Jonah was a prophet who loved his own country, Israel, so when God told him to go to Nineveh—the capital city of the Assyrian empire, known for its brutality and licentiousness—Jonah ran.
What do you love most about the place you’re from?
Have a volunteer read Jonah 1:1-3.
When God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah decided instead to run from God.
Have you ever decided to do the opposite of what God asked you to do? What happened as a result?
Have a volunteer read Jonah 1:4-10
It’s impossible to outrun God. Jonah may have headed in the opposite direction, but God knew right where he was and sent a storm to get Jonah’s attention.
Is there any place in your life where God is trying to get your attention?
Jonah wasn’t the only one in the boat at risk. By running from God, he endangered his fellow sailors as well. When we ignore God it doesn’t just impact us, it impacts those around us.
Is it possible that your ignoring God is having a negative impact on other people around you?
Have a volunteer read Jonah 1:11-15
Jonah knows that he is the cause of the storm that they’re all facing, and he’s willing to sacrifice himself to protect the people around him. Whether or not we’re the cause of a storm in someone’s life, God calls us to be there for each other through difficult seasons.
What storm are you facing in life right now? How can this group be a support to you in the midst of this storm?
Have a volunteer read Jonah 1:16
God wants to have a relationship to each and every person on Earth, and His plan to get to know them is that His people would introduce others to who He is. God wanted Jonah to preach to the Ninevites, calling them to turn from their evil ways, but instead Jonah ran. In spite of that, God used Jonah to reveal Himself to the other people on the boat.
Who in your life might God want you to introduce to Him?
How has God worked out missteps and mistakes in your own life for good?
In his sermon, Mike talked about a few of the reasons people run from God: doubt, pain, pride, lack of trust, and avoidance of difficult situations.
What tempts you to run from God, and how can you overcome that temptation?
Mike also talked about how the American Dream short-circuits our willingness to follow God’s call.
We grow up with a plan for our lives: go to school, go to college, make good grades, get a good job offer with the right firm, project the right image, wear the right clothes, make the right moves, climb the corporate ladder, make the big bucks, find the right guy, find the right girl, live in the perfect HGTV home, on the perfect cul-de-sac, with two cars, 2.5 perfect kids, and two dogs.
If God calls us to anything that would interrupt that perfect ideal, we don’t want to do it.
Is it possible that God is calling you to something that gets in the way of your American dream? Could He be asking you to:
Take a less-stressful, lower-paying job so that you have more time to serve other people?
Invite someone who needs a place to live into your home?
Relocate to care for a sick family member?
Risk having a conversation about faith that could alienate a client?
Live more simply so that you can give more away?
Begin viewing your house as a refuge for the hurting rather than a castle designed to protect your family from the world?
Intentionally build relationships with people who don’t look like you, act like you, live like you, or who just plain don’t like you?