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.
Gracious God, we confess that we have longed too much for the comforts of this world. We have loved the gifts more than the giver. In your mercy, help us to see that all the things we pine for are shadows, but you are substance; that they are quicksands, but you are mountain; that they are shifting, but you are anchor. We plead your forgiveness on the merits of Jesus Christ. Accept his worthiness for our unworthiness, his sinlessness for our transgressions, his fullness for our emptiness, his glory for our shame, his righteousness for our dead works, his death for our life. We pray in Jesus’s name. 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. Luke makes it clear that these Christians he 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: 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: Matt 21:33–46 + Ps 118:22-23
Matthew rounds out the telling of our parable. His version is much like the others. It occurs in the temple after the chief priests and the elders of Israel question him saying, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:33). It’s a question that kicks off a whole series of teaching which is directed toward the religious leaders of God’s people, and it’s not flattering.
But, before Matthew gets to the parable of the wicked tenants, he squeezes in one additional parable that Jesus tells about two sons. One son refuses to go into the vineyard, but goes anyway. The other son feigns willing obedience, but is lying to himself and his father. This parable is important, because it is the running start that Jesus uses to leap into his more offensive parable about the murderous tenants.
Jesus asks, “Which son did the father’s will?”
“The one who went.” They take the bait.
“Amen!” Jesus says, and then proceeds to reveal that this is actually a parable about the kingdom where the first are last and the last are first. God’s kingdom is the place where sinners who know they are in need of mercy get in line with the kingdom before the religious who feign perfection.
Without missing a beat, Jesus rolls on with our parable. We’ve covered it quite a bit already, but what I want for us to notice today is Jesus’ quotation of Psalm 118:22-23. Spend a few minutes today reading it slowly. Then ask a few Meaning questions based on what you’ve read today:
What change did Jesus want chief priests and elders to make?
What change did Matthew want this parable to make in his first audience of Jewish Christians who were facing persecution?
What change does Christ want you to make?
Good. Now write up one sentence to summarize this section up in your own words.Carry that with you into the rest of your week. Ask God to help you respond in line with his kingdom throughout your day,
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 keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure. (Psalm 16:8-9)