The Prophet Jonah

jonah-and-the-whale-israel-travel-poster-1954.jpg!BlogGroup Leaders: please print off copies for group participants. Choose two or three Scripture readers for the night.

Opening Question: Has anyone used a certain memory device to memorize the order of the Minor Prophets? Have two or three people share their method with the others.

Read Deuteronomy 13:1-6

What are the criteria for distinguishing true from false prophets?

How did Jesus pass that test as the true, and ultimate, Prophet? Can you point to a specific passage in the Gospels that highlights this?

Read Deuteronomy 18:20-22

What are the criteria for distinguishing true from false prophets?

How did Jesus pass this test as the true, and ultimate, Prophet? Can you point to a specific passage in the Gospels that highlights this?

Read Jonah 1:1-3

Dr. Jack Collins writes that there are “3 characteristics of a prophet: 1/ direct personal communication from God; 2/ the message concerns the things of God, and his kingdom (in my terms, the corporate entity and its mission in the world); 3/ he faithfully recorded or uttered the revelation he received.”

How did Jonah meet the above characteristics? Which characteristic did he fail to meet?

Dr. Douglas Stuart notes that Old Testament prophets “considered themselves as occupying a divinely appointed societal office, correcting illegal beliefs and practices.”

Can you think of people in American society who have this sort of role? Who would they be? How are they like or unlike the Old Testament prophet?

Read Matthew 28:18-20

We are not all called to be prophets, uttering direct revelation from God. Try to describe the characteristics of the rank and file Christian based on Jesus’ commission to the apostles.

How is this different than having the role of a prophet?

Who can name the major roles that God has chosen for you to play in life.

Tell a story of when you sense that you have done a poor job fulfilling your role.

Tell a story of when you sense that you have done a good job at fulfilling your role.

Do you have joy in your heart about how God is using your service to him?

Help our Church

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Prayer Focus for Spain – Sunday, November 30

Challenges for Prayer

There is a considerable increase in missionaries and agencies since 1978, probably numbering over 1,000 today. But some areas remain largely unreached. Proliferation of agencies and lack of coordination are issues for concern. Pray for:

a) Christian workers to be called to less-evangelized areas, such as Castilla Leon, parts of Andalucía, Extremadura, the northern provinces of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque country.

b) Missionaries to be able to integrate fully into Spanish culture and life. Challenges adapting and integrating persist.

c) Latin Americans are present in great numbers. Careful and conservative estimates state that 48% (others suggest up to 80%) of all new churches are planted by Latinos – missionaries, tentmakers and economic migrants. This claim is contested by others, but there is no denying the massive missional impact of Latinos upon Spain.
Some larger missions are

The evangelistic challenges facing Spain are enormous, including:

a) Unreached cities. There is no evangelical church in 345 cities and towns of over 5,000 people. Many smaller towns, villages and districts have no witness whatsoever. Of 8,112 municipalities, only around 650 have an evangelical church.

b) Of the 17 regions, Galicia and Asturias are less than 0.2% evangelical, and Extremadura and Navarre are less than 0.1%.

c) Of the 50 provinces, Soria and Avila have less than one evangelical for every 1,000 people, and 28 provinces have less than 1,000 members of evangelical churches.

d) While religious liberty exists on paper, difficulties and discrimination are still widespread for evangelicals, especially for obtaining licences to broadcast and to open new churches.

e) Evangelical congregations are small and dependent on foreign resources, with poor facilities in less than ideal locations. Pray for wisdom in knowing how to be more effective in outreach and balanced in testimony.




Genesis 50:22-Exodus 1:14

Genesis 50:22–Exodus 1:14

 22 So Joseph remained in Egypt, he and his father’s house. Joseph lived 110 years. 23 And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation. The children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were counted as Joseph’s own. 24 And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” 26 So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.


Exodus 1:1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5 All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. 6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7 But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.

Prayer Focus for South Africa – Sunday, November 23

Challenge for Prayer

Christianity faces many challenges – not least is the question of how a nation that is 75% Christian can be crippled by poverty, violence, crime, AIDS and racial strife. Yet, believers are at the forefront of addressing all of these issues in many ways. Pray for:

a) A prophetic voice for the Church in a society that no longer holds to moral absolutes, and where the post-Christian worldview has centre stage in the media and has pushed through legalization of abortion, gay marriage, pornography, prostitution and gambling. Groups such as The Evangelical Alliance, Christian Action and Christians for Truth mobilize believers to oppose legislation that contravenes biblical standards and to reinforce positive laws.

b) Transformational ministry. South Africa needs the Church to step even further into radical engagement with all the ills besetting society. The life-changing power of the gospel can bring about change that no government policy ever will, but Christians must make the sacrifices, take the risks and live out Christ’s love in the hard places. The temptation to withdraw to a safe, comfortable, but unengaged existence is ever-present.

c) Unfinished church planting. To effectively reach and then disciple the millions of unchurched (but usually nominally Christian) South Africans, an estimated 30,000 further congregations are needed.

d) Deep reconciliation. Since evangelicals were slow to denounce apartheid, divisions and unfinished business remain. A number of denominations have gone through painful periods in dealing with the past. The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa now offers a context for churches to work out healing and develop unity. More work is required for real trust, understanding and cooperation to fully develop across cultural barriers. Pray that the whole Church may put the sad conflicts of the past to rest and demonstrate the powerful reality of unity in Jesus.

e) Revival, particularly in mainline denominations. While there is much spiritual life, there also is much traditionalism, nominalism and “churchianity” in the Dutch Reformed family of churches, Anglicans, Methodists and others.sout-MMAP-sm

We Are Special

Choose two or three designated readers for the night. The group leader will call on them to read the suggested passages.

