Lessons from Jonah (Pt. 3): Get Over Yourself!

Jonah part 3: Get over Yourself

Jonah 3:1, 2
And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach
(to summon or call with a loud voice) unto it the preaching (the proclamation) that I bid thee.
God never changed His mind. We might change our minds, but His plan never changes, "Summon the lost to come and repent! Proclaim the truth of My word!"
God told Jonah to arise. There are countless believers seated; they are MIA. We have no way of knowing how long Jonah was lying/ sitting around after he was spit upon the shore before God came unto him a second time. The word just says that God came unto him a second time and said, "Arise!" Arise child of God from your seated position and return to the place of obedience; once again, God's mind hasn't changed. He wants sinners saved.
Jonah 3:5-7
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing:let them not feed, nor drink water:


There is a lot to be said regarding this passage of scripture. The first thing that stood out to me is that the people received the word of God first, and their response resulted in a change to the king’s heart. This may be a little off the beaten path, but churches are filled with leaders that aren't living or preaching right; therefore, it makes sense that the pews would be filled with people who don't properly understand the gospel, and therefore, are incapable of walking right with God. Sadly, most people will never rise above the teaching they receive from the teacher they sit under. Furthermore, there is a mindset in the church where we are supposed to teach the Bible at an elementary level-- well you do the math. The truth is that people just hate to be challenged in anything. We like the status quo. I don't know much, but I do know this-- Jesus and His disciples were the antonym of the "status quo," and the point that I’m trying to make is that just as in the Jonah story, it doesn’t matter what the leaders are doing, God wants the people that are called by His name to humble themselves and pray and to turn from their wicked ways.
Besides the fact that the regular people responded to God and ultimately affected leadership, I also wanted to point out the way people in the Old Testament repented.
It is well known through the scriptures that Israel would repent in sackcloth and ashes when they were sorrowful for their sin. While I can't prove it, I feel certain this was a big part of Jonah's message. We know he was crying in the streets that judgment was coming, and we are told that their response was that they repented in sackcloth and ashes.
It should be noticed that sackcloth laid upon the body is extremely uncomfortable. Furthermore, ashes spread upon the head and body in a humid climate would be an absolute irritation. In 2 Samuel 12:20, David repented over his sin with Bathsheba and the illness of their offspring. Once the child died and he felt like it was time for his repentance to be over, he rose, washed, and anointed himself with oil. I point this out because he was making himself more comfortable. The anointing of oil was the opposite of the remorse and discomfort associated with sackcloth and ashes.
I fear that churches are filled with unsaved people today because the message has been purposefully softened and diluted to prevent offense. Through this, people are allowed to exist in a lifestyle of sin because they have been told a lie about what grace really means.
True repentance will have associated with it discomfort related to one's sin. There will be a discomfort in the fact that God was offended!
Jonah 4:4-5
Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry? So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.

Jonah is displeased with God's plan and the way things are going. He's responded superficially to the request of God, but internally, he is in opposition to God's way.
Isaiah 29:13
Wherefore the Lord said,
Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth,
and with their lips do honour me,
but have removed their heart far from me,
and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:


I can tell you that this isn't going to work with God. There are people who walk around with an outward appearance pretending they are serving God, but inwardly, their hearts are far from Him. He loves you Christian! He loves you, and He won't let you stay comfortable in the spot you've prepared for yourself.
That's exactly what Jonah has done-- right? He has gone off on his own and prepared his own shelter, for his own comfort hoping to see what he wants to see. With the works and manipulation of his own hands, he prepares a place for himself, but even all his work and attempts leave him open to the elements.
This is a perfect picture of the flesh attempting to cover self. While this is a somewhat difficult thing to explain, and a little out of context, Christians love to prepare coverings for themselves in an attempt to prevent themselves from falling. There was a movement sometime back where everyone was going to get themselves an accountability partner and confess all their faults to them as though that was going to set them free or keep them from sinning. While on the surface it seems spiritual and even biblical, to be truthful, when someone places their faith in this instead of the finished work of Christ for victory, it's just another attempt through feeble flesh to gain victory over sin; therefore, it's just another way to say in the heart that what Jesus did wasn't enough.
The Lord showed me several years ago that if a person can't be accountable to Him, the one that created and peers into the human heart, then it's preposterous to think that trusting in some earthly relationship will fill that need. Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying, iron sharpens iron. Brothers and sisters in The Lord are an extremely powerful source of strength as we walk together in the faith encouraging and edifying (building up) one another in the things of God.
Nevertheless, if a man would learn to walk in Christ through proper faith in His finished work, then that man will learn to be accountable to God as the Holy Spirit empowers towards obedience. Until a man learns to be accountable to God, that man will never, and I repeat, that man will never learn to be accountable to man.
While it is true that James said to confess to one another and pray, so that you would be healed, which is referring to healing of the soul, Jesus is the answer and victory for sin. The purpose here is that a stronger brother would lead the other or vice versa back to Jesus and His answer for the problem:
1 Peter 2:24
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness:by whose stripes ye were healed.

