“Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” For those of you who follow this weekly blog, forgive me. Over the past few months I have needed a Sabbath from all my work. This blog has been weekly for over 5 years now so I hope a short break was not too much of an inconvenience. As I begin again let me draw your minds and hearts to Jesus’ words. Why was Sabbath made for humans? What need does it fill and how does it rest fill it? How’s your weekly Sabbath going these days? Jesus, thank you that beyond rules to follow, you care for our holistic health and thriving; grant us the Sabbath rest we need. Amen.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” Often the church focuses on the “gifts of the Spirit” and the abilities to get tasks accomplished with giftedness and excellence over the “fruit of the Spirit” and the character and heart of God’s people. Are the gifts effective outside of the fruit? Why are we tempted in the church to favor gifts? How might this be connected to the original temptation of Adam/Eve? Let the image of Christ himself be formed in me. Amen.
“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.
“You are concerned about…should I not be concerned…” At the end of the book of Jonah it is clear that there is a difference between what Jonah is concerned about and what God is concerned about. Jonah cares about temporal things that bring him pleasure; God’s heart is for a world that is lost and short of his intent for his creation. What are you concerned about these days? Are your concerns aligned with the concerns of God? “Let us see this world, O Lord, as through we were looking through your eyes. Amen.”
“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.