By Deacon Ken and Marie Finn
BEFORE YOU BEGIN:
Pray and ask God to speak to you through His Holy Spirit. “THE PARACLETE, THE HOLY SPIRIT WHOM THE FATHER WILL SEND IN MY NAME, WILL INSTRUCT YOU IN EVERYTHING, AND REMIND YOU OF ALL THAT I TOLD YOU.” (JOHN 14:26)
FIRST DAY Reread last week’s readings.
- What was a helpful or new thought from the readings or from the homily you heard on Sunday?
- From what you learned, what personal application did you choose to apply to your daily spiritual life this week?
SECOND DAY READ JONAH 3:1-5, 10 FIRST READING
(“The Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.”)
- What came to Jonah a second time, and what did the Lord tell him to do? Jonah 3:1-2
- What was the Word of God that came to Jonah the first time, and why did it come to him a second time? Jonah 1:1-3
- What did Jonah do, where did he go, and whom was he following? Jonah 3:3
- Who are called blessed? Luke 11:28
- How big was Nineveh, and how long did it take to go through it? Jonah 3:3
- What did Jonah do, how far did he get before the people of Nineveh believed God, and what did he announce? Jonah 3:4-5
- When the people of Nineveh believed God, what did they do? Jonah 3:5
- What does God do to those who humble themselves and turn from their evil ways? 2 Chronicles 7:14
- What did God see, of what did God repent, and what did God not do? Jonah 3:10
- What leads us to repentance? Romans 2:4
Personal – In what way have you obeyed or not obeyed the Word of God this past week? What happened to you as a result of your obedience or disobedience? Compare it to the story of Jonah in this study.
THIRD DAY READ 1 CORINTHIANS 7:29-31 SECOND READING
(“I tell you, brothers, the time is running out.”)
- What is Paul telling the brothers? 1 Corinthians 7:29
- What does the wise man’s heart know? Ecclesiastes 8:5
- What happened at an acceptable time, and what day is it now? 2 Corinthians 6:2
- How are those with wives to act? 1 Corinthians 7:29
- What happens to those who give up their wife for the kingdom of God? Luke 18:29-30
- What does Paul tell those who are weeping, those who are rejoicing, and those who are buying? 1 Corinthians 7:30
- What are those who make use of the things of this world not to do? 1 Corinthians 7:31
- What is the world in its present form doing? 1 Corinthians 7:31
- What is happening to the world, and who will remain forever? 1 John 2:17
- What will always remain, and why? 1 Corinthians 13:13 and 1 John 4:16
Personal – How much time do you spend on the things of this world, in comparison to time spent loving God and others? What is the world in its present form to you?
FOURTH DAY READ MARK 1:14-20 GOSPEL
(“Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”)
- After John had been arrested, what did Jesus come to Galilee proclaiming? Mark 1:14
- What time did Jesus say this was, what was at hand, and what two things must we do? Mark 1:15
- What does sorrow for God’s sake produce? 2 Corinthians 7:9-11
- What was Paul sent to do, and what was that Gospel? 1 Corinthians 1:17-18
- What signs will accompany those who believe? Mark 16:17-18
- What is possible to those who have faith, and what did the boy’s father cry out? Mark 9:23-24
Personal – What signs are coming from you showing the extent of your faith?
- As Jesus passed by the Sea of Galilee, whom did he see, what were they doing, and what were they? Mark 1:16
- Whom did Jesus say to come after, and what would he make them? Mark 1:17
- What did they leave, and whom did they follow? Mark 1:18
- As Jesus walked a little farther, whom did he see? What were they doing, and what did Jesus do? Mark 1:19-20
- What was their response to him? Mark 1:20
- What must we do to follow Jesus, and what will the Father do? John 12:26
Personal – As a believer, how are you like the Apostles, a fisher of men bringing others into the kingdom of God?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 25:4-9
(“He guides the humble to justice.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 25:4-9.
What is the Lord saying to you personally through the Psalm?
How can you apply this to your daily spiritual life?
