Alternate Endings – week 6
Title: Destined for success
By: Pastor James
• I know that there have been some things that jumped out at you in this series that you can work on. Last week’s message seemed to jump out at a lot of you, and we had conversations with many of you about getting on track for your Alternate Ending.
• Let me say this, it is good to recognize things in your life that you can work on. We should be in a constant progress of growth throughout our whole life. But, today we’re going to also flip some things over in your thinking to see how God really feels about you.
• You see, this series rang a bell for a lot of us, but in actuality, God never saw you in need of an Alternate Ending. Alternate doesn’t mean that something in God’s plan has to change for you. His plan stayed the same from the day you received Jesus. You were destined for success from that day forward.
• If God needed an Alternate due to your position in life, that would mean that your decisions and choices superseded His Son. The Law, or behaviors, never supersede the work of Jesus.
• Nothing that you’ve done, or the place you find yourself in can supersede Jesus and the plan that God has for you.
• You are Destined for Success.
• Today, we’ll be unpacking some things that maybe you’ve never seen before. We’re going to hang out in a couple of Old Testament stories to see how God is always working on your success plan. He’s not held back by your position that perhaps you even got yourself into.
• If we can coach you into seeing God’s love and grace bigger than your actions and behaviors and position, then you’ll be able to see God for whom He really is. You’ll be able to move from glory to glory, and never find yourself stuck in a position that you can’t get out of.
• Abraham story (the blessed liar)
o This is the “father of faith” as referenced in the scriptures. Abraham lies a second time (first time in Genesis 12 to Pharaoh) and says that his wife is his sister. Actually, it wasn’t a huge lie, because it was a partial truth. She was actually his dad’s daughter, but not his mom’s daughter. So sister, yes, but he didn’t mention that she was his wife. Big problem for Abimelech, because he took her for his own. Here’s what God says to Abimelech:
• Genesis 20:3 – …you’re a dead man…
• If you’re Abimelech, you now need a clean pair of shorts at this point.
• A conversations starts between Abimelech and God. Abimelech let’s God know that He’s got the wrong guy. This was Abraham’s problem, not mine. I’m sure he’s thinking, ok now that God knows Abraham screwed up, He’s going to change the “your a dead man” to point at Abraham.
• He’s mistaken…here’s what God says:
o Genesis 20:7 – Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
• But God in His conversation with Abimelech calls Abraham a prophet. If I were God, I would have withdrawn the title of “prophet”…God doesn’t remove a calling from a person.
• first time prophet is mentioned in the scriptures
o God not ashamed of calling Abraham His spokesman, even after he lies about his wife
• A person may put it on hold, but God never does.
o Genesis 20:17 – So Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children; for the Lord had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abrahams wife.
• Abraham had one thing going for him that is challenging to most – he believed in God’s love/grace. He prays for Abimelech and God answers his prayer.
• We withdraw by what we think God is thinking, but most of the time we’re wrong. We judge by the outward appearance and by our own actions. God shows us in Abraham, that isn’t the case.
• God’s call didn’t change in the least.
o Your behavior can’t change God’s mind.
o Your Alternate Ending is only an alternate to you. It’s been God’s plan all along!
o You’ve seen yourself in need of change, and that’s true. But, God never withdrew His calling on your life. He never saw an Alternate that was necessary. He’s been plugging along with blessing you in mind. He still hears your prayer. He’s there, and He’s never left.
• You treat yourself different than God does.
o You’re Destined for Success and your future looks great!
• Many times we look at our situation/choice instead of Jesus
• Jeep example: Jeep pulled out truck – FB message “have fun fixing your tranee” – I rejected it first thing…I’m a tither, and I have rights. Promised, and guaranteed.
• Sounds really small, but it happens a lot.
• Abraham was always God’s “prophet” even when he messed up. God hasn’t chanted His mind about you, because of your choices that led you to destruction. Jesus is your Savior from even those things you screwed up.
• God doesn’t use tradition to save you, He uses His Son.
• Communion – its a tradition, but it’s not the tradition that heals you. It’s you remembering your position in Christ.
• Tithing – it’s not the money or tradition that saves you, it’s the reminder of who is in control of your life.
• Prayer – it isn’t the act that gets God motivated, it’s the reminder of who is on top of your situation.
• Serving – it isn’t the act of serving that sets you free, it’s the reminder of why you serve that aligns you with God’s intentions for you.
• Church attendance – it’s not the attending that rescues you, it’s the inflow of Jesus that allows you to be reminded of your right standing through Christ.
God’s tradition: God traditionally blesses the insufficient. He traditionally doesn’t look for those that have it all put together. Your sin or mistakes don’t hold back God’s blessing. He is looking to bless anyone that has Jesus. Period!
• His objective with tradition was to have you see yourself like He does.
Your Alternate Ending is scheduled, because you are in Christ! No other reason.
You are Destined for Success. God is working to get you there because of His Son, and not because you’re in His way of doing it. God is continually working on your behalf!
It’s not in your serving or doing good that you find grace. It’s in your salvation…Gods heart for you from the beginning.
Set up the story:
Jonah 4:2 – So he prayed to the LORD, and said, “Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.
• Jonah knew who God was and what God’s heart was, but he couldn’t get over the fact that Nineveh deserved to be destroyed.
o 2 Kings 14:25 – 36 years prior to the book of Jonah, God sent a word of restoration through Jonah to Israel.
• Jonah knew what God was all about. He didn’t want Ninevah to get away with their sin. God wanted restoration.
• Jonah 1:5 – Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.
o Jonah somehow knew that he was protected from the storm. Much like Jesus sleeping in the boat when the storm came up and the disciples were freaked out.
o Jonah had an uncanny trust in God. Even though he was fleeing from Him.
• You know God is good and you even say “All the time” in church when I say God is good; but you have a hard time believing it.
• Perhaps you were called to something big in the past, but you failed it. You’ve put it on the back burner or completely given up.
• God’s call for your life didn’t change. He didn’t withdraw it. He’s been working overtime to get you back in the game, and it has a lot to do with how you see your position in Christ Jesus.
o Jonah’s call didn’t change, it just took a runaway ship ride and another ride in the belly of a whale to get back to it.
o Jonah is giving up twice in this text. One because he doesn’t want to be a part of the grace that God had in store for Nineveh. And another time because he was getting scorched by the sun.
• His judgmental attitude nearly wrecked his call. He was judging himself harder than God was.
• Many of us fall into this and our call suffers, not because God put it on hold…but, because we don’t see ourselves the way He does.
• He was also judging the people harder than God was.
• Now, we have to remember that Jonah is in the OT. Crazy that even back then he knew God as the God that we now know in the NT.
o Jonah 4:2 – for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.
Jonah knew what God was all about. He knew that the storm couldn’t get him, and he knew that God wanted to restore Ninevah, but he wanted to see them suffer like they deserved. God never relents. He is attracted to His people like a magnet of success.
God is attracted to you, because you have Jesus. You are Destined for Success.
Peter – John 21:15-17
• “Simon son of Jonah”
• There was more that Jesus was saying to Peter after his denial of Christ 3 times…
• The meaning of the name Jonah is “dove” – a dove stands for unconditional love and purity.
• The way God sees us. “Peter, you are the son of my unconditional love!”
• Was there more? Perhaps Jesus was using a play on words here. Peter was the son of Jonah, but looking it up in the Strongs Concordance, you’ll see that both are mentioned. The dad and Jonah from the OT.
• Jonah from the OT is referenced many times in the gospels as a sign of the Messiah. Remember, Jonah didn’t die in the whale, which was the only difference. Jesus was saying, “Peter, you’re not the son of my death (which Peter might have concluded due to his betrayal), but you are the son of my resurrection!”
• 3 times stated: 3 = Divine Perfection – “You are divinely perfect”
• You didn’t make me die, that was my choice. You are why I live.
• He didn’t just die for you, He lives for you!
• Jesus calls this planet home, in those that believe. He was the greatest success story ever written, now it is written through you.
You’re Alternate Ending resides in Jesus, and He resides in you. You are Destined for Success!
Your ending was predestined, and it’s successful. Your Alternate Ending depends on you getting on the same page as God. Seeing yourself blameless. The blame game isn’t God’s game. It’s the human game. The blame was put on Jesus back, not on yours any longer.
If we can get you to see that, and operate as if it’s so…you will see the Alternate come into existence.
Pastor Sarah’s story – Alternate Endings
• Ready to kill herself due to not knowing the Love of God
- It showed up on the other end of a TV screen
- He’s not done with you yet “Little Mama” – Mama Lasala
- Put the pills down and start searching out God
- Started a Bible study
o Not educated, just knew the love of God
o Turned into a church…and then another …and then another
- It looked really bad and worth throwing in the cards, but God’s love found her. It found her with a bottle of pills, and He didn’t walk away.
o Your worst spot is God’s best place to get in touch with you.
o Your very worst ending that might be in front of you, this is where God shows Himself in your life.
- Who would have known that an uneducated person could lead so many. 4 churches and growing.
- We have a gift in Pastor Sarah, but the biggest gift is seeing that it doesn’t take someone special, it takes a willing vessel.
- Even on your worst day, God is excited about tomorrow in your life.
What she knew about God was taught to her through the tradition that read the scriptures incorrectly. She knew a judgmental God that didn’t want her. He showed up on the other end of the TV and said, “I want you, I need you, you don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to have it all together. If I can get you my Son, He will take care of that in my view.”
You are destined for success when you receive Jesus. That’s the Alternate Ending.
• Abraham wasn’t counted out, Jonah wasn’t disregarded, Ninevah wasn’t destroyed, Pastor Sarah wasn’t banished, and neither are you!
• Get around the Word.
• Get in a Dream Team.
• Get connected in a small group this fall.
• Show up to services to stay sharp on your understanding.
There’s your Alternate Ending. There’s your relief. In Jesus is your answer. Thank God that He made a way, where there was no way!