The Relentless Call of God | Jonah 3

A Missional Church

In this message, Matt Carter, Vice President of Mobilization at Send Network (North American Mission Board), continues our "A Missional Church" series. Through Jonah 3, we see God’s heart to save the nations for His glory and His heart to use imperfect people to do it.

Matt CarterApr 21, 2024Jonah 3:1-10

In This Series (4)
A Prideful Prophet and a Pursuing God | Jonah 4
Oren MartinApr 28, 2024
The Relentless Call of God | Jonah 3
Matt CarterApr 21, 2024
God Is Sovereign Over Salvation | Jonah 2
Timothy "TA" AteekApr 14, 2024
God Is Sovereign over Creation | Jonah 1
Timothy "TA" AteekApr 7, 2024


In this message, Matt Carter, Vice President of Mobilization at Send Network (North American Mission Board), continues our "A Missional Church" series. Through Jonah 3, we see God’s heart to save the nations for His glory and His heart to use imperfect people to do it.

Key Takeaways

Jonah is not a story about God’s anger, but a story about His faithfulness. The good news is that if you belong to God through trusting in Jesus Christ, He will never let go of you even when you try to run from Him. From this comforting truth we learn that the safest place in the world is trusting in and obeying God’s call in our lives, which is made possible by the transforming work of the Spirit.

So what can we learn from Jonah 3? Two things:

  • First, saying “no” to the call of God unleashes His persistence. People think that Jonah is a story about God punishing Jonah for not obeying Him. But the story of Jonah is a story of God’s faithfulness to keep us from wasting our lives.
  • Second, saying “yes” to the call of God unleashes your potential. Because God’s people have the power of Christ’s resurrection at work inside of them through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:20), God uses them for His glory.

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

  • How do you see God’s faithfulness in the book of Jonah?
  • How does God’s heart for the Ninevite’s encourage you to take the gospel to those who need to hear it?
  • How can you be more equipped and grow more faithful in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ to your family, friends, workplace, school, city, and the nations for his glory?
  • Where is God leading and sending you to take the good news of Jesus Christ?

Timothy Ateek: Good morning, Watermark. How are we doing today? It's good to see you. I hope all is well. If this is your first time with us ever, thanks for trusting us with your Sunday morning. My name is Timothy Ateek. I'm one of the pastors here. I hope this place feels like home very quickly.

For the last few weeks, we've been in a series we're calling A Missional Church, because we want to be a place made up of people who are committed to leveraging their lives for the sake of the gospel going to the unbelievers in our city and to the end of the earth. I really feel like it's important that our church sometimes has the opportunity to hear from voices from outside of Watermark who can speak with a lot of authority on a specific topic. Today is one of those days.

I'm so excited for you to get to hear from my friend Matt Carter. Some of you guys already know who Matt is. Matt was the founding pastor of The Austin Stone Community Church. He is now the vice president of mobilization for Send Network, which is the largest church-planting network in North America.

Matt is an author. He travels all over the nation speaking. He is an Aggie. (Okay. Just making sure. It's a big deal. It's probably the most important part of his bio.) So it's going to be a great morning. Before I have Matt come up, I would love to take a minute and pray, because some of y'all can't focus now. You're like, "He's an Aggie? I'm out." You need to be in. Welcome back. Let me pray, and then we'll bring Matt up.

Lord, thank you so much for this morning and what you have in store. We just want to ask and pray that you would come and move in our lives in a very significant way.

Friends, I just want to give you a second. I want to invite you to pray for yourselves. Would you just say, "God, speak to me clearly this morning"? Then would you pray for the people sitting around you, for your family, for your friends, and for other people in the room? Say, "God, would you speak to them as well." Then would you pray for Matt? Just say, "God, would you speak through Matt to us today?"

Lord, thanks that it's your will to speak through Matt this morning. Thank you for your Spirit that is in him. I pray that you would speak boldly and powerfully through him for your name's sake. We love you. In Jesus' name, amen.

Hey, would y'all welcome Matt Carter to Watermark Community Church?

Matt Carter: It's good to be here in Dallas, Texas, at Watermark. I was born about nine minutes down the road at Baylor hospital. Dad was a fireman in the Dallas fire department, so this is kind of home. It's good to be here. I also love your pastor. TA and I have been friends for a long time. I respect him more than you will ever know.

I want to invite you to open up your Bibles to the book of Jonah in the Old Testament. We'll go ahead and start in chapter 1. We're going to do a little bit of review here in a minute. If you notice, the name of the sermon series is A Missional Church. We're talking about being a missional church. That means Watermark wants to be a church that is on mission.

For a church to be a missional church or to be a church on mission means it ought to be full of people who live their lives on mission for the glory of God. Pastor Charles Spurgeon, the famous pastor from England in the 1800s, made a statement one time that always convicts me. He said that, as a Christian, you're either a missionary or an imposter. In other words, there's no such thing as a Christian who doesn't live their lives every day on mission for the glory of God.

There's no biblical scenario where the Bible paints a picture where it's okay for you just to come to church on Sunday and listen to sermons and sing songs, and then just go live your life any way you want to. The very definition of a Christian is a person who lives their life and leverages their giftings, their time, and their finances for the mission of God. So, that's what Pastor TA is talking about: being a church full of people on mission.

The book of Jonah is a fascinating book to me. When I was growing up, probably the first time I ever heard the book of Jonah taught on was on a flannel board in a Baptist church a few miles down the road here in Garland, Texas. When I was growing up, my understanding of the book of Jonah was it was a book about God's anger. That's what I thought it was.

God comes to Jonah and asks him to go to this pagan city of Nineveh and preach the gospel, the good news that God loves them, to call them to repentance. Jonah basically says "No" to God and takes off running to the city named Tarshish. A bunch of bad stuff happens. He gets swallowed by a whale. You get the story.

I thought the book of Jonah was a book about God's anger, but it's not. The longer I've been alive, the more I've preached, the more I've studied this book, the more I'm convinced it's not a book about God's anger, but the book of Jonah is a book about God's faithfulness to keep his children from wasting their lives pursuing stuff that has no eternal significance.

It reminds me of a verse in the New Testament. The apostle Paul said, "He [God] who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus." In other words, it was God who began the work in you, and he is going to complete that good work in you until the day you go home to be with him.

Now, there's some good news and some bad news about that verse. Here's the good news. If you're a Christian, if you're a child of God, if you're a son or daughter of God, it doesn't matter what happens. He will never let you go. That's good news. But here's the bad news. Here's the scary news. If you're a child of God and you try to run from God, he will never let you go. I found out the hard way. I'll tell you in a few minutes. Jonah found that out the hard way.

We're going to look in Jonah 3 today, but let me give you a little bit of background of what's going on. We don't know who Jonah is. The Bible gives no background on this cat. We just know he's a guy. He's chilling, he's doing his thing, he's living his life, and then out of nowhere, in Jonah 1:1, God begins to speak to him. Let's check it out.

Jonah 1:1: "Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 'Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.'" God comes to Jonah, son of Amittai (whoever that is), and says, "Jonah, I want you to go to the city of Nineveh," which is this pagan, nasty, evil city. He's like, "I want you to preach and call them to repentance."

Look at the very next verse. Verse 3: "But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord." He didn't even have to think about it. There's no character development in Jonah. God comes to him and says, "I want you to go preach to this pagan city." Immediately, Jonah is like, "I'm out," and he gets on a boat and takes off to Tarshish, running from the presence of God.

Now, here's a question. Why is Jonah running from the presence of God, and why does he go to Tarshish? I've been studying this book a long time, been hearing it longer than that, and as I was preparing for this, I thought about it. I don't think I've ever heard anybody explain why Jonah ran to Tarshish. Like, what was in Tarshish? Why, as soon as God called him to preach, was he like, "Nuh-uh" and ran to Tarshish? What's in Tarshish?

Well, I looked it up, and what I found was pretty interesting. I think it gives us some insight into what's going on in Jonah's heart and why he didn't want to go preach for the Lord. Here's what I found. Tarshish, at the time, which would have been Jonah's time, was the wealthiest international trade city in the ancient world. It was the richest city in the world. I actually found some places in the Bible that talk about it.

Check out 2 Chronicles 9:21. "For the king's ships went to Tarshish…" Who's the king? That's King Solomon. So, King Solomon's ships went to Tarshish. "…with the servants of Hiram. Once every three years the ships of Tarshish used to come bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks." How many of y'all have that tattooed on your arm about the apes and peacocks? Nobody? I'd never seen that verse before.

Apparently, King Solomon liked peacocks and apes, so he would send boats to Tarshish to get apes and peacocks and ivory and gold and stuff. Look at Ezekiel 27:12. "Tarshish did business with you because of your great wealth of every kind; silver, iron, tin, and lead they exchanged for your wares." There are all of these instances in the Scripture that talk about Tarshish being the hub of wealth and commerce in the ancient world.

We find out in chapter 4 of Jonah that one of the reasons Jonah runs from the call of God on his life is because he hated the Ninevites. They were evil. He didn't want to see them get saved and come to the Lord. The other thing that I think is obvious here… As soon as God places a call on his life, he gets up and is like, "No," and heads to Tarshish. I'm convinced in the core of my being Jonah wanted to get rich. Jonah had a plan for his life, and God's plan didn't line up with it.

Jonah had a dream for what his life was supposed to look like, and it involved getting rich selling some apes and some peacocks, yet God comes along and disrupts Jonah's plan. What's going on here reminds me of something Jesus said. He taught in Matthew about the parable of the sower. The parable of the sower is an interesting parable. Jesus talks about the sower being God, and he talks about how the sower would sow seeds. The seed is representative of the Word of God.

That's a parable about how different people respond to the Word of God. He talks about how some people are going to hear the Word of God and are just going to reject it. Some people are going to hear the Word of God and are going to receive it, Jesus said. They're going to kind of grow up, but then trials are going to come into their life, and they'll wither and walk away.

Jesus describes another group of people. I think this is where we in the United States, we in Dallas, have a tendency to fall into trouble. Jesus describes another kind of people who are going to hear the Word of God. They're going to receive it, but then he says thorns come in and slowly choke out the Word of God from taking root in their hearts, and the Word bears no fruit. Do you know what those thorns were? Listen to Jesus. This is Jesus speaking, red letters.

Matthew 13:22: "As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful." Jesus is saying there are going to be people whose hearts the Word of God is not going to be able to take root in because they are going to be pursuing money, and it's going to slowly choke out the fruit in their lives.

That is what's going on in Jonah's life. He had a plan, and it didn't involve going to Nineveh. Now, what happens next… Stuff starts getting really interesting. God calls Jonah and says, "Jonah, I want you to go to Nineveh. I want you to preach to those evil people. Call them to repent. Call them to come back to me." Jonah says, "No. I'm not."

He gets up and gets on a boat sailing on the way to Tarshish. Then the Scripture gives this fascinating sentence that I'm going to show in a story in a second. It says the Lord hurled a great storm upon the sea. Jonah is running from God on a boat, living his dream, and God hurls a great storm upon the sea.

The storm is so bad the boat is about to fall apart, so the fishermen look at Jonah and are like, "Bro, who are you? We let you on our boat, and everything was great. There were no storms going on before you got on the boat. Now you got on the boat, and everything is going to pot. Who are you? Are you running from God or something?" He's like, "Yeah. As a matter of fact, I am running from God." They're like, "Dude, get off our boat," so they chuck him into the water.

