The Inconceivable God

Sunday January 26, 2020 By Bob Cote

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Jonah Series Part 6

Jonah 4:1–2 NKJV

1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. 2 So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.

I’d like to key in on the last part of verse two today:

“for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.”

Introduction:

Of everything Jonah experienced, I think the one thing he didn’t count on was that God would act contrary to what he thought was right!

Has this ever been the case with you?

Had you been praying about something or a situation and then been blind sided by what God did?

Well, if you have experienced that, you are in good company, and there’s a good reason for it:

Isaiah says in…

Isaiah 55:8–9 NKJV

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Notice that Isaiah doesn’t say that God’s ways or thoughts are different, but higher!

And this is why God is inconceivable to the human mind and heart.

And so the title of this message today describes this idea.

The Inconceivable God.

I. What we know about God.

He is holy

The term underlying our English “holy” is the same for saint, pure, and sanctify, and their derivatives.

And although you and I may have the terms applied to us at times in the Bible, we are not holy in essence, only God is.

He is omniscient

When God acts, it is with perfect knowledge.

He never has to weigh situations or investigate anything, because He has all the information for all time.

He does not need to look into the future or pear into the past, He is there because time is irrelevant to Him. He created that for us.

He is omnipresent

I can’t imagine being in two places at once, but God is everywhere always.

David says in –

Psalm 139:8 NKJV

8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

               He can hear everyone’s prayers simultaneously.

               He can be with me and a brother in China.

               He is in every believer everywhere and involved in their lives.

He is immutable

Dictionary of Theological Terms Immutability of God

The attribute of God whereby He cannot change or be changed in His essence or perfections.

In Himself He is absolutely immutable. In relation to His creatures, He is relatively immutable: He will never deviate or show a “shadow of turning” from His revealed purpose and truth (James 1:17; Mal. 3:6; Isa. 46:10; Ps. 33:11).

We can see God relenting in our text as He sees the repentance of the Ninevites. But, was the repentance of the Ninevites a surprise to God? Clearly not. Because He is omniscient, He already knew the outcome.

So then why, does it say that He relents? I believe it is presented this way throughout Holy Scripture, to demonstrate His overwhelming mercy to us.

Now let’s look at …

II. What we know about ourselves.

We are sinful

We know this is true, but we don’t readily accept it.

And that’s a dead giveaway to our sinful nature!

We are always acting contrary to the nature of Christ who is the very image of the invisible God (Heb. 1:3).

We need to understand this as it has been stated numerous times in the scriptures (Rom 3:10; Rom. 6:23)


We do not know all things or even everything about one thing

But that never stops us from putting our foot in our mouths, or speaking nonsense, or acting like a complete fool!

We pride ourselves on being experts in things we have only a glimpse of.

Experts in science and nature!

Experts on Marriage!

I remember when Michelle and I were to be married, and as practicing Catholics at the time, we were required to attend pre-marital classes of the local diocese. When we got there, I couldn’t quite understand the logic that a man who took a vow of celibacy and had never been married (Catholic priest), was instructing us on how to have a successful marriage?

Experts on how to run the country!

We won’t go there, but Oh how are we going to survive the next year with all these so-called experts on the presidency that they’ve never undertaken?

Yes, we know everything! Not!

We cannot be everywhere

As I said in the previous point, we can’t even be in two places at the same time.

We are limited in spatial ways, and so can never be fully informed at one time.

What Jonah could not see in his hatred, was what the eleventh verse of this chapter speaks of, the 120,000 children and animals, which were scattered about in Nineveh!

Although Jonah had a birds eye view of the city, He could not count those precious innocent children whom He would have mercy upon.

               Incidentally, God also considers animals! Something to think about.

               Lastly…

We vacillate

               Every time I sit at a restaurant and look at a menu, I change my mind about 10 times.

               We also change our minds when obeying God.

               We decide and undecide and then justify it everytime!

III. What we should do about it.

If Jonah knew the character of God, why would he act contrary to it?

Why do we act contrary to the character of God?

I’m troubled by this, because I can see this very thing playing out all the time.

We know what God is like, because we read it for ourselves in His word.

But we, as James says, are double minded when we see who we are in Christ but walk away forgetting.

