Author: Malcolm Harrison (page 1 of 7)

Be of Good Cheer, for I Believe God

I am one of those weirdos who likes a good lightening-laden thunderstorm and the worse they are the better I like them. I don’t rejoice in loss of life or devastation, but a good old-fashioned storm somehow captures my attention. The Scriptures tell of a real ‘daisy’ of a storm over in Acts 27:14 called “Euroclydon” that overtook the ship Paul was on as a prisoner. The ship was driven in the roaring waves so violently that they had tossed everything overboard in a desperate attempt to keep it afloat, but even then, everyone on board feared for their lives [Acts 27:20]. However, in the midst of the storm, Paul delivered some much welcome news [vs 23-24]. Read with me this amazing verse [25] “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me”. Now that is one you should underline in your Bible! I like that phrase “I BELIEVE GOD”! Paul had told the owners and captain of the ship that the weather and season was not good sailing weather – but apparently (verse 11)

the ship’s captain and owners had said ‘oh just hush, go on and read your dumb old Bible, what do you know about ships and sailing anyway?”.  He had warned them that he ‘had a bad feeling about leaving the port back in Crete’, but they ignored him. But it was a whole different picture when the waves were towering above the little ship and crashing down on its deck! It was another matter altogether when the crates were knocked overboard in the screaming winds and dark clouds! No one was mocking Paul when all hope was taken away that they’d even survive [vs 20]. I imagine him standing there, holding onto the mast ropes and yelling above the roaring winds and rain saying “ be of good cheer: for I believe God”! Those are comforting words for me! They inspire me. I’ve never been on an old sinking wooden ship in the midst of a hurricane in fear for my next breath! I’ve never had “all hope taken away that I would even survive the night” but I have had my share of emergencies, catastrophes and tragedies. In them all I have found that I believe God and although I have not yet attained to keeping cheerful in calamities, I have learned to rest in knowing that what overwhelms me NEVER overwhelms God. In fact, there have been many circumstances where I have seen the truth of Psalm 27:13-14. “I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord”. Obviously, as with so many promises in the word of God, this promise is for the sons and daughters of God – NOT just for anyone in general. But IF you are a child of the King by grace through faith then you too can ‘be of good cheer’ for “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord” [Jeremiah 17:7].  I ask you friend, Do You Believe God? We here at Calvary do and we invite you to come to Calvary! Located across from Pizza Hut on Loop 256 in Palestine. Sunday School 10:AM, Services at 11 and 6 PM Sunday and of Course Bible study & prayer Wednesday night at 7 PM. 

Cops, Robbers and Dull Hearts

Unbeknownst to younger generations, there was a time ‘back in the day’ when neighborhood kids all played outside without electronics…and even survived without cellphones.  We played as long as we could and never considered going inside until we were made to.  It was a wild time of cap gun shootouts with bad guys on the dusty imaginary Texas streets of backyards. Some of us six-year-old degenerates even played team “Cowboys & Indians” with imaginary rifles and imaginary bows. We rode wild imaginary mustangs that neighed for battle.  One of the rules of shootout with the bad guys was, no matter what the objection, you had to grab your chest and fall when you got shot by your pretend enemy. You could embellish the scene with an appropriate “ahhgg” or the more popular “oh, ya got me Tex” but either way let me stress – the “chest grab & fall down rule” was carved in stone for ALL such games. Those refusing to comply risked the wrath of banishment from future games. Such children’s games have been played for thousands of years as evidenced by Matthew 11:16-17 “Whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, 17 And saying, “We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.”  Jesus uses the same age-old children’s game rules – when someone points the imaginary finger at you and yells “bang” you respond accordingly. When someone flings the imaginary arrow at you and hollers their Indian chant you respond accordingly. The premise being that even children know that when this team does such and such, the other team responds accordingly. Here in our text the same thing is happening. These children play the part of the musicians and the other team must play the part of the dancers. Next, this team plays the part of the funeral mourners and the other team is expected to mourn and cry at the imaginary funeral. He is saying “you’ve been preached to with power, boldness and authority [verse 20-21] but you have not repented! You have been told the truth about man, sin and its price, God, forgiveness and Christ Jesus but you’ve still not responded. What can we learn from their rebuke? That God expects, contrary to what some misguided teachers say, that when the truth has been set before you, there is an expectation that you will respond to that truth!  He says to Chorazin and Bethsaida that IF the incredible miracles and mighty works that He did in their sight and presence had been done in the cities of Tyre and Sidon, that they would have repented!  They would have responded right! But not Chorazin and Bethsaida, no they have seen these might works and done nothing. The finger has been pointed and “bang” has been shouted but the bad guy has not grabbed his chest in mock defeat.  Indeed, the gospel has been given, preachers have preached, faithful Christians have shared what changes God has wrought in their lives when he saved them.  The mighty work, the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ has been openly and plainly declared.  Then, the question is, have you responded to it?  Have you by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ been made new?  Calvary Baptist Church across from Pizza Hut on the loop. Sunday School 10:AM, Services at 11 and 6 PM Sunday and of Course Bible study & prayer Wednesday night at 7 PM. 

