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Jonah – Chapter 4

MESSAGE TRANSCRIPTION: 

All right. My name is Brandon, and I’m the High School Student pastor here, and Facilities pastor here. And I’m so excited to be with you guys, this morning, because we are closing out on our Jonah series. And if you’ve not been with us the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at the life of Jonah, going through the book of Jonah. Now, before we jump into this last chapter, before we jump into chapter four, I want to bring you up to speed, so we can better understand where we are headed this morning. 

 

So in week one, Carla opened us up in chapter one. And right off the bat, we learned so much about Jonah. We learned that God had placed a calling on Jonah’s life, and Jonah’s immediate response was to run in the opposite direction. He ran so hard that he ended up 2500 miles away from the place that God had actually called him to. And so two main things that we learned about God in this chapter. The first thing is that God is going to ask you and God is going to ask me to do things that we do not want to do. Just like God went to Jonah, and He asks him to do something that he did not want to do. God is going to come to us, and He’s going to ask us to do things that we do not want. And then the second thing that we learned is that sometimes we run in the opposite direction of where God’s calling us. God may send a storm into our lives to get our attention. 

 

Then in week two, Brooke picked it up, and we walked through Jonah’s prayer in chapter two. The prayer that Jonah was praying was in the belly of the fish the whole time. And the thing that Brooke taught us is; that no matter how hard you run from God, no matter how far away you feel from God, no matter how far your situation, you’re never too far to turn back to God. See, we learned that even though Jonah had run to the point that he ended up in the belly of this fish, Jonah cried out this prayer to the Lord, and it says, “The Lord heard his cries, and he answered him.” The same is true for you and me this morning. That whether you have ran and you feel like your situation’s too far gone, you can turn back and God will hear you. And we were reminded because we know this truth about God, it should instill hope in our current situations, in our current circumstances.

And then last week, finally, Mike had shared with us in chapter three how Jonah finally made it to the city, called Nineveh. He preached this message. And the thing is, Nineveh was so bad. Like in our human minds, we would believe that this city and its people are way too far gone for God to reach, just like Jonah did. But we learned that God, is a God of second chances. And what we learned is that Jonah shares this message, and the more than 120,000 people repent and get their second chance.  

 

And so now that brings us finally to chapter four. So if you have your Bible, your Bible app, or maybe you have a bulletin, I want you to go ahead and pull up chapter four. But before we jump into it again, I want to point out what’s basically happened in the last 24 hours. So, Jonah chapter three, he goes into the city. He preaches this hard message about repentance and out of nowhere or what felt out of nowhere. For Jonah, 120,000 people repent and put their faith in the One True God. 

 

And now I just want to take a moment, and I want to pause here, and I want to make it known that Eastside is trying to continually push back the darkness in Madison County. And a part of that vision is we want to reach 10,000 people in Madison County. And now, a lot of us when we’ve heard this vision, or maybe you’re just here now for the first time, maybe your mindset is, “That goal is way too big. That’s way too many people. It’s going to take forever. Why would we even try to reach that goal?” But I want to remind you that 10,000 is way less than 120,000, and there’s nothing impossible for our God. In a simple day, in 24 hours, 120,000 people repent and put their faith in God. So I want to remind you, and I want to encourage you, this morning with our 10,000 people in mind, there’s nothing impossible for our God. 

 

And so, at this moment, Jonah should be rejoicing like crazy over the 120,000. I mean, can you imagine, God takes Jonah, who runs the opposite direction, ends up in the belly of this fish, and finally gets to where God wanted him to go, and God still uses Jonah? God still uses Jonah. I mean, can you imagine the humility that Jonah must have felt just thanking God for all that he had done? Like this should be a Super Bowl moment where the team runs out on the field and dumps the cooler of Gatorade on the coach’s head. Like when we get to heaven, we should see Jonah and his face hanging in the Heaven Hall of Fame. I mean, in 24 hours, 120,000 people. I mean, can you imagine if God did that in Madison County? I mean, we will not be celebrating all that God has done. Would we not be in awe of how awesome and how amazing God is?

