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 glory, for centuries there were flickers of it in the ceremonies and symbols of the law, sparks of it in prophetic words. I thank you that all this foreshadowing is eclipsed in the brilliance of Jesus, my glorious Savior. Amen. (Prayer based on the Belgic Confession, Questions 25)
*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 33 | Read Romans 14
- 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 34 | Read 2 Chronicles 20
- 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
“Mercy triumphs over judgment,” James says, but he also reminds us to, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.”
So which is it? Does mercy triumph over judgment or do all those “judgy Judgersons” (again, that’s the technical Greek term for “those who judge without mercy”) get what they have coming? What’s going on here?
Tim Keller helps us out,
“In Matthew 25, we’re told Jesus on the last day will judge the sheep from the goats. Do you know what the sheep and the goats are? This is not the pagans and the Christians. These are true Christians from false Christians, people who really believe in Jesus and are saved and people who simply thought they were Christians but weren’t or claimed to be Christians but weren’t. In Matthew 25, how does Jesus judge between the sheep and the goats? If you go to Matthew 25, he says, “Hey, you say you’re Christians, but I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me to drink. I was homeless, and you didn’t take me in. I was sick, and you didn’t visit me. I was in prison, and you didn’t come to me.”
Then the goats (the people who end up not being sheep) say, “When did we see you in that condition, Lord?” He says, “Because you didn’t treat these like that, as you did to them, you did to me.” Do you know what he is saying? He is saying on judgment day there will be no mercy for those who have shown no mercy. “Wait a minute!” somebody says. “Are you saying only the social workers will get into heaven?”
No. Do you know the place where Jesus says you can judge a tree by its fruit? Think of that. What does the fruit have? What’s the relationship of the fruit to the tree? The fruit does not impart life. Jesus is discerning life through the fruit. Jesus is judging whether the tree is alive through the fruit. He says you can judge the tree by its fruit. The fruit doesn’t give the tree life. The fruit tells us the tree has life.
When Jesus says on judgment day, “I’m going to be able to tell the sheep from the goats by whether or not they care about the poor,” he is not saying caring about the poor is what gives you salvation. He is saying caring about the poor is what shows you have salvation.”
Remember that James is teaching wisdom using Jesus’ own teaching. Here he’s saying, “Look, it’s true that mercy triumphs over judgment. Just look at the gospel! Jesus died in your place so that mercy might triumph over judgment, so that every time you’ve failed to show mercy, every time you judge another person you wouldn’t be condemned in judgment.” But he’s also saying that the genuineness of our faith is demonstrated by living a life that is shaped by Micah 6:8, doing justice, loving hesed (mercy), and walking humbly with your God.
REFLECT: Take a few minutes to read through Micah 6:8. Does this describe your life at present? What might need to change in order for you life to begin to reflect what God says demonstrates “true religion (faith)”?
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)