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?
Read: Genesis 15:1-21 + Genesis 16:1-6
We often only get the essential details in narrative passages like this. There is no color commentary going on or Johannine parenthetical whispers (the beloved apostle often does this: “You see what was really happening was this…”). Instead we get what God felt was most important to communicate, what helps us to see his work of redemption most clearly.
Our passages today are placed next to one another because they make for compelling storytelling and God is making a point about himself and about us as his creatures. I’ll paraphrase it like this: we are impatient; God is gracious in his patience. We work in days; God works over millennia. We have clever ideas; God’s plans never fail. That is what is being juxtaposed in this story.
Coming on the heels of the action with rescuing his more-trouble-than-he’s-worth nephew Lot and meeting with the mysterious Melchizedek, Abram has a vision. In it, he walks out under the heavenly canopy of lights, God tells him to count, “Look…number the stars…” He begins counting. God interrupts. “…if you are able to even count them all! You’re going to have a big family, Abram!” The next line, though, tells us the big point and it sets up the story that follows: Abram believed the LORD, and God declared him “Set-right-with-God.”
But not everything in this story is set right with God.Sometime later Sarai, in words she likely regretted soon after, says to her vision-receiving husband, “Look, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her!” It’s a clever idea. It’s just not what God had in mind. But notice the tension her plan creates, not with the other humans involved (and there was plenty of that!), but with God.
God says: I will make a way. Sarai says: I’ve got my ways. God promises but Sarai says, “Promises, promises! What good is a promised son? What I need is a real son any way I can get one!” It was more than just short-cutting God’s plan,it was a return to the ground under the tree in Eden. No devilish snake this time but the temptation is the same. Sarai like her mother Eve fails to trust God and desires to be God. Abram like Adam abdicates his role. The results, as you might expect, are disastrous. Hagar is abused by their sin. Perhaps she thought to herself: “Look, I haven’t had much choice here. They’ve just played God in my life, and now Sarai scowls at and berates me? Isn’t this what she wanted?”
Hagar does what any reasonable person might do. She gets the heck out of there! And over the next few days we’ll see what God does in her life, but for now let’s reflect on what we’ve read.
Reflect: We can relate with Sarai. Just fill in the blank of the thing you are having difficulty waiting on God to come through on. How might God be calling you to trust him rather than grasping for the low hanging fruit of your own designs?
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)