Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Waking Up to the Lord's Presence

Devotion: Jonah 1:4-6

The Book of Jonah begins with Jonah, the prophet, denying the clear call of God to go to Nineveh to proclaim their imminent destruction. Instead, Jonah boards a ship headed to Tarshish. We pick up this week on board ship:
"But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. So the captain came and said to him, 'What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.' " -Jonah 1:4-6 ESV
Denying the call of God and blatantly going the opposite direction does not pass below the Lord's radar. Jonah has fallen asleep in the hold of the ship and thus is unaware of the presence of the Lord. Ironically, it is the pagan sailors who rightly read the storm as a divine message. The captain is unclear who is sending the message and so he rounds up everyone on board to call on their own god(s) to put an end to the calamity.
Jonah knows the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will soon declare that this storm can only be from his God. While the prophet may have thought he escaped the presence of the Lord, the captain's call to him has awakened him that he cannot flee from God's presence. While he slept terror and loss characterize the scene around him. The chaos of the storm threatens to destroy them all. And in the midst of it, Jonah sleeps. It is reminiscent of a story of Jesus, with a few crucial differences.
"On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, 'Let us go across to the other side.' And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, 'Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?' And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Peace! Be still!' And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, 'Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?' And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, 'Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?' " -Mark 4:35-41 ESV
Unlike Jonah, Jesus' slumber is not an escape from the Lord's presence, but rather comfort in that presence. The terror of the disciples is much the same as the ship's crew around Jonah. What changes everything, however, is that Jesus is the Lord's presence on the ship. The chaos of the storm is nothing to the one through whom all things were made. The wind and the sea obey Jesus when he tells them, "Peace! Be still!" Jonah's actions will soon awaken the ship's crew to the presence of the Lord. Jesus' own actions demonstrate that he IS the Lord's presence.
In the midst of God's call in a chaotic world, we would do well to remember that it is the presence of the Lord we still need and we find that presence in Jesus.

The music "Have Mercy on Me," is from The Porter's Gate Worship Project

News for You:

  • Do not forget to spring forward this weekend or risk the horror of walking in late to worship!
  • Our monthly Men's Breakfast is this Saturday, 3/10 at 6 a.m.
  • We are raising money to update/repair/replace sound equipment in the Sanctuary. As of today (3/7/18) we are within a $1000 of our fundraising goal! Thanks to all of the generous contributions and let's reach that goal!
  • March 11th is potluck Sunday with the theme of green. Last names A-M are asked to bring a salad or a side dish and those beginning N-Z can bring a dessert. For bonus points, make it GREEN.
  • CPC member Marian McClanahan recently published a book about her life, titled “Vignettes of an Ordinary Life.” If you wish to support Marian and her book, you can find it on Amazon!
  • Maundy Thursday, March 29th, at 7pm will be a service of scripture, prayer, and the Lord’s Supper.
  • Community Good Friday Service will be on March 30th at 7pm at CPC!
  • Sonrise Service will be at the Omak Memorial Cemetery on April 1st at 6:30am.

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