­
Chris Appleby Ministries

Chris Appleby Ministries

 

The Power of God for Salvation   audio

Jonah 3 & Jonah 4

Last week we saw how Jonah had been called by God to go and proclaim the gospel to Nineveh, to the Assyrians, the enemies of the people of God. We saw how he instead went in the opposite direction until God stopped him, and sent a great fish to transport him to the shores of Assyria.

Well, today we come to the next exciting instalment of the story. Jonah is now back on dry land, suitably chastised, and the word of the Lord comes to him again. “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” It’s the same message as before, but this time he’s learnt his lesson. This time he goes.

We’re told that Nineveh is an exceedingly large city, three days' walk across. That makes it sixty or so miles across. That would make it the size of Melbourne. Now in fact Nineveh proper  at this time was probably not much more than 2 kilometres across, so it’s probable that he means Nineveh and the surrounding cities which together formed greater Nineveh, the region that was at the centre of Assyrian life. So let me suggest why this narrative might choose the larger city area.

Jonah, The Reluctant Prophet  audio

Jonah 1 & Jonah 2

Well, it’s a familiar story isn’t it? Jonah is told to go and preach to the people of Nineveh, to warn them of God’s judgement and what does he do? He heads off in the opposite direction, to Tarshish in Spain. But he doesn’t get away with it. God knows where he is! He sends a great storm, so that the ship is foundering, until the sailors discover the truth. Jonah’s running away from the Lord who made the sea and the dry land. So they throw him overboard, the storm stops and a great fish comes and swallows up Jonah, only to spit him out on the shore of Assyria three days later.

But you know, there’s a bit more to this story than just a morality tale of someone who brings bad luck to those he travels with because he’s disobeyed God. Jonah is one of those Old Testament books that point forward so clearly to the gospel and its implications for us as Christians.

Ordinary Honours - Ruth audio

Ruth 1-4

We come today to the last in our series on women in Jesus’ genealogy, to the story of Ruth. I hope you’ll discover as we go through this story of Ruth that it encompasses much of what I think Matthew had in mind when he included these women in his genealogy.

But first we need to think about the situation that women like Ruth and Tamar and Rahab and Bathsheba found themselves in. Women were powerless. They had no rights. They couldn’t own land. So they were totally dependent on their husband or their father for survival.

But then, in a sense that shouldn’t surprise us if we remember what God said to the woman in Gen 3, after she and the man had eaten of the forbidden fruit? You can almost imagine the sadness in his voice as he says: “16I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Gen 3:16) Life was going to be tough for both of them, but in the woman’s case her physical weakness compared with men would be compounded by a social disempowering that left her in subjection to male domination.

But, as we’ll see in this story, God didn’t leave it there. As the nation of Israel was being formed God gave them laws intended to ensure that women’s welfare was provided for - laws that impact significantly on Ruth and Naomi.

Is Wisdom Enough?    audio

Eccles 7:1-20

Wisdom is one of those things we all wish we had – especially in retrospect. It’s one of the things we try to teach our children. In fact that’s always been the case. The collection of sayings we find in Proverbs was apparently meant for training young people who might one day be leaders.

And we continue to use these sorts of saying today. I’m sure you heard them over and over again from your parents or your teachers as you were growing up: An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Bad workmen blame their tools. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. All's fair in love and war. One of my favourites is "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."    
Often these proverbs involve contrasts: Better late than never. Better safe than sorry. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread; Waste not, want not; or they’re simply pragmatic: "You can't take it with you." In fact I saw one in an Age headline last week: “Better to be good than happy”.

Jesus is God With Us  audio

Is 7:1-14

Joseph and Mary with Jesus in a rustic cattle shelter; an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream and later to Mary in the flesh; a sky full of angels appearing to shepherds; it all seems very remote at times doesn’t it? We have a sentimental response to the Christmas carols we’ll sing over the next few weeks. We sort of imagine what the stable must have been like, though we probably don’t imagine it as bad as it was. Unless we’ve visited the slums of India or Pakistan or Kenya, we’re probably more likely to think of it like the stable outside with nice clean hay and solid timber walls. And even if we get those bits right we still struggle with the idea of angels speaking to people. That’s well outside our sphere of experience. Though I have heard accounts every now and then of people who are quite sure they’ve been helped by angels.

And if the events of that first Christmas are remote from us, it’s nothing compared to the idea of being in God’s presence. It’s interesting to hear stories of non-Christians who are happy to come to something like a playgroup in the hall, but wouldn’t dare to come into the church. I’m not sure if that happens here but it’s certainly happened in other places. So why are they so reluctant? I think it’s because they see God as someone to be feared; someone who’s unapproachable; someone who stands in judgement of their life perhaps; someone who’s so perfect in righteousness that it’s dangerous to come near to him.

Is that the way you feel when you think about God? It’s a good question isn’t it? Is God someone to be feared or is he our friend? We’ll come back to that question at the end.

Contact Details

Phone: 0422187127
 
­