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SECOND CHANCES

Date: 
  July 29, 2018
Speaker: 
Rev. Terry Martinson
Reading: 
  Jonah 2:10 – 3:5

Theme: Our God is a God of second chances…

INTRODUCTION

  • “The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.”  (Jonah 3:1)
  • Where might we be today if there were no second chances?
  • Where might we be if there were no “mulligans”… no “do-overs”… no opportunities to right a wrong?
  • Where might we be if life, like the NCAA Basketball Tournament, was “one and done?”
  • There are so many times in life when we find ourselves in need of a second chance.
  • Think for a moment:
  • Was there ever a time when you were a teenager when you desperately needed a second chance? Most teenagers need lots of second chances.
  • Was there ever a time in your work career when you needed a second chance?
  • Has there ever been a time in your marriage when you needed a second chance?
  • Has there ever been a time in your relationship with God when you needed a second chance?
  • There are so many times in life when we find ourselves in need of a second chance.

 

A STORY

  • I am really not too sure what happened at Camp Winni in 1979… that was almost 40 years ago… but I was given a manila folder of church memorabilia before I retired in 2013, and in it was a letter that I wrote to the campers and counselors on July 7th, the very day we returned from our week at church camp in 1979.
  • The letter began, “This letter is being written on Saturday night. It’s late and I’m tired, but I thought it was important to share some reflections on our camp week before I sleep.”
  • The tone of the letter indicates just how angry, frustrated, and disgusted I must have been by the behavior of some of our campers and counselors…  (quite out of character for me)
  • By reading the letter now, I’m guessing that we had some serious issues with: respect, lying, a lack of responsibility, a lack of participation, the use of foul language, and some amount of destruction to camp property that week…. (quite out of character for our campers)
  • The letter acknowledges that we all made mistakes that week…
  • The letter raised the question of whether the church would participate in the 1980 camp program, and whether there would even be a camp program in 1980 or beyond.
  • There are so many times in life when we find ourselves in need of a second chance.
  • Our campers and counselors received the second chance they needed… not only has the camp program continued, but it continues to grow every year…
  • Some of the former campers and counselors from 1979 became real leaders in the church… several of them became Deacons when they were a bit older… others went on to hold key positions of leadership in this church… I believe that at least two of them went on to become pastors… we learned from our mistakes and we moved forward.

 

ANOTHER STORY

  • You may have heard of the story of the Georgia Tech vs. University of California Rose Bowl game played on January 1st of 1929…
  • Late in the first half of the game, Roy Riegels made the biggest mistake of his career… he recovered a fumble for California on his own thirty-five yard line… in his effort to avoid the Georgia Tech tacklers, Riegels became confused and ran 65 yards in the wrong direction… one of his own teammates, Benny Lom, outran him and tackled him on the one yard line just before Riegels was about to score a touchdown for the wrong team… then, on the next play, when California attempted to punt out of its end zone, Georgia Tech blocked the kick and scored a safety, which was ultimately the margin of victory.
  • The strange play came near the end of the first half of the game… a coach usually has plenty to say to his team during half time, but the California locker room was pretty silent as the coach struggled with what to do… he was trying to decide what to do with “Wrong-way Riegels”…
  • Finally he said, “Men, the same team that started the first half will start the second half.”
  • The players got up and started out to the field… all but Roy Riegels… he didn’t budge… The coach looked back and called to him again… still Riegels didn’t move… The coach walked over to him and said, “Roy, didn’t you hear me? The same team that started the first half will start the second half.”
  • Roy Riegels looked up and his cheeks were wet with tears…. “Coach,” he said, “I can’t do it. I’ve disgraced you. I’ve disgraced the University of California. I’ve disgraced myself. I couldn’t face that crowd to save my life.”
  • Then Coach Nibbs Price put his hand on Riegels’ shoulder and said, “Roy, get up and go on back. The game is only half over.”
  • There are so many times in life when we find ourselves in need of a second chance.

 

JONAH

  • The story of Jonah, which we are focusing on currently, is a “resurrection story.”
  • The story began when God commanded Jonah to go to the foreign city of Nineveh to warn it to repent because of its wicked ways…. Jonah goes in exactly the opposite direction, and boards a ship bound for Tarshish, modern-day Spain…. The non-believing sailors deduce that the storm upon the sea that was threatening their lives must be caused by the displeasure of the God in whom Jonah believed…. Jonah thinks the only solution is to sacrifice himself by being thrown overboard…. A giant fish swallows Jonah and Jonah lives in the belly of the fish… and after three days and nights, the great fish spit Jonah out upon the beach…
  • “The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.”  (Jonah 3:1)
  • God keeps calling. God never gives up on Jonah… God re-commissions Jonah to deliver his message…
  • After all that he’s been through, after all he’s done, Jonah gets a second chance.
  • There are so many times in life when we find ourselves in need of a second chance.

 

THE GOD OF SECOND CHANCES

  • The good news is – the really good news is – that our God is a God of second chances…
  • Call it redemption… call it mercy… call it forgiveness… call it grace… call it love… our God is a God of second chances…
  • God gave Jonah a second chance, and this time Jonah went to Nineveh, and Jonah preached God’s word to the citizens of Nineveh, and like Jonah, they were reborn… they, too, were given a second chance.
  • In our relationship with God - on our individual faith journeys - when you and I go in the opposite direction that God wants our lives to go - there are so many times when we find ourselves in need of a second chance… or even a third chance, maybe even more… and our God continues to respond with open arms… that’s grace!
  • If you read through the pages of scripture, you’ll discover that Jonah was not the only one to be given a second chance by God… some of God’s most faithful servants needed several chances to get it right… and so do we.
  • For example – Peter was one of the best known of Jesus’ disciples, and he served as a kind of unofficial spokesman for the group. He was intensely loyal to Jesus, but Peter didn’t always think before he acted, which often resulted in making poor choices and bad mistakes…
  • When Jesus was arrested and put on trial, Peter lingered outside the “courthouse” warming himself by the fire… as he stood there trying not to be noticed, a young woman spotted him and accused him of being a follower of Jesus… Peter was probably frightened by the accusation so he denied it… three times he denied that he even knew Jesus… in that hour of crisis, Peter betrayed his master and his friend, Jesus…
  • Yet, after the resurrection, Jesus went looking for Peter… he wanted to forgive the man who had denied him and give him a second chance… Jesus restored Peter and set him free…
  • There are so many times in life when we find ourselves in need of a second chance.
  • In a matter of a few weeks Peter preached the first Christian sermon… it was about the forgiveness of sin…
  • “Out of his defeat, Peter learned something. He learned that God is the God of a second chance.” <Robinson>

 

CONCLUSION

  • I’m glad God gives second chances… I’m glad God doesn’t give up on us…
  • There are so many times in life when we find ourselves in need of a second chance.
  • God responds by giving us what we need…

 

Sermon Seeds

  • The God of Second Chances – a sermon by Rev. Charles E. Ensley, Jr.
  • A reflection on Jonah 3:1-4 – Reed Lessing
  • The God of The Second Chance – a reflection by Haddon Robinson
  • Jonah and the Whale – a sermon by Edward F. Markquart

Worship Bulletin

Worship Insert