“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.
“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 the couple’s prayer for a child, it is an answer to the prayers and hopes of all God’s people. How do we as leaders in the church focus on the whole Community of Faith in a culture and time that emphasizes the individual experience with God? Is my ministry focused on just individuals? – Help us to see Your saving work for all people. Amen
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” The fruit of the Spirit produces Godly heart, character, and behaviors. Fruit is singular; it all comes in one package.
We pick love, joy, and peace and decide self-control isn’t for me. How is
self-control necessary for all these other characteristics to be displayed in
our lives? Does self-control characterize my life? Lord Jesus, forgive me for times when I desire to lead with my choice of godly characteristics. Develop the full fruit of the Spirit in me and my ministry. Amen.
“Let both of them grow together until the harvest…” Preoccupation of leaders with perfection and “weeding out” those who are not on board with the current vision is
not a healthy approach. The Master is not ambivalent about the problem of weeds; he is patient to see the problem solved later, in a way that benefits the growth of the young wheat. How has my preoccupation with “weeds” hurt my leadership and ministry with the “wheat”? Forgive me, O Father, and help me to wait with You. Amen.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites…” Before teaching how to pray, Jesus teaches how “not to pray.” Prayer that draws attention to self is not true prayer, it is self-promotion. What motivates my prayer? Does Jesus correction eliminate praying together altogether? How do we direct corporate prayer in ways that foster true prayer? May our prayers be true listening and honest speaking with you, O God. Amen
|“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” It is interesting that “gift language” is our focus here. A “manifestation of the Spirit” is given to each, for the common good, not for the one. “Manifestation” implies God doing something in and through us, not us possessing a gift we decide what to do with. How would my ministry and church be different, if we saw the manifestation of the Spirit in and through each and everyone in the congregation? How can I encourage such? Let your Spirit be seen through your people, O Lord.|
“who for the joy set before him endured the cross…” Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, kept “the joy set before him” as he faced the cross. The joy ahead focuses and motivates Jesus even in the midst of great trouble and anguish. What is the “joy before him”? How does a “joy ahead” focus and motivate you? What implications does this have for ministry? We fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith so that we will not grow weary and lose heart. Amen.
“but only one thing is needed. Mary chose what is better…” Jesus did not seem particularly impressed with multitasking. We never see Jesus spinning a dozen plates to impress the people around him. What if you and I had only one thing that we needed? One thing to do, one thing to focus on? What is the “one thing that is needed?” – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teach me to sit at your feet.
“About noon the following day…Peter went up on the roof to pray.” I don’t pray on the roof. Do you? In Peter’s time roofs were used for drying vegetables and prayer, because, on the roof, under a canopy it was cooler than the house. Peter with AC. Peter prayed where he could be comfortable and not distracted. He also prayed at noon, not a regular prayer time, but a desired time for Peter. When do you pray? What do you to focus during prayer? Do you pray just out of desire? – Teach us to pray, Lord Jesus!
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky?” Acts 1 shows clearly that disciples of Jesus can be tempted to get caught up with trendy questions (vs. 6), 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.