Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque.
We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world. We do this with one another through worship, by the word, to the world.
Lord God, we come before you right now with expectant hearts, Lord, anticipating you to move in this place, believing that you will speak to us in this place because you promised that you would. Lord, where two or three are gathered, you are here, God. And we believe that you're here. We believe that you have a real and relevant word for us that can apply to our lives right now where we're at.
And so Lord, I pray for everyone in this room. I pray that you'd open hearts and minds, Lord, that if there's sin that needs to be convicted, God, that you would convict us of sin. Lord, where we need encouragement you would encourage us, Lord. And that all of us together as a body of Christ, as Calvary Albuquerque, that you would send us out, Lord. You would prepare and equip us for the work and the task ahead. In Jesus' name we pray. And everyone who agreed said Amen.
You can turn in your Bibles to Jonah. We're going to be covering and skimming over chapters 1 and 2 tonight for a message that I've titled, "You Can Still Make It." "You Can Still Make It."
Maybe you're here tonight, and you feel like you can't make it. Maybe you're here tonight, and you feel like you've gone too far. You've fallen too low. You've ran away. And you feel like there's no hope. You feel like you can't make it. I want you to know tonight that you can still make it. You're never too far from God.
Let me ask you a question. Have you ever tried to run from God and His will for your life? Anyone ever try to run from God? He asked you to do something that was uncomfortable, and you tried to run away from it. Isn't that a crazy idea? Just even the concept, right, to run away from God-- like that's going to work. It's kind of like trying to run away from the Tyrannosaurus Rex in Jurassic Park. Man, you've only got little legs and that T Rex has a lot bigger legs than you. You're not going to get away from that thing.
A lot of times we think we can run from God. Maybe you've been in a place in your life where you thought you had a better plan than God did. Maybe it was certain truths that were in the scripture that you didn't want to follow. Anyone ever read one of those verses that had hit you at your core, and you said, man, I just don't want to do that one. Yeah?
One of those quiet times that you wish that you wouldn't have had but you know you needed to have? One of those moments, maybe the calling of God on your life to do something. Maybe God was calling you to an incredible adventure, to a new platform, a new place, a new plan for your life, and it was scary. The concept of failure in the face of that incredible promise of God was frightening.
It might have even been a calling to serve Him, but you said no. Why are we, as human beings, like that? What is it in our understanding, in our feeble human minds, that makes us think that we know better than God? I don't get it.
Maybe it's because we have a warped concept of His nature and His purpose. See, I think that a lot of people treat God like they treat their parents. And they grew up being told by their parents to do things or to not do things. And so they have this anti-authority mindset. And man, this generation has this anti-authority mindset.
All you've got to do is look at the elections this year. And you see a rising wave of people who have this anti-authoritarian concept. We don't want to be told what to do. And so what happens is we take this view that we have of our parents, this view that we have of the government, this view that we have of the establishment, and we relate that to God. And we act as though God is this evil, authoritarian figure who just wants to keep us from having fun, who just wants to keep us from good things. And so we run away from God.
I remember when I was a little kid, I used to always think that I knew better than my parents. Can anyone relate to that? Maybe you've got to go back far, think back far. Maybe you have kids right now, and they always think that they know better. I know my kid, Seth, always thinks he knows better than Dad. He always thinks he has a better answer.
But I used to always think I knew better than my parents. They'd say, hey, Nate, don't pet that barking, angry dog. And I'm sitting there thinking, no way. They just want to keep me from petting a cuddly, beautiful man's best friend. Proceed to pet. Bite, bite, bite. Bleed, bleed, bleed. Cry, cry, cry. Right?
Any time we think we know better, it never really ends well. And one of the things that scripture tells us about God is that God is good. And I think we need to have this premise in our minds before we go any further, because as God is calling us to things, as God is calling us out, just like that song said, into deeper waters, although it can be scary, although we think we might sink, although we can have a million reasons why we shouldn't do it, what we have to remember is that God is good. God is good.
So you now what that means? God will never ask you to do something that isn't good. God will never ask you to do something that's contradictory to His word, to the promises that He has for your life. God is good.
The Psalms frequently point out this great truth. Psalm 106:1 and 107:1 says, oh give thanks to the Lord for He is-- frightening? No, good. For He is good. David said, taste and see that the Lord is good.
And maybe for you, God was misrepresented to you somewhere in your life. Maybe you had a bad experience in church. Maybe you had Christians that didn't act like Christians. Maybe you had human beings that just acted like human beings.
Maybe you had a father who mistreated you. Maybe you had a father who abused you. Maybe your father wasn't even there for you. Maybe your parents were divorced, and you didn't grow up with a father in your life. And you sort of transferred this to God, who is often referred to as a Father. And so you hear, Heavenly Father, but all you have when you think of father is all this baggage that you carry around, because you didn't have a good father. You didn't have a father.
And so you have a really hard time understanding and accepting and reaching out to this idea that there's a Father in heaven who loves you. You need to know that this father in heaven, He is good, and His plans for you are thoughts of peace, not of evil, to give you a future, and a hope, and He will never leave you or forsake you.
Even if earthly fathers, even if earthly people have left you or forsake you, even though man always fails, God never will. God loves you. God has plans for you.
Now, this is where it gets cool. Not only is God good, but the Bible tells us that God also is love. Doesn't say that God loves us. It says that God is good. And it says that God is love. So I want you to capture this dichotomy that God is good and that God is love, not merely that He has loved or even that He is loving, but He, himself, is love.
Now put this into context. Your Father, who is in heaven, is good. And He loves you. One without the other alters the view. You can have a father who is good but doesn't love you. Like, I've heard that Brad Pitt's a good father. I don't know if he is. I've just heard that he is, that he's a good father.
