Salvation 

Jonah 3:9
“Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?”

God has chosen to reveal the plan of salvation through the foolishness of preaching. Nowhere, is that better illustrated than in the story of Jonah. This reluctant preacher delivered a message that turned a nation toward the Lord. As the king heard this message, his heart was stirred to turn from his wicked ways and begin to follow Jehovah. In his desperation, he asked a deeply profound question. Is it possible to know for sure that our sins have been forgiven and we have been set free from the judgment of God?

Years ago, I was at a home fellowship where we were enjoying a time of worship. As it came to an end, the leader instructed us to take a few minutes to pray for one another. When I, and another young man, began to pray, I sensed the need to pray that he would know for sure he had been forgiven of his sin and, in fact, belonged to God. As we finished praying and I looked up, I could see he was overcome with emotion. He began to explain that he had been struggling with the idea of being truly forgiven. He kept reminding himself of all the ways he had failed, and questioned whether he was really a believer. Like the king of Assyria, he was hoping to be set free from judgment, but was not certain he had met the requirements.

The message of Scripture says we can indeed be forgiven of sin and we have an assurance of our salvation. Both Scripture and experience testify to the heart of the child of God, that we belong to God. Jesus declared from the cross, the work of salvation is finished. All that is required for us to be forgiven and set free from divine judgment, is to simply accept the gift. When we choose to believe upon Christ, our sins are removed and we become a child of God. To affirm the reality of this, God begins to change our life, replacing old desires and behaviors with new ones that testify to our hearts, we belong to Him.

If you want to be forgiven of sin, just ask; salvation is free to all who choose to receive the gift.

Pastor Jim

 

How Much Longer 

Jonah 2:1
“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly.”

Although very few people have ever been swallowed by a great fish, the story of Jonah is still a pretty common one. It tells of a man who refused to do what God called him to until the chastening of the Lord got his attention. It is remarkable how long Jonah endured this chastening before he called on God and amended his ways. I have often wondered at what point along the way I would have obeyed. He had his first opportunity when he heard the word of God, his second, when the storm hit, and his third when the sailors awoke him, cast lots, and determined the storm was his fault. His fourth opportunity came when the sailors, who had been idol worshippers, turned their lives over the the Lord. His fifth chance came when he was cast into the sea, and his sixth, when a great fish opened its mouth and swallowed him whole. This is where the stubbornness of Jonah really stands out. He tells us, with his body wrapped in seaweed and stuck in what seemed like his eternal grave, that it took three days before he cried out to God and repented of his disobedience.

As wild as this story is, Jonah is not alone in it. The stubbornness of the human heart is almost beyond comprehension. I have watched families be dismantled over the sins of a father, who will not let go of an ungodly act or relationship. With his wife and children pleading with him to come back to them, he continues in his rebellion until everything he has worked years to erect, comes tumbling down around him.

The question we have to ask ourselves is, “At what point will you repent?” How much farther do you need to walk away from the Lord before you will turn to Him and cry out for His help? Don’t wait until the seaweed is around your head or the stomach juices have bleached your skin. Turn to Jesus now, and let His mercy wash over you, and let His power restore what you have broken.

Pastor Jim