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Rising from the Depths

Never Too Late

Never Too Late

Introduction

Jonah was a prophet who loved his own country, Israel, so when God told him to go to Nineveh—the capital city of the Assyrian empire, known for its brutality and licentiousness—Jonah ran.  When Jonah’s boat encountered a violent storm and seemed likely to sink, Jonah told the crew to throw him overboard, knowing that God had sent the storm because he ran.

Before Jonah could drown, God sent a whale that swallowed Jonah. Jonah spent three days inside the whale before being vomited onto the shore.

  • What’s one thing you’re proud of accomplishing that you initially failed at? 


Understanding

Have a volunteer read Jonah 3:1-2.

Jonah failed to listen to God’s command, but God gave him a second chance.

  • Has anyone ever given you a second chance? What happened, and what did you do with the opportunity?

  • Have you ever given someone else a second chance?  What made you decide to give that person another shot?  How did it work out?

In his sermon, Mike made a profound observation that sometimes we throw people into the deep end to see if they can swim, and when they struggle, we kick them out of the pool.  In other words, we give someone a task that we know might be too much for them, but then we blame them when they can’t handle it.

  • Why do you think we expect more of people than we know they can handle and then blame them when they fail?

Fortunately for us, God isn’t like this.  He’s not just a God of second chances.  He’s a God of third and fourth and fifth chances.  His love and forgiveness don’t run out.  They don’t have a limit.  Romans 8:38-39 tells us that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God.

  • Where in your life do you need a second (or third or fourth or fifth) chance?

Have a volunteer read Jonah 3:3-4

The message that Jonah preached to the Ninevites was a hard one.   Telling someone that they need to stop doing what they’re doing and act differently is never easy.  Few of us like having difficult conversations.  You know the kind, the ones where you have to confront a friend about a drinking problem or a cheating problem or a gambling problem or an anger problem.

That’s what Jonah did.  He told a whole society that they needed to stop what they were doing and change.  Only these people weren’t his friends, they were his enemies.

  • Is there someone in your life you need to have a difficult conversation with?  What’s holding you back?

  • Have you ever been on the receiving end of a difficult conversation?  How did you respond?

  • What are some techniques for having difficult conversations well?  In other words, how can we express the truth in love—as opposed to expressing the truth without love or failing to express the truth at all?

Have a volunteer read Jonah 3:5-10

Often, we feel bad about things that we do wrong.  We’re miserable, but we’re not broken.  We feel bad, but ultimately, we don’t really want to change.  We don’t like how we feel, but we like what we’re doing too much to stop.

You can be miserable and even have a desire to get well, but still be so self-absorbed and self-reliant that you won’t humble yourself to the point of surrender.  True brokenness, true repentance always results in surrender to God’s leadership and a resolve to walk a new direction with his help.

  • What does it take to move from misery to brokenness so that we can start on the path towards healing?

  • What is the difference between trying hard to change and surrendering to God and allowing Him to change us?

Have a volunteer read Jonah 4:1-2

Jonah was upset because God’s forgiveness of the Ninevites wasn’t fair.  They were a truly awful people who had done terrible things.

But God isn’t a fair God.  He’s a gracious God.  And that’s something we should be grateful for.  Because while we all like to think of ourselves as good people, an honest evaluation of our lives would reveal some decidedly not so good things.

Who among us hasn’t belittled someone, making them feel small and worthless?  Hasn’t failed to stand up for someone who has being picked on?  Hasn’t callously walked by someone in need?  Hasn’t lied or cheated or stolen?

We should thank God that He isn’t fair but that he’s rather a God of grace, who through the work of Jesus on the cross took the punishment for our wrongs.

God’s gift of grace to us calls us to extend grace to others.

  • What would it take to shift our mindset such that we stop treating people fairly and started extending them grace?


Application

Read Jonah 4:3-11

Like Jonah, we often fail to appreciate the many blessings that we have.  And should one of those blessings happen to be taken from us—whether by God’s direct action or simply the circumstances of life—we’re likely to fly off the handle.

Counting our blessings helps us to keep perspective.  This week, set aside five minutes at the end of each day to reflect on three things that you are grateful for, and write them down.  The many blessings God has given us quickly become apparent when we begin to look for them.

 

In Too Deep

In Too Deep

INTRODUCTION

Jonah was a prophet who loved his own country, Israel, so when God told him to go to Nineveh—the capital city of the Assyrian empire, known for its brutality and licentiousness—Jonah ran.  When Jonah’s boat encountered a violent storm and seemed likely to sink, Jonah told the crew to throw him overboard, knowing that God had sent the storm because he ran.

  • What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done voluntarily?  Maybe you jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, went white water rafting, stood on the surfboard at Half Dome, or braved the skywalk at the Grand Canyon.


UNDERSTANDING

Have a volunteer read Jonah 1:15-17.

Jonah gets thrown overboard, but God sends a big fish (probably a whale) to save him from drowning.

  • What does this story teach us about the character of God?