I’d like to offer one practical means by which Christians can do, to remedy this:

Memorize scripture

Psalm 119:105 NKJV

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

Clearly the key to walking the right path with God is to be led by His word.

But not just as I suggested last week, bathing in His word daily, but having it ready at all times.

Psalm 119:11 NKJV

11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

I saw this past week that Dr. Jack Van Impe passed recently.

Although Dr. Van Impe, was a great champion for the evangelical position of pre-millennialism, and especially the pre-tribulation theory of the rapture of the church, he had problems and was rightly criticized for making bad predictions.

But Dr. Jack was also rightly  recognized for his amazing ability to memorize scripture.

Aside from all the inflated claims out there, Dr. Van Impe memorized much of the Bible in categories.

The following is a true story-

Representing the Michigan Sunday School Association in a 3-hour debate with an atheist and a Roman Catholic priest, on Detroit’s radio station WXYZ, Jack quoted over 500 Bible verses in the first two hours of the program. The moderator was so upset at this domination of the debate with unanswerable arguments that he ruled that no more verses could be quoted in the debate. At that announcement, Jack stated that he would have to leave the program, since the purpose of his being there was to present the Bible. With an hour still remaining in the debate, the announcer rescinded his rule and allowed “The Walking Bible” to keep on quoting Scripture.

Personally, I believe there can be no greater weapon in the Christian arsenal than memorized scripture!

In fact, the sixth chapter of Ephesians that tells us to put on the whole armor of God, tells us that the sixth piece of armor is the “Sword of the Spirit” which is the word of God!

I find it amazing that Christians would think that God will use something we are unfamiliar with.

If our mind is weak to the psychological attacks of the devil, we would assume our helmet of salvation needs attention. If we are constantly getting hit with the fiery darts of the enemy, our shield of faith needs to be raised.

So it goes without saying that our sword of the Spirit must be sharp and in the hands of a skilled swordsman.

And scripture in the heart, will guide us to live our lives for Christ, when we are in similar circumstances as Jonah.

​Racism – A Learned Behavior

​Sunday January 19, 2020 By Bob Cote

Sorry, but the audio recording for this message was corrupted. You can however read a truncated version below!

Jonah Series – Part 4

Our text today brings us to Jonah 4:1–5 NKJV

1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. 2 So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” 4 Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 5 So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city.

Introduction:

Our series in Jonah brings us to a great theme and a particularly relevant topic – Racism!

In light of this Monday being the day we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. a champion of civil rights for African Americans in this country, who was assassinated on his second floor balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis TN. April 4, 1968 – and not to minimize or diminish the plight of the Black man who was brought to this country in slavery and marginalized throughout the centuries by people who although freed him from his bondage, still treat him as a second class citizen, the problem is still prevalent everywhere today, and not just amongst African Americans!

We live in a culture of bigotry and racism, hatred and wickedness, toward our fellow man! But, I will remind you that every person on this planet, whatever skin color, ideology, or belief, walked off his father Noah’s ark and repopulated the world. Because we can all trace our ancestry back to Shem, Ham, or Japheth! We are all brothers!

Jonah hated the Ninevites for no good reason! In fact, none of us can hate for any good reason! Then why do even Christians hate?


Christians hate because of

I. The un-tempered heart.

Here, I find that Jonah is no different than any other person. We would be wise to take note of this the next time we put someone on a pedestal! I Mean, just because someone looks good from a human perspective doesn’t mean they are impervious to sin. But Jonah is a perfect example of the un-tempered heart. The heart that is not pliable to the word of God.

I mentioned this scripture last week, and I’ll remind you of it again here. Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV says, 9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

You see, we all have an un-tempered heart that needs constant attention. Do we think that because we Christians belong to Christ that we are now somehow perfect in heart? Anyone who thinks that must have had their oatmeal spiked this morning! We all have a wicked heart that needs to be tempered by the word of God.

I want to ask you three questions:
A. What kind of person denies another mercy? This is Jonah in a nutshell! He claims he knows that God is merciful, and yet petitions God through manipulation, to deny the Ninevites this very thing. His heart is hardened toward this people.

