really easy to find. You don't have to look very far to find those people. Always gonna be someone that jumps on board with you as you go in the wrong direction.

So, Jonah's on this boat, he's heading in the wrong direction, the storm hits and Jonah crawls down into the bow of the ship and he begins to sleep. Jonah's way of dealing with the problems of his life was he's going to sleep them away. He's going to hope and wish his problems just resolve themselves. He's gonna close his eyes, he's gonna bury his head in the sand and he's going to wish all the problems of his life just magically somehow disappear. But this is not the kind of storm that's going to deal with itself. This isn't just going to go away for Jonah.

And so, Jonah is driven down deep into this dark bow of the ship. He's down in the bow of this ship which is to me so, I think about the places in my life that are the darkest. I think about the places in my life that I shudder to even go revisit. I think about those dark holes that I climbed down into that I barely even recognize the person I was. I don't even like to acknowledge that those moments existed but somehow, some way, the storm just drove me deep down into a dark hole. Into a hole of resentment, into a hole of unforgiveness, into a deep, dark hole of turning to temporary fixes. Finding anything, any way, something just help relieve the pressure and the pain. Just help me numb it. Help me get away from it. Help me not have to face it.

And Jonah is driven down into that place because he was unwilling to see that the storm was sent from God as a gift. I believe that God lets us all go through things that will absolutely destroy everything that we are, so somehow we can come out of it and discover who he's really called us to be. So, as painful as the storm is, God sends it as a gift. Jonah desiring to sleep it away, of course, God is not going just to sit back and let Jonah ignore the problem. And so, God sends the ship master. The ship master shows up, and in Jonah 1:6-11 asks him eight back-to-back questions. Did you know that God is a question asker? Did you know that God loves to go into the areas of our life that we're hiding and we're ignoring? He likes to ask us some questions.

For example, Adam and Eve, they sinned, they're hiding in the garden, what's God do? He shows up with a question. "Where are you"? When they start to act like they were just hiding for this reason or that reason, and they start to blame other things outside of their control for why they were hiding, God says, "Who told you that"? So, God is a question asker. The ship master shows up and he wants to ask Jonah some hard questions. Because that's the second gift God gives us, it's the gift of the hard questions. "Jonah, why are you sleeping? Jonah, why are you ignoring this? Jonah, why do you think that your problems are just going to resolve themselves"?

And the ship master asked the hard questions because questions can help open doors that otherwise remain close. Questions can help you break out of old mindsets. Questions can help you get out of a rut that maybe you've been in over this last season. Questions are very powerful. Never forget this, that a good question can inform but a great question will transform. And the ship master shows up and he asks Jonah some hard questions, some great questions.

"Jonah, what are you doing? Jonah, what are you running from? Jonah, what are you hiding from? Don't you realize that your choices are hurting the people that are closest to you? Don't you realize that there are other people on this ship called life? Don't you see that it's bigger than just you, that the world doesn't just revolve around you? I understand that the storm has caused you to go down into some deep things and some dark things, and I get that sometimes you wanna run from it, and hide from it, and you wanna ignore it," but the ship master is there wanting to help Jonah realize, "As you go down don't you see that you're dragging other people down with you"?

And Jonah, maybe as uncomfortable as he was with those questions, the ship master still was not afraid of telling Jonah the truth. "Jonah, you can lie to yourself if you want to. Jonah you can be the victim of your own spin if you want to". But the ship master is not afraid to tell you the truth even when you don't wanna tell yourself the truth. It takes humility, it takes brokenness, it takes openness, but the gift of a right question at the right time will make all the difference. This is why God has given us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is your ship master. And everybody likes to think of the Holy Spirit is sent to comfort us, and he is sent to comfort us, but he's not sent to make us comfortable.

The Holy Spirit is a teacher, and we all know a great teacher asks the hard questions. The Holy Spirit's a coach. He comes along side us, guides us, and we all know a great coach doesn't let you, you know, sloth off, a great coach will reach down in you and pull the very best out of you. And so, the Holy Spirit that God has gifted us with to come along side us and walk beside us in life, is sent there to challenge us, ask us the hard questions, correct us, convict us, and by the way, for all of us that are here that don't like the chastisement part of things, the Bible says that chastisement, that correction that you get is because God loves you, and he's a loving father, and he corrects those he loves.

And so, if you're a son or a daughter of God, you may not like the storm, you may not like the hard questions, but guess what? It's the evidence that God loves you. It's because he's asking you the hard questions. And so, the ship master, this Easter, is wanting to ask you some hard questions. "Are you on the run today? What's this last season been like to you? What happened"? When the ship master says, "You're not gonna sleep through this storm. You're not gonna ignore this storm. You're not gonna run from it this time". This time the ship master has him cornered, and he's going to really get to the bottom of it with Jonah.

And you know what Jonah does? Jonah says, "This is going to be the way we resolve this storm". He says, "You're going to have throw me in the water". But the point is, when Jonah begins to answer the hard questions, he understands that it's going to take steps of obedience for him to begin to get back on the right path. And one of the things he says, he's like, "You know what? I'm gonna have to go into that water".

So, the ship master cares enough about Jonah that he grabs him, and he throws him overboard. And now, Jonah is in the stormy waters, and he prays, and he says, "God, hurled me into deep". Who put Jonah there? The Bible says God did. "Into the heart of the seas". He says, "The current swirled about me, and all your waves and brakers swept over me". And then, Jonah 1:17, the Bible says, "God provided a great fish and it swallowed Jonah". You're welcome.
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