Sermon: All Flesh Shall See the Salvation of God
God has obviously handed the world over to a reprobate mind to let the penalties of their sins play out (Romans 1:18). Rejecting God leads to a state of self-loathing and despair. Without God, human nature automatically turns toward negativity. Moral failure compounds when this self-loathing causes a progressive sabotaging of happiness. Only atonement or expiation can turn this dark depression around, providing the comfort of mental and spiritual health. Referenced three times in Scripture, Atonement refers to a specific time when the moral compass of a repentant people is reset, as contrasted from Passover, when Christ's blood covers individual sins. Atonement calls for three spiritual exercises to put our out-of-balance moral compasses back in sync with God. These exercises are 1.) balancing the ideals we strive for with the imperfect reality of our carnal selves, 2.) balancing individual needs with the needs of the larger community, and 3.) seeking balance between body and mind. The prophet Jonah had to learn these exercises as he ran away from his responsibility to preach repentance to Nineveh. His going down to the lower hold of the ship indicated that Jonah would rather face death than to see his enemies repent or to make godly decisions. Jonah's revelation that he was a Hebrew revealed to the sailors that Jonah's dereliction of responsibility caused the perilous storm. Jonah's anger at what he considered Nineveh's shallow repentance indicated He did not trust God's overall plan for mankind. On this solemn day of Atonement, as we afflict our bodies with fasting, we learn that mental nourishment is every bit as important as physical nourishment enabling us to connect the spirit in man with God's Holy Spirit, our emergent character. Not eating enables us to focus upon mental and spiritual nourishment exclusively.
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