God is counting on you. Jonah 3:1-10

Complete series on Jonah

Points Covered: How we can be the person that God can use? Requirements for God to use us. Repentance. Right focus. Right message. Right testimony. God of second chance.

Introduction: God is counting on His people to be used for His glory. However, many times we feel very inadequate to be used by God. We feel less talented, not worthy, failed in life many times, or even regret the lost opportunities in life. In God’s hands anyone can be used.

God called Jonah and asked him to go preach against the wickedness of Nineveh but Jonah went to Tarshish. God sent a storm and Jonah was cast into the sea by the sailors as his disobedience was the reason for the storm. God protected Jonah and sent a big fish to swallow him. Jonah repented and prayed in the belly of the fish after which the fish vomited him on dry land. There Jonah got up and went to Nineveh and God used him to bring the entire city to salvation.

Do you want to be the man, woman, or youth that God wants to use? For our lives to be used the way Jonah’s life was used, we need to do the things that this chapter helps us understand.

1. Past brokenness.

Failure, pain, and even past mistakes bring a lot of brokenness in a person. Jonah made a mistake in going to Tarshish. This resulted in pain and failure but God was still willing to use him.

In your brokenness, God does not give up on you. At times in my own life I have looked at the broken pieces of my life and I said, “There is no way God can use my life like this.” As I look back, God used those hard times and valleys to make me a better person. Our failures, our mistakes, our brokenness does not disqualify us from serving God.

I know there are people sitting here who have done a lot of mistakes in the past, maybe you faced a lot of failures and rejection and brokenness. So, don’t waste the hard lessons. Your brokenness is a window, it is a blessing not a curse. God is counting on you to be used for his glory.

Now, come with me to Jonah 3. We have recorded for us in Jonah 3 the greatest turnaround a man can have in spite of failing terribly. We can also see the greatest revival in human history.

Jonah 3:1-2 1Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 2“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Nineveh was a vast city with some 120,000 plus people in total population.

Jonah 3:3-4 3Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” This time Jonah obeyed God, shifted from disobedience to obedience, changed his direction from Tarshish to Nineveh.

2. Refocus.

Have the right focus in life. Many of us have forgotten what it was, what it is to focus on God’s priorities. This time Jonah recognized his responsibility and opportunity. When the Word of God came to him the second time he was revitalized and reenergized and he was ready to go. Don’t expect different results in your life if you have not changed the focus of your life.

If your life is focused on something other than God, why is it a strange thing to you that he is not using you to a great extent? Most of us prioritize solely on our job, our leisure, our comfort, our family. God cannot use us until we focus on him. When God came to Jonah and said, “Go again, you have got another chance.” He was off that beach and gone because, now his focus was on God. You cannot just keep plotting through life with the focus on something other than God and expect that God is going to do great things in your life. God expects you to focus on him. There will be no difference until our focus changes. God gave Jonah a second chance. He took it.

To be God’s child and to not serve him but serve our self will, be focused on self makes you more miserable person. Many, many believers are just miserable all their focus is on themselves.

Jonah refocused himself. While he was in that fish, it was a crash course in getting to know God. Jonah 2:7-8 7“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. 8“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.

He decided at that moment, I have been focused on me. I am going to repent and refocus on God. Refocusing brings repentance.

a. Repentance.

Jonah Repented. Repentance for a nonbeliever or a sinner is that, “I confess that I am a sinner, I repent of this sin and I ask you to be my savior.” Do God’s people, those who already know him, do they repent? Yes they do. God says very clearly that if we come to him he is faithful and just to cleanse us and to forgive us. Here Jonah repented.

But what is repentance? “Repentance is a change of attitude. Repentance is a change of affections. Repentance is a change of actions.” He repented.

The prodigal son in Luke 15 is a great example of true repentance. He went to his father and said, “I want what is mine. I am sick of living under the rules. I am tired of having you lord over me. Give me what is mine. I am going to go over to have my own life.” He did wild living, blew it all up, and ends up in a pig pen. But what did he do.

i. New attitude. His attitude changed. The Word of God says, “He came to himself.” What does that mean? He realized I had been wrong the whole time. What I am is bad and selfish. His attitude changed. Before it was daddy that was wrong, it was daddy that was in the way. Now he honestly looks at himself and realizes it has always been me. He came to himself.

ii. New affection. His affections changed. Earlier his affections were for the things and friends of the world. Now he said, “How many of my fathers’ servants have bread enough to spare and am perishing with hunger?” That shows his affections. Earlier his affection was the world, now his affection is his father’s house. He is thinking, “How did I get here? He remembers his daddy.”

