The Big Buffet from the Book of Jonah
The Big Buffet from the Book of JonahPastor Wes Aarum - January 6, 2019
Community Group Study Notes
- Which one or two of the truths that were highlighted in the message spoke to you and why?
- Is there anything about Jonah, the person, that you could relate to? In what way(s)?
- Read through Jonah 2:1-9. Share one thing from this passage that stands out to you.
- How do you believe God wants you to live differently because of the truth you heard and discussed in your Community Group tonight?
Well good morning, for those of you who don't know me, my name is Wes and it is my privilege and honor to be able to share God's truth with you today. I'm really excited about that. I mean that. Before we go any farther can we just say thank you to the players and the tech team for leading us in worship this morning. Can we just thank them? They don't do it for this, but man, come one. I just ... That's good stuff. We are so blessed to have this great team, from the ushers to the people in the parking lot, to our grounds team. Everybody just comes together so this thing called Sunday gathering here at the Chapel can happen, super excited about it.
So, 2019. I think we need to ask the question right up front, how many of you like a good buffet? Can I just see ... How many have ever been to a dessert buffet? Ever been to one of those? First time I ever went to one I'm like "Oh my gosh, all this sugar in one spot, this is amazing. I'm so, so excited by it." Here's why I bring that up. Because today we are going to have a different kind of buffet. A truth buffet. We're going to, together, as a church, we're going to walk through a book of the Bible and we're going to lay out on the table a whole bunch of truth.
For those of you who love to take notes, this is jackpot Sunday for you. This is jackpot Sunday for you. Because if you got the flyer right there you are going "Usually there's one or two blanks." You are like "What, is there a mistake?" Nope, we're going to do all that, man. It's going to be awesome. Here's the thing. The difference between this buffet and regular buffets where you just go in and pick and choose, this is where we ask God, say "God, there is a lot of truth on the table. Which one do you want from me?" And we have God go "Hey, here's what you need. This is the one you need right here, right now. In this space, in this place, in this season of your life, this is the truth you need right now." Because he knows what you need today. Some of you, man you are here and you got a good look going on inside, man, you are discouraged. Today you need hope. Some of you, you've got all kinds of questions about God. Some of you, you need an encouraging but stern wake up call. Some of us, need direction. God knows the truth you need. We are going to put a whole bunch on the table today. But I want us to ask God "Where's the one that you need? Which one for me?" And he'll say "Here's the one that you need."
You know what makes a great buffet super great? Appetite. All right. It can be the greatest buffet in the world but if you are not hungry, it's not going to matter. But if you are hungry, even a mediocre buffet can be amazing, right? But this is the best buffet because it's God's word, God's truth, so we need to be hungry. So I want us to pray together, ask God to give us a hunger for his truth, a hunger for his word. Then he'll point out that one truth that he wants for us today. Because he's got a plan for your life. Listen, I've got nothing to offer you. I have no words that I can give you that's going to change your life. But God's word can change you life. I really believe that. I've been praying that God will help us be hungry today, and that we'll walk out of here and walk away from that screen different, because we've encountered him.
So let's pray together. I'm going to invite you to bow your heads and close your eyes and just ask God to speak to you. Say "Lord, what's that one truth you want for me today? Show me, open my heart. Give me a hunger for you and your word today." God we bow before you, we acknowledge that you are the king. You have the words of life that we need. We are humble, so grateful Jesus, what you've done for us, I'll never get used to that. Lord, you know what each one of us needs today. You brought us here. You, through your sovereignty, arranged the details of our life to put us here under the hearing of your word. So God, speak to our hearts. Don't let us be callous, don't let us be hard, don't let us listen to the enemy. I pray that your word would cut clean and straight and that we would hear. That Lord our souls would be satisfied. That Lord we would praise you, that we'd walk out of here talking about how awesome you are today. Because you alone are worth. Thank you Christ, give us ears to hear and hearts to respond today. We pray this in your name, Jesus. Amen.
