Rick Warren - What to Do When You Cause a Storm
If you notice on your outline, I've titled this message What to Do When You Cause a Storm. And it's on a new series we're starting called the Manifestation of Your Life Mission. Manifestation is not a word we use a lot today, it's an old English word, but it basically means when something is perfectly clear. When everybody goes, oh I get it, I understand it. It's been totally manifested, I see what it really is. You were not put on this earth to waste time, to use resources and to live for yourself. Oh no no, God made you for a far bigger purpose than you. You have a greater purpose and plan to live for and this is called your life mission. Before you were even born, before God even thought you up, he already planned what he wanted you to do with your life.
The problem is most people never discover their life mission so they can't certainly fulfill their life mission. They just go through life drifting. Your mission in life, when you understand God's mission for your life, it's what gives your life meaning. If you don't know your life mission, then your life lacks the fullest meaning. It also means you're not using all of the talents you've been given. Studies have shown that the average human being has between six and 700 different talents. Yeah, you do. You might not even be able to name 25 of your talents, but you as a typical human being has six to 700 different talents. Those can only be expressed if you do what you were shaped to do if you fulfill the mission that you were made for.
Now the Bible has a lot to say about this. Let me just show you some verses on the screen. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10, "God made each of us what we are". He shaped you unique, nobody else is like you. "God made each of us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made each of us to do good works". That good works is called your life mission. God made you, he created you, he put you on this planet to do good works which God planned in advance, planned in advance before you were born to live our lives doing. This is your life mission.
Now Jesus said this. The next verse. "In the same way that the father gave me a mission in the world, I give you a mission in the world". Your life mission is what God intends for you to do with your life. It's not your job, it's not your career, it's not your hobby. It's your contribution to the world. It's your legacy that lasts beyond you. And your life mission as I said is what gives your life meaning, without it you just drift. Now Jesus also said this in Mark 8. "If you insist on living for yourself, you'll lose your life". In other words, you weren't made to live for you. Only those who give away their lives, for my sake and the sake of the good news, that's part of your mission, will ever know what it means to really live. Part of my job as your pastor, as your spiritual coach who loves you, my job is to help you discover, develop, and complete your life mission. 'Cause one day, the Bible says, you're gonna stand before God and give an account of it.
So I wanna prepare you for the final exam. That's why Paul says this, Saint Paul said in Acts 20:24, the most important thing is that I make a lot of money. Oh no, that's not what he says. "The most important thing is that I complete my mission, the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do". The most important thing you need to do with your life is to discover, develop and complete your life mission. Now this is so important that I'm gonna spend the entire next month helping you clarify this in your life. It's that important. Nothing matters more. Do you know your life mission? Do you know what unique contribution God wants you to make with your life? Are you completing your life mission? Why is this important? Because of the next verse. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 3:10-14 that one day, God is going to manifest your mission. That means God is going to reveal whether you did it or not. And if you did it well you get rewarded and if you didn't do it, you don't get rewarded. It's very clear. So watch what this says, 1 Corinthians 3:10-14. Each of us should be careful how we build our lives. 'Cause we're all buildin' somethin'.
Now the only true foundation for building is Jesus Christ. Most of you, you already got that. You've got Christ in your life, you're buildin' on the right foundation. So you got that down. But he says, you could be a Christian and still build wrongly. He says be careful in choosing what building materials you use on that foundation. And he's gonna say that you can use building materials that are gonna last for time and eternity, they're not ever gonna burn up, they're not gonna rust, they're not gonna decay, or you can use building materials in your life. They really won't last very long at all. And he says while you do have the right foundation, maybe you know Christ already, you've got the right foundation for your life, you're building with the wrong materials. And he says that can be disastrous.
Here's what he says. "You can build with values that last forever, like gold and silver and jewels," 1,000 years from today, gold will still be gold, silver will still be silver, it's not gonna rust. Precious jewels will still be precious jewels. They haven't changed in tens of thousands of years. You can build with values that last like gold, silver and jewels or you can build with values that burn up and won't last like wood and hay and straw, that's not gonna last 1,000 years. One day your work on earth, that's your mission, will be inspected on the day of judgment. And God is gonna test your mission, your work, by fire. So the quality of your work is manifested, in other words, it's revealed, it's shown. Everybody goes oh man, you really did a good job with your life. No, you didn't do such a good job with your life. The quality of your work is manifested and all, that means all of us, will see the true value of what you accomplish, in other words, with your life. Now if your work survives the fire, your mission, you've built it with the right stuff, you will receive your reward. But if your work is burned up, you will lose your reward even though you yourself will be saved like someone barely escaping a fire.
