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

“Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” (Ps. 115:1)

Prayer of Confession

Righteous God, your law is good, but even my best performance only begins to live out its truth. I eagerly look to Jesus, who is my righteousness. I set my heart on his approving love, rest in his forgiveness of my failure, and rely on the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit to live out your holy law. Amen.(Prayer based on the Heidelberg Catechism, Question 114-115)

*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 1 | Read Acts 26

  • 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 story of Jesus doesn’t end with Jesus. It continues in the lives of those who believe in him. The supernatural does not stop with Jesus. Acts makes it clear that these Christians Luke wrote about were no more spectators of Jesus than Jesus was a spectator of God—they are in on the action of God, God acting in them, God living in them. Which also means, of course, IN US. Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.

Evening Readings:

Pray Psalm 2 | Read 2 Chronicles 4

  • OT Context: “Sovereignty, God’s sovereignty, is one of the most difficult things for people of faith to live out in everyday routines…This story makes it clear that it was not God’s idea that the Hebrews have a king, but since they insisted, he let them have their way. But God never abdicated his sovereignty to any of the Hebrew kings; the idea was that they would represent his sovereignty, not that he would delegate his sovereignty to them. Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?

Sermon Devo

Our Winter series in the Book of James begins this week. 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.  passage that will be preached on Sunday.  

Read: James 1:1-12

Yesterday we looked at the big picture in James’ epistle.* Hopefully you noted one of the things that makes James unique. It is Wisdom Literature, a genre that most Christians associate with books of the Bible like Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. In wisdom literature, you take a set of principles and apply them to see how they work out in practical situations.

So here’s what I would like us to notice today: James’ form of wisdom literature is unique. He doesn’t simply repeat what has already been said in Scripture, though he does quote and allude to the Old Testament a fair amount. Nor does he simply list out some guiding principles for life. 

Instead of trying to define the gospel further for his audience, and for us, James wants us to see how the essential beliefs of the Christian faith flesh out and affect the way in which we live. 

Which makes James’ introductory sentence stand out all the more,Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds…” You might read that line and think, “Oh, so he’s saying, to quote some old sage: ’If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’” But let’s take a closer look. Is that what James is saying? 

He says, “When you meet trials…” The assumption is that you will face a wide range of sufferings in this life. A long time ago, Tim Keller noted in a sermon that “there has never been a time or place where people were more squeamish and unhappy about suffering. In every other culture, every other society, and every other time, people have not been the crybabies we are. They have known life is unfair. They have known life is brutal and short, and they took it”.

So while making lemonade and a plucky disposition might be a refreshing take on how to cope with the unreasoning brutality of life in this world, it will do nothing to help you face a cancer diagnosis, or unexplained violence which takes the life of a beloved child (as happened to one friend a few years ago). 

Life, James is telling us, is more often than not unfair but there is a way to walk through it that will produce joy instead of only sorrow, a path that leads to a resilient steadfastness rather than a fearful squeamishness.

And this path begins with considering

Considering what? Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds. Notice what he doesn’t say. He’s not saying that we should enjoy our suffering. Nor is he saying that we should just meditate our way through our suffering and into serenity (as though we’re in a Seinfeld episode). Instead he says, “Consider, look at, pay close attention to what suffering can bring you: perseverance, maturity, and wholeness. 

What James is saying is that all of us are incomplete now. We are not fully who God intends for us to become, and he says that suffering, rightly understood, can bring into your life things that are not there now like humility, freedom, compassion, and faith. And that’s what we will continue to explore throughout the rest of the week in James 1:1-12.

REFLECT: Can you think of a way in which God has used suffering in your life to reshape you for your good? Why do you suppose that God at times works in this way?

*If you watched the video, or dug a little deeper into the theme of hardships, then you’ve have some context for the rest of the letter (if you didn’t get a chance, maybe plan some time on Saturday morning watch the video overview of James from The Bible Project, it’s worth it!). 

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 LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Num. 6:24-26)