 

Then we pick up in verse one, and this is what it says, “Jonah was greatly displeased, and he became furious.” Are you kidding me? Jonah is furious. So basically, what this is saying is, Jonah, look at the last 24 hours of his life, He looked at the repentance of Nineveh, and he was angry at it, and he thought it was evil. But see, here’s the interesting part is that when God looked at Nineveh before they repented, He was angry, and He saw it as evil. But after Nineveh repents, then Jonah looks at Nineveh, And he was angry, and he thought it was evil. And then we read on, starting in verse two, it says, “He prayed to the Lord.” He prayed to the Lord. Now, this is a side note, but I believe it’s a very important point, to point out that Jonah has only prayed twice this entire time throughout this book. He’s only prayed twice. And I want us to ask ourselves the question, does this sound familiar? Are we praying the Jonah way? And how and when did Jonah pray?

 

Well, first, he prayed when he was in trouble. He prayed when he was in trouble. When he was in the belly of the fish, when his back was against the wall, and when he felt like he had no other choice, then he prayed. And some of you this morning, you have to ask yourself the question, is this the only time that I’m praying in my life? Am I waiting for the worst things in my life to happen before I go to God in prayer? And then we see Jonah pray when he was in trouble, and the second time we see him pray is here. He prayed when he was mad about what God was doing. Jonah was upset that God had forgiven this city. And then Jonah was also upset, because he thought that God should do it his way and not God’s. We have to ask ourselves the question, is this us? 

 

Does our prayer life look like this? Are we only praying to God when he thinks he should have done it our way? Or why did you do it that way? And it reminds me of this verse immediately. Isaiah 55:9 says this, “For as Heaven is higher than earth. So my ways are higher than your ways. My thoughts, higher than your thoughts.” God makes it clear here, “I know more than you know.” God has made it clear, “I know more.” And yet we find Jonah – and sometimes ourselves – we find ourselves praying and asking God, “Why did you do it that way? I would have done it this way, God. Why did you do it that way?” Questioning what He knows. Not realizing that our thoughts and our ideas are so beneath God. We would actually be thanking God that he did it his way, not ours, if we would take on that perspective. 

 

And now, I understand this morning that some of you, you’re in the middle of a difficult season. I mean, you’re deep down in the valley, and it feels like there is no hope. Some of you this morning, you’re angry. You are mad at God. You’re mad because of your current circumstance, or you’re mad because he’s using you, or wants to use you and not someone else, because you don’t feel like it right now. And now I don’t want you to hear me saying, “Don’t pray,” because I most certainly think you need to pray in these moments of your life. You need to pray when you’re going through the valley. You need to pray when you’re upset and mad about what God’s doing. But I would encourage you, you’re going to miss out on the power of prayer in your life if these are the only moments that you choose to pray. 

 

And I want to encourage you this, that your relationship with Jesus should be so much more than just praying in these difficult moments and situations. See, he came not just to rescue you from your pain, but he’s come to give you life and give it to the full. And I don’t want you this morning to live a crisis-driven relationship with God. Don’t wait for the worst to happen. Jesus went out of his way because he offered so much more. 

 

But let’s keep reading. Says, “He prayed to the Lord. ‘Please, Lord, isn’t this what I said while I was still in my own country? That’s why I fled towards Tarshis in the first place. I know that you are a gracious and compassionate God. Slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and the one who relents from sending disaster.” And then we see Jonah say, “and now Lord, take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.'” 

 

So if you haven’t picked up on the obvious yet, Jonah is angry. I mean, Jonah is so upset. He’s mad about what God is doing. He’s mad that God is forgiving those people because, in Jonah’s mind, he’s like, “How can you do this? God, how could you forgive those people? They’re so sick. They’re so disgusting, they’re so corrupt. They should be too far gone for you to reach.” And see, we see Jonah living a life of contradiction, speaking out of both ends of his mouth. And what do I mean by that? 

See, Jonah, throughout the book of Jonah, he’s praising, and he’s thanking God for the forgiveness and the mercy and his own life. But in the very same breath, he’s made it clear, “I will never forgive those people in that city.” 