In his sermon, Mike talked about some of the supernatural things we read about in the Bible: Jonah surviving inside of a whale for three days, the Red Sea parting for the Israelites to cross, the walls of Jericho falling down after Joshua and the Israelites marched around it, a few loaves and fish multiplying to feed five thousand people, Jesus walking on water, a storm suddenly stopping at Jesus’ command, and Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead.

  • Do you believe these things actually happened?  Why or why not?

  • Have you ever experienced something supernatural or something that you would consider a miracle in your own life?

Have a volunteer read Jonah 2:1-9

Jonah prays this poetic prayer, thanking God for rescuing him from death.

  • Have you ever been given a second chance? What did you do with it?

  • Where have you experienced God’s mercy in your life?

  • In what areas do you find it easy to trust God, and where do you find it difficult? Why do you think it’s easy to trust God with some things but not with others?

  • When you don’t trust God, what do you tend to trust? Money? Your own skills and abilities?

  • Where do you need God to intervene in your life currently?


ACTIVITY

Sometimes we allow prayer to become routine or we turn it into a list of requests that we have for God, but like human relationships, our relationship with God is strengthened when we express gratitude.  Spend a few minutes now writing your “rescue psalm,” a prayer giving God thanks for a time when he has rescued you.  If you’re willing, email that prayer to jonah@eastside.com.


APPLICATION

We often think of slavery as something that was abolished 150 years ago, but there are more than 20 million people around the world who are enslaved.  26% of them are children, and 22% of them are forced into sexual slavery.

They need to be rescued.

In Park Rapids your group can contact Rising Hope to learn more about how you can make a difference: http://risinghopefoundation.org/

In Orange County, Eastside partners with local law enforcement officers to provide for girls rescued from human trafficking.  We assemble gift bags full of new clothes, personal items, and gifts for girls who have just been rescued.  Complete this form, and the Compassion team will follow up with a specific list and instructions. https://eastsideconnect.ccbchurch.com/form_response.php?id=198

On the Run

On the Run

Introduction

Jonah was a prophet who loved his own country, Israel, so when God told him to go to Nineveh—the capital city of the Assyrian empire, known for its brutality and licentiousness—Jonah ran.

  • What do you love most about the place you’re from?


Understanding

Have a volunteer read Jonah 1:1-3.

When God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah decided instead to run from God.

  • Have you ever decided to do the opposite of what God asked you to do?  What happened as a result?

 

Have a volunteer read Jonah 1:4-10

It’s impossible to outrun God.  Jonah may have headed in the opposite direction, but God knew right where he was and sent a storm to get Jonah’s attention.

  • Is there any place in your life where God is trying to get your attention?

Jonah wasn’t the only one in the boat at risk.  By running from God, he endangered his fellow sailors as well.  When we ignore God it doesn’t just impact us, it impacts those around us.

  • Is it possible that your ignoring God is having a negative impact on other people around you?

 

Have a volunteer read Jonah 1:11-15

Jonah knows that he is the cause of the storm that they’re all facing, and he’s willing to sacrifice himself to protect the people around him.  Whether or not we’re the cause of a storm in someone’s life, God calls us to be there for each other through difficult seasons.

  • What storm are you facing in life right now?  How can this group be a support to you in the midst of this storm?

 

Have a volunteer read Jonah 1:16

God wants to have a relationship to each and every person on Earth, and His plan to get to know them is that His people would introduce others to who He is.  God wanted Jonah to preach to the Ninevites, calling them to turn from their evil ways, but instead Jonah ran.  In spite of that, God used Jonah to reveal Himself to the other people on the boat.

  • Who in your life might God want you to introduce to Him?

  • How has God worked out missteps and mistakes in your own life for good?

 

In his sermon, Mike talked about a few of the reasons people run from God: doubt, pain, pride, lack of trust, and avoidance of difficult situations.

  • What tempts you to run from God, and how can you overcome that temptation?


Application

Mike also talked about how the American Dream short-circuits our willingness to follow God’s call.

We grow up with a plan for our lives: go to school, go to college, make good grades, get a good job offer with the right firm, project the right image, wear the right clothes, make the right moves, climb the corporate ladder, make the big bucks, find the right guy, find the right girl, live in the perfect HGTV home, on the perfect cul-de-sac, with two cars, 2.5 perfect kids, and two dogs.

If God calls us to anything that would interrupt that perfect ideal, we don’t want to do it.

Is it possible that God is calling you to something that gets in the way of your American dream?  Could He be asking you to:

  • Take a less-stressful, lower-paying job so that you have more time to serve other people?

  • Invite someone who needs a place to live into your home?

  • Relocate to care for a sick family member?

  • Risk having a conversation about faith that could alienate a client?

  • Live more simply so that you can give more away?

  • Begin viewing your house as a refuge for the hurting rather than a castle designed to protect your family from the world?

  • Intentionally build relationships with people who don’t look like you, act like you, live like you, or who just plain don’t like you?