So which would you prefer to trust in completely for your healing?
Ultimately, Jonah like so many of us has feebly attempted to meet his needs, and even though he's disobedient, God is going to show him mercy and provide a supernatural covering to provide for Jonah what his hands could not.
There is so much to be held onto here. If we could only stop in the midst of the chaos and remind ourselves that He alone can provide what we need and every attempt we make in erecting our own plans only leads to failure and more frustration.


Jonah 4:6-9
And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live. And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.

God prepared a storm for chastisement, a form of discipline to stop his disobedience.
God prepared a great fish to rescue him from the turbulent chaos he had brought upon himself and to turn Jonah back to the right direction. God uses chastisement to turn us around.
God prepared a gourd as a covering of mercy. Jonah's feeble attempts failed, and his heart was disobedient; nevertheless, God showed mercy and protected Jonah.
God prepared a worm to destroy the gourd, which He had provided for Jonah to give him a covering of mercy.
The gourd was God's; the worm was God's; the wind, the sun, the fish, the storm, the Ninevites, and Jonah, everything belongs to God and God will do with it what He pleases. How dare you Jonah! How dare you think the Ninevites don't deserve God's mercy!
When you feel bitterness in your heart towards someone who has treated you wrong, just remember as fast as God raised up and destroyed Jonah's gourd, He can also remove his mercy from over your life.
Needless to say, Jonah is miserable with his life right now. The sun is scorching and a vehement (hot) east wind is blowing; he's miserable with his life to the point that he wants to die.
Jonah 4:9
And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.

It should be noted that all of Jonah's discomfort is because of his refusal to see what God wants Him to see and respond the way God wants him to respond; essentially, God wants Jonah to be about God's business and see life His way, but Jonah wants things done his way.  Let there be no confusion, Jonah wants what he wants and he is angry because he can't get it!
When we demand something from God that is contrary to His will, refusing to see things His way and instead demand that it go our way, we will continue to be miserable.
Throughout the life of the Christian, God desires to align our hearts, minds, essentially our inner man with His heart: the way He sees things. This concept encompasses every aspect of our lives. In Jonah's scenario, the context specifically surrounds his obedience to God regarding the ministry God has asked from him. Jonah's response is undoubtedly being influenced by the world around him. What I mean by that is Israel, as a whole, is living in disobedience towards God. Idolatry stands in between them and God; therefore, they cannot properly connect to His presence, and they cannot properly perceive His ways.
In a similar fashion, the Christian whose mind isn't stayed upon the Lord isn't able to see God's way. We can get into specifics here. We can talk about relationships. We can talk about demanding a relationship out of wedlock or one that enters wedlock outside of God's will and then sit there under our withered gourd while the east wind scorches our head, and we are frustrated and aggravated because nothing is going our way. It's not the way God wants you to go! He wants you to surrender to His will.
We can talk about jobs. I've talked about this hundreds of times over the years of this bible study. People change jobs more rapidly sometimes than they do partners in today's society, thinking they're going to find happiness in the new job because somehow the boss at the new job is going to finally "get it." Don't get me wrong there are better bosses and better jobs, but the job oftentimes isn't the problem. The problem is we're looking for fulfillment elsewhere, and so we sit under the withered gourd having a pity party because nothing goes our way. Stop! Stop and be about the Father's business. Seek His will for your life and surrender to Him.
Sometimes, we desire to control a situation so bad that the relationships, job, church, ministry...isn't even the problem. Instead, these are just the symptoms; we have a letting go and letting God problem. We want it our way. We want to see the world our way. I don't like to read, so I don't even know what the preacher is talking about when he mentions Abraham. That works ok when you’re a newborn baby Christian, but if you refuse to change your world view through the word of God, you will remain with your miserable control issues demanding God give you what you want, sitting under your withered gourd blaming God.
God didn't create you so He could give you glory; He created you for you to give Him glory!
God didn't create you so He could spend all His time ministering to your plans; He created you for His glory, His plans, and His purpose. If you ain't on board with that, you ain't on board with Him!
Jonah 4:10-11
Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore
(120,000) thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?


As I said earlier, Jonah’s mindset has been tainted and influenced by the current condition of Israel’s spirituality: Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable will of God.