Grab your bibles and open up to the book of Jonah, all right? Jonah. I want you to get the Bible, whether you brought with you or the hard copy that's maybe in front of you or on your electronic device. You need to get this, because here's what we are going to do, we're going to read through the entire Book of Jonah, yup, we're going to do that, man. We're going to start 2019, you're going to be able to go "Hey, I started 2019, I read through a whole book of the Bible, as a church family." Yep, we're going to do that so I want you to have it in front of you because it's not going to be on the screen. So I want you to be able to see it. If you're like "I'm not sure where Jonah is." Go to Matthew, the first book in the New Testament, hang a left about eight books and boom, you will land on it. Jonah.
Now, when you hear the word Jonah we probably think of the most famous thing associated with Jonah, right? Jonah and the ... Yeah, there you go, whale. Actually, it doesn't say whale in the text, it says great fish. Yeah, that's what we're thinking. I know you've probably heard this, because I've heard it, "Oh man, that's just a story. That's just a fable. That didn't really happen. That's just an allegory." Here's what we need to know. Jesus Christ at least two times in his earthly ministry referenced Jonah. In fact, one of the times he compared his time that he would have after the crucifixion, in the tomb three days and three nights, with Jonah's experience in the belly of the great whale three days and three nights. Jesus taught Jonah as historical fact. So if you have a problem with Jonah you have a bigger problem with Jesus, all right? So we're going to treat Jonah the way Jesus did, that it actually happened, it's true, it took place, and we're going to get in to it, okay. So here we go.
We're going to start out Chapter 1, Verse 1, if you guys are ready for this say 'yeah'. Oh come on, if you are ready for this say 'yeah'. Come one, this is the word of God, we are going to get in to this thing. Here we go. Chapter 1, Verse 1, I'm reading from the new international version, says this:
The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own God. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your God! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.” Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on
Wait for it.
Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so. The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?" “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, oh Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, oh Lord, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.
But the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights. From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, brought my life up from the pit, oh Lord my God. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
Chapter 3, Verse 1. Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city; a visit required three days. On the first day Jonah started into the city, he proclaimed, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast , and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
Sackcloth is an outward display of an inward attitude of deep repentance.
When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
But to Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Oh Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, oh Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” But the Lord replied, “Have you any right to be angry?” Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live." But God said to Jonah, “Do you have any right for you to be angry about the vine?" “I do,” he said. “I'm angry enough to die.”
But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
Man what a story, twists and turns and ending, you're like what? So let's start the buffet. Ready, here we go, right out of the gate, Chapter 1 Verse 1 says this: The word of the Lord came to Jonah. Here is the first point. God communicated. Jonah 1. God communicates. God is not a God who is deaf, who is mute, who is unconcerned, who is a distant deity who is disconnected. God communicates. He wants us to know truth. He wanted Jonah to know truth. He wanted the Ninevites to know truth. He wants us to know truth. God has communicated to us, through the amazing voice of creation. Through Jesus Christ and through his word. Listen, you want to get to know God? Then get to know the word that he inspired. This is where he speaks. God wants you to know truth, he knows what's coming down the road for you. He wants to speak in to you life with that knowledge. God is a God who communicates.
Second is this: Our obedience does not require our full understanding. God says to Jonah, verse 2, "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it." Now, let me give you a little background on that. Because that right there made absolutely no sense to Jonah. He had to be going, "What, are you kidding me?" Because here's the thing. Nineveh was a big, key, important, strategic city. Powerful city in the Assyrian empire. And Assyrians, they were brutal. They were bloodthirsty. I mean it was ... Closest thing we would have today is if there was a terrorist state and everybody in that country just wanted to kill somebody. This is, let me give you one historian's take on it.
He says this: Assyria was one of the cruelest and most violent empires of ancient times. Assyrian kings often recorded, check this out, recorded the results of their military victories gloating over whole planes littered with corpses and of cities burned completely to the ground. One emperor is well known for depicting torture, dismembering, and decapitations of enemies in grizzly detail on large stone relief panels, for everybody to see. Assyrian history is "As gory and blood curdling a history as we know."
These were Israel's enemies. They hated the Jewish nation. They hated them. So, imagine Jonah pictured himself going down the streets of Nineveh, bloodthirsty, hates him. It'd be like a Jew going down the center street of Nazi Germany in the 1940s proclaiming disaster against Hitler. How long do you think he's last? Yeah, like a hot second. That had to be what Jonah was thinking. Or, maybe he's thinking "What if they actually respond to God's word. Why in the world would God want to help our enemies?" Taking this together, this didn't make any sense to Jonah. Here's the thing, God didn't ask Jonah to understand, he asked him to obey. Because guess what? God is smarter than Jonah, he knows more than Jonah, and he's working out a good plan. Even though Jonah couldn't see it in the moment.
