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164 years of service and ministry in Wollongong

admin October 21, 2019 Uncategorized No comments

To state the obvious today we celebrate our Church anniversary- 164 years of faithful witness within this community.
There are those in our society who would like to see the church gone.
On the 21st December 2018 Abe drove me to the hospital and then we had coffee, as we were close to the church building I asked Abe to stop by, the excuse was that I needed to visit the facilities, the real reason was more complex, I was missing the church, for me this building represented a safe haven and it stands for more than just a meeting place- the second reason was not of my making- there was an encounter that I needed to have, one that left me shaking and somewhat disturbed for a number of days..
I had not long been out of hospital, a week stay ended up in a 31 day marathon; I had an uncomfortable drainage tube in my side and was still struggling with the aftermath of the removal of my spleen. Never the less it was great to get out and the visit to the church was the icing on the cake for me.
As we drove down Coombes lane we saw a hose attached to the tap in the driveway- it went across the road and into a van parked there. This hose was attached to an industrial carpet shampoo machine- A carpet cleaning firm had helped themselves to our water. I went up to the third or fourth floor of the building across the road, there was a woman behind the counter, fortunately for me she recognised who I was; in the office space there was a guy cleaning the carpets. I approached him as asked him if he normally took other people’s water to do his work- I am not too sure as to the exact words I used, I may have strongly suggested that he was stealing-He came back as said: ‘are you calling me a thief?’I asked him the question: ‘whose water is it and did you have permission to run your hose in the tap across the road?’ ‘I don’t need permission, it’s public property ‘– (now you need to realise that not just anyone can use the taps around the church, the fitting requires a key of sorts easily purchased from any hardware store so if you are going to use a tap you need to be armed with this handle) This guy came prepared!
I said that it was not public property and the land belonged to the church, and the church pays it water bill like anyone else.
“So you are calling me a thief”,he said. He was angry and somewhat embarrassed as there was a witness to our conversation- he asked: “and what business is it of yours” anyway? I said that I was the minister of that church; I then said you can finished your job, but in future please ask for permission.
He said let’s go down to the car- we got in the lift, in hind sight not a very smart thing to do, he was stronger than I and very angry- well in the lift he swore at me abused me, and accused all clergy of being pedophiles- he insisted that the property was public property and I had no right in telling him he couldn’t use the water- he then said that he would have decked me if I had spoken to him like that in front of his wife- she was in the van waiting for him-All you churches are ripping people off and you can imagine what else he may have said. Again I said you can finished your job but in future get permission, the lift stopped at the ground floor, in anger he crossed the road to remove the hose, I then said ; “you didn’t hear what I said, you better remove the hose and not use it again”. You know there was a tap that he could have used attached to the building he was working in. ‘You will be sorry for this’, were his last words.
This encounter left me rattled for some days.
Why tell you this story? This guy was angry and he had a chip on his shoulder- he was also angry at the church- no not the Wollongong Congregational Church- but the church.
Leonie on her recent trip to Bathurst, sat on the train, a young guy and an older man were venting at the church in general- she went to another carriage, sat next to an older guy, he happened to be a catholic priest, they had a good conversation. Go figure from one extreme to the other.
There are those in our society who would like the church to go away. THEY ARE WELCOME TO THEIR OPINON and I would defend their right to say and believe what they wish-
Are they right?I do not believe that they are right!
I believe that many talk out of their hurt and frustration and ignorance and some do not realise what they are really saying- and of course others know exactly what they are saying- and again they are welcome to their opinion.
Sure the church has made many mistakes and I do not want to defend the mistakes of the past- and even the present- or the future.
Sure the church must be held accountable and perhaps more accountable than the average.
Of all organizations and people Christians are to be lights of hope and faith, beacons of love.
2 Corinthians 5:14-21 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Ambassadors for the Lord Jesus

