Series: When God Calls
Message Title: 
Main Scripture: Jonah 2-3:1

Sermon Outline:

1. His Word is Greater than Our Wants (1:1-3)
2. He Still Works When We Wander (1:4-16)
3. We Cannot Run Beyond His Reach (1:17)
4. He Seeks Our Surrender (2:1-10)
    A. He Answers When We Call (v. 1-4)
    B. He Gives Strength in our Weakness (v. 5-7)
    C. He Provides Salvation When We Wander (v. 8-10)
5. He Delights in Redeeming not Retaliating (3:1)

Sermon Summary:

Last week, we finished Jonah Chapter 1, with Jonah being swallowed by a large fish sent by God. Our main lesson was that we cannot run beyond the reach of God.  This week, we looked at Jonah's prayer of surrender inside the fish.  In his prayer, Jonah declares three things that the Lord has done which proves that when he calls, he seeks our surrender.  When Jonah cried out, the Lord answered his call, gave him strength in his weakness, and provided salvation despite his wandering.  Following his prayer, the fish spits him out onto dry land, and the Lord then gives Jonah a second chance to respond to his calling.  Once again, this shows the gracious character of God, that he delights in redemption not retaliation.  No matter how far we have wandered, or how many mistakes we have made, God will give us another chance when we surrender.  

Discussion Questions:

1.  God proves that he seeks our surrender, because he answers our prayers when we call upon him.  In what ways has God answered your prayers when you called upon him?

2.  God also gives us strength when we surrender our weaknesses to him.  How have you seen God prove his strength in the areas that you are weak?

3.  In giving Jonah a second chance at his calling, God shows that he delights in redemption and not retaliation. In what ways have you seen God give you more chances despite your wandering or failures?  


Full Sermon Notes:

Good morning. I hope that you all had a great week. I know that our team from Haiti had a good one, and we are thankful to God that he brought them home safely and accomplished much through them on their trip.

I am also grateful to have our pastor back. He is so gracious to give some of us opportunities to preach. Whenever I do, it makes realize how much he does for our congregation, not only in preparing sermons weekly, but also with the many hours he spends leading the staff, counseling church members, and engaging in lots of other pastoral ministry. So, we thank you Pastor Larry.

I invite you to open your Bibles once again to the book of Jonah. Jonah 2. Last week we started a series about Jonah, a prophet whom God called to go to the city of Nineveh and preach against it because the Lord was fed up with their wickedness. We learned that Nineveh was major city in Assyria (the world power of that day).

The Assyrians were known by all, including Jonah, for their aggression and brutality toward other nations.

So, Jonah hears the call from God, but he runs away. In fact, he got on a boat with some others sailors and tried to travel over 2000 miles in the opposite direction. But we learned much about the nature of God’s calling by looking at how he responded to Jonah during his flight.

1. His Word is Greater
Than Our Wants

We learned our first lesson: When God Calls, his word is greater than our wants. Sometimes we allow our desires and wants take priority over what has been revealed to us in Scripture. Instead, what God desires is for us to position our lives around his purposes and wants for us.

2. He Still Works When
We Wander

But we are not perfect at doing this, and discovered our second lesson: when God calls, he still works when we wander. With Jonah, he used a giant storm to get his attention. Similarly, God may use a life storm, or a certain set of circumstances, to get your attention if you are heading in the wrong direction.

In addition, since we are usually the last people to recognize when we have drifted off course, God may use other people to help get our attention. He used the captain and other sailors on the boat to help get Jonah’s attention, and God may use someone else in your life to help get your attention if you are wandering.

Today, we pick up where we left off last week, with Jonah treading water in the Mediterranean Sea. And at the moment when all hope of survival was gone, God sent a giant fish to swallow him up.

3. We Cannot Run Beyond His Reach

The third lesson we learned is that we cannot run beyond God’s reach. No matter how far we run, his love runs farther. These are amazing truths about our God. So, let’s get back into the story. We start reading here in Jonah 2:1

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.

You know the feeling you get when you travel as passenger in a car driven by a crazy or somewhat blind person? There are so many mixed feelings that you have when finally arrive to your destination.