The same is true for you and for me. God knows more than we do. He's smarter than us and he's working out a good plan even though in the moment maybe you can't see it. Listen, if you've got an obedience problem, you don't have an understanding problem, you've got a trust problem. You don't trust God. You don't really believe he's good. That's Satan's play, man. That is his play way back in the garden at the beginning of time. He wants us to doubt God's goodness. He wants us to doubt that God is really for us, because if he can get us in that line of thinking then he knows there's a good chance that we will take matters in to our own hands. We'll start to live our lives on our own. That path is only a path of ruin and destruction, as we see here in Jonah's life.
Third truth right here. You never sin alone. Jonah 1:1. Go and preach against it, because it's wickedness has come up before me. God always sees. He always sees. You never sin alone. You can't hide from him. He sees it. He sees sin of action, sin of attitudes, sin of thoughts of the heart. He knows. You know something you'll never hear God say? "Wow, I didn't know that." Those words will never come from God, all right? Because he knows. God sees and he knows. You can fool everybody else but you can't fool God, because he sees, he knows. Here's the good side of that. You can be honest with him, man. You don't have to be worried that you are going to surprise him. You're not going to come up in confession and say "What about this sin, God?" And he's like "Oh, I didn't see that." Right? That's not going to happen. He knows. So we can come clean with God. We can be honest with him, man, we can pour it out because he already knows. Because you never sin alone.
Here's the next truth. God gives us freedom to disobey. Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish and jumped on a ship. He wasn't going on a little prayer cruise, okay. Hey I've got a prayer I want God talked to me about, all right? This ship was going 180 degrees away from Nineveh, as far as he could. God gives us the freedom to disobey, he does. You know a real relationship, a love relationship, which is what God wants with us, can't be forced. Revelations 3:20 says this: Jesus stands at the door, door of our heart. He says "I stand at the door and knock." The door of our heart. "If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in." He's not going to bust the door down. You've got to open the door. The door of your heart is locked from the inside. Here's the thing about knocking. When it first starts, you notice it. But if you don't do anything with that, over time you get used to it. It becomes white noise. After a while, you don't hear it at all. God is knocking on the door to your heart. You need to respond. You need to respond before it's too late. God gives us the freedom to disobey. Here's the great news: He's not okay with that. That's not the final word, either.
Let's look at this next truth. God pursues us, even in our disobedience. What he did for Jonah. Verse 4: The Lord sent a great wind. God went after Jonah, not because he needed Jonah, he wanted Jonah. He doesn't need us, he wants us. So he comes after us, even in our disobedience, which is unbelievable to me. I give God 100 reasons a day to give up on me, but he doesn't. Because that's his heart. We need to know that and believe that and filter our life through that lens when in the moment things may not make sense to us.
This is the next truth. This is a big one. Sometimes a storm is really a rescue. Sometimes a storm is really a rescue. Right here. And the Lord sent a great wind and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. Jonah was headed on a path of disobedience, of compromise, he was headed for a wasted life and God slammed a storm right in front of him to shut the door. To stop him dead in his tracks. To say "What are you doing? Turn around, man." The storm wasn't there to destroy Jonah, it was there to rescue him. Because sometimes a storm is a rescue.
Just ask really honestly, if you are here today and you are wandering from God, or walking away from God, playing games with God, and you're headed a path away from him. What does God have to put in your path to wake you up. What does God, who loves you passionately, have to put in your path to say "Hey, what are you doing? Turn around. You know you are going the wrong way. You know you are doing wrong. Turn around." What does he have to do? That doesn't mean that every storm is offered by God, because God is not the author of evil. We understand that. But sometimes, sometimes he will put a storm there. Help us reevaluate what we are doing, what we are living for.
Can I say a quick word to those of us who are parents? And we have two kids we love. Sometimes kids get in to their own storms, of their own making, a storm of consequences. What do we do as parents? What do we want to do? We want to rush in and save them. Can I suggest to us that maybe, maybe, maybe we're not actually rescuing them from the storm we are actually rescuing them away from God's activity. We're trying to save them from God and what he wants to do in their life. Because I bet you know this is true, because I know it's true in my life. Think of the moment when you really press them to God. You were really hanging on to God, you were just going after him. You got to go deep with him. You are just like "God, I need you." You got close to him. Weren't many of those times stormy seasons in your life? I bet they were.
Elizabeth Elliot she says it this way "God will never protect you from something that will make you more like Jesus. God will never protect you from something that will make you more like Jesus. The most famous Psalm in all the bible, Psalm 23, one of the phrases say "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death." That's a storm. "I will fear no evil." Why? Very next sentence, "For thou are with me." God just doesn't shot instructions to us when we are in the valley, he joins us there in the valley. If you are in a valley today, God is there. If you look around you will see him. If you are believer he's right there. He's right there. Because again, the storm wasn't there to destroy Jonah, it was there to rescue him. Sometimes a storm is a rescue.
Our next truth. Your sin always affects others. Everyone on that boat was affected by Jonah's wrong choice. By Jonah's sinful choice. The person who thinks "Hey, I can sin, I can life my life the way I want to and it's not going to affect anybody else." Is naïve and wrong. Because the Bible says otherwise. Our simple choices ripple, man, they ripple. Proverbs 13:20 "A companion of fools suffers harm." Not might suffer harm, not could suffer harm, will suffer harm. A fool is someone who is running from God. Paul says it first Corinthians 15:33 he says "Bad company corrupts good morals." Ripples, man. Your sin affects others.
This is where the story starts to turn in a good way for Jonah. Here's the truth associated with that. You got to own your own sin, man. You've got to confess. Look at verse 12. Chapter 1. Jonah said "Pick me up and throw me in to the sea." He replied, "And it will become calm because I know that it's my fault that this great storm has come upon you." You got to own your sin. You got to confess. That's what he did. He says "This is my fault." Owning your sin, confession, that word confession means, listen, it means 'to say the same thing as'. So when God puts his finger on something in your life and he says "Man, this is wrong, it stinks, it's got to go." You don't go "Oh, it's not that bad." Or you try to justify it or you look side to side to see what's somebody else doing. Uh-uh. Confession means you agree with God. It's wrong, it stinks, it needs to go from my life.
Then you turn, it's called repentance, confession and repentance go together. You turn. See that's where some of us get in trouble, because we don't turn. We stay right there in that "Oh my gosh, I'm awful, I feel so bad." You know what that is? That's regret. Regret will never change your story, only repentance will. Regret will never change the trajectory or the narrative of your life, only repentance will. Repentance is "I don't want that, I'm going to turn towards God. I'm going to move in God's direction." And sin, by the way, God's got to define that. You don't define that. I don't define that. Our culture doesn't define it. God says "Listen, sin is life taken. Sin is life taken." God says, "I want to give you life so follow me, listen to my instructions, obey what I have to say, don't let the culture or people around you determine what's right and what's wrong." Our laws don't determine that, terms of sin, God says that. Because there is stuff that's legal that's not okay with God. Porn, for example. Not okay with God. Legal, but not okay with God. So we let God's word be the final authority on our lives. And when God puts his finger on something it's not to condemn you, it's to rescue you. Confession and repentance. Repentance is where we get clean, man, it's a gift from God. Say "I don't want my sin, I want to follow God."
So, Jonah's life starts to turn. Here's the great thing. Look at this. God doesn't give up on us. He doesn't give up on us, man. Look at verse 17. But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah. God provided a marine-land Uber to get Jonah to where he wanted to be. Where he wanted him to be. Where he needed him to be. Where Jonah needed to be. Right? He did that. God doesn't give up on us. Can I just tell you, listen, okay. Just us, full confession, all right? Don't judge me, okay? I'm just telling you that. Don't judge me, all right? When I was in college and I was trying to figure out what to do with my life I'm like "God what do you ..." Because my fear was I'm going to make a mistake, I'm going to miss God's will and then my life is going to be bad. I'm going to be living in the wrong place, I'm going to be married to some ugly woman, she has a nice personality but it's going to be awful and her parents are nice but it's going to be awful, I'm going to be doing the wrong thing. Okay, look, I was knucklehead, okay, I understand that. I get that. I'm just being honest with you. I was freaked out about it. It was super stressful.