 

And see, there are some of you here this morning. You’re living the same way. You’ve come in this morning, and your testimony would be that if it wasn’t for the mercy of God, I do not know where I would be in my life. That would be your testimony. But the moment you leave this church. The moment you leave Eastside, you go back to an unforgiving heart. Because of the way people have hurt you in the way that you’ve been wronged. See some of you’re harboring bitterness this morning. You’re harboring discontentment. You’re harboring resentment towards someone. And it’s solely because you’ve been hurt. And now I know some of you, you’ve been hurt, maybe, in many different ways. You’re harboring resentment because you’ve suffered from abuse. And maybe it was sexual abuse, maybe it was physical abuse, maybe it was verbal abuse. 

 

Maybe some of you this morning are harboring, because you’ve been told you’re not good, or you’re not worthy, or that you will never amount to anything. Maybe you’ve been hurt by a friend. They completely have thrown you under the bus. They said “I’m done with this relationship.” They’ve slandered you. They’ve spread rumors about you. They’ve lied about you. And it’s left you broken and fragile. And because you find yourself in this space, you find yourself living and hanging on to unforgiveness. Now, maybe, it’s that you don’t know how to forgive. Maybe that’s the struggle that you’re dealing with. “I don’t know how to forgive. I had this forever, and I don’t know what to do with this unforgiveness in my heart.” 

 

Well, this morning, I just want to give you four simple steps. I think you can do,four simple steps that I think you can take today to start forgiving others and living a life of unconditional love and unconditional forgiveness. 

 

Now, step number one, if there’s no other step I could give you, I would just give you this one. It says, “Remember that God has forgiven you.” Remember that God has forgiven you. See, I want to remind you this morning that when Jesus, when he was hanging on the cross, he had been abandoned, he had been abused, he had been lied about. He had been slandered. He had been spit on. He had been beaten, and he had been hit. And what was his response when he hung on the cross? He looked down at the crowd. I’m sure, with tears in his eyes. And it says in the book of Luke, it says this, “Father, forgive them. Because they do not know what they are doing.” 

 

See, as Christians, we have to be a group of people that forgive unconditionally. And it hurts. And it’s painful. And it will not always make sense. We have to remember to approach people with unconditional love and unconditional forgiveness because that’s how Jesus treats us daily. 

 

So not only do we need to remember that God has forgiven us. But second, we need to pray for that person. I would say this is probably one of the hardest steps on the list, but you need to pray for that person. You need to pray that God would intervene in their life no matter how they hurt you or they do. You need to pray that God would intervene in their life and change them for the better. So you need to remember that God is forgiving. You need to pray for that person. 

 

Third, you need to ask God to help you. Need to go to God in prayer, and your prayer needs to be like God. Please give me a heart of forgiveness. Please change my heart towards this person. Now, it doesn’t always mean you go back into a relationship with this person. Doesn’t always mean that you’re best friends with this person. But you’re asking God to give you a heart of forgiveness so you can continue to pour out unconditional love. And now I know some of you are probably thinking “I’ve done step number one. I’ve already done step number two, and I’ve done step number three. And it still hasn’t work. I’m still hanging on to this. I still have forgiven those people in my life.” 

 

Well, then I would say step number four is for you. Most importantly, that’s try and try again. You’ve got to keep going back to the throne room and praying that God would change your heart. See, the first time you might pray this prayer, you might not mean it at all. And that’s okay. That’s completely okay. You might not mean it at all. You might not feel any different. You might pray for months. You might pray for six months. It might be a year. But you’ve got to keep trying and trying again that God would break your heart and make his way in to help you have a heart of forgiveness towards the people that have hurt you, that have wronged you.

 

And I’m just going to say this morning, if you hang on to that discontentment and unforgiveness, you will find yourself just like Jonah. Now, only the same mindset, but in the same situation. See, Jonah wasn’t interested in forgiveness at the moment. And now we find the Lord asking him about his unforgiving and angry heart. It says, in verse four, it says, “Is it right for you to be angry?” The Lord asked Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry? In other words, like, really, Jonah, like, come on. Over 120,000 people have repented, and they are saved. Like, why can you not celebrate? Why are you not celebrating?” And God is waiting for Jonah’s response. 