Yes the church may have made many mistakes and I am defending those. Where there are human beings there will always be sin and sin will always have a negative impact on the world.We live in a broken world with broken people. The answer is in the Lord Jesus who said: Matthew 11:28-30 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
There is another argument in relation to church buildings not paying rates and churches having tax concessions- yes and even clergy having certain perks.
Maybe we should pay rates and not have any tax concessions- should it apply to churches then it should apply to all not for profit organisations. And by the way, a Non for Profit needs to make a profit just to survive!
Have you wondered? How many people do these church organisations employ throughout Australia? One Church group in social ministry has over 1,600 sites; the network employs 39,000 staff and is supported by the work of over 28,000 volunteers. (Uniting Care)
Not to mention: St Vincent De Paul society, Mission Australia, Anglicare, the Salvation Army and I am sure that there are many more .
Then add to this list the pastoral care that is done by everyday Christians, unsung heroes working in secret.
Don’t get me started on Hospitals, schools and employment agencies, rehab centers emergency accommodation and the list goes on.
Some may say that these are subsidised by the government, they may be right but I am sure that the subsidies are not enough to keep the ships afloat.
I said earlier that;So many talk out of their hurt and frustration that they do not realize what they are really saying- Why say this?
Well, imagine if every Christian charitable organisation in this country shut shop tomorrow. No don’t imagine it because it would cause so much social upheaval, the government set up would not be able to cope.
Ours is a mission that goes beyond brick and mortar it has eternal ramifications.
I believe that the world is broken and try as hard as we may like to we cannot fix it- and perhaps it is not our job to fix it-
Our job What is our job?
Our job is to be right with God- and this rightness with God will lead each one of us, individually and collectively in directions that we may not have thought of.
History has shown us this, men and women with a strong sense of Christian conviction have influenced the politics and social heart of many a nation.
There are many Christians throughout history who made an enormous impact in the world that we never hear of, yet we’re living with the results of their work.

Today I want to encourage you
I am not going to say anything that you do not already know, the author of Hebrews sort to encourage his readers, he has wonderfully outlined who the Lord Jesus is and why He came- he then moves onto the truth of what the church is and what one would call the FAITH component of Christianity.
Hebrews 11
1. 1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
2. 3 By faith Abel, 4 By faith Enoch, 5 By faith Noah
3. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
4. 8 By faith Abraham, 11 And by faith even Sarah
5. 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died
6. 20 By faith Isaac, 21 By faith Jacob, 23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him, 24 By faith, Moses, 29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea, 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, 31 By faith Rahab
The writer of Hebrews goes back to history,
Guess what you are not alone, God is there, and there are others who have had to work through the complexities of faith, see how they coped and follow their example!
The past matters, the past should be like a ladder, it is intended to spur us on to climbing that ladder.
It is not to be worshiped, but a stepping stone to lead us towards the walk of faith.
The church as you rightly know is more than brick and mortar, it is a living organism, it is organic and it is Christ centred ,12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
The church is made up of people and relationships, it is the environment that we learn to exercise the fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit- this is why the Lord Jesus said to His disciples: John 13:34-35 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Hebrews 11:39-12:3
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. 12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Because God does not want robots mindless machines.

admin July 12, 2016 Uncategorized No comments

10th July 2016 Psalm 148 Romans 12:1-8

The church from the very beginning set a foundation of practice. The church did three vital and important activities.
1. Prayer
2. Fellowship
3. Worship
While looking at worship I took you to the first few verses of Romans 12.
And I left you with the comment:- My attitude towards God and my attitude towards my fellow man are important. In fact my attitude towards God will influence my attitude towards my fellow human beings:
Pointing to the fact that true worship is God directed, ‘I look to the heavens and then man directed.’ The Vertical and the horizontal, making the shape of the cross.
Today I would like to revisit Romans 12 for I believe that the worship of God leads us into depths of relationship, not only with God but each other as the body of Christ.
• I do not believe that relationships should be forced but I do believe that they are something that we work on.
• To be honest with you when it comes to interpersonal relationships with others, there are some people who we gravitate to and others that we do not.
• There are some people who we will like and get on with and others who we will not.
• There are those who will see us and feel the same way.
• It is important to understand within ourselves that we do not need to please all the people all of the time.
What does this have to do with worship?
Again my attitude and worship of God will and should impact my attitude towards my fellow man.
Romans 12 is about the wonderful dynamic that there should be within the life of the Church- true fellowship with God produces true fellowship within the church: For the basis of the true fellowship is the worship of God and grasping the love of God that is released in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
Now there are a number of factors that impact this- Is it possible to love someone and not like them?
Fellowship is a Two Way Street. Any good relationship means that one works at getting to know that person and getting to know someone takes time and effort.
I do not believe in forcing relationships or creating guilt trips. One of the mysteries and blessings of being part of the church of the Lord Jesus is the fact that we are all different, with different likes and dislikes, different personalities and even different political views. My experience has been that the Holy Spirit will led us into relationships.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into the truth of Romans 12.
Warren Wiersbe points out that this is the fourth of a series of ‘therefore’
1. Romans 3:20; “ Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” the therefore of condemnation
2. Romans 5:1; “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” the therefore of justification
3. Romans 8:1; “ Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” the therefore of assurance
4. Romans 12:1; “ Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” the therefore of dedication
In other words my dedication to God impacts my relationship with others. Or as stated earlier: – My attitude towards God and my attitude towards my fellow man are important. In fact my attitude towards God will influence my attitude towards my fellow human beings:
Romans chapter 12 gives us insight into true worship and true fellowship.
This fourth therefore is important: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
This fourth therefore tells us what our true and proper worship is to be.
The Apostle points out three things for our benefit:
1. What we do with our bodies is important- What does it mean; “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice”. In the first century there were those who taught that ‘the body was only a prison house, something to be despised and even be ashamed of.’ [Barclay p156] They even went as far as to say that “it didn’t matter what you did, if your spirit was right.” This gave then license to do whatever they wanted, if it felt good they did it. Hedonism [self-indulgence, pleasure seeking, debauchery] for many was the order of the day.
Frail though we might be, and maybe riddled with disease and decay- our bodies make up part of who we are and it is with the whole of our being that we worship God. Body, Mind and Spirit. The Lord Jesus put it this way:
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30
We all face the reality and restrictions of our humanity, our bodies and circumstances- even these can be subject to the Lordship of Christ. Hear the apostle Paul’s revelation; 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:20,21
The whole of our being IS service and worship.
2. Moving onto verse 2 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Is it possible to give God our minds?
I believe that it is, is it easy, I believe that it is not- nor should it be! Why? Because God does not want robots mindless machines.
As I read through Romans 12 I see the heart of a loving Pastor who wants the best for those reading this letter I also see something of the nature of God. This passage speaks of the strength within the church how God wonderfully gifts and blesses each individual- it also speaks of the unity and relationship that we have with God the Father-
I have always wondered what it would be like to have the power to inject people with a dose of faith, and a dose of the gifts and fruit of the Spirit. Image walking out of church on a Sunday and being injected with a dose of these things, whether we like it or not! If I had the power to make you believe what I believe, to be the sort of person I wanted you to be and so on.
But wait! What would happen to – precious you, the person God made? You would disappear this was never God’s intent!

