“Flee from sexual immorality…honor God with your body.” Our bodies are not separate from our spirits. It’s all us. Our bodies give physical expression of our love and faith to God and the people around us. Why do you suppose it is so easy for Christian leaders and people to divorce the body from faith life? Do I honor God with my body? – Father God, in a world so saturated with the physical and a desire to feel good for the moment, help me to honor you with self-control and joy that endures.
“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.
“But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” We learn in verse nine that Jonah knows God as the one who made the sea and the dry land and yet he somehow still believes that he may flee from God’s presence. Hiding like Adam and Eve, fleeing like Jonah; it’s all indication that we would rather have our way than God’s. Are you hiding these days? Are there things in your life that cause you to flee from God’s presence? God, thank you that you are faithful to pursue and find us. Amen!
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.” In Zachariah’s prophesy, the birth and coming of John the Baptist was not simply an answer to one couple’s prayer for a child; it is an answer to the prayers and hopes of all God’s people. How do we keep our focus on the entire Community of Faith and the world in a culture and time that emphasizes individual experience with God? Are our ministries focused on just individuals? – Help us to see Your saving work for all people. Amen
“We speak not to please mortals, but to please God” (2:4). Courage and motives. It takes courage to face suffering, to declare God’s truth in places where there is opposition. How courageous am I? For Paul, his motives do not spring from deceit, impurity, trickery, or flattery to win some money and riches. He speaks to bring the life Jesus offer to the people. He seeks God’s pleasure, not his and not that of those around him. What motivates me in my faith? in my living? in my serving? Give us courage and a pure heart O Lord! Amen.
“what kind of welcome we had among you.” When the Thessalonians welcomed the message of Paul and the salvation of God there were clear characteristics: turning to God and from idols, active service for God, and joining with God’s people in waiting for his return. Have I turned from all my idols to God? Am I actively serving God? What does it mean for us to “wait?” Father, where there are idols help me to turn completely, where there is ministry let me serve fully, grant that I might have hope as I faithfully wait with your people. Amen.
“the Gospel came to you not in word only..but in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction…” Much Christianity these days tends to focus upon right words, right answers and catch phrases; Paul speaks here of the Thessalonian believers receiving and welcoming God’s saving work in their lives in a manner that transcends words alone. The words “power, Holy Spirit, and full conviction” imply full involvement of both God’s initiation and human response. Does my life show the power of the Holy Spirit and my full engagement? – Holy Spirit you are welcome in my life. Amen.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits.” Christian leaders are often tempted to focus completely on the future. We need to get somewhere. The pressure is, “where are we headed”. Yet, the scriptures often instruct us to remember, to not forget, where we’ve been and what God has done in the past. When we are not praising God, is it possible we are forgetting something? -Bless the Lord, O my soul, and help me not to forget all your blessing O God.
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place…All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…” God chooses the time. His people come together in one place for His purposes. God’s Spirit empowers. It is so easy for us to want the power of the Spirit for our purposes like Simon (Acts 8:8ff); without a thought for God’s timing and the unity of the body of Christ. How is this a temptation for me? Why is the time and common gathered place essential and prerequisite? Forgive us, Fill us O Lord.