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
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14)
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.
Heavenly Father, we confess that our sin is great, but your mercy is greater. Our fears are dreadful and many, but you fill us with the peace only your presence can provide. We come to you today in need of new mercies because our sins are too real to hide and too heavy to carry any further.
Forgive us for living in wish dreams that deny your reality. Forgive us for our self-sufficiency that is blind to your provision. Forgive us for our worry that is killing us and robs us of today. Forgive us for playacting at forgiveness while harboring a grudge. Forgive us for our snap judgements about others than forgets we too are sinners saved by grace alone.
Have mercy on us, Lord; have mercy on me. In Jesus’ strong and loving 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 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.
Read: Isaiah 40:25-31
We have been looking at God’s majesty all week and, while it’s great to read and think about God’s greatness, I think that a story from the life of Abraham might be helpful to round out our mediation upon this theme.
When was the last time that you walked outside at night and starred at the stars? Not a fleeting glance, but a good, long stargaze? I’ve often wondered what it must have been like for Abraham to look into the vast dark expanse as the voice of God promised him something impossible that would shape the history of the cosmos. In that moment all those years ago the God of the universe, who holds the gravitational pull of planets, the trajectories of comets, and the course of the sun in his hand, came down and spoke with an old man. He brought him out under that great canopy and, like a painter unfolding to a friend subtleties on a canvas, he unveiled a promise that was more majestic than all the bright lights in the sky could ever convey, in fact the secret that all the stars in the heavens have been pointing to for all of history. Abraham looked up. He saw and heard God’s majestic wisdom and purposes.
But, as I was saying, when was the last time you really looked up? Is it hard to recall? Why is that? We live our lives with our heads down, unaware or avoiding the majesty of the One who made not just the stars, but dreamed up the intricacies of the veins which run their courses inside tree leaves, and differentiated them from the veins which run throughout my body? We are odd creatures, aren’t we?It seems wrong on all levels not to be taken aback by all the things we consider mundane.
Perhaps this starts in our wrongheadedness.That is to say, the wrong thoughts that we have about God, which are the ultimate form of being wrongheaded. Eugene Peterson’s beautiful paraphrase carries the meaning of Isaiah 40:25-26 “So—who is like me? Who holds a candle to me?” says The Holy. Look at the night skies: Who do you think made all this? Who marches this army of stars out each night, counts them off, calls each by name—so magnificent! so powerful!—and never overlooks a single one?”
Our thoughts about God are too human-oriented. Jim Packer says, “This is where most of us go astray. Our thoughts about God are not great enough; we fail to reckon with the reality of his limitless wisdom and power. Because we ourselves are limited and weak, we imagine that at some points God is too.”
So what’s the corrective? How do we fix this fatal flaw? God tells us in Isaiah 40:25: Look! Ask! Marvel! When our thoughts about God become big, our thoughts about ourselves will become appropriately small. Not only that but our thoughts about ourselves will be corrected! Instead of thinking of ourselves as being abandoned by God or, at the opposite pole, entirely self-sufficient, we will come to see ourselves as “pursued by his mercy and goodness all the days of our lives” (Ps. 23) and desperately in need of God’s loving pursuit!
Again Eugene Peterson’s translation helps us see what we too often miss about God’s greatness. Let’s let these words carry us into the weekend:
“Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”
Reflect: Where do your thoughts about God (and his greatness) tend to go awry? How are the words of Isaiah 40:25-31 meant bring you back?
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.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2)