There can be physical discomfort because of your body being so tense for the entire ride. Your legs hurt because your have been driving your feet into the floorboard. Your mouth hurts because you have been clinching and grinding your teeth.

And, coincidentally, you have been praying, either silently or with a fearful whisper, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” Then, there is also the feeling complete relief once you arrived. You have relief because you just saw your life pass before eyes and yet you survived.

I just get the sense that Jonah is feeling some similar discomfort. Not only was he left alone, floating in the sea, but he had just been eaten by a giant fish folks. Now, I don’t know what is on your top 5 list of ways that you don’t want to die. But, being eaten by a large creature is definitely on mine.

At the time, he doesn’t know that God sent this fish and is going to preserve his life for three days and three nights inside its belly. All he is thinking is, “a big fish just ate me!” “Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” He’s swimming around in stomach acid, checking for body parts. Ok! They are all there. Verse 1

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.

He prayed. You and I would be too! The entirety of chapter 2 is Jonah’s prayer to God. I’ve entitled today’s message, “Surrender,” because we see that Jonah’s prayer is not just a prayer for survival, but also a recognition of something greater. You see, Jonah has just learned another lesson in God’s Calling. It’s the fourth lesson we learn this series. When God calls,

4. He Seeks our Surrender

In the prayer, Jonah has his “ahha” moment. The lightbulb finally turns on. During the prayer, he realizes what God has been doing, and voices his realizations to God. And, the reason we know that God seeks our surrender is because he responds to Jonah in three very powerful ways. Let’s look at it, verses 1-2 says,

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.

He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.

From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.

4. He Seeks Our Surrender
A. He Answers When We Call

The first reason we know that God seeks our surrender is because He Answers When We Call. Do you think that God would desire a relationship with us, yet be silent when we call upon him? Jonah says he called for help and God listened. He called out and God answered...

I want to be little transparent with you. I have a nemesis in my life. It’s a very large company actually. Through numerous calls to their call center, and through hours and hours of frustration on the phone with them, I still get the run around. How many of you can relate?

Now, I’m not going say the companies name today. You can ask the staff if you really want know because I have used their name in vain on numerous occasions. But, I’m taking the high road, today. The Lord has been working on my bitterness toward this company.

But, you know how it is. You call and you get placed on hold a lot. You get transferred to a different department and then have to reexplain your dilemma. And after your done sharing the problem, they say, oh thats this department. And inevitably, at some point you end up talking to someone in a foreign country that you can’t understand.

But, the thing that makes me so frustrated, is that when you finally get to the person that you believe has the answers and can actually help, the call gets dropped. Now, I believe that my personal nemesis actually does this on purpose. But regardless, it just seems that you can never get answers or help when you call.

One of many beautiful things about our Lord, is that when call on him, he listens and he answers. Now sometimes it may not be the answer that we were looking for. Look at verse 3

You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled
about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.

In the message last week, we learned that God gets our attention by disciplining us in love. It help us to realign with his purposes. That’s not the answer that we want, but it’s good for us. He brought the storm. He brought the waves. But, when God answers like this, it can be confusing for us, just like it was for Jonah. Look at verse 4

I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’

Jonah was originally confused. Jonah said, in the past tense, "I have banished from your sight." He thought God’s discipline was done to banish him, but he finally recognizes that the Lord wasn’t wanting to remove him from his presence. Instead, he was seeking his surrender.

And with that understanding Jonah now says, yet I will look again toward your holy temple. Meaning, now that I understand who you are and what you are seeking, I turn to you. God seeks our surrender and he proves this because he answers when we call.

I realize that it is often difficult to understand whether or not it is God answering you, or what his answer might be in a specific situation. So, I want to give you some practical help. I want to give you a guide that can help you in decision making. If you are taking notes, write the word CALL vertically, so we can write an acrostic.

We can actually use what we have already learned last week to make this decision making guide. We learned last week that God’s word is greater than our wants, so the first thing you can do when trying to discern if it is God that is calling you is to Check his word

Discerning God’s Call
Check His Word

Check the Scriptures, and if they affirm what you sense he is calling you to do, then you might be on the right track. If his Scriptures don’t affirm it, then you have your answer. If you are new to Christianity and are unsure about where to look, then the next step may help.

We learned last week that God gets our attention by putting people in our lives to help us. So, if you are unsure what the scriptures say, then Ask Godly people

Discerning God’s Call
Check His Word
Ask Godly People

Ask someone you trust that you can give you council according to God’s word. Let them help you. If you don’t know a Christian to ask, then get involved in a community group, or come and ask one of the leaders here at the church to help you.

If the advice of Godly people is in line with God’s Word, then it is most likely God that is calling you. It is most likely the right decision to make. But if Godly people are saying, that doesn't match with God's character, or that doesn't seem right, then it might not be the right move to make.

But, we also must remember that God may get our attention by sending a life storm, or some circumstances to help us know the direction we are headed. So, the next letter L, is look at your circumstances.

Discerning God’s Call
Check His Word
Ask Godly People
Look at Your Circumstances

Look at the situation. Do you take the job or stay? Do you date the girl or not? Whatever the scenario, evaluate the circumstances to the best of your ability. If taking the job means that you will rarely see your family, then you need to look at that closely.

If you know that the person you are interested in has poor character, and gets involved in behavior that would bring temptation your way, then you need to look at the circumstances closely. The last letter is L and it stands for Listen to the Spirit.

Discerning God’s Call
Check His Word
Ask Godly People
Look at Your Circumstances
Listen to the Spirit

In John 16, Jesus tells his disciples that his Holy Spirit will lead them to all truth, and take what is of Christ and give it to us. So, if you don’t have peace about a decision or situation, then maybe you should reevaluate. If you are convicted about the choice you are about to make, then you should walk the other way.

Hopefully, this is challenging you to begin a new process by which you make decisions. We can know if God is calling us by Checking his word, asking Godly people for advice, looking closely at our circumstances for red flags, and listening to what the Holy Spirit is speaking to our hearts.

God is seeking our surrender and he proves it by answering when we call upon his name.

4. He Seeks Our Surrender
A. He Answers When We Call
B. He Gives Strength in Our Weakness

A second way we know that God seeks our surrender is because he gives strength in our weakness. If God were not interested in our surrender then he wouldn’t go out of his way to give strength when we are weak. Verse 5-6 of Jonah's prayer says,

The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.

To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.

Jonah realized how far his journey in the wrong direction had taken him. And no matter how hard he strived and worked to turn it around, he knew he was too weak to get himself out of the trouble he was in. Only God could be strong enough.

And he verbalizes it in his prayer, “But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.” In Verse 7 he goes on to say,

“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.

I have been trying to do a little better with exercise and working out. I've been at it for about 5 months now. Sometimes I’m asked what my goal is: “Do you want gain muscle mass? Do you just want to trim down and lose weight?” I’m like, “I don’t know. I just want throw a ball with my kid when I’m 40 and not be out of breath doing it.”

So, Luis, our student pastor, and I have been lifting weights. Luis is a great workout partner because he shows up, and just knowing that Luis is going to show up, gets me to gym at 6am in the morning.

The other day we were doing bench press. We had already done 4 sets of regular bench press, 4 sets of incline press, and now I was on my fourth set of decline bench press.

So, I am exhausted, and I tell Luis, hey man on count of three, help me get the bar off the bench. “Alright, 1, 2, 3” and he didn’t help me. So I say, Luis, I’m going to need some help with these, so I lift a couple of times and then nothing, I can’t push it up anymore. I say, “Luis, Luis, help me.”

I didn’t realize that the whole time I had been talking to him, he was having one of his ADD moments. So, he snaps out of it, and basically lifts the entire thing off of me. He so funny. He said, “Dude, I’m sorry, there was some ninja on TV doing some crazy stuff and I got distracted.”

But, I thought back to that story when I was reading this. It became so clear, that we can strive, press, push as hard as we want, but the weight of our sin is too great. The hole that we keep digging for ourselves when running from God, keeps getting too deep for us to climb out.