God, in his mercy, directed me to the story of Jonah. He says "Wes, look at Jonah. I clearly communicated my will to him. He ran the other way. Look at everything that I did in his life to turn him around and get him where I wanted him to be to do what I wanted him to do. If I am willing to do that to somebody like Jonah imagine what I would be willing to do for someone who actually wants my will." That was huge for me. Huge peace. If you are here today and you're struggling with direction in your life, find yourself in an between space, like what's going on? You know what? Lean in to God with open hands. Say "God, I want your will. I want your will. Whatever you want, I want to hear it." That'll direct you, man. If he's going to do that for Jonah, imagine what he'll do for someone who says, "I want your will."
Chapter 2, Jonah is in the whale. A lot of stuff here. One thing I want to point out to you, Verse 8, here's what it is. Idols only deliver loss. They only deliver loss. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. Forfeit, no one steal it from you, you give it up. God says "I want to give you grace." But if you hang on to idols you are going to lose it, you are going to miss it, you are going to forfeit it, you are going to give it up. What's an idol? Idol is anything that we look to instead of God. If I just had blank, then I'd be happy. How do you fill in that blank, honestly? Because that's your God. That's who you worship, what you worship. If that's not God, if that ain't Jesus, then whatever you put there will only deliver loss to you.
Idols are the ultimate satisfaction scam. Because they promise this but they can only deliver this. Because they don't have the power to deliver what we honestly want from them. Fulfillment, satisfaction, they don't have that power. So if we hang on to idols we will forfeit the grace that God wants to give us. Every day, God wants to give you grace. Every moment he wants to pour grace in to your life. But when you hang on to that idol every moment you are missing the grace that God wants to give you. So don't do it. Repent from your idols. Say "I don't want that, I don't want you. I don't want you." Because you are going to forfeit the grace that God wants to give you. That's the truth.
Chapter 3, Verse 1 gives us this next truth. God gives second chances. Aren't you happy about that? I'm so grateful for that. It says "Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time." He was ready to hear it now because he'd gone through God's discipline. Didn't have to but he'd had to go that path. God went after him and brought him back a second time. God gives second chances. If you think "I'm done, man, I've blown it. God can't use me." Wrong. Thanks for playing, wrong answer, all right? God gives second chances, it says so right here in his word. This is the truth of who God is, how he responds to us. Here is the next one. God's message has the power to change lives. Verse 4, on the first day Jonah started in to the city he proclaimed "40 more days and Nineveh will be overturned." The Ninevites believed God.
In the English version of the Bible, the Hebrew here translated, eight words in English. Eight words, that's it. That was the message. Eight words. And an entire city dropped to its knees and turned to God. Eight words. It wasn't because Jonah had such an amazing delivery or incredible visual aids. The power of God's word. Here at the Chapel why we always want to push ourselves in to God's word, in to his truth. Because you connect with God it has the power to change, transform our hearts, transform our lives. That's why we want to, this month we are going to be talking all month long about community group, if you call the Chapel your home. We want that for you because we want you to get in to God's word with somebody else, brother and sister, who's going to encourage you. Encourage you, listen, Satan hates you. He wants you to follow the wrong path. Listen to me. You are either going to be somebody's reason or somebody's excuse. You are either going to be somebody's reason, by the way you live your life, that man, you make God believable. They are going to want to know Jesus. Or, you are going to be somebody's excuse by the way you life your life, not to follow Christ. It's one or the other.
God says "This is what I have." If you are over here the good news is you can get over here. I've spent times wandering over here. God's always said "Come on, you've got a second chance, get in to my word, it will change your life." It'll change your life.
Next truth. God's desire is repentance not destruction. Verse 10, when God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. Ever hear people go "Man, the Bible, God in the Bible he's all wrath and he's angry and he's fire and brimstone." I want to look at them and go "Man, do you even read the Bible. Really, do you seriously even read the Bible." Because that's not what the Bible says. Sure, God deals with evil, and by the way you don't want to live in a world where God doesn't deal with evil, where there is no justice. But God's heart is repentance, not destruction. He wants to rescue you from that evil. He wants repentance from us. He wants us connected to him. He wanted to rescue the Ninevites. That's his heartbeat for you and for me. That's what he wants because that's who he is.
