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 146 | Read Mark 9
- 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 147 | Read 1 Kings 5
- 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 (again!)
Yesterday we ended by noting that Jonah ran away because he was sure that God would be merciful to people that Jonah wanted nothing to do with. So he runs. But this is more than mere disobedience. It’s sin to be sure, but diagnosing the varietal of sin will help us discover more of what is happening in the story of Jonah.
So what’s going on in these opening verses? Verse 1 repeats a phrase found over 100 times in the Old Testament that describes a prophet being called to preach and speak on Yahweh’s behalf. And this wasn’t the first time that Jonah had spoken for Yahweh.
In 2 Kings 14:25 it says that Jeroboam II initiated his military expansion of Israel “at the word of Jonah, the prophet, the son of Amittai.” It was a time of economic, national, and social prosperity for Israel, and Jonah was at the heart of it all! He was a leader in a successful nation. The king liked him, and it seems that Jonah like the king’s policies.
But remember, this passage is about sin, and here we get our first glimpse of the kind of sin that is churning inside Jonah. God tells him to go to the Assyrian city of Nineveh and to call the people there to repent. It seems like a pretty straightforward request from Yahweh until you consider what Jonah has to lose if he goes.
Tim Keller describes it this way, “In 1942, if God comes to an American minister and says, ‘Go to Berlin. Go out in the streets in the center square, and tell Germany to repent of its violence,’ that’s a little dangerous. Don’t you think? Of course, you’d think if that’s what God is asking Jonah to do, you’d figure he’s running away because he’s afraid they won’t repent. If he goes and preaches against their violence, he’s afraid they won’t repent. If they don’t repent, he’s dead…”
But remember, and this isn’t a spoiler, Jonah tells us in chapter 4 that the reason he ran is because he was afraid they would repent. Why is he afraid of that? It’s because if they do repent then Jonah’s time as an influential leader is going to come to an end. Assyria will rise to power and conquer Israel. Jonah will be seen as a traitor to his people! He’ll lose their esteem and then what will he have left?
Jonah is clearly sinning as he “runs from the face of Yahweh” (more on that curious phrase tomorrow) but his sin is more subtle than blunt disobedience. The running comes from a heart that cannot bear having the identity that he’s built for himself as a religious and political leader stripped away. And now, even though he believes all the right things about God and keeps all the rules, his identity is ripped to shreds and he finds himself doing things that he probably never imagined he was capable of doing.
REFLECT: Tim Keller, again, notes that, “Sin is more than just breaking the rules. It’s building an identity apart from God, and it’s something you can do underneath all kinds of religiosity and morality.” How have you seen this to be true in your own life?
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)