A whale, a big fish, comes and swallows Jonah. It is in the belly of the fish that Jonah has a "come to Jesus" moment. His world is falling apart. All this bad stuff is happening to him, and he has an epiphany. "If God calls me to something, I probably ought to say 'Yes.'" He asks God for a second chance, and God says, "Okay," and God sends the whale to spit him out on the beach.

Jonah learns something in the course of the storm, and he learns something in the course of the belly of the whale when he comes to his senses. He learns that the safest place he or you and I could ever be is in the center of God's will. Some of y'all need to hear that today. The safest, most satisfying, most fulfilling, most life-giving, most fun place you could ever be is not pursuing your dream but pursuing God's dream for your life.

I want you to watch what happens, because as soon as Jonah says, "All right, God; I'm in…" The whale spits him out. Look at Jonah 3:1. This is actually kind of funny. Remember, at the beginning it said the word of the Lord came to Jonah and he took off to Tarshish. Now look at Jonah 3:1. "Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 'Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.' So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh…" Amen. He's like, "This time, God, I'm in." So he goes to Nineveh.

When he goes to Nineveh, he starts preaching. He obeys the call of God on his life, something he never would have envisioned for himself. When he does, watch what happens. I want you to see what immediately happens the minute he puts his "Yes" on the table for God, the minute he surrenders his dream and picks up God's dream, the moment he says, "Yes, God. I will be used by you in any way you want me to be used." I want you to watch what happens.

Jonah 3:4: "Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, 'Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!' And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them." The moment Jonah said "Yes" to this crazy call of God on his life, God unleashed his power through him, and an entire city repented and came to the Lord.

What do we learn from all this? What is the Lord trying to teach twenty-first-century Texans working in Dallas or the surrounding areas? What is God trying to teach you and me today in this place? I think there are two points. There are two main points I want to take away from this, that I want us to grasp. The main point of Jonah is that God has a heart for the nations.

The book of Jonah freaked out the Jews. The Jewish people thought they were the only ones God was going to save, and God was like, "No, actually, I'm going to save the whole world." Jonah was actually the very first missionary God ever sent out in the Bible. It's ultimately about God's heart for the nations, but there are two things I think apply to you and me.

1. Saying "No" to the call of God unleashes his persistence. If you're a believer here today and you are saved…you're a child of God, you're a follower of Christ, you are filled with the Holy Spirit of God (which we're going to discover in a minute is a bigger deal than we could have ever imagined)…God has a calling for you. He has something he wants to do through your life.

He does not save people and bring them into his family for them to just sit in a church for 30 years, listening to sermons and singing songs, and never be used for the glory of God. There's no such thing as a Christian who's not a missionary. So, if you're a believer, God has a calling on your life. When you're a person who's pursuing your own dreams, saying "No" to the call of God on your life, that unleashes his persistence in your life to get your attention, to get you where he wants you to be.

I'll say it again. People think Jonah is a book about God's wrath, a story about a whale and God's punishment of Jonah. It's not. The story of Jonah is a book about God's faithfulness in Jonah's life. I'm going to tell you a story today that I found out the hard way. The story I'm going to tell you is nuts. It's so crazy. Y'all are going to think I'm making this up, but one day when we're in heaven together, y'all come up to me and be like, "Hey, man. You were telling the truth, weren't you?" and I'm going to be like, "I told you."

I got saved at Texas A&M University at All Faiths Chapel one fall night in 1992. A short time after that, God placed a radical calling on my life. I did not want to be a pastor. If you would have come to me even after I got saved and said, "Matt, list off the top 1,000 things you want to do with your life," being a pastor would not have made the top 1,000. I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to make money. I would have never even gotten close to thinking about it.

