Go...There Part 2

Jonah Faced The Consequences Of Turning Away From God.

Tim Lundy
May 23, 2021    43m
Have you ever felt like you didn't want to do what God has called you to do? In this message, from the Book of Jonah, we learn that there are real consequences of turning away from God. But, hope is not lost, we can repent and come back, and he will always welcome us. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Tim Lundy: [00:00:00] Well, thanks, Manie, I appreciate you sharing your story. And even more, I appreciate, I hope you heard it, how she's applying this book of Jonah. How she looked in her life, and she said, OK, where's my there? Where's my Nineveh? And as she looked in her life, it was part of it's her small group, but also the awesome way that God's opened up some doors in PayPal at work for her to be able to represent Christ and Christianity and answer questions.

Tim Lundy: [00:00:45] I want to encourage you, we're in this series in Jonah, it's easy to study these stories from long ago, but we're asking everybody who's a part of Venture to apply this to your 'there', to the very least, your neighborhood. And we want everybody in the church to host a block party this summer. Now, even as I say that I've been getting so many questions this week, people are like, what do you mean? And I want to tell you, it's as simple as just getting a few of your neighbors together, if you'll be the one to host, and in fact, we've got a resource kit. We've got instructions on the block party, in fact, we printed some things as door hangers, invitations. You can use these, you don't have to, Venture is not on it. They are very generic, by design, because our goal is not to somehow have a church service, or somehow get Venture front and center, our goal is really that your neighbors would know you. And that through that relationship, you could start having the opportunity to someday, as God leads, introduce them to Jesus Christ. And so I want to encourage everybody to go online if you want some of these materials. We also have a full block party kit that has a pop-up tent and some games that you can take advantage of. But begin to think and pray right now, how could I host an event on my street, in my apartment complex, that would just connect people? And the goal of the event that night is that we just got to know each other. There's no bait and switch, there's no hidden thing in it, that's all we want you to do. Because we really believe that if we, as the people of God, go out and are salt and light, and love our neighbors, love our community well, it will open doors to be able to introduce people to Jesus Christ.

Tim Lundy: [00:02:38] Hey, before we dive into the message, could you just take a moment with me? Let's pray together, Father, I do thank you for how you're moving in our church, I thank you for people that are coming here for the first time, people that are connecting online. And we do want to look for ways that we could reach out to our neighbors, to our friends, to our co-workers. Lord, we want you to open doors, we don't want to force things, but we do believe that Jesus has changed our lives, and we want to share that with the world. Would you give us courage, would you give us creativity, would you give us the willingness to go there in the way that you sent us to the world? We pray these things in Christ's name. Amen.

Tim Lundy: [00:03:21] Well, this week, as we continue on with this series, I'm going to move these materials. We want to talk about Jonah and pick up where we were in the story. And just to give you a little bit of a recap, if you weren't able to hear the message last week, Johah is a pretty straightforward story, but there's so much that applies to our lives today. And in fact, it's a real poetical book, there's the use of different words throughout the book that are kind of cues for you.

Tim Lundy: [00:03:50] So to summarize the first chapter of Jonah, you know, last week you have this prophet of God, Jonah, and God speaks to him. And the first thing he points out in this book is, hey, Jonah, there's a great city, he literally uses that word great, called Nineveh. And Jonah knew the city, it was the capital of Assyria, it was the enemies of Israel. But God said, man, it's a big city, it's a great city. I want you to go there and share with them that they've got to change.

Tim Lundy: [00:04:22] Now, we saw in the story last week, Jonah, instead of going to Nineveh, he literally goes the opposite direction. He goes and jumps on a boat at Joppa, takes off, wants to go 2500 miles to Tarshish, the opposite way. And so in the story, God still in control here. It said in verse 4, "He sent a great wind." I mean, the seas are up in arms, everything is going, the sailors themselves are scared for their life. If you remember, they go downstairs and there's Jonah asleep in the boat. They cast lots, they know it's him, they say, what are you doing? He says, well, I'm trying to run from God, the God who made the sea in the heavens and the earth, and that panics them. They look for anything they could do to save him. and Jonah, kind of in this point of just giving up, says to him, yeah, the only thing you can do is toss me in the sea. He really literally rather die than do what God told him to do. And so in a final desperate act, they pray to God they go, please don't hold this over us, and they toss Joan into the sea.