But that doesn't mean anything to me, because Brad Pitt doesn't love me. So Brad Pitt could be a great father, but it's meaningless to me, because he doesn't know me. And so if I ever met Brad Pitt, it wouldn't be like, oh, man, hey, tell me what you want me to do with my life. He doesn't care, because he doesn't love me. He doesn't know me. He's good, maybe, but he doesn't love me.
Now, on the split side, you can love someone and not be good. And that love can kind of become meaningless. If you're not a good person, it doesn't matter if, when you get married, you love your husband or wife. If you're not good, and you don't do good things, and don't set in place good practices and good habits and do good things to one another, it doesn't matter how much you love that person, eventually the relationship will deteriorate because love and goodness have to be combined to make that relationship successful.
So God is love. And God is good. And so, again, when we talk about God calling us to do things, God is never going to call you to do something bad. God's always going to call you do something good. The plans that He has for you of good, not of evil to give you a future and a hope. And He loves you.
So you can trust that when He calls you into those things that might seem scary, that might seem counterintuitive, not only is He good, but also He loves you. And so that means He's not just going to call you out there, He's going go out there with you. He's going to be there with you in the storm. He's going to be there with you in the trials and the temptations.
Today, we have a Hollywood version of love. And it's very shallow. It's closer to lust than anything else. Or we believe that love has limits or that love must be reciprocated for it to continue. The number-one thing that I hear in relationships is that if they just did a better job at doing what they were supposed to do, then I would too. It's a reciprocated love.
God's love is not reciprocated. God's love is unchanging. God's love is consistent. God's love is inexhaustible. The Bible says, God demonstrated His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God's love is inexhaustible. That means, Christian, it doesn't matter how far you've fallen, how far you've run, how far you've gone. There's always a second chance, a second opportunity with God.
Now, I think this is really important for us to grasp tonight, because we've had two weeks of looking at some really good people. We've had two weeks in summer heat looking at some people who really never melted. They just made it. They just did good things. The Bible doesn't tell us anything negative about them. We look at their life and say, man, I'd love to emulate those guys, but I can't really relate to those guys.
Tonight, we're going to look at somebody who messed up, somebody who fell, somebody who wasn't the cream of the crop, somebody who, God told them to do something, and they did the opposite. And yet they still, at the end of their life, made it. They still accomplished what God wanted them to accomplish. They were still used by God. And the message tonight is that you can still make it. Even if you're in the belly of a whale, you can still make it.
There's one more thing I want you to know about God. God is good. God is love.
--Aslan. And when Susan hears about the lion, she asks in somewhat of an alarmed tone, well, is he safe? I mean, you guys were talking about this lion, but I know what lions look like. Is he safe? And Mr. Beaver replies by saying, of course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the king.
Christian, you need to know God is not safe. God wants us to change and to be better. He is good. He is love. But He is not safe. You can't expect to come into His presence and stay the way you are. You can't expect to be around Aslan and not be called sometimes to do things that don't feel safe. Because He is not safe. But He is good. We can't expect to become a Christian and come into the realm of God and not be changed, and not just a spiritual change as he transforms your life, but also a change in your direction.
That is what we've talked about before, sanctification, altering what you're doing, altering the way that you're going, altering the plans for your life. I've known tons of people that had a plan laid out for their lives, only to come to Jesus and have them all change. And for a lot of people, that's scary. For a lot of people, that's where their relationship with God ends, when they realize the trajectory and the plans that they've had for their life can no longer go forward because of their relationship with God, and they walk away from God.
Maybe they come to God, and they're in a relationship with somebody, living in the person's house, living with the person, not married, an ungodly relationship. And they're happy to come to God, but when they find out that, man, it's wrong for me to be in this relationship, and in order to continue walking with God, I've got to give up this relationship, it's too much for them. And they walk away. That's the nail in the coffin.
But when God brings change into our lives, we have two choices. We can either run with it, or we can run from it. Jonah, like so many people today, foolishly ran from God. God told him to get up and go to the Ninevites, who, by the way, were the arch enemy of Israel. It would be like God telling you, hey, get up and go to ISIS and go preach the Gospel to them. Find them where they are, find their hideout, go in there by yourself, and boldly proclaim the name of Jesus Christ.
And Jonah was like, yeah, no. No, thanks. I'll pass. Even if I don't die, I don't really want those people to get saved.
It blows my mind to see how Christians respond, especially in our day and age of terrorism. It broke my heart to see, during the 9/11 attacks of 2001 that Christians were saying things like, man, I hope that those terrorists are burning in hell. I hope that those terrorists are suffering in hell for what they did. Look, it's one thing to stand for justice, but it's another thing to wish hell and condemnation on people, to wish people to have an eternity separated from God.
But that mentality that so many Christians have today is the mentality that Jonah had about Nineveh. And so he got up and went the wrong direction. Instead of going 500 miles northeast to Nineveh, Jonah attempts to go 2,000 miles west to Tarshish, as far away as he possibly could.
In this series, we ask the question, will the heat melt you or make you? And we've looked at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And we saw that when the heat of the crowd got turned up, they rose through the crowd, and they made it in the furnace. They were thermostats, not thermometers. And instead of burning up, they turned on the AC. And we saw the difference that just a few people can make.
And then in our last message, we looked at Daniel. And if you remember, we said that Daniel had an excellent spirit. And we saw the he lived purely and he lived purposefully. He made the right decisions throughout his life. And God blessed and honored him. And when the lions of life roared, Daniel roared louder. When he experienced persecution, it didn't drive him from the Lord. It drove him to the Lord. We saw that there is strength in the pack. And although it's scary hearing the roars of the other pack, we can't let that trick us into straying away.
Well, tonight, we're going to look at a man who melted under the heat. The heat got turned up into his life, and he melted. He didn't even come close to making it. He simply melted, pretty much instantly. As we read this passage, literally, in the first couple verses, he's already melted. It wasn't even like a debate in his mind, like, man, what should I do? He's like, no, I'm not going to do what you said, God, like right away. He melted instantly.
