Well, good morning Grace. And I want to thank those who watch via the internet and our mobile app. And I’ve got a couple of really cool shout-outs. Number 1, our missionaries Becky and Juno in the Philippines. Let’s give them a big shout-out because they watch this on a regular basis. And, I also want to give a big shout-out to the International Fellowship in Uganda, South Africa, which is Scott and Cindy Vanderford.
Believe it or not, they take our series’ and they play it to missionaries to train them about things all the way over in South Africa. So, how about a big shout-out for that? Really cool. Really cool stuff.
Well, we’re in the middle of a five-week series called “Life-Changing Decisions,” and if you were here last week, I’ll catch you back up. If you’re new, we’ll get you involved in what we’re doing. We’re talking about the decisions that we need to make before we make decisions. In other words, sometimes before we make decisions, we’ve got to stop and make some decisions before we do that.
I think all of us – and if you’ve not done this, you know someone who has – but, I think most of us have done this, where you go out and buy something that you really thought that you needed. And then you get it and you realize that you can’t afford it, or you realize that you didn’t need it to begin with. And what you really wish that you would’ve done, is you really wish that you would’ve sat down and made a decision and thought about that before you went and did that decision.
That’s called taking responsibility, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today in the first, here, of our little points that we need to in this series of what decision do I need to make before I make decisions? We need to learn to take responsibility for our lives.
Now, I want to say upfront here, we have a hard time doing this. Every one of us, if we’re honest, we have things in our lives that, “It was somebody else’s fault,” or we blame this person, or blame that person, and you know where we get that from, right? We get that from Adam and Eve.
Remember? God said, “Hey, I want you to go out and multiply, and increase, and do all this good stuff. And there’s just one thing I don’t want you to do. Don’t eat of that tree.” And what’d they do? They went and ate of the tree.
And when God came into the garden and said, “Hey, what’d you guys do?” Adam goes, “We own it, man. We ate it, and we’re sorry.” Right? No. Y’all need to read your Bible, okay? Just kidding. You read it, right?
So, no. Adam goes, “Hey, it was the woman you gave me.” Adam, man, he gets God and Eve at the same time. “It’s the woman you gave me.” And what does Eve do? She goes, “Well, it was the snake.” You know, and the point is is that we learn how to not responsibility very easily. And so, we’ve got to learn to take responsibility for life.
Because here’s the deal. You and I are where we are because of decisions we’ve made not too long ago, or in our past. And we’re going to be where we go in the future based on decisions we’re making right now. And I know what some of you are thinking. I know! I’m not a prophet, I just know how this works. You’re thinking, “But you don’t know my story. You don’t know what happened to me. You don’t know this situation.”
Let me say up front so that nobody misinterprets me. Yes, there are things in our lives that come in our lives that we have no control over. But we do have responsibility with how we respond to those things. However, and I don’t want to get anybody mad at me, the majority of things are not that. We convince ourselves that we have no control over it, but the fact of the matter is, at some point somebody said, “Don’t do this,” or a parent said, “Don’t date that person,” or someone said, “Don’t drink.”
Or someone said, “Don’t get in that car,” or, “Don’t go to that,” or, “Don’t listen to this,” and we didn’t pay attention to it. And then it happened and what we do is we say, “Well, it was a circumstance that I had no control over,” when in fact we really did, because what we were doing, we were making decisions before we had made real important decisions by taking responsibility.
Remember Theodore Roosevelt? You probably read about him growing up. He’s got a great quote. It’s a little funny, but it’s also a cold glass of water in our face. Here’s what he says, he says, “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”
Come on now. Can I get a big 10 o’clock amen? You know? Because that, that right there is the truth. Now, here’s what’s interesting, I’m not a psychologist, but this is what psychologists tell us about people that don’t take responsibility. These are symptoms of people that don’t take responsibility. They lack interest. Maybe you find yourself today lacking interest in life, or lacking interest in something.
When you’re taking responsibility for something, you’re focused. You’re there, and you don’t lack interest. Missed deadlines. Maybe some of you are going, “Aw, man. I’m chronically late,” or, “I missed this,” or, “I don’t get those papers turned in on time,” or whatever. Okay, that is a symptom of not taking responsibility. And then when we miss those things, or do that stuff, isn’t it easy to make excuses or blame somebody else.