Now what's he saying there? He's not talkin' about your salvation, he's talking to people who already know Jesus Christ. He said you got the right foundation in your life, you got God at the base of your life, you've got Jesus Christ as your foundation. But he goes you're building your life and you're either gonna build it wisely or dumbly. You're gonna build it with good stuff or bad stuff. And the test on your life is does it last? Is what you're investing your time in going to last for eternity like gold and silver and precious jewels or is it gonna just burn out in a matter of years, wood hay and stubble, nothin'. And so knowing and completing your life mission is so important, that's why we're gonna cover this for a month. And we're actually gonna use the Book of Jonah.
Now there are three ways you can learn in life. You can learn by explanation or somebody explaining something to you. You can learn by experience or you can learn by example. Now some things we learn by explanation. You go to school and you learn the history of the world. That somebody explains it to you, got it. You learn a language, Spanish or French or something, you got it. You learn math by explanation, got it. Somebody explains algebra to you. Some things you can only learn by experience. And you know that, that nobody can tell you, you just have to learn it by experience. On the other hand, there's some things in life you should never learn from experience. God doesn't want you to have to learn the pain of abuse by being abused, no. There are many things God doesn't want you to learn by experience. He certainly doesn't want you to learn about evil by experience. And some things we should never learn by experience. But the easiest way to learn something is by example.
Now, it doesn't have to be a perfect example. You can learn as much from failure, as somebody's failure as you can from somebody's successes. It's wise to learn from experience. But it's wiser to learn from the experiences of others. 'Cause I don't have enough time to make all the mistakes in life myself. And if I can study the mistakes you made or somebody else made, then I don't have to make those mistakes. It's less painful, it saves time and I learn a whole lot faster. What we're gonna do in the next month is learn by example from a man who missed his life mission in the first half of life and then did the right thing and God gave him a second chance so that he completed his mission in the second half of his life. His name is Jonah.
It's a very small book in the Bible you've heard about Jonah and the Whale, the only problem is the word whale isn't in the Book of Jonah. Doesn't say that there was a whale in Jonah. We'll talk about that in a minute. But Jonah is called a minor prophet. Doesn't mean he's unimportant, it just means it's a short book, it's only four chapters. At each week, we're gonna go through one chapter a week in this month and we'll cover, just going through it verse by verse. Now this first week, I want us to look at his example of lessons about our life mission. Now there are 10 lessons I wanna give you. Some of these are so simple I can just say 'em and we don't have to have a lot of explanation. So we'll go through some of these pretty quickly.
Number one, write this down. My life's mission will come from God's word. My life mission comes from God's word. I don't get it from watching TV, I don't get it from reading books. I don't get it from magazines, I don't get it from friends. You can make up a mission but it'll be a fake mission, it'll be a pretend mission because it wasn't from God. And if it's not from God it's not gonna use all of your talents, it's not gonna use all of your talents. And what's gonna happen is, a lot of people just make up a mission for their life. Because everybody wants to have some kind of meaning. And but at night they go and they put their head down and they go, there's gotta be more to life than this. And there is. There is, because you were made for a mission designed by God and God's uniquely shaped you for that mission. Nothing else is ever gonna satisfy you. Not fame, not fortune, not sex, salary, status. Not passion, possession, position. Not pride, not popularity, none of these things will satisfy you ultimately if you don't fulfill the mission that you were made for. So my life mission comes from God's word. We're just gonna follow this verse by verse to these 17 verses in Jonah 1. Verse 1 says this, one day, God spoke his word to Jonah, the son of Amittai.
Now that's how he gets his mission. God speaks his word to him. How does God speak his word to you? Through this book, through the Bible. This is God's word. But when you listen to a message like I'm teaching right now, God speaks to you through his word. When you listen on the radio or a podcast or daily hope listener, when you talk with a friend who shares a verse with you. When you have a quiet time to yourself, there are lots of ways God speaks. The Bible says God speaks through visions, the Bible says God speaks through dreams. But he speaks through his word and his will will never contradict his word. So if you wanna know your mission, you gotta get in this book.
Number two, my life mission will require a step of faith. That's the second thing you need to know about your life mission. It's gonna require a step of faith. You're gonna have to step out and do something that maybe seems uncomfortable. It stretches you, it stretches your faith. It challenges your prejudices. And in Jonah 1:2, God says this. Jonah, I want you to get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Now, what's Nineveh? Nineveh was the largest and the most magnificent city in the world at this time. It was the capital of the Assyrian Empire. It had very large boulevards, it had temples, great architecture. It had parks, it was an incredibly beautiful city, it was a large city, it was the most influential city in the world, but it was also a cruel city. It was a mean city. The Assyrians were notorious for being mean. They were kind of the Nazis of their age. And everywhere they went, they destroyed things, they killed things, they weren't very kind people in this age. And so while the city was beautiful, it was an unkind, it was a brutal, it was a cruel, it was an unjust, it was actually a wicked city.
