Jonah: A man on the run: What to do when you get a second chance.
God has a purpose for every life: we all have a life mission. We weren’t made to live for ourselves. The Bible story of Jonah teaches how to know our mission and to understand that it is never too late to start on our mission. Have you ever felt surrounded by a hopeless situation? We’re all going to have moments that make us feel hopeless in this life. The Bible story of Jonah that we’ll discuss here explains what to do. When we hit bottom we need to look up to God, pray passionately, identify the cause of our hopelessness, ask God for specific help, get our focus off of our problems and onto God’s goodness, accept His grace, and thank Him in advance with gratitude.
Something To Talk About:
- Live with profound gratitude: I need to wake up every day saying, “Thank you, God, you have given me another chance. You’ve given me another opportunity. You’ve given me another moment of mercy and grace. Your mercy is new every morning. The first thing you do when you get a second chance is start living with a profound sense of gratitude to God for His goodness, for His grace, and you demonstrate how you are thankful to God for giving you another chance. Now, Jonah does this. In fact, he did it even before he gets out of the belly of that great fish. While he’s in the deep, deep part of the ocean in Jonah 2:9: “But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.” Everything I have comes from God, and I give part of it back to him as a symbol of gratitude, saying, “I realize it all comes from you.” You don’t really own anything. It wasn’t yours before you were born, it’s not going to be yours after you die. You only get to use it. God owns everything in the world, He loans it to you.
- Make my life mission my top priority: After I’ve been given a second chance, it’s not the time to keep on doing the wrong stuff. It’s not the time to keep on doing what I’ve been doing, being selfish, thinking about me, thinking about what I want, what I need, and not even thinking about God in my life. No, no, this is not the time to keep living the way I want. He’s given me another chance to make the mission He has for my life, my top priority. 2 Corinthians 6:1 says this, “As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.” God has let you off the hook so many times, do not let the grace of God be for nothing. Jonah 3:1-2, says this, “Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.” Now, this is the exact same wording as in chapter 1. His mission has not changed. Jonah has gone through an awful lot of problems since chapter 1. He’s been running from God, he’s been through all kinds of problems, he’s been in the shipwreck, a storm, he’s been thrown overboard, and he’s been swallowed by a great fish. But when he’s given a second chance, he makes the most of it. Your mission has not changed. No matter what you’ve been through, no matter how many problems you’ve had, how much stress you’ve gone through, how many losses you’ve had, how many sins you’ve committed, hasn’t done one thing to change your life mission. What God created you for, what He designed you for is still in full force.
- Don’t delay – obey today: When God gives you a second chance, this is no time for procrastination. “Well, I think I will do what God made me to do, but I’m going to have a little bit more fun with my life first. I think I’m going to do what God wants me to do, but I’ve got to make a bunch of money first.” Or, “I’ve got to get married first,” or, “I’ve got to get through school first.” This is not a time to procrastinate on your life mission. When you’re given a second chance, you go at it immediately. You don’t delay, you obey today. Jonah gets the message to do what he was told to do in the first place and immediately headed to Nineveh. Would you? If God had given you a second chance like Jonah, don’t you think you’d probably say, “I’m going to get with whatever God told me to do in the first place? I spent enough time going in the wrong direction with my life. Now I’m going to make up for some time, I’m going to go fast in the right direction.”
- Accept my responsibility to warn others: Warning others was certainly part of Jonah’s life mission. And if you are a follower of Christ, there are going to be some times in your life when you are called on to warn some people out of love. Jonah warned the people. Now, what is a warning? Because if this is part of your life mission, then you need to know how to do a warning. A warning is cautionary advice about a danger, a trap, or a problem. That’s a warning. Warning others shows that you love God. It also shows that you love other people. Part of Jonah’s life mission was going to the city, and warning people. Jonah gets it all wrong, and yet, still, God used him. People think warnings are negative. They’re actually an example or an illustration, or an expression of love because you’re going, “I’m warning you so you won’t go through all this pain, you won’t go through all these problems.” Here’s the other question. Who is God going to hold you responsible for one day because you said nothing and let them destroy their lives? You just let them walk off the cliff, and you said nothing. This is important. This is not your whole life mission, but it is one facet, one factor in it.
- Expect God to use me: When God gives me another chance, expect God to use me. This is good news. I expect God to use me. See, God doesn’t keep you alive for you to live for yourself. He keeps you alive because He wants to use you. God doesn’t keep you alive, He doesn’t give you another chance just so you can retire and do nothing. No, God keeps you alive because He has a plan and a life mission that is still in operation whether you’ve done anything about it or not up to this point. And He’s saying, “I want to use you.” See, one of the problems, a common mistake, is we turn these people in the Bible into superheroes. There are no superheroes in the Bible, they’re all just ordinary people, ordinary women, ordinary men like you and me. Jonah’s an ordinary guy, he doesn’t want to do what God says to do. God gives him a turnaround, he goes and does what God tells him to do. He doesn’t even do it correctly, not even with the right attitude. But God still uses it and He wants to use each one of us.
- What blocks people from accepting a second chance from God?
- Everyone share one thing you are grateful for. After reading Psalm 92:1-2, discuss how to incorporate gratitude into your daily routine.
- God saw the people of Nineveh had turned from their evil ways. Why? They listened to Jonah’s seven-word sermon and believed. Like Paul after him, Jonah finally understood he’d been given a second chance to deliver God’s message. Is there a warning message God has given you to deliver to someone? Have you delivered or received a warning message? What resulted?
- Paul says “… my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” (Acts 20:24) Paul says that his mission is to tell people about God’s grace. What are practical steps you can take to live this out?
- We are to humbly accept and lovingly give warnings: Share experiences with warning others and receiving a warning. How effective are we in this?
- What do you feel is God’s purpose for your life? In what ways has God given you a second chance to fulfill that purpose?
- “A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.” (Proverbs 28:13 LB) Discuss the significance of this verse.
- How do you hope to grow or change through this sermon series? What was your biggest takeaway from chapter 3 of Jonah’s story?
Take one thing home with you:
Waking up feeling purposeless is incredibly frustrating. You look around and see your friends and coworkers living passionate, engaged, meaningful lives. They have deep relationships, rewarding jobs, and a sense of direction that compels them to hop out of bed each morning with a spring in their step. You know that God has something good in store for you. He doesn’t want a life of drudgery for you. After all, the Bible is chock full of passages about joy. While this certainly doesn’t mean that every single day is a parade and circus, it does mean that an overall sense of gladness should permeate your life.
In Psalm 63:7, David said, “Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.” Begin living a meaningful, enthusiastic, joyful mission oriented life.