Tim Lundy: [00:05:34] There's one more great from Chapter 1 that we didn't cover last week, it's probably the thing that you think about most with Jonah, there's a great fish. There's a great fish in this story, that's what the text said, it never uses the word whale, by the way, maybe it was a whale. But the description, read with me, in Jonah 1:17 it says, "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." Now, as soon as we get to this verse, and frankly, as soon as I said the word Jonah, we immediately jump here, and we get a little bit confused with other stories. A lot of times we kind of get the details of Pinocchio confused with it, and we think of the whale named Monstro, and, you know, there Pinocchio and he's on the little raft and he goes down, he's inside the fish, has a little fire trying to stay alive with it, we almost treat it the same way.

Tim Lundy: [00:06:34] In fact, for a lot of you, maybe you're listening to this part, and this is the part of the story where you really have a hard time believing the validity of it. That you go, OK, come on, honestly, a whale or a fish swallowed a man for three days. And I understand your skepticism, in fact, frankly, I'm glad that you asked the question. We want to be the kind of church at Venture that you can ask those kinds of questions, they're not off guard or out of bounds with it. You can be honest with yourself, and you can be honest with us about the text.

Tim Lundy: [00:07:12] And a lot of times theologians or pastors, some have tried to approach it scientifically, to prove that it could be possible. Or historically, you know, there's a story that circulates of a sailor named James Bartley who was swallowed by a whale, I think, like in 1891. If you go back, though, and look at some of the details of the story, I don't know that it holds up historically, and so it wouldn't be one that I'd necessarily point out to prove this. Frankly, I don't think you can prove it scientifically.

Tim Lundy: [00:07:43] Some of you, when you hear that, you go, well, OK, is it just an allegory, and should we treat the whole story as an allegory? And again, if you read through the Bible, the Bible uses metaphorical language in places, uses allegories in places. But one of the things I've always found when it uses allegory, it's in a certain genre. it usually gives cues that it's using this kind of allegorical language whether it's in the Book of Revelation or Daniel, something with visions in that. And the thing about this book, Jonah treats it like it's a narrative. And in the Bible, when you read a narrative and it's presented like a narrative, like a story, it's meant to be accepted as a story. So as I say that, you go, well, but Tim, how can a rational 21st-century person really believe this?

Tim Lundy: [00:08:34] Now, here's the key for me, it really goes back to just two words in that verse. See. when I start with the fact these two words, the Lord appointed, God orchestrated, if took those words out of it, if the verse just started and it just said, hey, this great fish came along and swallowed him. I'd be as skeptical as the next person. But if you actually believe that God intervenes in the affairs of man, that he has the ability to do things that are beyond our reason, beyond what we can scientifically even explain if you believe God intervenes with us and interacts in that way. Then the rest of the verse becomes more believable. Not because I can prove it scientifically, but what I believe about God. And so for me, and for many of us as a church, when we come to these narrative stories that even have miraculous events, we don't believe them because somehow we're going to prove it, we believe it because we've seen God prove it. And the way that he proved it the most was through his son, Jesus.

Tim Lundy: [00:09:50] In fact, it's interesting to me, Jesus believed in Jonah. In fact, in Matthew 12, Jesus says these words, for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man..." He's talking about himself, "...be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah..." And I love this line, he says, "...and behold something greater than Jonah is here." Jesus points back to this miraculous story, he goes, yeah, Jonah was in a whale three days, three nights, he says you guys are going to see something even greater. What he's talking about is the fact that he would be in a tomb as a dead man for three days and three nights and rise from the dead. I've just found in my life, if Jesus says something or Jesus believes something, I believe it too. Because of what he accomplished, it gives me confidence, even when I read stories that it stretches what I know to be true. But then I step back, and I go, yeah, but you insert what God could do, does that explain a lot? It does for me.

Tim Lundy: [00:11:11] Now, as we come to this point in the story, notice it said that Jonah, three days and three nights he's in this fish. Do you realize how stubborn you have to be, that he's holding on, literally, all this time? And finally, after three days and three nights, Jonah turns to God, he stops running. In fact, chapter 2, the whole chapter, is basically Jonah's prayer to God, what he comes to grips with. Let's read through that prayer together, look at it in 2 starting and verse 1, "Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying, “I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol..." Sheol was the Hebrew term for death, and literally, I'm not just in the belly of fish, I'm in the belly of death itself. "...I cried, and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me." In the Hebrew mindset, for the Israelites, the sea especially was considered a place of chaos, it was a place that you didn't want to be part of. And so Jonah's pointing out, he goes, and I'm in this belly of death, I'm in the middle of all this chaos, I literally have no control.

Tim Lundy: [00:12:37] Versus 46 he continues, "Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple." It's an interesting verse, he says, God, I've been driven from you. And I look at it and go, well, actually, Jonah, you weren't driven, you chose to run. And we often do that, we often kind of blame God or blame somebody else for what we chose to do, and even in his prayers he says, man, I'm driven from you, but I've got to turn again back to his Holy Temple. Remember when t I told you that he got on the boat, and he was running. Remember, in Chapter 1, it said several times, he was running to get away from the presence of the Lord. Because in Israel, the temple was the place where God met with his people. And so when Joan is getting on a boat to get far away, he's got to get away from the temple, he's got to get away from God. He doesn't want to be near the God who told him what he needed to do, and so he's on this run.

Tim Lundy: [00:13:37] But finally, he goes, I can't keep running, I got to look back to you. "The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever." And again, you feel the chaos, and then also the confinement, and almost that panicky feeling when you're not in control and you can't get out of it, "Yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God."

Tim Lundy: [00:13:37] Look how he finishes the prayer in verses 7-9, When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple." I like this, he says, "Those who pay regard to vain idols..." It's an interesting place to throw it in there. He said those who are holding onto idols, man, "...they forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay." And this is a great line, and I think it's a line for anybody who finds himself in that desperate place, "Salvation belongs to the Lord." Man, salvation is found in the Lord, in your Yahweh, in our God.

Tim Lundy: [00:15:01] I want to stop just at this point in the story, and I know we've been talking about going there, and we're going to look at Nineveh, we're going to look at what God did through it and what I think he can do through us. But I think we would be remiss if we didn't stop at this point and just recognize, what do we learn from Jonah in this place? Because the reality is, a lot of us find ourselves in this place, a lot of people can be running. I love the quote, and I saw it, by James Thurber, the writer. He said, "All human beings should try to learn, before they die, what are they running from, and to, and why?" That's a powerful quote, he says, every person, before you die, you need to recognize in your life, what am I running from? What am I running to? And why?

Tim Lundy: [00:16:02] And the reality for Jonah, he's running from God, and it's easy for any of us to pull a Jonah. I don't care who you are, I've been in church long enough, I've seen a lot of people pull a Jonah. I've seen young people pull a Jonah, I've seen old people pull a Jonah, I've seen mature people do it. What do I mean in that? I mean, people who you never saw coming, but in a moment in life, they decided to run from God. I know, I have. I can think of key points in my life, some when I was young, especially, when God wanted me to be a pastor and it was the last thing I wanted to do, and I ran as hard as I could the other direction. And I felt a lot like Jonah, in Jonah chapter 2 as well. Now, sometimes I do it less dramatically, maybe it's not a life decision. But I'll come across things in scripture where God's told me to do something and the reality is, just like Jonah, I don't want to do it. And if you get stuck in that, if you get stubborn in it, there's a clear path that people follow.