‘Me decrease and Him increase’

, never takes away from whom I am and who I will be and who I can be in Christ Jesus.
Thus the struggle and battle for the mind. You might think that you are in charge of what you think and believe- You may be right- Did you know that the world in which we love conditions our minds, it feeds us all sorts stuff- to the point where we lose ourselves and become pawns in a very unholy and unwholesome game. Here is just one simple example of that, the state government will ban greyhound racing in July 2017, it is truly appalling 6000 dogs that we know of killed. BUT Did you know that there are something like 80,000 abortions that we know in Australia and what is the government’s response?
We think that we think, yet we are influenced by so many things- they are not all that good for us.
I believe that there is a battle for the mind; I also believe that we should allow God to win it!

“God transforms our minds and makes us spiritually minded by using His Word. As you spend time meditating on God’s Word, memorizing it and making it a part of your inner man, God will gradually make your mind more spiritual.”

[Wiersbe p 554] 2 Corinthians 3:18
18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Ephesians 4:17
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Colossians 3:1-11
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Rev Con Despinidic 5th June 2016 Psalm 139

admin June 6, 2016 Uncategorized No comments

“He knows me”
Today I would like to focus our attention on Psalm 139, no matter who he author is it is obvious that these words are the expression of a personal religious experience full of warm emotion and deep feeling.
This Psalm better still prayer of contemplation is a great inspiration to me. My prayer is that you too would be inspired by this guy’s faith.
Psalm 139:1-2 “1 You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.”
The idea that there is nothing hid from God is a comfort for the writer, it should be for us too.
To state the obvious, there are always times in our lives when we are somewhat confused, situations where we do not fully understand and the answers are not forthcoming- there is no writing on the wall or a great flash of light- yet there is a strong conviction to believe and to trust-
It is not so much the knowledge of what is happening and why it is happening that is important- it is more the focus of our trust that is important- same too with the Psalmist his focus is on God:-

You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.”

