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
“Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens” (Psalm 148:13)
Prayer of Confession
King of heaven and earth, today there is a clash of kingdoms, and as I share in Christ’s anointing, I have a holy calling—to confess the Prince of Peace, offer every day of my life for your service, and fight against sin and the devil. Holy Spirit, anoint me with boldness and courage to live out this calling wherever I am today. (Prayer based on the Heidelberg Catechism, Question 32)
*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 144 | Read Mark 8
- 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: Mark wastes no time in getting down to business—a single-sentence introduction, and not a digression to be found from beginning to end. An event has taken place that radically changes the way we look at and experience the world, and he can’t wait to tell us about it. There’s an air of breathless excitement in nearly every sentence he writes. Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
Pray Psalm 145 | Read 1 Kings 4
- 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 1:1-3
Heaven have mercy on us all—Presbyterians and Pagans alike—for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending. (Herman Melville, Moby Dick)
Melville’s famous line, which borrows from the prophet Isaiah, helps to introduce us to a major theme in Jonah: our need for mercy and the God who covenants with people to deliver it to them.
Covenants in the Bible are unbreakable promises where Yahweh pledges to be faithful to people (Abraham, Israel, etc.). They will be his people and he will be their God. They, in turn, are supposed to faithfully follow, love, and obey God. Only it never quite works out that way. God always ends up taking on both sides of the covenant agreement. He forgives, shows mercy, rescues, redeems, and restores Israel again and again.
The big question is “Why?” Why does Yahweh continue to show mercy to Israel even though they rebel against him? And the only answer that we receive is that Yahweh is determined to reconcile humanity back to himself and he seems to delight in doing it through people who can’t get their act together.
Fast forward to Jonah’s time when Israel has come to think of themselves as “God’s chosen people,” because, well, they are. But although Yahweh has chosen them, they keep choosing themselves over him in a “dreadfully cracked” cycle of rebellionand reconciliation. Israel stops listening to Yahweh which eventually leads to them getting into political trouble with a foreign power. They cry out for rescue. Yahweh has mercy and delivers. Things change for a season and then revert. The cycle continues.
God’s chosen people were supposed to be like a city on a hill, drawing the nations in to worship God, but instead they decided to circle the wagons and isolate themselves from the pagans around them, to keep Yahweh (and his promise of the world we all want) all for themselves.
Enter Jonah who, as we’ll come to see, has imbibed these nationalistic tendencies. “The word of Yahweh” comes to him. Does God’s Word catch him off guard? It can’t be the first time he’s hearing from the LORD. No, it’s not the fact that God speaks to him (a well-assumed reality in Israel’s history), it’s the content of the words. “Go to the great city of Nineveh…” But Jonah ran away.
REFLECT: There’s just too much to observe in just these opening words, and we will explore more, but for now let’s put the pieces we have together: God speaks to Jonah and tells him to go but Jonah runs. Why? Jonah tells us later on, “…because I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster” (Jonah 4:2; Exodus 34:6).
This is the central question of Jonah: Why does Yahweh show mercy to those whom he shows mercy? So let’s pose that question to ourselves from the outset. Write down your answer, and then see if it changes as we progress through this tale!
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 poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)