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
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)
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 be overwhelmed by His steadfast love and goodness, 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: In spite of having seen the destruction and exile of Israel a generation earlier, Judah refuses to turn back as a nation to its covenant obligations to God. Zephaniah reminds Judah that there is no such thing as a second-generation child of God. Every generation must own God’s covenant, not relying on the faith of a previous generation. 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.
ReadPsalm 107:1, 43
This psalm is great art. I don’t think that should be too surprising. After all, there’s a reason that it was included in the psalter. They didn’t put just anyone’s poetry in. Now, great art is not something that you understand fully within the first few seconds. There is an immediacy to it. You hear it, see it and it captivates you, but in a way that is a little hard to explain (which is different than, say, a Thomas Kinkade). Great art works on you at multiple levels.
Re-listening to a truly great song allows the lyric or the music to work on you in new ways, especially after a difficult season. That’s what this psalm does. It’s full of these wonderful layers of repetition (words, phrases, history) that help us enter into Israel’s story (which is really the story of us all) through a different lens: Exile and Return. More on that later in the week, but for now, let’s see what we can uncover on this listen to Psalm 107.
The psalm begins with an invitation. Listen closely. Here we go. It’s right there in Verse 1: “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” We are invited to give thanks to God, but the invitation isn’t quite finished. Why should we thank God? Because He is good. But why is He good? Simply and singularly this: because His hesed (God’s unique, mercy-to-those-who-have-no-business-expecting-it love) endures forever. Now what should we be doing with that love? That’s where the psalm gets interesting.
Verse 43, all the way at the end, clues us in: “Whoever is wise, let them pay attention to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.” This is art that tells you how to appreciate it. In order to understand this psalm, then, we need to pay attention to these things; we need to consider, or figure out the hesed of Yahweh (more on the name Yahweh here).
So our invitation to thank God is actually an invitation to remember, ponder, rejoice in, puzzle over, and figure out God’s never-ending hesed. We will see this unfold throughout the week, but here’s what I think the psalmist is getting at: unless you have looked at God’s love to the point that it puzzles you, moves you deeply with the richness of it, then you don’t really understand God’s love. You haven’t gained wisdom. You haven’t been transformed by the love of God. Transformation of character, of heart, was the Hebrew understanding of wisdom. It’s what happened to all of the great people in the story of Israel: they had an encounter with the living God and it utterly transformed them. They were never the same.
We have that same invitation at the beginning of this psalm. We are invited to be changed from who we are at present, and into who God designed us to be. We are invited to take God up on His offer of really seeing what His love is all about. That’s quite the invitation! Want to go along for the ride?
Questions to Ponder: How would you describe the way God’s hesed was displayed in Jesus Christ? What still puzzles you about his love for you?
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.
I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloudand your sins like mist;return to me, for I have redeemed you. Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it;shout, O depths of the earth;break forth into singing, O mountains,O forest, and every tree in it!For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,and will be glorified in Israel. (Isaiah 44:22-23)