In this passage, Paul explains that we aren’t to be conformed, which means to be molded by an outward source. In this case, the outward source is the world system, in Jonah’s case he’s being molded by the spiritual condition of Israel. Paul exhorts believers to be transformed, which describes an inward change manifest outwardly. Interestingly, the word in the Greek is metamorphoo, where we get our word metamorphosis. The transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly is a metamorphosis that manifests outwardly what was already inherent in the butterfly’s genes. In addition the word transfigured used of Jesus is also this Greek word. On that day what was really in Jesus, His deity, shown thru. We are exhorted by Paul to have a renewed mind that understands this. All this is connected to verse 1 and all the previous teaching that spoke of the “old man” dying in Christ and the “new man” resurrecting in Him. This is the immediate context of verse 1 to make the point:


I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed


After all the previous teaching that he had offered in Romans 6, Paul is now saying that we are to live our lives as a living sacrifice (the old man dead and the new man alive). The renewed mind understands he is a new creation in Christ and he is about his Father’s business. Ultimately, he has gotten over himself and is moving forward in God.

Jonah has pity for the gourd. In other words, he's sad it withered away because it can no longer serve his (Jonah's) purpose. But here is God's creation about to be destroyed and Jonah wants to see it happen. God is also trying to teach Jonah a lesson on mercy. Mercy is God's to give; it doesn't belong to Jonah. Sadly, many Christians also act like this. How quickly we forget what God has done for us.
Be careful Christian, God has been known to pull back His hand of mercy in order to teach His children a lesson. He's doing it right here in this story.

Lessons from Jonah (Pt. 1): When Consumed by Your Affliction, Cry Out to God

Consumed by Affliction: Jonah’s Disobedience

The book of Jonah was written in approximately 800 BC by the prophet bearing its name. During this time frame, Israel was under the leadership of King Jeroboam II.

2 Kings 14:23-24 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord:he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.

When reading passages of scripture, it's always helpful to have some understanding of the underlying context surrounding the movement of the story or teachings taking place. I specifically used the word story because Jonah is considered narrative literature. We have discussed the concept of literary genre on multiple occasions, describing the differences between narrative, which tells a story, apocalyptic, which foretells future events, and epistles, which are letters in the New Testament containing deeper revelations of biblical instruction.

While Jonah is narrative literature, it's also prophetic literature. Specifically, the book of Jonah is considered one of 12 Minor Prophets. Essentially, in the Old Testament Jewish Bible, the Major and Minor Prophets were used as a method of dividing the books. In addition, the length of these books was the main determining factor on why some were called minor vs. some being called major. The three Major Prophets were: Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.

God always used His prophets of old as a mouthpiece or vessel from which He would speak forth His word. Specifically, the prophet's ministry was to bring a word of correction to Israel, which was God's own special people He had created from amongst the heathen world. Anytime the modern Christian reads the happenings of ancient Israel, there should be some element of viewing the text from the perspective that these are God's people, from there, the reader should also be able to see the text speaking to himself; for he or she is also "God's people."

Previously, we pointed out that Jeroboam II was king during Jonah's prophetic tenure. The 2 Kings passage connected Jeroboam II to Jeroboam. The reign of the original Jeroboam chronicles significant changes to the nation of Israel. Oftentimes, Christians are unaware of the intricate details surrounding Israel's history.

King Jeroboam represents a very disturbing time in Israel's history. When Solomon, King David's son sinned (1 Kings 11), the result was a split to the kingdom of Israel. God's judgement upon the nation that He had created was that they would be split into a place of disunity, resulting in the upper 10 tribes, known as Israel, and the lower two tribes, which consisted of Judah and Benjamin.

Interestingly, Judah was the tribe of King David and his son Solomon, which housed the prophetic promise of Messiah's descent (II Samuel 7:12,13); and Benjamin was the tribe from which the house of Saul came. If you will remember, there was a covenant between King David and Jonathan, Saul's son, which bound these two "houses"/tribes together.

Israel represented the Northern Kingdom; whereas, Judah, reigning from Jerusalem (South), where we get the word Jew from, was the Southern portion of the nation.

Rehoboam, Solomon's son was the king of Judah; whereas, Jeroboam, who was an officer in the King's court before the nation was split, ruled Northern Israel. Jeroboam followed the latter path of Solomon and worshiped false gods; furthermore, he built a temple for their idol worship in Samaria, which is where all the contention between the Jews and the Samaritans started that we read about in the New Testament.

Jeroboam purposefully did this to prevent the people from going down to Jerusalem to worship God. This false leadership, which produced error in Israel's understanding of God incited God to anger resulting in Him using His prophets as mouthpieces to prophesy against His leaders and His people who were living in opposition to His word. Sadly, the apostasy worsened rather than improving and, with time, Judah went the way of Israel. The explicit narratives of these happenings can be found in 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, and 1-2 Chronicles.

So here we are in the time frame of the prophet Jonah who was from a town in Northern Israel from the tribe of Zebulun. To give you a mental picture, the tribe of Zebulon settled the area West of the Sea of Galilee.

Jonah 1:1, 2 Chapter 1 Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, v2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.


The Duty

There is so much to consider with these two initial verses. First, we must remember the underlying context regarding the condition of God's people. Israel has been disobedient towards God since the rebellion of Solomon, a succession of wicked leaders: kings, prophets, and priests has taken place, resulting in apathy and failure on the part of God's people.

There is a living principle here to observe: God desires to reach a lost and dying world with His plan of salvation to turn the heathen (those who are unconverted and don't know Him) towards Him. The way God chooses to do that is through the use of His people. But in this time frame, God's people Israel are apathetic towards His ways because Satan has successfully infiltrated their camp and changed the object of their faith. Specifically, they have entered into a form of syncretistic (mixed) worship.

What are you talking about preacher? At this time in Israel's history idol worship was so bad that they had brought them (idols) into the temple and called them YHWH. What does that have to do with me preacher? It saddens me that more often than not preachers behind pulpits cannot recognize the current condition the church is in today.


Between the mixtures of a works based message and a charismatic move void of sound theology, the condition of the modern church is synonymous with ancient Israel. We won't even get into my personal beliefs of an occult agenda influencing the church through the Word of Faith movement, Emergent Church (Jesus Culture), and the current seeker sensitive debacle. There are probably Christians who will read this and think to themselves what is this guy talking about? Google and watch: The Real Roots of the Emergent Church.

And that's my point. I don't believe we can see because for so long we've been moved away from a proper understanding of God's word.  I know that I have attempted, through Facebook, to pound the concept of true righteousness and justification, which will set the captive free, but I fear that when most people read those words, they think in their hearts, where is the "prophet?" I need a service or a church somewhere where the "Spirit" is moving, so I can get in a line, have hands laid upon me, get a word, fall down, and do a shake rattle and roll.

Before you tune me out charismatic Christian, let me ask you a couple questions: (1) how many times have you gone to the front for prayer to receive deliverance from your bondage? (2) how many times have you fallen out in the Spirit when you went up there for that prayer? (3) how many times has that resulted in freedom from your bondage?

That can't work because that's not the way to victory. If a believer doesn't have a revelation of who he is in Christ, how Jesus defeated the forces of evil through the atonement, and how proper faith in Jesus' finished work is the only thing that will give access to grace, which is the only way that people can have deliverance from bondage of any sort, through accessing the power of God, then that believer can't be delivered. Some may say, "Where does this guy get this from? Why does he think the cross is the answer to power over sin?"

 1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.


So in the midst of a time when God's people have such a mixture of false doctrine influencing their understanding of God and His ways, how will His people function properly? How will His prophets hearken (listen with obedience)?

The word of the  Lord came to Jonah with clear instructions. Essentially, he let Jonah know Ninevah (the world) is full of sin and wickedness, and I need you Jonah, Christian, man of God, I need you to go tell them to repent.

Now, before we get going good, many may say, "Hold up! Jonah was a prophet; it was his job to go speak to them. I'm not a prophet; you're making me feel uncomfortable, because you're trying to make me do the preacher's job! Isn't that what we pay him for?" I  have to tell you that it was always God's plan that the people called by His name would bring light into darkness:

Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

The word workmanship has the idea of something that is produced or made, but notice that the creation of this workmanship takes place within a certain locale, sphere, or place. In other words, the factory where this creation is produced is in a place called in Christ.

We have pointed this out many times: that the prepositional phrase in Christ describes a precognition (prior knowledge) where the believer understands the transaction and translation, which occurred at the cross. Once again, when faith is placed in Christ, the sinner is translated and placed in Christ. Within this realm, as faith remains in Christ for right standing with God, grace (the operation of the Holy Spirit in the believer's life) changes him and creates anew in Christ, making him (the believer) the person he was always intended to be, preparing him for his true purpose upon this earth to engage in the good works of God, witnessing to the truth that Messiah has come, offering eternal life and changed lives to those who will repent.

By the way, it was always God's intent that His people would would be prophets:

Numbers 11:29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord 's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!

God desires to use all His people as prophets, not always for foretelling but forth telling. In other words, accomplishing what God is asking Jonah to do, let the wicked world know it's time to repent and turn to God.

It's interesting to note that Jonah's name means dove and his father's name Amittai means my truth.

There is so much symbolism here, and while I would never want to over spiritualize, I can't help but point out that the dove is used to symbolize the Holy Spirit. But also the dove symbolizes peace with God, as when the dove brought an olive branch back to Noah in the Ark; from that point forward, the olive branch has been viewed as an extension of peace.

In this sense, God is sending peace (Jonah) to Ninevah (the world) through his truth (Amittai). This principle holds true today. God is calling sinners to come home, to a place where there is peace. This can only be done when the servant of God is obedient to the call of God, bringing God's truth to a lost and dying world. Once the sinner repents:

Repentance: a state where a person changes their thinking, realizing they were wrong and all along God was right; furthermore, this change of mind is associated with a strong, even emotional distaste for the previous way of thinking,

The presence of the Holy Spirit produces peace between God and the man:

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

So remember Christian whether we like it or not, God has called us to live a separated life in the midst of this fallen world; furthermore, just as he called Jonah to cry against Ninevah and her sin, He is asking His church to take a stand against ungodliness in the world today.

The disobedience

Jonah 1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish:so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

How much woe and sorry has been produced from this one conjunction- But?

In the English language, the conjunction but is known as an adversative, meaning it denotes conflict or adverse conditions. Jonah is in conflict with God; he's choosing to move in a direction completely opposite of God's request. How many times have we all as God's people written a "but" into the script when God was looking for an "and"? ...and Jonah went to Ninevah... and Matt obeyed...and the Christian said, "Yes, Lord I will...."

But Jonah fled instead to Tarshish. What is Tarshish for you child of God? I've certainly had to ask myself the same. I can tell you that Tarshish is any place of disobedience that pulls you in the opposite direction of God's will for your life.

God's work isn't getting accomplished in Ninevah when His prophet is on a boat headed to Tarshish. If there are any Christians willing to listen, I have to ask some questions: what isn't being done, who isn't being reached when we pay our fare and settle down in the belly of that ship headed to Tarshish?

He paid a fare. He was now invested in this trip of disobedience... I couldn't help but think how this represents a connection point, even a devotion, or maybe a feeling that it's too late to turn back. How many times does our slide towards disobedience start with just a little step at a time?

I can remember when I was a young Christian engaged to be married. I was working for an oilfield company and had gone to Holland for survival training in order to work in the North Sea. On the flight up there, we sat in the business class and all the alcohol you could drink was paid for-- I didn't touch a drop, but the first night in Holland about 40 minutes away from a city called Rotterdam, the men I was with were going into town to go drinking. My personal contention was that, as they drank, I would go sight-seeing and take pictures-- it was a set up from Satan, and it should be pointed out that more often than not this is how the enemy hooks us; we make small decisions that are contrary to God's will, starting us in the direction of Tarshish, and before you know it, we've paid the fare and somehow feel committed to the trip.

When I first got on the bus, the Holy Spirit spoke very vividly saying, "Get off the bus!" But like a scared, defeated puppy, I put my tail between my legs and shuffled to the back of the bus, sitting down, preparing for the unknown journey, I heard His voice again, "Get off the bus!" For some reason, I ignored the warning, choosing rather to venture into the place of the unknown, certainly not unlike Jonah, who will soon find himself in the belly of this ship.

As the bus rolled to its stop in front of an obvious barroom, they look the same in Europe, I noticed everything else seemed closed on that Sunday night, so I asked the driver, "Aren't there any stores open? Aren’t there any scenes to see, or other choices in places to go?" His response was a simple shaking of his head in the motion of a negative.

When I think about how suddenly everything happened, I still get spun around, within minutes, I was in line with the world, had bought a ticket for $5 that would purchase five drinks, and from the purchase of the ticket to the walk through the door, I somehow had changed my mind from drinking Coca Cola to deciding on Jack Daniels and coke. It was almost as though that thought was placed in my head from somewhere else. I didn't even drink Jack Daniels nor did I know whether they even sold it in Holland, but lo and behold, there it was on the menu when we sat down at the table.

Unfortunately, things worsened from that point, because women began to walk up and sit down at our table; in addition, a woman came out on the stage dancing completely naked.

How could have this happened so quickly? How could a person on the plane, who had determined in his heart not to go the way of the world fallen so rapidly? Things could have been worse that night, but they were certainly bad enough-- I drank things I had no business drinking and smoked things I had no business smoking.

When I woke the next day, the conviction of the Holy Spirit overwhelmed me. Everyone began to plan that night's party, and they were including me in their plans. I can remember so vividly the shame I felt. I felt as though I had personally betrayed Jesus. Then, suddenly one of them said, "Dude, I don't get you. You fly all the way over here and don't drink when it's free, but then you come and do all that last night-- that's stupid-- I don't get it."

My response, "I agree it was stupid, and I don't expect you to understand, but I'm supposed to be a Christian. I'm supposed to be living my life different, but I failed God last night. I can tell you this though; I won't be going back tonight."

I wish I could tell you that I never failed God again, but that would be a lie. The truth is that until God gave me a supernatural revelation of the power of the cross, I failed God repeatedly over the next 12 years, but I will tell you this, if you feel as though that is you and sounds something like your walk with God that isn't normal Christianity. I don't care what any preacher tells you or how bad the church looks today. Christians are supposed to walk in victory over sin because Jesus destroyed its power on the cross.

As we will see moving forward, Jonah also cried out in the midst of his misery, but in the meantime, his disobedient choices have sent him in a direction opposite of the presence of God, a storm is brewing on the horizon Christian! I don't say this to make you feel guilty. I say this out of love. You better bow your knee and let God deal with your sin on the front end before disaster strikes.

So Jonah had paid his fare. The point I was really trying to make is that many times there are things in our lives, whether they be certain addictions or personality traits like control issues, we all have trouble letting go and letting God have His way in our lives, and with time these "things," hang around so long, we become connected to them. It's as though we've paid the fare and taken ownership of them: "Oh, I'm just an alcoholic. I'll always be this way. I can't let go of this area of my life because I've never navigated those uncharted waters."

No, Christian you can live life free from those bondages. Tarshish doesn't have to be your destination. Jesus died to set you free. When you placed your faith in Him, you were baptized, immersed, or placed in Him, and in the mind of God, the "old man" that had paid the fare and was headed to Tarshish died, was buried and a "new man" has resurrected to newness of life. This man I speak of "In Christ" isn't bound by a fare to Tarshish, because Jesus redeemed him from the former life. In order to give him a new life, a new destination, and a new purpose.

 But when the journey towards disobedience ensues, the storm begins to brew.

Jonah 1:4-10

But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. So the ship-master came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

I suppose we should take the time to realize that not every trial is related to gross disobedience in our lives; nevertheless, every trial provides an opportunity for God to test our response. In this situation even the world (the mariners) knew this occurrence was from God. They didn't know who God was, but they knew that whoever he was, He was the one who sent the storm.

Also, notice how they all call upon their different gods with the same respect or reverence: Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god.... O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not..

This is interesting to me because today we're seeing a similar occurrence take place called pluralism- more than one substance. In this case, "There is more than one god, and everyone's god deserves the same amount of reverence and respect; furthermore, it's inconsiderate to intrude into other people's lives in an attempt to turn them from their God." Quotes represent what the world would say today, and even many elements of the Emergent Church.

This whole line of thinking is fine if you're not convinced that Jesus is the only way. But once you become convinced by the presence of God that Jesus must be embraced, the gospel is the inspired word of God, and those that reject His message, will suffer the fate of hell with the devil and his angels, then intrusion may be an inconvenience, and it may seem inconsiderate, but there is no alternative; the masses must be warned.

Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them

Ultimately, they will find out that the reason they're in the midst of this storm is because of Jonah's disobedience. Previously, several weeks back, we discussed the story of Jonah. Ultimately, the point made then is that if there is a "Jonah" in your boat, you should throw it out, that "Jonah" being anything or anyone that stands in the way of your relationship with God.

While there is certainly some truth to this thought, a more accurate representation of the context would be to say, "Hey Christian, there is a storm raging, and your disobedience is not only affecting your life, but it's also affecting the lives of those around you who need to see a valid witness, so they can know the truth, throw down their false gods, and embrace the one true God; but as you continue to navigate your storm, they continue to panic and scurry around looking for answers-- the whole while you secretly hold the (answers) in because you have your own agenda.

On Resurrection Sunday, Sean and I walked with the cross at Lake End Park. There was one specific occurrence that I believe illustrates this point well. There were 4 guys drinking beer, and they made a comment to us. So I responded, "Man, were here to remind people about Jesus. I personally think the world is beginning to shake."

One of the four said, with a smirk, as he took a drag on what was left on his finished cigarette, "Yeah, I can't wait until Jesus comes back to take us out. Then we won't have to deal with all this."

Wait! What? Did he say that? I quickly responded, "Dude, do you honestly think if we're not ready now, we'll be ready then. Are any of y'all born again?"

Both him and another one, who was sitting down on the grass, eyes hidden by his shades said, "Yes." Whereas, the first one was full of pride in his retort, the one sitting lowered his head and whispered with a sense of shame. From that moment forward, he was reverent and appreciative. I could tell the other two guys were clueless about what was going on. Nevertheless, this is the breakdown. Mr. Cocky thinks his sin is perfectly fine. He's bound in a lie of sin and self righteousness; however, the other guy knows he's wrong. He knows God isn't pleased with his sin. I believe He's going to be OK because God sent us there that day just for him. I'm praying he will get right, but until he does, he's Jonah. He's living his life in the midst of the world, their all in the storm of life, and he's sitting in the bottom of the ship, heading to Tarshish with the world, the whole while not warning them of the judgement up ahead.

