Summary: Learning how to develop a positive spirit from the case history of the prophet Jonah.
1 out of 4 in the series, "Second Chances,
Your yesterdays don’t always have to determine your tomorrows."
We’re going to begin a new series today by learning from the case history of the Old Testament prophet Jonah.
We’re pretty familiar with Jonah’s story. Skeptics foolishly believe that they have Bible believers over a barrel with the story of Jonah spending three days inside of a whale and living to tell the story. They say its not true but maybe a "good moral tale."
But Jesus used Jonah as an example of his 3-day stay in the tomb. Jesus believed Jonah’s account and so do we.
Jonah wound up in a whale because of direct disobedience to God.
There’s a little Jonah in all of us. We don’t always get the doing of God’s will right the first time around. So God sometimes has to give us a second chance...a third chance...
The first time God told Jonah to go to Nineveh he balked. His response to God was, "Here am I, send somebody else."
Unfortunately that’s the part of Jonah’s autobiography that gets the most press.
But Jonah’s story is more about a second chance than it is about God’s discipline in his life. The provision of a whale for Jonah in the storm tossed sea is actually part of the second chance scenario. If God had only wanted to judge Jonah he would have let him drown in the sea. The whale wasn’t about judgment - it was about salvation!
God didn’t want to curse Jonah He wanted to bless him! God wanted to bless Jonah by giving him a part in His plan and wanted to make him a blessing to the Ninevites. He wanted to bless him by giving him an opportunity to change his mind, heart and spirit.
God also wants to bless you and He wants to make you a blessing. But there’s a big obstacle in the road to that happening – a negative spirit. Just like Jonah, God can’t bless you until your spirit changes from negative to positive.
When I speak of a negative "spirit" I’m not talking about some detestable demon that smells like sulfur and has fire flashing out of his eye sockets.
I’m talking about something that lurks inside of every human being. I’m talking about the virus each of us carries around in us - the infection of negativity - the human tendency to think the worst, to be discouraged, depressed, to think things aren’t ever going to turn out right, to believe that others don’t love us, to be filled with worry, harbor bitter feelings in our hearts toward others, to talk pessimistically, to believe we’ll never be able to overcome the bad things we’ve done in the past or the bad things that have been done to us, and just overall live in the pit of despair.
The good news is that, although we’re all carriers, we don’t have to let this bug become active. We don’t have to let the human proclivity to negativity take charge in our lives. Because of God’s love we each have a chance to develop a positive spirit.
Jonah sinned because he was self-absorbed. He tried to exert his will over the will of God. He was more concerned about his prestige than he was about the Assyrians coming to know God.
Basically that’s what sin is – putting ourselves in God’s place.
Jonah sorely needed to develop a positive spirit and that’s really what this book is all about.
Humans have this natural bent towards negativity.
God wants to give you a second chance to see that your negativity is placing a strain on things. A negative spirit can wreak havoc on things like your relationships, your finances, and more importantly than anything – negativity can ruin your walk with God. He wants to give you another chance to develop a positive spirit.
Even if a negative spirit has controlled you in the past and it has messed up things in your life, as it always will, you don’t have to keep letting a negative spirit call the shots in your life. God has a positive message for you today! God can help you develop a positive spirit for your life.
The text of Jonah’s story gives us the essentials we need.
1. Develop a positive spirit toward God by obeying Him.
Jonah 3:1-2 (NLT) 1Then the LORD spoke to Jonah a second time: 2"Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message of judgment I have given you."
Notice the term, "second time" in verse one, that phrase found in the Bible is the basis for this series. God comes to us a "second time" - and how we praise Him that He does!