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 fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.” (Ps. 111:10)
Prayer of Confession
Surprising God, your electing love upends the ways I expect things to unfold. I admit I have little clue about the mystery of your choices, and explanations outrun my understanding. Humble me to rest in your good pleasure, the grace from beyond time that guards and guides my life and this world. Amen. (A prayer based on The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q20)
*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 90 | Read Matthew 9
- 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.
Pray Psalm 91 | Read 2 Samuel 1
- 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?
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.
Although kindness is not by a long shot the same thing as holiness, kindness is one of the doors that holiness enters the world through, enters us through not just gently kind but sometimes fiercely kind. —Frederick Buechner
Read: John 15:6–15
Tim Keller once noted that the Greek word for “kindness” is difficult to translate because it has such a broad lexical range. Sometimes it is translated as “fitting,” and others, “please,” sometimes, “honest,” and in other contexts, “compassionate.” So what you really need to do is translate it with a concept, and the best concept we have to encompasses the full range of what this Greek word means is: friendship. The fruit of the Spirit, then, is love, joy, peace, patience, friendship…
What does this mean? How is friendship a fruit of the Spirit? Here’s a simple way of thinking about it: What makes a good friend? Among many things it is the ability to serve others practically in a way which makes me vulnerable, which comes from having a deep inner security. This is what allows you to show true kindness in a friendship. You’re not worried about what you can get out of the friendship. Instead you’re looking for how you can enter into your friend’s joy, how you can increase their joy. That’s kindness. It’s far more than simply being nice. It is serving another person in love.
We’ve touched on this before but this is where God’s hesed love for us comes into the picture. God’s hesed is the basis of Christian friendship. It is the love that made Abraham and Moses God’s friends. It’s the loyal, covenant love that sent Jesus to die in our place. That’s not just gentle kindness, it’s the fierce kindness Buechner was writing about.
In other words, if you’re trying to figure out how Spirit-empowered kindness is supposed to be part of your life, then look no further than Jesus’ kindness toward you on the cross. He’s the friend who displayed the greatest love for you by laying down his life for you.
How does this kind of fierce kindness get worked into our lives? It happens by looking for opportunities to serve others at cost to yourself. Looking for ways in your work to “lay down” your convenience, your ambitions, your expectations and, yes, your life on behalf of others in Jesus’ name and for Jesus’ sake.
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.
“Mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.” (Jude 2)