Use this devo as you are able, in whole or in part. Don’t feel compelled to read it all. Simply read and meditate upon whatever catches your attention. The goal is enjoying time with God through His Word and in prayer. Questions about the devotional elements?
Call to Prayer
“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” (Ps. 40:1-2)
Prayer of Confession
Inviting Father, you have laid down the invitation of a lifetime: to ask you for anything. A long list of things I think I want easily comes to mind, but let my prayers wisely be for what you want—for all that I might never dare ask and couldn’t even dream of wanting but trust is good because it is from you. Amen. (Prayer based on the Heidelberg Catechism, Question 118)
*Prayer borrowed from Philip Reinders’ Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
This reading plan will help you to develop the habit of being in God’s Word each morning and evening. Come to this time with expectation. Expect God to reveal himself to you. Expect that he delights in you being there, even when you’ve wandered away. Growing a spiritual habit is a slow, patient process. So be kind to yourself as you grow!
Readings are hyperlinked. Simply hover over the passage or click Morning/Evening Reading (email version).
Pray Psalm 34 | Read Luke 12
- Praying the Psalms: Read slowly. Take note of words and phrases. Bring them before the Lord in prayer and personalize the passage as you pray.
- NT Context: Luke is a most vigorous champion of the outsider. An outsider himself, the only Gentile in an all-Jewish cast of New Testament writers, he shows how Jesus includes those who typically were treated as outsiders by the religious establishment of the day: women, common laborers (sheepherders), the racially different (Samaritans), the poor. He will not countenance religion as a club. As Luke tells the story, all of us who have found ourselves on the outside looking in on life with no hope of gaining entrance (and who of us hasn’t felt it?) now find the doors wide open, found and welcomed by God in Jesus. Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
Pray Psalm 35 | Read 2 Kings 1
- OT Context: “Sovereignty, God’s sovereignty, is one of the most difficult things for people of faith to live out in everyday routines…This story makes it clear that it was not God’s idea that the Hebrews have a king, but since they insisted, he let them have their way. But God never abdicated his sovereignty to any of the Hebrew kings; the idea was that they would represent his sovereignty, not that he would delegate his sovereignty to them. Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
This Fall our sermon series is in Jonah. Follow along here as we explore this work of literary genius (it is really multilayered and complex) and theological profundity (we discover much about the nature of God, humans, and redemption in just 4 chapters)
READ: Jonah 2:1-7
Yesterday we observed our passage for this week. What did you see? What themes emerged as your read Jonah’s prayer?
Here’s what caught my eye: Jonah’s distress and Jonah’s words.
Jonah has been caught up by God’s mercifully large fish (swallowed up might be more accurate) and now his frenetic flight from grace becomes a pregnant pause in the story. How’s Jonah going to respond to this turn of events? Will Jonah ever talk to God again or will he harbor his hatred down to the watery depths of Sheol?
We’ve commented before that Jonah bears the marks of both younger and elder brothers from Jesus’ story of the two sons (Luke 15:11-32). But here’s the brilliance of the storyteller (who many think can only be Jonah himself): his behavior has been so erratic, so polarized that we cannot be sure which way he’ll turn next. Will he follow the counsel of Job’s wife and curse God and die? Or is this a redemption story and are we about to see a great transformation of Jonah’s character.
The answer, as we’ll discover in what remains of this week, is complex. Because, well, people are complex. Christians of all people should know this truth. The apostle James says, “Out of our mouths come both blessing and cursing. This should not be so.” And yet it is so. We are a mangled motley clutter of devotion and depravity.
Or as Brennan Manning once famously wrote, “When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.”
Jonah’s distress is complex. He’s in a mess of his own making. He’s painfully aware that his conception of God was way off base, his whole script for life has apparently missed the plot line. In short, his pain is painful for us to observe, when we’re being honest, because we don’t understand God half as well as we’d like others to think and often times we are afraid that we’ve gotten him wrong and that this series of unfortunate misjudgments will result in our life unravelling before our eyes like Jonah. That wasn’t nearly as short as I had hoped, but I hope you take my point.
Jonah’s words are complex. Everything that Jonah prays is like a guitar riff. He takes the words right out of God’s own mouth and prays them back with a little poetic license. It’s clear that he’s repentant (I’ll tell you why tomorrow or the next day) but even his repentance is quite right. He doesn’t recognize the full picture of what God’s grace is all about. In short: He’s a work in progress.
REFLECT: In what ways can you see yourself as a “bundle of paradoxes” like Jonah? How has God been gracious to you even in the midst of your self-contradiction?
Evening Prayer of Examen
- Where did you move with or feel close to Jesus today?
- Where did you resist or feel far from Jesus today?
- Where is Jesus leading you tomorrow? Ask for joy as you follow him.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)