Sunday, March 22, 2009

The God of Second Chances

The God of Second Chances
Jan 12, 2009
Jonah 3:1 "The Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time..."

Lessons From Jonah, I of II

The story of Jonah and the Whale is all too familiar, even if you've never darkened the door of a church. It is so familiar, that we miss a few great lessons from this small book of the Bible. Recall the story; Jonah is told by God to go and preach salvation to a horrible, horrible people group. Jonah disobeys God and ends up in the belly of a fish. After three days, Jonah gets spit up on dry ground. He ends up preaching to these wicked people who actually listen and turn their lives around. It is a great story of compassion for such a wicked, wicked nation.

There is another lesson, though, that we skim over. Go back to the point of Jonah being in the belly of the big fish. Jonah ended up in the fish because he messed up by disobeying God. Jonah prayed out to God and asked for forgiveness. God heard the prayer and had the fish deliver Jonah to safety. Then God gave Jonah a second chance. This second chance is a big deal. The people Jonah was told to reach were going to receive their FIRST chance at repentance if Jonah had met his destination. But Jonah, his first chance was already given BEFORE he ended up in the belly of a fish. Thankfully, God is the God of second chances. God heard Jonah's prayer and gave him a second chance to get it right.

In fact, God forgave Jonah to the point of giving him a fresh start. God's fresh start, God's do-over for Jonah, started in the same manner as the original story. In the first part of the story, it opens with the lines, "the Word of the Lord came to Jonah..." After Jonah messed up, God hit rewind on the story and started at the very beginning again. Scripture says, "The Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time..." It was the SAME "word!" God didn't just have Jonah go on his way again and pick up where he left off; God made sure to start over for Jonah. God was letting Jonah know it was a fresh start. God made sure Jonah knew it was a do-over because God wanted to reassure Jonah of His forgiveness and He wanted a clean slate between them.

God did that for Jonah and God will do that for you. Part of God's character is His perfect forgiveness, the kind of forgiveness that gives do-overs and second chances. God doesn't just have you pick up where you left off; He rewinds to the point of beginning again. But notice that He didn't give Jonah a new story or new task; it was a second chance at God's original design.

Every one of us has done something that we wish we could begin again. With God, that is possible. God gives second chances and He has a do-over for you. He wants you to ask forgiveness and start over with Him. God is willing to wipe the slate clean and start YOUR story at the very beginning again. He is willing to go again at His original design.

Thank God for do-overs.

1. In what area of life do you need a do-over?
2. Ask God to forgive you and give you that second chance.
3. Determine this time around, you're going to do it right.

Additional Scriptures for Study: Psalm 103:3, Jonah 1, Jonah 3, Acts 10:43, Heb 13:8

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