SIXTH DAY READ ALL OF THE COMMENTARY
JONAH 3:1-5, 10
Jonah, like many people today and of his time, had ignored God and rebelled against him. Jonah, again like many of us, ran away from God, but also like us, he was given a second chance to participate in God’s work.
When we ignore God, He will discipline us, but he will always offer compassion and forgiveness if we turn from our sins and obey him. We may feel we are no longer able to qualify to serve God because of our past mistakes, but remember, that serving God is not an earned position. There is not one single living person on this earth that qualifies for God’s service. Yet, He asks each of us to be a part of His work. This may be your time for another chance.
Jonah was to preach only what God told him, and that was a message of doom to the most powerful city in the world. He did not want this assignment, but he finally spoke out and did not let society, social pressures, or fear of people dictate his words.
We are called to preach God’s message no matter how unpopular it may be. God’s message, then and today, is for everyone. The people of Nineveh were shocked when they heard God’s message, and they repented immediately. We need to realize that there are many people waiting to hear God’s word proclaimed. We are called to be today’s Jonah. You will be surprised when people confess and repent, just like they did at Nineveh. Remember, it is not the hearing of God’s word that really pleases Him, but an obedient response to it.
I CORINTHIANS 7:29-31
Paul tells the people that time is short, and their future is determined by their present interests. He is urging all believers to stay free from the trappings of the world and to be available to the Lord. The lesson given here is not to let homes, financial security and even a successful marriage be the ultimate goal of life for all ages. We must be unhindered by the cares of the world. We should not be getting involved with mortgages, budgets, investments or bills that will prevent us from doing God’s work.
Paul tells us that a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities, but he should be careful to keep them modest and manageable. The time of salvation is now, and that means that our primary reason for living is to bring glory to God. The world and all its things will pass away, but we who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will endure forever (1 John 2:17). We cannot call ourselves believers if our actions do not bear Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). We are called to die to ourselves and become Christ-centered instead of self-centered.
We are to live to serve others instead of waiting for someone to serve us. A Christ-centered person experiences a new meaning of love. Love is giving, not taking. Our spouse will come alive with hope and joy as we become Christ-centered. Our children will come to honor and respect us as we become Christ-centered. To be Christ-centered is to be fully alive. To be self-centered is to be dead. Remember, today is the time of salvation and that means being Christ-centered.
Jesus proclaimed the Good News to those in Galilee, and this Good News would change the world forever. His words were Good News because they offered freedom, blessings and promise. At last the long-awaited Messiah had come to begin God’s personal reign on earth.
Do we really believe that the reign of God is at hand? Do we believe that God is present now and observes and allows pain, sickness and death to innocent people all over the earth? We need to take this message really into our heart, because the core of this message is that He is with us and He will never leave us, no matter how difficult the situation may be. The next part of that message was very uncomfortable for many people then and continues to be uncomfortable for many people today. To reform means to change and to change means to give up our power. People who want to change are people who are hurting, whether physically, emotionally, or even spiritually.
Jesus tells us to believe in the Gospel and that means to repent. Most of the people who heard this message were oppressed, poor and without hope. They were thrilled that their Messiah was at last present in their lives. Today many people are still oppressed, poor and without hope and the reign of God is still at hand. The message to reform and believe in the Gospel is a message from a God of love and justice. He will forgive all those who come forth in Godly sorrow because that sorrow leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). He hates sin and will not look the other way while one is sinning because He is a just God.
Let each one of us look into our heart and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your child.” (Luke 15:18-19) Remember, God’s love is constant and waiting. He will search for us and give us chances to respond, but He will not force us to come into His kingdom.
In the first reading we are called to preach God’s message no matter how unpopular it may be. The second reading reveals that the time of salvation is now and we are called to be Christ centered instead of self centered. The Gospel shows us that to believe is to repent, and to repent is to become free.
This week, look around in your family, school, and work and see where you may need to repent. An oppressed, lonely, and helpless one may be someone who is very close to you. Ask God to reveal to you where you need to repent, and then go to that person in faith and ask his or her forgiveness.