Now this mission when God says Jonah, I want you to go to Nineveh. That's gonna stretch Jonah's faith four ways. First, Jonah is not a city dweller. He's from a little teeny tiny itty bitty village. He's never been to a medium size city, much less the biggest city in the world. This is gonna shake his culture. It's gonna shake his faith to have to go to a big city, and he's never actually been to city. Second, Nineveh is 555 miles away from where he lives. So how am I gonna get there? I'm gonna walk. 550 miles is a long way to walk unless he gets a camel or a donkey, it's still gonna be 550 miles, that's a long way. But there's another couple of reasons and one of 'em is that Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, was the mortal enemy of Israel. They hated each other. They were, they hated, they were mortal enemies because Assyria had conquered Israel a couple of times, had killed and massacred all kinds of Jews and had done all kinds of bad things to them.
So the fourth reason is, Jonah's prejudice. He's a nationalist, he says it's my nation and I don't care about anybody else's nation. I don't like anybody else and I certainly don't want my enemies. And God said, I'm gonna ask you to go to your enemies. This is a big deal, Jonah's goin' not a chance because I know God's a forgiving God and if I go there, then he's gonna probably forget. I don't want those people to be forgiven. They're my enemies. Now your mission's going to challenge your comfort zone. It may challenge your political perspectives. It may challenge your personal prejudices. It may take you out of your comfort zone. It certainly will stretch your faith.
Number three, my life mission will come from God. My life mission will require a step of faith. Number three, my life mission will somehow help others. My life mission, your life mission is gonna somehow help other people. Now your life mission may not be directly involved with people, but somehow it's gonna help them. For instance, if you developed a new medicine or drug, maybe you're workin' in a lab, you don't see many people but it helps a lot of people. Or you develop an application tool that helps a lot of people and you don't see those people but you developed the application. So you're gonna help people one way or the other whether you have direct connection to them or not. Why, because God cares about people. God cares particularly about people in pain, and God cares particularly about people experiencing injustice. That's what was goin' on in Nineveh. There were people in pain and there were people experiencing injustice because of the evil that was goin' on there. So my life's somehow gonna help, my life mission helps other people.
Verse 2, Jonah 1. He says get up and go to the great city of Nineveh and tell them that I see all the evil happening there and I won't ignore it. Well that's not gonna be a very popular message. No wonder he doesn't wanna go. Not only are these his enemies, he goes, I don't wanna go say that to those people. And on top of that, they probably don't want me to say it to 'em. God loves cities but he hates injustice. He hates evil, he hates abuse. He hates sin because it hurts people. It hurts his children. Now God sees all the bad choices we make in life and he's pretty patient with us. God has seen every bad thing I've done, every dumb thing I've done. I'm still here, okay? He's been patient with me. God has seen everything that you've done wrong too. You're still here. God is a patient God. He is patient with people and is even patient with nations. The Bible calls it long suffering.
Let me show you a couple of verses up there on the screen. Nehemiah 9:17, God is a God of forgiveness. Gracious and merciful, slow to become angry. He's not quick tempered. Slow to become angry, he's very patient. Full of patient love and mercy. He does not abandon people in their sin. I'm glad for that. You oughta be glad for that too. Let me show you another verse, 2 Peter 3:9. God is patient with you, even though you don't always do everything right. Not wanting anyone to perish, but wanting everyone to come to repentance. So God is a very patient God, but he's not gonna let injustice and evil and abuse and crime go on indefinitely. And his patience does run out. And he says I'm gonna tell you to go tell those people my patience is running pretty thin for that city of Nineveh, they're doing some pretty wicked stuff there and I'm not gonna allow it to happen forever.
And here's the fourth thing you need to write down about your life mission. My life mission may scare me at first. Certainly scared Jonah. As I said, it's a big city, it's 550 miles away, he's got a negative message to share and he hates the people's guts. Besides that, I guess it's okay. But Jonah is scared by the mission God is giving him. And he says no way am I going to Nineveh. It's not gonna happen, no way Jose. And so he runs. And in Jonah 1:3 it says this. But Jonah ran away from the presence of the Lord.
What causes people to run? One thing, fear. In fact, the more fearful you are, the faster you're gonna run. People run because they're afraid. What are you runnin' from in life? What has you so scared that you're runnin' from it? Are you running from your past? Are you running from a person in your past? Are you running from your problems? Are you running from the expectations that your parents or somebody else tried to put on you? You're still tryin' to run away from those things? Are you runnin' away from God? It's always fear, fear causes us to run. What has God told you to do that you're still not doing? So you're runnin' from it. God says I want you to forgive that person. Or I want you to do this or I want you to do that or I want you to share your faith with that person. I mean I still haven't done it. What is it, it's fear, it's fear. And you're running from it.
Now you can run from God 'cause God's giving you that freedom. But you can't hide because God is God. Look at this verse on the screen. The Bible says in Psalm 139:7-12, I can never escape from your spirit. Why, 'cause God's everywhere. He's omnipresent. I can never get away from your presence. If I went up to heaven, you're there. If I die, you're there. If I flew as far as east or west as possible, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. There is no place you can go in the universe that God has not. So I got to thinkin' the other day you can run from God the rest of your life but then you can't run anymore 'cause you're gonna go immediately into the presence of God the moment you die. So you can't run from God. But my life mission may scare me at first. It did this to Jonah.
Now number five, write this down. Running from my mission causes bad consequences. Running from my mission causes bad consequences. This is a story of good and bad. At the end the last three things I'm gonna share with you are actually really good things. They're actually miracles that can happen when you run toward God. But when you run away from God, there are four negative consequences. Anytime God tells me to do somethin' and I go the opposite direction, I'm gonna have these four consequences in my life. We see all four of 'em in Jonah. You might write these down, Jonah's life shows us four negative consequences. First, if I run from God, my life will go downhill. It's all downhill. When I'm runnin' from God, it's all downhill. There is an important word in the Book of Jonah. It's called the word down and it's used over and over and over. That Jonah's life went down down down down down down down as long as he's running from God, he's going downhill. He's in a slide. His life is degrading.
Let me show you a few verses. Jonah 1:3. Jonah went, I want you to circle the word down every time you see it in these verses. Jonah went down to Joppa, that's a city, it's a seaport, where he found a ship headed for the port of Tarshish. He paid the price to sail to Tarshish. And he went down, there's the word again, down below deck, hoping to get as far away from God as he could. Then in verse five it says Jonah went down below, laying down sound asleep. Jonah 2:3 after he gets thrown overboard out of the ship, I sank down, down into the deep sea.
And in Jonah 2:6 he says I was as far down as a body can go. He's down down down down dooby doo down down. And every, running from God is always downhill, that's the first negative consequence. Your life isn't gonna get better running from God. It's gonna get worse. Running from God is downhill. Notice by the way it says he went down to Tarshish where he found a ship. How convenient. If you wanna run from God, you can always find a ship. Because if you wanna run from God, Satan will always have a ship ready for you. A lot of people think that circumstances happen in their life that well God must've planned this, he wanted me to go on the ship, there is the ship. Satan can arrange circumstances. Satan can arrange circumstances as much as God can. So just 'cause a ship's available doesn't mean you should go get on it. He's running down down down.
So the first thing if I run from God, my life will go downhill. Number two, if I run from God, it will cost me, write that down. If I run from God, it will cost me. There is always a price tag in running from God. There is always a payment. The devil has to be paid his due. Jonah 1:3, he paid the price to sail to Tarshish. Now this is actually comical. God tells Jonah to go East 550 miles. He goes as far West as possible can. You know what Tarshish is? It's a seaport on the coast of Spain. It's the exact opposite direction, which is gonna cost him a whole lot more. Which isn't gonna cost more in your journey, 500 miles East or 2500 miles West? Look at this map. Here is Joppa where he's at. And he's supposed to go to Nineveh, it's only 550 miles over to. Nineveh is in modern day Iraq. The remains of Nineveh are right next to Mosul, Iraq. In fact when ISIS came in and took over that area, they started destroying Nineveh. They were destroying all the archeological finds in Nineveh when ISIS took over a few years back. He's supposed to go East 550 miles.
Instead, he gets on a boat going 25 miles, 2500 miles the other direction, Tarshish, that was the end of the known world. 2700 years ago, they didn't know about England, they didn't know about Scotland, they didn't know about Ireland, certainly didn't know about North and South America. So he's going to the end of the known world. He's trying to get as far away from God as he can, this guy's really scared. I am not goin' to Nineveh, okay? I don't like those guys. He's prejudiced. And so he's going as far, and what does it cost? It costs anytime you run from God, you pay the price. You pay an emotional price, you pay a relational price, hurts your family. You pay a physical price, you pay a spiritual price. You can pay a price of your reputation any time you run in the opposite direction as God, you're going to pay a price. Now here is the third thing that happens. When I run from God, it's gonna go downhill and it's gonna cost me.
Number three, if I run from God, God will oppose me. I'm gonna write that down. If I run from God, God will oppose me. The Bible says God resists the proud but he gives grace to the humble. And the Bible says in Jonah 1:4 the ship he gets on headed for Spain, as the ship was sailing, the Lord sent an opposing wind. Would you circle that? Opposing wind? Why did God send an opposing wind, 'cause he loves Jonah. And he doesn't want Jonah runnin' away. God sent an opposing win. Have you ever had that happen in your life? You're trying to make somethin' happen in your life and it's just not happening, and no matter how hard you try, it's just not happening. And the reason why is God doesn't want it to happen and he sent an opposing wind. And you can't figure out why is this not working? Because God has sent an opposing wind.
Anytime you ignore your mission, the purpose that God made you, created you for, God's gonna send an opposing wind. And so what is the opposing wind you're facing right now? That opposition that you're feeling right now? Why are you feeling that opposition? Because God said I don't want you goin' in that direction. I don't want you dating that person. I don't want you taking that job. I don't want you getting that promotion. God knows what you need, what'll make you happy more than you do. And when it's not workin' out, that's an opposing wind. And why is it an opposing wind, 'cause you're going in a direction God doesn't want you to go. If I run from God my life will go downhill, it's gonna cost me, I'm gonna pay the price and God will actually oppose me with an opposing wind.
Number four, fourth negative. We're gonna get to the positive here in a minute but here is the fourth one. If I run from God, other people get hurt too. I'm talkin' about innocent people. When I run from God, when I ignore my life mission and I say I'm gonna do what I wanna do. I think I know better than God does, then it's gonna hurt other people. Maybe it'll hurt your spouse. It may hurt your kids. It may hurt your grandkids. It may hurt friends, family, coworkers. It may hurt your church. There's a guy named Aiken in the Bible who ran from God and it caused the entire army to be defeated 'cause of one guy's sin. You see sin may be private, nobody knows about it but it's never personal. You may not know the sins in my life but they're still going to affect you whether you know 'em or not. 'Cause it affects how I live. Other people may not know your secret sins and you may think you're gettin' away with it, but it's affecting your relationships. It's affecting your relationship to God. It's affecting your relationship to other people. And if I run from God, other people get hurt. Here's the second part of Verse 4. It says that opposing win created such a massive storm that the ship was in danger of breaking apart.
Now, who's the cause of this storm? Jonah. Because there's an opposing win. Everybody's life is being threatened by one man in disobedience. Jonah thinks well I'm just a problem but he's causin' a problem for everybody else now too. He's causing them problems and they're innocent. They're just on their way to Tarshish. I often have to ask myself this question. Who am I hurting with my sin? It's a good question to ask yourself. Who am I hurting with my sin? They may not even know about it. But who am I hurting with my sin, 'cause, and maybe he said may be private but it's never personal, it affects others. Now let's follow this verse, this passage. Verse 5 says, so there's this big storm and clearly Jonah's caused it. Verse 5, all the sailors were terrified, and they cried out in desperation to whatever gods each one trusted. They also threw overboard everything they could to lighten the ship's load. That's typical when you're under stress.
When you're under stress and when you're runnin' from God, you start throwin' stuff away. You start throwin' relationships away. You start throwin' good habits away. You start throwin' your connections to church and other things away. You start throwin' stuff away. Stuff that's valuable. That the whole reason you were takin' the trip is because of that, that cargo. But you start throwin' it away because you're in the middle of a storm.
Now while this storm was threatening everyone else, Jonah was down below deck laying down sound asleep, oh great. What a godly prophet. Everybody else is screamin' for death and they're all prayin' to quote their Gods and he's down asleep. He's ignorant of the storm and he's apathetic. It's like the guy who was asked what do you think of the, you think the two biggest problems in America are ignorance and apathy, look I said I don't know and I don't care. So he says I don't know and I don't care. Jonah's sound asleep. Now look up here, let's follow this story for a little bit. Verse 6, so the captain went down down below deck to find Jonah, he's the only guy who's asleep in this storm. And said man, how can you sleep? Get up and pray to your God too. I mean we're all praying to our Gods, you get up and pray to your God. Maybe your God will pay attention and rescue us from dying. The captain, the Pagan captain has more faith than Jonah does. He's goin' man, pray.
Start praying. Now look at the next verse. Then the sailors said to each other, this storm has to be somebody's fault. Okay, there, it's the worst one they've ever been in, they're superstitious. This storm's gotta be somebody's fault. Let's cast lots to find out who's responsible. In other words, let's roll dice, see who's responsible for this trouble. So they cast lots, and lots fell on guess who, Jonah. Do you think God controlled those dice? Yeah, I think so. So they now know it's Jonah.
