Jonah 1-4, Psalm 129
Each of us prior to salvation in Jesus Christ were the captains of our own ships. Left to ourselves and influenced by the flesh, the world, and Satan we would guide our ships in one perilous direction after another. All of us eventually hit that iceberg or that reef when we realize that we can no longer properly steer our own ship. At that moment, when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, He sends us a new captain, the Holy Spirit, to be our captain. This captain will continually steer us in the right direction. Unfortunately, our seas are still stormy from the various trials sent our way. The bigger problem is that we perform mutiny on a daily basis and choose to steer our own ship. We choose to exert our own free will still guided by the flesh, the world and Satan and overpower His perfect will for our lives, since He will never choose to overpower our free will. The insane thing is if we would only submit to our perfect captain, the Holy Spirit, though the storms would arise, He is perfectly capable to steer our ship and enable our ship to sail smoothly. The amazing thing is despite our unwillingness and the mutiny, God is a God of second, third, etc. chances. If we are willing to submit to His authority, He is always willing to steer our ship.
Despite Jonah being given the commission by God to prophecy in the city of Ninevah, the evil enemies of Israel and the reigning empire at the time, we read in Jonah 1:3, "But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord...". When God sends the storm we read in Jonah 1:10, "Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, "Why have you done this?" For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them." Jonah blew his first chance and chose to flee from God's presence and his opportunity to serve God. After being swallowed by the big fish and spending three days in the belly of the fish, we see Jonah cry out to the Lord in 2:2, "And he said: "I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, And He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice." Brought down to his knees and without hope, Jonah does the right thing, he cries out to the Lord. We see Jonah given a second chance in 3:1-2, "Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise, go to Ninevah, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you." Interestingly, Jonah does what he is told, but we see in Jonah 4 that his attitude towards his commission is still sour. Thankfully God is a God not only of second, but of third, fourth, etc. chances. The Bible is full of God's second chances. After Moses took action into his own hands and murdered the Egyptian in Exodus 2, 40 years later God comes to him in Exodus 3 in the burning bush and gives him a second chance. After Peter denied Jesus three times after Jesus' arrest in John 18:15-27, shortly after His resurrection, Jesus restores Peter giving him a second chance in John 21:15-19.
Portions of Scripture like Jonah should encourage and reassure us. We are all so disobedient. One thing that every human being has in common is that we sin. The only difference is that those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior are forgiven being covered by and paid for by His precious blood. As we continue with our lives on earth after salvation we still often stumble. But the Captain of our ship is always ready and willing to steer our ship if we are only willing to give Him the control over our lives. His grace and mercy are amazing in that no matter what kind of mess we have made of our lives, He is willing to take over. Though there be earthly consequences, He will navigate our lives through these times so that no matter what we can experience His peace and His joy. No matter what we have done may we come to Him. To those who have destroyed their lives and feel as though life is hopeless, offer them the only ticket that offers real hope. No one has fallen so far, that God can not reach them if they would only seek Him.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: