Daily Reading & Meditation

 Wednesday (March 12): The sign of Jonah for an evil generation

Gospel Reading:  Luke 11:29-32

29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, "This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it  except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nin'eveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to  hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nin'eveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

Old Testament Reading: Jonah 3:1-10

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 "Arise, go to Nin'eveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you." 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nin'eveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nin'eveh was an exceedingly great city, three days' journey in breadth. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he cried, "Yet forty days, and Nin'eveh shall be overthrown!" 5 And the people of Nin'eveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

6 Then tidings reached the king of Nin'eveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat  in ashes. 7 And he made proclamation and published through Nin'eveh, "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, or drink water, 8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the  violence which is in his hands. 9 Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?" 10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it.

Meditation: Do you pay careful attention to warning signs? Many fatalities could be avoided if people paid attention to such signs. When the religious leaders demanded a sign from Jesus, he gave them a serious warning to avert spiritual disaster. It was characteristic of the Jews that they demanded "signs" from God's messengers to authenticate their claims.

When the religious leaders pressed Jesus to give proof for his claims he says in so many words that he is God's sign and that they need no further evidence from heaven than his own person. The Ninevites recognized God's warning when Jonah spoke to them, and they repented. And the Queen of Sheba recognized God's wisdom in Solomon. Jonah was God's sign and his message was the message of a merciful God for the people of Nineveh.

Unfortunately the religious leaders were not content to accept the signs right before their eyes. They had rejected the message of John the Baptist and now they reject Jesus as God's Anointed One (Messiah) and they fail to heed his message. Simeon had prophesied at Jesus' birth that he was destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that inner thoughts of many will be revealed (Luke 2:34-35). Jesus confirmed his message with many miracles in preparation for the greatest sign of all - his resurrection on the third day.

The Lord Jesus came to set us free from slavery to sin and hurtful desires. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit he pours his love into our hearts that we may understand his will for our lives and walk in his way of holiness. God searches our hearts, not to condemn us, but to show us where we need his saving grace and help. He calls us to seek him with true repentance, humility, and the honesty to see our sins for what they really are - a rejection of his love and will for our lives. God will transform us if we listen to his word and allow his Holy Spirit to work in our lives. Ask the Lord to renew your mind and to increase your thirst for his wisdom and truth.

James says that the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity (James 3:17). A double-minded person cannot receive this kind of wisdom. The single of mind desire one thing alone - God's pleasure. God wants us to delight in him and to know the freedom of his truth and love. Do you thirst for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14)?

 "Lord Jesus, change my heart and fill me with your wisdom that I my love your ways. Give me strength and courage to resist temptation and stubborn wilfulness that I may truly desire to do what is pleasing to you."

Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless in your judgment.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;  then bulls will be offered on your altar.

A Daily Quote for Lent: Don't put off conversion - tomorrow may never come, by Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.

"God is not now so long-suffering in putting up with you that He will fail to be just in punishing. Do not say then: 'Tomorrow I shall be converted, tomorrow I shall please God, and all that I shall have done today and yesterday will be forgiven me.' What you say is true: God has promised forgiveness if you turn back to Him. But what He has not promised is that you will have tomorrow in which to achieve your conversion." (excerpt from Commentary on Psalm 144,11)


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author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 

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