Can you think of a time you learned a lesson by someone’s example of what not to do? Probably quite a few times. Learning from other people’s experiences, both good and bad, could be considered learning the “easy way.” While we often read stories in the Bible where we learn from how God worked through the heroes of faith, this week we’re focusing on a prophet who insisted on being taught the “hard way” that God’s work through us is never useless.
DILIGENCE: Consistently Working With All My Heart to Bring Glory to God
MEMORY VERSE: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor for the Lord is not in vain!" 1 CORINTHIANS 15:58
This Week’s Finish Line: God’s Work Through Us is Never Useless
God gave Jonah work to do: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it” (Jonah 1:2). What did Jonah do? He ran in the opposite direction and ended up getting swallowed by a big fish. Mercifully, God gave Jonah a second chance to do the work, and this time Jonah obeyed. The end? No, not exactly. God relented and showed mercy once again, this time to the Ninevites, Jonah’s enemies. Instead of being grateful the God saved the whole city, Jonah was so mad about it that he wanted to die. While on the outside, Jonah may have done the work the Lord had given him to do, but on the inside, Jonah’s heart was selfish and unforgiving. Because God is greater than our hearts, He got His work done through Jonah, but Jonah missed out on the blessings that come with being used by God for His glory.
- Read Jonah 1:1-6, 15-17. What “work” did God give Jonah? (Go to Nineveh and tell them God is going to judge them because they are so wicked.) Who were the Ninevites? (They were Israel’s enemies, part of the Assyrian empire. They didn’t follow God and did whatever they wanted because they were wicked.)
- What did Jonah do instead? (He got on a boat heading the opposite direction and tried to run away from the Lord.) How is Jonah doing so far with being diligent for the Lord? (Not well. He refused to do God’s work and even tried to run away from Him.)
- READ JONAH 3:1-5,10. After the big fish spit Jonah out onto the beach, what did the Lord tell Jonah to do? (The same thing as before. Go tell Nineveh that they will be judged for their sin.) What did Jonah do differently this time? (He obeyed, went to Nineveh and gave them God’s message.)
- How did the people of Nineveh respond? (They believed Jonah’s message from God. They repented of their sins and stopped doing evil things.) Was Jonah thankful or upset about what happened? (He was angry. He wanted God to destroy these people because they were his enemies. He thought God’s work was useless.) Jonah praised God when He saved him with the big fish instead of punishing him for his sins (See Jonah 2) BUT he was upset that God forgave the people of Nineveh for their sins. What seems wrong to you about Jonah’s heart? (He was more focused on himself and what he wanted than about saving the Ninevites or glorifying God.)
Bring it Home Conversations & Activities:
* Check out our vision for parents and how to use these activities each week.
Teacher: Meal Time
Read the story of Jonah from the Bible. What can you learn about God by looking at the way He dealt with both Jonah and the Ninevites? How do you feel when you don’t understand why you have to do something? When does that happen to you? (EX: homework, chores, practice, etc…) Why is it sometimes hard to be diligent when you think the work you need to do is useless?
Friend: Drive Time
How did God respond when the people repented? What does He always do when people ask for forgiveness and turn away from their sins? ( He forgave them and did not destroy them. He also forgives us when we repent!) When someone wrongs you (hurts your feelings on purpose, doesn’t share with you, etc.), do you respond with forgiveness, like God, or do you become angry, like Jonah?
Practice the memory verse before you go to bed. Pray that you will “always give (yourself) fully to the work of the Lord” and bring Him glory as you work for Him with all your heart (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Coach: AnytimeCheck out the Significant Summer Calendar and Activity Book for this week’s National Handshake Day challenge! See who in your family can come up with the most creative challenge or activity for National Pralines Day (June 24th) and National Sunglasses Day (June 27th) and do that activity as a family! For example: who can draw the most accurate praline without looking at one first (what’s a praline?!), who can keep their sunglasses on inside for the longest, etc.
Thank God for doing His work through us even when our hearts are not fully His. Ask Him to help you have the right attitude when the you think the work He has for you to do feels useless.
Next week we will start the month of July with the godly character trait, WISDOM. We will learn that all wisdom comes from God.
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