Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. To worship God is to listen to Him; to be faithful is to turn toward Him. This is what our gathered worship is each week, listening to our God who speaks peace as we turn toward him with listening ears and grateful hearts that seek Him and His way for our lives. Are you listening? Are you seeking? Speak peace to us as we gather in your name Lord. Amen.
“Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” “Restore” has to do with fixing something that has been broken, in this case, “us.” “Shine” has to do with a seeming lack of God’s presence in the midst of current circumstances. “Being saved” often involves both some restorative work in us and the obvious presence of God that makes such restoration possible. What seems broken in your life these days that needs restoring? In what areas of life do you need to see God’s presence and the difference He makes? Restore Lord, Shine Lord, that we may be saved.
“After the death of Moses…the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’assistant…” The promises of God transcend my life and generation. In an individualistic culture and society we are tempted to look for how God’s promises relate and are “relevant” to our personal lives. God’s promises from the beginning have reached to all people on the earth, through all times. Why does this truth matter? Who assists in my life and ministry today, who are the ones the Lord may speak to about leading his work and ministry next? Lord, help me to trust your eternal promises and invest in the people of the next generation.
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” How earnest is my “seek”? Does my soul thirst? Do I feel it in my body? Have I come to find there is no water except the Jesus, the Living Water? What do I thirst for more than anything in life? Quench the deepest thirst of my soul, O God. Lead me to refreshment from the deep wells found only in you.
“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. Do I need his care? Am I faithful in all my relationships? Lead us O Christ our Savior to be faithful even as you are faithful. 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.
“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.