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August 25th devo image, a tiger.

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

“Your name, LORD, endures forever, your renown, LORD, through all generations.” (Ps. 135:13)

Prayer of Confession

God of grace, thank you for the wisdom and grace of the law—not as a way for me to prove my holiness but for the way it makes me eagerly look to Jesus and his salvation. Let your law teach me to live a flourishing human life, no longer driven by the crack of the law’s whip but moved to obedience by the love of Jesus who saved me. Amen. (Prayer based on the Heidelberg Catechism, Question 115)

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

Reading Plan

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).

Morning Readings:

Pray Psalm 116 | Read Matthew 22

  • 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: Matthew provides the comprehensive context by which we see all God’s creation and salvation completed in Jesus, and all the parts of our lives—work, family, friends, memories, dreams—also completed in Jesus. Lacking such a context, we are in danger of seeing Jesus as a mere diversion from the concerns announced in the newspapers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.

Evening Readings:

Pray Psalm 117 | Read 2 Samuel 14

  • OT Context: “Four lives dominate the two-volume narrative, First and Second Samuel: Hannah, Samuel, Saul, and David. Chronologically, the stories are clustered around the year 1000 b.c., the millennial midpoint between the call of Abraham, the father of Israel, nearly a thousand years earlier (about 1800 b.c.) and the birth of Jesus, the Christ, a thousand years later.” Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?

Sermon Devo

This summer we are exploring what it means to keep “in step” with the Spirit. Each week we will consider a specific fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) by looking at other stories and themes throughout Scripture that express this fruit.

Read: Galatians 5:22-23

Don Bailey writes,

“When I worked in horticulture years ago, I learned an invaluable truth: “A weed is an undesirable plant.” Think about it. A weed is a plant, perhaps replete with shiny green leaves and colorful flowers, alluring in its own right—just like other plants. Yet, there is that word “undesirable.” How so? Well, a prominent attribute of a weed is that it is invasive. A weed saunters into the garden, surveys all of the beauty, and says, “I am taking over.” The prideful weed chokes out beauty and creates aesthetic chaos. A weed demands control.

This helps us when we think of all of the desires God has planted in us as human beings to cultivate as image bearers of our Creator. Food, drink, and sex are all good things in their God-given boundaries. Money is useful as an instrument in God’s kingdom. Fear keeps us from jumping off cliffs to our death. But think for a moment about the invasive nature of taking that extra plate of dessert, indulging in just one more drink, taking another lustful look, or allowing intrusive fears to set up camp in our minds and control us with anxiety. In other words, ordinarily good gifts from our Creator can become unruly thorns in the very core of our souls.

The Bible uniformly maintains the godly necessity of self-control. Proverbs 25:28 says, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Living without a defense brings perilous consequences—the weeds of our impulsive thoughts, words, or actions take over all that is beautiful and good and choke it out. In contrast to the pagan philosophers, who extolled stoic restraint through effort alone, the believer’s confidence is not gained through mere arduous exertion. Rather, self-control is animated by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22–23).

Yet the Apostle Peter exhorts us to godly effort even as the Spirit is working. “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness” (2 Peter 1:5–6). Lack of self-control leads to ineffectiveness and lack of fruitfulness, Peter says. Even worse, it may lead to our destruction. Remember Achan’s craving for the devoted things in Joshua 7? In stark disobedience to the Lord’s command, he coveted the beautiful cloak, two hundred shekels of silver, and a gold bar of fifty shekels, and he seized them against the Lord’s clear command. His lack of self-control proved devastating to himself and his entire family.

The fight for self-control is suffused with great spiritual warfare. Dr. R.C. Sproul spoke candidly of this when he described in a sermon his difficulty in quitting smoking as a young believer. He said that he painted a picture of Jesus on the front side of a package of cigarettes to dissuade himself from smoking. Yet when the urge for a cigarette pressed hard enough on his willpower, he turned the package over to relieve his conscience and acted on his potent craving. If we are honest, we all have acted similarly at one time or another with our dreadful desires.

When we exercise self-control, we are acting in accord with God’s character. Therefore, let us meditate on the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us remember that Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would “set [His] face like a flint” toward Jerusalem (Isa. 50:7). In fulfillment, He refused the temptation of turning back from the suffering of the cross (Luke 9:51). In the Spirit’s strength, we can cast aside the role of passive victims to our temptations and live as “more than conquerors” in His resurrection victory (Rom. 8:37). God’s promise assures us that one day the weeds of reckless living will no longer obscure the beauty of God’s holy children, and we will shine brightly under the resplendent leaves of the Tree of Life forever (Rev. 22:1–3).

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.

Benediction

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

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