Touches of Faith

Let me ask you to go in your imagination to Jerusalem 2000 years ago. Put yourself in a thronging crowd making its way down a narrow dusty cobblestone street where literally hundreds of shouting merchants sell their wares, seamen sell their fish, farmers call out their vegetable prices. Add to this the shouts and cries of the crippled, the sick, the lepers and the poor. It’s like a subway in New York at rush hour for its confusion and turmoil. We’re on our way to the house of Jairus {a Ruler of the Synagogue Luke 8:42} who has just asked Jesus to come help his little girl. You and I have seen her. A bright smiley 12-year-old full of life. But Jairus has come in tears and fallen at Jesus’ feet to ask help for his little girl who now lays sick and dying. Jesus has agreed to go help and we’re all following Him to the house hoping to see a miracle. Do you have this picture in your head? It’s so crowded though that we’re being pushed and shoved and bumping into each other as we go.

Amid this moving circus you and I have noticed a woman moving closer and closer to the Lord as we go along. We’ve noticed her teary eyes and somber expression and all of the sudden she gently reached out and touched the hem of his shirt. In this crowd many have brushed against him and some have bumped right into him, but this is different somehow. When she touched him she was healed of her infirmity [Luke 8:43-48]. So, dozens, if not more, people have bumped into the Lord on this street and nothing has happened. But along comes this tragic woman who has suffered so much and she barely touches him yet receives a miracle! Why? Why does one little light grasp of his shirt tail completely heal her of a physical infirmity but do nothing for others? I think it is because for many who bump into Jesus here and there the contact is inadvertent and unintentional. This poor woman however came looking for Jesus. She isn’t just another curious spectator there in the crowd. No, she’s there with her hope, her faith and she will not be turned from her purpose. Her touch is one of resolute faith and hope. In that simple brush of her fingers there was hope! There was Faith! There was Trust! In these end times there are many ‘religions’ selling proverbial ‘spectator tickets’ for the “thronging crowd” show where spectators walk along the dusty cobblestone street with the crowd but never actually touch the hem of His garment. But for those of you who are tired of merely drifting along in the crowd why not come and be healed and cleansed once and for all? How about it my friend? Have you wasted enough time searching for something that cleanses and heals? How long will you merely blend into the religious crowds who follow along just in case something happens? How long will you hope when all you need to do is reach out and take hold of Him? Will you just continue wandering from religion to religion but never drawing near and never taking hold? Or will you, like so many millions have done, finally draw near and reach out by grace through faith and take hold of the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world? Come be our guest at Calvary Baptist Church across from Pizza Hut on the loop 903-729-5924. 

What 30 Pieces of Silver Won’t Buy

In Matthew 26:14-15 God tells us about Judas’ conversation with the ‘chief priests’ and of how they negotiated the betrayal and the payment amount. “And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver” [Mk 14:10, Lk 22-3-6]. Thirty pieces of silver! I don’t think any of us really grasp the magnitude of that outrage. Can you imagine negotiating with the cruel priests the betrayal of the sweet Son of the living God for any price, let alone 30 pieces of silver?! Not only that, but Judas didn’t even get to keep the money! In fact, he only had it a few measly hours before he tried to rid himself of those 30 pieces of silver [Matthew 27:3-5].  At some point during the night and early hours of the following day Judas came to some realization that he’d been nothing more than a willing and convenient fool whom the devil, the priests and the elders, had used to accomplish what they wanted all along, to betray Christ. He was remorseful and overwhelmed by the mistake but by then it was too little, too late as they say. He even went back to the temple to try to undo the damage. He confronted the elders and chief priests who’d paid him to betray the Lord of Lords. Imagine him there in the doorway of the temple with his repentant tears running down his cheeks and beard saying, “I have sinned…I have betrayed the innocent blood”!  “Well” said the priests, “that’s your problem not ours, deal with it”. The Bible {ta’ biblia or the books} says Judas threw the 30 pieces of silver to the floor and then went out and hung himself.  I won’t defend or support Judas, how can I? He betrayed God’s Son. But just between you and me I’d have to admit ‘so have I’. I have many times betrayed my sweet King and Lord by my choices, my actions, my words, my choosing the world over the Lord. I’d have to say that I sometimes ask absent mindedly “Judas, what did you get for your 30 pieces of silver”? I wonder if he might not ask in turn, “what did you get for yours”?  I have wondered and I wonder even now, what might have been if I could have been there that fateful night and sat beside Judas at the table? If I could have leaned over whispered to him “are you sure you want to betray the Lamb of God”? I wonder what my life and walk and testimony might have been; what heartbreaks and shame might I have been spared if only someone had warned me “you are about to break God’s heart and betray the Precious Lord and instead of getting paid by this world for it you’re going to pay a horrible price”.  So, here is my question for you. Are you negotiating with this world for your 30 pieces of silver? Are you already on your way to see the priests and elders at the temple? Can I just warn you 1. The world never pays what it promises. 2. Even if it did, you’d regret it with all your heart. Let us put our betrayals behind us as Peter did and let’s get serious about the cross while there is yet time. Calvary Baptist Church across from Pizza Hut on the loop 903-729-5924. 

Those Who Come and Worship

You’ll find our text in Matthew 8:1-3 which I urge you to read. Verse 2 says “And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean”. Verse 3 says “And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed”.  My memory fails to replay all of those with whom I have knelt in jails, prisons, nursing homes, living rooms and hospitals who, with tears dripping from their faces, have asked “preacher, do you think that God could love me”?  How precious it is to look into teary bloodshot eyes of those who have been devoured [1st Peter 5:8], those who have been ‘sifted’ [Luke 22:31] and tell them “yes”, Jesus says “I will, be thou clean”. Nothing is more precious to me than to know beyond all possible question and doubt that our God and His Son not only ‘could love’ them, but indeed DOES LOVE THEM! Hallalujah! There are some I admit that I personally couldn’t love. I’ve interviewed some horrible criminals who committed atrocities that I will not describe them here. But one thing I have never doubted for a moment is that my Father not only could but DOES love them. This poor Leper is such a wretch. His situation is hopeless.  What a terrible struggle his life must’ve been. Shredded by a disease so awful that people recoiled in fear and turned away at his approach.  I hope you will trust that I mean no insult when I point out that God’s Bible says “And, behold, there CAME a leper…”. This week I address those of you who have fallen out and don’t come. The Bible says “…who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come… [Ex 32:26] See also [Mark 10:21, Revelation 22:17] Over and over again we see that they who really desire God’s touch and fellowship are told to ‘come’. This leper could’ve stayed home but I am glad he came! I’m glad that poor women [Luke 7:38] didn’t sit at home with her alabaster box, her tears and her shame! She came and stood weeping, she came and knelt before him and washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Her longing for mercy drove her to Him! In Matthew 15:30 many came unto him bringing their sick, their lame, their hurting and saw him heal every one of them. He didn’t heal everyone in the land, he healed those who came! In verse 5 of our chapter we learn of the centurion whose servant was sick and dying at home; “there CAME unto him a centurion”. In verse 16 “they brought unto him”. Repeatedly they who love him and hope in him do their utmost to come to him. There has been a time, to my shame, when I refused to come. Indifference and coldness flourished in my neglect. I beseech you on Christ’s behalf to stop forsaking the assembling of yourself with your brethren. [1st John 3:14] Says those who are really saved love the brethren and desire their companionship and company. Have you not wondered why it is that you no longer desire to come and be close? If you would see them glow again put the coals back in the fire! This Sunday get up, dust off that Bible and come. Millions desire to come but cannot. God desires that you should come. Will you fail Him? Will you refuse the hand of love and mercy yet again? Calvary Baptist Church across from Pizza Hut on the loop! 903-729-5924. 

