Don’t abort the process designed to give you power (Part 1)

Jonah 1:1-3, 16-17, 2:1-2, 3:1-3

1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.

17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

2  [a]From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 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.

3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it.

Let me ask you a few questions this morning.

How many times have you quit something because it was to hard?

How many times have you given up because you thought you couldn’t do it?

How many times have you thrown in the towel because the task seemed impossible?

How many times have you stopped because you felt like you were not good enough?

Well today and all this month I would like to address this issue.  This issue is a subject that I have addressed on many occasions, but this month I really want to spend some time breaking it down.  The issue is the process.  Now I am not talking about processed foods.  I am not talking about a food processor.  I am not talking about a word processor.  I am not talking about the process of making your favorite dish.  I am not talking about the process you go through to clean your house. I am talking about the different processes of life that we all must go through.  

Many of us want success, but we don’t want to go through the process.

Many of us want the prize, but we don’t want to go through the process.

Many of the us want to win, but we don’t want to go though the process.

Many of us want to be experts, but we don’t want to go through the process.

Many of us want to do what we want to do without going through the process.  

And too many times we quit too soon.

We give up too soon.

We throw in the towel too soon.

We stop too soon.

We resign too soon.

We wave the white flag too soon.  

Well I stopped by this morning to tell everyone in the room and online, including the man holding the microphone.  Don’t abort the process designed to give you power.  This is the case with Jonah in our story today.  Shall we look at the text.

1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.

17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

2  [a]From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 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.

3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it.

There was a boy who went to school one day and shared the story of Jonah with his friends. When his teacher overheard him saying that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish she interrupted his story to say that it’s wasn’t a big fish it was a whale. The little boy said no it was a big fish because that’s what the Bible says. The teacher continued to plead her case when finally the boy says, well I will just ask Jonah myself when I get to heaven. And the teacher replied what it Jonah is not in heaven? The boy cleverly responded if Jonah is in heaven then you can ask him.  The teacher had nothing else to say!

Now most of us are familiar with this story, so let me give you the highlights….  Jonah tried to abort the process designed to give him power.  Now we can’t look at Jonah with a judgmental attitude because we have all been there, done that, and have the T-shirt. 

Oh I see, I  must be the only one in the room that has disobeyed God.

I must be the only one in the room that did not do what God told me to do.

He said left and I went right.

He said right and I went left.

He said out and I went in.

He said in and I went out.

He said sit down and I stood up.

He said stand up and I sat down.

He said give and I kept it to myself.

He said be quiet and I kept talking.

He said tell the world and I got quiet.

We have all had moments like Jonah when we have done our own thing instead of the thing that God has told us and called us to do.  We have all tried to abort the process designed to give us power.  

But the process just like prayer is necessary for us to receive the power that God has for us.  The first thing that we need to understand about the process is that it gives us proper perspective.  Many of the things we deal with in life are based on our perspective.  How we look at things.  And 9 times of 10 if we do not have the proper perspective we are going to mess things up every single time.  That was Jonah’s problem in the story he did not have the proper perspective.  He was only looking at things his way instead of God’s way.  

Who was he, to decide who should and should not hear about the good news of God?  

Who was he to stand in the way of what God called him to do?  Jonah had to spend three days in the belly of a fish to get the proper perspective!  So let me share with you three things Jonah learned from having the proper perspective that we need to know so that we don’t abort the process designed to give us power.  The process gives us proper perspective and proper perspective affects us in three ways.

Proper perspective affects how we see. I am sure that when Jonah ended up in the belly of that great fish his perspective changed and when his perspective changed it changed how he saw things.  

Things probably seemed extremely different from the inside of a fish.  

He was expecting to die when the crew threw him overboard yet God saved him.  And I am sure he was like I should have just listened to God and went to Nineveh.  

How many “I should have listened to God and went to Nineveh moments” have you had in your life?

How many I should have followed the rules moments have you had?

How many I should have followed the directions moments have you had?

How many I should have took the advice moments have you had?

How many I should have listened to my parents moments have you had ?

I guess that’s why they say hind site is 20/20 because when our perspective changes we see things differently.  It is so easy to see the mistakes we should not have made after we make them.

We see what we should have done.

We see what we should have said.

We see how we should have responded.

We see why we should have done things differently. 

But most importantly it affects how we see God.  I truly believe that how Jonah saw God changed.   He went from seeing God as the God telling him to do something he didn’t want to do to the God that saves.

The God that delivers.

The God that makes ways out of no way.

The God that makes the impossible possible.

The God that always shows up.

The God that listens and hears us.

The God that never lets us down.

The God that never leaves us or forsake us.

