Bible Readings and Devotion for April 2, 2020
Here are the references for the readings. Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:
Devotion for April 2, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
The Book of Jonah is a very special book in my faith life and my study of God’s Holy Word. See my notes on this in the devotion from March 31. Jonah’s book gets us thinking about our own faith and our own sinful ways. It even has a mildly humorous approach to these issues.
In Jonah chapter 4 we have the last section of the story of Jonah’s ministry. It presents to us Jonah’s reaction to the repentance of the people of Nineveh as shown in chapter 3. He is not happy about this situation. We read, “1 But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. 3 And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.””
The Parable of the Fig Tree in Luke 13:6-9 can help us inform our understanding of this situation fig tree. Here is how it reads: “6 Then (Jesus) told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7 So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ 8 He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”
Often people have interpreted this parable as God being the one who tells the gardener to cut the tree down. Could it be that God is the gardener who asks the landowner to have some patience? Maybe this is really about human impatience with one another. Maybe it is also about our impatience with God’s judgment. Maybe God is the one who seeks to give us a second chance again and again. We saw this in yesterday’s devotion.
The story of the prophet Jonah deals with this reality. Jonah is sent to the Assyrian capital Nineveh. God tells him to announce God’s impending judgment on the people of the city: “40 days more and Nineveh will be overthrown.” Jonah tells the people, and then goes outside the city to wait for the destruction. Well, God’s Word did what it was supposed to do. The people turned from sin and toward faith in God. They repented. Jonah was furious. He was so angry that he would die from that anger. Jonah, like most of humanity, was angry that God was patient, and Jonah was impatient with God for not bringing judgment already.
Our human reality is that we are all too often cruel, impatient, hateful and quick to pass eternal judgment. Sadly, there are three things wrong with our propensity to pass judgment.
1) We don’t have the right to pass eternal judgment on others;
2) We pass judgment too quickly;
and 3) We deserve the same judgment we cast on others.
We are reminded in God’s Word that we are all sinners, and that the judgment on us is death and separation from God. We have been impatient with God and with our neighbor. We have wanted so much for ourselves that we ignore others in need around us. We have chosen the supposedly easy way due to our impatience with God’s better way. Ultimately, human sin and God’s holiness are naturally incompatible. It is only through God’s patience with us and his great love for us that we can be drawn back to God. In being with God, we are transformed into a people who live out God’s better form of patience.
All of this patience of God is to call us to live God’s most excellent way. We are forgiven and then Jesus calls us to turn away from the wrong and to turn toward the right way. Our “repentance” is the result of the love and patience of our God for us. Remember what St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:4a, “Love is patient; love is kind…” Our amazing and wonderful God eagerly desires fellowship with us. He is patient and he is kind. Jesus is the personification of God’s love for humanity, and his entire work is for the purpose of bringing that love to us. That love, patience and kindness lead us to repentance, to life with God.
Even though we are sometimes impatient with God at times, and we know that Jonah was impatient with God, it is very good that the Lord is immensely patient with us. Today is the day to reconnect with God, for he is seeking connection with you each and every day.
Here is a link to a YouTube video of a song about God’s Kindness and Repentance. It is one of my favorite songs. “Your Kindness,” by Leslie Phillips. Note that you may have to endure or skip past one or more ads in order to see the video and listen to the song. It is worth your time.
Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: thank you for your patience and kindness. Help us by your Spirit to respond with repentance. Grant us faith, hope and love for the sake of others in this world. We pray this in Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen.