“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.
“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.
“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.
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry…” Bread is the basic staple of life. Is Jesus the essential, the basic staple of life for you? How is Jesus like bread? What feeds your soul? Are you filled or hungry? – O Bread of Life, feed my deepest hunger.
“Help Lord, for no one is faithful anymore…” Many have experienced it, others have heard about it on the news or in social media; no one is faithful or so it seems. Broken marriages, difficult neighbors, police, and politicians; seems like it impacts almost everyone. Yet the Psalmist reminds us, when humans are faithless, God “arises and protects” the needy, the poor, and the powerless. Am I faithful in all my relationships? Lead us O Christ our Savior to be faithful even as you were faithful. Amen.
“Keep me safe, my God for in you I take refuge.” I’ve been thinking about this simple prayer. Each day many pray for safety for self, family and friends; but it is vastly different from different lips. For some it is just nice words to say in the midst of a wealthy, well supplied life, for many others it is a deep cry for justice, for bread, for God’s intervention in spite of overwhelming odds. What does safety mean for you? Lord Jesus, as I pray for personal safety, let me actively work toward a safe world for all. Amen.
“How long, Lord…How long will you hide your face from me?” Sometimes simple prayers are the best, the most honest, the most desperate for God. In recent weeks, with news stories, social media, and most unsettling events, I find myself quieted before God and crying out with simple prayers. What is your simple prayer today? “Though we do not see You sometimes, cause us to trust in your unfailing love and salvation.”