God’s Character & God’s Will

Read Together: Jonah 1

As we saw on Sunday morning, knowing God’s will for our lives involves obedience to God’s Word and delight in God’s character. Sometimes, however, there is a gap between what we know and what we actually desire to do. Jonah’s story provides a prime example of someone who knew God’s will, and yet went the other direction.

God tells Jonah: Go to Nineveh and preach against it. But Jonah runs in the other direction away from God’s will. Why? Jonah tells God in Jonah 4:2. He ran because he wasn’t happy about God’s character. He knew who God had revealed himself to be: a God of compassion and mercy (Exod 34:6). And he didn’t want that for the Ninevites, the enemy of his people. Jonah didn’t delight himself in the Lord, and so his desires ran contrary to the Lord’s will.

The story of Jonah should drive us to ask ourselves some important questions. Are we looking to obey only the aspects of God’s will we are comfortable with? Are we really delighting in all of who God is or just the parts of his character that we like or that benefit us? We will be better equipped to make godly decisions if we are people who delight in God through Jesus and commit to obey his Word even when it is uncomfortable.

Discussion Questions

  1. Read Jonah 4:2. Why did Jonah try to run away from God and his will?
  2. How are God’s character (who he is) and God’s will connected?
  3. What are some aspects of God’s character we might be uncomfortable with? How might this tempt us to disobey God’s Word?

Ideas for Younger Kids

  • Read “Big Fish, Bigger Mercy” in The Biggest Story Bible Storybook (pages 264–69). Discuss Jonah’s disobedience and the reason behind it. Emphasize that we obey God most fully when we love who he is.  

Memorization: “The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” (Exodus 34:6).

Song: Listen to “Only a Holy God” (CityAlight). This song reminds us of God’s character as the holy God and its implications for us. Do we delight in God’s holiness?   

Pray Together

  • Praise God that he is the holy God of mercy and unfailing love!
  • Confess before God that we are often selective in our delight in him and in our obedience to his will.
  • Give thanks to God for his Son, Jesus, the prophet greater than Jonah who obeyed the Father’s will perfectly and was in the belly of the earth for three days for our salvation.
  • Pray that God would open our eyes to the beauty of who he is, that we would delight in him and obey his Word.

Go Together

  • Write down three attributes of God. For each attribute, write down a corresponding point of what this means for our relationship with God and what it means for his will for our lives. For example, God is love, and this means that he loves us and we are called to love others.
  • Return to Question #3 above and consider if there are any related aspects of God’s character and will you just discussed that make you a little uncomfortable and even cause you to disobey God’s will. Be honest with each other: are their aspects of God’s character and his commands that you don’t really like? How can you grow to delight in all of who God is? Discuss one practical thing you can do this week to grow in your delight in God.
If you have any questions, comments, or ideas related to this Family Faith Talk guide or future guides, please let us know by leaving a comment!

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