Reading Time: 7 Minutes
When Josh Monk taught a Sunday School class and someone gave a very honest answer, he would make a dinging noise like on a quiz show and say, “Real talk alert!”
In both the morning and evening meditation, we will study the prophet Jonah and Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. Then we will ask ourselves “real talk questions” to spur our dialogue with God.
Morning Meditation – Honest Praying
Jonah wasn’t the first and neither was he the last to pray a 911 prayer for help. After he was thrown into the sea, God gave him a free ride in the belly of a great fish all the way to the shores of Assyria.
Jonah didn’t know that this was God’s way of providing deluxe taxi service to Nineveh, and in fear for his life he prayed in desperation.
His prayer that is found in chapter 2 is a mixture of truth and error. The error is an ironic contrast to his behavior.
Jonah recorded his retreat from obeying God’s plans for his life in chapter one, “But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1.3).
In the belly of a great fish he seemed to forget that he had run from God’s presence and he longed for the connection that was lost.
“Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
how shall I look again
upon your holy temple?'” (Jonah 2.4)
Jonah wasn’t “driven” from God’s sight, he ran away from God’s presence.
Real Talk Question #1 – When did I last leave God’s presence because I refused to follow his direction, only to need him in a time of crisis?
God’s Great Grace
God heard Jonah’s prayer out of love and compassion for him, but also for the people of Nineveh. Even though the Assyrians were hated enemies of Israel, they were beloved by God.
Jonah prayed and God provided for his needs.
“I called to the Lord out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.” (Jonah 2.1)
Real Talk Question #2 – Who are my enemies? Are they people of different races? Different political views? Different nations or nationalities? Different sexual orientations? People who have shown hatred or dislike toward me? Who are they?
Talk to God about his love for all persons and ask him to help you feel the way he feels toward them.
A Second Chance
Jonah’s failure did not eliminate him from service.
Once he was delivered by the great fish to the shores of Assyria, God spoke to him a second time and said, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you” (Jonah 3.1-2)
This time Jonah obeyed God’s directions. “So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord” (Jonah 3.3).
Real Talk Question #3 – What has God told you to do, but you have refused to follow his direction? What is keeping you from following his guidance? When will you agree with God and do his will in this matter?
Evening Meditation – A Message About Unity
Paul described the purpose of his letter, “Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose” (1 Corinthians 1.10).
The Book of 1 Corinthians is filled with important information about God. However, the entire book was written to get the church to live with united attitudes and actions.
Paul knew the church was most effective in serving God, when they all served with the same purpose and behavior.
Pause Here and Pray – Take a minute and thank God for the unity of spirit and action that is part of the churches in western Independence. Take another minute and ask God to use our united efforts for his glory and the good of the area.
“I” at the Root of Division
The church in Corinth was divided because of self-interest that was disguised as loyalty to different leaders.
A literal reading of their division reads like this: “I, even I, belong to Paul” and “I, even I, belong to Apollos,” and so on (1 Corinthians 1.12).
The report from Chloe’s people to Paul was that the big “I” was the root of division. Self-will, self-centered motivations, self-pleasing, self, self and more of self had eroded the unity of the church.
In later chapters of 1 Corinthians we will see self-centered behavior in all of its ugly manifestations: sexual sin, divisions among rich and poor, and the inability to settle disputes according to the Jesus-kind-of-life.
Pause Here and Pray – Ask God what part he wants you to play to bring about the unity of his church. Ask him to reveal your inside condition to see if it contains any of the “self-interest” that was so prevalent in Corinth.
The Power of the Good News
Verse 18 is like a tightly packed suitcase. It is jammed full of very relevant information.
Verse 18 – For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
If I were to write the “F” word in my blog, it would not be as shocking as for Paul to write the word, “cross,” in his day. The cross was the most inhumane and torturous death devised in the ancient world.
A slave riot was caused simply by one slave turning to another and saying, “I hope you go to the cross.”
To say that the message cross was foolishness was a gross understatement. The cross was the most horrific, painful and shameful death possible.
Yet, the cross of Jesus Christ was God’s means to defeat his enemies. God’s love conquered his enemies through the cross, not by smashing them, but by winning their hearts.
Pause Here and Pray – As you close your evening in prayer today, thank God for the powerful message of the cross. Thank him for winning your obedience through love and salvation.
May We Pray for You
Maywood Baptist Church has a prayer team who is honored to pray for you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and ask the team to pray, too.