 

And watch what Jonah does, “Jonah left the city, and he found a place east of it. He made himself a shelter there, and he set, and its shade to see what would happen to the city.” So Jonah’s playing the quiet game with God. He ain’t speaking right now. He’s picking up his ball, and he’s leaving the court. He’s going home. It says that he left the city. He went up this mountain. He grabbed his lawn chair. He flips that thing out, he’s set down. He says I’m going to chill. I’m going to see what happens in the city. We’ll see if it lasts. Like, I believe that that was his mindset, he said, “I’m going to see and find out what happens to the city.” 

 

Then watch how God responds, “Then the Lord God appointed a plant. It grew over Jonah to provide shade for his head, to rescue him from his trouble. Jonah was greatly pleased with the plan. When Dawn came the next day, God appointed a worm to attack the plant, and it withered. And as the sun was rising, God appointing a scorching east wind, and then the sun beating down on Jonah’s head so much that he almost fainted and he wanted to die. Jonah said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.'” He said, “it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah is angry. And he is not very excited about where his life is right now.

 

And we have to ask the question, are you excited about what God is doing in your life right now? Are you happy with where you’re at in your life? Are you rejoicing? Are you content? Or are you allowing anger to direct your perspective on life? 

See, many of you might have come in this morning really unhappy. You’re unhappy with your marriage and where it’s at. You’re unhappy with your career. You’re unhappy with the decisions that you made, maybe the night before or a long time ago. Some of you, you’re unhappy with your parenting job that you’ve done with your children. Some of you are literally wrestling right now with the very things that you’re unhappy about in your life. Like they’re just popping in your head like crazy right now.

 

You see, this morning, I believe we need to assess our life. We need to look at our life as a whole because there were three things that Jonah did because he remained in his anger. He remained in his anger. And we need to ask ourselves this morning, “is this where I’m headed? Is this where I’m at, or have I been there before? And I’m continually living this life out? I’m living in the perspective of anger.” And I believe if you live in anger, this is what you’re going to face. 

 

This was when Jonah’s first faced quitting. Jonah quit. He did not want to be a part of what God was doing. You will find yourself not wanting to be part of what God is doing. You believe that it should be some other way or that God should go find someone else. Just like Jonah. He missed out on what God was doing right in front of him. Some of you have thrown in the towel, and you’ve quit. And because you remain in your anger and your discontentment, now you’re finding yourself just like Jonah. Isolating. 

 

You’re isolating. It said, “Jonah left the city. He got away from people, and he separated himself.” And some of you have quit. Some of you have thrown in the towel, and now you’re isolated. Some of you have stopped going to a life group, or you’ve kept yourself from a life group and community because you’re angry. And I want to encourage you lovingly. I’m going to “peace and love” with you. That means I’m going to say something really hard. But if you are stepping away from community and you’re stepping back, and you’re not stepping into it, you’re giving the devil a foothold in your life to come after you and to remain in anger. If you remain in anger you start walking this path, you’re going to quit. You’re going to run from the people that you need the most. 

 

And at last you are going to find yourself just like Jonah, you’re going to be spectating. You’re going to become a spectator of all that God is. You see, Jonah went to the top of the hill. It says he just watched the city of Nineveh, which means he missed out on what God was doing. Some of you, you’re allowing anger. To turn you into a spectator. And because of your anger, you are missing out, and it’s hindering you from experiencing all that God is doing in our church. You’re missing out on what God is doing in our community, and you’re missing out, most importantly, on what God wants to do in your very own life. See, I believe if you remain in this mindset, you’ll be just like Jonah. 

 

See, Jonah remained angry, and it took him out of the game. See? In other words, if you remain angry, then you will find yourself being taken out of the All In life. You will find yourself being kicked off the course, and you’ll start seeing yourself quit. You’ll start seeing yourself isolate. Then you’ll become a spectator of all the things that God is doing in His Kingdom, it is impossible to remain angry and live that All In life. And I want you to hear me correctly when I say that it’s not impossible to get angry and live the All In life. It’s impossible to remain angry and live All In his life.