Jonah 1:10-16 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you:for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not:for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood:for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea:and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.

While there is a lot that could be said regarding this passage of scripture, some main elements are: (1) there is a storm raging and it's affecting everyone involved; (2) the storm is a trial produced by God in response to Jonah's disobedience; (3) Jonah's disobedience in the presence of sinner's prevents the storm from calming in their lives; (4) once a move towards obedience is made, the storm is calmed, giving the world a sign that Jonah's God is real, and they begin to worship Him.

I. There is a storm raging and it's affecting everyone involved.

By now, we should all be aware that we live upon a fallen earth that is in the midst of chaos and disarray. The chaos affects everyone of us. Our relationships, jobs, everything we hold dear.

This storm affects both believers and unbelievers alike. The difference between the believer and unbeliever is that we (believers) have access to grace, which gives us strength through these storms, our understanding of God is increased as we maintain faith through the storm, and we also learn to cast our cares on Him through it all:

Romans 5:1-3 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also:knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

2. The storm is a trial produced by God in response to Jonah's disobedience.

We should always be reminded that God will never leave those that belong to Him to themselves without correction. The storm in this instance is purposefully sent to put Jonah back on track. God will use trials in our lives for correction and to produce the character in us He's looking for, not the character we think we need:

Romans 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also:knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

James 1:3-4 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Hebrews 12:5-10 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence:shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

3. Jonah's disobedience in the presence of sinners prevents the storm from calming in their lives.

A while back we preached on Jonah a little when we did the Weathering the Storms series. One of the main questions we asked was, "Who or what is the Jonah in your boat?" Furthermore, it was pointed out that who or  whatever it was you needed to throw it/them out-- now, don't say the preacher told you to get rid of your spouse. Those situations are a lot more complicated than that.

Afterwards, Robert, and I talked a lot about these concepts, and truthfully, the real context is that disobedient Christians living their lives of sin as they journey to Tarshish are the problem. How will the world ever have a chance to know God or have a relationship with God, even have the storms in their lives calmed when the believer is in rebellion?

4. Once a move towards obedience is made, the storm is calmed, giving the world a sign that Jonah's God is real, and they begin to worship Him.

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

 Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Outline for the Book of Jonah

Outline of the book of Jonah

A. Chapter 1: Outward, blatant disobedience.
 1. God wants to send peace and truth to a lost and dying world verse one. 
   (a). Jonah means “dove” (symbolically- peace\Holy Spirit).
   (b). Amittai means "my truth" (the peace and presence of God cannot come to man until his truth 
is revealed and received.

"But" Jonah went to Tarshish v3 “But” is known as an adversative conjunction: denotes contrariness. 
God had a plan, but Jonah was contrary. 

 2. God wants to send peace, but His people (Israel [context of where they were as a nation] and Jonah are in disobedience). 
Jonah fled from the presence of God: in verse 3 it says that twice. 

 3. “But” v4 when God's people are contrary to Him, his response is contrary to them. But God prepared a great storm.

 4.  The men knew Jonah was the problem at some point: 
   (A). they cast lots: V7 
   (B). Jonah told them V10 
   (C). Jonah told them again verse 12

 5.  The men knew. ...Nevertheless, they rowed harder. How many times does God speak to his people about their loved ones, 
 or issues in their lives they need to get rid of and let go, so he can have His way and deal with them, but we row harder? 
 We hold onto what we want; we refuse to let go of the son or daughter on drugs, enabling them and preventing them from getting 
 to the place God has prepared for them. The same goes for brothers and sisters in the faith. Let them go and let God have his 
 way! Don't row harder!

 6. The Lord had prepared a great fish. First, he prepared a storm; now He prepares a fish. God will prepare and allow circumstances 
to take place in our lives to get us to a place alone with Him where He can speak and we will listen.

B. Chapter 2: Alone with God

 1. As long as the men rowed harder, Jonah was prevented from getting to the place where God wanted him. Both the storm and the fish’s 
belly are causing affliction. Just as in Jonah's case, God allows affliction to have its way in our lives. God uses adversity as 
chastisement (Hebrews 12:11). Jonah says, "I cried by reason of my affliction unto the Lord… 2:2) Then he says, "when my soul fainted 
within me I remembered the Lord and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. Jonah 2:7

 2. Sadly, many people who say they love God continue along a path, which travels opposite brokenness. Instead of crying out to God in 
their affliction and turning their attention towards His presence (holy temple), they continue their quest towards lying vanities 
(idols). They cling to the idols in their lives looking for these empty things to bring them fulfillment. When we cling to the empty 
idols in our lives to escape what God wants to do, we forsake his mercy (V 8). 

