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

“The LORD is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Ps. 145:17-18)

Prayer of Confession

Everlasting God, in your boundless love you are doing a new thing. In Jesus, the only mediator, you have redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified me, with all your people. Continue that salvation in me today, through Jesus Christ, my mighty Savior, amen. (Prayer based on the Westminster Confession, Question 8.1)

*Prayer borrowed from Philip Reinders’ Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

Lent Devo: Backyard Pilgrim

Throughout Lent this year we will follow along over the next 40 days with quotes from Backyard Pilgrim by Matt Canlis which gives us a daily Bible Path (the story of God’s redemption) and Parish Path (a literal path through town where you can walk and ponder what God has shown you through his Word).

Day 32: Demanding No Destruction | Read: Matthew 26:53


Most of us use everything within our power to protect ourselves and endanger our enemies. When darkness falls and deadly powers gather to arrest Jesus, his disciples defend him. A strike from Peter’s sword removes an enemy’s ear; but picking it up and re-attaching it, Jesus rebukes his disciples with a question: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” That’s 60,000 angels—not little babies with tiny harps, but winged warriors with flaming swords.

By not using the power at his disposal, Jesus again makes clear his intention to let darkness reign. Why? Jesus endangers himself to rescue us. Being rescued from death might save him, but it wouldn’t save us. Knowing each of us mortals will die, Jesus is determined to rescue us from death itself.

For us and for our salvation Jesus said, “Here I am on your behalf, not avoiding sin and death, but letting it swallow me whole.” So if Jesus won’t call upon his Father to save him from dying, what will Jesus call upon his Father to do?

For you, here I AM . . . not calling down destruction.


When some Samaritan villagers do not welcome Jesus, his disciples ask: “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus rebukes them (Luke 9:55). Is it in your power to inflict punishment upon someone, whether giving the silent treatment or seeking the maximum punishment for a crime? God cares deeply about justice, but his creative ways in Christ are different from our destructive own. As you walk, ask God to help you be creative about what to do in the face of another’s wrong. Share your idea with someone you trust.

Sermon Devo

We are in our Winter series through the book of James. Each day we will dig into a different aspect of this New Testament wisdom book which will, by the end of the week, help to give you a fuller portrait of the kind of lives we are called to live as Christians.  

Read: James 5:12-20

Normally on Fridays I like to simply have us finish out the week asking questions and praying for God to reveal how he wants to work in our lives. This Friday I want to spend a little more time teaching about healing prayer, and hopefully providing some clarity on this sometimes confusing topic.

Our passage this week contains three phrases which require further explanation:

1) anointing with oil (what’s that all about?);
2) the prayer of faith (what’s that?);
3) confession of sin in connection with healing prayer.

This can be both a difficult teaching to understand and receive, so as you read along. Read slowly. Make sure that you’re understanding what is being said and what is NOT being said.

  1. Anointing with oil.This one is probably the easiest to explain. Anointing with oil in James’ culture was often medicinal (oil was used as part of many medicines), but here its use is symbolic of setting the person aside for special attention in prayer.
  1. The Prayer of Faith. Some people see this as simply saying that everyone present (esp. the person being anointed with oil) must have faith and not doubt. But this simply cannot be the case, because in the Bible faith is not a lack of doubts. It is saying to Christ, “I believe; help my unbelief.” Faith is coming to Christ even with your doubts. As Tim Keller once put it, coming to Christ even with your doubts, “takes more faith than working yourself into a lather.”

    The Prayer of Faith is coming to the Lord in dependence upon him, asking him very specifically, very directly: “Lord, this is what we are asking for. We ask for this even amidst our uncertainties. We don’t know what you’re doing here, but we do trust you, we know you’re good, so we’re coming to you with this thing that we don’t know what do do with.”

  1. The Confession of Sins. Now this might be the most interesting thing that James says here. It’s also the most wildly misused thing that James says here, and often to the spiritual abuse of Christian brothers and sisters. James says in verse 16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.”

    It’s right there, but it’s not comfortable, because what it can sound like is, “If you’re sick, then the reason you’re sick is because you’re sinning.” THAT IS NOT at all what is being said! As Christians, we should be making sure that those who are coming for healing prayer are (1) receiving specific, fervent prayer for healing;(2) getting the best medical care; (3) receiving spiritual shepherding and gospel counsel to examine his/her heart to look for and confess sins to renew their relationship with God. Why?

    First, because we are created body and soul, sometimes our bodies react to what’s happening in our “inmost being,” and sometimes sin (worry, fear, anger) cause physical illness or aggravates it. My worry can cause very real headaches. My anxiety and fear can cause very real (and painful) ulcers. When I am angry, I feel it in my gut. Ask a Christian doctor who has a little theological training and they’ll tell you, “Psychosomatic illnesses are not imaginary illnesses. They’re real illnesses, but they’re aggravated and many times absolutely caused by spiritual issues.” So sometimes praying for spiritual healing and restoration actually helps with physical healing.

    Second, because we are created body and soul, sometimes our physical discomfort reveals areas of our spiritual life that need spiritual and emotional healing. What do I mean? When you get sick, and I’ve seen this in both those who are temporarily sick and those with terminal illness, you feel weak, you are weak, you feel vulnerable in a way you haven’t before, you’re no longer in control like you thought you were. And this is the place where God meets you with a spiritual breakthrough to bring spiritual healing.

    Tim Keller puts it this way, Sometimes not until you get sick do you realize what a fragile, vulnerable, dependent, contingent creature you really are. It’s when you can hardly get out of bed sometimes that you actually have a true picture of your real spiritual condition.

    We are utterly dependent on him…very often when you get sick it humbles you into the dust. Very often just because you’re out of the busyness, when he makes you to lie down (Ps. 23), you start to be able to look at your life in ways you couldn’t before. Sickness is very humbling. Sickness knocks you on down. So often you will be able to see sins, you’ll be able to admit flaws you couldn’t any other time…

    The Bible is saying here you must always, always do them together. You must always use physical sickness as a time for spiritual renewal. You must always make sure you’re working on spiritual healing as well as physical healing at the very same time. Always

    As I’ve mentioned, I seen this in my own life. I’ve seen it with family members for whom we’ve specifically and earnestly prayed that they would be physical healed, and the Lord gave spiritual healing, and brought them home to himself. We don’t get to choose the result of our prayer. This is, I believe, one of the hardest parts about walking with God: trusting this he is good, that his ways are truly wise, and that in his steadfast lovingkindness he is really working all things together for our good and salvation (Romans 8:28).

So here is the thing I hold onto (and I pray it would be of comfort for you as well):
Christ “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation…by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, 
whether thrones or dominions or rules or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together [even me, in my hurt, disappointment, and pain. even there Heis holding all things together]. And he is the head of the body, the church, He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he is the head.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven [in sickness and in health, though death could never part us because] He made peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:15-20).

And so we confess: I believe that this is true. Lord…help my unbelief. Amen and Amen.

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.


“God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life.” (1 John 5:11-12)