And you hear it all the time, “If it wasn’t for this person. If my boss wouldn’t have done this, I wouldn’t be there. If my ex wouldn’t have done that it wouldn’t have ended up like that. Man, if my neighbor wouldn’t have done this, or if that person wouldn’t have done this.” We’ve got all these excuses in blaming others, and let me tell you something, we live in a society that nobody wants to take responsibility for anything. It’s the blame game. It’s the complain game. It’s the excuse game.
And what happens is, when we get going with that lack of responsibility in our lives, and we don’t take responsibility for the things that we should take responsibility for, we even end up lacking trust in everybody. And what we’re doing is, we’re actually projecting. The lack of trust is ourselves because we’re taking no responsibility for the things in our lives. And we project that onto other people.
We’ve got learn to take responsibility. I’m going to tell you this right now, you and I are most happy when we are taking responsibility for our lives, even though sometimes we want to convince our self that’s not the case.
So, we’re going to talk about taking responsibility today, and we’re going to do it within the book of Jonah. If you were here last week, you remember we looked through Jonah 1. Today we’re going to look at Jonah 2. If you weren’t, if you’re new I would highly recommend that you go to the website (gracesarasota.com), or you go to the mobile app (it’s Grace Sarasota in any of the mobile platforms and downloaded), you can get the series. And if you’re watching via the internet, you can go back and watch it as well, too. The series is always up the following day after we get done here with service. Usually up on a Monday.
So, last week we talked about Jonah, and if you’re new, or even if you’ve been here, we’re going to sort of real quickly recap what we talked about. Jonah was asked to go to Nineveh by God. Jonah decided that was a bad decision. He didn’t want to go to Nineveh. Now, we’re not told why he didn’t go to Nineveh until later on in the book, and the reason he didn’t go to Nineveh is because he thought God was too nice.
Think about that. He’s saying, “I don’t mind you being nice to me, God, but the Ninevites are a bunch of scoundrels. And what they need, is they just need to get judged, and get out of there. You’re being too nice to these people.” The best way I could put it is, Nineveh was basically like Hitler’s Berlin. That’s about the way it was back in that day. It was a bad place.
Jonah doesn’t like the fact God wants him to go preach to them, because what happens if they repent and they are given the graciousness of God? So, Jonah has an issue with God. He’s just too nice sometimes. You know, in our lives, if we’re being honest, there’s some people we want to get back at at times. And we’re like, “God, could you just go get them?”
And God’s like, “But I love them, too.”
And we’re like, “I don’t like that idea. Wrong answer, God! We need a different answer.”
But the fact of the matter is He’s a gracious God. So, Jonah decided rather than going and doing what God has asked him to do, he goes down to Joppa to catch a ship to go to Tarshish to get away from the presence of the Lord. Well, on the ship God hurls a big great wind and everyone on the ship tries to figure out what’s going on. And Eventually they realize it’s Jonah. Jonah’s the problem. He’s running from God, and his God happens to be the God of the land and the sea. And since He’s the God of the sea, that’s why the storms are going on.
And so they decide, “Jonah, what are you going to do?” Jonah’s like, “You know what, I’d rather die. I’d rather die than do what God’s called me to do.” These are some really bad decisions he’s making because he’s never taken responsibility to deal with his issue that he has with God. And the issue that he has with God, he needs to talk to God about. But he doesn’t, he runs. So, he gets thrown overboard. And that’s where we left the story last week.
So, now he’s in the drink. He’s swimming around Davey Jones’ locker. Right, you know? He’s overboard. And what we’re going to see is, what happens is, God brings this big fish to swallow Jonah. And then we’re told of a prayer that Jonah prays in the belly of this fish. And what we’re going to see about this prayer is a couple of things. Number 1, he never repents, which is really interesting. What he does is, he does a half-baked prayer. In fact, we’re going to realize that the majority of his prayer is him recalling his falling in the water and drawing before the fish comes and swallows him, which saves him for a moment.
We’re going to see that in the last second, right before he dies, he decides that he doesn’t want to die, and he calls out to God. And God graciously delivers him, because God is a gracious God. And then we’re going to realize as he continues to pray, he still has issues with the Ninevites. And we’re going to se as we go through this prayer 26 personal pronouns are used in the original writings here of Jonah. Because the writer is wanting us to know that it’s still all about him.
