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 nations be glad and sing for joy,for you judge the peoples with equityand guide the nations upon earth. (Psalm 67:4)
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.
God of grace, you love us, but we have not loved you. You call, but we have not listened. We walk away from neighbors in need, wrapped up in our own concerns. By our actions and our attitudes we praise what you condemn. Help us to admit our sin, so that as you come to us in mercy we may repent, turn to you, and receive forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. 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 Guide (COMING SOON) as we all read the Parables every day this Fall.
INTRO TO PARABLES
Everyone in God’s Word Every Day. We want our lives to be rooted in and directed by Christ. The absolute best way to do this is to listen to His Word, being fully present and attentive to what He says is true, good, and best for us.
This Fall as a church we are encouraging everyone to be in God’s Word every day as we read and learn from Jesus’ Parables. But, what exactly are parables anyway?
Jesus of Nazareth was a master storyteller, and many of his most well-known teachings were told as parables (short, fictitious stories explaining God’s Kingdom). But these stories do much more than simply “teach.” The parables pick up on a rich tradition found in the Hebrew Scriptures and show how Jesus viewed himself as bringing the culmination of Israel’s story; often using cryptic, indirect imagery that Jesus said he used to both reveal and conceal his message about the arrival of God’s Kingdom.
READING PARABLES Our first question should be: “How does this parable fit in the larger context of, say, Matthew’s gospel, and within Jesus’ larger Kingdom of God mission?” Take Heed!: There are good ways to read parables and bad ones. Don’t look for symbolic meaning in every detail, but also don’t limit the meaning of a parable to only one layer. Parables are deceptively complex literature. Treat them as such.
There are three main kinds of parables:
Parables about the surprising nature of God’s Kingdom, which Jesus brought in a way that few people expected.
Parables about the upside-down value system of the Kingdom of God. Showing how the Kingdom of God should reshape our ideas on forgiveness or wealth or social status and the invitation of God’s Kingdom.
Parables of crisis. These parables depict characters at key moments of decision.
READ Matthew 7 SLOWLY as if for the first time. Then look for three things:
Light Bulbs:Anything that stood out to you?
Question Marks:What didn’t make sense? What do you wonder about?
Arrows:Anything that seems to apply directly to you.
Questions to Ponder: Make each of these three things a matter of conversation with God. Ask him about the things that didn’t make sense. Ruminate on the things that stood out. Ask him for strength in making those arrows a reality in your life.
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.
For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice. (Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-16)