So next verse. So they asked Jonah, how have you brought down all this trouble on us? Remember this is what I was saying in one of the things that happens when I am out of the little God? When I'm disobedient, when I'm runnin' from God, when I'm not fulfilling my mission. It hurts you. It hurts other people. How have you brought down all this trouble on us? What trouble are you bringing down on your family right now? Because you're not right with God. They said, how have you brought down all this trouble on us, what do you do? Where do you come from? What's your nationality? What kind of people do you belong to? They're just askin', I mean these guys are desperate, they're about to lose their lives in the middle of the Mediterranean sea.
Next verse. Nine and 10, Jonah answered, I'm a Hebrew, I'm Jewish, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven who made the sea and land. Then he confesses. Jonah told them that he was running from God. This frightened the sailors even more and they panicked, why have you done this, they shouted. They go, what idiot would try to run from God? I mean, why would you, they're not even Christians, they're not even Jewish. They're Pagans, they're going, well if there is a God, why would anybody try to run from God? That would make sense, 'cause God's God and God can see you anywhere but why in the world would you think that you could run from God? You're not makin' sense here buddy. You're just makin' no sense.
Now here is the next principle, number six. The longer I run from God, the worse it gets. The longer I run from God, the worse it gets. The longer I put off accepting my mission, the worse it's gonna get. Some of you feel this past year has been really rough. Well as your pastor who loves you, your spiritual coach, I wanna say I beg you to make a full surrender of your life to God, that's the only way it's all gonna work out all right. Make a full surrender of your life to God, 'cause you don't know what storm's gonna be ahead. I don't either. You may have had a tough past year but you have no idea what you're headin' into. And I would say if things are tough right now, make a full surrender of your life to God. Say I'm gonna let go and I'm gonna let God. I'm just, God I want your will for my life, I'm gonna surrender to you. Why? 'Cause the longer I run from God, the worse it gets.
Verse 11, now the storm was getting worse and the waves got rougher. How much rougher does your marriage have to get to get your attention? Huh? How much rougher does it have to get before you realize, I'm headin' the wrong way? This isn't working. How much worse does it have to get in your situation? How much worse does it have to get in your health? How much worse does it have to get in your finances? How much worse does it have to get in your career before you finally pay attention going, this isn't working? I'm not runnin' to God, I'm running from God. I'm running my own life. And I'm headin' straight into the storm and I'm hittin' an opposing wind. It says now the storm was gettin' worse and the waves got rougher, so they asked Jonah, what should we do to you to stop the storm and calm down everything? As a pastor, I get this question asked of me every single day of my life.
Pastor, how do I stop the storm in my life? I get it asked in different ways but it's the same question. How do I stop the storm in my life? And the answer is the same every time. Complete surrender to God. Stop resisting God, stop running from God, stop rebelling against God and start going God, you're God and I'm not. Let's go your way, my way isn't working. Complete surrender to God. Now in Verse 12, Jonah finally does the first unselfish thing he's ever done. Here he says, throw me overboard. Throw me overboard down into the sea, Jonah said and everything will calm down. He's casting himself on the grace of God. Throw me overboard into the sea said Jonah and everything will calm down. I know that it is my fault that you're having to fight this terrible storm. Is it your fault that somebody else is havin' to fight a terrible storm right now?
Now he says just throw me overboard and that'll, did the sailors listen to him? No. Do they throw him overboard? No, what they do is they try to solve the problem for themselves. Look at Verse 13 there in your outline. I want you to circle three things. It says instead the sailors tried harder to row the ship back to land and safety. But they could not turn it around, for the raging storm was out of control. Now, I want you to circle three things. First, circle the word, the phrase out of control, okay? The storm is out of control. The situation's out of control. Second, circle, they could not turn it around, okay? They could not turn it around. And then circle, they tried harder. They tried harder. Does that sound like your life? It's out of control. And you can't turn it around. But you're tryin' harder. It's out of control. You can't turn it around. But you're tryin' harder.
Here is the seventh lesson, write this down. If I'm fighting God's plan, trying harder doesn't work. If I'm fighting God's plan for my life, I'm fighting resisting my mission, resisting my purpose, resisting my relationship to God. If I'm going to my way, tryin' harder doesn't work because your arms are too short to box with God, you just need to give it up. The only hope of salvation, of rescue, of relief, the only hope of salvation is to just let go and let God, to let God save you. Look at this verse on screen, you know this verse. Ephesians 2:8-9. You will be saved by trusting in God's grace, that's how you'd be saved for many situations and from life and from sin and from hell, from everything. You'll be saved by trusting in God's grace, it doesn't matter what the situation is. You cannot save yourself. It's a gift of God.