But God offered him a second chance, and he rose up and he made it, a man who didn't have a spotless record like Daniel or Joseph or Rach, Shach, and Benny. And maybe you look at those guys, and you saw them last week, and you said, man, those were great truths. But as I look at those people's lives, from the time when they were young until they were old, they followed and walked with God.
I don't have that same story. Man, I've messed up. I've already melted in my life. So although it's nice to see someone who didn't, what about those of us who have? What about those of us who don't have it all together? What about those of us who are messed up? What about those of us who, when the world says stop praying, we say, OK, I'll be quiet now.
What about us? Is there hope for us? Is there a future for us? We're going see a man who made some mistakes but who learned from them, a man who got a second chance. I think it's so important for us to look at guys like Jonah, because sometimes, we get this idea that all the guys in the Bible were flawless, that they were these perfect individuals.
Now, there are guys that lived upright, guys like Daniel and guys like Joseph. But there's only a couple. There's only a few. Pretty much everyone in the Bible, no matter how great they were, has at least a few passages that show us their humanity, show us, man, they had some stuff going on. And while we, again, should try to emulate their life, it's hard to relate to their life.
And in this series, we ask the question, again, will the heat melt you or make you? And maybe you look at your life right now, and you feel like you've already melted. You can't relate to Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And you wonder if God can still use you. And you say, is there a chance that I can still make it? If that's the case, then you're going to be able to relate to Jonah.
And tonight, we're going to see that God gave him a second chance. And he'll give you one as well. And even if you've already melted, you can make it. Let's look at Jonah chapter 1, verse 1 through 17 for the first chunk of our text.
Now, the word of the Lord came to Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying, arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it. For the wickedness has come up before me.
Look at verse 3. Already, we see Jonah's response. But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea. And there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. Then the mariners were afraid. And every man cried out to his God and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had laid down, and was fast asleep. How he was sleeping, I don't know.
So the captain came to him and said to him, what do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God. Perhaps your God will consider us so that we may not perish. And they said to one another, come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.
Then they said to him, please tell us, for whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you? So he said to them, I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.
Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, why have you done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of Lord, because he had told them. Then they said to him, what shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us, for the sea was growing more tempestuous. And he said to them, pick me up, and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that this great tempest is because of me.
Nevertheless, the men rode hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them. Therefore, they cried out to the Lord and said, we pray, oh, Lord, please do not let us perish for this man's life. And do not charge us with the innocent blood, for you, oh, Lord, have done as it pleased you.
So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea. And the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows. Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
This is the story of a man with a mission, a man given a job to do, and yet he refused to do it, a man who tried to run from God and found very quickly that it was impossible. You know what I love about this story? It gets right into the meat of it. It's not like one of those movies that takes an hour and a half to get to the plot line of the movie, and then you're like, oh, that's what's happening. Now I get it. It gets right to it.
God says, hey, Jonah, go to Nineveh. He's like, no. I'm going to Tarshish. He runs away. He gets thrown off a boat and eaten by a whale, all in the first chapter. Man, this is a blockbuster. This is like The Avengers. This is a multimillion-dollar movie in the making.
It's also a story, though, of God's long suffering and His patience, God's willingness to forgive those who stop running from Him and instead run to Him. It's easy to look at this and say, Jonah, dude, you should have just done what God said. You should have just said, OK, Lord, I trust you. You came and told me what you want me to do. I'm going to listen. And I'm going to do what you've called me to do.
But we shouldn't be too hard on Jonah. After all, we, as Christians, have been given our marching orders from Jesus himself. Jesus told us, as Christians, to go into the world and preach the Gospel. And the verb used for go is a command. Just like God commanded Jonah, do you know that God commanded you to go into the world to preach the Gospel and to make disciples of all men?
And I wonder how many Christians in the church today, how many Christians in the boat today aren't doing what God has called them to do? How many of us are following God's orders? Let me ask you a question. How are you serving God? You say, well, I play my Xbox unto the Lord. My sports jersey is number one because there's only one way to heaven. All my Pokemon in Pokemon Go, I named after disciples.
How are you practically serving Jesus Christ? Are you involved in God's ministry? And you say, well, yeah. I'm here right now, aren't I? Yeah, this can be considered serving in a ministry about as much as watching TV can be considered a chore. Going to church isn't serving God in ministry. What area are you serving? In what area are you involved in? What ministry are you a part of? What impact are you making upon the great commission?
Look at verse 3 of Jonah, chapter 1. It says in the second part, he went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. He found a ship. I don't think that this is coincidence that he found a ship. He decided that he was going to go away. He decided that he was going to go to Tarshish. He went down, and he found a ship immediately.
I want to point out Satan opened up all the doors for Jonah's disobedience, but Jonah chose to walk through them. Isn't it amazing how skilled Satan is into manipulating situations? Circumstances manipulated by the enemy can lead us in the wrong direction.
It's illegal to tamper with traffic signs, for good reason. Because you know, if there's a traffic sign that says dead end and you take that traffic sign down, and people don't know that it's a dead end, it could cause them harm. If there's a sign that says right turn only and you take that off, and somebody turns left and then they get in a head-on collision, it can hurt them significantly. Satan is the master traffic-sign tamperer. He loves going into the plans and the traffic signs that God has for us and just altering them slightly, not so much that we notice, but just enough that it leads us in the wrong direction.
Sometimes when we were engaged in such activity, we might even delude ourselves into thinking that God Himself is opening the doors. You know how Christians say, oh, man, God just opened the door for me and my girlfriend to live together. I don't think that was God. I don't think that was God who opened that door. I think you might be following the wrong traffic signs.
It's interesting that with the passing of hundreds of years, we still make the same mistakes that Jonah did. Man doesn't want to do something that is the will of God, and so he tries to run from it. It's the story of the age.
