INTRO: How many of us have made some New Year’s resolutions? This is a time when folks have a starting point to be a better person, to turn, and go a different direction whether it’s physical like getting into shape or losing a few pounds. It can be relational, I’m going to be a better friend, or I’m going to be a better spouse.
Today: Since it’s the New Year, I wonder what the Lord would like us to work on. What are some New Year’s resolutions he would make for our lives?
TITLE: New Year’s Resolution
TEXT: Jonah 4:6
I. Background. Jonah was a prophet of God who some would say was the first missionary.
A. Unwilling servant. The word of the Lord came to Jonah to go to Nineveh.
1. Jonah refused. In fact he totally ran in the opposite direction to avoid doing God’s will.
2. He jumps on a boat headed for Tarshish, so the Lord puts up a roadblock, causes a giant storm. The crew panics, starts throwing everything overboard trying to save the ship.
-Finally they toss Jonah overboard at his request because he is the cause of the storm. Question: What could be so bad that you’d take your own life?
-Here is the reason. Jonah 4:1-2, "But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the Lord, ’0 Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish, I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity’"
B. Jonah knew that God was a God of love—as Jonah put it, a God abounding in love. And God was going to show the Assyrians, Israel’s enemy, grace.
1. When you think about God, it’s amazing how much he loves people. A city of the worst of sinners, these people were known for their cruelty.
2. This is why Jonah did not want to go to these people. They were the enemy of Israel. -A cold ruthless nasty people to the Jews.
3. Nonetheless God wanted Jonah to go to them. So as Jonah tried to kill himself by drowning, God said not so fast. So he provided a great fish to swallow Jonah alive.
-It was time for the attitude adjustment. God won, Jonah said he would obey.
4. Jonah went and preached a 7 word sermon and the whole city repented.
C. Jonah’s true nature revealed. Jonah goes outside of town and builds a little shelter waiting to see what happens—perhaps God will destroy them.
1. The Lord continues to teach Jonah by providing a vine to grow to give him shade. Jonah was very happy with the vine because it did something for him.
-The Lord sent a worm to eat the vine to teach Jonah a lesson.
a. Lesson: Jonah could only care for something that benefited him. He cared for this vine because it gave him shade. When you think about it Jonah did nothing in return. He didn’t feed or water it, he just received.
Thought: What a pitiful role model of a missionary. It’s about my needs and cares rather than yours.
-This is not how to live your life as a Christian.
2. Even in this we see the greatness of God - who was reaching a people who did not know him and was also dealing with a very selfish prophet.