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
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14)
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.
Grant, O God,that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 823)
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: In deliberate parallel to the opening words of Genesis, John presents God as speaking salvation into existence. This time God’s word takes on human form and enters history in the person of Jesus. Jesus speaks the word and it happens: forgiveness and judgment, healing and illumination, mercy and grace, joy and love, freedom and resurrection. Everything broken and fallen, sinful and diseased, called into salvation by God’s spoken word. Jesus, in this account, not only speaks the word of God; he is the Word of God.Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: The Exodus is a powerful and dramatic and true story of God working salvation. The story has generated an extraordinary progeny through the centuries as it has reproduced itself in song and poem, drama and novel, politics and social justice, repentance and conversion, worship and holy living. It continues to capture the imagination of men and women, especially men and women in trouble. It is significant that God does not present us with salvation in the form of an abstract truth, or a precise definition or a catchy slogan, but as story. 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: Luke 13:18-21 + Luke 17:6 + Psalm 104:12, 16-17
What’s with all the trees? Mustard, Mulberry, Fig.
Trees are one Scripture’s favorite images of life that is flourishing according to God’s design. From the Garden to the New Creation trees depict worship and relationship with God: either positively (Numbers 24:6; Psalm 1; Ezekiel 47:12; Matthew 7:17; Isaiah 55: Colossians 2:7) or negatively (Job 19:10; Ezekiel 17:24; Jeremiah 10; Luke 3:9).
Jesus uses each as images of what life in the kingdom of heaven looks like.Life in God’s kingdom is filled with the kind of faith that uproots, trees that grow to a surprising size from such humble origins, and trees that flourish so much that they give shelter and abundance to others (Psalm 104:16-17).
But what about that fig tree?Jesus’ short parable in Luke 13:6-9 involves a fruitless fig tree in a vineyard which is visited by it’s owner for three years, a strikingly similar length to Jesus’ own ministry and visits to Jerusalem. Three years and no fruit is a pretty good indication of this tree’s health. But enter a surprising twist. A worker has taken a fondness to this tree. He advocates for it and asks for one more year to fertilize and help it flourish. Maybe, just maybe, there’s fig producing life left in there.
Mike Card notes that, “The story is left open. There is no closure. We are left wondering about the fate of the tree. That is where the power of the parable lies. The crowd is left in silence to determine if their fruitlessness might have anything to do with the fig tree. Or if the advocate who saves the tree from destruction until it might bear fruit could possibly be Jesus himself. As readers of Luke’s Gospel, we too are left in that same silent place, to determine if we also might be, in some sense, like the fruitless tree and if Jesus just might become our Advocate.”
All of this factors into how we understand the mustard seed and the leaven.If the kingdom of heaven grows from small beginnings (mustard seed) and spreads to bless the whole world (leaven), then surely there’s a little hope for that fig tree, right? And, if that fig tree begins to bear fruit under the care of its Advocate, then who knows how large it might grow, and how heavy its branches might one day be under the weight of newly grown figs?
The key, though, in each parable is the One who causes the tree to grow.It is Christ who by His Spirit who becomes our Advocate. As the Apostle Paul would one day write, “What is Paul and what is Apollos? Mere day laborers in God’s field. One plants, the other waters, but God gives the growth.”
Wonder: Which of the tree images resonates most with 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)