            The second question is…

B. What kind of person seeks ethnic cleansing? You can break it down anyway you like, but Jonah is here bartering for this very thing. His hatred for these gentiles is so strong, that he is seeking their very extermination! Now the world is no stranger to ethnic cleansing. The Armenian Genocide of 1914 – 1924 took the lives of 800,000 to one million Armenian men women and children. The Jewish Holocaust of the early 1940’s claimed the lives of millions of Jews. These are just two of the better known examples.

The third question is…

C. What kind of person takes satisfaction in another’s demise? The fifth verse of our text shows Jonah retreating to the east side of the city to see what would become of the city. This is amazing, because God already said that He relented from the destruction He would bring upon the Ninevites! What Jonah is doing, is trying to manipulate God using his position as a prophet and a Jew to move God to change His mind and destroy the Ninevites. If he knew the mercy of God and that God was a God of forgiveness, and this was the reason he left for Tarshish the first time, how wicked his un-tempered heart was to take satisfaction in the Assyrian’s demise! How so many today are willing to seek the destruction of another and to take satisfaction in it! What kind of people are these?

Well, Look around! They are everywhere. Congress and liberal nutcases that hate the president and anyone who voted for him, and will stop at nothing to remove him. The president who insults, threatens, and denigrates people and can’t seem to act appropriate. People everywhere that will lie, cheat, and perjure themselves to discredit someone else. Neo Nazi groups that are planning to murder people because of their ideologies and/or skin color. Antifa, a hypocritical fascist group that incites riots and resorts to violence everywhere they demonstrate. Good law abiding citizens who are glad that General Soleimani is dead, justifying it because of his committed atrocities. Really?  All we need to do is look in the mirror to find an un-tempered heart. I myself, a conservative right-wing, republican, nut job; find myself becoming enraged with what I see happening to my country! And I could easily go off the range and lose it, if it were not for God! You see, I had a dream a few nights ago! That’s right a dream! Our country was in a civil war and I was loading my gun ready to fight! When I woke up abruptly, I wondered who was going to be at the other end of the barrel? You say pastor Bob, you’ve got issues! We all have issues, and they come from an un-tempered heart. Which is why we need…

II. The Heart of God.

And there is only one way I know to get it!

A. Using prayer as the refining fire, that makes us pliable for the Word. When we open the Bible and pray over what we are reading, we allow God to control the outcome, because there is no reason to read the sacred scriptures unless we are willing to let it guide us. So many today read for the sake of reading. I mean we have our daily reading plans, our monthly devotionals, our minute devotionals! We approach God’s word like we’re punching a clock for our shift at work. But the word of God needs to be effectual in our lives. And so this is the work of the Holy Spirit through prayer. Not intercessory prayer, as much as that is needed, but time spent with God asking Him to break our heart for His word. Many Christians say they don’t have time, but the truth is really that we don’t want to give up the things that occupy our time, things unnecessary for the spiritual life but necessary for the carnal life. We need, more than ever, quality time praying over the word of God.

            But there is a second part to this. Once we begin to allow the refining fire of prayer to make us pliable, like the iron that is moldable once it has been heated red hot by the fire of the blacksmith, it is…         

B. Using the Word of God as an anvil to mold our heart. After praying over the scripture, I am ready to be molded to the shape of His word. His word that speaks to me! That beckons me to walk with Him in unity. The word that trumps every word, truth, ideology, prejudice, thought, or plan of mankind. The word once delivered to the saints of old and still applicable today. The word that conforms us to the likeness of Christ! Ah! There is God’s desire! To make us like His Son Jesus. To reshape an un-tempered heart to the heart of God. And this magnificent process is accomplished when we find ourselves…

C. Using repentance as a hammer to reshape our hard heart and bring it into conformity to God’s standard.  We can pray for the refining fire that makes us pliable to the anvil of His word, but we will not have one edge of this hard, un-tempered heart molded to His word unless the hammer of repentance begins its work! Because the reshaping takes many blows of the hammer to reshape this hardened mass of wickedness! We cannot expect the process to be done in one morning or evening, there must be constant attention paid to this process which will take us to our last breath in this world. But going through this process daily brings much fruit in the end.

My brothers and sisters, we cannot continue to live in this present evil system thinking we are impervious to its toxicity! We will be changed by it unless we increase our time in the word of God and prayer! We must be different than the world! We must be better than the world! We must set an example for the world!