Jonah—Part 2 [Devotional]

Going Deeper with the Message:

Prodigal God
by: Andrew Archer

This Sunday, we continued our series in the Old Testament book of Jonah. I shared how we are a lot like Jonah in that we tend to turn to God only when things get bad. However, in spite of our tendency to forget God, He remains faithful to keep his promises, gracious, merciful, and always ready to help us. What an incredible God He is!

As I was thinking about Jonah and God, I couldn’t help but see the parallels between this story and a parable Jesus told in the book of Luke about two sons and their father. The younger son asks for his inheritance and the father surprisingly gives it to him. The son then leaves for a far away country. While there, he lives very recklessly and squanders his wealth. To make matters worse, there is a famine in that country and he becomes so desperate that he feeds pigs and longs to eat what the pigs are eating. 

Just like Jonah, this younger son turns from a loving father to live life his own way. They each want to be in control of what’s going on in their life. And just like Jonah, as the younger son does this, his situation gets worse and worse until he eventually hits rock bottom. At this point, he realizes that he has no other options than to turn back and call out to his father. I’m able to see myself in both of these guys. Both in forgetting God when things are good and in waiting to reach out to Him until things get bad. 

The similarities between these two stories don’t stop there. In the same way that God is ready to rescue Jonah when he calls out to Him, we see the father from Jesus’ parable ready to do the same. Luke 15:20 says this: “But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.” Not only that, but the father throws a huge party for his son who was lost. Both the father, who is meant to be a picture of God, and God himself in Jonah, show an incredible amount of mercy and grace toward Jonah and the younger son. 

This story is often referred to as the prodigal son, but I think calling it the prodigal God is more fitting. Prodigal can refer to reckless spending and living, but it can also mean having or giving something on a lavish scale. Who gives more lavishly than our God? He rescued a runaway prophet and threw a party when He rescued a lost son. He is a Prodigal God who doesn’t hold back when it comes to pouring out mercy and grace.

Living out the Message:

Coming soon

Jonah—Part 1 [Devotional]

Going Deeper with the Message:

Stubborn People, Gracious God
by: Andrew Archer

On Sunday, Pastor Tim kicked off our new series on the book of Jonah. He talked about how Jonah, who was a prophet, chose to disobey God. God asked Jonah to go 550 miles east to Nineveh, but instead he traveled over 2,500 miles west to Tarshish. Jonah, the stubborn prophet, decided to try to run as far away as he possibly could from God’s will. 

Whether we want to admit it or not, we all can relate to the stubborn prophet, Jonah. There have certainly been times in my life when I knew God was asking me to do something, or to stop doing something, and I wanted nothing to do with what God wanted. Eventually, our stubbornness with God often leads us to a place of guilt, knowing that we are telling the Creator of all “no.” The weight of that guilt can be overbearing. 

It’s times like those that we need to remind ourselves of who God is. In Psalm 103:8, David wrote, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love.” He is: Compassionate. Gracious. Slow to anger. Abounding in faithful love. That is who our God is and there is nothing we can do to change that. No amount of stubbornly running away from Him will change the depth with which He loves you and yearns for you to turn around and abide with Him, in His will.

That being said, this is no excuse to do what we please because we know God will forgive us. Doing that would be taking advantage of God’s grace and only lead to further trouble. Not to mention—life is truly better with God. When we run from God, as Jonah did, things often continue to get worse and worse until we, like Jonah, eventually reach rock bottom. When we live life in God’s will, we usually avoid having to learn things the hard way.

I want you to know that even when we stubbornly run from God, He will always be there waiting for us to turn back to Him. He is: Compassionate. Gracious. Slow to anger. Abounding in faithful love. Don’t let what you have done in the past keep you from a relationship with our gracious God in the present.

Living out the Message:

Not Just a Big Fish Story
By Michelle Lemley, Nursery Coordinator

My boys love to fish. We take them to ponds and rivers in the summertime, rig up their tiny fishing rods, and spend the day untangling their lines and baiting their hooks. They don’t usually catch anything, but they love being outside and the excitement of seeing the fish swim past.  One lesson they’ve had to learn is that the image we see from the surface isn’t necessarily where the fish are located. I told my youngest, Isaac, that this is one of God’s ways of protecting the fish from predators—by bending the light at the surface of the water so that the fish can “hide” and swim away from danger.

