Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
You Were Made for More free mp3 download.
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
See, the purpose of the book of Jonah is to reveal the expansiveness of His love and mercy and then what it does and what it calls us to in the cliffhanger ending is it’s to act as a mirror. You look in the mirror and see what you really look like, to examine the state of our hearts, calling us to shift our lives onto the very purpose of God for this planet.
And for those of us who are followers of Jesus, there is this warning. Especially I think many of us who have been maybe believers for a long time. The warning in Jonah is so critical because we see the warning again in Jesus’ day. And it’s this: You can know God’s Word and completely miss God’s heart. You can know God’s Word and completely miss His heart. Jonah knew God’s Word. In fact, in his griping about God, he is griping with God’s Word! “I knew You were this! I knew You were that!”
By the way, in the Hebrew of that prayer, there are eleven times the word “I”. “I, I, I, I, I.” Because we can know God’s Word but when our focus is on us, we miss God’s heart. That’s why we see such brokenness in the Church. That’s why we see such brokenness in our lives, because our hearts don’t break for what breaks God’s heart.
In fact, there’s a question that I’ve asked. Because I think it’s the question we have to ask as followers of Jesus, especially as we are growing in the way of Jesus. Does what we know cause our love to grow? Does what we know – like, when we get into God’s Word, and I so want us to get into God’s Word and know God’s Word, so don’t hear me wrongly saying, “Well, it doesn’t matter.
Ryan said, ‘Don’t know God’s Word.’” No, we need to get into God’s Word, but we need to allow it to change our heart, convict our heart – the Word of God acts like a mirror so that we look in it and we actually adjust and change our lives.
James would tell us when we fail to apply God’s Word, we end up deceiving ourselves. In fact, you can listen to a sermon and go, “That was a great sermon,” and walk away and not apply it and end up more deceived, but feeling better about yourself.
Does what you know, does what I know cause my love to grow? Does it cause my heart to break for the things that are on God’s heart? Does it cause my heart to beat for the things that are beating with God’s heart? Does what I know cause my love to grow so that I begin to do and move in the ways that God is moving? Or am I just stuck east of the city? Griping, looking at what’s wrong and where I wish God would work and what He’s not doing?
Tragically, Jonah was depressed about God’s goodness. Warning: We can know God’s Word and completely miss God’s heart. The question: Does what we know cause our love to grow? The principle: God is working in big and small ways in your life to realign your heart to His. God is working in big and small ways.
And we are kind of fascinated with the big, aren’t we? We want the big. We want God to, like, have that, like, “Ryan,” you know, moments. Or, “Show me a sign!” Or it’s just – and He’s working in the big and the small.
Jonah chapter 1, when God provided, we circled all that, a great fish, a huge fish. But in chapter 4, He provides a plant. And then he provides a worm. Think about that. Big fish; little worm. Still God providing, God working, God showing. And the He provides a scorching east wind. And all of it was, “Jonah, you’re missing it. You’re east of the city. You are moving from My presence and My purpose. You’re moving farther away from Me. You’re missing it. And I want to work in big ways, yes, but also in small ways.” He’s actively working, actively wooing, and this is one of those moments where he’s actively working and wooing and drawing you towards Himself.
I think the question then is how do we know the condition of our heart? I mean, how do you really know? And we are not a very good touchy-feely culture anyways. Like, “My heart, Ryan? That feels like – what are you? My heart? I don’t know.”
And also, don’t we have a profound capacity at self-deception? Can’t we see the problems in others, see the problem in Jonah? But how often do we then justify our actions? Why? Because we have a good reason for it, right?
It’s not fault, it’s not my problem, it’s not my issue. I’m busy, life is full, and you don’t know the valley. Gosh, you don’t know my workplace. You don’t know my marriage. You don’t know my singleness. We have a profound capacity to deceive ourselves.
Let me give you three questions from the text of identifying our heart condition. First question: What gets you worked up? What gets you worked up? I almost put “angry” there, but I knew there would be too many of us in here that would go, “Ryan, I don’t get angry.” And then we justify ourselves, “Well, that’s not me. I don’t get angry. I get even.” No, I’m just, but...
Right? But what gets you worked up? God’s mercy got Jonah worked up. It was evil to Jonah, a great evil. He was angry, hot angry. What gets you worked up? “I could never forgive them.” “No, no, I hold grudges.” “They don’t deserve my forgiveness, my mercy, my availability, my time.” What gets you worked up?
Jonah got worked up. He’s east of the city. And he’s griping over a city that responded in revival and repentance. You compare that with Jesus. And you know what He prayed over Jerusalem? He actually weeps over the city. He says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who killed the prophets. O how I wish to gather you as a hen gathers its chicks.” Jonah is seeing widespread revival and Jesus knows that He is heading into Jerusalem and they are going to kill Him too. And His heart weeps. He’s like, “I wish that I could gather you and draw you in.” What gets you worked up?
Second question: What do you live for? What do you live for?
Jonah was happy over the plant, a great, exceeding happiness. Jonah was more concerned about his personal comfort than people in crisis.
He’s east of the city because of his comfort. He’s east of the city because of his prejudice. He’s east of the city and he’s more concerned about a plant than people, more concerned about a plant than even livestock. And so often, isn’t it true that we spend our days where we’re focused and we are living for little things, small things, temporal things, things that are here today and gone tomorrow, that vanish? Plants.