Question-- are you running from God right now? Do you know of something that is the will of God for your life, and yet you're running from it? Maybe it feels like everywhere you turn, there are constant reminders of your need for Him. Maybe you've been thinking a lot lately about death and the meaning of life.
Or maybe at one time you knew the Lord, as a younger person. You had a relationship with God. But you've turned your back on Him. Like Jonah, you've run from Him. I want you to know that even though you might have turned your back on God, God hasn't turned his back on you. And no matter what you've done, God stands ready to receive and to forgive you tonight.
Again, maybe you relate your relationship to God with the relationship that you have with your parents. And because your parents turned their back on you, you've turned your back on God. I want you to know tonight, God loves you, even if the world doesn't. God forgives you, even if your parents don't. God longs for you, even if you're estranged from the people within your life. God still loves you. God still cares for you. And there's still a place at His table for you.
Jonah 3:1 contains one of the greatest statements in all scripture. We're not going to actually get to it tonight in our text, but Jonah 3:1 has one of the most beautiful passages. It says, now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah a second time. Do you see how beautiful that is? And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah a second time.
God gave Jonah a second chance. This gives hope to every one of us who needs a second chance or a third or a fourth. If God asked you to do something and you didn't do it, don't worry. God's going to ask you again, and again, and again.
But don't get too comfortable to say no. Because the more we say no, the more we say no and God keeps asking, eventually we harden ourselves to where we no longer hear his voice. That's what Matthew talks about as the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit job is to convict a sinner of sin, to ask, to ask, to ask. But when we push the Holy Spirit away for so long, eventually we stop hearing His voice, and eventually the Holy Spirit stops asking.
The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is simply a human being saying for the entirety of their life no to God, not allowing the Holy Spirit to convict the sinner of sin and accept Jesus Christ. And that's unforgivable. The only sin that can't be forgiven is unconfessed sin. So don't get too comfortable saying no. But understand that if you have said no before, it's not the end for you. God's asking again. God's asking tonight, are you ready to follow me?
Even if you've melted under the weight of life, you can still make it. Look at verse 3 again. So it says, he found a ship going to Tarshish. And he paid the fare. And he went down into it. Its says that he paid the fare. He went on the ship and he paid the fare.
And here's the concept here. Know this-- your sin will ultimately cost you something. Adam's sin cost him paradise. David's sin cost him his family and his reputation. Sampson's sin ultimately cost him his life. What is your sin costing you?
And you say, well, nothing. I'm sinning. I'm doing things that I know I shouldn't do, but I'm fine. Everything's OK in my life. I look at so many kids today drinking, smoking, doing drugs, having sex, thinking that they're somehow indestructible. And then I think of the people that I've known in my life who've been stuck in that kind of a lifestyle. And I want to tell you there's not a single one of them who's still happy. There's not a single one of them who hasn't had those vices wreak havoc upon their lives. You can see the physical toll that it takes, including alcoholism, addiction, broken marriages, estranged children.
If you've been stuck in sin for a while, you know that. You know the pain that you feel each morning that you wake up, trying to live for yourself, trying to make yourself happy. You know the exhaustion that you feel, feeling like you just can't do it anymore, like no matter how hard you try, you just can't find the answer. You just can't find the satisfaction.
You know the feeling of wanting to cry yourself to sleep at night because you feel like no one really loves you, no one really cares for you. They all just want something from you. You know the feeling that at times you just wish that this life would end.
And maybe you've tried to end your life. Maybe you've tried to commit suicide. Maybe you've thought about committing suicide. You know, that's the biggest epidemic of our day and age. More people die by suicide than by car accidents. People despair of even life itself, as the Bible says.
But you don't think about that when you're young. You don't think about that when sin first brings its ploy to you, brings its proposition to you. Ecclesiastes 11:9 says, be happy, young man, while you are young. And let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things, God will bring you judgment. Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, I find no pleasure in them.
So my message to you is, hey, all those things in your life that you think are going to make you happy, do them if you're willing to pay the consequence. That ship that's setting sail the opposite direction that God is calling you in, go ahead and get on it. But be ready to pay the fare. Because it'll cost you something. Even if you don't think it will, it will cost you something. And it doesn't mean that God won't forgive you for it, but it'll still cost you. See, God is forgiving, but there's still consequences to sin.
Many people find that true in marriages. They go into a marriage, and they get a divorce, and they go into another marriage. And God forgives them, but they still have consequences and baggage that they've got to deal with from having had multiple marriages. People get pregnant out of wedlock, and God forgives them, but they still have to experience the consequences, still have to pay the fare for that sin within their life.
People get addicted to drugs, and God forgives them. But they've got to wrestle for the rest of their life with that addiction, with that knowledge that at any moment, in the right circumstances, they could fall back into that sin. There are consequences for sin, even though God is forgiving of sin.
God warns us repeatedly in the pages of scripture that our sin will find us out. A person can mock God and take His name in vain over and over again, but the Bible warns, don't be deceived. God is not mocked. In the very Ten Commandments that warn us to not take the Lord's name in vain, taking His name in vain not only includes using the name of God as a swear word, but it also speaks of using His name in an insincere manner. Maybe you talk about how much you love the Lord, how much you love God, and yet you willingly, continually contradict what His word says.
Jesus asks, why do you say Lord, Lord, and not do the things that I say? I wonder if that was God's heart and sentiment towards Jonah. Jonah, why do you call me Lord, Lord? Isn't it incredible there in chapter 1, when the people ask what God he serves, and all of a sudden he becomes like this bold prophet and this bold preacher? Like, oh, man, I serve God. And He controls-- and he's all of a sudden this bold evangelist, when, man, just five versus ago, he was putting his tail between his legs and running to Tarshish 2,000 miles away.
