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Our Big God (Jonah 4:5-11)

February 5, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

This week’s sermon from Jonah 4 illustrates that God’s concerns far outweigh, surpass, and dominate Jonah’s small, petty, futile concerns.  Pastor Carter contrasted this record of Jonah’s lack of contentment with God to the Apostle Paul’s satisfaction and fulfillment with God in Christ. The focus of this sermon is on God, once again, teaching Jonah that His thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Is. 55).

Jonah Series

God is Bigger than Your Circumstances

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 (Jonah 4:6; ESV).”

If Jonah learned anything from this experience with God sending him to Nineveh, he learned that God was certainly in control of his circumstances from start to finish (Jonah 1:4-17, 2:1-10, 3:10, 4:5-11). What Jonah realized was since God had chosen him, God was not going to leave him alone, and if there were any comforts in this life, they come from God in His grace and mercy. Unfortunately, Jonah took the comforts of God disregarding the Comforter, by rejoicing in the plant rather than rejoicing in the gracious God who provided the plant for him. Therefore, God now not only had to change Jonah’s circumstances, He had to change Jonah’s attitude.

God is Bigger than Your Attitude

God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it witheredGod 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” (Jonah 4:7-8; ESV).

Why did God take away Jonah’s comfort, you ask? God will not allow us to find satisfaction outside of Him. He will take away comforts, even the ones He gives, if those comforts and blessings keep us away from Him (2 Cor. 12). Jonah’s attitude was discontentment, to which Pastor Carter defines as an attitude of dissatisfaction, longing for a change and a chronic unhappiness until that change comes. Thus, Jonah was dissatisfied with God. Unlike Jonah, Paul realized this great truth, when he wrote to the Corinthians, encouraging and admonishing them to concern themselves with giving praise to the Comforter rather the comforts of this life, as he had done.

God is Bigger than Your Concerns

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.” 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. 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(Jonah 4:9-11; ESV)?

Like Jonah, we concern ourselves with a number of things, but rarely do we take the time to consider, “Are we concerning ourselves with the things that God is really concerned about?” Jonah was concerned about the plant, but his concern for the plant was really a concern for himself, because he has lost his comfort. God’s concern, on the other hand, was for the lost in the city of Nineveh, but His concern for the lost was not that He might lose them, instead to save them from the danger of losing Him. What an amazing testimony of the grace and mercy of God!

Is Your Contentment in Christ or things, today?

The Christian is a learner, everyday, and willing to be challenged, corrected and disciplined. The Bible describes those who do not care to learn as scoffers or fools (Prov. 9:8, 15:12). Likewise, the scoffer or fool is, typically, not a disciple. The prophecy of Jonah is the prophecy of a scoffer, and the lesson God wanted Jonah and Israel to know is that God is Big. We serve a Big God. The Bible is not about big men and women, but a Big God; and there is nothing greater than God and His mission.

True joy does not lie in things, but in God. Joy is in the Power of God, in the Presence of God, in the Praise of God, and found only in the Person of God; Jesus Christ is our Only Hope of joy (Ps. 16:11, 43:4, 126:3,127:6). Yet, despite our advancements in the things of this world, our discontentment grows worse. How do you know if your contentment is in things? When they are gone or we do not get them, so goes our happiness and contentment.

The lesson God wanted Jonah to know, one He wants all us to learn, is the secret to true contentment, which is really no secret, Christ is the key to contentment, to be satisfied in Him (Phil. 4:11-13). The Christian man or woman who desires to be untouchable, unflappable and unstoppable has Christ as the key to their contentment (cf. Elijah, David, Paul). God’s concerns are bigger than your concerns, and the Gospel is for your joy. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first,” says Christ, the Lover of your soul (Rev. 2:5).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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