God of the second chance

God of the second chance
Devotion In Motion
Monday Inspiration
Jonah 3:1-2
  Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.”  
   This is one of the greatest verses in the Word of God, you should underline it because there would be no revivals without “second times.” We should Be thankful that God is not a one and done God. 
 Queen Elizabeth I ruled England and Ireland from 1558-1603. She was a skillful ruler, and she was loved by her people. She brought peace to her homeland. On one occasion, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was bowing low before the queen when the Earl broke wind – he passed gas. It was audible and odorous. Well, the Earl of Oxford was humiliated. He had shamed himself before Her Majesty, his Queen. The Earl was so embarrassed for the next few years he traveled abroad just to avoid another audience with Elizabeth. 5 Finally, out of necessity he returned home, and was forced to face his Queen. As he stood before her – not sure what he should say – Elizabeth spoke first. She said kindly, “My lord, I hath forgotten the fart.” 
 Hey, if ever there was a “stinker” it was Jonah. And he didn’t just smell when he was vomited out of the belly of the fish. Jonah stunk-it-up all the way from Joppa. The prophet’s pride and prejudice – his stubbornness and selfishness – had been a stench in God’s nostrils. Jonah’s rebellion had reeked! His attitude was fishy, long before he spent time in the belly of the whale. Please pardon the expression, but I can’t think of a more fitting name for the Prophet Jonah than “an old fart.” 
 Yet God was willing to forgive Jonah. He even overlooked his bad attitude and gave him a second chance. “The word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time…” Just like it did to Adam, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, Samson, David, Peter.  Author, William Banks, once wrote, “We are moved to speak of Jonah’s God as the God of the Second Chance. But honest, sober reflection compels the saint to speak of Him as the God of the 999th chance!” Understand, it is the very nature of our great God to keep forgiving and forgetting. He is the God of the second chance, and third, and fourth, and fifth, and 999th… 
He even forgives stinkers like you and me! When Jesus told Peter he should forgive his enemies not just seven times, but seven times seventy, He wasn’t asking Peter to do anything He wasn’t willing to do Himself. Jonah is proof that God doesn’t put His servants on the shelf when they make a mistake. If you hear some Pastors today, if you make one mistake, if you don’t obey, then the Lord will put you on the shelf and you will be useless. But that’s not the heart of God. Yes, you will lose the blessing he had for you at that moment but when you begin to obey again he will give you a great blessing.  This verse tells us that no matter how bad we have stunk it up we have a God who is willing to give us another chance. 
You may have staggered in and are reading this today not really knowing why… Maybe you’ve been on the run from God. You feel like you’ve been in the belly of a fish. In recent weeks you’ve been miserable, trapped, desperate, hopeless, helpless… You feel like God has washed his hands of you. Well, not so! No way, Jose! I hope you understand, God is a coach with a no-cut policy. As long as you’re honest about your failures, and willing to change, you can still be on the team. 
 Jonah might’ve gone on the Disabled List or Injured Reserve – but when he repents in the belly of the fish, God reactivates him and gives him another shot. And God will do the same for me and you. If we repent and embrace God’s will today, we too can start over. It’s been said, “The victorious Christian life isn’t a line of unbroken triumphs, it’s a series of new beginnings.” Verse 2 tells us, God repeated the same instructions to Jonah he gave him in 1:3, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” 
Notice, God gives us second chances, but similar commands. His will doesn’t change just because we find it objectionable. This was the same directive as when Jonah was first called. Just because God allows us to start over doesn’t mean He lowers the bar. Like Jonah’s failure, our sin isn’t God’s fault. It isn’t that there’s something wrong with God’s plan – that His standard is too hard, or He lacks the resources we need. No, we fail God because we aren’t willing to trust Him, and submit to the changes He requires. 
 Years ago, when I was in school, if you flunked a grade you went back and repeated it until you passed. The school didn’t just move you along to save face. If you couldn’t master tenth grade you weren’t ready for eleventh. And this is God’s policy in the school of discipleship. He gives second chances, but He doesn’t change the curriculum. His assignments stay the same until we do whatever it takes to learn the lesson. This time though, Jonah obeys. “So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.” 
How much time transpired between Jonah’s expulsion on the beach and the second time the Lord spoke to him, we’re not sure – perhaps immediately. And we don’t know where the fish transported Jonah. We assume the fish spit him up near Joppa where he boarded the boat – or somewhere along the Israeli coast. But Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote that Jonah was puked-up onto the shore of the Black Sea, a few hundred miles closer to Nineveh, his destination.  
Remember, when Jonah disobeyed, and ran from God, we’re told he went down… down to Joppa – down into the boat – down into sea – down into the fish’s belly. But when he repents and obeys God, he heads up… he gets puked up – and he shows up on the beach a few hundreds miles closer to the targeted town. In other words, it doesn’t take God near as long to move Jonah up, as it did for him to get so far down. God is eager for you to possess a good life – a joyful life – a blessed life, and He’ll move the restoration along as quickly as possible… but only after we repent!   
The bible doesn’t tell us how many chances Jonah got throughout his life and I doubt that he only disobeyed one time. But what that tells me is when the Lord gives us a 2nd chance or a 100th chance he only sees it as a new beginning. Amen
Victor Tafoya
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