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About this series
You Were Made for More
Facing the "Jonah" in All of Us
What do you know about the story of Jonah? Maybe you remember something about a big fish, a violent storm, and an evil city called Nineveh. Well, in this 10-part series, Chip has teamed up with his son Ryan Ingram to teach through the book of Jonah… and share there’s actually a lot more to this familiar Bible adventure for us to learn. They’ll unpack what Jonah’s life reveals about handling adversity, God’s love for all people, and how we can experience the more we were created for.More from this series
Here’s the lesson that I at least learn from this passage from the Ninevites. Receiving God’s mercy requires faith, evidenced by repentance.
See, there’s this whole big theme, this undercurrent about repentance. So, let me just explain what repentance is and what repentance is not.
Genuine repentance, it’s a New Testament word, it’s metanoia. Meta – with or change mind. And so, there’s an intellectual part of repentance.
Second, there’s an emotional component. It’s not just like Jonah, “Oh, yeah, I was supposed to talk to them about God. I don’t really want to.” He repented of it in his behavior, but his heart wasn’t there.
And then there’s a volitional part. And the volitional part is your behavior is followed by your mind and your heart.
I was trying to think of a time when I learned that sin damages a person and if you get that, how it changes your behavior.
I was working full-time, because Theresa needed to be home with our kids. And it was like, intense. I’m up, like, at four, four-thirty and studying. I go to school, blah, blah, blah, blah. I come home, eat, play with the kids, then work until eleven, get up, the same thing. It was really intense.
And my one sort of little moment was playing basketball. And so, coming home sometimes I could find a pick-up game on an outdoor court. And I didn’t have a cell phone. And if I did have a cell phone I probably have not called anyway. And Theresa, it always happened when she cooked a great meal and her love language was service so she served me, and I’d show up late, we’d have an argument, and we just…
And then she would look this way at night, and I would look this way at night and we wouldn’t talk to each other for two days and then we’d pretend it didn’t happen. You know? Great conflict resolution.
And so, I come in and there are candles on the table and the kids have already eaten, I’m really late, and she goes, “I just want you to know that I spent the day cooking this meal because I love you. And I feel like you don’t love me when I spend this time doing this for you and you seem to not care about me and not even call and you do it, you know…?”
And when I looked into her eyes watered up, I realized, Oh my. This isn’t about basketball. This isn’t about when you eat supper. Oh. She feels like I don’t love her. And all of a sudden, I repented. I saw it through a new lens. A new mind map got placed inside my head. I was pierced to the heart. And I’m sure she might have a mildly different story, but I don’t think I was late for dinner more than a handful of times in the next few years, because what I realized was: I love her. I love her. I would never willfully do that. I thought it was about dinner. Do you get it?
When you start thinking about that thing that you can’t get over, when you start thinking it’s all that junk and you realize that when you willfully sin, it’s damaging the person and worse, it’s damaging the heart of God. When you get that, I will tell you, you’ll be motivated to change, because it’s not like, “Okay, I crossed the line one more time and Jesus says there’s – 1 John 1:9 – if I confess my sin He’s faithful and just to forgive me of my sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. So, I’m really sorry. Erased again. Erased again. Erased…” That’s Jonah stuff.
Receiving God’s mercy requires faith, evidenced by repentance. And here’s the principle. Repentance is a prerequisite for progress. In any area of your life, repentance. You have to start thinking about it different. You have to look at it differently. You’ve got to get a new set of categories. It’s not your addiction. That’s not the issue.
Repentance is a prerequisite. In fact, in Mark chapter 1, He introduces His message when He comes, “Now, after John” speaking of John the Baptist, “had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand.’” Namely, I’m here. What’s the response? “Repent and believe in the gospel.”
The world’s kingdom is power, success, looks, sex, money. Repent. “That path seems right to men, but it ends in death.” There’s a new path with a new King and He will give life that’s really life. But you have to repent.
After he had lived a perfect life and taught His disciples and was unfairly in a trial, convicted, beaten, crucified, then rose from the dead. And after walking around for forty days with over five hundred eyewitnesses, He ascended to the right hand of the Father.
