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
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
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.
Dear heavenly Father, when we were dead in our sins and trespasses, you raised us to new life in Christ. We praise you for so great a salvation, so glorious a hope, and so firm a standing in grace. We humble ourselves before you today, in gratitude and repentance.
Forgive us for our attitudes that deny your grace. Forgive us for our words that violate peace. Forgive us for our habits that sabotage beauty. Forgive us for our passivity that accepts the unacceptable. Forgive us for our pettiness that robs people we love. Forgive us for our unbelief that robs you of glory.
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: The letter to the Romans is a piece of exuberant and passionate thinking. This is the glorious life of the mind enlisted in the service of God. Paul takes the well-witnessed and devoutly believed fact of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and thinks through its implications. How does it happen that in the death and resurrection of Jesus, world history took a new direction, and at the same moment the life of every man, woman, and child on the planet was eternally affected? What is God up to? What does it mean that Jesus “saves”? What’s behind all this, and where is it going? 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: Exodus 34:1-7
God does not change. How real are these words to you? They are, in fact, the reality upon which your entire life is built. Yesterday we saw that God’s unchanging nature means that he is unflinchingly pursuing us with his grace. Today I want us to see how we are meant to experience God’s unchanging character, truth, and ways.
Unchanging character. Nothing can alter who God is. God says to Moses in Exodus 3:14, “I AM who I AM” or Yahweh for short. God’s name for Himself tells us who He is. It is a declaration of the simple reality that he exists in eternality (I won’t unpack all that this means for our conception of time). Here, however, is where things get interesting. God doesn’t stop there. He goes on in Exodus 34 to share what He is like, his character. “The LORD, the LORD (Yahweh), the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children.”
This is one of my favorite scenes in the Bible. Moses on the mountainside, hidden in a rocky crag, brilliant light engulfing the place, and the voice of God telling this old man who had become his friend exactly what he is like. God came down not in fury, but in merciful love for his friend. It’s a moment that we should mark down as read the unfolding story of redemption. God would one day come down again, but this time he would live, flesh and bone, among his people. But all that comes later.
Unchanging truth. We often say things that we don’t mean. Or we change our minds later on about something. But God never changes his mind. He means what he says, and he means it forever. Like shadows moving across the landscape, our words and opinions shift based on what we can see. But God is not like this. He sees it all and so he can speak definitively. What does this mean for us? It means that we can take him at his word. If God says that something is true, then it is. If we don’t like what he says, well, that’s another story, but it doesn’t change the fact that whatever he says is good, right, and beautiful is for all time each of those things.
Unchanging ways. God does not change in the way that he relates to his creation. And yet, when we read Scripture sometimes we may be tempted to say, “Yeah, but whatabout how God related to people in the old covenant versus the new covenant?” These whataboutisms are perfectly good questions. God even encourages us to ask them. He tells us to reason with him, but we must do so knowing that his ways and thoughts are higher than ours could ever be (Isaiah 55:9). This means that there are some things we will never fully get, truths which will remain paradoxically veiled to our finite understanding.
So how can we get our minds around God and his ways? We embrace the paradox because paradox leads us into the beautiful truth that God, “blesses those on whom he sets his love in a way that humbles them, so that all the glory may be his alone.” God hates our sins, but he uses what Jim Packer calls, “all kinds of inward and outward pains and griefs to wean [our] hearts from compromise and disobedience.” God seeks fellowship with us as his people, and sends us “both sorrows and joys in order to detach [our] love from other things and attach it to himself.” His ways are not like our ways. If we tried to accomplish the same work in another person, we would destroy the relationship, but God works all things together for our good and salvation. Let’s thank him today for that!
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.
Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things;let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.(Psalm 107:43)