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
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. (Isaiah 58:8-9)
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.
Our Father in heaven, broken hearts and bodies are part of this life and we are vulnerable to it. You would have us trust you even in the midst of deep pain. We confess that try to heal ourselves by ourselves. Forgive us Lord. Jesus came to bring us into the liberation that only his Spirit brings. The liberation that enables us to entrust our entire being to you. We come to you by faith, asking for help, based on your compassionate heart. We offer ourselves to you. Remake us. Glorify your name. We ask in the name of Jesus Christ, who dwells with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever. 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: 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. Use it to reflect upon the ways Christ has been working in your life this week. Makes a great midday reflection, or group discussion guide. Follow along with our Parables Reading Plan + Study Guideas we all read the Parables every day this Fall.
Read:Matthew 13:44-46 + Matthew 16:21–26
We really should start our reading of Matthew 16:24-26 in verse 21, because it follows Peter’s world altering good confession that Jesus is the Christ. He believes, but this belief is still tangled in half-truths that Peter’s heart has believed about the Messiah, namely that Jesus was going to be political rescuer who would take Peter exactly where he wanted to go: a world where the Jewish people were free to follow Yahweh without Rome’s interference. But Jesus has something different in mind.
Michael Card notes in his commentary, “Now that the word Christ has been spoken with faith, Jesus must begin the process of undeceiving the disciples. The picture or image of the Messiah they have inherited from the Judaism of the day (most particularly from the Pharisees) is that of a glorious king who will conquer the Romans, establishing his throne in Jerusalem. It is an image they will cling to all the way to the cross.
Jesus begins to explain that, starting at this moment, they are leaving for Jerusalem, where he will suffer and be killed. When the disciples hear the word killed or cross, they always stop listening. This is why they never seem to hear Jesus’ words about being raised from the dead. They are simply too stunned when they hear him say he is going to die, especially in such a grotesque way.
When Peter takes Jesus aside and rebukes him for saying he must suffer, he is betraying the fact that he is still invested in the old definition of the triumphant Messiah king. He echoes the teaching of the Pharisees when he says, “It will never happen to you.” But more than that, he understands that his identity is forever rooted in Jesus’ identity. When he confessed a moment before that Jesus was the Christ, that confession had clear implications for Peter as well.
In verse 23, Jesus turns the blessing of verse 17 into a curse. Peter is no longer speaking the words of God, but the words of man. He has become Jesus’ adversary. The rock is now a stumbling stone.
Jesus concludes by cementing his identity and fate with theirs. If they follow him, they too must take up a cross. Jesus defines them. If they want to save their lives or souls, they must lose them. Nothing is more precious than the life or the soul. But they are not to be fooled. The Son of Man will come someday in glory with his angels. In fact, three of them will be entrusted in just six days with a precursory vision of that glory.
Pray: How does Jesus as your Messiah redefine your identity in this world?
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)