GO FISH – Journey through Jonah

Go Fish

Part 4: Catching Up To God’s Heart or Don’t Shoot the Messenger, I’ll Do It Myself!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Fishing with God

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matthew 4:20

Recap of Jonah’s Journey…

God told Jonah to deliver a message east to the great but wicked city of Ninevah.

Jonah instead caught a fast ship going west.

A severe storm exposed Jonah’s rebellion and he was tossed overboard.

Jonah was then saved by a great fish who shuttled him back east to shore.

Jonah has a come-to-Jesus moment while inside the fish and resumes his mission.

To Jonah’s chagrin, Ninevah responds positively to God’s message and avoids calamity.

Jonah’s Worst Fear Realized – Jonah 4
But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant.

But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said,
“It would be better for me to die than to live.”
But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”   -Anne Lamott

Feeling God’s Pain – paraphrasing God’s heart
“Let us analyze this anger of yours, Jonah,” comments Yahweh, “It represents your concern over your beloved shade plant – but what did it really mean to you? Your attachment could not have been very deep, for it was here one day and gone the next. Your concern was dictated by self-interest, not by a genuine love. You never had for it the devotion of a gardener. If you feel as badly as you do, what would you expect a gardener to feel like, who tended a plant and watched it grow only to see it wither and die, poor thing?
“And this is how I feel about Nineveh, only much more so. All those people, all those animals – I made them. I have cherished them all these years. Ninevah has cost me no end of effort, and they mean the world to me. Can you begin to feel the pain I feel when I contemplate losing them?” -S.H. Blank

How do we learn to match God’s heart for those far off from Him?

Family Values!

Not Just Jesus’ Father
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
“‘Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation. Luke 11:1-4

How does God’s Fatherhood Matter?
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?
The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.

God’s Fatherhood Connects Us All to Each Other
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in,
or needing clothes and clothe you?
When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

My Challenge:
To feel toward my fellow human being – my brothers and sisters – the same way I desire my children to feel for each other.



Part 3: Jonah Finally Delivers God’s Message or That’s What You Call a Fast Response!

Sunday April 26, 2015

Fishing with God

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matthew 4:20

Jonah’s Message and Ninevah’s Fast Response
Jonah 3
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.
Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.

This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:
“By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

According to Sir Austen Henry Layard, who chronicled the rediscovery of Nineveh in his classic Discoveries at Nineveh, the circumference of Greater Nineveh was “exactly three days’ journey,” as recorded in Jonah 3:3. Prior to its rediscovery, skeptics scoffed at the possibility that so large a city could have existed in the ancient world. In fact, skeptics denied the existence of Nineveh altogether. Its rediscovery in the mid-1800s proved to be a remarkable vindication for the Bible, which mentions Nineveh by name 18 times and dedicates two books (Jonah and Nahum) to its fate.
-Austen Henry Layard, A Popular Account of Discoveries at Nineveh

Critics find Nineveh’s immediate and mass repentance hard to believe. However, a interesting case can be made for Nineveh’s repentance when Jonah’s extraordinary arrival upon the shores of the Mediterranean is viewed in light of the prominence of Dagon worship in the area.

Dagon was a fish-god who enjoyed popularity among the pantheons of Mesopotamia and the eastern Mediterranean coast. He is mentioned several times in the Bible in relation to the Philistines (Judges 16:23-24; 1 Samuel 5:1-7; 1 Chronicles 10:8-12). Images of Dagon have been found in palaces and temples in Nineveh and throughout the region. In some cases he was represented as a man wearing a fish. In others he was part man, part fish—a merman, of sorts.

Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.

How can we best share God’s message to those He is fishing for in our lives?

Ask questions rather than tell truths

  • Did you grow up with a particular faith background?
  • How do you feel connected on a spiritual level?
  • What do you find helpful in your beliefs?
  • Are you satisfied spiritually or still searching?

Share Stories rather than quote scriptures

  • your spiritual journey
  • how you’ve benefited from a faith community
  • satisfaction from serving a cause
  • feeling peace, healing, hope, renewal, etc.

Meet Needs rather than fix flaws

  • providing a meal
  • providing childcare
  • helping with a project
  • just listening

Invite Along to a common interest

  • a service project
  • a social gathering
  • a kid’s play date
  • church if there’s interest

Ask Questions
Share Stories
Meet Needs
Invite Over



Go Fish

Part 2: Jonah’s Story Gets Deep  or  It takes guts to follow God

Sunday April 19, 2015

Fishing with God

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matthew 4:20

Jonah 2 Chart Ranking?

Mary (Luke 1)
Deborah (Judges 5)
Moses (Exodus 15)
David (2 Samuel 22)
Hezekiah (Isaiah 38)

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.
He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight;
yet I will look againtoward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me,  the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

We all have a God-sized story to share…

Piecing My Story Together

  • Life Without God
  • Intersecting God
  • Life With God

Life Without God

  • What did you believe about yourself and the purpose for your life?
  • What were your views, if any, of God? Of Christianity? Of Church?
  • What were some painful experiences in your life? How did you deal with them?
  • What questions did you have about life or faith?