Tim Lundy: [00:17:18] Look at the first step in it, if you want to run from God, the first step is always disobedience. And here's what I mean, it's just the decision to not do what God is telling you to do. You come across something in the Bible, or God convicts you of something, and just like Jonah, you see it there, it's clear, you know it's what you're supposed to do, and you make a decision, in that moment, I'm just not going to do it. And sometimes we do that around money, God has some real clear teaching of how we're supposed to handle our money, how we're supposed to be generous. And I'm telling you, a lot of people come across that and they just go, I'm not going to do that. In that area of my life, I'm going in this direction, and I'm going to stay in control. Sometimes it's around relationships, or maybe God's calling you to forgive somebody you don't want to forgive. Sometimes it has to do with sex, and there are some clear distinctions and prohibitions in the way that scripture lays out how we're supposed to handle our sex lives. There's a lot of people look at and go, I'm just not going to do that, I'm not going to listen to that part of it. All throughout Scripture, you can't follow Jesus long, you can't read the Bible very much, until you come across something that you look at and you go, man, this is hard. This kind of cuts across what I want to do. And in that moment, you have to make a decision, am I going to obey God no matter what he's telling me to do, or am I just going to make a decision in this moment, I'm not doing that? And when you do that, and when you applied in that way, I'm going to tell you you've begun the journey of running from God.

Tim Lundy: [00:19:05] And that journey always leads to the next point, it's a downward journey, it's a downward journey, it's a series of steps that always leads to a lower place. It's usually not immediate, in Jonah's story, if you read the text, I told you, is really poetic, it points it out in the story, he just keeps going down. He starts from his home, and he goes down to Joppa, the seacoast, when he gets the Joppa he goes down into the boat, he literally goes down in the boat, down to the bedroom, and lays down. Once they discovered that he's the cause of the problem, he's thrown into the sea and he sinks down to the bottom, he's finally swallowed down by the great fish. I mean, it's just this almost comical journey down, but part of it is to give us a visual graphic of this is what life looks like when you start running from God. And the same is true with us, the problem is it isn't comical. Where you find, and you look up, and you go, I got to a place lower than I ever expected.

Tim Lundy: [00:20:13] And again, I'm just telling you, years of pastoral ministry and talking to people, and you hear this same theme over and over again. Where people have made that decision, where they'll say to me, man, I never planned to actually get involved with another person outside my marriage, I never planned that, but I began a series of steps that led me to this place. I never planned to get addicted, I never planned to struggle with drugs or alcohol at this level, I thought I could control it, but I just began a series of steps, I never planned to get in this much debt. I never planned to say those kinds of words to another human being, much less my spouse. And I mean, and I can't tell you how many times in the middle of the session is they're sharing, they'll even look at me and they'll go, this isn't me, this isn't who I am, I don't know how I got here.

Tim Lundy: [00:21:14] You know, the old teacher, F.P. Meyer, had this quote where he said, "No man suddenly becomes base." That's language from the 1900s, the late 1800s. But here's what he means in that, no person suddenly hits this low point, no person wakes up and just says, you know, today, I think I'll just blow it, today, I'll get in a place like I've never been before. But guys, once you start that running and you start making those decisions, you can find yourself in a place you never thought you were going to get, you can find yourself lower than you ever expected.

Tim Lundy: [00:22:00] And the final part of it is, you hit a point of desperation, that anxiety and panic, because you can't control it, and you can't get out. You've heard that all through Jonah's prayer, is I am in this place of chaos, I'm in the sea, the currents control me, the weeds around me, it feels like the circumstances, everything else is in control and I'm not in control anymore. You feel the anxiety of it, and the panic, because I can't get out of this. I thought I was in control, I thought I could take one more step, I thought I had a little bit more time, and finally kind of hit that place where I'm not in control if I'm honest. I can't get out of it. And so you feel that that dull anxiety all the time, and even as I'm talking now, some of you, you kind of feel that panic welling up in you. You don't want to think about it, you don't want to go there. Now, hear me, I want everyone to hear me, this can happen to any of us. This isn't one of those things you go, oh, this happens to bad people or immature people. Remember, this story stories about a guy who's a prophet of God, this happens to mature people, it happens to pastors. It could happen to any of us.

Tim Lundy: [00:23:25] There may be some you, you're there right now, you've pulled a Jonah, if you gut-level honest, you've pulled a Jonah. So listen to me, if you've pulled a Jonah, what'd you learn from Jonah? Instead of just dismissing it, and not wanting to think about it, why don't we learn from this guy? I mean, in humility, he's laid his life out for us, he's kind of at a gut level, just told us, hey, here's what I did. And so in humility, why don't we learn from him. And it really is simple of just stop running from God and return to God, return.

