Jun 1, 2014 - Rev Matt Tuggle
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When have you experienced God wanting you to go to the place that you least wanted to go? What was your response?
Can you relate to Jonah's response to go in the opposite direction of where God wanted him to go?
Why is it often easier to go in the opposite direction from where God wants us to be?
What has been the outcome when you have gone in the opposite direction from where God wanted you to go?
Are you currently going in the opposite direction from where God wants you to be? What steps can you take this week to start applying the three action items from Jonah 1?
When in your life have you seen that the place God wants you the most is the best place to be?
This week we kicked off a new sermon series, Jonah. For three weeks, we will be looking at the Old Testament book of Jonah and what we can learn from this epic story.
To begin the series, Rev. Matt Tuggle focused on the first chapter of Jonah. Take some time this week to read Jonah 1. In these verses, God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh, which is the last place Jonah wants to go. In fact, in response, he jumps on a boat in the opposite direction. While he is on the boat, a storm comes up. Realizing that God has brought this storm because of Jonah's actions, the pagan sailors (with Jonah's permission) throw Jonah off the boat and into the sea, where is he swallowed by a big fish.
Matt suggested that this chapter presents a deep truth: sometimes the place God wants us the most is the place we least want to be. We will likely experience this at least once in our lives -- and it may happen in different areas of our lives. Maybe God is calling you physically to be somewhere -- either permanently or temporarily -- that you really don't want to be. Or perhaps God is asking you emotionally to journey to a place you really don't want to journey to, such as reconciling a relationship or having a difficult conversation. Maybe in your professional life God is calling you to make a career change so that you can be the person God has called you to be. Spiritually, God is calling all of us to be completely dependent on Him -- which, if we are honest, is a difficult place for many of us to be.
So what do we do when we realize that we are going in the opposite direction of where God wants us to be? Matt proposed three action items based on the Jonah passage.
1. Wake up and find someone to walk beside you. In verses 5-6, Jonah is not aware that his disobedience is the reason the storm is happening, because he is literally asleep below deck. He is oblivious to the consequences his decisions have made on those around him. Like Jonah, we need to wake up and realize that the decisions we make have consequences on those around us. And we need to find someone in our lives to walk beside us to make sure we wake up and stay awake to the impact we have on others.
2. Jump off and find someone one step ahead of you. In verses 11-12, Jonah admits that the storm came up because of his disobedience. And he has a one-step plan -- to jump off the boat and trust in God to provide the second step of the plan. When we know God is calling us to be someplace we really don't want to be, we need to take a step in that direction and trust that God will provide for us as we walk in obedience toward him. And we need to find someone one step ahead of us who can help us in this walk of faith.
3. Find someone one step behind you and be used by God to transform their life. In verses 15-16, we see that, even though Jonah did not follow God's command, God used the opportunity to do good by introducing the pagan sailors to Him. God can redeem our disobedient actions and use our stories to transform others. We need to find someone one step behind us and allow God to use our experience to transform their life.
Being a deeply devoted follower of Christ means that we go where God calls us -- even when it is the last place we want to be. Jesus is the ultimate example of someone who went to the place God wanted him to go the most, even when it was the place he wanted to go the least. But here is the awesome truth -- the place God wants us the most is always the best place to be. I hope you will join us this coming weekend as we continue to explore the story of Jonah and its meaning for our walk with God.
Blessings and peace in Christ,
Associate Pastor, Cornerstone