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
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. (Psalm 143:8)
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.
Lord, we confess our sin. Although You never fail us, in our moments of trial and testing, we quickly question your character and promises—forgetting your past faithfulness. Our wisdom, rather than your Word, has been our lens for judging what is real. Although you have given the supreme sacrifice for us in Jesus Christ, we doubt your love when you ask us to give things up. We have been weak in our trust and love. Please forgive us and heal us and deliver us by your mercy. 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: Luke is a most vigorous champion of the outsider. An outsider himself, the only Gentile in an all-Jewish cast of New Testament writers, he shows how Jesus includes those who typically were treated as outsiders by the religious establishment of the day: women, common laborers (sheepherders), the racially different (Samaritans), the poor. He will not countenance religion as a club. As Luke tells the story, all of us who have found ourselves on the outside looking in on life with no hope of gaining entrance (and who of us hasn’t felt it?) now find the doors wide open, found and welcomed by God in Jesus. 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: Luke 15:1-10 + Hebrews 13:20
Something isn’t right in these three parables of Jesus. Can you spot it?Each parable has something (or someone) that is lost and then found. Each of the three main characters rejoice in what they find. The shepherd calls people together to hear the story of how this wayward sheep was found. The widow invites her friends and neighbors over to celebrate what must have been a quite literal life-saving find! The father throws an over-the-top party for his fool of son come home.
But still something isn’t right in these stories. It’s right there at the beginning: his audience. Something is wrong with them, or at least part of his audience. The Pharisees and scribes grumbled about the kind of people with whom Jesus was spending his time. “So,” says Luke, “he told them this parable…”
A good shepherd, Jesus says, goes out and finds the sheep that is “away on the mountains wild and bare, away from the tender Shepherd’s care.” His choice of vocation for the first character could not have been more cutting to the religious leaders in his audience.They were supposed to be the shepherds who led the people in loving God and looking for his promised Messiah. But, unlike Jesus, they weren’t willing to go after the sheep who were far from the kingdom.
There should be great rejoicing whenever a sinner repents, Jesus, says. Whether we imagine a sheep being carried home, or a coin being uncovered in the dark corner of a house, the result should be rejoicing. But the religious leaders of his day weren’t rejoicing. They were offended that Jesus would even think about being around what they consider such a filthy lot.
What these parables make clear is that Jesus didn’t (and doesn’t) view the sinners he spent his time around like the Pharisees and scribes. He acknowledged their sin, but he also knew that only those who recognize that they are moral failures can enter the kingdom of God. God works with that kind of heart in his sheep. Hebrews 13:20 calls Jesus the “the great shepherd of the sheep” through whom God equips us with “everything good that [we] may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight.” Jesus, as we will see this week, is the true shepherd of his people.
PRAY What surprises you about our passage this week? Why do you think that stands out to 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.
In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. (Isaiah 30:15)