Welcome everyone! I’m Pastor Peter, and we are in the midst of our series Big Fish where we’ve been taking a look at the prophet Jonah and his story. What a great fish story… In fact, I heard this week that my friend Rick brought home 3 of these redfish… I love seeing these big fish pictures! Go ahead and text your big fish story with us at 941.404.5508 or email me at Peter@www.hopecitysrq.com.
Well today we are going to continue in Jonah’s story. 3 weeks ago, I challenged you all to read through the book of Jonah every week, all 48 verses of it! It may be small, but I think you’ll find that it packs a punch! You can keep track of this on the YouVersion app, or with your good old fashioned bible and journal!
Well you guys are looking good today! Mother’s day is today, and you are looking sharp today! All cleaned up… I saw some of you out there in the lobby getting your family photo taken at the photo booth. SO GOOD! Some of you moms are like this is the only family photo you’ve had this year! If only it was Mother’s day every day! If you missed it on the way in, make sure that you get your picture taken after service today.
Have you guys ever found yourself in a moment where you have said, I wish I didn’t say that, or I wish that I did that I had done that differently… Of course, you have… We’ve all been in situations like this.
This past week I found myself in this exact spot… Apparently, I am a gluten for punishment because last Saturday I decided that I was going to change my eating habits… For 30 days, I decided to cut out sugar, dairy, and grains. COME ON PEOPLE… No Latte’s, No Sandwiches, and no chips and salsa! It’s killing me…
Well, not only was it killing me, but it was killing my attitude as well. And so Tiffany asked me one morning this week to help clean up after the kids and I muttered something under my breath that was less than pastor like, and she said, “What’s that? What did you say?” Immediately I knew… I was busted… We had a nice moment of heated fellowship. 😉 And it was all my fault. If only I had kept my mouth shut.
I know I’m not alone. We’ve all found ourselves wishing we could get a second chance, a do over, in fact, you may even have found yourself saying “IF ONLY” I had… or “If ONLY” I hadn’t…
Jonah is an incredible story. As we’ve said, the story of Jonah is often thought to be about a man and a fish, but in reality, this is really a story about sin and grace. It’s a story all about second chances!
Check this out. In chapter one God said to Jonah,
“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” Jonah 1:2
Don’t forget that Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, and the Assyrians were the most violent, evil people in this day. They were the original terrorists of the middle east. So, it’s no wonder that God took notice of their wickedness.
It’s like that kid in the grocery store who is pitching a fit… whining over the fact that mommy won’t buy me the cheese puffs. You can hear him from aisles away… Your in the spice aisle, and you can hear him way over in the chip aisle… Any moms out there feel this pain? We all see you kid. Your wickedness is on display for all to see…
Before I was a dad, I used to walk through the store and say, give me that kid for one hour and I’ll whip him into shape. I’d look at that mom and wonder what was wrong with her. Then… I… had… kids…, and now I just look at the dad with the whiny kid and nod my head. I feel you bro. We’ve got this. Let’s band together. In the name of Jesus we can conquer this demon.
I ran into this picture on Facebook, our young married group getting together to live life together and support one another… So good. It reminds me of why we have connect groups here at Hope City… because we are better together!
Nineveh and their wickedness was on display(map with three locations) for all to see, and God took note. So, he said to Jonah, go and preach to them. And Jonah was like, “yeah, let me just go pack my bags. FOR TARSHISH”
Well, while Jonah was running from God’s direction for his life, God used an incredible storm to get Jonah’s attention. Jonah gets tossed overboard and God provides a Big Fish to swallow Jonah. We talked about how what seems like could kill you, God can use to save you. Even in your darkest distress, deepest despair, we can cry out to God in prayer. And last week we did just that.
Last weekend I asked you to share your prayers of distress with me, and as promised, we prayed for you. God can work through any circumstance you are in when your heart is right.
And just as God hears your prayers of distress, God heard Jonah’s prayer. Look at what happens next in verse 10 of chapter 2.
And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
This is where we find Jonah, at an incredible crossroads. He’s experienced one of the most traumatic moments in his life, running from God, being thrown overboard, being swallowed by a big fish, and feeling like he might just die. And now this prophet gets puked up on the beach. What do you do next?
Turn with me in your bibles to Jonah chapter 3. That’s found on page 645 in the Bibles around you. I told you, we were going to become experts in this one page of scripture together. Hopefully you’re wearing out this section of your bible during this series.
Imagine the position Jonah is in. You’ve got to imagine that Jonah is saying right about now, IF ONLY… IF ONLY I WOULD HAVE LISTENED! Today I hope to help you figure out how we move forward from a fishy past. Let’s look at chapter 3 of Jonah.
