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 deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, 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.’ (Jonah 2:1-4)
Summary: In the depths, we have two choices: faith or despair. Those who speak truth to themselves will grow in the midst of the roaring waves.
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In the depths, we have two choices: faith or despair. It’s a fact that for some people being taken down into the depths of trial causes them to flower and for others is causes bitterness and even unbelief. Spurgeon wrote:
“The same sun which melts wax hardens clay. And the same Gospel which melts some persons to repentance hardens others in their sins”
Jonah’s true faith is revealed in these depths. He’s like a nut that has its shell removed to reveal something good inside; Jonah, initially, appears very ugly in his attitude and behaviour. However, under the surface, he’s a man with a true heart for God. Testing reveals our heart for God. The fire of refining reveals if we are true gold or just pretence. It’s easy to say that we love Jesus when culture and circumstances are favourable but what are we prepared to be persecuted for His name?
In the turmoil of his life, Jonah spoke to himself and said:
‘Yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’
Jonah chose faith and worship rather than despair and bitterness. What are are the tumultuous waters of your life causing you to do? Jonah teaches us a valuable lesson: we must speak to ourselves rather than listening to ourselves or our circumstances. Jonah tells himself to look up to God. We read something similar in Psalm 42:
‘Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.’ (Psalm 42:5-7)
In the depths, we have two choices: faith or despair. Those who speak to themselves about truth, will find faith and growth.
RESPONSE - SPEAK TO YOURSELF BOUT WHAT’S TRUE
In the tumultuous waters of your life, what are you confessing? What are you believing? What are you saying to yourself? If you were counselling someone else who was going through and feeling what you are feeling at the moment, what would you say to them? Likewise, are you being helpful to yourself by telling yourself the truth or are you teaching yourself to despair?
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Please try to use the COME TO JESUS DAILY DEVOTIONALS (blog). This will help us to get deep into this book together. There is also a video option if that helps (Ensure that everyone knows how to access this)
What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week?
3. RECAP OF SUNDAY’S MESSAGE - PLEASE SHARE IN YOUR GROUP
IN THE BELLY OF THE FISH
Please read Jonah 1:17-2:10
BIG IDEA: SUFFERING LEADS TO DEEPER DARKNESS OR GROWTH AND GRATITUDE.
Jonah, after running away from God’s call to go the Nineveh, ends up being thrown into the sea and into the belly of a huge fish for 3 days and nights. Here, in his suffering, Jonah has a choice: He can descend into greater darkness or he can turn to God in trust, prayer and worship.
I’m sure that we’ve all had the experience for feeling lost and afraid. What’s our response? How would we answer: In my distress I…
Jonah's response was to exhort himself to turn to God in prayer and worship, acknowledging God's greatness and mercy; choosing not to let his mistakes and dark circumstances rob him of faith.
Jonah’s 3 days in the fish, are spoken of by Jesus as ‘the sign of Jonah’(Matthew 12:39-41). Just as Jonah was 3 days in the heart of the sea, so Jesus was 3 days in the grave for our salvation. As Jonah was given a second chance and was brought out into light and life to serve God, so, Jesus' death and resurrection give us life and hope.
Finally, God commanded to fish to vomit Jonah onto the beach. With God -the God of resurrection - there is always the opportunity to return - to repent - and come back to a place of prayer, worship, obedience and hope.
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 Yves together:
Why and how can suffering lead to deeper darkness or growth and gratitude?
How would you answer: ‘In my distress, I…’?
What aspects of Jonah’s prayer inspire you and why?
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 fill us with His resurrection power so as to be compassionate and courageous this week.