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Limitless Grace: Jonah 1:4-16

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was
a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. 5 Then the
mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that
was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the
inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came
and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god!
Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.” 7 And they said to
one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has
come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him,
“Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation?
And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?”
9 And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who
made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to
him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from
the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 Then they said to him,
“What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew
more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the
sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great
tempest has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to
dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against
them. 14 Therefore they called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this
man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it
pleased you.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea
ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they
offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.—Jonah 1:4–16 (ESV)

WATCH—This clip from today’s message:
Our passage today begins with Jonah on a storm-tossed ship and ends with him being
hurled into the raging Mediterranean Sea. Jonah is trying his best to escape playing a
part in God’s merciful plan to reach the sinful Ninevites. But instead of escaping,
Jonah finds himself used by God to reach pagan sailors onboard his ship. There’s
great irony in this: in the running away from preaching to “outsiders,” Jonah is used
to preach to outsiders! In his desperation to avoid helping pagans turn to God, he
finds himself being used by God to bring pagans into a relationship with Him.

ICEBREAKER – When you read or watch the news, do you ever feel the world is
spinning out of control? What recent events or trends lead you to feel this way?

QUESTION – Have you ever been on a boat during a big storm? What was it like?

QUESTION - How do verses 4–6 emphasize the ship’s desperate situation?

QUESTION - What are we told about the religious views of Jonah’s companions
onboard the ship?

QUESTION - Based on what we’ve already learned about Jonah, how do you think
he feels about these sailors?

QUESTION - Considering this, what is surprising about how they treat Jonah?
Generally, as we go on as Christians, it’s easier to take God’s grace for granted.
We’ve also had longer to come up with excuses for why living 100% for God is
unrealistic, and we may have already tried and failed in various areas of the Christian
life, so be less willing to obey God in those areas now.

QUESTION - People new to the Christian faith are often quicker to listen to God’s
word and more willing to change than those who have been Christians for a while.
Why do you think this is? How can we prevent ourselves from becoming like Jonah,
who heard God but wouldn’t listen?

The behavior of Jonah looks even worse when we compare it with the actions of the
pagan sailors. Sometimes our behavior doesn’t measure up even to the standard of
those around us who aren’t Christians. Are there any areas of your life where this is
happening now? What will you do about it?

QUESTION - Fear is a significant theme in this passage. Note each of the three
times fear or terror is mentioned in verses 4–16.

QUESTION - What progression do you see? And what does this tell us?

QUESTION - How does the sailors’ understanding of God change?

The great irony of this episode is that God uses His unwilling, rebellious prophet to
bring these pagans to know and respect Him! Jonah does for the pagan sailors
precisely what he’s trying to avoid doing for the pagan Ninevites.

Think about how God’s character is displayed in this section. What hope does this
give us as we try to share our faith with those who don’t know Jesus? Is there
someone you’re not talking to about Jesus because you don’t think they’d ever
respond? Will you ask God for a chance to speak to them about Christ this week and
take it if it’s offered?

…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a
defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with
gentleness and respect—1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)

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