The God that comes through, all the other men on the ship were praying to their “little g” gods and nothing was happening.  But once the man of God was thrown into the water as he said the storm stopped and the waters calmed and the Jonah was delivered by a big fish.  God always comes through!

The process gives us proper perspective and proper perspective affects how we see!

Not only does proper perspective affect how we see.  Proper perspective affects how we seek.  If you look at verses 2:1-2, From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 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.  Proper perspective will affect how you seek.  Before Jonah was in the belly of the fish he did not seek God’s advice or approval he just did what he wanted to do how he wanted to do it.  That is how he ended up on that ship headed to Tarshish and in the belly of the fish in the first place.  He did not seek God.  

How many times have you ended up in a situation because you did not seek God?

How many times have you ended up in a unpleasant circumstance because you didn’t seek God?

How many times have you made the wrong decision? 

How many times have you said I should not have done that?

How many times did you take the wrong job?

Go out with the wrong person?

Hang out with the wrong people?

Been at the wrong place at the wrong time?

How many times have you wished you would have done things differently?

All because you did not seek God. This is a lesson that Jonah learned and one that I am sure he would not forget.  Especially with the stench of fish all over his body.  Now I love to eat fish, but I hate the way it smells.  Can you imagine how bad Jonah smelled after spending three days in the belly of a fish?  I don’t know about you, but I am not going out like that because now I know that proper perspective affects how we seek, and I will seek God!  Does anyone want to seek God his morning?

Not Oprah.

Not Dr. Phil.

Not Jerry Springer.

Not Judge Judy.

Not Aunt Becky.

Not Uncle Biff.

Not Two-Toe Tony down the street.

Not the 1-800 Psychic hotline.

Not the Quijii Boar.

Not the terra cards.

Not even mommy or daddy.

Proper perspective affects how we seek and we seek God.

Proper perspective affects how we see.  Proper perspective affects how we seek.  And last but not least proper perspective affects how we seize.  Look at what the text says in chapter 3:1-2, Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it.  Somebody say seize!  By going through the process Jonah gained proper perspective and this affects how he sees, how he seeks, and now how he seizes.  The Bible says that when the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time he obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.  In other words, he seized the opportunity that God had given him.  And because he seized the opportunity, thousands of the people of Nineveh believed and turned from their wicked ways. So now that you have the proper perspective, you are seeing clearly, you are seeking correctly, and now its is time to seize confidently.

Its time to seize every opportunity that God has set before you.

Seize your deliverance.

Seize your healing.

Seize your calling.

Seize your life back.

Seize your recovery.

Seize your relationship. 

Seize your marriage.

Seize your family.

Seize your promotion.

Seize your credibility. 

Seize your reputation. 

Seize your degree.

Seize your business.

Seize your ministry.

Seize all the enemy stole from you.

But you have to go through the process.  The process will give you proper perspective.  Proper perspective affects how we see, how we seek, and how we see.  Please don’t abort the process designed to give you power.

Sharpen Your Ax

A young man approached the foreman of a logging crew and asked for a job. “That depends,” replied the foreman. “Let’s see you fell this tree.”

The young man stepped forward, and skillfully felled a great tree. Impressed, the foreman exclaimed, “You can start Monday.”

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday rolled by — and Thursday afternoon the foreman approached the young man and said, “You can pick up your pay check on the way out today.”

Startled, the young man replied, “I thought you paid on Friday.”

“Normally we do,” said the foreman. “But we’re letting you go today because you’ve fallen behind. Our daily felling charts show that you’ve dropped from first place on Monday to last place today.”

“But I’m a hard worker,” the young man objected. “I arrive first, leave last, and even have worked through my coffee breaks!”

The foreman, sensing the young man’s integrity, thought for a minute and then asked, “Have you been sharpening your ax?”

The young man replied, “No sir, I’ve been working too hard to take time for that!”

Our lives are like that. We sometimes get so busy that we don’t take time to “sharpen the ax.” In today’s world, it seems that everyone is busier than ever, but less happy than ever. Why is that? Could it be that we have forgotten how to stay sharp?

In order for the ax to do its job properly it has to go through the sharpening process.  And in order for you to be all that God has called you to be you have to go the the sharpening process as well.  But here is the thing church, not only must you go through the sharpening process once, but you must stay sharp.  That means that you need to go through the process again and again and again and again.  

In other words when you get through one process you will be entering another process.

When you get out of one storm.

When you get out of one situation .

When you get out of one circumstance. 

Don’t abort the process designed to give you power.

Just reflect on what God has already done and you can rest on the fact that he can and will do it again.

Look at your neighbor and say won’t he do it!

Now stand on your feet and give God some praise for the process!

Give God praise for the proper perspective 

Give God praise for how we see.

Give God praise for how we seek.

Give God praise for how we seize.


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