And God says, “Would you live for something bigger? Live for something greater? Live for something eternal.” You know what’s amazing about Jesus? In Hebrews chapter 12 and it’s just coming after the hall of faith and where it’s explaining God’s, these incredible faithful people. And it talks about, “Therefore, for us, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, calling us to run the race that God marked out of us with perseverance, getting rid of anything that trips us up or the sin that so easily entangles us,” and then it says, “let us fix our eyes on Jesus.”
Church, you can do nothing wrong when you fix your eyes on Jesus. You are living in your full purpose when you are fixing your eyes on Jesus. “Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of your faith.” And then it says this, this is amazing. What did Jesus live for? The very same thing that He died for. “Who, for the joy set before Him, scorned the cross.”
“Who, for the joy set before Him, He took on the cross, scorning its shame.” Well, what was the joy set before Him? It was you.
Finally, what are you concerned about? You want to know the condition of your heart? What are you concerned about? God’s question to Jonah, “Should I not be concerned about this great city? Should I not be concerned about people?” Jonah, east of the city, he’s concerned about himself, his comfort, just whatever he wants.
And then you see Jesus. And isn’t it amazing? Think about this. Think about that the Pharisees who knew the Word of God, remember, you can know the Word of God and completely miss God’s heart, the Pharisees who knew the Word of God completely missed the Son of God who was the Word of God incarnate. And so, when the Son of God showed up on the planet and is doing the things that God does and doing the things and getting after the people that break God’s heart and working in ways, the Pharisees who are the most religious missed it, didn’t get it.
In fact, on one occasion, which happened many times, they are saying to Him, “Why in the world do You eat with tax collectors and sinners? What is wrong with You?” And then Jesus tells a parable to explain the heart of God, what breaks God’s heart. What He’s concerned about.
In fact, He gives three stories. You know it. The parable of the lost sheep. That what breaks God’s heart and what God lives for, what God is concerned about, what God goes after is if He has a hundred sheep and ninety-nine are in the pen, if there’s one lost, He’s going after the one because the one matters to God.
And then He tells the parable of the lost coin. That a woman had ten coins and lost one. And she did everything to find and searched that one lost, valuable coin. And in both of those stories He says, “There’s more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents, one person who recognizes their need and turns than ninety-nine righteous. Like, heaven rejoices!
And then He builds it to the climax. It’s the story of the lost son, or we know it as the prodigal son. When the prodigal son says to his father, “Hey, I want my share of the inheritance.” Now, there are two brothers. There’s an older brother and a younger brother. This is the younger brother.
And everybody goes, “Of course it is the younger brother. That’s a younger brother move.” The younger brother says this and the father, again, God’s heart and response instead of shaming, instead of even giving him a lecture, he gives him the inheritance.
The son goes and squanders all that he had on wild living, eventually destitute. He’s working with pigs and he’s starving. And I love how the text says it. He says, “Then he came to his senses,” and realized even servants live better than he was living in his father’s household and so he made his way home. And he rehearsed this speech and he’s working on his way home. And I love it. It says that the father saw him a long way off and he ran to him, what no proper man would do. Patriarch in the ancient day would ever run, because you’d have to lift your garb and run and expose your legs. And it was a completely humbling.
He would never do that and he does that and he runs to his son. And he gives him and embrace, he doesn’t even allow his son to finish his speech. He puts on the ring of sonship, the sandals, and a new garment on him, and welcomes him home.
And, again, there’s no lecture. It’s just the father with open arms saying, “Welcome home.” And then he throws a party. I love it. He kills the fatted calf. And then we get to the point of the story. We get the heart of God for all of humanity, wherever we are at, that it breaks His heart. And that is the reason Jesus came.
“I came for every single person to experience My grace and love, that none should perish but all come to know Me.” And the point of the parable, like the point of Jonah is to draw our attention to the older brother. Because, remember, He’s talking to the Pharisees who knew God’s Word, but didn’t know God’s Son.
See, the Older brother sees the party and instead of celebration, He’s outside the celebration griping, just like Jonah is outside the city griping. And the father goes to him, and says, “Son, come in and celebrate. Your brother who was dead is alive, who was lost is found, we have to celebrate.” And he’s got on his mind fairness. He doesn’t deserve it.
And he says, “Son, we had to celebrate. All that I have is yours. Come into the celebration and celebrate, your bother was lost and is found.”
And like Jonah, Jesus ends the story right there. And we don’t know, we don’t know how the elder brother responded. We don’t know if he went into the celebration or if he stood outside judging, critiquing, condemning, feeling self-righteous. And just like Jonah, the call is for us, not to judge the elder brother. No. It’s to see the elder brother in us, to see the elder brother in me, to see the elder brother when I look down and I judge someone, look down when I don’t reach out, look down on people and I’m just simply treating people – or I just want to live for my own comfort, my own ways, and gripe about when it doesn’t go my way.
It’s the call for us to look in the mirror and this is the prayer I want to leave you with. Would you make this prayer for you this week?
Heavenly Father, would You break my heart for what breaks Your heart? Would You do a heart-work in me? I don’t want to be east of the city. I don’t want to be outside the city, outside the celebration. But I recognize that’s where I’m at. I recognize there are parts of me that have that. Would You break my heart? Would You do a fresh work? Would You do a heart-work in me for the very things that break Your heart?