God began to put the seed into my heart that he wanted me to do that, and I wrestled with it and wrestled with it and wrestled with it. I don't have time to tell the story, but one day, in this radical, miraculous way, the Lord spoke to me. I was in a car on the way from Texarkana to Dallas to go see my future wife, and the Lord just spoke to me in this crazy way. It was so radically clear that he was calling me to preach that I pulled over on the side of the highway, and I prayed this prayer, tears running down my face. I knew the Lord was talking to me.

I pulled to the side of the road and said, "God, I don't care what you want me to do. I don't care where you want me to go. I'm yours." That put my "Yes" on the table. I didn't know what it would mean. I didn't know where he would call me. All I knew was that I said, "God, I'm yours." I put my "Yes" on the table. He began to fill in the blanks. I later walked up to this guy in the Memorial Student Center at A&M named Gregg Matte and introduced myself to him.

Gregg introduced me to a friend of his who was a youth pastor looking for volunteers. I began to work in a student ministry. The youth pastor went to seminary. I got hired as a student pastor. I preached for the first time in my life. I realized God had gifted me for that. A short time later, I planted a church in Austin, Texas, with my wife and about 15 college kids.

College kids are great when you're starting a church, by the way, because they have energy and they have time. What they don't have is money. I'll never forget. This kid one time… They were passing the offering plates. The dude put a Chick-fil-A gift card in the offering plate. I'm like, "Man, I love that heart, but I've got to feed my family, bro, which…" Anyway, y'all get the point.

God did nutso stuff through The Austin Stone. I'll share a little bit at the very end. Over the course of my 18 years at The Austin Stone, God raised up 320-something full-time vocational missionaries, just normal folks like y'all whom God sent to unreached people groups all over the world. We planted churches all over the United States. God did some amazing stuff.

Well, about 15 years into my time as a pastor, I got bored. Has anybody ever in your job…? You've been doing your job about 15 years and you get bored. That was me. I kind of forgot about the whole radical call on my life and all that stuff. I had given a lot of leadership away and raised up other leaders, and I just got bored. So, for the first time in my entire life as a pastor, I began to ask God if I could do something else.

I was friends with a guy who was a billionaire. Not an M but a B. He was a billionaire, and he had this ranch near College Station, Texas. It turns out billionaires' ranches are pretty cool. It's like Disneyland with deer on it. It was awesome. I was hunting with him, and we were driving around. He looked at me there as we were driving around and was like, "Matt, have you ever thought about not being in the ministry?"

I was like, "Yeah. As a matter of fact, I have been thinking about it. I've been praying about it, actually." He goes, "That's interesting, because I have this job that I'm looking to fill, and I thought about you." It was this corporate chaplain kind of thing for his monstrous company and kind of a consultant. Then he dropped a number on me. He said, "Matt, I think we can start you out at $1.2 million a year."

I heard the voice of God. Angels started singing. I took that as confirmation from the Lord. Y'all, I said "Yes" to him right there. I took the job. We're driving around, talking, but in the back of my mind I'm trying to think, "How do I resign? How do I tell my church that I'm not going to be preaching there and leading anymore?" That's when everything went bananas. Everything I'm telling you here is true. It's crazy, but it's true.

We were driving around. Literally, the phone rang, and I picked it up. It was my doctor. Three days before, I had gone to a dermatologist to get a spot on my ear looked at. The doctor said, "Oh, it looks like a freckle, but let's take it off anyway just to be safe." Three days later, he calls me on the phone in the car with the guy. He goes, "Matt, you have melanoma." I had cancer. If you don't know what melanoma is, it's a very aggressive form of cancer.

He said, "Matt, we don't know what stage it is yet. We're waiting for the other information, but you need to get back." So I came home, scared to death. About a week later, I got all the other information. They found out it was very, very early stage, so they cut a big hole in my ear and got it out, and things were okay and good. I settled down, and I started talking to this guy again about the job.

