Use this devo as you are able, in whole or in part. Don’t feel compelled to read it all. Simply read and meditate upon whatever catches your attention. The goal is enjoying time with God through His Word and in prayer. Questions about the devotional elements?
Call to Prayer
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. (Psalm 143:8)
Prayer of Confession
Confession is formative. It trains us to recognize the ways our hearts have become de-formed and how Christ is at work bringing redemption in our lives. Pray with this in mind.
Have mercy on us according to your steadfast love. We confess that we have forgotten your compassion and grace, how You bore us on eagles’ wings and brought us to Yourself; and we have forgotten your glory and holiness, and have not trembled before you in reverential wonder.
Forgive us all our sins, we pray, through the finished work of Jesus Christ our Savior.
By your Holy Spirit, please purify us and shine the light of Your gospel in our hearts, that we may live and serve You in the joy of resurrection life. Amen.
Take a moment to confess your sins, knowing that he hears you.
This reading plan will help you to develop the habit of being in God’s Word each morning and evening. Come to this time with expectation. Expect God to reveal himself to you. Expect that he delights in you being there, even when you’ve wandered away. Growing a spiritual habit is a slow, patient process. So be kind to yourself as you grow!
Readings are hyperlinked. Simply hover over the passage or click Morning/Evening Reading (email version).
Praying the Psalms: Read slowly. Take note of words and phrases. Bring them before the Lord in prayer and personalize the passage as you pray.
NT Context: “Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is a classic of pastoral response: affectionate, firm, clear, and unswerving in the conviction that God among them, revealed in Jesus and present in his Holy Spirit, continued to be the central issue in their lives, regardless of how much of a mess they had made of things.” Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: “The book of Numbers plunges us into the mess of growing up. The pages in this section of the biblical story give us a realistic feel for what is involved in being included in the people of God, which is to say, a human community that honors God, lives out love and justice in daily affairs, learns how to deal with sin in oneself and others, and follows God’s commands into a future of blessing. And all this without illusions. The Bible, our primary text for showing us what it means to be a human being created by God and called to a life of obedient faith and sacrificial love, nowhere suggests that life is simple or even “natural.” We need a lot of help.Wise discipline is required in becoming a people of God. Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
Over the next few months our sermon series will explore who God is and what it means for us as His Creation to know Him. Each day this devo will tread along a variety of paths connected to the week’s theme in Knowing God. Consider this your invitation to come along for the ride as we head into the wilds of coming to know and experience God’s person and grace.
John Webster (no relation to Merriam) was one of the great theologians of our modern era, but even better than his theological writings are his sermons, so today our Devo comes from one such sermon on Psalm 119 that unfolds how to know and love the truth contained in God’s law. It’s a little bit longer meditation today, but I promise it will be worth it in the end.
Read: Psalm 119:1-16
“Psalm 119 is one long meditation upon human life in relation to God…Taken as a whole, the psalm is an anatomy of life enclosed and addressed and nourished by the law of God, a portrait of the lives and sufferings and consolations of those for whom the law of God is the (true) way along which they must go…
The wisdom of Psalm 119 is that God’s law is, indeed, utterly good and utterly true and that it can free us to be and do more than our culture will allow. God’s law liberates. That is, once we come to see that there is a shape to our lives that is not what we invent but what God gives to us, we can lay down the burden of having to make ourselves and become what we are: the creatures of the mercy of God.
What might be involved in that? Three things from our portion of Psalm 119.
First: we need to learn to seek God wholeheartedly.“Seeking God” doesn’t mean looking for something that is lost or hidden from us; rather, it means turning the entirety of one’s life toward the One who is present to us, the One whom we can seek because he has already sought and found us…We have to make God our aim…The psalm speaks of having our eyes fixed on all God’s commandments, of fixing our eyes on God’s ways (Ps. 119:6, 15).
Second: we need to learn, as the psalmist tells us, to “meditate on [God’s] precepts”(Psalm 119:15). This meditation, this pondering of God’s revealed will for us, is not introspection; it is not anxious, scrupulous self-examination or the cultivation of inner states. It isn’t a move inward but a move outward, a pondering that is a listening to what comes to us from God. What the psalmist calls storing up God’s word in our heart (Ps. 119:11) means exactly that: not governing our lives by what our hearts, consciences, minds, or desires tell us, but letting them be governed by God’s word. For Christian people, this means, at its most basic, governing our lives by holy Scripture: letting this collection of texts address us, for us, judge us, and encourage us, and so grow in knowing and keeping God’s commandments (his truth!).
Third, and lastly, we need to let God do his work in us by his Spirit and change our affections. We need to submit to the process in which God educates our appetites and desires and trains us to love what he commands. “I will delight in your statutes,” the psalmist says (Ps. 119:16). The conversion of our desires is what transforms obligation into delight. Converting desires is the office of the Spirit. The work of the Spirit in this matter is usually slow, steady, and undramatic. It happens as the Spirit makes use of the means of grace knock us into shape and refine us. It happens, therefore, as we listen tot the Bible, as we feed on the sacrament, as we try to pray…God uses those things to make us new, to soften our stubbornness and retire our spiritual coarseness into affection for the truth of God.
This, of course, is why the heart of the matter is prayer. Psalm 119 as a whole is one long prayer to God…The core of the prayer is: “Do not utterly forsake me!” (Ps. 119:8). We get in the way of God’s work in us; we’re deaf to what he says and blind to what he shows; we lack eagerness, love, and desire. In and of ourselves we can do nothing to change our situation; in the things of God, we’re as weak as kittens. But God is not weak. He will undertake for us. And that is why we pray to God that by His Spirit that he will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves: that he will not forsake us but quicken us, engage us, and make us alive. Amen.”
Reflect: If we are “as weak as kittens” when it comes to hearing and obeying God’s truth, what role does the Spirit play in helping us? Think and pray through your day (whether in preparation or reflection). Where do you need His help today?
Evening Prayer of Examen
Where did you move with or feel close to Jesus today?
Where did you resist or feel far from Jesus today?
Where is Jesus leading you tomorrow? Ask for joy as you follow him.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)