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 Lord is gracious and merciful,slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 145:8)
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.
Almighty God, who is rich in mercy to all those who call upon you; hear us as we come to you, humbly confessing our sins and transgressions, and imploring your mercy and forgiveness. We have broken your holy laws by our deeds and our words, and by the sinful affections of our hearts.
Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father! And help us to both serve and please you in newness of life, through the merit of Jesus Christ our Lord, 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?
“Psalms Mix” 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.
The story behind the psalm: Moses made his way up the now well-trodden mountain path. Nine times, at least, he had made this trek to speak with the Lord atop Sinai, but never with a promise like the one he carried this time as his 80 year old frame limped up the trail. Perhaps his mind wandered back over the years.How many times had he interceded for this wayward people? Even offering his own life to save them. Their hearts were fickle, far too easily swayed. They loved the Lord one minute and were “stiff-necked” the next (Ex. 33:3).
Whatever this latest rebellion had been, it wasn’t anything new, and not nearly as creative as when they smithed gold into the rough form of a calf. A calf! Yahweh had rescued them from slavery, fed them daily, if a little bland, bread, and guided them through wilderness wastes by cloud and fire all these years, and they they go and worship a cow! That was the camel-breaking straw if ever there was one. The Lord’s response had been devastating: “I will not go among you to the promised land, lest I consume you on the way…” (Ex. 33:3). But there in the tent of meeting as they talked as friends, Moses had pleaded once again for the people and the Lord gave in: “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest” (Ex. 33:14).
Then something surprising happened. Maybe it even caught Moses by surprise as he burst out in reply: “Please, show me your glory!” What a bold request, but God’s response is gentle. He speaks tenderly to Moses and tells him, “I will make all of my goodness (which is His glory) pass by you” and “cover you with my hand until I have passed.” Moses had to be covered (shielded) from God’s glory, because as Tim Keller puts it, “when God comes down, things fall off, melt off of a person. If his wisdom passes by, your worry melts down…If his holiness passes by, your spiritual lethargy, your indifference falls away. If his mercy passes by, your guilt is gone.”
That’s what happened to Moses. God passed by with His mercy without being Moses being consumed: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty…” (Ex. 34:7-8).
Generations later,David would place this story-filled phrase at the center of this acrostic to inspire worship. “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 145:8). Moses had worshipped at these words as well. He worshipped and then asked God to give His people something they had no right to expect: all of God’s mercy.
Michael Card sums it up well, “The broken prophet, kneeling before the Lord in worship, is asking for hesed because now he know he can.” Picking up on this, David reminds those singing his song that God’s steadfast love is how rebellious people get the mercy they don’t deserve.
Yet, God’s promise of mercy, grace, steadfast love, faithfulness, forgiveness, and slowness to anger is balanced by that final phrase from Exodus 34:8: “but who will by no means clear the guilty.” This is where the gospel enters into our psalm today.How could God forgive iniquity and transgression and sin, and still be perfectly just? It’s only because Jesus took our guilt upon himself that God can pass by Moses, by David, and by us in mercy. And so we sing with David that God truly is “good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made” (Psalm 145:9).
Questions to Ponder:
How do you relate to a God who reveals himself in this way? What should be our posture before him?
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 Lord is good to all,and his mercy is over all that he has made.(Psalm 145:9)