I wonder if God was like, man, Jonah, why do you call me Lord and yet not do what I say? I would say that that's one way to use His name in vain. Another person might run from God by having sex before marriage or with someone besides their spouse after they're married or living in a homosexual lifestyle. But the Bible warns that for those sins we'll pay.
Revelations 21:8 says, but the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable murderers, sexually amoral, drug users, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. Now, I'm not saying that to be fire and brimstone preacher. I'm just reading a passage of the Bible to you, and a realization and understanding that there are consequences for sin.
You might get drunk or high on drugs and think that you'll never pay. Well, first of all, you'll pay in the damage those things will bring to your own life, those powerful and destructive vices. God gives us these warnings about alcohol and its effects in Proverbs. Speaking of its devastating power, Proverbs 22:32 through 35 says, in the end, it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things and your mind imagine confusing things. What a great description, right?
Today, we no longer look at alcoholism as a sin or even a vice. It's now a disease. Call it what you want, but God says, do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God. Make no mistake about it, sin will cost.
Proverbs 26:27 says if a man digs a pit, he will fall into it. You ever heard of the old adage, you're digging your own grave? That's where it comes from. If we dig a pit, we're going to fall into it. It continues and says, if a man roles a stone, it will roll back on him.
Look at verse 4. But the Lord. But the Lord. This is where it kind of turns around a little bit. But the Lord. This is one of those great but God statements. We can do what we want. We can go the direction we want to go. We can choose to follow or not follow God. But the Lord will always come back and remind us from where we've fallen. Isn't it wonderful that God always has the last word?
You know, this is the first step to making it after you've melted. The first thing you need to do to make it is to, number one, accept the discipline. Accept the discipline. You know, we're talking about the fare, the price to pay for sin, simply to understand that discipline from God is not a bad thing.
Discipline from God is a good thing, because the fact that God disciplines us now, here on Earth, to get us to turn from our sin, means that in the future, we're not going to have to be disciplined by God when we stand before Him on Judgment Day, because we've turned from our sin. The reason God disciplines us, the reason God corrects us, isn't just to be mean. It's to get us to stop doing the bad thing and start doing the good thing.
Who has kids? Who's ever been a kid? Discipline is one of the most important and vital things in any parent-kid relationship. Hebrews 12 says, whom the Lord loves, He chastens. I would say the same is true with parents. Man, if you love your kids, you discipline your kids.
First, God tried the staff. And now he tries the rod, not to destroy Jonah, but to teach him a lesson. David says, before I was afflicted, I went astray. But now I have kept your word, implying that because he was afflicted, he keeps his word. David knew what he was talking about, because he sinned against God, and it took an entire year before it caught up with him, when finally the prophet Nathaniel said, you are the man, David. You're the man. You're the one guilty of this sin.
And here, we find Jonah being dealt with immediately. Know this-- the consequences for sin might be immediate, like they were with Jonah. Do you realize that you don't have to be addicted to drugs to overdose on drugs? A lot of people overdose on drugs the very first time they do it. A lot of people have sex for the first time and end up pregnant. A lot of people cheat on their taxes and get caught the first time by the IRS.
You don't have to be doing it for a long time before the consequences catch up to you. But you could do it for a long time before they catch up to you. Either way, whether it's immediately, or whether it's a year later, like David, ultimately it will catch up. So although God may let a believer's disobedience go for some time, He will eventually chasten the believer if he doesn't confess of his own sin.
Can I just say that we as Christians should be thankful for God and His loving discipline? Have you ever thanked God for His discipline in your life? Have you ever thanked Him for letting your sin be found out? What would happen in your life if you started viewing the discipline of God as a blessing, not a curse?
Levi Lusko said when he was here, nobody likes discipline, but nobody wants to be undisciplined, right? Discipline is something that we prize in our culture. Man, if you're a disciplined person, you can get up at 5 o'clock. Nelson gets up at 4 o'clock every morning to go work out. Holy cow. I can't even imagine that. That's discipline. That's prized. That's esteemed.
If you can be disciplined in every day that you come home from work, read your Bible, take the dog on a walk, cook dinner. Those are things, little things in life, but they require discipline. Nobody wants to be an undisciplined person. And the same is true with kids. If we don't discipline our kids, what happens? Well, they grow up to be undisciplined adults. Discipline is important.
No one likes discipline. But it's important. Could you imagine if you let your kids get away with everything and do anything? What kind of kids do you think they'd turn out to be? Could you imagine if God let us get away with everything and do anything? What kind of Christians do you think we'd turn out to be? So thank God for His discipline.
Look at verse 5. It says in verse 5 that every man cried out to his God. See each and every one of these guys had their own little God. They had an emergency religion. When things weren't going well, they called out to God. But when the ship was sailing smooth and everything was OK, they didn't heed him. They didn't follow their God. They didn't pray to their God. It was just something that they did when they needed their God.
And then it continues on. It says that they cried out to their God. And then they threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten the load. Again, I see another important principle here. How insignificant are things when eternity is at stake?
You know, they were merchants. The cargo that they were carrying was their livelihood. If they didn't get to Tarshish with their cargo, they didn't get anything. It was a trip wasted. They were going to go home without food for their family. And yet when eternity was at stake, when their lives were at stake, that cargo didn't mean anything. It was gone. They didn't care about that cargo. All they wanted to do was make it.
Jesus said, what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and yet loses his soul? So know in your quest, no matter what you think you're going to get from sin, is it worth it? Is it worth sinking to the bottom of the ocean?
Look at verse 7 to 10. And they said to one another, come let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us. So they cast lots, and they fell on Jonah. And they said to him, please tell us for whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? What are your people?
And then Jonah preaches for a second. And then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, why have you done this? These men knew that sin-- even if they were pagans, they knew this sin results in judgment. That was one thing that they had in common in their belief of God. Pagan beliefs in that time were of very vindictive deities that would do things to you if you didn't do what they wanted you to do.
