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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
Every major change that ever happens in your life happens because of a shift. Every big change in a relationship, a shift in perspective, shift in career, a shift you relocate. But we tend to try and tweak our way through life.
You get into a storm, you really want help, there’s a big conflict, you cry out to God, and you get a little relief, and what you realize is you want relief instead of transformation. Because, see, now the crisis, you know, “It’s transactional. It’s not what it needs to be, but we are kind of getting along and things are sort of okay.”
And what I can tell you is over and over and over in my life, when I realized I needed to deal with an issue in me or in my marriage or in my parenting or at work, I have tried to tweak, tweak, tweak and make little changes. Can I tell you? It does not work. You just delay the pain and you don’t experience what God wants for you. I love, notice in your notes. If you pull this out and if you happen to have a pen, at the very top it says, “How do you shift to…” and would you with the pen underline, “…the more that you were made for”?
When we run from God, we shift away – and underline this, are you ready? – from the more that you were made for. God uses storms, difficulties, circumstances, pain, cancer, pandemics, challenges. He uses storms in our life to shift us back to – underline this; say it with me – the more that we were made for.
And then we learned that Jonah is delivered by God from the storm for two reasons. God reveals His mercy and then He repositions or shifts him forward for the more that he’s made for. Here’s what I want you to know. I have been doing this for a long time and the average Christian that I meet when I sit down and have anything other than a superficial conversation is not experiencing the more that you were made for.
God didn’t just save you to forgive you. He’s got a plan, He’s got a purpose, He’s got peace, He’s got direction, He’s got a connection in relationships. And some of the biggest challenges, I want you to think about the biggest challenge, the biggest thing that if you could say, “God, take that away or fix it,” some of the biggest challenges you have in your life right now are actually allowed by God to bring some storms to receive His mercy so that you can, shift and experience the more that you’re made for.
Because here’s what I want you to get. is that when our external acts – obedience – do not reflect our internal attitude – heart – we miss the more we are made for.
Let me say that again. When our external acts – Okay, God, I’ll apologize. Okay, God, I’ll do what You told me to do. Okay, God, I’ll get my finances in order. But you can do external things. Jonah does it. “Okay, God, You said go tell those Ninevites that there is judgment coming. Okay, I’ll do it.”
Often we do external acts to get relief. My friend came for counseling. My friend even walked away with a little resource in his hands. My friend did a couple little things with his wife that at least put the fire out for now. What he wanted was relief. What he did was tweak his life.
But he didn’t make a shift. And because he didn’t make a shift, the same issues that are unresolved are just going to keep boiling up and I’ve got a feeling I’ll hear from him sometime soon.
Now, here’s the good news. We’re all that way, aren’t we? Jonah was that way. How does God respond when, you know, it’s external, we’re not really from the heart? I love it. God gives Jonah a redo. Are you ready? We are going to get a short movie in chapter 3 of Jonah and the movie has four scenes.
Scene number one is God recommissions Jonah. “Now the Word of Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, ‘Arise,’” circle the word arise in your notes. “Go to Nineveh, the great city, and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” I love this.
Jonah rebels, I’m not going to do God’s will, he gets himself in a pretty messy, sticky, dark, yicky situation. He gets vomited onto the beach and God says, “Okay, let’s try this again.” Scene number two, Jonah obeys God’s command.
“So Jonah arose and he went to Nineveh according to the Word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city,” I won’t go into all the background, literally, it was the greatest city on the earth.
They have been digging, archaeologists, for years. It’s like this incredible, huge city with hundred-foot walls and wide enough for three or four chariots to go by. But then there were all these adjoining communities. I mean, it’s huge.
It took three days just to walk from one end of the suburbs to the other. “Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh will be overthrown.’” So, he’s obeying. Okay? He doesn’t like them, but he’s obeying. And he proclaims, “Judgment is coming.” It says he, even in the first day that he starts walking, there’s a response. Notice that word, “He began.” We don’t know how long or what he said or - here’s what we know. A disobedient guy chooses to obey and is telling people, not that he doesn’t like, he’s telling people that he hates that in forty days, God’s judgment is coming. So, at least he obeys.
The people of Nineveh repent. “Then the people of Nineveh,” notice, “believed in God,” the one true God, “and they called a fast and they put on sackcloth, and from the greatest to the least of them. And when the word reached the king of Nineveh, he” circle it, “arose from his throne and laid aside his robe.”
He was the most powerful person on the earth. And this is an act of repentance. This is an act of, “I’m going to humble myself before God.” He takes off his outer robes, he covers himself with sackcloth.
And notice then he sits on the ashes. This is a mental, emotional, and volitional, “I have absolutely no hope. I bring nothing. Not my throne, not my robes, not my intellect. If there’s not an intervention from this Yahweh God, the Creator of all that there is, I’m done.”
And then he acts. “He issued a proclamation and said, ‘In Nineveh, by the decree of the king and by his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth.”
He’s just saying, “We are done.” He’s at the end of himself. And, by the way, don’t just keep this out there. Think about: Where has God taken you in your life where you have just, “This marriage is done.” “I can’t put up with this kid one more time.” “My parents are just, they are, they are so unresponsive.” “My boss…” “This health issue, I’m so done with this.” What you’re seeing is a king with great power and a city that you would never dream would be responsive coming to the end of themselves. That’s a very important place to be.
And then notice after he makes that decree, here’s what he tells everyone, “Let men call on God,” underline the word, “earnestly.” It’s the opposite of Jonah. Jonah is going through the motions.
But he says, “Call on God earnestly,” and it’s not just words, “that each may turn from his wicked way, and from the violence which is in their hands.” And then the king basically is like this, “Who knows?” Right? “Who knows, perhaps God will turn and relent, and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.”
Scene number one, Jonah obeys. Scene number two, Nineveh hears. Scene number three, they repent. Scene number four, God responds with mercy. “When God,” underline the word, “saw – when God saw their deeds that they had turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared that He would bring upon them. And He did not do so.”
One of the things I jotted in my notes; it’s really worth pondering. God takes no delight in punishing the wicked. These are the most wicked people, historically, on the face of the earth. These are the people that run the sex trade of their day. This was a group of people that impaled people, that skinned them alive, that would go into whole towns and rape all the women and put a sword through pregnant women. I mean, atrocious, atrocious, just the worst things you can think of.
In view of all of that, God finds no delight in judging the wicked. His default emotion, the default emotion of this book and the message is mercy. He’s merciful with a rebellious prophet who knows better. He’s merciful with wicked, wicked people.
In one season, found myself going regularly to maximum security prisons with a man who taught me a lot about God and part of his life was every month he would go to a maximum-security prison and he started dragging his young pastor. And if you have never been to one of those deals and these are, these are murderers and these are rapists and there is no hope of ever getting out. And the bars go, Djjjjj, click! And then you walk in in about a nine by nine it goes, Tchk! And, oh Lord. But John loved them.
John said, “Chip, you need to understand, God loves these people.” And we compare and we think their mistakes are far worse than ours, but our God’s heart is for mercy. And I had the privilege of being with John and watching people that I could have never even imagined wanting to hear about God cry like babies and experience forgiveness for things that they wish they had never done, but they did. And that’s the picture that we have here. Don’t miss the big message from Jonah’s life. Notice the contrast between chapter 1 and chapter 3.
In chapter 1, God commands him to go, and the response is Jonah flees. In chapter 3, God commands: Go. And Jonah goes. And in chapter 1, God warns the sailors with the storm, and in chapter 3, He warns the city through Jonah.
In chapter 1, the storm actually stops the moment they respond. In chapter 3, the wickedness stops. The response is the sailors repent, they start worshipping Yahweh on the boat and they put their faith in the one, true God. The city responds in repentance in chapter 3. And they believe in the one, true God.
In chapter 1, Jonah ends up in a fish and God delivers him. And in chapter 3, Jonah ends up in a revival, and God delivers his enemies. And don’t miss this. Jonah disobeys in chapter 1 and then he cries out for life. Jonah obeys in chapter 3 and then he cries out and says, “I want to die. I would rather die than see my enemies receive the mercy of God.”
I think there are couple big lessons, one from the Ninevites and then one from Jonah. You ready? Here’s the lesson that I at least learn from this passage from the Ninevites. Receiving God’s mercy requires faith, evidenced by repentance.
Verse 5 it says they believed. In other words, God wants to be merciful to everyone.
But it’s like having an ocean of water and being dying of thirst and going, “I’m not going to drink. I don’t need that.” Well, guess what, it can be available but you don’t get it. So, in order to receive God’s mercy, you have to believe. And then second, it’s evidenced by repentance. Did you get those words? The king says, “Everyone must turn away, believe in God earnestly, turn from your wicked ways, turn from your violence.”
And then did you notice? “When God saw their deeds,” did you hear those words? God turned, God relented, God withheld. See, there’s this whole big theme, this undercurrent about repentance. So, let me just explain what repentance is and repentance is not.
If you’re taking notes, you could write the word “repentance”. And what I want to tell you is that 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. In other words, you intellectually say, “I’m going down this path.”
It’s like I’m going down 101 south and you realize, “Oh, I’m supposed to be on 101 north.” So, you go over the overpass, and then you turn around and you go the other direction. That’s a good picture of repentance.
Well, that’s the intellectual thing. 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. There’s a heart, there’s an emotion.
That’s – there’s a sense of sorrow. And it’s not like faking, “Oh, I’m really sorry I got caught. It’s a sorrow where you realize you really damaged the relationship. I will just tell you, both in horizontal relationships with people and in my relationship with God, when I finally realized that sin – doing what’s wrong, right? – it’s not fundamentally a behavioral issue. It’s fundamentally a relational issue.
Because if it’s behavioral, like, “Oh, I’m sorry I did that. You know, I logged on one more time, I lusted one more time, I lied one more time, I stole one more time… I…” Blah, blah, blah, blah. “I’m really sorry.” And play – you know, and then it’s like push repeat. No, no, no, no. Repentance is intellectually a change of mind, birthed out of a sense of a relational hurt. “I hurt that person. It caused a divide between me and my God and He loves me.” 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.
Think of that thing in your life that you struggle with and then you try hard and then you struggle with it and then you try hard and you struggle with it and you try hard. And for some, it’s anger. For some, it’s lust. For some, it’s money. For some, it’s shopping. For some, it’s eating. For some, it’s sex. You know, whatever, right? We’re human.
We were in a tough season. I was in seminary, so I was going to school full-time with a full load. 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. We hadn’t been to enough counseling at that point.
And we were, I know we were doing some counseling, because we were learning these “I feel” messages about how to share your anger without attacking the person, because our lack of that was not good at all.
And so, I think she listened more than me and I came home and the food is cold. And here’s what you need to understand. My rights, my time, I’m working, I’m going to school, I should be able to play as much as I want. It’s my one little thing. Who cares if it’s cold? I don’t get it. Why is she uptight? I don’t show up at five-thirty. Give me a break. Lighten up, loosen up, this...I’m resentful, I’m angry and she as well.
And so, I come in and there are candles on the table and the kids have already eaten, I’m really late, and she’s really kind and she says, “I put it in the oven,” and then I eat. And then she tried one of these “I feel” messages. 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 I looked in her eyes and I’ll never forget this. And I remember thinking, Love and being late for supper? I mean, we had a battle. “I’m going to do my thing, you do your thing, you’re this rigid person. Five-thirty: dinner, dinner, dinner. Give me a break.” 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.