About two weeks later, one of my best friends in the world dropped dead of a heart attack, 53 years old. He was on the treadmill and just died. He was one of my top three buddies. I just loved him to death. He was a doctor. I'll never forget. I have this image in my mind. I was preaching his funeral, and his two daughters were on the front row. I'm up there talking about the faithfulness of God, and I remember his daughters looking at me like I was an idiot. How could I believe in a faithful God who would take their dad? It shook me up.

A short time after that, things began to settle down. I was talking to the guy again. That's when things really got crazy. I was sitting there at a staff meeting, and I was planning within a few days to share with my staff that I was going to be resigning. I looked down, and my phone was ringing. It was an unknown number. I declined it. A few seconds later, another unknown number. Again, I declined it. It rang a third time. It was a buddy of mine who was the chief of police for the Austin Independent School District. He was my friend. He got saved at our church.

I'm like, "Two unknown numbers, chief of police…something is wrong." So I answer. "Hey, Chief. What's up, man?" He goes, "Matt, where are you?" I'm like, "I'm sitting here in church in the office. Why?" He goes, "I don't want you to move, man. I can't explain right now, but you need to stay where you are. The FBI is looking for you." I immediately start thinking, "Have I broken the law?" I'm racking my brain, and I'm like, "I haven't. What in the world?"

Super long story short… There's actually a documentary about it, but I'm not going to tell you about it. Anyway, the FBI informed me they had intervened in a plot to kill me, and the guy was about to carry it out. By the grace of God, they got a tip, and they caught the guy as he was basically on the way to do it. That shook me up. I took that as more confirmation from God. You know, I've had death threats before, but the dude was actually going to try to kill me. "I'm out."

I left a few days later. I was going deer hunting. I was at my deer lease. As I'm standing here, guys, I was on the phone with the guy, the billionaire, and my son called. My son never calls, so I decided I probably ought to take it, assuming something was wrong. I was right. I could tell something was horribly wrong. His voice was shaking. I could hear sirens in the background, which will make a parent's heart drop.

He had been in a horrific accident. He got enough out to tell me, "Dad, I'm being taken to the hospital. See you in the hospital." That's all I knew. I got in my truck and drove 100 miles an hour from the deer lease to Austin. For the first time in my entire life, I lost it on God. The first and only time of my life, I yelled at God. I was screaming at the top of my lungs. "God, what are you doing? What in the world is going on? My life is falling apart."

At this moment, I was like, "God, if you want to kill somebody, for crying out loud, kill me. Don't kill my son. Don't take him; take me." I got to the hospital. JD was immobilized. He was coming home, and he was turning a corner and fell asleep. His truck went airborne. The lady behind it saw the whole thing. It flipped three full times and landed against a massive oak tree. It crunched the truck into something that, when I saw it, made me want to throw up. JD broke his wrist. That was it.

The cop pulled me aside in the hallway. He was like, "I'm going to tell you something." He goes, "You are one lucky dad." He said, "I have never seen anybody walk away from something that bad." That was it. I was done. I was supposed to preach the next morning. I called my executive pastor. I was like, "I can't preach. Get somebody else to do it."

I got up the next morning, and I didn't even want to go to church, but my wife made me go. I sat on the front row right there. The guy preaching was named Ross. He had no idea what was going on in my life. All he knew about was my son and the accident. He didn't know about me leaving. He didn't know about the FBI thing. We didn't tell him. He didn't know about the cancer. He knew nothing about what was going on in my life.

I was sitting there on the front row. We told him he could preach on anything he wanted. He said, "All right, everybody. Open up your Bible this morning to the book of Jonah, chapter 1." Some of y'all know where this is going. He began to teach. "Let's look at Jonah 1:4." This is where it got fascinating. He began to teach on Jonah 1:4.

"But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea…" Jonah is running from the call of God on his life. He gets in a boat going to Tarshish to get rich, and the Lord hurls a great wind upon the sea. "…and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up." He was teaching about how it was the Lord who hurled the storm on the sea to get Jonah's attention.

