photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

The Jonah Saga – Lesson 4

We would do more for God if only He expected less from us. Jonah is a case in point.

Jonah on the beach“Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” Jonah 1:1-2

It was a remarkable command that was given to Jonah. He was not asked to go to a certain church within a large city, and preach a stirring message. Nor was he asked to organize a team to methodically evangelize a huge metropolis. Jonah was commanded to single-handedly warn the entire city of Nineveh of the impending judgements of God upon them. Just one man to warn a city of thousands. Just who did God think Jonah was?

This week as we contemplate The Jonah Saga, we can’t help but to see ourselves throughout this short story. From its very beginning we are confronted with the reality that God expects more out of us than we believe we are capable of doing. Like many before us, we hear the direction from God to go forward but we are paralyzed by our own self-doubts. Surely God cannot really want us to do such great things for Him.

Without effort we instantly see the obstacles that stand in our way – both inwardly and outwardly. Inwardly we realize our frailties and limitations. Failure has been so much a part of our history that it clouds the brightness of our future in connection with God. We look at the task ahead and compare it to who we believe we are, and we shrink back.

Remember the call of Moses by God? God appeared to Moses and spoke to Him from a burning bush. Like Jonah, Moses received a command that to him was unfathomable and his doubts began to overwhelm him.

“And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:11

All of us either have been where these two men were or we will be in that position in the future. God has always called His people to do extraordinary things. The Bible is flush with example after example of men and women doing the unimaginable by trusting God and following His commands.

Jonah could readily see how difficult his given task would be. Logistically it was a near impossibility. Plus, Nineveh was a city with a reputation for evil and who would even listen to an unknown prophet named Jonah. So Jonah fled to Tarshish.

I’m glad that our God does not give up on us. Even in our irrational folly and in our episodes of fear and extreme doubt, God is working things out for our good. Only God can turn our disasters into opportunities of blessings. And that’s exactly what He did with Jonah’s failure.

We’re more than familiar with how the story of Jonah turned out. The violent storm, the great fish, the witness to Nineveh and Jonah’s subsequent depression all tell one simple truth – that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9. And that included Jonah.

Just as much as this story outlines God’s care for the inhabitants of cities given over to evil, it also reveals clearly the lengths God goes through in using flawed individuals to accomplish His will. And for that we must be eternally grateful.

None of us have walked this Christian journey without serious blunders and repeated detours and failures. All of us have had our flights of fears and bouts of spiritual depression. Yet God has called us to do great things for Him. And if He has called us, He will equip us. Our job each day is to simply trust and obey.

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

  • What does being obedient to God mean to you?
  • Is it true that as long as I am more obedient than disobedient, God is pleased with my life? Why yes or no?
  • What role, if any, should self-confidence play in the life of a Christian?
  • Is it true that the more I believe I am great the greater the things I can do for God? Explain your answer.
  • Is it true that if I have any fears that is an indication that something is wrong with my Christian experience? Explain your answer.
  • Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: Being aware of one’s own failures will cause a person to be more patient and compassionate with others. Explain your answer.

We close this week with the words of Moses to Israel in his charge to them to go and possess the land. Moses learned that with God all things are possible. This is great advice to us as we seek to advance God’s kingdom.

“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!

For online lessons please visit http://http://www.ssnet.org/lessons/15c/less04.html

 

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Isaiah 40:8

photo by Curtis Hall

The Unlikely Missionary – Lesson 3

The proof is in the pudding. That’s a common saying that has morphed into meaning you must actually try the food in order to know if it’s good or not. This week as we talk about The Unlikely Missionary, we will focus our attention on the proof of the pudding.

Art by Ferdinand Bol

Art by Ferdinand Bol

The story of Naaman is one that many of us first learned in our Cradle Roll classes during Sabbath School. There’s even an old gospel song about Naaman going down into the Jordan seven times. Check it out on Youtube.This quarter we have the luxury to examine the lives of biblical Missionaries. Each story, while unique, will have some striking similarities with the others. The one we will look at today is the result of an encounter with someone who is in touch with God.

The chain of events that led to Naaman’s cleansing began with a servant girl. She’s notable for several reasons. First of all, she cared enough. She was a slave girl taken from her home, yet she displayed the attributes of care and concern that is vital to being a missionary for God.

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Crucified and Risen – Lesson 13

Book of Luke“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,…”

This is a part of the opening sentence of the classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. Written to indicate the opposing factors of the author’s subject, this line could aptly describe the tensions that existed during the period of this week’s study on Crucified and Risen.

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall