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God of All Grace

All In  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  23:35
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In His abundant grace, God calls his people 'all in'... again.

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Intro

Concluding our ‘All In’ series. We’ve looked at a handful of men and women in biblical history who demonstrated wholehearted, all-in engagement with God. I’d like to look at one more man today, and (if you know the story) then you’ll know what I mean when I say: Nobody ever went ‘all in’ like Jonah.
Actually, the story of Jonah is the story of a man who didn’t want to go all in, who—in light of God’s mission—resisted and rebelled and resented. He was a "all in” in the wrong direction—running from God’s call on his life.
students: concern that taking God seriously would mean going to Africa (and it very well might)
So, in this story, it’s not so much an all-in kind of man or woman who shines, but a God who goes all-in to pursue those of us who resist and even rebel. It is the “God of all grace” (1 Pet 5 10) who gets our attention today.

Pursuing the Rebel Prophet

Jonah 1:1–3 ESV
Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.
Jonah - prophet of Israel (the people of God)
Nineveh - one of the four great cities of Assyria, the enemy of God’s people, identified by other prophets as a “bloody city,” a “godless nation,” known for “unceasing evil” and cruelty (Isa 10:7-11, Nah 3:1-4, 19)
“Go [east] to Nineveh” (about a month’s journey). Jonah goes west—heading to what many believe was the most distant city known to Isreal at that time.
fleeing “from the presence of the LORD” - he is fleeing his responsibilities as a messenger of God; running from God’s call on his life; he no longer wants to be God’s prophet.
Jonah 1:4 ESV
But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.
each sailor called out to his god, Jonah was sleeping in the inner part of the ship; the captain had to wake him up—making sure that all possible gods were called upon
at one point they cast lots in an effort to find out who was responsible for the trouble they were in; Jonah was selected and he ‘fessed up’
“What shall we do...” / “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you;… it is because of me...”
The men didn’t want to. They kept rowing. The harder they rowed, the fiercer the storm grew. So, finally, they prayed to Jonah’s God, picked him up and hurled him into the sea, “feared the LORD exceedingly,” made sacrifices and vows to the LORD.
God did not want to kill Jonah; he wanted to call him back to himself and back to the mission he had given him. God is relentless in his pursuit.
Jonah 1:17 ESV
And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Restoring the Repentant Prophet

We talk about hitting rock bottom. This a rock-bottom moment for Jonah. We may not know what it’s like to get swallowed by a fish, but many of us of shared his journey to that dark place where the realization sets in:
managing my own life / being my own god isn’t working
sin has consequences / I’ve made a real mess of things
I want to say to you today that:
God is present in these rock-bottom moments
“a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Ps 51:17
“I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:7
In chapter 2, Jonah calls out to God with a prayer of repentance.
Jonah 2:10 ESV
And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.
It gets messy sometimes. That verse is well known, but I really hope we’ll take note today of what happens next.
Jonah 3:1–5 ESV
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
God not only forgives Jonah, he restores him to the mission. In his abundant grace, God calls people ‘all in’… again.
Not only does God forgive, he puts you back into Kingdom work.
God isn’t through with you because you blew it.
And he won’t give up on when more ugly stuff is revealed.

Maturing the Resentful Prophet

Jonah’s message is received. The people repent and God shows them mercy.
But the story doesn’t end ‘happily ever after.’ Instead, Jonah sulks in resentment toward God. He is so low that he even wants to die. It’s a rock-bottom of another kind. It’s an emotional low. It’s a low of immature thinking. Guess where God is—with Jonah, working toward Jonah’s maturity.
The book doesn’t conclude with a finished product but in a process.

Conclusion

There are many ways that the book of Jonah foreshadows the gospel of Jesus—ruling of a stormy sea, rescue from the grip of death, and worldwide mercy and grace. But today I simply want to say:
The gospel of Jesus declares that those deserving of death (that would be all of us) are given undeserved mercy / salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus
God not only forgives, he calls you back to the purpose he has for you (and is still working with you when you think he must be done with you).
Repent from managing your own life and give yourself fully to God and his mission.
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