Sermon Starters

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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

The Third Sunday After Epiphany
Series B

 "Running With Jonah"
Jonah 1 (Passim); 3:1-5,10
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, M.Div.

Many people run for exercise. Go to any fitness facility that has state of the art exercise equipment and you’ll still find many running on the track or the treadmills for exercise. Paul often uses running as a metaphor for living the Christian life. Today’s text is about the Prophet Jonah and the difference it made when he was running with God instead of away from God.

I. Running away from God

A Jonah wasn’t on this track alone: (preachers are subject to discouragement) 1 Kings 19:1-5; Jer. 20:7-12; Acts 26:19-23; 1 Cor. 9:16

B. Ex. 4:10-13–a layman’s excuse, but see 1 Peter 2:9, 4:11ff.; Isa. 43:21; Matt. 5:16; Phil. 2:14-18;

II. Running with God–1 Cor. 9:24-26; Phil. 2:12-18; Heb. 12:1-2.

A. Proclaiming God’s anger over sin–Jer. 18:7ff.; Rom. 1:18.

B. Sharing God’s good news–Jonah 3:9-10; Isa. 43:25, 44:22, 55:6-7; Ps. 130:7; Eph. 1:6-8; 1 Tim. 1:15.

Title: Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Old Testament

Here is a wonder of divine mercy in the sparing of these Ninevites upon their repentance (v. 10): God saw their works; he not only heard their good words, by which they professed repentance, but saw their good works, by which they brought forth fruits meet for repentance; he saw that they turned from their evil way, and that was the thing he looked for and required. If he had not seen that, their fasting and sackcloth would have been as nothing in his account. He saw there was among them a general conviction of their sins and a general resolution not to return to them, and that for some days they lived better, and there was a new face of things upon the city; and this he was well pleased with. 

Note, God takes notice of every instance of the reformation of sinners, even those instances that fall not under the cognizance and observation of the world. He sees who turn from their evil way and who do not, and meets those with favor that meet him in a sincere conversion. When they repent of the evil of sin committed by them he repents of the evil of judgment pronounced against them. 

Thus he spared Nineveh, and did not the evil which he said he would do against it. Here were no sacrifices offered to God, that we read of, to make atonement for sin, but the sacrifice of God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, such as the Ninevites now had, it what he will not despise; it is what he will put honor upon.  


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