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 near to all who call on him,to all who call on him in truth. (Psalm 145:18)
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.
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but our iniquities have separated us from God and our sins have hidden his face from us so that he does not hear.
Our mouths are filled with anger, our lips are quick to speak lies, our eyes are filled with wayward desires. Our feet are swift to run to evil, and our thoughts are the thoughts of iniquity. We have lost our way, and are far from the way of peace.
Lord, only you can intercede and bring health to us. Only your strong arm can bring us salvation. May the Redeemer of Zion save us. Amen. (Based on Isaiah 59)
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.
Read Psalm 145:14-21
The final section of David’s acrostic worship song gives us a bird’s-eye view of the love of God which, as we will see, is far more rich and complex than we think. David relates God’s love by describing some of the ways it is displayed toward everyone: “The Lord upholds all who are falling and bowed down.” “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them food.” “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his acts.”
Theologians call this aspect of God’s love: “common grace.” It is love given to all that God has made, and through it God gives individuals and nations wisdom to live well, morality to restrain evil, beauty to hearten, hope to hang on, and fortitude to endure.
But notice the shift in verses 18-20. “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The Lord preserves all who love him…”This group of people receives nearness to God. They are included in the “all” (v.14-17), but they receive God’s love in a special way.
David describes them as people who “call on” the Lord “in truth.” Calling on the Lord is more than just praying to Him. Calling on Him in truth is more than just believing the right things about God too. So what does David mean?People who call on the Lord in truth rely on God completely. They throw themselves entirely on His hesed (God’s giving-everything-to-those-who-deserve-to-get-nothing love). You can’t take that leap, though, if you still want to reserve the right to decide on which aspects of God to accept. It’s all or nothing.
The wicked (v.20) don’t seem to want all of God. They get his “common grace” love, everyone does. But something holds them back from God’s special saving love which only comes into the life of those who believe. You see? Complexity. And God doesn’t shy away from it, but we do. It’s hard to wrap our minds around, so we collapse God’s love and refuse to see its rich, multi-faceted nature.
On the one hand, if we say that God is only His common grace love, then you reduce God into a domesticated demigod-butler. He’s not mighty. He’s tame, unable to move outside your preferred boundaries of acceptable demigod-butler activity. Sure, he’s still “divine,” but he is certainly not a god capable of dealing with the full measure of evil in the world. He’s just good at tidying up your life.
On the other hand,you can’t say that God’s special saving love is the only kind of love. Again, you’ve just turned him into a withered, skinny, nightmare of a god who only loves us and despises everyone else.
But, if we are willing to take the leap and approach God based on how He describes Himself—full of grace andtruth; the just judge and the justifier; the Alpha and Omega; fully God and fully man; full of common and special hesed—then we find God binding His heart to ours through Jesus Christ, who perfectly embodied the fullness of God’s many-faceted love.
Questions to Ponder:
Does the complexity of God’s love surprise, confuse, or anger you? Take some time today to pray and ask God to help you to understand better both the complexity and the richness, the essence, the shape of His love so you can show it to others.
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.
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.(Psalm 145:21)