“I am not asking that you take them out of the world, but I ask that you protect them from the evil one.” Jesus prays that his followers will be protected in the world. Do the ministries of the church and we as Christians sometimes favor pulling us away from the world? Are we called to protect ourselves and our family, or is that God’s job? Where do I see myself pulling away from the world? What does Jesus’ prayer call me to today? – Lord Jesus, who prayed for your followers, help us to trust you as we live for you in this world amongst people who need to trust in you. Amen
“For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome, a great King over all the earth.” The Holy Spirit is given to encourage, empower, and embolden the church in its witness to Christ in the world. The Spirit is given to increase the Kingship of God over all the earth. How can we be tempted to take God’s resources to build our own kingdoms rather than His? Is our ministry under the great King? – Forgive us O Lord for building our own kingdoms that give us control; help us to surrender to the true King and Your will and ways. Amen.
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky?” Acts 1 shows clearly that disciples of Jesus can get caught up with trendy questions (vs. 6) or with miraculous showings or desired endings (vs. 10-11). Jesus however, called his people to a mission (vs 7-8). How do we stay focused on doing God’s mission? – Guide us, Holy Spirit, to live your mission. Empower us to be your witnesses. Amen.
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb…”In her grief, Mary is at the tomb. She is there early, in darkness. The resurrection light dawns on her before many others. Jesus speaks powerfully into her life, because she is there, at the tomb, on the first day, early, in the darkness. Where are you these days in your life? Do you seek the Lord in the high places, in the exuberant celebrations, in the noise? Sometime we find him by the tomb places. He is risen! Resurrect us Lord!
“But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry…” Jonah’s displeasure turns to anger, a sign of obsessing on his feelings of displeasure. God, loving and patient with everyone we see throughout the entire book, now turns his loving patience toward the displeased and angry prophet. Good news: God loves us even when we are angry. What are you displeased with these days? Is there something that makes you angry with God? What would it take for you to have an honest encounter with God to address it? Lord, reach out to me with your patient love.
“The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time…” Chapter 3 of Jonah moves rapidly: Jonah proclaims, Nineveh believes, the king hears, the king acts, the king proclaims, God changes his mind, Jonah becomes angry. Around 250 words convey all this. Moving quickly through this part, may point to a more importance in a different part of the story. How does chapter 3 set up for chapter 4 in Jonah? Do I ever miss the main thing God is doing in my life focused on minor details? Give us grace to hear your main point O Lord.
“You cast me into the deep…I am driven from your sight” Jonah’s prayer show fear about the possibility his physical demise and an end to life. Even so, he does not simply acknowledge a physical threat; he also speaks of a deep spiritual threat. It is not just the “deep” that disturbs him, being “driven from God’s sight” would be much worse. How are physical and spiritual struggles, threats, and challenges connected in your life these days? How does God offer a “full” deliverance that touches us body, mind, and spirit? Thank you for full redemption in Christ. Amen.
“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish…” Often when teaching on this passage from Jonah I find there is a general perception that the fish is God’s punishment upon Jonah. Closer reading of chapter 2 makes it clear that the fish is God’s deliverance of Jonah, for which he gives thanks. What might this “punishment” perspective bias say about our view of God? Are there times in our own lives when we mistakenly see God’s deliverance as a punishment? Heavenly Father, help us to see your powerful hand as loving and redeeming.
“Jonah, meanwhile…had lain down, and was fast asleep.” Many Christians these days like to use the “peace” test to determine whether their actions, direction, and relationship with God are as they should be. But is an inner peace enough? Jonah seemed at peace enough to be sound asleep while he headed away from God and a storm raged around him threatening his life and all with him in the boat. What are you seeking direction for these days? Are you settling for inner peace as a barometer? What else might you consider? Lord, help me to walk in your way.
“The mariners were afraid, and each cried to his god.” The sailors are transformed. Life experience with its storms, new relationships, confronting one who runs from God, as well as a powerful experience with the living God, who they may have heard about but never knew; all of it is the kettle for transformation. By verse 14, the sailors cry out to the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, the personal, saving God. Where do you turn in the tough times? What is going on now that has you crying out to the Lord? Lord, hear our prayers?