And so they had this realization, this understanding that sin results in judgment and that one's personal sin affects other people's personal sins. Look, if you cheat on your wife, it doesn't just affect you. It affects your wife, and it affects your kids. If you get addicted to drugs and you die, it doesn't just affect you. It affects all those around you.
Sin doesn't just affect us. And so people all the time say, well, what does it matter? I'm not hurting anybody. Yeah, not yet. What's going to happen when your sin catches up to you? Maybe you're not hurting anyone now, but sin always affects those who are around it. So when you're thinking about the things that you're doing in life, don't just think about yourself. Think about the people that you love. Think about the people that care for you.
And then it says that they casted lots. Now, the casting of lots was a very common custom in Old Testament times. And basically, it was like drawing straws or drawing a name out of a hat. They said, hey, let's put 10 names in the hat, and whichever one we pull out, that's the guy who's guilty. It's a great court justice system.
And yet God providentially directed it. Got providentially used it so that the lot fell on Jonah. Do you realize that God can use things in the world, natural things in the world, the court system, the justice in the world. Even though it might not be right, even though might not be righteous, God can use commonplace things in the world in order to enact His justice.
Look at verse 8. They ask him a simple question. Why? Sorry, verse 10. Why have you done this? It says they were exceedingly afraid. And they said to him, why have you done this?
That's a good question. When we get caught in sin, that's usually the first question that not just people have, but that we ourselves have, is, man, why? Why did I get caught up into this? Why did I find myself in this situation? Why did I find myself in this place?
And it's a good question because of the elusive glamour, the treachery of sin. Some of the problems today are a result of Christians not being the salt and the light in this world that we're supposed to be. It seems that the only view many non-believers have of us is all the things that were against, but none of the things that we're for.
I believe we need to spend less time protesting and more time preaching. After all, God told us to go into the world and preach the Gospel, not go into the world and carry a cardboard sign and protest. He said preach the Gospel. Go into the world and preach the Gospel with love, with understanding, with sincerity. Notice God's call to Jonah was to go to Nineveh, tell them they sin, but tell them that if they repented from their sin that they could be forgiven. Less time boycotting, more time blessing.
On the other hand, most of the problems in this world today, if not all of them, are not caused by Christians but really by those that reject His principles. And then ironically, they blame us. They blame God and His people when things go wrong. Like Ahab when he saw Elijah, he said to Elijah, is that you, you troubler of Israel? I have made no trouble for Israel, Elijah replied. But you and your father's family have. You have abandoned the Lord's command and have followed Baal.
In fact, it is the very presence of Christians that stops complete anarchy from breaking out on this earth. Christians today are the preserving influence. Our presence should stop the world from complete annihilation. As a matter of fact, in the Bible, when the Rapture happens, the tribulation breaks out. Literally, all hell breaks loose. We are called to be a preserving agent. We're called to be salt, to be light, to be different.
Look at verse 17 as we continue down. Verse 17-- after Jonah gets spotted out as the guy, he gets singled out, his sin catches up to him, they throw in the water. And it says in verse 17, now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. It says the Lord prepared the fish. The literal translation of the word prepared is that God ordained or God called the fish.
It's possible-- there's always speculation of what kind of fish was it that swallowed Jonah. What was it? Was it some-- I always like to think now, especially after watching Shark Week, that it was Megalodon that swallowed Jonah. No, just kidding.
But what kind of fish was it that swallowed Jonah? It's possible that God customized this whale or this large fish for Jonah. Perhaps He made something special just for that moment. Or it could have been something like a sperm whale.
A word about a sperm whale-- according to a study done by the Encyclopedia Britannica, an average sperm whale can have a mouth 20 feet long, 15 feet high, and 9 feet wide. To give you perspective, that mouth would be larger than most rooms in an average size house.
The structure of the sperm whale and the sperm whale's habits, coming up for air every so often and coming back down, because it's got to breathe oxygen, would allow for a man to be swallowed alive and after a time, vomited up again, and allow him to remain alive for two or three days within the whale.
Sperm whales feed largely on squid, which are often much larger than a man. And whalers have often times found whole squid of this size in a dead whale's stomach. So it's possible for him to survive in a whale. Now, it would have been hot. It would have been about 105 to 108 degrees and really humid, completely and utterly dark and smelly.
You know, the story of Jonah and the whale is one that we've all heard since childhood. And it's also one that many people would describe as impossible and unbelievable. Now, I personally have no problem with the miracles of the Bible. But a lot of people want to explain away the miracles of the Bible.
But if you can believe the first verse of the Bible, everything else is cake. Genesis 1:1, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. You know, it would be like this. In the beginning, Seth Heitzig poured out the Lego blocks and put them together and made a LEGO house.
Well, if he made the LEGO house, he can do whatever he wants with it. He can pull off the pieces and make something else. He can move this piece over there. He can put the pieces on top of his bed. If he's the one who made it, he's pretty much got all the power over it.
If God made the heavens and the earth, if we can accept that, if we can believe that, and say, yeah, I can buy that, then the rest is cake. Because if He made it, It's his to do with what He wants. Not only that, did you know that this story was validated by Jesus himself? Matthew 12:39-- in response to the Pharisees' demand for a miracle, Jesus said, an evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The man of Nineveh will rise in judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and indeed, a greater than Jonah is here. So not only did Jesus validate the story of Jonah and the whale as a miracle, but He used it to illustrate His crucifixion and His Resurrection from the dead.
I want to point out one more cool thing about the whale. In 1891, a modern-day Jonah was found. It was the voyage of a whaling ship called The Star of the East, which in February spotted a large sperm whale in the vicinity of the Falkland Islands. And so two boats launched out, and in a short time, one of the harpooners was able to spear the whale. The second boat capsized. And one sailor drowned, and the other, James Bartley, was lost at sea.
