GOD SENT A STORM
AND THEN GOD SENT A GREAT FISH
WHEN JONAH WAS IN THAT FISH
HE CAME TO HIS SENSES
REPENTING OF HIS IDOLS
ASKING THE LORD THAT HE MIGHT GROW
MOST OF US HAVE DONE THE SAME
PRAYING, AS WE HAVE BEEN TAUGHT,
THAT WE MIGHT GROW
OR PRAYING, AS WE KNOW WE SHOULD,
THAT OUR CHILDREN MIGHT GROW
This is our last week on Jonah before we begin a new series next week. We wrap up with a major point of Jonah. Though God cares about our happiness, He is more interested in our holiness. One day, in eternity, we will understand.The Gospel is what helps us both see our sin and trust Him to repent and turn to Him. It helps us “hold on” in trial, to, as Susan has said and pictured in her testimony this week, “reach out our hand.”
John Newton was A slave trader who, though a believer, could not see his sin for decades. He even prayed that God would help him catch Africans for his slave trade. He wrote to his wife Polly from one of his inhumane slave ships: “I feel like Noah, shut up with so many unclean creatures, but in a much smaller space.”
John Newton also knew, as a believer, that he should pray that he would grow. As an older, transformed man, the man who gave us the hymn Amazing Grace, he wrote another hymn I’d like you to listen to carefully. Here is one beautiful rendition:
In this contemporary version, one line is changed. Where you heard:
Instead of this he made me feel, the hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of hell assault my soul in every part
The original was:
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.
Here is the whole song (courtesy of the link Elizabeth gave us to an article by Carson and Keller)
I asked the Lord that I might grow In faith, and love, and every grace; Might more of His salvation know, And seek, more earnestly, His face.
I hoped that in some favored hour, At once He’d answer my request; and by His love’s constraining pow’r, Subdue my sins, and give me rest.
Instead of this, He made me feel The hidden evils of my heart; And let the angry pow’rs of hell Assault my soul in every part.
Yea more, with His own hand
He seemed intent to aggravate my woe; Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.
“Lord why is this,” I trembling cried, “Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?” “’Tis in this way,” the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.”
“These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set thee free And break thy schemes of earthly joy, That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”
These lines refer to the surprising end of Jonah. Jonah has preached to Ninevah (albeit a lousy sermon) and then gone outside the city to see what happens. He is angry — fearing God will forgive the Ninevites. His idols are back. As Calvin said, our hearts are idol making factories. So God designed a trial just for him. It was hot — blistering heat — something like the summer many of you have experienced this year.
JONAH WAS SO GLAD FOR THE VINE THAT
SPROUTED UP QUICKLY OVERNIGHT GIVING HIM
RELIEF FROM THE BLAZING HEAT
AND THEN GOD SENT A WORM…
The Lord is serious about refining His children.
In this life, the Potter puts us continually over the fire.
Did Jonah ever mature to a godly man with some stability in his maturity?
Do you know how we know?
Find out with this week’s final sermon from Keller on Jonah. You will also hear a testimony from our dear Susan on how to respond in the midst of trial. She’s living it out, day by day.
Sunday/Monday Contemplation and Ice-breaker
(Dee will be talking on Women and Friendship on Monday and Tuesday on James Dobson’s Family Talk — you can listen online: drjamesdobson.org)
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. Think about some of the greatest blessings God has given you. Then think about how you have been tempted to trust in those blessings, and how the Lord has had to teach you not to trust in that blessing but in Him. Share here.
Monday-Wednesday: Dee’s Bible Study and Susan’s Testimony
3. Review Jonah’s prayer in the belly of the fish (Jonah 2) What honest repentance do you see?
4. Yet, describe Jonah’s half-hearted sermon when he “obeys.” (Jonah 3:4)
5. When we watched Rachael’s video, she said, “It is such a daily battle.” Many of you really have grown in regard to your idols — and yet, write here how you must battle daily with a besetting sin.
6. How did the Ninevites respond and how did Jonah respond to this?
7. Describe the dialogue between Jonah and God in Jonah 4:1-4
8. Describe the blessing God gave and then how he took it away. What was His point?
I have, indeed, been pondering how I have trusted in nearly every blessing God has given — instead of in Him: my health, my marriage, my children, my ministry, my savings…and God has had to show me, with each one, that it is “sinking sand.”
9. Listen to the song “I asked the Lord that I might grow” again, and write your reflections.
Susan came on the blog during The God of All Comfort, when her nephew died. Susan is particularly conscientious, doing her lesson carefully. She has a challenging life, for her husband is an unbeliever who often is hostile, and her teenage sons often model him. She faces this each day, but most of the time (and she is vulnerably honest) she reflects the grace and love of Christ in the midst of this pain.
During a time of fear and depression, a friend sent me this verse, torn from a book, tucked securely in her
purse, until one day it fell out and she knew it was for me.
Fear returned when my nephew died of a drug overdose. “Lord, I am afraid” – of my parents’ declining health, my sons leaving home, of not having intimacy in my marriage, of being alone. My fear shows my idolatry – depending on some thing or someone other than God. Like Jonah, I must exclaim, “Salvation is from the Lord.” How do I move to a new level of faith? By holding out my hand.
10. Comment on Susan’s testimony.
11. How might you apply Susan’s wisdom to your current trials?
Thursday-Friday Listen to this sermon by Keller:
Link: Click Here
(This was in the series many of you purchased at the beginning of this Jonah study. If you didn’t get it then, you will need to purchase it individually.)
12. What are your notes from the sermon?
13. How do we know Jonah matured?
14. List three major take-a-ways from Jonah — referencing the specific passage, and putting each in a single sentence. Then write down a personal prayer for yourself, incorporating at least one of the take-a-ways.