Please print off enough questions for individuals in your group to have in front of them.

If you could talk about one point from the sermon this evening what would it be?

Jacob's Body is Taken to Canaan

Jacob’s Body is Taken to Canaan, by James Tissot, c. 1902

Read Genesis 49:29-33

Why does Jacob deeply desire to be buried in Canaan? Craft your answer making use of the covenant with Abraham.

The original audience of Genesis was the Exodus community heading toward Canaan from Egypt. They are the fulfillment of Jacob’s deep longing for the fulfillment of God’s promise of land. Why would this story of Jacob’s burial help them to realize that they were a special people living in a special time?

Read Exodus 19:1-6


Little Ann Sucking Her Finger Embraced by Her Mother, by Mary Cassatt 1897

God’s covenanting people are said to be God’s treasured possession.

To what extent do you grasp how special the Church is to Jesus Christ?

Priests, in the Old Testament, were to bring God to the people and the people to God.

As a “kingdom of priests” how were these special people to function in relation to their national neighbors?

Do special roles and service always go together where you live, work and play? For example: is it the teacher’s pet who is also expected to be the servant of all the other students?

Read Deuteronomy 9:4-6

Does God account for our sinfulness when he affirms that we are special to him?

How does Oprah Winfrey (or cultural figures similar to her) typically affirm that people are special? How is sin affirmed or not affirmed by those figures?

We are also special because of the time in which we lived. Our people have longed for millennia when the age of the Messiah would come. That is the time we now are in.

Read Hebrews 9:23-28

How does the author to the Hebrews refer to the time in which we are living?

What promises to the people of God have been fulfilled, according to this passage?

christ-as-a-clock-1957.jpg!Blog (1)

Christ as a Clock, by Marc Chagall, 1957

What promise are we still awaiting to be fulfilled in the future?

Do you live with an awareness of living at such a special time?

Do you sense any competition with that awareness? For example, do you feel more special because you are living in the technological age than because you are living in the “end of the ages”? Do you feel more special because you get to participate in the age of America or the age of the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham? Others?

What practices or habits in your life are serving to fuel Christ’s competition?

How does attending this Care Group help you to know your specialness to God, to the world and the specialness of the time in which you live?

What other practices in your life serve to further your appreciation for the specialness of being in Christ?

Prayer Focus for Somalia – Sunday, November 16

Challenges for Prayer

The role of Islam is a troubled one. Radical Islamists contribute to the present troubles. Many jihadists flood into Somalia, eager to fight against the government. The Islamic courts have restored order in their spheres of influence, but by the most ruthless means, imposing strict shari’a on all. Pray that Islamist plans will be thwarted and a new religious tyranny prevented.

The economic, social and physical health of the nation is terrible, the result of years of war and neglect. More than 750,000 people are internally displaced, and 500,000 died as a result of the fighting. Warfare/upheaval and a particularly strict form of Islam make outside assistance very difficult to give. Pray for:

a) Order and stability. Chaos has created a haven for smugglers, bandits, pirates and terrorists, only fueling the problems. Such danger and an oppressive interpretation of Islam also prevent aid and workers from assisting anyone.

b) Structures of sin allow great wrongs to persist. Most women suffer female genital mutilation. Many women have been raped, many divorced and left by their husbands and many children have been smuggled out of Somalia and into exploitation or abandonment.

c) Medical need. Somalia has the lowest health budget of any nation, and the highest infant mortality rate – nearly 12% of all children die as infants. Droughts and warfare-induced famines render huge numbers dependent on food aid.

d) Wise administration of aid. Access is difficult and opportunities limited; violent reactions to perceived “Christian” aid occur. Pray for protection and effective ministry for aid workers, many of whom are Christians.soma-MMAP-sm

The Lion of Judah – Genesis 49:1-28

Lion of Judah and cub

Lion and cub

Genesis 49:1-28 contain some of the last words of our patriarch Jacob. What would you like your last words to be? What would you hate for your last words to be?

Did anything come up in last Sunday’s sermon that you especially want to discuss tonight?
Read 1 Kings 12:1
Rehoboam is about to be crowned king. What tribe is Rehoboam from?
Read Genesis 49:8-12.
How is Rehoboam’s anointing as king a partial fulfillment of Jacob’s prophecy?
Read 1 Kings 12:2-15
What does Jeroboam (and all Israel) want from Rehoboam?
How does Rehoboam respond?
1 Kings 12:16-20
How does the majority of Israel depart from God’s intentions as revealed through Jacob’s prophecy? If you are stuck goo to 2 Samuel 7:1-17.
How does Jesus rule the way a king should rule, in contrast to Rehoboam’s “leadership style” in 1 Kings 12:14? If you are stuck go to Matthew 11:25-30


Oxen Yoked with Burden

Obedience to Jesus the King is a response to his grace of adopting us into his royal family. How have you experienced the goodness of obedient trust in Jesus the King? Tell a story from your own life.
How is obedience to Jesus ultimately about relationship with Jesus? (Think about how obedience to other authorities works)
Where do you see a distaste for authority in today’s world? How can we present Jesus’ authority tastefully in response?

Prayer Focus for Solomon Islands – Sunday, November 9

Nominalism is a problem even though the Islands are overwhelmingly Christian. The Church has sometimes stagnated; a proper enculturation of the gospel would go a long way in overcoming this. The Baha’i, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Unification Church prospered formerly; two different Islamic groups are now making inroads. Counterfeit Christian movements and quasi-Christian cults have also grown, and the old animistic worldview persists in some areas. Many Christians, even committed believers, drift from one group to the next, since most groups compete for members. The revivals of the past are in the past, and a new awakening is needed; pray for the Spirit to reinvigorate the many churches that possess such a strong spiritual heritage.