God’s Relentless Grace Rejected

Fred gets a shiny new sports car. You are still driving the 2005 Crown Vic with 240,000 miles. Do you want to celebrate with Fred? More likely we resent Fred and secretly hope he wreaks the cute little thing!

Which is more difficult, to grieve with those who grieve, or rejoice with those who rejoice? For many of us the latter is more difficult.

It seems inconceivable someone would reject God’s love and grace. Even more amazing is the person doing the rejecting could be one who believes in God’s mercy!

But that’s the story of Jonah. He reluctantly proclaims God’s message to the Ninevites. They believe and turn to God. Awesome, right? No, not exactly.

This city was the capitol of Assyria which had destroyed Israel. Jonah wanted God’s judgment to fall on them. They were his enemies.

Jonah could not rejoice with people who were rejoicing that God’s disaster did not come. God’s relentless grace got through to these bad people. It infuriated Jonah.

Jonah paraphrased, said, “I knew it! I knew this would happen!” In Jonah 4:2 the prophet exclaimed,

“O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.”

Jonah 4:2 ESV

Take an ISIS follower who has participated in atrocities. What if he believes the gospel of Jesus Christ receiving God’s mercy and forgiveness? Would you rejoice or be angry he didn’t get what he deserved?

Absolutely no one deserves the mercy of God. It is impossible to be good-enough to go to heaven. That includes you and me. If we say someone is too undeserving to receive salvation, then we do not understand that we all fit into the category of the undeserving.

It is only by grace through faith that you can be saved. It is not your own doing. It is the gift of God, not a result of works. No one can boast in themselves, only in God’s amazing grace! (Ephesians 2:8-9) Here is truth: God is a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.

It’s not too late. God gives second chances. Please receive Jesus. (John 1:12)

God is relentlessly pursuing you!

Go to BalboaBaptist.Church, click “Media” for previous sermons. Please worship with us this Sunday at 9:00am

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God’s Relentless Pursuit Realized

The franchise “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” deals in bizarre events and items so unusual that observers might question the claims. Each year millions of curious guests visit one of Ripley’s locations.

Information overload today makes it difficult to distinguish between interesting trivia and vital truth. So much information is shot at us like bullets out of an automatic rifle that we can’t understand which are blanks and which are real.

Therefore, many today conclude that truth does not exist or truth is not discernable. Even when a really important message comes along it gets ignored as just more trivia. People yawn and put it in the “Believe It or Not” trivia pile.

God told Jonah to deliver the vital message of God’s relentless grace to the evil people of Nineveh. Jonah ran from the assignment, but God sent a storm and a fish to convince him otherwise. Jonah finally went and delivered the message.

“And the people of Nineveh believed God.” (Jonah 3:5) Amazingly they got it! In the ancient metropolis of over 300,000 people, this vital message got through all the trivia of the noisy, daily grind of life and work.

They dramatically owned-up to their evil actions. They repented of their sin. They reasoned that God would possibly change His mind about judgment. “Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” (Jonah 3:9)

God did see their genuine, sorrowful response to His message. “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them and he did not do it.” Jonah 3:10

They realized God’s grace and forgiveness. God’s relentless pursuit of love became a reality for them!

Sadly, God’s judgment is on America today. A Baptist church in Washington D.C. just called a lesbian couple to be their co-pastors. This grotesque example of calling “holy” what the Bible calls immoral and an abomination is one of millions of reasons God’s judgment is here.

Ninety-three percent of abortions are simply for an unwanted pregnancies. Even if the other 7% could be justified, that means about one million voiceless, innocent, babies’ lives are snuffed out each year. Americans call it a “right,” the Bible calls it murder, another reason God is judging America.

It is not too late. God is relentlessly pursuing you with his love, grace, and forgiveness. Please don’t miss the message in all the rat-tat-tat of endless trivia! “Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”

Go to BalboaBaptist.Church, click “Media” for sermons. Please worship with us this Sunday at 9am for the sermon series “Jonah: God’s Relentless Grace.”

