#730. JONAH WAS ASLEEP IN THE STORM (17/1/23)
‘‘All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”’ (Jonah 1:5-6)
Summary: A church that fails to pray is asleep and brings great harm to the world.
You can watch this devotional at:
On this ship, those who don’t know God do all that they can whilst Jonah - the one who knows God - is asleep! These sailors have a form of faith that leads to action: they have faith in their true danger so take real action; they have faith in their gods and so pray. Meanwhile, Jonah’s faith has led him to go below deck and fall into a deep sleep. Too often in this life, those who don’t know Jesus can be more active for good than the church!
ASLEEP IN THE LIGHT
I’m reminded of the challenging lyrics of the Keith Green song, Asleep in the Light:
Do you see? Do you see?
All the people sinking down?
Don't you care? Don't you care?
Are you gonna let them drown?
How can you be so numb?
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes and pretend the job's done
Open up, open up
And give yourself away
You see the need, you hear the cries
So how can you delay?
God's calling and you're the one
But like Jonah, you run
He's told you to speak but you keep holding it in
Oh, can't you see it's such sin?
The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can't fight
'Cause it's asleep in the light
The words of Keith Green are prophetic; In our narrative today, we hear a similar rebuke from this unbelieving captain:
“How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
There is much that can be said about the state of the world but the church’s prayerlessness is, I believe, the principle cause of her lack of effectiveness. The good deeds of the church and her sharing of the gospel are rendered ineffective, misplaced or missing if prayer is not at the heart of church life and a Christian’s lifestyle.
Prayer is the key that unlocks the power of God's presence and activity in our world. It is through prayer that we align our hearts and minds with God's will and purposes, and it is through prayer that we gain access to the spiritual resources we need to be effective in our mission. Without a consistent, fervent prayer life, we lose sight of God's vision for the world, we become ineffective in sharing the gospel and our good deeds become legalism or virtue signalling rather than an overflow of the life and love of God.
Are you and I devoted to prayer or are we asleep in the light? Is our faith in God expressed in devotion to the church’s prayer meetings and personal intercession?
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Don’t forget that this is the last week that people can sign up for Alpha on Tuesday evening (7:00-9:00).
What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week?
3. RECAP OF SUNDAY’S MESSAGE - PLEASE SHARE IN YOUR GROUP
BIG IDEA: GOD SENDS A STORM TO WAKE UP THOSE WHO ARE SPIRITUALLY ASLEEP.
Please read Jonah 1:4-16
The story of Jonah serves as a reminder of the consequences of running away from God's call and becoming spiritually asleep. Jonah, a prophet of God, was called to go to Nineveh and help the people there, but he disobeyed and went in the opposite direction. He got on a ship and went below deck, where he fell into a deep sleep. God then sent a storm to bring Jonah to his senses and wake him up to his mission. The sailors on the ship cast lots to find out who was responsible for the storm, and the lot fell on Jonah. They asked him to tell them who he was and why he was causing the storm. Jonah replied that he was a Hebrew and worshiped the Lord, and that the storm was his fault. The sailors threw Jonah overboard, and the sea calmed down. The main idea of the story is that God uses storms as a way to wake up those who are spiritually asleep. It serves as a reminder to not run away from God and to always be active and prayerful in serving His mission.
On Sunday, we discussed the importance of SIV - a strategy of building relationships to bring others to Jesus. The three key elements of SIV include serving the real needs of others, investing time to deepen relationships, and inviting individuals into church community and events such as Alpha. By actively engaging in these actions, and through prayer, we trust that we will have opportunities to share the gospel and lead others to a deeper understanding and relationship with God through Christ. If you missed it, you might find it helpful to watch this interview with Jason together:
4. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What are the things that make a Christian becomes spiritually asleep and lose a passion for God’s mission to see people become Christians?
Would you say that you were awake or sleepy in your love for God and His mission? Give reasons for your answer.
Why does God send the storm?
What are the ways that God uses to wake us up to a fresh love for Him and His mission?
How have you Served, Invested and Invited in your communities this week? (Let’s share about this again next week)
How have you got on with making a list and praying for your non-believing friends each day? (Let’s share about this again next week)
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 the Spirit would wake us up -revive us - with fresh love for Him and those to whom God has sent us.