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Summary: A sermon about new beginnings, fresh starts and do overs.

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Do you remember December 31st? That night that marked the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012. The night that you either committed to change a few things in 2012 or decided to just continue on like I did and say “new years resolutions are dumb.” What makes people claim the craziest things on new years eve? I've heard some crazy new years resolutions and I've got to say, I don't want to make new years resolutions again and I'm not going to make you come up with any resolutions today. What I do want to talk about today is Fresh Starts. That what people always look to January 1st as being. A new year, and new beginning. A start of something new.

There are three Biblical examples of fresh starts that come immediately to mind. We are going to unpack them a bit this morning and look at what they mean for us today.

The first fresh start that I thought of is Jonah. Jonah 1:1-16

If ever there were a man in need of a fresh start it is Jonah right now. A man of God being told to bring the message of repentance to sinning people and Jonah doesn't just say no but runs away also. If I were to put a label on Jonah's actions I would call it sin. Sin is anything that separates us from God and Jonah was now running away from God.

Jonah was a prophet. He was a person that God had spoken through before. He was chosen to be a “teller of good news”. Jonah was much like us. He knew God, he had a relationship with God and yet he decided not to do what God wanted him to do.

Life presents us with so many options today that it can be hard to hear the voice of God through all the noise of life. We spend our time on gaining things for ourselves and rarely think of ways we can gain souls for the Kingdom of heaven.

But Jonah got a fresh start. From Jonah we learn that you get a fresh start when you turn from your sin.

Lets continue to read in 1:17-3:3.

There are a couple things that we need to notice from the beginnings of Jonah's fresh start.

1. God still provided everything that Jonah needed even though Jonah was disobedient. It is hard to picture a giant fish being something Jonah needs but at that moment in time it was the perfect vessel for Jonah to be quiet and reflective of what was going on in his life.

2. Jonah learned the lesson God intended. There are times in my life where I can be absolutely hard headed and miss the lesson that is right in front of me. It is just natural for us to complain about the situation rather than reflect on it to learn. Jonah is now in a fish, he could have been so angry at God for not protecting him from this fish eating him. How easy would that have been? Put yourself in Jonah's shoes. You just got through overboard during a very bad storm, then a fish swallows you and you don't even die... nope you live through the whole ordeal and now are slowly being digested by this fish. I might be a little annoyed. But Jonah knows that this is for his benefit and starts to talk with God.

3. God spoke to Jonah a second time. 3:1. There is hope. Even through flat out rejecting God's instruction Jonah now has his fresh start. In golfing terms this is Jonah's mulligan.


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