Ross, as he was preaching, kind of stopped and started looking around like he heard something. Listen. We weren't super charismatic. We were a Southern Baptist church. We just didn't tell anybody. So this was not normal. Ross looked like he heard something. He stopped and said, "Listen. I need to tell y'all something. This is the weirdest thing." He was right in the middle of his sentence, talking about the Lord hurling storms, trying to get Jonah's attention back to the call of God on his life.

He stopped and said, "Look. I feel so strongly I'm supposed to say this." He came to the front of the stage and said, "If you're here today in this room, and you're running from the call of God on your life, and God is hurling storms at you to get your attention and put you where you're supposed to be, I want you to stand up." I stood up. I knew that was God speaking to me. Everybody in the room was like, "Why is Matt standing up?" They had no idea.

Something in that moment surrendered. Something in my heart in that moment realized the futility and stupidity of me running from God's call on my life. Right there on the front, I prayed the prayer all over again. "God, I don't care where you want me to go. I don't care what you want me to do, but I'm yours." I'm going to get through my second point really fast. That was the first point. When you say "No" to the call of God, it unleashes his persistence. He will not let you go.

2. Saying "Yes" to the call of God unleashes your potential. Maybe a better way to say that is "Saying 'Yes' to the call of God unleashes his power." That is not health and wealth gospel; that is Bible. When God places a call on your life and you put your "Yes" on the table, even if you don't know what it means yet…"God, my answer is 'Yes'"…that unleashes the power of God through your life.

Let me show you one verse. Check it out. Ephesians 3:20. It's one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible. Paul is describing how powerful God is. Would you all agree that God is powerful? Would you all agree he's probably more powerful than we realize? That's what Paul is trying to say. He's like, "Look. God is a lot more powerful than you and I know." That's what he says. Check it out.

Ephesians 3:20: "Now to him who is able…" He's trying to teach us what God is able to do. "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think…" He's trying to make the point that our God is able to do more than anything you could ask for or think of, but he uses this interesting phrase in the Greek. He could have easily said, "Now to him who is able to do more than anything you ask or think," but he didn't.

He could have said, "Now to him who is able to do far more than anything you can ask or think," but he didn't. He says, "Now to him (our God) who is able to do far more abundantly than anything you can ask or think…" It's a word salad in the Greek language. Paul is trying to explain to you and me that our God is so powerful you and I can't even comprehend it. That's exactly what he says next.

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than anything we could ask for…" I want to ask you guys a question. If you and I were hanging out, going to coffee, and I asked you this question… "Hey, if you could ask God for anything to use your life for his glory, what would you ask him for?" If the answer would be "Yes" that he could use your life for his glory, what would you ask him for?

What Paul is trying to convey to us… He says, "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than anything you can ask for…" What does that mean? That whatever we would ask for God in that moment, it's too small. He keeps going. "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than anything we could ask or think of…"

He's saying that whatever in your wildest imagination, sitting on the back porch on a perfect spring day like today, daydreaming about what God might use your life to do… Whatever it is you can imagine, our God is far more abundantly powerful. Then he lands the plane by dropping a nuclear bomb on us. Are y'all ready for it? He says, "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…"

He doesn't say, "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than anything we could ask or think, according to the power that's at work in preachers" or "according to the power at work in worship leaders" or "according to the power at work in full-time vocational missionaries or Billy Graham or Beth Moore."

He says, "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than anything you would ever ask God for or think of, according to the power at work in you right now, believer." When was the last time you got up in the morning and it hit you that you have inside of you right now the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

When was the last time you got up in the morning and realized you have inside of you, Christian, access to the power that raised Jesus Christ from the grave and just said, "God, I don't care what it is you want me to do, but, Lord, my answer is 'Yes.' So would you take the power you've already given me and use it for the glory of your name however it is you want to?" It's a dangerous prayer. Y'all were singing it earlier. "Oh, I will make room for you to do whatever you want to." Do you really mean it? I was giggling down there, thinking, "These people don't know."