Tim Lundy: [00:24:05] Now to do that, what have you got to do? The first part, you got to recognize and admit where you really are. It took Jonah a long time, it took him three days and three nights inside the whale to admit it. I mean, that's a long time, can you imagine how miserable it had to be there? See, I think Jonah was trying to outwait God, he just wanted to die. And so I think he's just like, if I wait here long enough, I've got to die, there can't be enough air. Can you imagine it falling asleep and then wake him back up, and that's where you are again in the dark and the stench? Best case scenario, sitting in gastric juices of a big fish, it's horrible. But he couldn't outwait God.

Tim Lundy: [00:24:53] And finally, he had to admit, man, this is where I am, and some you need to admit it. We have this amazing propensity for denial, but it literally eats us up. I saw an article in Psychology Today, these are just psychological studies, just talking about what our secrets do to us, what denial does to us. Listen to parts of the article, it talks about how painful secrets damage us and that a lot of time secret-keepers are more likely to suffer from headaches, nausea, back pain, sometimes hypertension, even flu. One researcher, Dale Larson, he's at Santa Clara University right by us, he did a meta-analysis and found that secretive people are more depressed, shame prone, anxious, and sensitive to judgment, it makes them tight-lipped and vulnerable to illness. Another clinical psychologist, Nando Pelusi, he writes these words, and listen to him. He says, "Self-deception is just an artful distraction from solving the problem. By not dealing with it, I can sweep it under the rug, but that becomes a temporary way to feel better, but it never lasts."

Tim Lundy: [00:26:15] So maybe if you're at this place and you go, yeah, I pulled the Jonah, I'm at a bad place. Instead of just putting it out of your mind over and over, instead of just not thinking about it, instead of trying to numb the pain through something else, or entertain yourself, or just not deal with it. The first step is to admit it, admit where you are. And then as you do that, the second thing you're going to have to do, and is interesting, I pointed out that Jonah talked about, man, you can't hold on to your idol. So I'd say the second step is, you've got to release your idols. When I say that I'm not talking about maybe just a carved idol, I'm talking about anything you're using to find security and meaning in life, anything that you're holding on to that that's finding my security, that's going to solve it for me, or that provides meaning in my life.

Tim Lundy: [00:27:09] What are some of the idols that we struggle with? I just listed out a few, as I think about it and as I talk to people and look at my own life, I think money is a key idol, I think money becomes an idol for all of us, the Bible says so. He says, man, is such a struggle, you either serve God or you're going to serve money one or the other. Money is a great tool, it's a terrible idol. And yet, it's so easy for us that we feel secure when we have enough money, we turn to money as this measure of our life, we know how we won. Did I really win in life? And the only measure we use a lot of times, did I make enough money to prove who I am? Guy's that's a miserable existence, and it will put you in a panicky place if you don't realize it. Work can be an idol; I know I can struggle with that. Where you find your identity from your work, you find your meaning from your work, you pour yourself into the work. And yet again, work is this great gift from God, but if it becomes your idol, man, it's a terrible source of identity, it's a terrible source of security. You know, in our culture, I think sex has become such a huge idol, I mean, you're told today if you don't have sexual fulfillment in your life, you're not fulfilled in life, I mean, it's the number one thing. And your literal identity is based on your sexual attraction, the way that you express sexual attraction, that is who you are, that is your identity. And I look at that, no matter how you might identify, I just look at that and I go, was sex really supposed to have that much power over us? Literally, the number one way I would identify myself in life, is my sexual attraction. Again, sex is a great gift from God, it's a terrible idol, it's a terrible source that it's going to be the meaning in my life.

Tim Lundy: [00:29:17] It can be something good, sometimes I think, even in the church, we make family an idol, or my spouse is my idol, my children. They were going to fulfill me in life, they give me meaning in life. And so you start wanting from them, and looking to them, to provide something, frankly, no other person has the ability to provide. You start looking at your kids, and they make decisions that don't match your dreams for them, and you feel that frustration or even disappointment because you wrapped so much up in it.