Look, again, Chapter 4. Look what Jonah said, he says, "Oh Lord, I knew that you were gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." That's God's heartbeat today. It's serious business, man, it's serious business.
Next truth, two more. Am I willing to go and be used by God in any situation, regardless of the outcome? Chapter 4, Verse 1. Jonah was greatly displeased, became angry. Why? Because Jonah didn't want God to rescue his enemies, he wanted God to roast his enemies. That's what he wanted. Guess what? God didn't do that. He obeyed God and he wanted this from God, God didn't do it, he did something different. He got mad. Ever been there? "God I'll do this. I did this for you and then you didn't come through for me the way I thought you should. The way I wanted you to so I'm mad." Ever had that happen? I have. Like "What's the deal?" God knows what he's doing. He's got a plan. Am I willing to go and be used by God regardless of the outcome? Or maybe for you it's this "Lord I've been trying to be faithful, I've been praying for my marriage, I've been praying for my kids, I've been praying for my coworkers and I've been trying to serve you here and I'm seeing nothing." Satan's right there going "See, God's not worth it."
Listen to me, this is great news. God is not all about rewarding outcomes. He's all about rewarding faithfulness, and faithful obedience. When every one of us stands before Jesus and every single one of us will, and if you are here and you don't know Christ you are going to stand before him as your judge. That will be the worst day of your existence. But if you are a believer you are going to stand before him as your savior. According to Matthew 25, you know what we can hear him say and the thing we would want to hear him say "Well done, good and faithful servant." Not, "Well done, good and successful servant." Or, "Productive servant." Or, "Strategic servant." Or, "Most liked servant." Faithful servant. That means that, regardless of what the outcomes are, if we are faithful we're doing the right thing and God is keeping track. We use the wrong score card. We think it's all about outcomes. And yes, outcomes are important, of course we want to pray towards those things. But at the end of the day God says "Outcomes are my business man, you can't change your heart, only I can change your heart. Your role is to be faithful and I'm taking notes."
So every time you pray but you don't see anything God says, "I saw that prayer, I'm recording it, I'm taking notes on your faithfulness, I'm taking notes." When you're striving and you're just taking the heat because everybody else around you is running towards the wrong place and you're trying to run towards God, and it just seems exhausting. God says, "Be encouraged, because I'm taking notes. You're being faithful, I'm going to reward you for that." Man, that's encouraging for me. It's encouraging to me, it should be encouraging to us. Because God wants us to know that. Am I willing to go and be used by God, regardless of the outcomes? Because that's what he wants. That's what he wants.
Last one, right here. Our wrong desires make us blind to God's grace, priorities, and blessings. Man, you don't have to look any further than the story of Jonah for that. Because Jonah's desires were wrong. They weren't aligned with God's desires. He was worried about his enemies getting roasted and divined, and where's that, how come you don't put shade on my head? He was more concerned about that then the souls of the Ninevites. So he was really messed up in terms of desires. He missed out on so much, and so will we. Listen. First he missed out on God's grace. He forgot that not long ago he was just as lost and just as hostile towards God as the Ninevites. He'd forgotten that God rescued him. He's forgotten God's grace about that. And that God had just given him a big fat second chance. He forgot all of that. He was blind to it. Why? He had the wrong desires. You'll be blind to it, too. You'll be blind to it, too. So will I.
If we don't have God's desires, if we don't align our hearts with him then guess what? We'll forget the grace that he's poured on us. We'll become bitter. We'll become judgemental. We'll become harsh. We'll miss God's grace. We'll miss his priorities. God's priority is that people come to know him. He doesn't want destruction he wants repentance. His heart is for people to come to know him. But if your desires are wrong you will be blind to that. You'll start your own priority system, which is all messed up, and you'll head down the wrong path of life.
