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Get Your Chores Done

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Tonight I want to talk to you about getting your chores done. I suppose most of us are old enough to remember when kids did chores. If you grew up on a farm you recall chores like milking cows, or feeding animals, or weeding gardens, or chopping wood. If you grew up in town, like I did, you remember washing dishes, sweeping or vacuuming floors, taking out trash.

            My sons still do chores in our home. On occasion,(not lately) they share with me that none of their friends do chores. When they aren’t in school (so they say) all they do is play video games, watch TV, or play basketball. “Daddy, why do I have to do chores, and they don’t have to?” I smile at them and explain, “Because they don’t live here.” Dad and mom, if your kids live with you, you need to teach them to work, and one of the best ways to do that is to give them chores. If you don’t teach them to work, they will learn to be lazy.

            Even when you grow up, though, you still have chores to do, don’t you? You have to work for a living. If you’re a husband with a day off, you get a honey-do list. If you’re the wife, your chore list is usually the largest in the family. If you’re single, you do all the chores.

            Tonight I want to talk to you about another kind of chore—the chores your Heavenly Father has for you to do. God has chores for us, and if we love Him and want to please Him, we need to be about our Father’s business.

            This is why I want us to look in Jonah 1, at a man who tried to run away because he didn’t like the chores God gave him to do. Let’s see what we can learn about getting our chores done from old Jonah.  

PRAYER

            Heavenly Father, would you please help us hear your Word tonight. So often the worries and troubles and events of our day cry out so loudly we cannot hear what your Spirit says to us. Help us focus our heart and mind on your Word, that we may not just hear it, but obey You from a heart that loves and adores you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

            The first thing Jonah teaches us is:

I.              GOD CHOOSES OUR CHORES (v. 1-2)

            Who decides who does what in the home? When I was growing up, it was my parents. “Michael, you vacuum the carpet, Randy you do the dishes, Cathy you fold the clothes.” Sometimes mom would ask for volunteers (I always wanted to vacuum, and hated washing dishes!) But most of the time my chores were chosen for me by my parents.  

            God chose Jonah for a chore. He calls Jonah to be a prophet, a spokesman for God.

            You might remember Jonah was first famous for giving a good message to Israel back in 2 Kings 14:25.

            I imagine this wasn’t the only time Jonah delivered God’s Word to His people. But at some point, vs. 2 tells us, God chooses another chore for Jonah, this time not to Israel, but to the capital city of Assyria, the great city of Nineveh. Cry out against it! Warn them that I see their wickedness!

            I want you to notice a couple of things about God’s chore for Jonah:

            It is communicated clearly. Jonah doesn’t have to decipher the message; God makes it very clear to Jonah what He wants him to do. We don’t know whether God spoke directly or indirectly, but however he spoke, Jonah knew exactly what chore God asks him to do.

            It is a personal call. The understood subject of this command is you. I’m not calling Amos or Hosea or Isaiah—I’m calling you, Jonah. This is a task I have chosen you to do.

            Jonah isn’t the only person God ever had chores for. He gave Adam and Eve work to do in the Garden; Moses’ chore was to lead Israel out of slavery. Joshua’s chore was leading Israel into  the Promised Land; God called David to be King of His people.

            Throughout history God gives ordinary folks like you and me chores—tasks he calls us to do. Like Jonah, His call is communicated clearly and personally, so there can be no doubt what He wants us to do. Does God have chores for you to do?

Lk 10:27 …You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”

Mk 1:17 Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,

Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

Heb 10:25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…

            The Bible is full of chores God calls us to do. But there are other chores that are more specifically personal. God calls you in some specific area of ministry in the church, or to share Jesus with some specific person in a specific situation. Many of God’s chores are addressed to you personally, and nobody else.

            What chores does God have for you? I really cannot fully answer that question. I can tell you what the Bible says, but you must keep the ears of your heart open to the Spirit of God to hear Him speak. What I do know is He will clearly and personally communicate what He wants you to do, just as He did for Jonah. You may not hear voices or see visions, but God will show us you what chores He has for you—if we you’ll pay attention.

            But what if you don’t want to do your chores? You could do what Jonah did:

 

II.            YOU CAN REFUSE TO DO YOUR CHORES (v. 3)

            Chores were never optional when I was growing up. I would sooner have cuddled up with wounded wildcat than tell my mom or my dad No when they told me to do chores.           It just wasn’t safe. But what I wouldn’t say with my mouth I would sometimes say in my heart.