During this week’s service, I was thinking about the book of Jonah. Many of us remember the story from Sunday school as kids, and how exciting it was to sing songs and make fish-themed crafts about Jonah’s adventures. But in studying this book as an adult, I am learning so much about Jonah as a real person who made real mistakes. And I’m learning more about God’s love and compassion and forgiveness when Jonah repeatedly refused to follow God’s path for him. This is so much more than a fish story.

God used a flawed prophet, a real person who made mistakes and who turned his back on the Lord, to carry a message of love and forgiveness. God’s sovereignty prevailed over Jonah’s selfishness and cowardice, while His grace was able to forgive and guide this broken man with love and mercy. All this insight from a tiny book of the Bible that I have always written off as a children’s story. But just as the water deceived my boys into thinking that the fish were somewhere they weren’t, my surface level understanding of this book led me to miss out on a deep, meaningful moment with my God through his Word.

And so I encourage you to join me in taking the time to read (and reread) parts of the Bible that may have seemed like “just a children’s story” to you in the past. Look below the surface of the stories you remember and allow the Lord to open your eyes to what you may have been missing out on.

Red Cross Blood Drive

Red Cross Blood Drive

The need is constant.
The gratification is instant.
Give blood.

Thursday, April 29 // 1pm-6pm

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. That’s why
The Ridge is on a mission to help save lives by hosting a blood drive.

The community is invited to take part in this special event and donate blood for hospital patients in our neighborhoods and across the nation. By rolling up a sleeve, donors can play a critical role in treatment for others.

To make an appointment or to learn more, download the American Red Cross Blood Donor app, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Completion of a
RapidPass® online health history questionnaire found at RedCrossBlood.org/rapidpass is encouraged to help speed up the donation process. A blood donor card or driver’s license or
two other forms of identification are required at check-in.
_______________

Schedule your blood donation appointment today.
Go to www.theridge.church/redcross.

Date

Thursday, April 29

Time

1pm–6pm

Location

The Ridge

Registration

He Is…—Part 4 [Devotional] Easter Sunday

Going Deeper with the Message:

Evidence of the Risen King
by: Andrew Archer

Every Spring hundreds of millions of people all over the world celebrate Easter—the holiday in which we remember Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Now, for some this may seem foolish, and they may ask the questions: why does it matter and why should I believe it even happened? On Sunday, Pastor Tim covered why Jesus’ resurrection matters, so I wanted to help answer why we should believe it did. 

Sir Lionel Luckhoo, the late Guyanese politician, diplomat, and attorney who holds the world record for the most consecutive defense murder trial acquittals with 245, said this about the resurrection of Jesus: “I have spent more than 42 years as a defense trial lawyer…and I say unequivocally the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.”

So what evidence is there? Today, I want to share three pieces of evidence that attest to the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus.

• Early accounts of Jesus’ life and resurrection
When looking at ancient texts, one of the key factors in determining their reliability is their proximity to the events they described. The closer something is written to what it is describing, the better. Everyone knows and accepts Alexander the Great and the events surrounding his life as fact. However, the earliest sources of his life that we have are over 300 years after his death. Compare that to Jesus. The Gospel accounts are dated from 40-65 years after his death. The accounts of the life of Jesus are much closer than that of Alexander the Great. Even more so, Bart Ehrman, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars and a skeptic of Christianity, dates part of 1 Corinthians 15 that describes the resurrection within a year of Jesus’ death! 

• Women at the tomb
In the time of Jesus, women had very few rights. One that stands out to me is that their word was not considered reliable testimony in court. This is intriguing because if you know the story of the resurrection you know that the first people to see the risen Jesus are women. Not only that but they are the ones who go and tell the other disciples what they have seen. If the story of the resurrection was made up, the conspirators would have never made this a part of the story. 