Having Loved This Present World

Last week we waded a few steps into 2 Timothy chapter 4, let me ask you to turn there again this week and let’s read verse 9 -11. Here Paul continues his final directions to his friends and brethren and especially his fellow pastors and then tells them of a great shame and failure on the part of Demas. Verse 10 “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world”! Part of me finds this sad and disappointing. Did Demas drop the news of this betrayal on Paul during visitors hours at the prison? Did he even have the guts to tell Paul why he was abandoning God and the church? I have seen professing Christians use all sorts of fabricated excuses to forsake the Lord when it was nothing more than that they “loved this present world”. During the ‘War of Northern Aggression’ {some call it the civil war} the ‘after action reports’ recorded *Killed *Taken Prisoner and *Missing and sometimes the number of *Missing was staggering – it reflected those who snuck away in the night and those traitors who defected to the opposite side. I would ask you which column you’d list Demas in? Was he taken prisoner by the devil? Was he a traitor who forsook his General and his comrades? Part of me finds Demas a source of disappointment and I am sad for him. However, part of me finds Demas a sad example for other Christians. How many were shocked to hear Demas forsook the Lord? How many young people began to question their own faith after hearing that Demas had quit on God? Did Demas have a wife and children in church? If so, how did this affect their walk with the Lord? I have heard many say, “well preacher, it is my business and it isn’t hurting anyone”. I wish that were true, but it isn’t – Romans 14:7 says ‘For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself’. Our walk and witness and life touches and impacts others. We are not told what, specifically, lured Demas away, Paul just says Demas loved “this present world”.  What it the fishing boat? Was it the deer stand? Was it soccer, band, football or baseball practice? Who knows! One thing is certain, “This present world” is still luring Christians out and pulling lost people further away from God. I’d venture a guess that you have seen and know a Demas right now. I regret to say that you are probably going to see someone else forsake the Lord and return to the world. Lastly notice that Paul didn’t say “I always knew Demas was going to turn his back on the Lord”. No in fact I think Paul felt pity for Demas. The price of returning to the world is sometimes very high. So, let me urge you who are strong in the Lord to watch for an opportunity to reach out to the Demas’s you know. Try to help them to “free themselves from the snare of the devil” [2nd Timothy 24-26].  If Demas ever got it right and came back, we’re not told. But I have seen some who fell out come limping back! As the old saying goes “it’s better to go limping into heaven than to go skipping into hell”. Praise God for second chances! If you’re out and away from God, let me remind you that God welcomes prodigals’ home with rejoicing! Calvary Baptist Church across from Pizza Hut on the loop! 903-729-5924. 

Ready to Be Offered

2 Timothy chapter 4 is one of the most poignant chapters in the “pastoral letters”, perhaps in the entire New Testament. If space and time permitted, I would insert the received text / King James translation of the chapter here because all other versions will mislead you with incorrect renderings of it. You could use another version in some other places and perhaps be ok, but not in this chapter. In verse 6 we’ll find the correct reading “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand”. Many ‘versions’ mistranslate this as ‘being offered’ or then even more ridiculous, ‘being poured out’. But the actual reading is much deeper as Paul tells us he is soon to be executed. The time of which is “at hand”. How strong he puts it when he says, “I am ready to be offered”! Ready to be presented to the Lord! Ready to be presented to our Father! Oh how strengthening and encouraging this is! He did not say it as “I am ready to die” (though physically you could add that in your mind so long as you don’t replace what he said). You see, Paul knows he isn’t going to die – his body will, but he himself certainly won’t be dying, no, no – he will be and is ready to be “offered”! Offered for acceptance! Offered as a testimony! Offered as a witness! Offered as a praise to the glorious God Almighty! The guards will behead Paul. It won’t be long, hours or days perhaps. Then Paul will be released from ‘this life’, released from ‘that weak beggarly body’ to be set before the Lamb of the Living God. Almost daily we hear or read about someone, many perhaps, who faced the ‘time of their departure’. Their executioner was leukemia, cancer, heart attack, accident, a fall, a wreck, an aneurism. Their hooded executioner came for them just as they came for Paul. It is heart-wrenching when we learn of it. I don’t want to face my executioner any more than you do but, since “there is no discharge in that war” [Eccl 8:8], I do not pray for deliverance from it. Instead, I pray that I should follow Paul’s lead and be “ready to be offered”. Death is a terror, but to be offered, now that is a comfort and a sweet consolation! So, the great question becomes “Pastor, if I am to be offered as Paul was, how can I be ready? What must I do that when I am offered, God will accept me”? If such thoughts run through your mind and fall upon your heart you should kneel this moment and thank God that you have been given a heart and mind that can comprehend the question, because many cannot. For many their conscience is seared, and their heart is defiled beyond the capacity to consider such soul-searching questions. The answers to these ultimate questions are within the book God gave us. Here at Calvary we focus our efforts on telling people who are not ready how they can be. We focus on showing people the answers God gave on the pages of that incredible amazing Book of the Lord [Isaiah 34:16] Are you ready to be offered? Do you sense you are not? Would you like to be? I invite you to bring your family and let’s all get ready for that “time of our departure”.  You’ll feel at home at Calvary Baptist Church across from Pizza Hut on the loop! 903-729-5924. 

The Redemption of the Body

Let me take you back in time a few years. Back to the late 50’s – 70’s where many of you may remember the popular little S & H Green stamps. My mother kept hers in a little booklet and we’d all get excited about what she’d get for them. They were America’s most widely known ‘trading stamps’ from 1900 through the late 70’s. There were even television commercials in the 60’s and 70’s about ‘redeeming’ your S & H [Sperry and Hutchinson co] Green Stamps. Believe it or not you could still redeem the famous little green stamps on line in 2015 through S & H Green points. The premise was simple: you collected them at retail stores with your purchases and then you ‘redeemed’ (traded) them for merchandise through mail order catalogues or certain stores. While that notion of trading in something in exchange for something better is fresh on your mind let me point you to Romans 8 verse 21-23. Underline that little phrase there in verse 23 “…waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body”.  The REDEMPTION of the body. In other words, trading in the old body for the new one. This one you live in right now is made of dirt [Genesis 3:19] and is “flesh and blood”. Those three things cannot “inherit the kingdom of God” [1st Cor 15:50]. If you are saved – your soul, spirit and mind are saved – not your physical body. If you doubt that, look in the mirror and tell me if what you see looks powerful, honorable, glorious and incorruptible? But don’t worry, after you and I die, they’ll bury “it” [John 2:19] [Mark 6:29] and you will redeem it for the new one! That isn’t the body you’re going to be living in. You won’t be in a wheelchair or dragging an oxygen tank in heaven. No one will be wearing a hospital gown or dragging a fluid IV pole on the golden street. There isn’t an Ambulance chariot in Heaven! Because when this ‘corruptible body’ [1st Corinthians 15:35-57] breaths the last breath from God’s hand [Job 12:10 and Daniel 5:23] then you will “redeem it” [Romans 8:23] for the “incorruptible body” God has prepared for you. Whether you are standing beside the hospital bed or holding the hand of a loved one at home you are NOT awaiting their death! You are awaiting their victory over death [1st Corinthians 15:54]. If they’ve trusted Christ, you will not bury your loved one to lay sleeping in a hole in the ground. That is false teaching. The grave is for the corpse [Mark 6:29] not the soul. O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? The victory is that their adoption has been realized.  You see Christian, the moment you were saved [Romans 10, Ephesians 2:8-9, Acts 8:27-38] you became like a child in the orphanage who has been adopted but the new family hasn’t arrived yet to pick you up. You are packed and waiting. The car pulls up. The rest of us wave an emotional goodbye. We are sad to see you go but then, we are also thrilled for you as you finally get out of this place and go to your new home [John 14:3] and your new Father [John 14:6].  Thus, the adoption is complete and body is redeemed. Come rejoice with us at Calvary Baptist Church in Palestine across the loop from Pizza Hut.

