April 10, 2012

I Love To Tell the Story

Jonah 3:1-4
"And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown."

Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, which was situated on the eastern bank of the river Tigris. It was about 280 miles north of Babylon. The city was not only very ancient, but also very great. According to ancient texts, Nineveh extended 20 miles long and 60 miles in circumference (courtesy, Naves Topical Bible Dictionary).

When the Lord sent Jonah to preach to the Ninevites, they were much hated by the Jews because they were brutal, oppressive, idolaters and wicked. Indeed, consider this passage of the thinking of the military leaders of that time:

“I destroyed, I demolished, I burned. I took their warriors prisoner and impaled them on stakes before their cities. …flayed the nobles, as many as had rebelled, and spread their skins out on the piles [of dead corpses]… many of the captives I burned in a fire. Many I took alive; from some I cut off their hands to the write, from other I cut off their noses, ears and fingers; I put out the eyes of many of the soldiers."
               from Assyrian War Bulletin

Pretty brutal, huh?

But the truth for Nineveh and the Assyrian Empire is true of practically every nation on earth. If you think about it, haven't we encountered our own Assyrias in Nazi Germany; Cambodia's Killing Fields; China's Mao Zedong's regime; Stalin's USSR regime; and the Rwandan Massacres to name a few of the 20th Century? Yes, we have and if you notice, these regimes have been godless.

Yet, within these nations, there were many kinds of people - everyday people - doing the best they could on a day-to-day basis to raise their children, survive and prosper. Plus, they had no knowledge of God.

And so, this is what Jonah saw as he walked into that great city of Nineveh. God through Jonah showed great mercy on its people because they repented upon hearing the word of God.

There are so many points to draw on from this Bible passage, but the one I want to focus on for this posting is this: Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:13). We aren't responsible for saving people; that's God's job. Our task is to faithfully present the Gospel to everyone we can - family, friend and foe - and pray for their salvation.

What Jonah did was to proclaim the word of God to the Ninevites as he entered and walked about their city. Jonah was a street preacher, if you will.

With that being said, how many of us can boldly proclaim the Gospel in an open air setting out in public?

Two of my sons and Christian brothers from their church in Seattle do this just about every week. I'm including their March 2012 report for your edification and encouragement. I hope and pray that it will be a blessing to you as much as it was to me. To God be the glory!

March 7, Downtown Seattle
Bob the Barker was there - He listened to Efrain's message but was quiet. We silently praised and thanked God for bringing him to hear another message. While Efrain was preaching a young man tried to interupt him, then a young lady did the same thing. He directed them to me with their questions. The man wanted to know if we were living "in the revelation". I'm not sure what he meant by that but he seemed like a troubled individual. The young woman had a hook in her nose.

She asked "What are you doing?" I told her we were giving people the Gospel message. She repeated her question and I repeated my answer. She said that she used to be an athiest but now was going to church and that she found street preaching offensive and that we should "just love people to Jesus". I asked her "What did Jesus do?"

While I was talking with her, a young man (Chris) asked "What about Muslims?" "Are they going to hell?"

I said that we shouldn't limit his question to Muslims and asked him "What about Buddhists, Hindus, and all of the other religions? What happens to them?" Then I asked him if he was going to heaven. He said he thought so. I asked him if he was a good person. He said yes. We went through some of the commandments and he admitted that he was a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart and on his way to hell. (I know how that must sound but it was actually a friendly conversation). He was concerned about his state so we went through the Gospel. Afterwards he thanked me and I encouraged him to repent and receive the Saviour. The girl with the hook in her nose had been listening to our conversation. She also said thanks and it seemed like she wanted to say more but then she left suddenly.

March 11, Downtown Seattle
Our Christian brother Kirk was there. It was cold and windy. A young woman with many tattoos happened by and stayed for the whole message. She thanked me for being there and commented that most Christians don't share their faith. Also a man from Ethiopia, who barely spoke English, made a lot of gestures about how happy he was to see Jesus being preached.

As Kirk and I were about to leave the preaching area an older man crossed the street to where we were standing. This fellow always makes it a point to walk close by and swear at us. Today he was dressed in a tuxedo and I commented on how sharp he looked. He said the tuxedo was old but he used to wear it when he worked at Paramount Movie Studios in Hollywood. Turns out he was a voice-over singer for actors who couldn't sing but who were in musicals. After about 5 minutes of talking about music he seemed to realize who we were and began to curse and blaspheme the name of Jesus. We responded "If you knew Jesus you wouldn't talk that way about Him."  He doubled his efforts and again was told "If you knew Jesus you wouldn't talk that way about Him."

He went his way. Kirk and I prayed for him before we left and when we looked up Roger was standing there. Roger is in his 50's and homeless. He is a friendly sort but also a bit confused from years of drinking alcohol. We've talked with him many times over the years. Today when we looked up he had a reverent look on his face, which is most unusual. You just never know what will touch a person.

Dear Reader, I don't know where you're from; what language you speak; or, what troubles you have. This I do know: Every nation, like every human life, has an hour glass with grains of sand flowing through it. When those grains expire, death comes. For some, life will end all too quickly; for others, unexpectedly & tragically. Please know that to every man and woman is appointed to die once and after this, the judgment (Heb. 9:27).

Babylon has come and gone. Assyria has come and gone. As time marches on, only their memories will exist. For a while. We all need to look beyond the everyday-ness of our lives and past our busy-ness because one day our nations will pass; one day our lives will end. And the only thing left to us will be our relationship with God, standing either in our own righteousness, or in the righteousness provided as a free gift in Jesus Christ.

Have you trusted in Him today? If you haven't time is slipping. Please don't wait any longer! Click here: I'd Like to Know About Jesus and His Love!

I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.

I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

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