Some weeks back I shared a similar thought when I read to you from Paul’s words to Timothy, 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:12

What a powerful lesson to learn, the psalmist knew the truth of Paul’s words and perhaps his prayer may have inspired the Apostle in his own walk with the Lord.
It is so easy to put our trust in a scheme of things, a neat package of theology and hide in a box of teaching. It is so easy to put our trust in the idea of faith.
What happens when there is no substance to these things? Faith in its self will not do for it is the object of our faith that is most important.
Prior to Acts 1 and 2 things just didn’t turn out the way the disciples expected them to. Their focus was on their experience and emotions:- Life is like that isn’t it?
It is the same with us we get so carried away with the NOW, the present circumstances: the present emotions to the point where we become hard of hearing and sometimes short sighted unable to see the bigger picture.
We should not allow the things around us to obscure what God may be saying to us.
The faith walk isn’t just one revelation, one grasping of truth, it a series of revelations it is a walk, the decision to believe in God, to accept the Lord Jesus as saviour is just the beginning.
It was time to see a clearer picture- life is like that at times, it takes us a while to see clearly- there is a progression- and we need to seek, to struggle to ask the right questions and to be open to the leading of God, to allow the Lord Jesus to get alongside us.
We may not always recognise the voice of God, the hand of God, the direction of God.
If our hearts are right and our desire is to be in the centre of God’s will I believe that He will and does reveal His will to us.
In my own life I sometimes forget, I need to be reminded that God KNOWS and that He is able to search the very depths of my heart and soul.
Here are these 4 verses from the Amplified Bible:-

O LORD, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do]; You understand my thought from afar.
3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways.4 Even before there is a word on my tongue [still unspoken], Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
God the Father understands all that there is of us.
May the truth of the Psalmist words have a great impact on our hearts!
There is nothing hid from God- therefore He is able to speak into our experience of life right where we are at with the right words, the right counsel-
The truth of the matter is that we at times forget.
“O Lord you search me’’ A search is a thorough thing, nothing is missed- so too God’s wonderful knowledge of us.
The second thing that I find encouraging as I look at Psalm 139 is the fact that God not only knows, He acts He places His hand on our lives! Hear the words of the psalmist again:- 5 You have enclosed me behind and before, And [You have] placed Your hand upon me.6 Such [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high [above me], I cannot reach it.
There is nothing hid from God, nowhere to run, nothing to hide for the Holy Spirit is within- He is there, he is here! 7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?

What I get excited about is that fact that in spite of our sin, in spite of our disobedience, in spite of any situation or circumstance that I find myself in God is there, not only there but willing to act on my behalf in that situation: – 10 Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will take hold of me.11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me, And the night will be the only light around me,”
You cannot tell me that fear isn’t part of life and that darkness does not have an impact of us– I believe that these things are real and many of us face them daily: Here is what the psalmist has to say- 12 Even the darkness is not dark to You and conceals nothing from You, But the night shines as bright as the day; Darkness and light are alike to You.
What may be scary for me, what may be seen as a nail biting hopeless and fearful situation- is nothing to God!
Because we are made in the image of God, because God has placed eternity in the heart of mankind- the psalmist affirms the fact that; 13 For You formed my innermost parts; You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb.14 I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
For the writer of this prayer it is a point of praise- it sent him to his knees in prayer, wonder and awe – You can almost imagine him saying:-“O what an awesome God we have”.
As we continue to read this prayer we see that the one who writes it is brought back to reality:
It great when we can do that; Stop and look around, smell the roses, or the manure heap!
19 O that You would kill the wicked, O God; Go away from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.20 For they speak against You wickedly, Your enemies take Your name in vain. 21 Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? 22 I hate them with perfect and utmost hatred; They have become my enemies.
It is as if he is swept away by a righteous anger- or is it righteous? Or is he being convicted of some rather negative thoughts?
As the Lord Jesus speaks to us we all need to understand that we have a heart condition: The Psalmist was able to see clearly his spiritual need:
1. We need to see clearly!
2. The Psalmist needed to see clearly, thus he says with all the conviction of his heart: 23 Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart; Test me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
You know what? This is where it should begin.
Here I am Lord: Warts and all, I have nothing in my defence except Your love, grace and mercy.
And then they saw- what a joy- a pleasure, so much so that the whole world needed to know.
How’s your vision today?
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I’m found, Was blind, but now, I see.
T’was Grace that taught, my heart to fear. And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear, the hour I first believed.

1. May our faith be challenged and our resolve to trust be strengthened.

admin January 13, 2016 Uncategorized No comments

Last week:

I left you with a prayer that contained a number of propositions.                                                                                                My prayer is that this will be the beginning of a year of great blessing for each one of us-

  1. May our faith be challenged and our resolve to trust be strengthened.
  2. My we seek to walk in faith and dare to come to God reverently and yet with boldness.
  3. May we desire to expect great things from God and trust that He will bless us in our endeavours.
  4. May we approach life as one long and glorious adventure, not with rosy coloured glasses, but with a realism that will confront all that comes our way, the good the bad and the ugly with a deep and profound trust in the fact that God is in control.
  5. May we walk, IN FAITH, BY FAITH WITH FAITH.


Proposition 1

“May our faith be challenged and our resolve to trust be strengthened.”


