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
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
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.
God of mercy, we humbly confess our need of your pardoning grace. We shelter arrogance and pride in our hearts, believing that our efforts will secure what only you can give us. We are quick to judge and grumble when our plans, pleasures, and preferences are threatened. We are slow to offer mercy, both inwardly and outwardly, towards those you have placed in our lives and called us to love. Forgive our self-righteousness and our self-absorption.
Fix our eyes on our savior, Jesus Christ, that we may become enraptured with Him, for it’s in his name we pray. 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: Revelation contains 404 verses into which St. John, the pastor, makes reference to earlier scripture 518 times. The message is clear: This last word on scripture will not being saying anything new. Instead, the Revelation reveals Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God by bidding us to look to the past to the Old Testament promises and to the resurrection; to live in the present as the people of God; and to look toward the future when the triumph of King Jesus will be fully revealed. Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: Written around the same time as Haggai, Israel had returned from exile in Babylon, but they were discouraged by the slow progress in rebuilding their national identity. Zechariah reminded the people that returning to their homeland would do no good if their hearts did not return to God. Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
“We Are One” Readings
This section of the Devo focuses on the passage(s) from Sunday’s sermon. Use it to reflect upon the ways Christ has been working in your life this week. Makes a great midday reflection, or group discussion guide.
ReadEphesians 4:1-6 again
I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’” —Alasdair McIntyre
One of my favorite questions in Scripture comes right after Adam and Eve’s famous Fall. God comes into the garden to walk with them in the cool of the day. But they are not in the usual spot. God calls to them, “Where are you?”
I love that question. It reveals the kind of story we have been called into. If that damnable lie drove our first parents away from God’s presence, then His question is what first called them back. He doesn’t give them what they deserve. He asks a question. It’s a kindness. The first act of lovingkindness toward His broken Creation. Everything will be harder now, but they have God’s promise that He will still be with them, He is working things together for their redemption, so that His holy presence will no longer be a terror for their and our sinful hearts.
Of what story do we find ourselves a part?S.D. Smith, puts it this way, “We have been invited into a story. The Story. And we have been shown our place: a place of receiving and believing. So much emphasis in Ephesians is placed on what God has done. Out of this identity, we are instructed to walk in a manner worthy of our calling.”
The stage is set. We’re part of the Story now. We have a role, a calling: we are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10). But how will we know if we are getting our lines right? You know, walking in a “worthy manner”? Verses 2-3 hold up a giant cue card and whisper, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
So what really happens when you become a Christian? Quite a lot actually. But Paul’s favorite descriptor is that you become part of the body of Christ, and “in Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22). One thing that immediately results in, even if you don’t feel it at first, is union by the Spirit with every other Christian who has ever lived. There’s a whole lot that we could say about that, but here Paul simply says, “make every effort to keep that unity.” He doesn’t say to find it, to grasp it, to create it, or to gain it. He says wekeep it. And, it’s crucial to how we will play our part in the Story. Intrigued? Tune in tomorrow!
Questions to Ponder: How are you doing with learning your lines of walking…with all humility and gentleness? Patience? Bearing with one another in love? Are you making every effort to keep the unity we have in the Spirit?
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.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)