Having a devotional time with the entire family sounds great, but is never quite as easy as it sounds. There are a lot of unknowns. What story should I read? What can the whole family understand? What questions do I ask? I believe this devotional can help with some of those unknowns.
I have spent most of the last two weeks combing through the Bible to find stories about forgiveness, trust, and courage for our Parkville and Olathe Day Camps. One story stuck out to me to share with you as a family devotional, the story of Jonah.
My appreciation for the story of Jonah actually begun at camp. I had grown up in church watching Veggie Tales so naturally I knew the story of Jonah and the whale, but I never actually read the story until I was a staff member at Heartland. The story of Jonah is full of surprises. As someone who thought he fully understood the story of Jonah these surprises were crucial because they drew me into the story and awakened me to it's meaning. Surprises are God's way of making us pay attention, and He certainly had Jonah's.
The story of Jonah is particularly applicable to people who are trying their best to follow Jesus. Jonah is imperfect, he is afraid, he flees responsibility, and he is frustrated by God's plans. This makes him so relatable to my life and my best attempts to follow Jesus. I can understand Jonah's thoughts and feel his frustrations, this is what makes God's interactions with Jonah so powerful. In the story of Jonah God has persistent grace and love toward an imperfect Jonah, seeing that helps me understand and believe God's persistent grace and love toward me. I hope that through this devotional the story of Jonah strikes your family the way it has me.
The Devotional: Younger Kids (Grades K-6)
Bible Passage: Jonah Ch. 1, 2:10-3:3
- What did you notice? Was anything interesting or confusing? (I love asking these questions first because they allow you to see how much your child comprehended and what they are curious about from the passage. In addition they emphasize that when reading the Bible the honest answer is always better that the "right" answer)
- Who was Jonah and what was he supposed to do?
- What did Jonah do instead?
- What did God as Jonah to do after the fish spat him out?
- Is it weird that God still trusted Jonah? Would you have trusted Jonah?
- In your own words what does grace mean? Did you see grace in the story?
- Does God have grace for you? Can you lose that grace?
Here is a really cool craft where you get to make Jonah and the whale as a way to remember the story!
Find the instructions here.
The Devotional: Older Kids (Grades 6-12)
The Story: Jonah Ch. 1-4
Give your children time to read this story on their own, around 15 minutes, ask them to come back with one question about the story. When they come back discuss their question, doing your best to answer it, affirming that by asking questions about faith we can grow.
- What does grace mean in your own words? Did you see that in the story?
- Why do you think that Jonah was so frustrated by God giving grace to the Ninevites? (He felt that they didn't deserve to be saved, that God's love was too easy to get)
- Why do you think God gives gifts for people who don't deserve it?
- How did God treat Jonah when he ran away from his call?
- Does how you act affect God's love for you?
- How should we respond to the great gift of God's grace?
Written by: Jared Briscoe