The Psalmist David in Ps 27 struggled with the everyday proposition of the faith walk, there were many challenges in his life that that almost broke him.

On one such occasion he was a broken man, unable to help himself or anyone else,

It was not till he sort the Lord in all honesty that he knew restoration.

Psalm 32

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

“May our faith be challenged and our resolve to trust be strengthened.”

  • Having one’s faith challenged is not a pleasant thing-
  • At the end of the day it can be a good thing- each one of us carries a certain amount of physical, emotional and spiritual baggage. It is hard to sort these out, and sometimes it is better to let sleeping dogs lie, and wait for God’s perfect timing to stir the waters.

In Psalm 32 David admits that as long as he was determined to wallow in his sin and despair, and I suppose self-pity there would be no healing, no restoration and all the stirring of his faith, all the prodding for improvement all the conviction and good advice would only fall on death ears.When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. 

  • He had an acute sense that God was stirring his conscience; there was a conviction there, an itch that had to be scratched.

My first proposition for 2016 is:

“May our faith be challenged and our resolve to trust be strengthened.”

  • To have our faith challenged is to examine who we are and what we believe.
  • Our O.T. reading today came from the book of Jonah, a minor prophet. Here we see the story of a rebellious preacher being confronted by God. It is possible that this took place sometime in the 8th Century BC. In fact there is much written on Jonah and his experience. There is so much for us to learn in this story of 1328 words.
  • Jonah was a citizen of the region of Galilee and a subject of the Northern Kingdom. He lived in the early part of the reign of King Jeroboam 2 at a time when the kingdom was divided and in a bad state, they were perilous and difficult time.
  • Herbert Lockyer who wrote in the mid-20th Century said that ‘He is the first of a new order of prophets, appearing that he might declare that God’s love claims the whole world’ p 198 All the men of the Bible (1958).


I do not want to get into the minute details of this event, what I would like to do is to look at the man and his heart. You see, his faith was challenged and his resolve to trust was strengthened, this was a painful experience, it was real and it is believable something that each one of us can relate to.

1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

  • Imagine for a moment that you can hear the voice of God and you are able to interpret what God is saying- you are a profession prophet, you have the respect of those around you and you often speak with authority.
  • Jonah was such a person, he was able to hear God clearly and He knew what it was like to have a relationship with God.
  • I would make the assumption that Jonah was an experienced preacher and very little frightened him.

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

  • Is it possible to run away from God?
  • Why did Jonah run away from God?

There are a number of things evident from this passage, the first being:

  1. There is always a price to pay for running away from God. I wonder am I oversimplifying this, some would yes, I am not sure.

In Jonah’s case what was the price?

  1. Isolation from his friends and family
  2. The cost of a ticket on a ship that went in the opposite direction
  3. Depression, a lack of peace and joy.

I learnt a long time ago that God never gives upon us. There are many in this world who do not believe in God, or who have run away or are running away from God- They may not believe in God, but God believes in them!

  • Here we have one man’s struggle with God’s call. How often do we struggle with what I call ‘God will verses my will syndrome’?

This syndrome can cause some confusion and a lack of clarity. Take the apostle Peter for example.

Matthew 16:13-28

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Peter Got it, 10 out of 10 for being open to the leading of God-

God the Father’s  will is to reveal the Son to the world- God the Father’s  will is to open wide the gates of salvation to all.

Some believe that God is vindictive, hateful and spiteful.  ‘Do as I say or I will condemn you!’  God’s nature is that of grace and forgiveness, what condemns is our own attitudes and the result of our actions. This is indicative of the ‘‘God will verses my will syndrome’.

Peter had a moment of clarity and then when the Lord reveals God’s plan confusion set in:-

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

  • Jonah had a wonder insight into the Grace of God, His compassion and love for all mankind, even the unlovely, the unlovable. Like Peter Jonah had a better idea, there was something behind his objections.
  • Jonah was an isolationist, he believed that salvation was for the Hebrew nation only, he also understood that there would be future events; for at the hands of these people the Hebrew nation would experience great trauma.

“May our faith be challenged and our resolve to trust be strengthened.”

When our faith is challenged our prejudices are challenged, or preconceived ideas are challenged, and we are faced with a number of different proposition for living.

We should not be fearful of this.

Chapter 1 of Jonah reveals someone else about God’s Love and patience.

God could have written Jonah of, The Lord Jesus could have done the same for the Apostle Peter- for both these men it was different!

There’s was a great task- he proclamation of the WORD OF GOD in such a way that lives would be radically changed.

Both were to experience many challenges in their lives.