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Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 
"Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation
which I am going to tell you."  So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according
to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three
days' walk.  Then Jonah began to go through the city one day's walk;
and he cried out and said, "Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown."
 Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast
and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.  When the
word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside
his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat on the ashes.
 And he issued a proclamation and it said, "In Nineveh by the decree
of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste
a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water.  "But both man and beast
must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that
each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his
hands.  "Who knows, God may turn and relent, and withdraw His burning
anger so that we shall not perish?"
 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way,
then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would
bring upon them. And He did not do it.
Last week, as we studied this same text, we discovered that Jonah was
very successful in his missionary efforts to Nineveh. We also discovered
that it was not because of his work ethic and superior skills. In fact,
Jonah only traveled through a third of the city to preach his message.
We also learned that he didn't succeed because of his communication skills.
Jonah's sermon was only 5 Hebrew words. His audience didn't understand
Hebrew, they spoke Assyrian. We also learned that his message wasn't riveting.
It was short, but not sweet. His judgment wasn't tempered with mercy.
We learned that Jonah was successful because he was obedient.
We have several Sergeants in our congregation this morning. If I asked
them what they wanted from their soldiers, where would they rank obedience?
I'd guess it would be fairly high.
While Sir Henry Brackenbury was a military attache in Paris, had a conversation
with the distinguished French statesman Gambetta. Gambetta said, "In these
days there are only two things a soldier needs to know. He must know how
to march, and he must know how to shoot!"The Englishman quickly responded,
"I beg your pardon, Excellency, but you have forgotten the most important
thing of all!" "What's that?" asked the Frenchman. Brackenbury replied,
"He must know how to obey!" (From Fresh Bait for Fishers of Men, Louis
Bottom line--God demands obedience from his followers. Jonah was successful
because he was obedient. But in all fairness, there was more to it than
Look with me at Jonah 3:5-6 "Then the people of Nineveh believed in
God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the
least of them. 6 When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from
his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth,
and sat on the ashes." The people of Nineveh gossiped the gospel-the message
spread like wildfire.
When they believed, they repented. They put on sackcloth, the sign of
mourning and began fasting, a sign of commitment. They took care of their
own spiritual condition and called on others to do the same. The people
talked about God-not Jonah & his fault--not how much they hated the
Jews. They talked about God-they were gossiping the gospel.
The Washington Times is reporting that Anti-War activist and Academy
Award winning actress, Jane Fonda has become a born-again Christian and
is faithfully attending a predominantly black church, the Providence Missionary
Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
Though Fonda is friends with Christians in powerful positions, it was
her chauffeur who shared his faith with Fonda and invited her to attend
his church. The gospel knows no racial or class distinction and when it
is shared, it is powerful. Why did Fonda come to Christ? Her chauffeur
couldn't stop gossiping the gospel! (From Fresh
Kurt Warner, the quarterback of the World Champion St. Louis Rams, prints
his own trading cards to give to his fans. No, he's not on an ego trip.
The card has his testimony on it. He wants to give something more meaningful
than his autograph to those who ask, he wants them to know Christ too!
He is gossiping the gospel! (From Fresh Illustrations)
When we gossip the gospel, people repent and God relents!
II Chronicles 7:13-14 says, "If I shut up the heavens so that there
is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send
pestilence among My people, 14 and My people who are called by My name
humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked
ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal
Like a row of dominoes falling-one pushing down the next, repentance spread.
When the word came to the King, he decreed compliance with God's will.
Look with me at Jonah 3:7-8 "And he issued a proclamation and it said,
'In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast,
herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. 8 But
both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on
God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence
which is in his hands.'"
•What happens when a nation repents?
As He promised in II Chronicles 7:14, God heard their cries of repentance,
He forgave their sin and He healed their land. Look at Jonah 3:9-10 "Who
knows, God may turn and relent, and withdraw His burning anger so that
we shall not perish?" 10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from
their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had
declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.
Could it be that a lack of gossiping the gospel and repentance are blocking
our nation from receiving God's blessings?
Do you have a need for repentance?
Have you heard the legend about the man who was hurting because he was
sitting on a tack? He wanted relief, so he called for a psychologist who
said, "sir, the reason you are hurting is rooted in a childhood trauma.
You need therapy."
Next he called a sociologist and he suggested, "you have a problem and
it is obviously the result of the kind of environment in which you grew
up. Hurt is from an improper environment."
Then he turned to an economist who said, "money is the root of all hurt.
Let me help you with your portfolio."
Finally he called a minister. His suggestion was, "If you learn to praise
the Lord in all things, you won't hurt so much. Your spiritual life leaves
something to be desired. Start reading your Bible and praying every day
and you will get better."
But even with the advice from all the helping professionals, the man
still hurt. Finally a little girl came along with her suggestion. She said,
"Mister, why don't you get off the tack."
Learning to cope with our sin or throwing money at it or using some
spiritual platitude to hide it doesn't work. Therapy, change in environment,
money , religion won't help. Only one thing will bring relief from our
sin: repentance. We must confess our sin and turn from it. We need to get
off of the tack. (Copied)
C. S. Lewis said that repentance "is not something God demands of you
before He will take you back...; it is simply a description of what going
back is like."
And when we are back with God, we can't help but tell others about Him!
Will you turn to Him today, and will you leave here today ready to gossip