Intersecting God

  • What circumstances led you to your decision to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior?
  • Who else was involved? (friend, family member, pastor?)
  • Describe your experience (private prayer, one-on-one, small group, church, special event, etc.)
  • Describe any changes in your feelings or thoughts toward life during that time.
  • Who did you tell about it? How did they respond?

Life with God

  • How is your life different now? What have been some blessings?
  • What have been some painful or challenging experiences?
  • How do you now deal with those kinds of experiences now?
  • How has God show himself to be active in your life?
  • How has God used you to serve or bless others?
  • What questions have been answered for you?
  • What questions do you still have?

Amazing Grace
The Story of Rev. John Newton
An English sailor, in the Royal Navy for a period, and later a captain of slave ships, Newton became ordained as an evangelical Anglican cleric who served over two decades and was known for his inspirational preaching. He also wrote hymns, most notably, Amazing Grace.
Newton started his career at sea at a young age, and worked on slave ships in the African slave trade for several years, which he deeply regretted after giving his life to Christ. In addition to serving as a minister he also became a prominent supporter of abolitionism, living to see Britain’s abolition of the African slave trade in 1807.

Your story needs to be remembered and shared!


 Go Fish 

Part 1: Swimming Upstream or A funny thing happened to me on the way to Tarshish

Sunday April 12, 2015

Not Taking the Bait
Jonah 1 (the Message)
One day long ago, God’s Word came to Jonah, Amittai’s son: “Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach to them. They’re in a bad way and I can’t ignore it any longer.”
But Jonah got up and went the other direction to Tarshish, running away from God. He went down to the port of Joppa and found a ship headed for Tarshish. He paid the fare and went on board, joining those going to Tarshish—as far away from God as he could get. But God sent a huge storm at sea, the waves towering. The ship was about to break into pieces. The sailors were terrified. They called out in desperation to their gods. They threw everything they were carrying overboard to lighten the ship. Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship to take a nap. He was sound asleep. The captain came to him and said, “What’s this? Sleeping! Get up! Pray to your god! Maybe your god will see we’re in trouble and rescue us.”
Then the sailors said to one another, “Let’s get to the bottom of this. Let’s draw straws to identify the culprit on this ship who’s responsible for this disaster.” So they drew straws.
Jonah got the short straw. Then they grilled him: “Confess. Why this disaster? What is your work? Where do you come from? What country? What family?” He told them, “I’m a Hebrew. I worship God, the God of heaven who made sea and land.” At that, the men were frightened, really frightened, and said, “What on earth have you done!” As Jonah talked, the sailors realized that he was running away from God. They said to him, “What are we going to do with you—to get rid of this storm?” By this time the sea was wild, totally out of control. Jonah said, “Throw me overboard, into the sea. Then the storm will stop. It’s all my fault. I’m the cause of the storm. Get rid of me and you’ll get rid of the storm.” But no. The men tried rowing back to shore. They made no headway. The storm only got worse and worse, wild and raging. Then they prayed to God, “O God! Don’t let us drown because of this man’s life, and don’t blame us for his death. You are God. Do what you think is best.”
They took Jonah and threw him overboard. Immediately the sea was quieted down. The sailors were impressed, no longer terrified by the sea, but in awe of God. They worshiped God, offered a sacrifice, and made vows. Then God assigned a huge fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah was in the fish’s belly three days and nights.

What we know about Jonah

  • A prophet from the Northern Kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 14:25)
  • Lived during the reign of King Jeroboam II (c.786–746 BC)
  • From the city of Gath-hepher (a few miles north of Nazareth)

We know about Ninevah

  • Ancient Ninevah was the largest city in the world in its time.
  • The capital of the Kingdom of Assyria
  • Assyria took captive the entire Northern Kingdom of Israel (740-722 BC)

Israel vs. Ninevah

“In the minds of the Iraelite listeners, Ninevah stood for the essence of human self-exaltation and anti-God power…it connotes what is big and bad, an intolerable affront to God.” -Leslie C. Allen

So why did Jonah bolt?

Was he afraid of how the Ninevites would treat him?

Had he lost his faith in God and tired of serving as His prophet?

Or did he know God so well that he feared his worst enemies might benefit from his God’s mercy?

Spoiler Alert!

“Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”
Jonah 4:2-3

Think of the least likely person to follow God……and realize that God is right now actively pursuing that person with all His love and compassion.

So why did God send the storm and the great fish?

To scare Jonah and the sailors and show off His mighty power?

To punish Jonah for being disobedient and running away?

Or did God care for Jonah so much he would go to any extreme to increase Jonah’s experience of sharing God’s love with others?

Fishing with God

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matthew 4:18-20