And just as Jonah remembers, we must also remember that it is only God that can and will lift that weight off of us and pull us out of the pit that we are in. We know that he is seeking our surrender because he provides his strength in our weakness. Jonah recognized this and his prayer rose to God.

4. He Seeks Our Surrender
A. He Answers When We Call
B. He Gives Strength in Our Weakness
C. He Provides Salvation When We Wander

When God calls he seeks our surrender. He proves it by answering when we call, by giving strength in our weakness, and last and most importantly, he provides salvation when we wander. Verse 8-9 says,

“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

If God were not interested in us surrendering then why would he provide a means of salvation when we wander? And it’s a specific kind of wandering, it is clinging to worthless idols. When we make much of other things in our lives so that they become idols, we run away from God’s love, toward those things.

This week, I have been thinking about the reasons why a fugitive would surrender. I’ve been thinking about someone who is running from law enforcement. There may be more reasons than this, and some of you with experience can fill in the blanks, but here is what I came up with. Three reasons a fugitive surrenders:

Number 1: He makes a mistake in his getaway, and to his surprise, he gets surrounded, and is forced to surrender.

Number 2: He gets tired of running, and slows down enough that his pursuers catch up to him, and is forced to surrender.

Number 3: He recognizes that he is outmatched by those chasing him, and knows he won’t get away. So, he turns himself in.

The reality is that we all make mistakes, but God is not going to force you to surrender. We get tired when run. Things get very difficult, but God is not going to wear you down to the point that you are forced to surrender.

The kind of surrender that he wants, is the kind that Jonah realizes here. He knows his running is outmatched by God’s love for him. He knows that God is seeking his surrender, and has proven so, by providing salvation to him. And he knows that salvation is only possible if he surrenders.

So, he says, “With shouts of grateful praise I will sacrifice to you and I will make good on my vow to follow you.

The greatest difference between a fugitive of the law, and a fugitive of God is this: Law enforcement will chase a fugitive and when that fugitive turns to surrender, he is caught, arrested, and brought to justice by being punished for his crime.

However, a fugitive of God will turn to worthless idols and run, but God’s love chases. And when you surrender God captures you, but the difference is that the punishment that you deserve to receive has already been taken by someone else.

The Apostle Paul knew this, probably the most, out of the other disciples and apostles. He was a hater and a persecutor of Christians. He had them beaten, imprisoned, and killed. And years later, after his own conversion to Christianity, he wrote this in one of the letters to the church in Corinth,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.

For God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

You see, if you surrender to God, your punishment has already been applied to Jesus. He took the punishment that you and I deserve. He who knew no sin became sin for us. And our sin died with him on the cross. So when you surrender to God, he doesn’t take you to punishment. He takes to freedom in Christ.

And it's as if the Lord said to Jonah, YOU GOT IT, finally. Verse 10 says,

And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

God had to remind Jonah of where salvation comes from. If he was going to be effective to fulfill the calling that he was given in the first place, he needed to be reminded that salvation comes from the Lord. Jonah finally understands and the fish spits him out onto dry land.

And the next lesson that we learn from all of this is that When God Calls, He delights in redemption, not retaliation.

5. He Delights in Redemption, Not Retaliation

We can see it by what happens in verse one of the next chapter.

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time:

Then the word came a second time. When God calls, he delights in redeeming and not retaliating. We know this with assurance because he gives us second chances.

God seeks our surrender and not to retaliate against us, but to redeem us, to restore us to something new. If you believe in Christ today, let today be a reminder that he’s not done with you if you wander. God does not desire retaliation against you.

He wants to redeem you. He wants you to surrender your weaknesses to him. As you struggle to push through whatever is weighing you down, remember that God wants to lift the burden you carry, if you would only let him take it. Another chance awaits you. Will you surrender to him?

But if you have never surrendered to God, I hope you hear the Good News, that when you are wandering from him, and you turn to Jesus instead of the idols you have been chasing, that he is there to capture you, and bring you not to punishment or banishment, but to life and freedom.

Will you surrender to him today?