“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 3: 1-2
Does this sound familiar? It should! This is the same thing that God asked Jonah to do in the very beginning. Go and preach… be my prophet. You’ve got to wonder if Jonah kind of had a twitch when he heard God’s word again.
But check out the change in Jonah, verse 3…
“Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh…” Jonah 3:3
Notice the change in Jonah’s heart. God says, Go and instead of saying NO, Jonah gets up, cleans off the fish vomit and starts walking towards Nineveh. That’s obedience remember, Delayed Obedience is really disobedience. And here we see Jonah providing us an example of what it means to be truly obedient.
God may be asking you to do something, to stop doing something, or to move towards someone, and in week one you were like, yeah, that’s good God. I’ll think about it. And now 3 weeks later you find that you still haven’t done it. The Holy Spirit may have been prompting you, sending up the daily notification, whispering in your ear, go do this… and you’ve said, yeah maybe later.
Jonah has a change of heart. Jonah has his moment of repentance, of turning from his sin and running towards God instead away from him. That’s what repentance means. It means to acknowledge your sin and go in the opposite direction. To put down the porn, to speak lovingly towards your spouse rather than bitterly, to pattern your life in the way of Jesus. Some of you are looking for a second chance, you need to know that your second chance lies in your willingness to repent.
See, one of the first things we learn from Jonah is that Repentance brings Restoration. Repentance is turning from your sin and going the other way. Jonah repents, and God comes back to him… God didn’t give up on him because of his past, No, God gave him a second chance! And Jonah obeyed.
Cassidy & Brandon
Do you know what’s tough? Obedience is tough… Let me tell you about my friend Cassidy & Brandon have been feeling like God is asking them to sell their house and move closer to Sarasota so that they can be closer to what God is doing through them here at Hope City Church. You know Brandon, he plays acoustic guitar, and Cassidy, some of you may not know her, but she is a volunteer staff member here at Hope City as our Hospitality Coordinator. And just a few days ago, they put their house up for sale, and they had an offer in 5 days and were under contract in 7 days. God honors obedience and moves in incredible ways through people who are obedient. And obedience inspires others to action as well…
Notice what else Jonah doesn’t do… Jonah doesn’t say, God… I’m a screw up… I’ve messed up, you couldn’t possibly want me… Find someone else. Find someone who has their life together. Jonah could have made every excuse in the book for why he shouldn’t be the prophet, or the messenger of God to the people of Nineveh, and yet he doesn’t. He moves forward. He gets up and heads to Nineveh.
You may feel like your faith is small. Or failure defines and disqualifies you… But you’d be wrong. See the God of Jonah is a God of second chances.
Maybe you’re divorced and think, I don’t have a chapter 2… Jonah says Think again. If you’ve failed in some area of your life, God has round two already prepared… Repentance brings restoration, and the restoration of Jonah had major implications. Look with me,
Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When Jonah’s warning 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. Jonah 3:4-6
Guys, this a beautiful picture of repentance… taking off the royal robes and putting on sackcloth. The king, was entitled to every comfort. And would not deny himself that comfort for any reason. He lived as he pleased, took what he wanted and covered himself in luxury. And when he heard Jonah’s message, what did he do?
He stripped off the luxury, he set aside his desires and buried his face in the ground in humility. He swapped the kingly robe for sackcloth. Do you know what sackcloth is? It’s a potato sack. It’s burlap. Can you imagine putting on some burlap boxers? Or throwing on a burlap shirt? No way! We wouldn’t dream of that…
When was the last time that you intentionally denied yourself something? Do you know what I’m learning in this diet change? I’m learning just how little I deny myself things. If I’m hungry, I eat something… And not only do I eat something, but I’ll eat whatever it is I want. Chips and salsa… YUP. Grab a quick coke with a lime? YUP… Why not? I mean, Live it up guys! Just live it up!!! Why not? Denying yourself is uncommon. In fact Diet puts the DIE in your daily diet… We don’t like deny ourself and yet it is a significant part of what it means to follow Jesus!
And yet, this is exactly what the king did. The king through repentance put himself in a posture of humility. He took off his royal clothes and traded the throne for the dust of the ground. Look what the king said next…
“Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals 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.” Jonah 3:7-9
Don’t forget who these people are… These are the Assyrians. This is modern day ISIS. They heard the heart of Jonah, and believed God and repented. Why? All because Jonah repented and was restored. The entire city is fasting… they are not eating or drinking so that they can focus more on God. Fasting is an incredible spiritual discipline that removes something from your life so that you can place something back in your life. They got serious about it… They stopped eating and drinking so that they could call urgently on God!