A Relentless Pursuit Continues

She walks to the edge of a busy street. Her father frantically calls out, “Stop and come back!” The child responds, “Yes Daddy, in just a minute.” But seconds later the child goes one step too far. Disaster follows.

Delayed obedience is disobedience. God is relentlessly pursuing you with His grace and forgiveness. He is crying out in love to each of us, “Stop and come back!” Delaying your response can be disastrous.

Jonah ran away from God. He didn’t just delay obedience, he took off! He got on a ship going the other way. A great storm brought unprecedented fear to its salty sailors. After the sailors threw Jonah overboard, God sent a great fish to swallow him.

After soaking in the gastric juices of the fish’s belly three days, he finally obeyed God’s “Stop and come back.”

“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying, ‘I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard by voice.’”

Jonah 2:1-2 ESV

Why did God pursue Jonah so relentlessly? Because God wanted Jonah to warn Nineveh, the largest city in the world in that day with 300,000 to 500,000 people, that judgment was coming in 40 days! It took three days to walk across Nineveh. Its circumference measured 43 miles. The wickedness of the city made it one of the darkest holes on the planet. Today it is Mosul, Iraq.

Through the prophet Jonah, God wanted the people of Nineveh to know His relentless pursuit. God wants you to know He is relentlessly pursuing you with his love and grace.

Is Jonah a true story? I believe it is. Jesus who predicted his death and resurrection and pulled it off believed the story of Jonah (Matthew 12). But even if you think Jonah is a parable, God has preserved for centuries this masterpiece story so you can know God’s relentless grace today.

How much does God love you? Just as much as he loved Nineveh’s people. It is amazing how far God will go! Judgment is just around the corner but His grace is available to you now. Please don’t delay obedience, “Stop and come back!”

“If you will confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Roman 10:9

Go to BalboaBaptist.Church. Please worship with us this Sunday at 9am for the sermon series “Jonah: God’s Relentless Grace.”

 

A Relentless Pursuit

Most days Jerry leisurely munched on grass in the pasture doing what he pleased. But occasionally I would go into the pasture to catch him, bring him to the barn, and saddle him for a ride. But as I would approach him with a rope and bucket of grain, he often would wheel around and run the other way.

A cowboy wants the heart of his horse, not nag or a stubborn mule. A parent wants the heart of his or her child, not a rebellious renegade. God wants your heart and my heart, but we often run the opposite direction.

God told Jonah to go to Nineveh.

“But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.”

Jonah 1:3 ESV

Nineveh was about 550 miles to the northeast. But Jonah got a ship to Tarshish, 2500 miles to the west! He went to a lot of trouble and paid a lot of money to run from God.

God’s relentless grace pursues you and me. God pursued the hearts of the people of Nineveh. God wanted Jonah’s heart so he would tell the Ninevites that God was pursuing them. But Jonah wheeled around and ran the other way.

Really? Can anyone actually run from God? God is all knowing, all seeing, and present everywhere. Doesn’t it sound silly that someone would think they could escape from God’s presence? But I have tried. I am guessing you have too.

I can understand why Jonah went the other way! The people of Nineveh, which is today Mosul, Iraq, were the ISIS of their day. They were cruel people who tortured their enemies for sport. They were totally undeserving of God’s relentless grace, but God wanted to gift them with His grace anyway. So God sent Jonah to tell them.

Maybe you believe in God yet are refusing to go for Him. Or perhaps you have done so much bad that you think you are out of God’s reach. Whether you are like a Jonah or a Ninevite, God is still relentlessly pursuing you with His grace!

God has gone to great lengths to send His Son Jesus to die for you so you can know His relentless grace. God is pursing you. Please come to know Him through Jesus Christ.

Go to BalboaBaptist.Church, click “Media” for recorded messages. Please worship with us this Sunday at 9am and the beginning of a series of messages on “Jonah: God’s Relentless Grace.”