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FROM THE WORD

No Fishing!

I've always been fascinated by deep-sea exploration. As a child I would listen, enthralled as my Dad told me fictitious stories of intrepid sea divers. As far as I was concerned, the deeper and darker the ocean they traversed, the better it all was. And then, of course, the perfect deep-sea scenario was never complete without gigantic squid! Lurking in the gloomy depths, these dreadful monsters would grab and devour all who came close - including little boys!

Up to the present, my interest in such things has never waned, even though I've modified my view of giant squid and little boys. That said, it's still a fact that God sent a big fish to swallow Jonah and get him back on track. God said, "Jonah, go to Nineveh!", but Jonah took a boat to Tarshish because he didn't want to do God's will. I'm sure we know the rest of the story; however, we've probably all been Jonahs at one time or another, so there must be something here that we can take to heart.

The first thing we can know is that God is just the same longsuffering God today as He was in Jonah's day. He's still patient and gentle in spite of how perverse and difficult we may be at times. That does not mean God is indulgent of the independent spirit that refuses to do His will. God still had an action plan to remedy Jonah's behavior. Although it bears saying that we must never wait for God to step in and force a change in our behavior, because that's not His style. God will never choose for us, although He can engineer circumstances to get our attention and prompt us to do what is right, but the ultimate choice to obey is ours alone. God arranged for Jonah to be rerouted to Nineveh, but it was still Jonah's choice to do God's Will. 

It's not a good thing to get on the wrong side of God's will. In fact it can quickly become unpleasant – in fact, very quickly as in Jonah's case. Not that God is in any rush to punish us, but because He loves us too much to leave us heading in the wrong direction. God wants to save us from pain and sorrow. Tough love certainly has its place and God knows how to use it, but in Jonah's case, the wellbeing of 120,000 Ninevites also related to his faithful discharge of duty. So things quickly turned bad for Jonah. Praying to God from within the fish's belly “And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me forever.”

How desperate must Jonah’s prayer have sounded! How desperate yet how oblivious he was that God was about to give him a second chance. His prayer is heard! The fish almost beaches to vomit Jonah out! Freedom! Now we know that God's servant still had an attitude problem that God had to address at the very end of Jonah's successful mission, but the message to every Jonah who reads this should be very self-evident and hopefully encouraging.

Yes, deep-sea exploration is fascinating and exciting, but remember, when God forgives your dereliction of duty as He forgave Jonah's, He buries your sins in the depths of the sea. “They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth: they shall be afraid of the Lord our God, and shall fear because of thee. Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” And as a minister friend of mine once said, "God floats a sign over the place where you sins are buried. And it reads: 'NO FISHING!'"

Mike Thompson, Associate Pastor

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CENTRAL CORNER

This Week (January 29 - February 3): 

Tuesday @ 10:00 AM – Women’s Bible Study

Tuesday @ 7:00 PM –Prayer Meeting with Pastor Chris Buttery

Wednesday @ 7:00 PM –Spanish Group Prayer Meeting

Various L.I.F.E. groups (in-home small group Bible studies) take place across Sacramento. To locate one near you contact our small groups’ coordinator, Richard Anger @ (916) 681-3990.

This Sabbath (February 4): @ 9:00 AM – Morning Manna with Richard Anger / @ 9:30 AM – Central Study Hour with Pastor Chris Buttery + Children/Youth/Adult Sabbath School Classes / @ 10:50 AM – Worship Service with Pastor Chris Buttery

Family Matters

Warm Welcome. The pastors would like to welcome the following individuals to their listed ministry positions: Arnold Montes, Deacon; Lorrie Dana and Dona Lauer, Deaconess; Dr. George Luh, Health Ministry Leader; Karen Medeiros, Assist. Health Ministry Leader; Barbara Ralls, Community Services Leader; Amanda Armstrong, Social Activities Leader; Larry Young, Youth Ministry Leader; Samuel Tablas, Young Adult Ministry Leader; Richard Anger, Stewardship Director; and Alfredo Pacheco, Assist. Stewardship Director.

The Last Empire DVD/CD Sets are available. If you missed any of the exciting presentations given by Pastor Chris during this recent prophecy series, or if you want to share the messages with those you love, or if you ordered a set in advance, they are now available. Pick up your copy at the church office during the week or call to make other arrangements if needed. All the study guides are downloadable on-line on the church website.

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NEW HEIGHTS

Resources

“Thirty Days to Natural Blood Pressure Control”: Issues in American politics got you worked up?  Stress out about the future of our nation?  Blood pressure too high for your liking?  Dr. DeRose has teamed up with Dr. Greg Steinke and Nurse Practitioner Trudi Li to provide what is perhaps the most comprehensive—yet highly readable—book on natural blood pressure strategies. To purchase the book or get more information, click here.

Liberty Magazine, founded in 1906, continues to be the preeminent resource for matters of religious freedom. Subscribe a friend or send a copy to a thought leader in your community. Learn more right here.

Be Inspired 

How should Seventh-day Adventist’s handle political questions?


“The Lord would have His people bury political questions. On these themes silence is eloquence. Christ calls upon His followers to come into unity on the pure gospel principles, which are plainly revealed in the word of God. We cannot with safety vote for political parties; for we do not know whom we are voting for. We cannot with safety take part in any political scheme. Those who are Christians indeed will be branches of the true vine, and will bear the same fruit as the vine. They will act in harmony, in Christian fellowship. They will not wear political badges, but the badge of Christ.
What are we to do, then? – Let political questions alone. There is a large vineyard to be cultivated; but while Christians are to work among unbelievers, they are not to appear like worldlings. They are not to spend their time talking politics or acting politics; for by so doing they give the enemy opportunity to come in and cause variance and discord. God's children are to separate themselves from politics, from any alliance with unbelievers. Do not take part in political strife. Separate from the world, and refrain from bringing into the church or school ideas that will lead to contention and disorder. Dissension is the moral poison taken into the system by human beings who are selfish.” (Gospel Workers, pp. 391-395)

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Central Happenings is published by the Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist Church, 6045 Camellia Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95819 www.saccentral.org

Sacramento Central Staff: Chris Buttery, Senior Pastor; Mike Thompsons, Associate; Fred Dana, Associate; Michael Butler, Youth/Young Adult; JeAnn Davis, Bible Instructor

Central Happenings: Chris Buttery, Editor; Chrystal White, Copy Editor/Distributor