• Martyrdom
There were many people who claimed to be eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus. Their word should not be taken lightly. These were not people who profited from telling others what they had seen—it was, in fact, the opposite. Many of these people were killed for what they were professing, and all they had to do to avoid that was renounce their faith. No reasonable person would allow themselves to be killed for a lie. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Scholars have dedicated their careers to studying and communicating the evidence that points to the reliability of the resurrection of Jesus. I would encourage you to do some digging to see why people are so convinced this happened and also to consider the question, if it is true, what does that mean for you? 

“And if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith.”
1 Corinthians 15:14

 

Living out the Message:

King of Kings
By Barb Barnhart, Preschool Coordinator

I have been blessed to spend most of my adult life working with young children. Some of you are probably asking, what does this have to do with Jesus being the King of Kings? Pastor Tim shared the scripture from Luke 22.

“Then a dispute also arose among them about who should be considered the greatest. But He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles dominate them, and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving.

A king is often seen as being one with power and authority over all. This is definitely not the best kind of King! The best kind of Kings are those who have power and authority but who don’t want to use it for themselves. Jesus is the King of Kings, the Servant of all.

Now, back to the youngest! The thirty-plus years I have spent with young children has shown me the example of serving others. Most people think children just want to be served, but in reality children love to serve. They do it without pretense or having to be rewarded for it. They serve out of the love in their hearts.  

An observation I have made is that children with disabilities are conduits for love and service. Young children are children that love to care for one another. They will sit and hand their friend one cheerio at a time so that their friend won’t choke. They will proudly help push their friend’s wheelchair down the hallway to get where they need. Young children are the epitome of serving.  

My question to you is can you serve like a little child? This week, serve one another. It is the example this world needs of the King of Kings, the Servant of all.

“For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the One who serves.” Luke 22: 27

He Is…—Part 3 [Devotional]

Going Deeper with the Message:

A Picture of What Was to Come
by: Andrew Archer

This past Sunday, Pastor Tim continued our series “He is…” by sharing a rather unique title given to Jesus, “Lamb of God.” As we read in the accounts of His life, we see that John the Baptizer called Jesus this when he baptized him. For those of us reading this today, we may know what John was referring to, but those who heard him utter the phrase firsthand, would not have fully understood what he was foreshadowing. There are many accounts in the Old Testament that point to Jesus dying in our place, for our sin, just as first century Israelites would have sacrificed animals as atonement for their sin. 

In Genesis 22 we read that after God had finally given Abraham the son promised to him, God asks the unthinkable of him. God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, the son ‘whom he loves.’ The practice of animal sacrifice to atone for sin had already been established by God at this point, but to ask Abraham to sacrifice his own son seems bizarre. Why would God do this? How could God do this? Surely, Abraham would deny God’s request. 

Abraham’s response continues the theme of surprising things that happen in this account. He agrees to offer his son as a sacrifice. He wakes up early in the morning to gather what will be needed for the journey God has asked him to embark on. The journey that will end in the death of his son. When Abraham and Isaac can see the mountain where the sacrifice is to take place, Isaac asks his dad the question Abraham must have been dreading to hear. “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” How was Abraham to respond? “Son, you are the burnt offering!” Again we are surprised by his answer: “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering my son.” Abraham displays a great faith here, one that assumes God will be faithful, even though the situation looks grim. 

With blade in hand and fire ready, as Abraham is about to sacrifice his son, God sends an angel to stop him and provides a ram to be sacrificed in Isaac’s place. God never intended for Isaac to die that day. He was always going to provide an offering in his place. What an incredibly faithful God. He did this not only to test the faith of Abraham, but also so that it would be a picture of what was to come. 

Do you see it? Have you connected the dots? A few thousand years later, a Father once again offered His Son, whom he loved, as a sacrifice. This time though, it was Jesus, the Lamb of God. He died in our place as the ram died in Isaac’s. The difference is—the ram saved only one person’s life while Jesus died so that every person would have the opportunity of eternal life by placing their faith in Him. 

Living out the Message:

Coming soon