Think about it… Jonah’s one private decision made a public impact on an entire city! Look with me at verse 10:
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction that he had threatened. Jonah 3:10
An entire city was changed because of Jonah’s obedience. Why was Jonah capable of walking into the city of Nineveh and warning people of the consequences of running from God? Because he had just lived that out. He just saw the movie, bought the DVD and memorized all the lines. He knows as well as anyone else what it means to run from God. And now he walks confidently into the city of Nineveh and invites them to turn back to God.
Some of you in this room have a past that you would not want anyone else to know about, you’re embarrassed, you’re ashamed, and you’re held captive by the things that have happened to you, or you’ve done in your past. But the second thing we learn from Jonah today is that Your past perfectly positions you for your present. Think about it, who better to go to someone running from God than another runner…
Yes, you may have been through some stuff in your past that is embarrassing and painful. It may hurt to talk about, or let people in on. But you are not disqualified by your past, you are positioned by it.
Look what happens with Jonah. He runs from God, and by running from God, he saves an entire city who is running from God. Historically Nineveh followed the ways of the Lord for the next 100 years—or the next 2 generations of Ninevites followed Yahweh. Jonah’s repentance led to the repentance of an entire city. His second chance changed a city for 2 generations. Imagine what your second chance could do in your own life? What could God do in your family, in your marriage, in your relationships, in your kids if you would repent and obey? What if you went home today and apologized to your kids for something you have done. Or apologize to your mom today for something you did… What if, instead of just figuring out the grocery list with your spouse you actually sat down and listened to what their needs were.
Jonah was perfectly positioned for this mission. Your past positions you for your present, and your present matters to future generations!
Mom’s I want to talk to you for a second on this Mother’s Day… We celebrate you today! Mothering is not easy. It isn’t for the faint of heart. Some of you today might feel just like Jonah. You feel like you’re about to drown… You’ve been dealing with puke, and you’ve got kids chasing you around all day, following you everywhere you go, you can’t even pee in privacy, right? Or maybe your kids are a bit older and you are taxiing them all around town, and they are sucking the life out of you right now. Or maybe you’re like, I feel like Jonah because all I do is correct rebellious little people. I feel your pain Jonah! 😉
Don’t forget, just like Jonah, your actions are impacting the next generation of this city with the work you are doing today. The greatest thing you do with your life might not be something you do, but someone you raise. Mom’s model repentance for your kids… teach them what it means to turn from sin, and say sorry. Show them what it means to live a life that is connected to Jesus, and patterned after His ways.
I believe that mothering is one of the most significant and yet often overlooked roles in our culture. Don’t you ever say, I’m just a mom. You may be the most successful business woman, an industry leader, but your most important role is momma to those kids that God has placed in your life.
I believe in you. I want to support you! You can change the course of this next generation by the way you invest in your children.
Let’s not live “If only lives”. No one here has to live an if only life.
Some of you are living If only lives… you’ve been plagued by regret. You’ve been plagued by the what if… Peering into the past and recreating your present. You don’t need to live an if only life!
The decision is up to you. The choice is yours.
What does this look like for you? Because you have a decision to make, just like Jonah. Everyone has a decision to make. There isn’t one person in this room who is exempt from that.
For some of you today you need to decide to Turn Around,or Repent. To turn from your sin, to stop running and come home. To come back to God and experience His Grace and His love. Maybe you feel like I’m talking specifically to you today. It’s not me, that’s the Holy Spirit… Listen to Him. Will you repent? Will you say, “God I’m sorry. Help me to stop running from you, and run to you!” And in your repentance, watch for God’s restoration in your life!
Some of you need to decide to Obey. Obedience is submitting yourself to God’s authority. It’s listening to God’s voice and going and doing it. God may be asking you to obey Him in going somewhere… Maybe God is asking you to obey Him in some area of your life. Will you do it? God is sure to bless those who obey Him!
Today some of you need to decide to live a Jesus First life. You are putting Jesus first in your decisions, in your relationships, in your finances, in your speech, and in your careers. You can choose to live for yourself, or for Christ. And as Jesus says, in living your life for Christ, you move to experience life to the fullest!
No one in this room is too far gone. No one in this room is beyond a second chance. Don’t live life saying the words, “IF ONLY”, “IF ONLY I HAD”_______. Your second chance is right now. God is a God of second chances. In fact, God’s grace is waiting for you right now. He’s waiting to forgive you from running and welcome you home.
Sarasota needs you! Hope City needs you. God loves you just the way that you are, but He loves you enough not to leave you the way that you are… Your decision today, has the potential to impact an entire city’s tomorrow!
Let’s pray together.