Salvation is never the result of your own efforts, so you can't brag about it. If we could all earn our way to heaven by work if they say, can you imagine what an ego trip heaven would be? Well I got here because I did this. And I got here because I did that. And my thing is better than your thing and it'd be a big bragamoni time. You can't be saved by your own efforts. Now, that's all the negative part, but the last three lessons of Jonah's life in Chapter 1 are really some good news. Because there are three great miracles that happen and these three great miracles will happen in your life, in your life when you start doing whatever God asks you to do. And when you start doin' that, these three miracles will happen in your life.
Number one, miracle number one, when I do what God wants, things will calm down. When I do what God wants, things will calm down. I want you to look at what happens next. Jonah 1:14-15 says this. Finally, like last resort, the sailors cried out to Jonah's God. They've been cryin' out to all these false Gods and nothing's happenin', so they finally cry out to Jonah's God. Oh Lord, don't let us die because of this man's life. I mean blowin' it. And please don't hold us responsible for his death. Because you, Lord, sent this storm for your purpose. There's a storm in your life right now, it's for God's purpose. God's purpose is greater than the problems you're going through. You sent this storm for your purpose, God has a greater purpose than the problems you're goin' through. And it says then they took Jonah and they threw him overboard. And immediately, immediately the raging sea calmed down. First miracle, when I do what God wants, things will calm down. They put him into the hands of God and things calm down.
Miracle number two, when I do what God wants, unbelievers believe. That's a miracle. All these Pagan sailors all of a sudden start worshiping the one true God once they see what's happened when the storm immediately ends the second they do what God wants them to do, toss Jonah overboard. Then it catches their attention and all of a sudden these unbelievers believe. Jonah 1:16, when the sailors saw this happen, what did they see happen? The raging storm calmed down immediately. The moment they did what God wanted. When the sailors saw this happen, they were awe struck by God's greatness and they worshiped God. They offered a sacrifice and they made vows to God. What did they do, they're making promises to God. God, I'm gonna serve you the rest of my life. I'm gonna live for you. You are obviously the true God, 'cause none of these other things help.
And so we're gonna sacrifice you, we're gonna honor you, we're gonna make promises to you. We're gonna worship you. Unbelievers believe when you start doing your mission. Some of you have relatives, people you love, friends and relatives who have not stepped across the line. A mom, a dad, a spouse, a child. Are you holdin', are you the holdup? When I do what God wants me to do and I step out in faith and I do somethin' that may be uncomfortable for me, unbelievers believe. There will be people coming to Christ around you, people that you thought never in a million years did I think they'd come to me, come to the Lord. When you get your life right. When you get back on track. When you stop running from what God has asked you. What's your Nineveh? What has God told you to do and you just haven't done it? And it's willful disobedience, I want you to forgive that person. I don't wanna forgive that person.
Miracle one, things calm down. Miracle number two, unbelievers believe. Miracle number three, when I accept my mission, God shows me mercy. He doesn't scold me, he doesn't spank me, I've been runnin' the wrong way for a long time, but all of a sudden I'm gonna go this is stupid. I'm payin' the price and God's opposin' me, I'm goin' downhill, I'm hurtin' other people. This is dumb. I'm gonna go God's way from now on. And when I go God's way, guess what God does? He doesn't go, well I told you so. No, he shows me mercy. He shows me grace, he shows me forgiveness. And the last verse of Jonah 1 says this.
Now, the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was inside that great fish for three days and night. Now circle the word prepared. I wanna clear up some misconception about this. How many of you growin' up heard that Jonah was swallowed by a whale? Yeah, practically everybody. The word whale is not in this book. It's in the Bible, but whale is not mentioned. It says God prepared, custom-made a great fish to swallow. A whale's not a fish, friends. A whale's a mammal. Now they wouldn't have known that 2700 years ago. But a whale's not a fish, a whale's a mammal. God could've used a whale if he wanted to. Here's the point I wanna make. It says that God had prepared, and that word there prepared, circle that. It's the Hebrew word menah, it means assigned, it means appointed, it means custom made, it means ordained, it's used in the word ordain. God ordained a whale.
Now in Chapter 4 he ordains a worm and he ordains a whale, so I guess ordination's not that big a deal. If a whale and a worm can be ordained. It says that God assigned, appointed, ordained. He provided, he arranged. He custom. Now if you really believe that God created the universe, which means he created every creature, every species, every fish. You have no problem if God created a custom-made fish that could hold Jonah for three days with air conditioning. Or a campfire inside it for that matter. If God can create the universe, and if God can resurrect the dead, if you believe in the resurrection, you don't have a problem with the fact that God could create an animal to swallow up Jonah and take care of him and spit him out later in the right direction. The Lord prepared a great fish. Now as I said, if God creates everything, he could custom make anything he wanted to to handle Jonah. But some scientists actually believe that it's a possibility that the largest fish in the ocean could've done this.