He’s got a big ego, and he has an issue with God. So, this is going to be an interesting little couple of verse that we look at. And then what we’re going to do is, we’re going to do what we always do. We’re going to do some take-homes. And, listen to me, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, and those listening also via the internet and the mobile app, I guarantee you this will be a message that you take home with you and it will be a transformational message. It’ll be something that you remember for a very very long time.
So, let’s go here to the Bible. We’re reading Jonah 1:17-2:10. If I were doing the Chip International Version, which doesn’t exist at this point, I would’ve probably not included 1:17, I would make this 2:1. I think it fits better with the next chapter, but who cares. Anyway.
“And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah.” –Once again, Jonah, and he writes (Jonah’s a well-written book), he starts off the book by not telling us why Jonah has done what he’s done and he waits until the very end. At this particular passage he tells us that Jonah, because the bottom line is, and if you’re reading that, he’s going overboard and now all of a sudden God’s appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah.
You might, as you’re reading this, you might go, “Well, he’s done. Because if a big fish swallows you up, you’re done.” So, as you’re reading through this, he’s bringing you in. This great fish swallows him up. What’s going on? And people ask me all the time, “Do you really think that it was a big, great fish? Is this something that’s literal?”
Let me explain this to you to the best of my ability here. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ got up from the dead on the third day. And here’s my rationale. If you can get up from the dead on the third day, you can walk on the water, you can raise other people from the dead, and you can have fish swallow people. I have no issue with that.
Now, if I get to heaven and God goes, “That was just a really good story illustrating something,” that’s fine, but I don’t believe that we have to go there, because if Jesus rose from the dead, then everything is open. All that stuff makes sense. The miraculous is just part of the gig. So, that’s my answer to that. I don’t know if it was a whale, I don’t know if it was a shark. All I know is it wasn’t a goldfish, okay?
So, the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. We start off, and the Hebrews like to write chiastically, with beginnings and ends, with inclusios (bookends). And he gets swallowed and then he gets spit up. So, the two bookends are the swallowing, because he’s going down, and the spitting up as he’s going back up. Because God obviously, as we go down, God is a God of resurrection that lifts us up. And we’ll see that all through the story of Jonah. Because, if you remember, Jesus uses this story about Himself and His resurrection later on in the New Testament.
“The Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”
It’s interesting here. Jonah uses the word fish here in Hebrew. He changes it to a feminine only one time here, because what he’s really trying to show us here is that he’s sort of like in the womb of a fish. Because he’s using a female fish right now. The rest of it’s masculine. And it’s almost like Jonah is going to get born again, so to speak.
Okay, so he was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Now, three days and three nights, this is important, it’s called an idiom. And an idiom is, I’ll give you an example of an idiom. If I say, “Man, I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”
Well, you guys know that that doesn’t mean I’m really going to go eat a horse, because it’s called an idiom. Three days and three nights is an idiom in Hebrew. At a minimum it’s 36 hours. At a maximum it’s 72 hours. It’s used throughout the whole Old Testament. It is an idiom. So, a lot of times we talk about Jesus being crucified on Friday and raising on Sunday, and people go, “That wasn’t three days and three nights. That’s not right.”
Again, it can be a 36-hour period, so a lot of people take that and they try to move Jesus back and shoehorn in all these things to get everything to go right. Not understanding language is sometimes difficult. So, it’s an idiom.
So, three days and three nights. He’s in there for at least 36 hours, maybe as long as 72. The bottom line is, he’s in the belly of a big fish for quite a while. He’s swimming in some gastric juices. So, here we go. Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
And it says, “Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish.”
Remember in chapter 1, everybody else is praying but Jonah. Now he prays, and this is the prayer he prays. And most of this prayer is reminiscing about his descent into the water as he’s drowning before the great fish swallows him.
“Saying,” –And I tried to highlight some of the personal pronouns so you can see how many times he’s doing “I” and “me” and all that stuff. – “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.”
Now, this is important here. Sheol is one of these things in the Old Testament. That’s where everybody thought that people went when they died until later on God started explaining that no, there’s actually different places where people go when they die. And Sheol was the abode of the dead. Everybody thought they went there. And so, in the Hebrew Old Testament, as you read some of these wisdom books, you know, talk about, “If you give to God, your barns will be full. And if you do this, everything will be great.” And people read that, and then it doesn’t happen in their life, and they wonder what’s going on.