You know in my daddy’s house hired servants are treated better than this. He began to look at his daddy in a different light. My father is generous. My father is wonderful. My father is kind. My father provides. My father is good. His affections changed.

iii. New action. Then his actions changed. What did he say? “I am not staying here any longer. I will arise and go to my father.” My actions are going to change. I rejected him, now I am going back to him. My actions have changed.

That is the nature of repentance. It involves change in attitude, affection, and action. Jonah’s repented and his focus changed to God.

b. Right message.

Every believer has a testimony and message from God. The greatest message is your life and your speech. Jonah 3:2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

You are not going to go to Nineveh to do what you want to do, you are going to go to Nineveh to do what I tell you to do. Jonah 3:4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown. That was a short message. It did not take long to preach that message. But it was God’s message, not his. We proclaim God’s message not ours, we give this world God’s views not ours.

Jonah 3:5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. It was not Jonah they believed, it was God that they believed because Jonah had taken them God’s message.

Every one of us has a message: Our testimony and the word of God. When our focus changes, our message changes.

(Sadly, the church has watered the message. People are making the message what the world can easily accept. What the world needs is the fact that they are lost without Christ and that they need a savior. We are changing the message to make it more comfortable to us. In 1 Corinthians Paul said, “This is what I received from the Lord that I passed it onto you.” It was not Paul’s message, it was God’s message. Any message that comes short of the clarity that men need to repent and turn to God will never produce revival.)

We look at that and we say, “Isn’t God being too harsh, 40 days and it will be destroyed?” Look at the positive that God is trying to say. What is God saying to us? Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, (We say oh! My goodness that is so harsh, but our message is) but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

He could have destroyed Nineveh and be completely righteous in the destruction of it but what did God say, “You are going to be overthrown if you don’t turn and come to me, but I will give you 40 days to turn to me.” The Bible is full of knowledge that the judgment of God is coming, wrath is evident but there is love and mercy God makes available. God says I will judge but before I judge I will give opportunity and here is your opportunity to come to me.

God is counting on you to make a difference in this world. Can you make that difference in this world? God wants to use you. He wants to give you another chance. See the result of brokenness and refocus. There is a change.

3. Change.

Jonah 3:5-9 5The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 6When 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. 7This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

Because Jonah changed, because one man decided I am going to refocus on God and I am going to focus on my responsibilities, the whole city changed. The people of Nineveh believed. The future of the church, our family, our city and country lies with you. When we respond to God’s message and that message changes us, others see the change in us and they change.

a. The city surrendered. Jonah’s obedience and surrender brought faith and life to Nineveh. Jonah 3:5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. They declared a fast.

b. Sin was expelled. Jonah 3:8 Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. The kings to the nobles to the lowest on the social ladder believed and changed their actions. They turned from their sins and cried mightily unto the Lord. Real revival is repentance and real repentance will be seen in the change of attitude, affection, and actions just like it was here.

c. Forgiveness was extended. Jonah 3:10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
God had mercy on this great city. The Word of God tells us in Jonah 4:11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

That is referring to children, children so small. But God extended mercy. Does God change his mind? James says with God there is not variation neither shadow of turning. Malachi says I change not. How do you deal with the fact that God changed and God repented and did not do what he was going to do? Well the answer is God didn’t change.

All God did was to operate on the principles that God had already established. They changed and when they changed God was able to treat them in a different manner. Jeremiah 18:7-10 7If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

So who is doing the changing? It is us. God has principles established and when can turn to those principles, God can treat us a different way. He can bless us or he can curse us. We are the ones who are doing the changing. Nineveh had two options – reject the message and perish or repent and be shown mercy. God operated based on principles he himself had established. They turned from their evil way and treated them different.

Conclusion: God is counting on you today. If you have never come to the Lord, he is calling you to him. If you are already in the Lord, God is calling you today to use you. Do what Jonah did. Refocus by repenting of our sins. Have God’s life and message in you. Change our ways. The people you encounter will be changed and drawn to God. Amen.

Sermon Series on Jonah