 

See, we see this happen with Jonah. You see him get angry, and he walks away from us all in life, and he misses out on rejoicing in the very things that God has set before him. And now, God’s not done yet. He tries to talk to Jonah one more time. He tries to give his perspective one more time. And we see here, starting in verse ten, it says, “And the Lord said, ‘you cared about the plant, which you did not labor over, and you did not grow. It appeared in a night and perished in a night. So now they do not care about the great city of Nineveh, which has more than 120,000 people who can not distinguish between the right and the left as well as many animals.'” 

 

See, God gave Jonah a perspective. God gave Jonah perspective. But I want you to keep in mind that Jonah. He was the only one who had the power to change his perspective. And now the chapter ends there, and we don’t know how it ends for Jonah. The last time we see Jonah, he’s angry. And he would rather die than step in fully to what God had for him.

 

And I want to encourage you this morning that your story does not have to end as Jonas did. You’re here this morning because your story is not over, and God wants to keep giving you the perspective He’s been trying to give you all along. And you have an opportunity this morning. I want to give you an opportunity to be able to surrender those things. And so this is the question that I have for you. What perspective? What perspective has God given you that you have been too stubborn to change? Because you’re letting anger sit in the driver’s seat of your life. What is God giving you perspective on that? You’ve been too stubborn to change. Because anger has a grip on you right now, and it’s hanging on strong.  

 

I just want you to bow your head for me. I want you to get a piece of paper or your phone or your notes, maybe on your bulletin. I just want you to think about what is this one thing? And while you’re thinking about it, I want you to start writing it down. Just keep looking down. This is just you and God. This is a holy moment just for you and him because I believe God is already giving us perspective on something. God is giving you perspective on the very thing that you’re angry about. Some of you, he’s told you to forgive that person, and you haven’t. See some of you, He’s told you to give your finances to him, and you still haven’t. See some of you, He’s told you to join a life group or to finally return to your own. But you’re living in isolation. You’re too stubborn to go back. Maybe he’s told you to spend more time with them and to stop being angry about the time that you don’t have. But use the time that you do. Or maybe he’s told you to start serving others, and not to be angry about what you don’t have, but what you can give. 

 

Whatever this is this morning, I want you to think about that one thing. What is that one thing that you know that God is giving you perspective on? See, I believe. Are you thinking about that one thing? I believe the best way to deal with the very thing that we need to change in our life is first to go to God in prayer. I believe if we can identify that thing, then we can pray about it. And if we can pray about it, then we can conquer it. So this morning, while you’re thinking about that one thing, I’m going to lead you into just a time of prayer. And I just want you to keep begging and asking God, would you help me with my heart? Will you help me with my anger? Will you help me release it this morning? Will you help me step fully into what you have for me? Just like Stephanie said this morning, “will you help me step fully?” God changed our perspective.

 

So Father, we come to you this morning. Just humbled by your presence, humbled by the story of Jonah, that, God, you were able to transform a city. God, we’re humbled by the fact that you just want to continue to do work in us that got our situations. Our circumstances are not too far gone for you to reach. And so, God, we come to your throne room this morning, just praying, just begging for the very thing that we’ve been angry about. But the person that we can’t forgive. About the person that we don’t want to be about, the things that we don’t want to step into that you’ve called us to. God, would you help us relieve ourselves of that anger? God, we know that you’ve given us perspective. So the thing that we’re praying about right now, God, I just pray that you would just lift it, offer it back, take it out of our heart. God transforms us. God, would you continually just keep speaking your perspective into our life? And God, would you continually give us a heart, a boldness, a courageousness, a strength to be able to step further into that perspective and change our minds? Jesus, we believe that you’re going to start the transformation right now, that it’s not going to wait, that right now it’s happening. Jesus, we thank you so much for just meeting us where we’re at. We love you. We thank you. We say this in your name. Amen.