Well, the whale was killed and drawn to the side of the ship. And when the blubber was removed the next day, the stomach was hoisted on deck. And when it was opened, the missing sailor, James Bartley, was found alive.
He was unconscious, but he was revived. The gastric juices had bleached his skin pure white. And his hair was pure white. He was a punk rocker before there were punk rockers. All of the hair on his body and his eyes were a light blue color, but he lived. He made it. So it's possible.
Let's move to Jonah, chapter 2, verse 1 through 10 as we close to see our second and final point. James, chapter 2, verse 1 says, then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish's belly. And he said, I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol, I cried, and you heard my voice.
For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me. All your billows and your waves passed over me. Then I said, I have been cast out of your sight, yet I will look again toward your holy temple. The water surrounded me, even to my soul. The deep closed around me. Weeds were wrapped around my head.
I went down to the moorings of the mountains, the Earth with its bars closed behind me forever. Yet you brought me up my life from the pit, oh, Lord, my God. With my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord. And my prayer went up to you into your holy temple.
Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice to you. With the voice of thanksgiving-- here it is-- I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord. So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto the dry land.
In verse 1, it says, then Jonah prayed. And this is the second step to making it after you've melted. If you've melted under the heat of life, number one, accept the discipline. And number two, ask for direction. It says that Jonah prayed. When? After three days and three nights living inside of a whale, wrapped in seaweed, in temperatures of 108, in a stinky whale's stomach. If you think you're stubborn, look at Jonah.
Man, it would take me 10 minutes to say that prayer. Hey, Lord, I'm really sorry. If you can get me out of this whale, I'll do whatever you want. It took Jonah three days and three nights. I want you to imagine what he was thinking of during those three days. He probably thought that he had blown it so badly that there was no hope for him. There was no way that God would accept him back. He probably thought he was going to die in the whale.
Maybe that's how you feel right now. You say, well, God won't listen to my prayer. I want to repent. I want to turn. But I'm so far in this whale's belly, God won't listen to my prayer. I've blown it. I've had my shot. And now I'm stuck.
Know this-- the devil will always be there to whisper in a believer's ear that it's too late. He'll always say, you think that God will listen to you? You've gone too far. You've committed the unpardonable sin. Listen, the only sin that God can forgive is sin that you're willing to confess. And you can't commit the unpardonable sin until you make that last choice to not accept God and die and go before Him, before heaven.
But as long as you hear the message, as long as you hear the call to repent, you can be forgiven. There's always hope. There's always that opportunity. The devil tells us, you're going to die. There is no hope. Satan wants to whisper in your ear, you're not going to make it. You're going to fall away. Satan will always try to keep you from the cross. The Holy Spirit will always try to draw you to it.
So that's how you can know if it's Satan. If you have an opportunity to repent, and yet you think in your mind, I can't be forgiven. I can't go forward. I can't accept Jesus Christ. You know that's Satan. Because the Holy Spirit's not going to keep you from the cross. Only Satan will do that.
The Holy Spirit will draw you to the cross. It's that tug. It's that call that you feel in the pit of your stomach. Man, I know that I need to get my life right. I know that I need to be forgiven. I know I need to take that next step.
Verse 2 of chapter 2, he says, I cried out to the Lord. And then we get a picture, an image for the next 10 verses of the situation he was in when he cried out to the Lord. Seaweed wrapped around his head, fish slapping him in the face, the heat a stifling 105 degrees. Jonah felt like he was in hell itself. But he prayed.
There's no situation too difficult for prayer. Although Jonah had forsaken God, God had not forsaken him. The door of prayer was still open. Jonah just had to choose to walk through it, just like he had chosen to walk through the devil's door and get on that ship to Tarshish. Like the prodigal, Jonah comes to his senses.
And look at verse 9, after he describes where he was. Verse 9 is the response. I will pay what I have vowed. So number one, Jonah accepted the discipline. He accepted it. He realized that, man, I blew it. This is the consequence. This is what I deserve, being in the belly of a whale. He accepted the discipline.
But then number two, he asked for direction. He said, Lord if you'll just forgive me, I'll do what you want me to do. I'll go the direction you want me to go in. I'll follow your ways. Jonah remembered from where he had fallen. The Bible tells us to remember from where you have fallen. And look, tonight, you might not be in a whale's belly, but you might feel like it.
As we close, you might be in a difficult situation. And possibly, it's a situation that you've brought upon yourself. Maybe you're stuck in a place in life and you did it to yourself. You brought yourself to this place. Maybe you're addicted to drugs. Maybe you're pregnant out of wedlock. Maybe your marriage is falling apart. You're going through a divorce. Maybe you have AIDS.
I don't know. But you have melted. And you're in this state of being melted where you don't feel like there's any hope for you, but you can still make it. You can still rise through the heat. Accept the discipline. Ask for direction. Don't try to run from God. Instead, run to Him.
Again, He is a good, good father. He is a loving father. And even if you've been rejected by your father, even if you've been rejected by this world, by your husband, by your wife, by your kids, even if you've been rejected, He loves you. He longs for you. He will forgive you. But first, you have to admit your own sin. Be willing to turn from it.
You might be like that person I mentioned at the beginning of the message who knew God at one time. Jonah did. We don't get Jonah's backstory, but he knew God. He was a Hebrew. He believed in God. He was a prophet of God when God came and told him to get up and go.
Maybe you knew God at one time, but like Jonah, you're running from Him right now. It took a tragedy to wake him up. What is it going to take you? Man, don't wait till there's a tragedy. Turn to God now.
If this were your last night on earth, if you were to die on the way home in a car accident-- because we're not promised tomorrow. We're only promised now. And although that seems morbid, that's a realization each and every one of us has to have. Death is coming for each of us. We don't know when. All we can do is make plans for what's going to happen when that day comes.
