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
Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)
Prayer of Confession
Jesus, friend of sinners, your resurrected life is not a private experience or a soothing metaphor but a stubborn public reality.
May your well-attested resurrection impel me to openly announce the outrageously good news—
that sins are forgiven through what you have done when the gospel promise is received in truth faith. Amen!
*Prayer borrowed from Philip Reinders’ Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
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).
Pray Psalm 78 | Read 1 Thessalonians 1
- 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 way we conceive the future sculpts the present, gives contour and tone to nearly every action and thought through the day. Paul’s two letters to the Christians in Thessalonica, among much else, correct such debilitating misconceptions about the future and our present, prodding us to continue to live forward in taut and joyful expectancy for what God will do next in Jesus. Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
Pray Psalm 79 | Read Deuteronomy 33
- OT Context: “The book of Deuteronomy is organized as a series of addresses given by Moses to the people of Israel in the land of Moab, where they had stopped at the end of the long wilderness journey and were about to enter and occupy Canaan…The great theme of the book is that God has saved and blessed his chosen people, whom he loves; so his people are to remember this, and love and obey him, so that they may have life and continued blessing. The key verses of the book are 6:4–6, and contain the words that Jesus called the greatest of all commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
Read: Romans 6:1-18 + Matthew 28:16-20
This week we are exploring what knowing God looks like in the experience of worshipping God. And in do so, I want to invite you to meander with me a little through what the church means when we talk about worship. For some, our starting place may come as a bit of a surprise: Baptism.
Baptism has traditionally been held as a person’s entrance into Christ’s worshipping people. The moment of true faith is, of course, the moment one becomes part of God’s family. But that moment is invisible whereas baptism is a tangible, concrete, and earthly means for communicating a person’s entrance into the covenant-created gathering of God’s people.
Saint Paul found baptism to be at the heart of what the gospel is all about (Romans 6). Christians are those who can no longer go on sinning because our baptism reminds us of the reality that we have been caught up into Christ’s death and resurrection life! As Eugene Peterson phrases it, “When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!”
This country called Grace is a place where our worship has been re-ordered with Christ at the center. All this sounds well and good, but we moderns are quite individualistic, and so we would do well to pause a moment to consider the covenant terms of God’s grace.
Grace recasts our worship as communal. Does this feel odd? Maybe it should? Christians are baptized into the common experience of worship, but it is not as individuals who come together on a Sunday to enjoy a common experience and then depart.
Rather we are a people united in Christ, a holy nation of priests (1 Peter 2:9) offering worship together when gathered and together when parted. It is our shared worship, even in the most mundane of daily activities, that gives witness to the reality of grace and of the reality of that far and better country (Hebrews 11:16).
Everything in our culture, however, conditions us to expect that the world centers on us. But in the church the world centers on Christ and baptism is often the first outward expression, whether in adulthood or childhood, of our life being centered on Christ. In a world of “my truth” and “my true self,” Christianity offers the unsettling idea that your truth and true self can only be found in relationship with another: Christ and with his people, the church.
Baptism, then, is our entrance into this gospel-created reality. Baptism leads us away from individualistic worship (which is actually idolatry) and into true, corporate worship. Baptism acts as a sign that our worship has moved from death to life.
Baptism foreshadows the rhythm which repeats itself in the Christian’s week. We die to self and live to Christ a thousands times before the week is over! Or, we do not, and we develop the sense that something must change in us! And fast! And so we enter into the gathered, worshipping and, yes, baptized company of God’s people on a Sunday to once again die to self and live to Christ. It’s a rhythm in which we are meant to find our true selves. It is the rhythm of grace to which baptism both points and helps us recall.
Reflect: If baptism really is “leaving the old country of sin behind” and rising up onto the shore of the wide country of God’s grace, then it leads me to wonder: Am I experiencing this reality on a daily basis? Am I worshipping God because of it? And, if not? Why on earth not?
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.
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (John 20:29)