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 good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” (Lam. 3:25-26)
Prayer of Confession
God of plenty, thank you for three square meals that daily feed my body. And thank you for Jesus, the living bread who nourishes and maintains my spiritual life. There is always more than enough, Lord—so, trusting in your abundance, make me extravagant in generosity. Amen. (Prayer based on the Belgic Confession, Questions 35)
*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 31 | Read Romans 13
- 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 letter to the Romans is a piece of exuberant and passionate thinking. This is the glorious life of the mind enlisted in the service of God. Paul takes the well-witnessed and devoutly believed fact of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and thinks through its implications. How does it happen that in the death and resurrection of Jesus, world history took a new direction, and at the same moment the life of every man, woman, and child on the planet was eternally affected? What is God up to? What does it mean that Jesus “saves”? What’s behind all this, and where is it going? Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
Pray Psalm 32 | Read 2 Chronicles 19
- 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?
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. passage that will be preached on Sunday.
Read: James 2:1-13
This week we are looking closely at the sin of partiality, and we noted yesterday that this is a sin that may be a particularly subtle one for those of us with wealth here in the West. But economic prosperity and poverty (as with all uses of these terms in James) only tells part of the tale. Scholar Christopher Morgan writes,
“James has much to contribute toward our view of wealth and poverty. He stands in the Old Testament tradition of using the term “poor” to refer to the oppressed and often to the righteous.
It is not hard to see how this originally financial term came to be applied to those who are powerless or marginalized, and then to those who are oppressed, for the poor are often powerless, and the powerless are often oppressed.
Furthermore, the powerless and the oppressed are more likely to recognize their needs and to depend upon God to meet them, and so the term “poor” was further extended to express humility and righteousness.
The poor are also identified with the exiled people of God (Isa. 26:6; 49:13; 51:21), who look to him for their ultimate vindication (Isa. 49; 51:4; 61).1 This was true for Israel, the Qumran community, and probably James’s recipients, the Christian covenant communities of the Dispersion.”
What does this mean how we read this section on James? Well, first, I think it means that we should expand our understanding of poverty. Poverty does not imbue people with righteous dependence on God, and yet it cannot be denied that poverty, oppression, and social powerlessness certainly produces circumstances that require us to rely more fully on God. And this is certainly how James is using the term.
Second, it means that since we are, at least in some sense, longing for our true country (Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:13-16), we really have no reason for partiality as those who “hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Instead we’re called to pull together as “ambassadors of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20) who are giving glimpses of what a people reconciled to God looks like, which is exactly what James talks about throughout this passage.
James is saying that partiality undercuts and distorts our witness as the people of God (v.4). It tears apart the fabric of the gracious acceptance we’ve received from Christ (v.1). Not only that, but the sin of partiality breaks God’s moral law just the same as murder and adultery!
What’s the answer then? What can counteract partiality? James tells us, as he always does, plain: Mercy. “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” And that’s what we’ll take a look at tomorrow!
REFLECT: How has reading James influenced your understanding of the destructiveness of partiality? How do you suppose mercy helps to triumph over the judgement of partiality?
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.
“May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in you.” (Ps. 33:22)