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
“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. . . . The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” (Ps. 126:2-3)
Prayer of Confession
Redeemer God, no words of mine are strong enough or deep enough to express my gratitude for all you have done in the glory of your cross.
When my language has pushed its limits, let my love for you and for my neighbor be a poem of praiseto your name;
take my living and make it a joyful noise that others can’t help but join in, to your glory. Amen.
*Prayer borrowed from Philip Reinders’ Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
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: “In his letters to two young associates—Timothy in Ephesus and Titus in Crete—we see Paul encouraging and guiding the development of just such leadership. What he had learned so thoroughly himself, he was now passing on, and showing them, in turn, how to develop a similar leadership in local congregations. This is essential reading because ill-directed and badly formed spiritual leadership causes much damage in souls. Paul in both his life and his letters shows us how to do it right.” Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: “People who want God as an escape from reality, from the often hard conditions of this life, don’t find this much to their liking. But to the man or woman wanting more reality, not less—this continuation of the salvation story—Joshua’s fierce and devout determination to win land for his people and his extraordinary attention to getting all the tribes and their families name by name assigned to their own place, is good news indeed. Joshua lays a firm foundation for a life that is grounded.” Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
HAGAR Read: Genesis 16 + Genesis 21 Mothers Day is this coming Sunday so this week we will be focusing on how God personally met an unlikely woman in Scripture: Hagar. Whether this tale is familiar or unfamiliar, Frederick Buechner’s creative retelling will help you to understand the human drama, and we will spend the rest of the week dipping into the drama. Buechner writes,
“Sarah couldn’t have children, so she persuaded her husband, Abraham, to have a child with her lady’s maid Hagar instead.Abraham and Hagar both proved willing, and soon a child was on the way. As you’d think one of them might have foreseen, however, there are certain problems inherent in a menage a trois that are not solved by the prospect of its becoming amenage a quatre. Au contraire.
As Sarah saw it, Hagar no longer walked around the house, she flounced, and whenever she had a craving for things like bagels and lox, naturally Abraham went out and got them for her. In no time at all Sarah was livid with jealousy. Eager for peace at any price, Abraham said to go ahead and fire Hagar then if that would make things better, and within a short time Hagar was out on the street with all her belongings piled around her, including a layette.
It wasn’t long, however, before an angel found her there and persuaded her to go back in and try to patch things up with hermistress. Not having anything better in mind, Hagar agreed. Then the angel told her that the Lord had taken pity on her and wanted her to know that she was to name her baby Ishmael when he came. He also wanted her to know that though Ishmael was never going to win any popularity contests, he would nonetheless be the first of a multitude of descendants. It was a promise.Much cheered by this, Hagar returned to the house through the servants’ entrance, ate humble pie, and was eventually given back her old job. A few months later, Ishmael was born, just as the Lord had said.
But her troubles weren’t over.To the stupefaction of her gynecologists, it wasn’t long before Sarah herself gave birth to a son named Isaac, who God promised would be the father of a great nation. This was so far beyond her wildest expectations, not to mention everybody else’s, that for a while she was as happy as she’d ever been; but then one day she found Isaac and Ishmael playing together in the nursery, and once again the fat was in the fire.
She was convinced that her upstairs son would have to split his inheritance with Hagar’s downstairs brat, so for the second time she nagged Abraham into driving them both out of the house permanently. When they got as far as Beersheba, they ran out of water. Hagar gave up her son for dead and sat down and wept.
It all ended happily, however. This time the Lord took care of her personally. First he produced a well and then he told her to dry her eyes because not only would her son live, but he gave her his word that the boy would grow up to be the father of a great nation just like his half brother, Isaac, back home. And so it came to pass.
The story of Hagar is the story of the terrible jealousy of Sarah and the singular ineffectuality of Abraham and the way Hagar, who knew how to roll with the punches, managed to survive them both. Above and beyond that, however, it is the story of how in the midst of the whole unseemly affair the Lord, half tipsy with compassion,went around making marvelous promises and loving everybody and creating great nations like the last of the big-time spenders handing out hundred-dollar bills.
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.
“Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” (Jude 21)