And the Church waited, because He said, “You were walking around with Me in Galilee and Judea and I taught you everything, but it’s going to get better. It’s going to get way, way, way better. Here’s what I’m going to do. I want you guys to hang out in Jerusalem, and what I’m going to do is what I promised you – remember? Remember that last night when we were hanging out and I took you out to the grapevines and gave you a little story about abiding and we prayed and… But I said it’s better because the Spirit of God is going to come.
And the Spirit of God will manifest the Father and the Son inside of you the moment you turn from your sin – repent and He’ll seal you and He’ll live with you forever. And He’ll manifest the very personality, the power, and the presence of Jesus.”
And so, that happens. It’s called Pentecost. And they are speaking in these other languages and people from everywhere are hearing this good news about God. And when they get it, they go, “Oh! So, you mean that guy we killed? The guy that did the miracles? He was really God and He died for us and there’s good news and we could have eternal life and there’s a whole different path?” That was basically the sermon by Peter.
And here’s the response to the sermon, Acts 2:37 and 38. “Now, when they heard this,” what I just said – Peter said it way better, “they were pierced to the heart and they said
to Peter, to the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them,” underline it in your notes, “‘Repent, each of you, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ,” why? For the forgiveness of your sins. And you’ll receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ That day, three thousand people repented.”
As a person would trust in Jesus, to be baptized wasn’t like, “Oh, you know, this is a nice religious thing and - they got baptized then, because it was like, “I have died to my old life,” and the moment they got baptized, guess what - We do a lot of work in the Middle East – when they trust Christ and then when they are baptized, they have a funeral for whoever did that, because you are dead. This wasn’t a repentance like, “Oh, I feel really sorry and I hear I can pray a little prayer.” This is, there’s a new path with a new King and He will give life that’s really life.
And so, I would ask you: what do you need to have a change of mind about that has to do with a change of heart that will lead to a change of behavior that you say, “God, I’m on, I got sackcloth on, I’m sitting on ashes. God, if I could have solved this, I would have solved it way earlier than now. I’m done, I’m broken. Hey, whatever it takes. If I need to go to counseling, I’ll go to counseling. If I need to get in a twelve-step group, I’ll get in a twelve-step group. If I need to apologize to my boss, I’ll apologize. If I need to get a new set of friends, if I need to break up with my boyfriend, if I need” – whatever! That’s repentance.
Believing in God’s goodness is at the core of every change you’ll ever make that stops tweaking the little things in your life and causes you to shift, to shift the alignment of your thoughts, your heart, and your life.
The second lesson is from Jonah. From Jonah we learn extending God’s mercy requires repentance and proclamation.
He repented and then he proclaimed. He verbally said, and I’m not sure he said it with a lot of heart, “In forty days there’s judgement.” And this great merciful God, in fact, Jonah believes that God is so merciful, the reason he didn’t want to go is he was afraid that if he shared about the great God, the Creator, that people actually might respond. And if they respond to, that God is so merciful, He would forgive them. And he didn’t want them forgiven. He wanted them to burn. But what we learn from him is that God’s mercy requires that we repent and then we proclaim.
The apostle Paul put it this way, “For I am not,” and put a box around the word “ashamed.” “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it,” the gospel, “is the dunamis,” is the word. We get our word dynamite. “It’s the power of God for salvation to everyone who,” circle the word, “believes.”
There’s an ocean of grace, there are thirsty people, they need to know, someone has to proclaim, “There’s an ocean of grace, there’s forgiveness, there’s love, there’s a King, there’s a different way to live! But you have to receive it. You have to believe.
In one of my favorite verses in all the Bible, it’s the power of God’s Word, “For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
I don’t even understand it. There is something that you, if you get the words of this book, inspired by God, into your head and they make it into your heart, it will remap your brain. It will change your life. It will – it’s powerful. It will reveal things to you.
I remember when I – I didn’t grow up reading the Bible, and I remember the very first Bible I had and I remember I put it under my pillow. I had been to a camp where I heard the gospel and I trusted Christ when I was eighteen. And I would read it at night and read it in the morning and then I hid it under my pillow. I don’t think my parents would have been mad, but it was the era of the Jesus Freaks, and I didn’t want them to think I was a Jesus Freak.
But I remember reading it and thinking, How could anybody know these things about me?