            A mother punished her son by making him sit in a chair in the corner. She sits him down, he gets back up. She sits him down he stands back up. A couple of swats on the bottom, she sits him down once more. She walked away, then turned back and asked, “Johnny, are you still sitting down?” to which he replied, “I’m sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside!”

            Scripture doesn’t record what Jonah says when God reveals his chore to him, but there is no mistaking by his actions Jonah is standing up and saying to God a very loud NO!

            Once Jonah receives his chore list he runs as hard and as fast as he can go in the opposite direction. He books passage on a boat to Tarshish (=probably somewhere on the coast of modern day Spain.) On Jonah’s map, this is as far as you can possibly get from Nineveh. He runs to the edge of the world to escape God’s call. He doesn’t take a camel caravan or mule train, because he wants to get away fast as possible—which means sailing on a ship.

            Why does Jonah refuse to do his chores?

            First of all, Israel and Assyria are bitter enemies. Assyria was always pillaging and raiding, trying to get rid of these pesky Jews so they could have Palestine for themselves. They probably won’t appreciate some Jewish prophet waltzing into town, telling them God is mad at them. In fact, they were known to be merciless to their enemies. Ancient records record them bragging about skinning their enemies alive, piling their skulls in heaps, and committing other unspeakable atrocities.  Anybody who challenged these brutal folks was taking their lives into their hands. Think about a modern day Israeli walking into the capital of an Arab country and calling them to repent, and you get the idea of what God is asking Jonah to do. God gives Jonah quite a challenging chore. It’s not hard to figure out why he runs.

            Where are you headed, Jonah? I’m running away. What are you running from? the presence of the Lord. (v. 3).

            Where do you go to get away from God?  

Ps 139:7,10 7Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?...9If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.

            Jonah, you can run as far and fast as you can, but you can never outrun God. He gave you the power to choose, but not the power to escape His presence.

            One of the inescapable truths of life is God created us creatures with choice, even when it comes to doing our chores. C. S. Lewis writes:

            God cre­ated things which had free will. That means creatures…can go either wrong or right…Why…did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having…The hap­piness which God designs for [us]is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other…for that they must be free.[i]

God gives you and I the ultimate freedom of saying YES or NO to Him.

You can say YES. You can trust God to know best, be eager to do His will because you love Him, and experience the adventure of following Christ by faith.

Or you can say NO, and do what Jonah did—you can run, as far and as fast as you can. You can try to outrun the presence and purpose of God. But there’s one thing you need to understand if you choose to run:

III.            IF YOU CHOOSE TO RUN, YOU’LL FIND YOURSELF IN BIG TROUBLE (v. 4-17)

            Choices always have consequences.

            A couple had been married for 25 years and was celebrating the husband's 60th birthday. During the party, a fairy appeared and said she would grant them one wish each. The wife said, "We've been so poor all these years, I've never gotten to see the world. I wish we could travel all over the world." The fairy waved her wand and POOF! She had the tickets in her hand.  Next, it was the husband's turn. He paused for a moment, and then said, "Well, I'd like to be married to a woman 30 years younger than me." The fairy waved her wand and POOF! He was 90 years old. 

     Your choices can have some unexpected consequences.

            What do you suppose Jonah expected to happen when he chose to run from his chore? Do you think he really thought he could get away from God? Not likely. After all, he is a prophet, a man who knows God.

            It’s more likely he expects God to destroy him, and get it over with. And for awhile it certainly looks like that’s what will happen.

            v. 4 says literally God hurled a storm… that threatens to destroy the ship the prodigal prophet is traveling on. The sailors are probably Phoenicians who were known for the seafaring abilities, but even they are scared out of their wits. They are so sure they’re going to die they throw their cargo overboard. Meanwhile, Jonah goes below to take a nap.

            Take a nap? How in the world could you sleep in a situation like this? I think it’s because Jonah believes he’s about to die. He knows Who sent this storm. He knows why He sent it. Maybe Jonah’s like most people: he wants to die in his sleep.

            But the crew hasn’t given up. They wake Jonah up and tell him to join their prayer meeting to call on their last resort—their gods. They figure the gods must be angry at someone on the boat, and when Jonah picks the short straw, and tells them everything:

            I a Hebrew, who worships the one true God, Creator of both the land and the sea. I’m trying to get away from him, but as you can see, I have not been entirely successful.

