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
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Prayer of Confession
Confession is formative. It trains us to recognize the ways our hearts have become de-formed and how Christ is at work bringing redemption in our lives. Pray with this in mind.
Gracious Father,we confessthat we have longed too much for the comforts and treasures of this world rather than for your enduring Kingdom. We have loved the gifts more than the Giver.
In your mercy, help us to see that the things we strive for are shadows, but you are the substance; that they are quicksand, but you are a mighty rock; that they are shifting, but you are an anchor.
Thank you for forgiving us through the riches of Christ and freeing us to live a new life, faithfully devoted to him. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Take a moment to confess your sins, knowing that he hears you.
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).
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: “Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians was written during a difficult period in his relation with the church at Corinth. Some members of the church had evidently made strong attacks against Paul, but he shows his deep longing for reconciliation and expresses his great joy when this is brought about.” Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: “The book of Deuteronomy is organized as a series of addresses given by Moses to the people of Israel in the land of Moab, where they had stopped at the end of the long wilderness journey and were about to enter and occupy Canaan…The great theme of the book is that God has saved and blessed his chosen people, whom he loves; so his people are to remember this, and love and obey him, so that they may have life and continued blessing. The key verses of the book are 6:4–6, and contain the words that Jesus called the greatest of all commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
Over the next few months our sermon series will explore who God is and what it means for us as His Creation to know Him. Each day this devo will tread along a variety of paths connected to the week’s theme in Knowing God. Consider this your invitation to come along for the ride as we head into the wilds of coming to know and experience God’s person and grace.
Read: Revelation 2:18-29
“God is love” the beloved apostle tells us (1 John 4:7-8), and yet, Christ’s love for his people is exclusive, and unlike his general love for all things he has created. What this means, and here’s the wildly unpopular aspect of Christian belief, is that some people don’t get on the inside of this love. They cannot. Not without becoming part of the people of this particular God through faith in Christ.*
Marriage in both Old and New Testaments is the preferred language of Scripture for revealing the nature of the relationship between God and his people. And, much like in marriage, it is right for it to be exclusive! We don’t invite additional people into the wedding bed!And Christ doesn’t invite anyone but his Bride to accompany him into his Kingdom, the New Creation.
Revelation 2:18-29 is helpful for us then in recovering this aspect of the love of God. It is the central message of seven short homilies Christ speaks to the church he loves, and it highlights the ways in which our allegiance and worship can become divided.
The church at Thyatira is commended for their growth in love, but also warned about the proclivity of some there for getting into bed with other gods. They are guilty of committing physical and spiritual adultery. The details aren’t pretty. The groom, Christ himself, has given his unfaithful bride time to repent, to wake up from her folly and return to him, but they’ve refused! So Christ will give them over to their spiritually incestuous menage a trois plus en plus. It’s a tale as old as time: a beautiful romance undone by infidelity.
But, there’s hope, for the true Bride of Christ in Thyatira! The rest of the church there has remained faithful to Christ. They haven’t participated in the spiritual hookup culture all around them. These folks seem to have taken Hosea 2:5 to heartwhere Yahweh says that God’s people have been like a married woman who, as Eugene Peterson puts it, “has been a whore, bringing bastard children into the world. She said, ‘I’m off to see my lovers! They’ll wine and dine me, dress and caress me, perfume and adorn me!” The faithful in Thyatira are making sure they remain true to the only One who has ever truly loved them.
Too harsh? Such is the intensity of God’s love for his beloved people. Don’t worry, Yahweh promises to bring his people back to himself, to marry them again, because he is the truest of Lovers but we should not minimize the seriousness of fooling around with other, and might I add, less-skilled lovers.
The reward for faithfulness in Thyatira (and for God’s people in every generation)?Twofold. A role in shepherding, co-reigning with their Beloved Groom as he draws people from all nations to himself. Plus they get the Morning Star himself! Let me fill in the details of how the story ends. It’s the finale of every romantic comedy:they get married to the One they love, and who loves them with an everlasting love. Happily ever after. Amen.
Reflect: God’s love is exclusive, and yet inclusive. God loves his own, yet he doesn’t discriminate the way our world does. You don’t have to earn your way into his affection, you don’t have to be the prettiest one in the room, you simply have to humbly accept that you bring nothing to this relationship, and then he makes you beautiful. Spend time today thanking God for the beauty of his exclusive/inclusive love.
*To ask God to love in any other way is to, as C.S. Lewis put it: “ask that God should cease to be God…”
I wish I could have fit this whole quote into the devotional today, but it just wouldn’t squeeze, so you’ll just have to read it here:
“You asked for a loving God: you have one…
Not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests,
but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work… provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child… inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes…
To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled, by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labor to make us lovable.
We cannot even wish, in our better moments, that He could reconcile Himself to our present impurities.” – (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, Chapter 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.
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21:23-24)