This morning I want to talk with you about the cost of saying no to God. There are many good people who really love the Lord, but they still don't do what they know God wants them to do. They say 'no' to God. That is a dangerous position in which to find yourself. To know what God expects, what God commands, what God desires, and yet choose to disobey Him.
To teach us the consequences of such behavior, God has included an account of His dealings with the prophet Jonah.
God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and cry against the wickedness that was prevalent there. Instead of obeying God, Jonah said no, and tried to run from His presence. God sent a storm into his life that affected him and all those around him.
In verse 8 these men asked Jonah why the storm had come upon them, and they were curious as to who he was, where he was from, and what was his occupation.
In verse 11 they ask him what they could do to calm the storm. Jonah told them they would have to throw him overboard. After some hesitation they did just that and a great fish that God had prepared just for this moment swallowed up Jonah and he was inside the belly of the fish for 3 days and 3 nights.
Chapter 2 tells us of Jonah's prayer for deliverance and ends with him being vomited out upon the dry land. Chapter 3 begins with, "and the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time saying…" Once Jonah had been rescued, God said, "Now, go and do what I told you to start with." God gave him a second chance to obey.
Jonah entered into the city of Nineveh and began warning them of the impending judgment of God. They believed the message and repented. God saw their repentance and He also changed His mind about destroying the city. "But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry."
Though he had been rescued from the death, given another chance to obey, and had been used mightily by God, Jonah was ungrateful and unsatisfied. We are looking at who may be the greatest evangelist in history. Yet it cost him dearly to do God's will in his own time. I want us to see four things it cost Jonah by saying 'No' to God.
I. It cost him God's presence.
A. Note: Jonah 1:3 & 10
1. "But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord..."
2. "Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them."
3. I believe that it is possible for a person to become so backslidden that they no longer want to obey God's Word.
4. That is exactly where Jonah was; he deliberately disobeyed God's command to go to Nineveh.
B. God is Omnipresent.
1. That means that He is everywhere.
2. But, a person can lose the presence and power of God on their life when they intentionally disobey what they know to be Gods will.
3. What would it be like to come to a point in your relationship with God where you cry out to him and you feel He isn't there?
4. How important is it to you to know and experience God's presence and fellowship daily?
C. A great danger exists.
1. It is possible for a person to become so far out of God's will that they don't even care whether they are in God's presence and power or not!
2. But God does care!
a. That is why He sent a storm into Jonah's life.
b. That is why He had a great fish prepared to save Jonah from drowning.
c. That is why He brings chastening into our lives when we disobey Him.
3. Have you lost the presence of God in your life?
a. If you have, there is only one way to get it back.
b. It is the same way that Jonah got it back.
II. It Cost Him God's Place.
A. God had told him to go to Nineveh.
1. For Jonah, that was God's place.
2. Jonah, however, chose to go his own way and headed for Tarshish.
3. Are we exactly where God wants us to be?
4. I do not mean to be presumptuous, but I am sure that I am where God wants me to be.
5. I do not know how long He will want me to be here, but for now I'm in God's place.
B. We are not in God's will when we are not in God's place.
1. God's place is always a place of service.
2. God never saved anyone so they could sit down and do nothing.
3. The place of service right now is in God's house.
4. We are always in need of folks who are willing to serve rather than be served.
5. Every person in this auditorium today who is born again has a special gift from God that should be exercised in the ministry of the local church!
6. President Kennedy popularized the statement, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!"
7. Now, if we are saved, we know what God has done and is doing for us; the question is what are we doing for God?
C. God's blessings are waiting for us in God's place.
1. Jonah found none of God's blessings while on the ship headed for Tarshish.
2. God's blessings were waiting for him in Nineveh.
3. I believe that one reason some believers have so much trouble is that they are not in God's place.
4. Sometimes God is so good to me that I can't believe it! But it isn't because of who I am, it is because of where I am!
III. It Cost Him God's Peace.
A. Note: Jonah 4:1-3
1. Jonah should have been the happiest man alive.
a. He had just witnessed what was no doubt one of the greatest revivals in history.
b. Instead he moaned and groaned over the results of his preaching and begged God to kill him.
c. If it had been up to me, I think I would have killed him on the spot.
2. Jonah had finally done what God had told him to do, but there was no peace or satisfaction in his life.
3. Jonah had an attitude problem that began when he first said 'No' to God, back in chapter one.
4. I'm not sure if Jonah ever got things right with God, he may have died an angry man.
B. Obedience is doing what you are told with the right attitude.
1. We may do what we do for any number of reasons.
2. We may even do what God tells us to do and still have no peace.
3. Jonah's trouble began where most people's trouble does; when he said 'No' to the will of God.
4. Do we know the peace of God in our lives this morning? We can!
IV. It Cost Him God's Purpose.
A. God has a purpose for our life.
1. Every time we rebel against God's will, we will lose.
2. God's purpose for Jonah was that he go to Nineveh.
3. Jonah rebelled and lost.
B. God will still forgive us.
1. But what has happened with our life is unalterable.
2. Pilate told the Jews on crucifixion day that what he had written, he had written…it wouldn't be changed.
3. What are we writing with our life? We cannot rewrite it!
4. Life changing decisions can be made in moment of time.
5. We need to be careful what decisions we make, because they may cost us God's purpose for our life.
C. God still used Jonah to bring about a great revival, but what if he had gone to Nineveh the first time?
What does it cost to say no to God? It costs a lot. No doubt more than any of us are willing to pay. It cost Jonah God's presence, God's place, God's peace, and God's purpose. Are we doing what we know God wants us to do, right now? If not, come today.
Have you said 'No' to God's offer of salvation? Have you refused to come to Christ? We know that God's desire is that all might be saved. Why not come to Him today in repentance seeking His forgiveness. If you have never been born again, why not come now and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior? Whatever your need, come and meet with God here at this altar.