Devotions

URC Daily Devotion Saturday 11th 2020 July Jonah 10

Saturday 11th 2020 July Jonah 10

Jonah 4:9-11

But God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?’ And he said, ‘Yes, angry enough to die.’ Then the Lord said, ‘You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labour and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night.  And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?’

Reflection

Having heard Jonah’s repeated request to die, God again responds with a question asking Jonah to reflect.  The question presumably refers to the demise of the bush and this time Jonah answers God but only to insist that he is justified to feel as he does.

The covenant God then poses a final question to Jonah, which of course is really directed at us, the readers of this story.  A contrast is drawn between a wild plant that has a fleeting existence and the inhabitants of Nineveh – not forgetting the animals.  It’s a rhetorical question that prompts us to think about God’s relationship with everything in creation – from a fairly insignificant plant to a huge populated area – and what that reveals about God’s nature.  It also challenges us to reflect on what is expected of us, as God’s people, in our attitudes.

The point is; why do we feel compassion towards small things for which we have no responsibility?  God, on the other hand, brought everything into being; therefore we should expect God to have equal compassion towards everything.  Nineveh’s way of life was the result of ignorance, not culpability.  Jonah had completely misunderstood his commission from God.  He wasn’t being sent to Nineveh in order to condemn it but to let its people know about God and of God’s love for them.  His message was intended to be a call for Nineveh to repent and receive the good news.

In the story Nineveh has repented but sadly the people still haven’t heard anything about the true God because Jonah hasn’t told them.  They remain in ignorance.

So where does this leave you? – and me?  Do people still live in ignorance?  May we be ready to go among them with an invitation to discover new life in Christ.

Prayer

Amazing God, your compassion reaches to the ends of the earth and you invite us to show that same compassion towards all that has existence.

Help us to respond with joy to your invitation and send us out to the people and places that still need to hear about your love for them.
Challenge us to catch the vision of your kingdom come on earth; and in this hope to go in the name of Christ.  Amen

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Dr Janet Tollington is a retired minister and member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge

Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you have subscribed to the Daily Devotions from the United Reformed Church. You can unsubscribe by clicking on the link below.

Our mailing address is:
United Reformed Church
86 Tavistock Place
London, WC1H 9RT
United Kingdom

Add us to your address book


Posted in Daily Devotions | Tagged , | Comments Off on URC Daily Devotion Saturday 11th 2020 July Jonah 10

URC Daily Devotion Friday 10th July 2020 Jonah 9

Friday 10th July 2020 Jonah 9
Jonah 4:4-8

And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’  Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city. The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.’

Reflection

God’s response challenges Jonah to reflect on his behaviour.  This isn’t what Jonah expected and he turns tail and goes right through the city further east, sets up camp as though anticipating that God would nonetheless act in some dramatic way against Nineveh.  He’s behaving somewhat like a sulky, defiant, child who refuses to admit they may have got things wrong.

However, God goes after Jonah and recognises how inadequate Jonah’s attempts to shelter himself actually are.  God initially provides additional comfort for Jonah against the heat of the day, which delights him.  God then removes the protective canopy the following day that prompts a totally opposite response from Jonah; he repeats his request to die.  Jonah’s reactions are out of all proportion to the situation and his volte face is extreme. 

This bit of the story reminds us that the natural world is under God’s control.  Plants flourish, tiny creatures play their part in the cycle of life and death, the weather changes, all through God’s creative power.  As humans we experience these wonders; and perhaps simply take them for granted all too often without acknowledging that they reveal God’s glory.  We do well to reflect how little we understand the intricate complexity of the world around us; and how little control over it we really have.

The story also tells us that God’s love towards Jonah, who represents God’s chosen people, never falters.  However much Jonah fails, wherever he goes in an attempt to escape God’s presence, he discovers that God is still with him, watching over him, providing for his needs.  But God also challenges Jonah to look at things differently and discover more of God. 

Am I guilty of imagining I can look after myself or of ignoring God’s challenge?  God save me from my folly!

Prayer

Loving God, thank you for your presence with us, through the risen Christ, and for the constancy of your love.

Help us to discern your loving purposes at work in our lives when things go well and when they don’t.

Teach us to look beyond the blessings we receive that we might praise you for all the experiences that help us grow into the likeness of Christ, who gave his life, so we might live.  Amen.

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Dr Janet Tollington is a retired minister and member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge

Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you have subscribed to the Daily Devotions from the United Reformed Church. You can unsubscribe by clicking on the link below.

Our mailing address is:
United Reformed Church
86 Tavistock Place
London, WC1H 9RT
United Kingdom

Add us to your address book


Posted in Daily Devotions | Tagged , | Comments Off on URC Daily Devotion Friday 10th July 2020 Jonah 9

If today’s Daily Devotion is not showing on your church’s website, this will have affected all church websites using this feed in the same way. Our volunteer technical team are probably aware of the issue and will be working to fix it as soon as they are able.
Thank you.