Title: Second Chance To Make A First Impression
Text: Jonah 3:1-10
Tradition tells us that around the time when Jesus was a teenager, there was a rebellion near where he lived. The Roman army crushed the rebellion but they didn’t want it to happen again, so they crucified an Israelite every 10 meters along the road for a distance of 16 kilometers. The sight of some 1,700 people, dead or dying in agony, on crosses spaced every 30 feet for 10 miles must have made an incredible impression on the mind of a teenager.
- This morning I want to talk for a moment on the power of impression.
- God used Jonah to make an incredible impact on civilization, a city called Nineveh.
- Just like the roman government wanted to make an impression on the minds of many Jewish families, so God desires to use us to make an impact on society.
- This was Jonah’s second chance as he fled from his first calling when he went to Tarsus.
- Now after being in the belly of a fish for 3 days, the calling sunk in and now he was ready to listen.
- In the 10 verses we read this morning, I see four ways in which God uses Jonah to make an impact.
- 4 key areas are:
Point 1: The Blessings Of The Messenger (Vs 1-2)
Rom 10:14-15 says, “How, then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless hen are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Isa 52:7 says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation.”
- It’s our responsibility as the church to proclaim the message found in the Bible.
- God considers it beautiful beyond description when the church understands the blessing of bringing the message to people who never heard, at any cost.
- God wanted Jonah to bring the message to the people of Nineveh because they were ready to accept God as there Lord.
- Maybe you know someone who is so close to accepting Christ, that all they need is someone to go to them and bring them the gospel in an understandable way.
- We do that by proclaiming what we know and what God gave us for that person.
- Don’t proclaim something you don’t know nothing about.
- I did that about 13 years ago to a group of Jehovah Witnesses.
- I thought I was going to help them understand the Bible, but it turned out that I knew nothing to give them.
- It turned out that after the conversation, they ended up with the upper hand with understanding.
- I went back to the drawing board and learned about there religion and where they were coming from.
- When the opportunity came again, I was prepare and was able to share with them the gospel in an understandable way.
Point 2: The Blessings Of The Word (Vs 5)
Isa 55:10-11 says, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
- It’s God’s responsibility for His Word to go and touch the nations when preached and delivered.
- The word has the power to heal, set free, save and deliver any life.
- The church is a great spot to hear the Word of the Lord, but people have it in there minds that church is dull, boring and lifeless.
- We don’t expect anyone from outside the church to come in and receive Christ, nor do we expect to meet us in our hour of need.
- Could it be that the church has made it that way?
- Meaning the church has made the Word and it’s proclamation lifeless and dull.
- I heard this story that talks about what I mean:
There is the story that Erma Bombeck tells about a little boy at church with his mother. He was a good little boy, quiet & well behaved. He didn’t cause any problems. But every once in a while he would stand up in the pew, turn around, look at the people behind him & smile at them. His smile was infectious, & soon everybody behind him was starting to smile back at him, too. It was all going fine until the mother realized what the little boy was doing. When she did, she grabbed him by his ear & twisted it a bit, told him to sit down & remember that he was in church.
Then he started sniffling & crying, & she turned to him & said, "That’s better." It’s kind of sad, isn’t it, that some have the impression that when we come to church that it is all gloom & doom, & that there is nothing here to really bring joy into our lives?
- The word has the power to change lives, the church needs to understand that God’s house needs to be a place where it is alive, safe, whole, and life changing, just like this Word says it should be.
- It’s time the church expect God’s Word to change them, there situation, there life.
- Not dull and lifeless, were we wouldn’t dare smile or expect God to show up.
- Jonah preached the Word and the Word returned with a city receiving God as there Lord.
Point 3: The Blessings Of Compassion
II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
- God desires to administer compassion to all people not judgment.
- In our text we see God’s compassion at work when people repent.
- Turning from there wicked ways and submitting to God.
- That’s what this nation needs to do, turn from wickedness and submit to God.
- So that God can show His compassion to His creation and receive them.
There is a Peanuts cartoon that shows Snoopy sitting outside in the middle of a snowstorm. He is shivering from the cold. Linus and Charlie Brown happen by and see Snoopy and his condition. They say, “There is Snoopy, let’s go cheer him up.” They go up to Snoopy and say, “Be of good cheer, Snoopy!” The next panel shows them walking off, leaving Snoopy in the same condition they found him, satisfied that they have “cheered” him up.
Somehow, we have gotten the idea that evangelism is only about teaching and preaching. But Jesus shows us that evangelism is much more than that. By healing people, Jesus reached out and demonstrated his compassion by actual works. He had actions that backed up His words.
- In our text, the Word was preached by Jonah but it didn’t stop there.
- God showed compassion as a way of restoring the people as they repented and turned to Him.
- I am so thankful that God doesn’t just try to cheer us up, but rather desires to change our lives by getting involved in our lives.
- The only way God can get involved in our lives is by letting Him.
- We need to submit to Him just like the Ninevites did.
Point 4: The Blessings Of Obedience
- It’s in our best interest to be obedient.
- The Ninevites repented (vs 5-9 and then the Ninevites are spared from God’s Judgment. (Vs 10)
Eugene Peterson in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction writes, “It is not difficult in our world to get a person interested in the message of the Gospel; it is terrifically difficult to sustain the interest. Millions of people in our culture make decisions for Christ, but there is a dreadful attrition rate. Many claim to have been born again, but the evidence for mature Christian discipleship is slim. In our kind of culture anything, even news about God, can be sold if it is packaged freshly; but when it loses its novelty, it goes on the garbage heap. There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier Christians called holiness.”
- In conclusion, Jonah clearly has a second chance to make things right.
- As the title of my message states, second chance to make a first impression.
- We discussed the blessings of Jonah’s second chance to make a first impression.
- They are again:
The Blessing Of The Messenger
The Blessing Of The Word
The Blessing Of Compassion
The Blessing Of Obedience
- As servants of God, if we do what God is calling us to do we will always make that first impression in Heaven.
- Understand as Christians we should all be messengers, proclaim the Word, have compassion and be obedient.
- When we follow these principals in life, we will always make first impressions.
- I close with this story:
In forensic science, there is a rule, known as the Lockyear principle, that simply stated, says that "every touch leaves an impression." Many a criminal has rued the day that that principle was discovered.
Some of us can vouch for the fact that when our lives have been touched by the Risen Lord, it has left an IMPRESSION.