Series – A Reluctant Servant: Lessons from the Life of Jonah
Sermon – Getting A Second Chance
Scripture Readings: Jonah 3:1-10, Luke 11:29-32
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. (Jonah 3:1-5)
Monday February 18 — Jonah 1:1-3, 3:1-4
The prophet Jonah was called by God to go to Nineveh to proclaim a message of judgment. Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh and tried to run away from God. But God did not let Jonah get away. Through a storm and a big fish, Jonah was brought back to the place where he could hear God’s call a second time (Jonah 1:4-2:10). This time, he went where God sent him. God gave Jonah a second chance. Have you ever been given a second (or third) chance to answer God’s call? If so, how did you respond?
• Prayer: Merciful God, thank you for giving me many chances to answer your call. Grant me the courage and faith I need to respond. Amen.
Tuesday February 19 — Jonah 3:1-10
In response to Jonah’s message, the people of Nineveh believed God, put on sackcloth and ashes, and began to fast. The king of Nineveh made a proclamation that the entire city — including the animals — would fast, and that everyone would repent and turn to God, hoping that God would accept their repentance and spare their lives. Fasting, sackcloth, and ashes are all signs of repentance. How do you signify your repentance? How do you demonstrate your desire to change your ways and (re)turn to God?
• Prayer: God of Justice and Mercy, I confess my sin and my need for your grace. Forgive me and restore me to fullness of life. Amen.
Wednesday February 20 — Daniel 9:3-10
Sackcloth and ashes are also physical demonstrations of humility. There are many Biblical accounts of individuals or groups of people humbling themselves before God, confessing sins, and seeking God’s forgiveness and mercy. In modern times, we use ashes at the beginning of the Lent (on Ash Wednesday) as a sign of our need to confess our sins and renew our commitment to God and God’s way. Ashes acknowledge our mortality and remind us that we need God’s amazing grace. What helps you remember your mortality and your need for grace? What will help you confess your sins today and renew your commitment to God? What are the next steps in your Christian life?
• Prayer: Eternal God, thank you for the witness of Scripture and its reminder of my need for your grace. Show me your ways. Amen.
Thursday February 21 — Mark 1:14-15, Matthew 4:12-17
Jonah was not the only one of God’s servants to call for repentance. The New Testament Gospel writers tell us that Jesus proclaimed that God’s Kingdom had come near and that people should repent and believe the Good News. It is a universal message: when we encounter the presence of God, we become aware of our sin and our need to turn back to God. Graciously, God offers us many chances to turn away from sin and turn to God. How have you experienced God’s presence this week? How have you experienced God’s love and grace? How has God’s love and grace changed your life?
• Prayer: Loving God, thank you for sending Jesus to be my Lord and my Savior. Today I choose to repent, believe, and follow him. Amen.
Friday February 22 — Romans 10:14-17
Just as God called and sent Jonah to deliver a message to Nineveh, God still calls and sends people to deliver the Good News of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Even those who, in the past, have rejected God’s call (like Jonah) are given second and third chances to respond with faith and obedience. How did you first hear the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ? Who were God’s messengers in your life? Who helped you learn to trust and obey? Is God calling you to share the Good News with someone today? If so, will you go where God sends you?
• Prayer: Heavenly Father, I have not always been willing to answer your call. Forgive my reluctance. Use me today. I am ready. Amen.
Saturday February 23 — Luke 11:29-32
When he was asked for a sign, Jesus reminded the crowds of Jonah and the people of Nineveh. The people of Nineveh — who repented at the proclamation of Jonah — would judge “this generation” if they did not repent at the proclamation of Jesus. After all, Jesus is so much greater than Jonah. The death and resurrection of Jesus is a sign of God’s power at work in the world. What does it mean to you? How have you experienced God’s power at work in your life and in the world? How have you responded to Jesus’ death and resurrection? Have you repented?
• Prayer: God of Grace, thank you for the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Grant me a new life of grace and peace through him. Amen.