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
By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life. (Psalm 42:8)
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.
Jesus, here we are again, desiring a thing, desiring many things, that were we to indulge in, it would war against our own hearts. O Christ, rather let our lives be thine! Take our desires. Let them be subsumed in still greater desire for you, until there remains no room for these lesser cravings. We would rather choose you, Jesus— but we are weak. So be our strength. We are shadowed. Be our light. We are selfish. Unmake us now, and refashion our desires according to the better designs of your love. 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: The story of Jesus doesn’t end with Jesus. It continues in the lives of those who believe in him. The supernatural does not stop with Jesus. Acts makes it clear that these Christians Luke wrote about were no more spectators of Jesus than Jesus was a spectator of God—they are in on the action of God, God acting in them, God living in them. Which also means, of course, in us. Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: “Holy” is the word that sets God apart and above our attempts to enlist him in our wish-fulfillment. The first thing that strikes us as we read Leviticus in this light is that this holy God is actually present with us and virtually every detail of our lives is affected by the presence of this holy God; nothing in us, our relationships, or environment is left out. The second thing is that God provides a way (the sacrifices and feasts and Sabbaths) to bring everything in and about us into his holy presence, transformed in the fiery blaze of the holy. Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
This section of the Devo focuses on the passage(s) for Sunday’s sermon. Go ahead and read the following passage(s) and use theParables Reading Plan + Study Guideto journal what stands out and what you have questions about in the passages. Below is a helpful commentary that can help to fill in the gaps.
Read: Matthew 20:20-28 + Matthew 23:11 + Ezekiel 21:26
“Things shall not remain as they are.” —Ezekiel 21:26
Our final trio of passages this week emphasizes the great reversal that happens in God’s kingdom, in the gospel. Things do not remain the way they are. Those who think they deserve things are humbled. Those who know they bring nothing get everything!
Nowhere does this become more clear than in the final section of our parable this week. When the man who confronts the vineyard owner must have been surprised by his newfound employer’s answer, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong.”
Perhaps in the moment the man thought to himself, “You don’t know me! We’re not friends!”The owner responds, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?” The word Matthew uses there could even be translated “what I delight to dowith what belongs to me.” It harkens back Hosea 6:6 where Yahweh says, “For I delight in steadfast love (hesed) and not sacrifice…” Matthew is telling us that the man “begrudged” the owner’s delight in showing generous hesed.His eye literally “turned evil” toward the vineyard owner. His heart goes dark (Mt.6:23). Murderous curses form on his lips. “Who the ____ do you think you are?…You clearly don’t know me. I’m one of the guys you hired first!” says one worker. It’s an incredibly arrogant response! He misunderstands what is being offered: everyone who enters the vineyard through faith receives the same reward. Jesus sums it up in one word: a friend, a generous one.
“Friend,” the owner warmly replies, “you clearly don’t know me that well either.” Friend! I love that God, the vineyard owner, calls this arrogant day laborer, “Friend.” That is, after all, what we become in the gospel: Friends of the Almighty Creator, the Lord of Life.
The owner’s words echo God’s own from Exodus 33:19 and Isaiah 64:8. I’ll offer an American paraphrase of the verses: “Am I not allowed to do what want with my clay? I am the potter after all! So I tell you what, I will be who I am, you be who you are. I’ll be gracious to whomever I delight in being gracious toward, and I’ll delight in show mercy on those (like you by the way) who need my hesed, my generous love to enemies made friends.” Jesus’ point is that God gets to decide who receives his friendship. Our role? To trust that his friendship and generous mercy are good as he says they are!
Things don’t remain as they are, though. We are changed. Transformed by his generous love toward us. How could we not be?
Ponder: How has God’s generous love changed things 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.
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17)