Summary: Looking at Jonah to see what one person can do to change their world.
What Can One Person Do?
The Bible is filled with stories of what one person can do to change their world. After Moses heard God speak from a burning bush, he went back to Egypt and led his people out of bondage. After Nehemiah heard about the destruction of the walls of Jerusalem, he left his job and led the efforts to rebuild the broken walls.
What can one person do? Let’s look at Jonah. Now remember, Jonah chose to disobey God’s call in his life and I’m sure their were some doubts, at least in his mind, as to whether or not God would ever use him again. But one of the greatest revivals in history came to the city of Nineveh, and it all began with Jonah, who repented and got right with God.
I want to tell you this morning that you are important. You could be the key to revival in your home, your community, maybe even our nation. You might look around your place of work, seeing everyone live such ungodly lives, and wonder what could you ever do in such an environment. Young people at school, overwhelmed when everyone else is going the way of the world, ask themselves that same question, “What can one person do?”
Again, let’s look at Jonah and continue to use him as our example as we see what one man can do. First of all, we need to understand that we can’t change our world until we…
Correct our Ways
Sometimes it’s easy for us to forget that we can choose to correct our ways. Let’s talk about how. First, we have to…
a.) Seize our Opportunities (v. 1)
God doesn’t just deliver us from the belly of our fish, He gives us a second chance. And when He gives you a second chance then do something with it. Jonah was given a second chance and he seized the opportunity. It’s comforting to realize that even the best of God’s servants have made foolish mistakes, and they were given a second chance:
Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree. But God provided the opportunity for a second chance to fix their broken fellowship.
Lot selfishly chose the best land for himself. But God provided the opportunity for a second chance before Sodom was destroyed.
David was the king who had it all before he tried to hide his sin when his lust had gotten the best of him. But God provided the opportunity for a second chance and David went on to the most effective years of his life.
Samson also had a lot going for him until he fell into sin. But in his last days God provided the opportunity for a second chance, allowing him to correct his ways before it was too late.
Peter denied Jesus not once, but three times. Jesus later meets him on the shore and provides the opportunity of a second chance.
We could go on and on throughout the Bible. If God could use people like that again, surely He can use us again. God’s not through with us yet! But it’s not enough that He provides the second chance, we have to seize the opportunity when it’s presented.
Many of us are here today because the Word of God came to us a second time, or a third, or a fourth, or a tenth time. Maybe you’ve gone your own way in life. Like Jonah you’ve disobeyed God and gotten out of His will. God is giving you a second chance today. Nothing you’ve done is unforgivable, except continuing to refuse to receive His grace.
What can one person do? We can begin by correcting our ways. How? First by seizing our opportunities; second, we can…
b.) Sense our Obligations (Vv. 2-4)
As Christians, we are obligated to take the Word of God to the world. Jonah could’ve gone to Nineveh and compromised the Word of God by proclaiming some watered-down version of the truth. But Jonah recognized his obligation to proclaim God’s message. This message wasn’t a popular one, and it certainly wasn’t meant to make people comfortable. But the greatest revival in history came to Nineveh because Jonah proclaimed God’s message, not what the people wanted to hear.
There’s a fine line when it comes to the Word of God. Yes, there’s second chances. Yes, the gospel contains a redemptive message. Yes, God can forgive our past. But these truths must be shared in a way that someone who’s contemplating a life of sin wouldn’t say, “Oh, I’ll just go out and sin and God will forgive me for it later.” If that’s your attitude then you’re abusing the grace of God and your understanding of repentance is shallow.
Notice Jonah’s message: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” God could’ve leveled Nineveh without any warning and He would’ve been completely justified. But in His love and mercy He warned them first. He gave them time to repent. He gave them a final opportunity.