I was preaching this series years ago, and this guy named Al Lopez came up to me. He was one of the original guys at Dell in Austin. He owned Dell stock before the split and the split and the split and the split. He had some cash. He had about a $7 million house about 10 years ago. We were doing a building campaign, and we were also doing this thing called For the City where we were calling the church to live on mission in under-resourced places around Austin.

He came up to me after the series and said, "Matt, I feel like God is calling my wife and me to put our 'Yes' on the table, and we know what the 'Yes' is." He sold his house, made all that money, gave a little bit to help us build the building, and then took all the rest of it and built an apartment complex in the poorest part of Austin, Texas, the most under-resourced part of Austin, Texas, and created a nonprofit where single mothers could come and live there for free as they got job training so they could go out and have a self-sustaining life.

He and his wife ministered to dozens and dozens and dozens of mothers over the years, not counting their children. About a year and a half ago, Al died suddenly and went home to be with the Lord. I have a feeling that when he was standing there face-to-face with Jesus he was glad he put his "Yes" on the table and didn't spend the last 10 years of his life playing golf and collecting seashells.

A kid in college at University of Texas… He was sharp. His name was Jordan. He was a business major. It's not easy to get into the University of Texas business school. He was on the fast track to go work at one of the businesses there in Austin. The thing about Jordan is he was an evangelist. He would just share his faith. He wasn't weird. He was a cool kid. He would just share his faith with everybody he came across.

He was leading all of these college kids to Christ. Our college ministry started growing like bananas. A large part of it was because of Jordan. In the back of my mind I was thinking, "I'm going to get this kid to be my college pastor. We're going to get him out of the business." Anyway, long story short, he came up to me one day and said, "Matt, I feel like God is calling my wife and me to go to India."

I hated to see him go. He's the kind of person you want to stay. He and his wife went to India. The church sent him. Guys, listen. Revival broke out through Jordan and his wife. When I say revival… We can't count the number of churches that were started. We can't count the number of people… It was estimated years ago at hundreds of thousands. I'm saying revival broke out. What if I would have kept him from going? What if he had said "No"?

The reality is God has a call on all of our lives. It's called the Great Commission. The question is whether or not you'll say "Yes." For some of you, it's going to be to stay with those kids at home and raise godly kids. For some, it's going to mean you stay right here in Dallas as a businessman or woman, and you use the far more abundant power of God inside of you to change that business for the glory of God.

For some of you, it's going to mean you go and get your degree or you become a doctor or a lawyer, and then you get on a church-planting team and go to some crazy place in the United States in the name of Christ and start a church. For some of you, it's going to mean you raise a shaky hand in the air and say, "God, here I am; send me," and God is going to use you in ways you could have never dreamed. He'll fill in the blanks. The question is…Are you willing to put your "Yes" on the table? The safest, most satisfying thing you could ever do is be in God's will for your life. Let's pray.

Father, I thank you so much for your Word. God, I thank you for its power, its clarity. God, I thank you for stories like Jonah that I kind of had wrong my whole life. Those storms in Jonah's life were not your anger; it was your love for him. Lord, I lift up any Christian in this room who's going through a storm right now, and I pray they would turn their eyes to you and just ask a bold question. "God, are you trying to get my attention? Lord, is there something you want in my life? Is there some 'Yes' I need to put on the table?"

Lord, I pray for the everyday believer in this room just living their life, doing their thing. Lord, would they have the courage today to put their "Yes" on the table. God, when they do, would you fill in the blank and use them in ways they never could imagine. God, I pray for Watermark. This place is a sleeping giant. I pray that they would become a missional church. I ask that today in Jesus' name, amen.

About 'A Missional Church'

God’s heart is for all in creation who are far from Him, and He intends to use us to reach them.