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
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. (Isaiah 58:8-9)
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 all that is, was, and will be, you hold it all in your hands. And yet,
I confess that my heart is often like that of Jacob: wanting the moon, but not its Maker.
Remake my self-sufficient heart, O God, and hobble me to do it if you must.
It is surely better to walk alongside you with a limp than to sprint through this wilderness alone.
But don’t stop there! Continue working out your redemption of me by your Spirit
And not just today, but tomorrow, and every sunset and sunrise until I return to the dust. 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 letter to the Ephesians joins together what has been torn apart in our sin-wrecked world. He begins with an exuberant exploration of what Christians believe about God, and then, like a surgeon skillfully setting a compound fracture, “sets” this belief in God into our behavior before God so that the bones—belief and behavior—knit together and heal.” 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 Deuteronomy is organized as a series of addresses given by Moses to the people of Israel in the land of Moab, where they had stopped at the end of the long wilderness journey and were about to enter and occupy Canaan…The great theme of the book is that God has saved and blessed his chosen people, whom he loves; so his people are to remember this, and love and obey him, so that they may have life and continued blessing. The key verses of the book are 6:4–6, and contain the words that Jesus called the greatest of all commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
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.
This week we will look at the theme of God’s sufficiency through the life of Jacob. And there’s no better place to start than with Frederick Buechner’s description of Jacob from his book Peculiar Treasures.*
Read the Scripture above and then enter into the story a bit more through Buechner’s words:
“The book of Genesis makes no attempt to conceal the fact that Jacob was, among other things, a crook. What’s more, you get the feeling that whoever wrote up his seamy adventures got a real kick out of them.
Twice he cheated his lame-brained brother,Esau, out of what was coming to him. At least once he took advantage of the blindness of his old father, Isaac, and played him for a sucker. He outdid his double-crossing father-in-law, Laban, by conning him out of most of his livestock and, later on, when Laban was looking the other way, by sneaking off with not only both the man’s daughters, but just about everything else that wasn’t nailed down including his household gods. Jacob was never satisfied. He wanted the moon, and if he’d ever managed to bilk heaven out of that, he would have been back the next morning for the stars to go with it. But then one day he learned a marvelous lesson in a marvelous and unexpected way.
It happened just after he’d ripped Esau off for the second time and was making his getaway into the hill country to the north. When sunset came and nobody seemed to be after him, he decided that it was safe to camp out for the night and, having left in too much of a hurry to take his bedroll with him, tucked a stone under his head for a pillow and prepared to go to sleep. You might think that what happened next was that he lay there all night bug-eyed as a result of his guilty conscience or, if he did finally manage to drop off, that he was tormented by conscience-stricken dreams, but neither of these was the case. Instead, he dropped off like a baby in a cradle and dreamed the kind of dreams you would have thought were reserved for the high saints.
He dreamed that there was a ladder reaching up to heaven and that there were angels moving up and down it with golden sandals and rainbow-colored wings and that standing somewhere above it was God himself. And the words God spoke in the dream were not the chewing-out you might have expected, but something altogether different. God told Jacob that the land he was lying on was to belong to him and his descendants and that someday his descendants would become a great nation and a great blessing to all the other nations on earth. And as if that wasn’t enough, God then added a personal P.S. by saying, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go.”
It wasn’t holy hell that God gave him, in other words, but holy heaven,not to mention the marvelous lesson thrown in for good measure. The lesson was, needless to say, that even for a dyed-in-the-wool, double-barreled con artist like Jacob there are a few things in this world you can’t get but can only be given, and one of these things is love in general, and another is the love of God in particular.
Jacob didn’t have to climb his ladder to bilk heaven of the moon and the stars, even if that had been possible, because the moon and the stars looked like peanuts compared to what God and the angels were using the ladder to hand down to him for free.
Another part of the lesson was that, luckily for Jacob, God doesn’t love people because of who they are, but because of who God is.“It’s on the house” is one way of saying it and “It’s by grace” is another, just as it was by grace that it was Jacob of all people who became not only the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, but the many-times great-grandfather of Jesus of Nazareth, and just as it was by grace that Jesus of Nazareth was born into this world at all.”
*Buechner has also depicted the life of Jacob in his novel Son of Laughter.
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.
And now may the Lord, who is the strength of His people, be your Shepherd and carry you forever. Amen. (Psalm 23)