Weekly Devotional | "A Scandalous Mercy"

This devotional is based on C.J. Mahaney's sermon, A Scandalous Mercy, given on October 16, 2016.

 

Day 1: Jonah’s story is a cautionary tale

Quotes:

  • “For all its orthodoxy and beauty however, this prayer reveals some of the great defects in Jonah’s character.” Kevin Youngblood
  • “Jonah needed to be humbled, for even though God had mercifully saved him, his heart was unchanged toward the Ninevites. He despised them. His experience of mercy hadn’t changed his heart.” C.J. Mahaney

Questions and Reflections:

  • What character defects do you see in Jonah’s prayer? What do they reveal about the condition of his heart and his understanding of God’s mercy?
  • Compare Jonah’s prayer with the prayer of the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14. What do both Jonah and the Pharisee assume about the nature of God’s mercy?
  • In light of Jonah’s negative example, how are experiences of God’s mercy meant to shape us?

Prayer Recommendations:

  • Meditate on the broken and contrite heart of the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. Ask God to soften your heart. Ask him to open your eyes to the undeserved mercies he is pouring out on you even today. Ask him to fill you with renewed gratitude.

 

Day 2: Jonah’s story reveals God-sized mercy

Quotes:

  • “How perverse Jonah was! Living in a favored nation where spiritual light had been shone only because of the great mercy of God, he had come to assume that Israel deserved grace, whereas others had ill-deserved it. What a perversion! Yet it lies like a hidden poison in the hearts of some of us who most fervently profess evangelical convictions. It is an unwritten rule in our hearts – others do not deserve the gospel, so why should we exhaust our lives in taking it to them? Alas, when we think like that we show how little we know of our own need . . . how little we really know of the grace of God!” Sinclair Ferguson
  • “Jonah was a genuine prophet. He was theologically orthodox. He was accurate and orthodox when he declared in verse 9, “Salvation belongs to the Lord!” But Jonah applied this selectively. And Jonah was not enthusiastic about the application of this statement to the Ninevites.” C.J. Mahaney
  • “Our message is not our moral superiority. Our message is the mercy of God.” C.J. Mahaney

Questions and Reflections:

  • How can you tell if you are applying God’s grace selectively like Jonah?
  • Is there someone you would prefer not to share the gospel with?
  • Compare this passage with James 2:8-13. How does being selective about God’s grace reveal a misunderstanding about the nature of Gods law? What does God want his people to do in response?

Prayer Recommendations:

  • Reread James 2:8-13. Ask God to give you a merciful and loving heart towards your neighbor. Ask him to help you display his mercy for those blinded to their need of it. Pray for those people and pray as specifically as you can. Ask God to soften their hearts in response to the gospel.

 

Day 3: Jonah’s story points to one greater than Jonah

Quotes:

  • “Someone greater than Jonah has come! Salvation does indeed belong to the Lord! And the One salvation belongs to is merciful. He’s come to show mercy to those who richly deserve judgment. He’s come to show mercy. Mercy to pagan sailors in chapter 1. Mercy to the great and wicked Ninevites. And most surprisingly, mercy to Jonah, the self-righteous prophet. And most meaningful, mercy to sinners like you and me. Someone greater than Jonah has come.” C.J. Mahaney

Questions and Reflections:

  • In Matthew 12:38-41 Jesus responds to the Pharisees’ demand for a sign by declaring that the only sign he will give is the sign of Jonah. What did he mean?
  • Contrast Jesus and Jonah. In what way is Jesus’ mission similar to, but greater than, Jonah’s mission, character, and accomplishments?

Prayer Recommendations:

  • Praise God for the incomprehensibly wide river of grace that encompasses every tribe, tongue, and nation in Revelation 7:9-12! Thank God that his mercy makes peace, breaks down barriers, and unites all his people into a loving family. Give thanks for Jesus Christ, who secures this great hope forevermore!

 

Group Discussion Questions:

  • Is there anyone to whom you have been reluctant to show mercy? What can you learn from the life of Jonah? What can you learn from the One greater than Jonah?
  • How are your prayers informed by a desire to show God-sized mercy to other believers? to the lost around you?
  • How can we as a group grow in displaying mercy to one-another and to the lost?