I Chose Lazarus

Luke chapter 16 contains the famous Parable of Lazarus and the rich man (verse 19-31) so often quoted by so many through these two thousand years since they were written. It pains us to read of the rich man’s selfish indifference to one in such need as Lazarus. Those of us who still have the good sense to “just believe the Bible” know that they both died [verse 22]. We know they were both “released” from this body of dust [Genesis 3:19]. It is put beautifully in Ecclesiastes 12:6 where the soul is compared to a silver cord “loosed” from the body or like a golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern – once this body of dust finally caves in and the soul is set free from it the soul moves on to the “next” place. We bury the dust…not the person [Luke 16:22 the beggar died…the rich man also died, and was buried]. Next notice that verse 23 tells us that the rich man was immediately in the hell he didn’t believe in. The hell he thought was just a scary story made up by ignorant people. That’s what Napoleon Bonaparte thought before he went to it. Will you believe the word of God or the words of a man? Next we see the rich man tortured in hell and pleading for Lazarus to be sent to warn his 5 brothers [Verse 28] whom he knows will join him there soon. Lazarus however was in comfort after all these years of suffering. Dwight L. Moody told of a group of young boys who were asked in Sunday School “which of the two they’d choose to be, the rich man or Lazarus? One boy answered – “I’d like to be the rich man while I live and Lazarus when I die”. Kids are funny.  But the problem is – that cannot be. Now the rich man had five godless brothers whom he knew didn’t believe the Bible any more than he had. So, he begged for someone to be sent to warn them. In fact, he even asked if Lazarus could be sent from the dead to warn them for surely a dead man might convince them of the truth of bible and the horrors of hell.  What an answer he is given! They have the Bible; they have Moses to tell them the truth and that’s plenty good enough”. But still the rich man pleads saying “no they need something more than that”! The answer is as loud as a thunderclap! “No, if the word of God isn’t enough to convince them, nothing would convince them, even if a man rose from the dead”! You see, a man has already risen from the dead and He pleads that we should hear him yet still…not even a resurrected Jesus can convince some of the truth. God has given the world Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Solomon, David and even His own Son to testify to the truth of the words of God and still it is not enough! Why? You already know the answer. Because some people, most in fact, just won’t be convinced or converted to the truth. They love their sin. It has their heart and they will not allow anything to change it.  This Sunday could be your Sunday to choose to be Lazarus! Calvary Baptist Church in Palestine hopes to see you soon! Across from Pizza Hut on the Loop.

The Wrath of Man

There are as yet many unopened lessons God presents us in the book of Jonah and I heartily encourage you to consider a careful reading of the whole book at your earliest opportunity. For sake of time let us conclude this little Jonah series with just one final study from Jonah chapter 4. I want to call your attention to ‘The Wrath of Man”. [James 1:20] tells us “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God”. Probably some of you Bible veterans remember that the preceding verse tells us “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” to be “slow to speak”. God didn’t say we couldn’t get angry and in fact there are some things that ‘should’ make us angry! What we see here though is that God warned us to very careful about our anger – because anger unchecked can quickly fan itself into ‘wrath’ and the wrath of man doesn’t lead to godly behavior or godly decisions. As such we are directed “Be ye angry and sin not” [Ephesians 4:26] “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath”. Now with those wonderful counselors from the word of God lets go back into Jonah and see if they hold true. *Perhaps you may remember that last week we saw that Jonah went preaching to Nineveh that God was about ‘overthrow’ them all for their own choices and wickedness? So, the King ordered everyone, man and beast, to “turn from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands”. Which resulted in God turning away His wrath and condemnation. As we open Jonah 4:1 we find that God’s pardon and mercy ‘displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was “very angry”.  Again, God’s tender mercy and gentleness has been revealed and instead of rejoicing that these pagan gentiles have responded rightly to the preaching, Jonah is outraged? Yes, they deserve wrath! Yes, they deserve Judgment! Yes, they deserve to be destroyed! But then don’t we all?! Have we not all failed to obey? But God is gentle and gracious, merciful and slow to anger and of great kindness! Praise His Holy name when a sinner will truly repent and call out for mercy the Great God of Jonah is ready to forgive! I wish our Bible recorded a different Jonah! I wish we were reading of a Jonah who rejoiced to see God’s tender mercy and kindness extended to these fellow failures. I wish we were reading of how Jonah ran among them and embraced them and rejoiced and celebrated God’s tender mercies with them. But no. Where I would prefer to read about an obedient Jonah in chapter one, I find a rebel like myself. Where I would prefer to read about a merciful Jonah in chapter two, I find a stubborn and selfish Jonah that reminds me of me. Where I would prefer to read about a Jonah who learned his lesson about grace and forgiveness in chapter four, I read of a selfish Jonah who cares more for his own comforts than for souls. Jonah is easy to condemn, isn’t he? But then, have you obeyed God’s command to tell others who are lost and condemned the gospel? Perhaps you’d better reserve condemnation of Jonah and focus on being more obedient yourself? Pastor Harrison and those at Calvary Baptist Church in Palestine hope to see you soon!

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