You have to understand, early Hebrew thought thought that your blessings all happened in the here and now. They did not see it in the afterlife. So, a lot of the things that we read in the Old Testament are still predicated on that misunderstanding of the afterlife. And so, everybody thought that everybody went to Sheol. That’s where everybody went. That’s why when Job gets sick, all of his friends are like, “What did you do wrong?”
He’s like, “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
They’re like, “Well, surely you did wrong, because if you’re living a godly life, none of this stuff would be happening to you.”
Because again, they had that sense in the New Testament, when Jesus comes, starts to teach us that this world is not where all those things happen. Sometimes it is in the afterlife. But, to Jonah here, he’s crying out to Sheol because he thinks he’s dying. He’s on his way to death.
“For you cast me into the deep…”
This is interesting. Jonah still sees the waves, the tossing into the water, and all that stuff as being something that God is in control of. And I get asked all the time, “How’s God in control?” And, “How’re people free?” And, “How’re people free?” And, “How’s God in control?” My answer is this, I don’t know! That’s my answer. I don’t know.
The Bible never really tries to fully explain that tension. Now, I have some ideas and some thoughts, and we can talk about it at some point, but the bottom line is, the Bible lets it both sort of hang there. That Jonah is responsible for what he’s doing. He’s responsible for the sins. He’s responsible for his decisions. But God is still in control.
“He cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me;” –So now, Jonah is in the water, and he’s in the sea, and he’s in the flood. And he is there in the water. And he says – “and your waves and your billows passed over me.”
He’s very aware that God is in control of the circumstances. I also would like to add here that Jonah is not a perfect messenger by any stretch of the imagination. It is never the messenger that is perfect or not perfect that makes the difference. It is the message that is the difference maker. Jonah, even when he gets spit up from the belly of this fish, is still in an ornery mood. He never goes into Nineveh with any compassion for them, he just simply says what God’s told him to say, and then he goes off and whines about it.
The bottom line is that Jonah is a marred messenger. It is not the messenger that makes the difference. It is the message. It is the Word of God that changes lives. So, realize that whenever you’re in a church, and whoever your pastor is, your messengers are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. It is the message of the Word of God that changes life, that’s effectual. It’s not us who say it, and we see that totally in Jonah here. He is a marred man that God still uses him to share His message. So, His waves and His billows pass over me.
Then he says in Jonah 2:4, “Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’” –He’s in the belly of the fish at this point, recounting these things of how he realizes, “Hey I’m going to see you again.”
And he says, – “The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me;” – So, now he’s drowning. The waters are around him. The deep is surrounding him. – “the weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountain.”
It’s almost as if he’s sort of gone down. We have no idea how deep the water was, but he goes down. He’s got weeds on him, he’s seeing hills. It may be mountains, but in the water things are magnified. It could just be little hills, but he sees himself and he is drowning.
And he says, – “I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me…” –In other words, they thought Sheol had gates. And once you got to Sheol and those gates closed, you were in forever. – “…whose bars closed upon me, yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God.”
Once again, this going down, and God bringing up. And that’s the whole story of the Bible. You and I, we’re on our way down. You and I are not perfect. You and I are not exactly where we should be. But God is the one who gives us life. God is the one who saves us, because He’s a gracious and a good God.
So, here he is, he says, “I’m going down, and I’m almost right there to Sheol. But yet, You’re the one God who delivered me.”
He says, “When my life was fainting away,” –At that moment, right when my life was just about gone, I remembered the Lord.
Jonah comes to the realization, “You know, I don’t think I really want to die.” And so, “God, will You save me?” Listen to me. This is so important, especially if you’re new here. Maybe you didn’t come to church for a long time. Maybe you came in, maybe you got a flyer, maybe somebody drug you in today. However, you got here and you’re like, “I don’t know about this God thing.”
I want to show you something here. This shows you that your Heavenly Father is looking for every opportunity to deliver you, because this man, as he is fainting away, as he is in disobedience to God, as he’s not listening to a thing that God has told him to do, He merely answers a prayer to remember God, and God is there to deliver him.
His grace is bigger than you could ever imagine. His love is more extravagant than you could ever imagine. My kids would say He’s "gooder" than you know.
And he says, – “and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.” –Now you think right here, you think, “Man, this guy is having like a serious moment, right? I mean this is like a moment.” How could you be saying this, like, “Hey, I need some deliverance?”
Well, we’re going to see that Jonah, it’s a half-baked prayer. Because right in the middle of this, I mean this is the good part of the prayer. This is the moment, and you would think that at this point he’s going to say, “God, I’m sorry for what I’ve done.” Oh, no, no, no.
