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 whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. (Psalm 65:8)
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.
Heavenly Father, we confess that our sin is great, but your mercy is greater. Our fears are dreadful and many, but you fill us with the peace only your presence can provide. We come to you today in need of new mercies because our sins are too real to hide and too heavy to carry any further.
Forgive us for living in wish dreams that deny your reality. Forgive us for our self-sufficiency that is blind to your provision. Forgive us for our worry that is killing us and robs us of today. Forgive us for playacting at forgiveness while harboring a grudge. Forgive us for our snap judgements about others than forgets we too are sinners saved by grace alone.
Have mercy on us, Lord; have mercy on me. In Jesus’ strong and loving 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 first letter to the Corinthians is a classic of pastoral response: affectionate, firm, clear, and unswerving in the conviction that God among them, revealed in Jesus and present in his Holy Spirit, continued to be the central issue in their lives, regardless of how much of a mess they had made of things.” 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 Numbers plunges us into the mess of growing up. The pages in this section of the biblical story give us a realistic feel for what is involved in being included in the people of God, which is to say, a human community that honors God, lives out love and justice in daily affairs, learns how to deal with sin in oneself and others, and follows God’s commands into a future of blessing. And all this without illusions. The Bible, our primary text for showing us what it means to be a human being created by God and called to a life of obedient faith and sacrificial love, nowhere suggests that life is simple or even “natural.” We need a lot of help.Wise discipline is required in becoming a people of God. 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: Isaiah 40
Isaiah 40 shows us that God tenderly cares for his people and, yet, exerts incomparable sovereign rule over all things. The second half is of most interest to us today (though the first half of chapter 40 is well worth reading as well!), because it relates to our topic of God’s majesty, or his greatness. Churchman and Isaiah scholar Alec Motyer relates it to us this way,
“Alongside the tenderness of Yahweh’s shepherding care Isaiah now sets the magnificence of his sovereign power and executive rule as Creator. The former expresses the attractiveness and delightfulness of his promises; the latter his irresistible power to keep what he has promised. The climax, therefore, of the present passage is (vv. 27–31) the impossibility that this great Creator should forget or desert his own people.
But, even if we wouldn’t dream of saying it, circumstances can easily prompt the unbidden thought, Where is God in all this? And why is he not doing something about it? Has he forgotten?
There is, of course, a god who is not there when we need him (1 Kings 18:27), but not the Lord God Almighty. He is ‘unfainting, unwearying’, that is, he lacks neither energy nor commitment; his strength does not ebb away, nor does he tire of the task in hand. It’s just that ‘he is unfathomable in his discernment’ – he sees to the heart of the situation in a way we never can and in ways we are not equipped to appreciate. The sooner we learn that lesson the better. It will meet us again in Isaiah in the famous words (55:8), ‘my thoughts are not your thoughts … your ways are not my ways.’
But please remember: our inability to ‘discern’ does not mean that no discernment is at work; our inability to see point or purpose does not mean there is no point or purpose. The more we exalt the greatness of our God, the more we learn to appreciate our smallness, weakness, incapacity.
We need to learn not to fret and fume; we need to accept our limitations of knowledge, wisdom and foresight. Or, as Isaiah tells us, we need to practise ‘waiting’ for the Lord. Waiting is looking. When Isaiah puts Israel’s grousing into words (v. 27) what does he do next? He directs our eyes to the Lord (v. 28). Look away from yourself, look at him.
Next comes, expect from him (v. 29); he is ever the giving God – giving strength to surmount the problem, to run the race, and (best of all) to walk the path (v. 31). But this is not (so to speak) a hypodermic syringe operation – the injection of some transforming serum called ‘strength’. It is what the Lord is in himself: the unfainting, unwearying one imparts his own unfainting, unwearying nature (vv. 28, 31).”
Reflect: How does exalting the greatness of God help you to appreciate your smallness, weakness, and inability? Why do you suppose “waiting on the Lord” is so difficult for you? How does Isaiah’s approach help?
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 my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2)