And third, man this is huge, in Jonah's life and in our life too. You'll miss the blessing of God. You'll miss him. Think about this. Jonah. Eight words. Over 120,000 people dropped, professed their allegiance to God. That's more than 17 times the population of Getzville. Imagine standing midfield in New Era field. That place is jammed and you stand up to the microphone and you speak eight words that God has given you and everybody in that stadium drops to their knees and seriously, genuinely, pursues God. How would you feel? Would you be up there going "I didn't really like what I had to wear today, this is awful. This outfit, in front of all these people." Are you kidding me? You wouldn't worry about that stuff. "Whoa, God allowed me to be a part of this?" Jonah, he was a part of one of the greatest in recorded Old Testament history and he missed it all. 120,000 people dropping to their knees, proclaiming their allegiance to God and he's blind to it all. When he should have been praising he was pouting. The same will happen to you and me if we have wrong desires, if we're not following God all the blessings that he puts all around us, we won't see them. We will be blind to them. We will miss out on some of the greatest moment, of rejoicing and soul satisfaction because of following God.
First time I read Jonah I got to the last sentence "Should I not be concerned about that great city?" And I'm like "Am I missing a page in my Bible? That's it? That's how it ends? What kind of ending is that?" God draws Jonah attention, right, to the fact that he cares about the people that don't know him and wants to rescue him. He puts that question right there, front and center, and leaves it on the table for Jonah. Then ends the book. Very open ended. Know why? Here it is, ready? Because it wasn't over for Jonah yet. It's just like God gave Jonah the pen and said "All right, how do you want this story to end? How do you want it to end? I'm giving you a chance and a choice. How do you want it to end? How do you want this story to end? Because you've got two options. Two. You can continue on your path of wrong desires and wrong priorities or you can repent fully and you can follow me. How do you want it to end?" God does the same for us today.
He's put a truth, there's a lot of truths that we've just rifled through here this morning on the table. But there's one that God wants to pick from that and say "This is yours. This is the one you need right now." What are you going to do? He's giving you a chance and a choice just like he gave Jonah. "How do you want the next chapter of your life to go? Here's the pen. How do you want it to look? Here's my truth. What are you going to do?" It's 2019, a brand new year, what do you want this year to look like. A better question, what does God want this year to look like for you. What's the one choice you need to make right now?
He's passionate for you. He's brought you here to speak something directly to your heart. Please, please, listen to him. Let's pray. With your heads bowed and your eyes closed just for a moment, thank you much, you guys are always so gracious. I super appreciate that. What did got speak to you about? What is the heart of your father? If you are here and you are believer what is the heart of your father? What is he speaking to you about, man?
Some of you, you might have something in your life you need to own. It's a sin, you need to repent. Or maybe God's been knocking on your heart about something and you've been putting him off and you need to stop that. You need to open the door to your heart. Maybe you need to be reminded that God has not forgotten and he's still at work. Be faithful. Maybe you need to be reminded he's not giving up on you. He's the God of second chances and there is enormous hope. Whatever God has talked to you about take a moment right now in this minute, respond to him. He's handing you the pen, man. What are you going to do? How are you going to write the rest of this story for him?
Final question and we are done. If you are here and you've never invited Christ in to your life you are like the Ninevites. You are like them, in that just as they were alienated from God, you are alienated from God. We are all sinners. We are born sinners. Sinners by birth, sinners by truth. God levels the playing field. We are all sinners and we all need a savior, that is why he sent Jesus. Because he doesn't want us to go to hell. He doesn't want us to pay for our own sins. He doesn't want us to be at the mercy of our own sins. He wants to rescue us.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only son. That died on the cross for you and for me. So whoever believes in him, wide open invitation, whoever believes in him, surrenders their life to him, will not perish but will have eternal life, a home in heaven, a relationship with God. If that is you. If that is you today and you want to open the door of your heart and you say "I need a savior, I want Jesus to save me, to forgive me of my sins. I want to know him. I want to follow him." If that is you then just tell him. Right where you are right now just tell him. You can say something like this, not out loud just use these words to help you if you need them. Silently just pray "Dear Jesus, I am a sinner, I know it, I need a savior. I know I can't save myself. I believe Jesus died for me, for my sin. He has eternal life to give me. I want that. I want you. So I turn from my sin. I repent, I don't want it. I turn to you. Come in to my life right now. Come in to my life right now. I'm all yours. I'm all yours.