Tim Lundy: [00:29:55] You know what I think the number one idol is, I think it's Jonah's idol in this story, and maybe it's the thing that lines all of these, it's the idol of pride. It's when I make me actually the idol, and I'm the center of my life. And Jonah had this pride because he's a Hebrew, he's part of God's chosen people and the loved people, he's a prophet of God. And then God breaks in and says, yeah, I want you to share what I've given you with people that you don't think deserve it. Jonah's pride wells up, I'm not going to do that, they don't deserve that. And in his pride, he starts running. See, the problem with pride, when you make yourself your own idol, you have to provide the meaning in life for you. That's why so many people are so frustrated with themselves all the time, they constantly stay frustrated because they can't deliver for themselves what they so desperately want. And if you find yourself in that, you know what it's a good indicator. oh, crud, I have made myself the center of my life. Maybe I didn't even do it out of selfishness, but I'm trying to provide a meaning that I can't provide. Guy's, the problem with idols, is they keep you from experiencing what God can only provide.

Tim Lundy: [00:31:34] I love how Jonah put it in verse 8, look at this verse again, he says, "Those who pay regard to vain idols..." Look what they do, "...forsake their hope of steadfast love." You keep yourself from experiencing the love that God wants to give. So, when you put anything else in the center of your life, whether it's money, whether it's work, whether it's family, whether it's other people, whether it's myself, my own pride, if I put anything there, you know what it's doing? That item is keeping me from experiencing the kind of love that only comes when God's the center of my life. I mean, I picture this way, it's like God's love is this massive river that wants to flow over you, but you know what we do when we build idols, especially the idol of pride, we build a dam that keeps us from experiencing that love. And when you get in that place, you can just picture your life, you know what it looks like? It looks like this beautiful lake, this massive lake of water, that's just dammed up right there. And then on the other side of it, you look and there's a desert, there's no life, and that desert is you. And the only reason you're not experiencing that river of love, and that river of grace, and what God wants to point out, is that you have dammed it up and said, no, I can do it on my own. I don't want to do it God's way, I don't want to what God said, maybe I'll let a trickle of his love in, or enough that I think I need, or I deserve. And guys, if you learn nothing else from Jonah, there comes a point in life, and sometimes when you get low enough in life that you go, I've got to blow up the damn, I've got admit where I am. And I have to admit to him, like Jonah, I have to turn back to God, and I've got to admit to him what I need.

Tim Lundy: [00:33:48] To do that then, you've got to [inaudible] on the third point, you've got to repent, and you've got to turn around and get honest with God. You've got to repent, that's all repent means it literally means you do a 180 and you turn back to God. And Jonah, who had been on the run, and he's going this direction, this direction, and it's the direction down, and finally hits the point, and it took him again, I'll point out, three days and three nights of about his wretched experience as you could. But finally, in that, he turns around and he goes, OK, God, I've got to get real with you, I've got to get honest with you. Some of you need to do that.

Tim Lundy: [00:34:33] Guys, this can happen to anybody, I told you, anybody can pull a Jonah. I was reading the story of Kevin Martin, he's the minister of a massive church. And somewhere along the way the administration of the church, the pressure the church, with all he was going under, he started to get depressed and didn't think he could handle it anymore. And finally, one night in desperation, he wrote a letter to his board resigning. But he didn't stop there, he wrote a letter to his wife and his kids and said, you're not going to see me anymore either. He sent the letters, he got in his Buick, and he just started driving. He drove all the way to Newfoundland, Canada, he got a job as a logger there in the middle of winter and just started living in this little metal trailer as a logger and no one knew where he was, no one knew what had happened. Finally, one night, he had this little heater, it was 20 degrees below zero, and the little heater went out. And in anger, he just picked up the heater and he threw it out the window of the trailer, breaking the window. And realized in that moment, not only had he thrown his only source of heat out, he now had broken the window. And he was so angry, and he was so frustrated, I mean, in his own words, he literally started yelling out to heaven, I hate you, I hate you, get out of my life. I am done with this Christian game, it is over. And he crumbled to the floor, and he lay there in the fetal position crying. He writes, it reached the point I couldn't even cry, I was too exhausted to cry. But as I lay there, I heard crying and I heard heaving breaths, but they were not coming for me. Instead, in the bright darkness of faith, I heard Christ crying and heaving away on the cross, and then I knew the blood was for me. For the Kevin who was the abandoner, the reckless wanderer, the blasphemer of heaven. And then the words rose up all around me as Christ said, Kevin, I'm with you, I'm for you, and you'll get through this, I promise you. Do you know what Kevin did at that moment? He repentant, he turned around, got in this car and he drove home, his family had forgiven him, his church forgave him. I mean, he's pastoring today, it's a remarkable story. And I tell it because the reality is those kinds of decisions, that kind of running can happen to any of us. But I also tell it because no matter where you are, no matter what you've done, God's grace is waiting to be poured out in a way that you can return.