I remember just reading at night and I’d read in the morning. And two weeks later I just stopped miraculously cussing. And I had a terrible, terrible mouth, because out of my insecurity and my wife thinks I’m tall, but to me, tall – six-eight and above is tall. And I’m short and middle sized is six-four, six-five, six-six, because that was my – those were all my friends: basketball.
And I thought, I’m this skinny little shrimpy. And so I just, I had my mouth just, I just tried to power up all the time. And God, as I read His Word, He just – I didn’t know it worked. It just went…[snaps] It doesn’t always happen that way.
But here’s the principle: The power is in the message, not the messenger. Some of you are so concerned about sharing with someone or talking with someone or letting them know that – you know – if you knew for sure someone was getting cancer a year from now, that it will be lethal, and if they don’t get treatment they will die a year from now, are you going to go, “Well, gosh, I don’t want to really turn them off, I’d rather have them die.”?
Now, we all have had people share things about Jesus in ways that are so repulsive and so come on strong and so judgmental and so just so unlike Jesus. But I think that pendulum has gotten so far that somehow we have forgotten if they don’t get a warning, if they don’t know about the new King, if they don’t know about the new life, you’d being nice to them is nice, I mean, that’s a really, really important start.
“But just, man, we have become great friends, eleven months and twenty-nine days, I just wish I would have told you about the antidote, because you died of cancer.” God wants better for us.
I remember learning this a very hard way. And I was a basketball coach at the time and there was a guy who lived next door who was, like, the big man on campus. And I had graduated from school a year or two and I was coaching and leading a little college ministry and I would go up and he was a swimmer, like, all-American swimmer but he liked basketball and I got to know him.
And he was, like, the most popular, powerful, you know that person? Let me say this, is there anyone in your life that intimidates you? Like, they’re either super smart, super beautiful, super powerful, or super something that you just think, you know, like, I just, I’m really intimidated by them. So, I was obviously very intimidated by this guy.
And he was living with his girlfriend right next door, and off campus. And so, I’m doing Bible studies on campus with different guys. And, boy, watching young men come to know the Lord and it was really, really exciting. And I’ll never forget, he walked across the yard one day and said, “Hey, you, Chip.” I said, “Yeah? Yeah?” He said, “What’s with you, man?” I said, “What do you mean, ‘What’s with me?’” “Why didn’t you tell me?” I said, “Tell you what?” He goes, “You’re kidding me, like, aren’t you the guy that’s doing the Bible studies and aren’t you kind of leading this little ministry and are our basketball coach?” I said, “Yeah!” He said, “Well, why didn’t you tell me?” I said, “Tell you what?” “About Jesus!”
I said, “Why?” He said, “Well, you know, my girlfriend’s folks are really old school and they go to church and they have no idea we are living together and we’re getting kind of serious and so we went to visit them and separate bedrooms and the whole bit. And then they had to get up and we went to this little white church with some little funky country preacher with a twang and everything and he said that, ‘Jesus loves you! And he died for your sin! And you need to repent and come to Jesus!’”
And he goes, “You know, how he said it and it really, really turned me off. But I sat there and I realized I had never heard that in my life and I just found myself kneeling at the front of that little white country church and I asked Christ to come into my life. And something big changed, because the moment we got back, I turned to my girlfriend and said, ‘I’ve got to sleep on the couch now.’ And she said, ‘Why?’” He said, “Because I’m a follower of Jesus now, and you can’t have it both ways.”
And he said, “So, let me just ask you, why didn’t you tell me?” And I can’t remember what excuse I made. Today I would say, “Because I’m a wimpy, ashamed of the gospel, insecure, marshmallow of a Christian.” I don’t know if I would say it like that.
You know why I didn’t say anything? In my wildest dreams, I never dreamed that guy would be open to Jesus, let alone from a country preacher who didn’t say it nearly as culturally relevant as me.
Lord, would You help us to love our enemies the way that Jonah loved his enemies, very imperfectly, and still You used him. I ask that You give us courage and boldness to not be ashamed of Your gospel. And, Lord, we don’t need to be able to answer all the questions. The power is in the gospel. God, would You give us the grace to stop tweaking our life and shift for our good and for Your glory?