Now, I'm not talkin' about largest mammal, largest fish, the largest fish is called a whale shark, whale shark, it's in the shark family but it's so big, it's like the size of a whale, they call it a whale shark. It swims all over the world, it's everywhere. And let me show you some photos. Here is a picture of a typical 40-foot whale shark. Look at that mouth. Now, these fish are found all around the world, that's about a 40-footer right there. They are the largest fish in the ocean. It swims about three miles an hour, which means a lot of divers like to grab on the back and just pull along. They're totally docile. They're no threat to human beings. They're gentle giants, they swim with their mouth open because they are filter feeders. They don't chew or cut up anything 'cause they don't bite stuff. They live off of micro plankton. And so they swim with their giant mouth open at about three miles an hour through the ocean. They're totally harmless, totally harmless. And they're all around the world, pretty common. And let me show you a backend view of a 50-foot whale shark. That's quite a, that's quite a condominium right there for Jonah to be in if that was it, okay? They're gentle giants.
Let me show you some snorkelers around the world. Here's a picture of an Australian snorkeler with a whale shark, okay? That shows you the difference. Don't you think he could fit in that mouth? Yeah, here's one, two Mediterranean snorkelers, look at the size of that mouth, okay? See the snorkelers up there? Here is a diver photographing another diver who's riding a baby shark off Mozambique, that's a little one. And see he's holdin' on to the fin back there, that diver? And he's riding while the other diver's takin' pictures of him swimming with this baby shark. Here is three snorkelers above a whale shark in the Mediterranean, they're up high. You see, look at all the fish goin' in out of that mouth.
Now, to give you a comparison between a typical whale shark and an 80 passenger school bus. That's what it looks like. Both of those are 40 feet long, okay? So an 80 passenger school bus is about the size of a 40-foot whale shark, all right? That's pretty big. Now this last picture is actually a picture of Jonah about to be swallowed. Okay? Okay, actually that's a snorkeler off Mexico. The point is this. In this story, more people get hung up with what's inside the whale than the story about what's inside Jonah. And what's really more important is what's inside you. What's inside you? Are you resisting what God has told you to do? Do you know your mission? Have you been running from something God tells you to do? What's your Nineveh?
Then you go God I'll do anything but I won't do that, be careful. God is calling you to accept the mission that you were created for. You're not here for any other reason. You were made for your mission. You were planned for God's purpose. You were shaped to serve God. You weren't put here to live a self-centered selfish life. This is the most important thing in your life. And to run from God and say I'm gonna do my plan, Plan B instead of God's plan, that's stupid. It's just stupid. First you can't hide from God, and second it's gonna be all downhill, it's gonna cost you. God's gonna pose you, people are gonna get hurt and it's only gonna get worse and tryin' hard won't work. But if I'll come to the point of surrender and say this throw me overboard. Put me in the total hands of God's grace. I can't save myself. Then you get the miracles, things start calmin' down. Unbelievers around me all of a sudden become believers. 'Cause they see what's happened to me. And God shows me mercy.
Let's bow our heads. You're not listening to this message by accident. God is saying to you, "stop running from me. I don't want part of you, I want all of you. I want 100% of you. I made you for a mission. And when you do it my way, things will calm down. People around you will come to Christ, they'll be saved, unbelievers will believe. And my mission will be fulfilling to you". It's where you find your meaning and he shows you mercy. Will you accept your mission? Would you pray this prayer?
Dear God, I wanna know my mission. I wanna get into your words so I can hear what you want me to do with my life. I know it's gonna require some faith. I know it's gonna help other people somehow. And I know it may scare me at first. But the opposite is unthinkable. I know it is futile to run from you. My life will go downhill, it's gonna cost me more than to run to you. You will oppose me with an opposing wind and other people will get hurt. And the longer I run from you, the worse it gets. Lord I have been in situations where it was out of control. I tried to turn it around, I couldn't so I tried harder. Help me to stop trying and start trusting. Today Jesus Christ, I surrender 100% of my life to you. And whether I've got five or 50 years left, I want the rest of my life to be the best of my life. I wanna be on mission for you. I accept my mission anytime, anywhere, any way, anyhow. And I ask you to show me your mercy and grace. And I humbly ask this with a sincere heart.
If you've never invited Christ into your life, say:
Jesus Christ, come into my life. Save me, I wanna learn to love you and trust you. In your name I pray, amen.