He says, – “And those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” – “I still hate those Ninevites. Those people are scum.” – “But I with the voice of thanksgiving, I’m going to sacrifice; and what I’ve vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
You’re like, “Jonah, dude, your thanksgiving isn’t really that hot, dude. You’re like over the boat, in the water, getting swallowed by this great fish. Dude, I wouldn’t get too boastful.” But again, you see the tension in Jonah, where it’s like, he calls out to God, but he’s really not fully there. And we see that through the rest of the book.
And Jonah 2:10 says, “And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.”
Notice there that it doesn’t say that he came out in some nice array. Or dressed in some cool suit. He gets vomited out. He’s got all that junk hanging on him, because it’s not like Jonah’s really perfect. The bottom line is that he’s just been delivered from the fish. “Now go do your thing again, Jonah.”
So, the whole point here is that Jonah has prayed, but his prayer is very focused him. There’s a lot of ego still going on. There’s a lot of stuff, and what God has done is when he finally remembers God, that big fish comes and swallows him, and then takes him back probably somewhere along the coastline of Israel and spits him up onto the dry land. And immediately, we’ll see next week, that God reconfirms that call and says, “Go.”
And even though he goes, he doesn’t go with a great attitude. Because ultimately what Jonah has not done, is he’s not taken responsibility for what he’s doing. He’s just getting through life. And we see him at the very end, he’s still mad. He’s still upset.
So, what can we take home from the story? What can we take home in our lives? If you’ve got a sheet of paper, if you’ve got a phone, if you’ve got an iPad, write these things down, I guarantee you they will make a difference in your life.
Number one. What we don’t take responsibility for goes with us into the future.
Let me explain this. Jonah doesn’t take responsibility for the things he’s doing. He doesn’t take responsibility for his issues with God. So, what happens? He takes it with him into Nineveh. He’s not nice to the Ninevites, he doesn’t love the Ninevites. He doesn’t care about them. He just simply does what he has to do, and he’s on his way. Here’s the reality is, if we don’t take responsibility for things, they go with us into the future.
Let me give you an example. I got fired one time in my life. You may not believe that, I did. I got fired. And I was so upset because I was like, “I’m a good worker. I was loyal.” I was all these things. And when I got fired I had this story, you know? It was their fault. Everything was their fault. They did all this stuff. Everything was their deal. Well, I carried that with me into the future, because the next job you get, you’re always looking, “What’s the bosses angle? What’s going on?”
When you don’t take responsibility, you carry it with you. And what I found in my life was this. There was a moment after a few years had gone by where I realized, you know what? There were some things that I didn’t do. There were some things that, it wasn’t loyalty issue, and it wasn’t a hard work issue. It was a competency issue. No wonder they got rid of me, because I wasn’t competent at some of the things that I was doing. And I carried that with me until I took responsibility for it.
And here’s the deal, we’ve got things in our lives. We go, “This happened to me.” Or, “If this wouldn’t have happened.” Or, “If this thing wouldn’t have happened.” Or, “If this person wouldn’t have done this.” Or, “If my boss wouldn’t have done this.” Or, “If my ex-wife,” or, “If my ex-husband wouldn’t have done this.” Or, “If my kid wouldn’t have had this.” Or, “Something happened,” or, “This situation.” And what we do is, when we don’t take our responsibility, and what we do, we’re really good at it, we go, “Well, there was nothing I could do to keep that thing from happening.”
Although, you didn’t have to do some of the things that you did. We don’t own those things in our lives and we carry it forward with us. And then all of our relationships are colored through the fact that instead of taking responsibility into the future, we’ve taken irresponsibility into the future, and it colors everything.
So, knowing this, that if we don’t take responsibility, we will carry it with us into the future, know the second thing is: We have to learn to let go of our side of the story and own it.
You see, what happens is, we’re like Adam and Eve. Well, it’s true. You know, Eve did give Adam the fruit, but it’s not really the full truth of everything. And there was a snake. But what they’ve done is they’ve concocted the story that makes them not liable for anything, that keeps them from taking responsibility. And in doing that, they mar themselves. In doing that, they hurt themselves. And they take it into the future. As long as our side of the story is all that we tell, we’re in trouble.
