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For the Love of the Lost



The grace of God is powerful enough to save anyone. The heart of God is compassionate enough to want to. In the third part of our series on Jonah, Ben Stuart invites us to understand better what the heart of God is like. God never counts people out. In compassion, He moves toward the hurting. He dives into the depths and rescues the lost, and He doesn’t stop there! He uses our pain as a platform to invite us into His rescue mission. God used Jonah’s biggest embarrassment for his biggest ministry, and He can do the same with us. We don’t have to have mountains of wisdom; we just have to need God to share how His grace met us in our mess.

Key Takeaway

You never know how close someone is to coming to know and trust God. Be faithful; God uses messed up people to reach messed up people.

God came to rescue you and when you're rescued, He asks you to join in.

What we often see as "part of the problem" is what God actually knows the future of and sees as an instrument of grace. He loves to restore and redeem.

God repeats the exact same thing in Jonah 3:2 that He said in Jonah 1:2. God gives second chances. He finally had Jonah's unreserved "yes". Two things get your unreserved "yes". Whoever is your personal authority and whoever you love... get your unreserved "yes". Jonah saw God's Authority of the wind and the waves. The things that terrify you are nothing in the hands of God. He saw God's love, when he was sinking in his own consequences, God reached for him and pulled him out. If God doesn't have your unreserved "yes" in life it may be because you don't respect His authority or maybe you don't rest in His love.

Psalm 119:67 says "Before I was afflicted, I went astray". God is trying to love and guide us to abundant life and we resist. He is letting some of us run and try and get our own way. He will allow affliction so we return to the goodness He has for us.

Nineveh was a capital city with power. There was sweeping brokenness, but it was most known for its violence. Nahum called it the "city of blood" because of its cruelty. It was also an exceedingly arrogant city. So why does God send Jonah to such a terrible people? Because God loves messed up people and delights in rescuing the lost. He cares for the shameful. His heart breaks for the broken.

God will send you to Nineveh. That doesn't mean he is going to send you to the place of your greatest temptation. Don't get that mixed up, but He will send you to the place of greatest need that you will be effective in.

Jonah comes in strong. Gives an 8-word sermon. When God announces judgment it is because judgment is the last thing He wants to do. See Ezekiel 33:11, God wants the wicked to turn to Him and live. The Ninevites heard and believed. They completely repented.

The irony is that Jonah, the man of God, needed a storm and a fish to follow God: the Ninevites needed 8 words. It's meant to shame us, the ones we think that those the furthest from God are actually the most open to His Word. Those of us who have taken it for granted are quick to dismiss Him. You have no idea what is going on in someone's life and how God might use your 8 words in it.

Some think that because the city and the king repented this is a made-up story. How could a ruthless people so quickly repent and believe? They were actually ripe to hear from the Lord because in the years prior they had two plagues take over as well as an eclipse that caught their attention. They also worship a god that was half man/half fish, so it probably meant something to them that a man of God was vomited up by a fish. It did not take a lot of convincing.

What's crazy about this story is that God makes Jonah's biggest embarrassment his biggest source of ministry. Your pain is your biggest platform. The fact that Jonah came out of a fish gave him credibility with those who were worshiping fish.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 says that God uses foolish things to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong, to call things that are not as though they were so that no one can boast. It is all God's doing and He's ready to rescue.


"The grace of God is powerful enough to save anybody and the heart of God is compassionate enough to want to. No one is too far gone. God loves messed up people."

Ben Stuart

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Scripture References

  • Jonah 3
  • 1 Corinthians 1
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.