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
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. (Psalm 65:8)
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.
Gracious Father,we confessthat we have longed too much for the comforts and treasures of this world rather than for your enduring Kingdom.
We have loved the gifts more than the Giver.
In your mercy, help us to see that the things we strive for are shadows, but you are the substance; that they are quicksand, but you are a mighty rock; that they are shifting, but you are an anchor.
Thank you for forgiving us through the riches of Christ and freeing us to live a new life, faithfully devoted to him.
In Jesus’ name. 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 Second Letter to the Corinthians was written during a difficult period in his relation with the church at Corinth. Some members of the church had evidently made strong attacks against Paul, but he shows his deep longing for reconciliation and expresses his great joy when this is brought about.” 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.
Read: Romans 5:1-5
My formative boyhood years were spent tramping through the woods near our home in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains. The whole world was a Robert Frost poem replete with weathered slate fences that, at one time, made for good neighbors and fields carved into mountainsides. It was terrain ripe for exploration in the mind of every intrepid 8-year-old boy! But my favorite landmarks of all were the tributary creeks and rivers that wove their way through the valleys,running their course before exhausting themselves into the mighty Susquehanna River.
One year, as the mountain snows melted, cold rain steadily pelted our upstairs windows before conspiring to make a real go at flooding the earth once again. Creek beds I had leaped over (and occasionally into) were obliterated as torrents of water cut hard into the tall embankments. Overnight our school yard became a floodplain and the old rope bridge to the ball diamond was carried off in the wash.*
It’s funny how memories like this fill our imaginations. I cannot read, for example, Romans 5:5 without thinking of that flood. God’s love overflowing the banks and turning my heart into a floodplain of his mercy.
J.I. Packer writes,
“To know God’s love is indeed heaven on earth. And the New Testament sets forth this knowledge, not as the privilege of a favored few, but as a normal part of ordinary Christian experience…knowledge of the love of God, having flooded our hearts, fills them now, just as a valley once flooded remains full of water.
We Christians are supposed to know God’s love firsthand. Knowledge of the sort Paul is describing isn’t something meek and mild. No, it’s knowledge that looks something more like a what I witnessed as a child, only on a far grander scale. Picture a dam breaking as a torrent of water crashes down, reshaping the whole terrain.God by his Spirit reshapes the topography of our hearts, and a wide, new country of grace is now ours to explore as we learn to delight and live within its pleasant boundaries. Somewhere within this new territory, the Spirit of God has created a reservoir of His love within us. Always ready to remind us that our Father really does love us. His grace really has made an indelible mark upon the landscape of our hearts. And so it will be for all eternity.
Reflect: When was the last time you had a deep and abiding awareness of God’s love for you? Do Paul’s words in Romans 5 seem unattainable to you? Spend some time in prayer asking God to make you attentive to his love for you today.
*Side note: I was glad to see that bridge with its rickety, ready-to-send-me-to-my death boards get swept away. Much to my delight, it was replaced by a wonderfully sturdy bridge named after our hometown hero, and renowned pitcher of the Dead Ball Era, Christy Mathewson).
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.
May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2)