The story of Jonah is one of the most well-known in the Scriptures. It’s not everybody that gets swallowed by a huge fish and lives to tell the tale. Talk about socially isolating! But what was Jonah doing in that ‘tight spot’ and what does a ‘socially isolating’ Jonah teach us? This message on Jonah 2:1-10, examines Jonah’s prayer and what we can learn from it.
There’s something about the story of Joseph in the Old Testament that is so fascinating and insightful. In Genesis 39:1-23, the Scriptures tell us about what might be the lowest spot in Joseph’s bright life. And yet, when his story is taken as a vital part of the outworking of Genesis 3:15 in God’s plan of salvation, the story of Joseph is far more than the story of a ‘dreamer’ with a ‘coloured coat’, but of a man who points us all to Jesus and who shows us God’s purpose in suffering is that we become more like Him.
The Church at Corinth was in crisis. Divisions over personalities were fuelled by the cult of pride. While some distance away from them when we wrote his letter, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 reflects just how close Paul was to these wayward believers. Having established that being united to Christ should mean the death of all divisions, Paul now explains what the world calls ‘foolish’ (that is the preaching of the cross) is nothing but the express wisdom of God.
The text of 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 tells of the report that the Apostle Paul heard from ‘Chloe’s people’ about the state of the church at Corinth. They were a church divided. The issue was playing favourites with people. Some preferred Paul, others Apollos, others Peter and still others – Jesus! At the root of this problem of division was pride and at the centre of the solution Paul outlined was the principle – that when we look to Jesus and Him crucified, there is no room for pride and boasting, for in Christ and Him alone, their is true unity.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, it was no small rural backwater but a bustling cosmopolitan city of about 650,000. Paul had brought the gospel to Corinth and the church had begun – by the grace of God – amidst much persecution. Nobody knew the church at Corinth better than Paul and in the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, it is evident that God was doing something among His people, the Church at Corinth, because He is a faithful God.
The well-known parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 is really about two sons. It is a parable about the love of God who welcomes sinners home but also a parable about repentance and those who think they need no repentance.
In Luke 15:1-10 we read how the Pharisees thought people were accepted by God and how they therefore found fault with the company Jesus kept. Jesus tells of the true way to be accepted by God and receives sinners. God values the lost, shows his love in the effort to find them and rejoices when they are found.
Given that followers of Jesus have become citizens of heaven, Philippians 4:2-3 reminds the church to live God’s way. Unresolved relationship problems in the church ought not to occur but Christians should seek to reconcile and help others do the same in order to shine a light to a world full of conflict.
God spreads a banquet for all peoples yet the self-righteous are unwilling to enter the kingdom. They give weak excuses to justify their unbelief and despised the sinners who came readily. Sinners who know they need a saviour enter the kingdom instead of those who rejected the invitation. Jesus tells a parable in Luke 14:15-24 that shows our need – are we willing to accept the invitation and welcome others into God’s kingdom?