Jonah: Failing God

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Have you ever blown it big time? Ever felt like you were a total failure to God and to yourself? No matter how badly you messed up, Jonah probably has you beaten in the “failed God” category. And yet, the moment he had a change of heart, God put him right back to work.

1. Read

Jonah 1:17 [NLT] “Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah.”

Jonah didn’t want to obey God’s instruction to preach to Nineveh. He ran, trying to sail to the opposite end of the world. Instead, he found himself swallowed by a fish. Make no mistake – you can’t outrun God’s call on your life… or His discipline.

  • Have you ever felt God lead you to do something that intimidated you?
  • Ever promised to do something for Him, but then backed out when things got difficult? How did those situations turn out?
  • Have you ever felt like you were in spiritual “time-out” with God – like He was distant? 
  • Whose decisions put you there? What had to change in order for you to feel connected again?

 

2. Challenge

Jonah 1:17-2:1 [NLT]   “Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish.”

It took Jonah 3 days, but he finally made the decision to change and submit to God’s plan. How did God respond? He gave him the exact same command and put him back to work.

  • Think of a pastor or church leader who’s had a moral failure. Did the talent and spiritual gifts God planted in that person change when they sinned? Did His mission for them change?
  • Is it God who has a hard time restoring people from sin, or is it people?
  • What are some things God has called you to do or be? Have you ever failed to live up to them?
  • Did God fire you, or does He want you to get back to work like Jonah?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes and talk to God (thankfully, not from inside a fish!) Thank Him for being patient with you when you’ve made sinful choices and fallen short of His plans for your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you put the past behind you and get back to work living for Him.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Spy Kids: What’s Your Name?”

1. Power Verse

Isaiah 62:2 “And the Lord will give you a new name.”

What’s Up: “God’s Gonna Give Me A Brand New Name!”

This week, we start a brand new series called, “Spy Kids”.  In this series, we’ll learn from the story of Daniel and his friends about remaining faithful to God no matter what!

2. Activity

Tell your children to imagine they’ve moved to Germany for the rest of their lives. Give each of them a German name such as Gerda, Franziska, Ingeborg, or Sigrid for girls or Gustav, Engelbert, Helmar, or Volkmar for boys. Call them by that name for the rest of the devotion. Then talk about the changes you’d have to make if you moved to Germany.

3. Read & Discuss

  • How hard do you think it would be to learn a new language?
  • Do you think you would like learning new customs?
  • Do you think you would miss your American name and the American way you do things?
  • Would you eventually forget what it was like to live in America?

Read: Daniel 1 

Daniel Is Trained in Babylon

It was the third year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. His armies surrounded the city and attacked it. The Lord handed Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, over to him. Nebuchadnezzar also took some of the objects from God’s temple. He carried them off to the temple of his god in Babylon. He put them among the treasures of his god.

The king gave Ashpenaz an order. Ashpenaz was the chief of Nebuchadnezzar’s court officials. The king told him to bring him some of the Israelites. The king wanted them to serve him in his court. He wanted nobles and men from the royal family. He was looking for young men who were healthy and handsome. They had to be able to learn anything. They had to be well educated. They had to have the ability to understand new things quickly and easily. The king wanted men who could serve in his palace. Ashpenaz was supposed to teach them the Babylonian language and writings. The king had his servants give them food and wine from his own table. They received a certain amount every day. The young men had to be trained for three years. After that, they could begin to serve the king.

Some of the men chosen were from Judah. Their names were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names. He gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar. He gave Hananiah the name Shadrach. He gave Mishael the name Meshach. And he gave Azariah the name Abednego.

Daniel decided not to make himself “unclean” by eating the king’s food and drinking his wine. So he asked the chief official for a favor. He wanted permission not to make himself “unclean” with the king’s food and wine. God had caused the official to be kind and friendly to Daniel. 10 But the official refused to do what Daniel asked for. He said, “I’m afraid of the king. He is my master. He has decided what you and your three friends must eat and drink. Other young men are the same age as you. Why should he see you looking worse than them? When he sees how you look, he might kill me.”

11 So Daniel spoke to one of the guards. The chief official had appointed him over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 12 Daniel said to him, “Please test us for ten days. Give us nothing but vegetables to eat. And give us only water to drink. 13 Then compare us with the young men who eat the king’s food. See how we look. After that, do what you want to.” 14 So the guard agreed. He tested them for ten days.

15 After the ten days Daniel and his friends looked healthy and well fed. In fact, they looked better than any of the young men who ate the king’s food. 16 So the guard didn’t require them to eat the king’s special food. He didn’t require them to drink the king’s wine either. He gave them vegetables instead.

17 God gave knowledge and understanding to these four young men. So they understood all kinds of writings and subjects. And Daniel could understand all kinds of visions and dreams.

18 The three years the king had set for their training ended. So the chief official brought them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them. He didn’t find anyone equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. So they began to serve the king. 20 He asked them for advice in matters that required wisdom and understanding. The king always found their answers to be the best. Other men in his kingdom claimed to get knowledge by using magic. But the answers of Daniel and his friends were ten times better than theirs.

21 Daniel served in Babylon until the first year Cyrus ruled over the land of Babylon. Cyrus was king of Persia.

God has a plan for our lives, but Satan wants to destroy that plan. He does that by tempting us to sin and do things God doesn’t want us to do. Satan hopes that we’ll eventually forget what it’s like to follow God and instead learn to enjoy our sins. What he doesn’t tell us is that eventually we have to pay a huge price for those sins—our relationships with each other and ultimately our relationship with God will be destroyed.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray together, asking God to help you resist temptation so you can always be the person God created you to be.

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