Because here’s the truth. As long as our story, or our side is the most important thing, we’re never going to own it. And here’s the way it works. Let’s just be honest here. What we do is, is we go, “Okay, I lost my job. Now, I know these are some things I could’ve done. I could’ve done this and this and this, but the fact of the matter is, it was my boss that did all this stuff. It was the franchise that I worked for. It’s all this stuff.” And then that becomes the story. It’s not this.
This is the story. Or it’s like, “You know, I know I was out with those people, and I maybe shouldn’t have been. But man, I didn’t know we were getting arrested with all the stuff that was in the car. And I didn’t think this would happen or whatever. And this is the problem, man. If it wouldn’t have been for that guy. If it wouldn’t have been for that. If it wouldn’t have been for this. This is the problem.” Or, you know, “Man, my ex. Man, I mean, yeah, I probably said a few things I shouldn’t have said along the way.
But, man, if he went after that little hot little thing, and if it wouldn’t have been that, and it wouldn’t have been this. None of my life wouldn’t been that way, and the kids wouldn’t have turned out this way. And all of that stuff.” And as long as that’s your story, you’re never ever ever going to own it. Because it’s all about everybody else’s fault, not what you contributed. And it’s only when this becomes this that we start to own it.
I’m going to give you an example here, because this is important. Anybody ever go shopping? This is my shopping cart right here. Big shout-out to CVS in Osprey. The manager, Mike, I walked in and said, “Hey, can I borrow a shopping cart?”
He’s like, “What?”
I’m like, “No, I want to borrow a shopping cart. I’m not going to tear it up. I’m going to use it for a prop.”
He looked at me, and he goes, “You know, for some reason I just have misplaced faith in you. You’re welcome to use the shopping cart.”
I’m like, “Yes! Fantastic.” So, I go pick it up on Saturday. I’m putting it in the back of my car, and some older people are walking in. They’re like, “Look at that kid. He’s stealing a cart. Look at the kid.”
I’m like, “Yeah, I’m a pastor…of disaster.”
So, do you ever go shopping, and your wife’s like, “Hey, man. Chip, could you go get like, some diapers, and some bread, and some milk.” And it’s like 9 o’clock at night and you’re hungry. Get some donuts, and ding dongs, and Twinkies, and cookies, and macaroni and cheese, Stauffer’s, and pizzas.
And you get home and she’s like, “What…What did you do?” You know, you’re like, “I went shopping.”
It’s like, whatever. But have you ever noticed something, this is really sort of interesting, you ever notice that whatever’s in your cart, when you get to checkout you have to pay for it? You’re laughing right now, but hold on. This is the cart of our life. And what happens is, this. “Man, that friend of mine. If he wouldn’t have done me wrong. That business that we got involved in. Or that night we were out, if he wouldn’t have done those things, I wouldn’t be in the situation that I’m in.”
And it goes into the cart of life. And then it becomes, “No, it has nothing to do with the way I ran my finances at all. I know my credit cards were maxed out, and I know I was driving a car. But the economy got involved, and it was the president that did this. Or the congress that did this. The economy fell and when it fell, that’s what wrecked me. If that wouldn’t have happened, my life wouldn’t be where it’s at.” Here’s a big box. My ex. Get you some of this box right here, okay? “If my ex wouldn’t have done this. If he wouldn’t have done that,” or, “If she wouldn’t have done this, the kids wouldn’t have ended up this way or that way. Or this wouldn’t have happened.”
And it goes into the cart of life. And then it becomes my boss. “If my boss wouldn’t have done this. If my boss wouldn’t have acted that way. If my boss wouldn’t have done this, I wouldn’t be where I’m at.” And it’s into the cart of life. And another big one. My parents.
“If my mom and dad would’ve been better. If they wouldn’t have raised me this way. If they wouldn’t have divorced. If they wouldn’t have done this. If they wouldn’t have done that.” And it’s into the cart of life. More things could go in here. Jonah put God in here. He was mad at God. What happens is, we go through life, and every interaction we have in our life, we view through the lens of our cart of all the things we’ve never owned.
And I know some of you are thinking, you’re going, “But you don’t understand. You don’t know what went on in my life.” Listen, I’m not saying that nothing ever happens to you that you have no control over. I’m just saying that the majority of things that happen in your life that we convince ourselves that we have no control over, we did. At some point we could’ve made different decisions. And even if we had no control over it, we still have the responsibility to change the way we react to those things.
