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  • Matt Beaney

#732. THE SEA GREW CALM (19/1/23)



‘Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.’ (Jonah 1:14-16)

Summary: God’s blessing and peace attends those who obey Him and seek forgiveness when they don’t.


You can watch this devotional at:

Once rebellious Jonah was removed from the ship, the sea grew calm. This is not a promise that if we obey God, everything will be heaven on earth! However, when we walk with God, we do experience His presence, blessing and peace in a fuller way. The grace of God does not mean that sin has no consequences on our relationship with God. God is not pleased with us when we sin. Yes, he still loves us, but the situation is like a father who is seeing his child going off the rails!


The sense of peace and relations with God will be damaged in a number of ways: If we are in rebellion against God, our consciences will be disquieted. We will be filled with guilt. Our experience of the Spirit’s presence will be quenched if we are grieving Him. God promises to humble the proud (James 4:6). God’s presence and strengthening is promised to the repentant as James writes:

‘Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.’ (James 4:8-10)

We may wish that our attitude and behaviour has no bearing on God’s opinion of us and our experience of Him but that would be very sad indeed and reflects that we have been polluted by the amorality of our culture. C. S. Lewis wrote of how God’s love seeks to change us:

‘We may wish indeed that we were of so little account to God that he left us alone to follow our natural impulses-that he would give over trying to train us into something so unlike our natural selves: but one again, we are asking not for more love, but less…To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God…’

RESPONSE - “FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS…”

Jesus taught us to include in our daily praying “Forgive us our debts…” He did this because He knows that keeping short accounts with God is important, necessary and good for us.

While it is important to be cautious of the devil's condemning accusations, we should allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in identifying specific sins for which we need to repent and receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Through confession and repentance we can be restored and experience the peace, joy and fruitfulness that come from being in right relationship with God.

 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY


1. NOTICES

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).

2. ICEBREAKER

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 become 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.


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