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
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day. (Psalm 91:4-5)
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 Guideas we all read the Parables every day this Fall.
Read: Matthew 7:24-29
Jesus’ parable about the two builders will either cause a smile to break across your face, or a furrowing of your brow, and that’s just as Jesus intends it to be. The parable closes out Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount which was his first major teaching on the kingdom of God. As the final words leave his lips, the crowd stands with jaws dropped “astonished at his teaching.”
Israel was no stranger to great teaching. Their history includes some of the sharpest minds and most skillful rhetoric in history. Supreme among all Israel’s teachers was Moses. The words that Yahweh gave Moses to teach were the words upon which every good Jewish boy and girl would build and stake their lives. Moses, it was said, had talked with God as a man talks with his friend (Exodus 33:11). Imagine that! He taught what he had heard straight from the mouth of God!As far as the Jewish people were concerned, no one more acquainted with the Lord’s tone and intentions than Moses.
But Jesus taught as though he was the One who had whispered those words into Moses’ ear. He wasn’t just familiar with the meaning of the Law of God. No, he spoke as only the Author, Yahweh himself, could: unveiling a fresh as the morning’s dew understanding of the true nature of these ancient words.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine…”Hear was the word that initiated worship in Jewish culture: “Hear, O Israel…” (Deut 6). Shama in Hebrew carries the idea of hearing that leads to a correct response to Yahweh’s words. We could even translate it as hear/obey. Jesus’ choice of building materials is also striking: rock. “The Rock” is Israel’s choice descriptor for Yahweh’s steadying nature (Deut 32:4; Ps. 18:2; 19:14; Isa. 17:10). Do you see what Jesus is saying? “You should shama my words like they are Yahweh’s own rock solid, safe and steadying words.” What a massive statement!
Jesus says, “If you shama my words, then your life will have deep stability.” But how do you hear/obey Jesus words? Is it a matter of simply trying hard to obey him? The rest of the Sermon on the Mount rules this out, because Jesus has set an impossible standard for those who want to be part of God’s kingdom: perfection (Matthew 5:48).
So what hope do we have? Only this: We need someone who will perfectly shama God’s words.We need someone who can rebuild our tumbledown, built-on-sand lives. We can’t do this on our own. At least not with any staying power. Here’s the beautiful truth that will transform you: This is what God does for us in the gospel: it’s as though he scoops up our shifting house of cards and renovates us, restores us, into a beautiful house set on the ancient, yet ever new foundation of himself.
Questions to Ponder: What is the difference between hearing and shama-ing God? Ask God where he is asking you to trust him this week.
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.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. (Psalm 65:8)