And so we go through life, and here is the tough part about the shopping cart is that, what’s in our cart is what we pay for at checkout. You start that new relationship and it’s checkout time, because all this stuff is in your cart. You go buy that new house, and all this stuff is in your cart. You start that new thing, it’s in your cart. What’s in your cart is what you pay for at checkout. You pay for all these things that are in here. And what happens is, we make decisions based on all this stuff that we didn’t own, and we make really bad decisions.
And we continue to make bad decisions. And we continue to make bad decisions because we are not owning our part of it. Now, here’s the great truth, church. This is the awesome truth. This is the big get out of jail free card is this right here. It’s that God’s looking for every reason to deliver us. This is what’s awesome. See, Jonah prays a half-baked prayer, but God is right there to deliver him. He’s right there.
And what I would like to encourage you all to do today is, look at your cart. Look at those things in your life where you’ve got the stories of where it’s everybody else’s fault. Everybody else’s stuff. Look in the cart and be honest with yourself. Say, “God, yeah, you know what? There are some things I could’ve done differently. I could’ve reacted differently. I could’ve made that decision differently. I could’ve. But, God I’m sort of struggling. I mean, I don’t know where to start. And I’m not quite sure what to do. This is a pretty big cart.” Listen, that’s all God’s looking for. All He’s looking for is to you to take a step forward. All He’s wanting you to do is to take that step forward. Because that step forward will change so many things in your life.
But what I want for you is, I want the same that I want for me. I don’t want us making bad decisions. I want us to make decisions that really are life-changing. That really bring life. That are life-giving decisions. But the fact of the matter is, until we take some responsibility, and it’s so easy to play the Adam and Eve game.
“But it’s this, it’s that, it’s this, it’s that, it’s this, it’s that.” But the reality is, the majority of things in our life, when we look back, we had a mom or a dad that said, “Don’t do this.” Or we had a friend that said, “That’s a bad decision.” Or some friends that said, “Don’t go out with her.” Or, “Don’t do this.” Or, “Hey, don’t smoke this or drink this, because it could affect something down the road.” And we didn’t listen. And then we look back and go, “Well, I can’t believe this happened.”
But the reality is, and as hard as it is for us all to swallow, I can’t believe that it didn’t happen sooner. Because we just didn’t take some responsibility for the things that we should take responsibility for. But the good thing is, God is looking for every reason to deliver you. Let it start today. Let it start right now.
Say, “God, I don’t even know where to start. I’ve got this stuff in my life, and you know what? It’s true. Probably some things I could’ve done differently. Probably some choices that I could’ve made differently. I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how to unwind it. I just need You to come and help me.” And you know what? I can tell you something about God. He will.
Maybe you’re here today, and you don’t know why you’re here, you just showed up. But you’re here because what God wants you to know is, He wants to be a God that can restore things to you. He wants to bring things back into your life. He doesn’t want you to have a lack of interest. He wants you to be focused. he wants you to live a life that has abundance. And it doesn’t mean that everything is going to go rose, and butterflies, and rainbows, and nothing will ever go wrong. But what I can tell you is this. A life with God, and following what He’s asked us to do, and taking responsibility is a far better life than when we don’t do those things.
So, let’s pray.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We come to You right now as a church, and we just pause for a moment to reflect upon Your goodness. Lord, right now in this sanctuary, right now in South Africa, right now in the Philippines, and all of the other states that watch via the internet and the mobile app, I pray that everybody who is right now listening to this and hearing this would stop what they’re doing and just take a moment and say, “God, here’re some things I need to own.” Your Heavenly Father’s not going to beat you up. He’s not going to tell you that you’re no good.
He’s going to say, “Thank you for turning to Me. I’m a loving Father. I want to help you. Let’s work on this together.” God, right now, minister to Your people. Minister to Your people. Bring them peace and joy. Bring them abundance. For Your glory, and for Your honor. Lord, even though we went down. Even though we’ve been swallowed, Lord, bring us back up. Put us back out on dry ground. Let us start again anew and afresh.
Let us take some responsibility right now. Let’s own it. And let’s watch You work. So, Lord, I pray that as we walk out of here today, I pray that you would lead and guide us. You would direct us. I pray, God, that You would continue to help us to be the lights that You’ve called us to be here in the Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton areas. I pray, God, that You would bring us back safely to when we meet again. We thank you for the great things that You’re doing in our lives, and what You’re going to continue to do. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “Amen.” Have a fantastic day. God bless everybody.