Tim Lundy: [00:38:01] Look at the final result in this story, and the result of any story, is you start over again. You start over again. I mean, look what happened with Jonah at the very end of Chapter 2, "And the LORD spoke to the fish." Remember, God was the one in control of it all along, "and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land." It just spits him up. And is I think about that, I mean, you got to be in a bad place if the answer to your prayer is you get vomited by fish. Can you imagine what that was like, your spit up on the shore and you're there in all the other, you know, fish vomit, and you're kind of like, what is that smell, and you realize it's you. But you get a fresh start.

Tim Lundy: [00:38:53] Now notice, and I want to be clear on this, notice what happened here, it wasn't like this magic that the fish spits him all the way to Nineveh, and everything's perfect now, and Jonah has a great attitude. I mean, as we read on in the story, Jonah still has a long way to go. Chapter 3 is going to start right the same way as Chapter 1, hey, Joan, it's time we go to Nineveh. He still has a long journey, and now he smells like fish, I'm sure he ate a pack of cats that follow him all the way to Nineveh. He still has to go reach people, that at this point, he still doesn't like, he doesn't want to do this.

Tim Lundy: [00:39:33] But through all of this, here's what he got out of it, he got the opportunity to start again. And guys, some of you, more than anything right now, you need to start again. You need just the opportunity to begin to walk the life that God called you to walk, to begin to face the things that you need to face, to begin to turn around and go back to him and trust him, to get a fresh start. And the beauty of Christianity is, that's available to all of us, not because Jonah went into a whale, but because Jesus went into a grave. And when Jesus rose again, he conquered everything, he paid for everything. See, we believe this because of what he did. Jonah is a great story; Jesus is the greatest opportunity.

Tim Lundy: [00:40:50] And so as we finish today, I just want to give you the opportunity, maybe some of you are running, maybe some you've pulled a Jonah, maybe you're in that anxious, panicky, desperate place. If that's you, will you just take a moment, I just want you to bow your heads, and if you need to recognize maybe the first step for you today is just to admit where you are, stop denying. Just admit it to God, admit what you've done, admit the decisions you made, man, you'll be amazed what it feels like to release that. And then in this moment, maybe God's asking you to let go of something, you didn't know it was an idol, but it is. Something that you're using to cope with life, something that you're holding onto, whether it's money, or sex, or a person, or even good things like family or job, but the reality is you've held on to those instead of allowing God's love to pour over you. Why don't you break that dam right now, why don't you lower your pride, and repent? Just tell God, I need you, like Jonah, I'm turning back to you, and today, I want to start taking those steps toward Christ and begin my journey again.5`

Tim Lundy: [00:42:30] Guys, if that's you, I just want to pray for you right now. God, I pray for anybody that they're in that place, that even now they're kind of telling themselves this is too good to be true, they're telling themselves they don't deserve your love. Lord, that's just them holding on to that dam of pride, instead of embracing the river of love. Lord, I pray that you'd give up courage, I pray you'd give them humility, I pray that they would turn and begin the journey again. Lord, I thank you that we are all Jonah’s at times in our life, but you don't discard us, you use the circumstances of our life to turn us back to you. And so, Lord, we thank you for your grace, and we thank you that it's available because Jesus Christ died on a cross, he was in the grave, and he rose again. Because of that miracle, it changes everything for every one of us, and we pray this in his name.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032