Lying vanities are worthless idols and take many forms:  
   (A) relationships: spouse, boyfriend\girlfriend, children, friends 
   (B) addictions 
   (C) jobs 
   (D) shopping 
   (E) spending money 
   (F) food 
   (G) religious works 
   (H) exercise…

Anything that you find comfort or solace in and use to prevent you from getting to the place God wants you are can be an empty 
vanity, or a false idol in your life!

 3. Once God gets Jonah alone, he recognizes God's mercy and kindness and it moves him toward repentance, at least repentance 
for his blatant disobedience, but what about the deep seeded mindsets of Israel's condition (The worldly mindsets—I say worldly 
to compare how Israel’s societal condition had a influence on Jonah’s mindset just as our societal condition can have an 
influence on us) that have influenced him? Unfortunately, they're still there.

C. Chapter 3: Repentance
  1. An extremely important aspect of repentance is that we must come to the conclusion that God's way or thinking is right and ours 
has been wrong. Jonah hasn't moved. 
I don't know how long he's been sitting there, but he hasn't changed his mind about what God wants. …the word of The Lord...second 
time saying...Arise...preach unto the preaching that I bid thee (3:2). God hasn't changed his mind about his plan Christian and 
you're either on board or not.
2. Finally, Jonah becomes obedient on a superficial level and decides to do what God wants him to do. He preaches judgment to the 
 Ninevites. How will they know if they don't have a preacher? (Romans 10:14).
3. The Ninevites repent. Associated with their repentance are sackcloth and ashes verses five and six. Sackcloth and ashes are uncomfortable. 
 Repentance has associated with it a feeling of sorrow and discomfort with sin. Repentance is not simply "I'm sorry."

4. True repentance, once again, causes a change of mind and a change of direction. …Let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry 
 mightily unto God, let them turn everyone from his evil ways… Verse eight

5. "God saw their works, that they turned…" v 10. You might be able to fool me and your neighbor Christian, but there's no fooling God. 
 God sees. He sees what is in the heart of man and woman. When He sees true repentance, He gives restoration of His Spirit to the 
 wounded soul, resulting in forgiveness and power for change. Anything else is playing games with God!

D. Chapter 4: Get Over Yourself Jonah: let God deal with the inside too

  1. God saw true repentance in Nineveh, resulting in His mercy and Him turning (repenting) from His previous plans. It must be pointed 
 out that God's repentance is different than when men repent, because God’s not wrong. Remember, at the foundation of repentance, 
 is a change of mind. While it is true that God is the only constant unchanging truth this world has ever known, there is one place 
 that God changes: He changes His mind towards the person who exhibits true repentance.

Jonah chapter 4:1 God changed his mind, and Jonah was displeased.

  2. Deep in Jonah’s heart, he hasn't let go of the original feelings he had, causing him to flee from the presence of God to begin with.

(A) countless Christians offer a superficial "I'm sorry" 

(B) once God removes the obvious outward bondage: Fornication, addictions… He's looking to deal with the inner level – motives of the heart. Grace will always hold men and women more accountable than the Law ever could; for in the covenant of grace, the presence of God has made our hearts His home, and long before the sin is ever engaged, the Holy Spirit has spoken right from wrong (1 John 2:20). God showed me a long time ago that He wants His people to learn how to walk with Him, learn how to hear from Him, learn how to be led by Him: the time is done where we have a man tell us what God says:

31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

3. Jonah is displeased with the way things are in his life because he is displeased with what God wants because it's opposite of what he wants.
  4. When people refuse to go God's way, they go their own way and construct their own comfort. Jonah built a shelter for himself, a covering 
 through the works of his own hands; he was hoping to cover himself from the elements, but the feeble attempt of man's flesh always leaves 
 him open. You can't fix it Jonah, all your idols… All your plans won't fix it! It's time to surrender.
5. God provides mercy and prepares a gourd. Even in our disobedience, God will provide Mercy, but Jonah still won't see what God wants him 
 to see, so…
  6. God prepares a worm to destroy the gourd. God is the giver of mercy and it is His to give and His to take away.
  7. God had prepared a gourd of Mercy; then he prepared a worm (He removed) Mercy; then He prepared a hot East wind, which was more chastisement. 
 God's question to Jonah, "doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?" In other words do you have a right to be angry over the removal of
 something you had nothing to do with? Why do you think Jonah was angry? Because what he wanted and made him feel good was gone. This is a sad 
 occurrence and reflective of many in the church today: the people of God are consumed with their own idea of what God looks like, consumed 
 with what they want to get out of God, and much of today’s preaching emboldens this thought process.
8. Even at the end of all this, Jonah is angry because the gourd was removed and it made him uncomfortable, but he could care less about what God 
 wanted. How can Christians be so blind, demanding what they want from God while refusing to allow Him to do in them and through them what He wants?