Growing up as a child I loved the story of Jonah and the “whale.” What young boy did not get excited about the idea of a man swallowed by a “whale” and living to tell the tale. It sounded so exciting and like the kind of adventure you read about in the story books.
As I grew up I learned there were many lessons found within the four short chapters of Jonah — lessons that helped me understand my relationship with God, the way I look at life, and how I move towards others.
For the next four weeks we will be exploring the story of Jonah and the big fish.
Jan. 14, 2018
Scripture: Jonah 1:
Title: The Lord Provided
Focus: The Spirit of God was moving in Jonah’s life and his response was to turn and run, run as far away as he possibly could. He was afraid of what it meant to go “surfing with the Spirit”. How do you and I embrace and turn away from the movement of God’s Spirit in our lives? Where is God inviting us to go and we simply turn and move the other direction because we are afraid or uncomfortable?
Jan. 21, 2018
Scripture: Jonah 2
Title: I called out to the Lord
Focus: Jonah’s prayer of distress. With no promise of redemption, transformation, or renewal Jonah says, “I called out…and he answered me.” (v1) Jonah’s confidence in the grace and faithfulness of God towards even those, especially those who disobey and run away is humbling. “I with a voice of thanksgiving” … while in the belly of a fish will give sacrifice to you. How do we give sacrifice to God today while in the midst of trial and adversity? After we have turned away from God’s leading do we have confidence to still praise God like Jonah?
Jan. 28, 2018
Scripture: Jonah 3
Title: Repentance leads to forgiveness and grace
Focus: Jonah is given a second chance and he enters into Nineveh and begins to deliver the message as instructed by God. People respond with great sorrow, fear, and repentance. Just as God heard the cry of Jonah from the belly of the fish, God heard the collective cry from the city of Nineveh and responded with grace and mercy. Repentance leads to forgiveness and grace. So often in our lives we flee repentance just as Jonah fled Nineveh. We demand our rights, rather than confess our weakness. How much more might we experience and encounter the grace of God if we moved humbly and gently allowing the strength of the Spirit to shine through us.
Feb. 4, 2018
Scripture: Jonah 4
Title: “Do you do well to be angry?”
Focus: Jonah, the recipient of God’s grace and mercy is furious that God extends that same grace and mercy to others. He is disappointed to see that God has responded to the cries of repentance. Jonah has more pity for a simple plant that meets his needs than for all the people of Nineveh. As we look upon the world do we see with the eyes of God? Are we able to extend mercy, pity and grace upon those who may not even know they need it? As recipients of Amazing Grace we should be living as grace filled people.