And if that day were to come tonight or tomorrow, would you be ready to stand before God? When He asks you, hey, what did you do with my call upon your life, is your response going to be, well, I got on a ship and went to Tarshish?
Man, if you're ready to pay that toll, then that's fine. But here's the beautiful part, as we close. Jesus Christ wants to pay that toll for you. The sin that you've committed, the ship that you've set sail on, the fare that you signed up to pay, Jesus wants to come in, rescue you from that boat, and say, look, I'll pay the fare for you.
You don't have to pay the fare. I'll pay the fare for you. I'll pay the price for you. I died on the cross for you, so that your sins could be taken upon myself. He'll pay that price for you. He already did. All you have to do is accept Him. Your choice is either whether or not you're going to accept Jesus Christ and let him pay the fare or whether or not you're going to keep gambling, keep casting those lots, keep rolling with the punches, and eventually stand before God and have to pay that fare yourself.
Lord, we thank you for your word. And God, we thank you that there is hope for those who have fallen. We thank you that there is a second chance, that even if we've melted, we can still make it. But Lord, it's not easy sometimes. It takes boldness. It takes courage, Lord. We have to accept the discipline. And we have to ask for direction.
And so, Lord, tonight as we're praying, as all the eyes are closed, as heads are bowed, as the lights are dimmed, Lord, we ask you for direction. We ask you to speak to us. We ask you to challenge us. And as we're praying right now, as we have our eyes closed and our heads bowed, if you're here in this room and you feel the Holy Spirit speaking to you right now, you feel the need that you need to come to the cross. You feel that tug. You feel that call that you need to get your life right with Him.
You've tried to do it yourself, but it's not working. You're running from God. Maybe you've never had a relationship with Him. Or maybe you have, like Jonah, but you're running from Him right now, and you need to give your life back to Him. If that's you, would you just raise up your hand and say, Nate, pray for me? I need Jesus my life. Amen. Hands all across the room, in the center to the left, in the back to the left, to the center in the right, in the back to the right.
Raise up your hand if God's calling you. Don't wait till you're in stormy seas, when tragedy's there. Turn to God now. Accept the gift of eternal life. Anyone else, just raise your hand up high so I can see it. Amen. Amen.
Well, Lord, I thank you for these hands all across the room, hands acknowledging their need for you. And Lord, I pray that you would help them to get up and go, Lord, just as you called Jonah, that they wouldn't sit idly by, but they would do what you've called them to do. In your name we pray, Amen.
Hey, will you stand? I know we're a little bit over time. But as we close in this final song, I'm going to ask that if you raised your hand up and acknowledged your need for Jesus, I'm going to ask you to get up from wherever you are, come down here to the front, quickly, and say a prayer with me to accept Jesus Christ.
And you might be thinking, like a lot of people, man, I don't mind slipping my hand up and putting it back down while no one can see, but you want me to actually walk up front with people watching me to accept Jesus Christ? I do. And here's why. If you can't stand up for Jesus in a room full of people that love Him, how are you going to do it out there in a world that hates Him?
So today's your opportunity to seal your faith, to say a prayer to accept Jesus Christ, to know that when you die, you're going to go to heaven and be forgiven of your sins. So right now, we're going to sing this song, and as we do, you come. We'll wait for you. You come right now.
(SINGING) Lord, I call upon your name. And keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace. I am yours. And you are mine.
Amen. You keep coming. We'll wait for you. If God's still speaking to you right now, you get up from your seat. And maybe you're worried about what the person next to you thinks. Man, they think I'm a Christian. They think I'm a-- I invited them to church, and now I need to go forward. If God's calling you, look, it doesn't matter what the person next to you thinks. It only matters what God thinks.
The person next to you didn't die for your sins. The person next to you can't forgive you of your sins. Only Jesus Christ can do that. And are you willing to accept that gift? Man, don't get up to heaven and stand before God and say, well, I would have done it, but my friend was with me. Maybe your friend's just as scared as you are, and by you taking that step of faith and having that courage, maybe they're going to come with you and realize they need to give their life to Jesus, as well.
And a word to those of you who might be in here thinking, man, I'm too bad. I've done too much to do this. You can never be too bad to accept Jesus Christ. He can give you a new start, a fresh vision, a fresh life.
And to those of you in here who think that you're too good, understand that each and every one of us needs to accept Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter how good you are. It doesn't matter how good you think you are, how upright you think you are. If you feel that tug of the Holy Spirit, if you know you need to accept Jesus Christ, you know you need to be forgiven of sin, then you do this, because in heaven, there's going to be forgiven people, not good people.
And so if you're not forgiven, you get forgiven. We're going to sing this through one more time, and if you're still on the edge of your seat, if God's still speaking to you right now, you respond to that call, and you come forward. You come now.
(SINGING) And I will call upon your name. And keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace. I am yours. And you are mine.
Amen. Well, for those of you that have come forward, we're so excited for you guys.
We're clapping for you. We're excited for you. Because the Bible says, when just one person gives their life to the Lord, the angels in heaven rejoice. And so they're having a party right now. And we think we should join in as well. In just a second, you're going to say a prayer to accept Jesus Christ.
And it's a simple prayer. All you're doing is acknowledging that you're a sinner, that you've messed up, asking Jesus Christ to come into your life, to forgive you of that sin, to give you a new life, to help you to live for Him and follow Him, and to fill you with His Holy Spirit to empower you to do that. And so as we say this prayer, I'm going to say it out loud. And I'm going to ask you to say it out loud after me. Just repeat these words. Say them from your heart, and say them to Jesus.
Lord, I know that I'm a sinner. I know that I've done many things that have hurt you. But Lord, I believe that you died for those things. And I believe that you rose from the dead. So Lord, I ask you to come into my life. Forgive me of my sin. I turn from my past, and I turn to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to live for you. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our Heavenly Father, dedication to studying his word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig, visit calvaryabq.org.