            After Jonah’s speech, one of the sailors asks, So what do we do? How do we stop this storm? Jonah’s response: God’s after me, not you. Throw me in, and the storm will stop.

            Jonah expects to drown when he hits the water.  Maybe he thinks at least then it will finally be over. At any rate, I’d rather die than do my chores.

            The crew tries everything they can to avoid tossing Jonah overboard, but nothing works. Even as they throw him overboard, they pray for forgiveness.

             No sooner does Jonah hit the water, than the storm ceases, and an eerie calm settles over the sea. These guys don’t need any more evidence: from then on, God is their God. Their story has a happy ending.

            But what about Jonah? He hits the sea, the cold salty water stealing his breath away, his life flashing before his eyes. But then something unexpected happens. God orders a great fish to swallow the prodigal prophet. God puts Jonah in time out. Jonah is given 3 days to weigh his options, and make up his mind about what he’s going to do.

            Have you picked up the lesson here? When you run from God, you will find yourself in big trouble. The devil always tries to tell you if you can just get away from God, you’ll be happier. If you can just do your own thing, life will go smoother. If you can just break free from the chains of God’s chores, you’ll really start to enjoy life.

            The truth is, God loves you too much to let you go running to destruction. God could have let Jonah drown, but His love sent that storm to bring him back. When the storm doesn’t do the trick, God’s grace commands that big fish to rescue Jonah and give him a chance to repent. All of the trouble Jonah goes through- mentally, emotionally, physically- comes because Jonah grits his teeth and says, “I’d rather die than do what God told me to do!”

            Yet God is merciful even to hardheaded rebels like Jonah, and like you and me. The trouble that comes to us when we resist God’s will is not meant to destroy us, but to draw us back to Him. God reaches out even to His rebellious children with love. That trouble can either make you bitter, or better. The lesson from Jonah is, let it make you better.

            Junior was waiting for just the right time to show his dad his bad grades on his report card when his mom sent him into the attic to get her something. While browsing around, Junior came across his father’s old report card. With a smile, he came downstairs to find Dad seated in his easy chair. “Here’s my grades dad. But guess what? I found this old report card of yours and I see your grades aren't any better than mine." "You're right, son," the father said as he took off his belt.  "I guess the only fair thing to do now is give you what my Dad gave me."

            Ga 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

            When you disobey, you always pay. Remember Jonah and the whale next time you think about saying NO to God’s chores for you.  

            Will you do your chores?

            A missionary in Africa was once asked if he really liked what he was doing. His response was shocking. “Do I like this work?” he said. “No. My wife and I do not like dirt…We do not like crawling into vile huts through goat refuse...But is a man to do nothing for Christ he does not like? God pity him, if not. Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. We have orders to ‘Go,’ and we go.”[ii]

            What’s true for foreign missionaries is also true for you and I. God gives us chores to do. Some of them are pleasant, some of them are not. Your love for the Lord is not tested when you do what’s easy; it’s tested when you do the chores that aren’t so easy.

            What chores has God called you to do? You can find most of them in the Bible. Others you discover by following Jesus, listening to Him speak to you through His Word and His Spirit. He makes it crystal clear what He wants you to do.

            Will you refuse to do your chores? Will you run as Jonah did from God’s purpose and plan for your life? If you are running from God’s call on your life, don’t run another step. Turn around, ask His forgiveness, and then commit yourself to doing what He asks you to do.

            Doing your chores is not just a matter of choice, but of trust. If you really believe God loves you and knows what’s best, you will always choose to obey Him.

            Tonight will you say to Jesus, “Lord, whatever You want me to do, wherever You want me to go, however much it costs me, I will do my chores. I will not run away from You, but run towards You and your will for my life.”  

            PRAYER

            Precious Jesus, thank You again for dying on the Cross for us, for rising from the dead so that we, too, might rise again and live forever. Thank you for giving us something to do for You, the One Who has done so much for us. Help us never run from your call on our lives, but instead embrace every task you give us. If there is one here tonight who is running from your presence and purpose for them, I pray you give them the good sense and courage to turn around and obey You. Help us do our chores if  for no other reason than that we love You and want to glorify You.  Amen.


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[i] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

[ii]Our Daily Bread 10,000 sermon illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Dallas: Biblical Studies Press.

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