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  • Matt Beaney

#724. THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME TO JONAH (9/1/23)



Today, we begin our series of devotions in the book of Jonah.

‘The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.’ (Jonah 1:1-3)

Summary: It’s imperative for our spiritual health that we are hearing God’s voice on a regular basis.


You can watch this devotional at:


There are many times when I feel flat and despondent. Circumstances, the weather, the news, my mood conspire to give me a bleak outlook. Hearing God’s voice changes everything; my whole outlook and my emotions are transformed when I hear God afresh.


Now, it’s very apparent, that hearing God’s voice was not immediately beneficial to him. It’s only as we combine faith and obedience to what we hear that God’s voice brings health and fruitfulness to us.


‘The word of the Lord came to Jonah,’ commissioning him to go and preach in Nineveh. While we don't know exactly how this directive word came to Jonah, we do know that we are all meant to hear and respond to God's word in our lives. The question is, how does the word of the Lord come to us today?


1. THE BIBLE IS GOD’S INERRANT WORD

Firstly, God speaks to us through the Bible, which is his inerrant and authoritative word. We must ensure that everything we do for God and everything we believe to be His will is grounded in and sanctioned by scripture. The Bible is an essential resource for understanding God's will and direction for our lives, and it's important for us to make a habit of reading and studying it regularly. Paul writes of the Bible:

‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’ (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

2. GOD’S WORD COMES THROUGH PROPHECY

God speaks to us for the purpose of ‘strengthening, encouraging, and comforting us’ (1 Cor. 14:3), as well as for providing direction through prophetic words. Prophecy is speech that is inspired by the Holy Spirit and can come in many forms. On occasion, it may be directive in nature. As with Jonah, the word of the Lord came to Barnabas and Saul:

‘While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.’ (Acts 13:2-3)

3. GOD’S WORD COMES THROUGH PROVIDENCE

God speaks through the way that He is working in our lives. God is sovereign over all things and so He is working in us and around us. Wayne Grudem defines providence:


‘We may define God's providence as follows: God is continually involved with all created things in such a way that he (1) keeps them existing and maintaining the properties with which he created them; (2) cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do; and (3) directs them to fulfil his purposes.’

For example, Paul concluded from his circumstances that He was to preach in Ephesus, a wicked city like Nineveh:

‘But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.’ (1 Corinthians 16:8-9)

RESPONSE

i. God desires to guide the course of our lives through His word. Every aspect of it is to be valued and prayerfully applied. Let’s read the Bible daily and prayerfully, with a readiness to ask, “Father, How do you want me obey your word?”


ii. The Holy Spirit can also speak to us through prophecies and inspired speech as we pray and gather with other believers. We should strive to be with our church community and invite the Holy Spirit to speak to and through us.


iii. The Father also directs the events of our lives, and it is important for us to be attentive and consider the "open and shut doors" in our lives.


Let’s ensure that our Christian faith is living, active and purposeful by listening to God’s voice in the ways that He speaks.

 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY


1. NOTICES

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

2. ICEBREAKER

Share your ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ from the Christmas and New Year season.

3. RECAP OF SUNDAY’S MESSAGE - PLEASE SHARE IN YOUR GROUP


WHICH WAY AM I RUNNING?

On Sunday we began our series is the book of Jonah which we’ve entitled ‘I AM JONAH’. The Subtitle of this series is ‘Learning to run toward rather than run away from God's mission’. Through this book, God wants to re-commission us for His mission to bring the gospel to our communities - our ‘Nineveh’s’. He wants to put His Spirit in us so that we don’t run away but run toward His mission.


‘The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.’ (Jonah 1:1-3)

BIG IDEA: God calls all of us to His mission. We have to choose whether to run toward or run away from God’s call.


On Sunday, we talked about SIV: Serve, invest and invite is a simple strategy of building relational bridges in order to bring our friends to Jesus. We serve real needs, we invest time to deepen relationships with people and invite them into church community and events such as alpha. We love to invite people to come to know God through the gospel but this will usually occur after we have invested in a relationship. You might find it helpful to watch this interview with Brenda together:


4. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • What are the various communities, outside the church, that God has put you into?

  • Do you find yourself running away or running toward sharing your faith with people? Please give reasons and examples for your response.

  • Why do you think Jonah ran away from God call?

  • How do you Serve, Invest and Invite in your communities?

  • How will the power of the Holy Spirit help us in our mission? (See Acts 1:8)

  • Let’s now pray for specific people that God has put on your heart and in your life.

  • Let’s pray for each other that, by the Spirit’s empowering, unlike Jonah, we would run toward God’s commission to share our faith and the gospel with those in our lives.

  • This week, lets each make a list of non-believing friends and pray for them daily.

  • Next week, come ready to share how God has used us to Serve, Invest and Invite.




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