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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bible Session (12+ age group) 11-19-2012

Jonah’s In the Water; Now What?
Review last 2 weeks:  Jonah was told to go to Nineveh to give them an ultimatum.  “Turn to God or be destroyed.”  Jonah disobeyed God and ran in the opposite direction.  There was a violent storm, and the boat he was on was about to be destroyed along with everyone on it.  The sailors determine Jonah is the reason for the storm, and eventually they throw him overboard.

Read:  Jonah 1:17 But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.

Question: Why do you think God provided a fish to swallow Jonah?  If God was going to stop the storm when Jonah was thrown overboard, why not just give him a piece of wood to float on?  Why the fish?

Question: Why was Jonah in the fish for three days and three nights?  What took him so long to get to the point of praying?

Read:  Jonah 2:1-9 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.  He said:
"In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. 
From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. 
But you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God.
When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.
Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation comes from the Lord.”

After three days and three nights, Jonah finally turns back to God. 

Question: Have you ever felt like Jonah did?  Like you were sinking deeper and deeper into a pit of despair, heartache, and pain.  Like only death would give you peace from the situation you were in? 

I know I have.  When we first moved back to America after living overseas, life was quite different here versus growing up in Africa.  Although I had suffered some serious abuse issues in Africa, it was my home from age 6 to almost age 12.  When we first moved back, I did not like America. I did not like the fact that we were poor. I struggled to make friends, and I suffered a ration of belittling comments at school.  I went to three different junior high schools in three years.  Even though I was a Christian, I had some serious thoughts about taking my own life.  Thankfully I never did.  Through God putting the right people in my life at the right time, I regained my focus and got redirected in the right direction.

Let’s look at someone else who was like Jonah and me, needed to be redirected.

Read: Matthew 14:22-31 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.  After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.  When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.  During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.  “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.  But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  “Lord, if it is you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  “Come,” he said.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

We sink when we take our eyes off Christ or in Jonah’s case when he tried to do things his own way instead of obeying God.  The great thing about our God is that he always takes us back, helps us out, picks us up… IF we ask him to!

Read: Jonah 2:10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

How God rescues us isn’t always pretty, but it works.  I’m thinking Jonah probably smelled pretty ripe at this point.  Fish stink doesn’t come off very easily.  I’m guessing it was a pretty good reminder of what he’d done and where he’d been for the last three days.  It’s also a good reminder to us that although God rescues us, there are often consequences that still have to be met.  For Jonah, he had to smell horrific for a while, and he still had the Ninevites to deal with.

Next week: Nineveh

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