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

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.” (Ps. 119:103-104)

Prayer of Confession

Good God, why do I pray so timidly, offering hesitant requests when I’m you’re loved child? I’ve been commanded—almost dared—by Jesus to trust your generosity in my prayers. Give me the expectation of a child that through Jesus Christ I will receive all I ask from you. In Jesus’ name, amen. (Prayer based on the Belgic Confession, Question 26)

*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 13 | Read Romans 4

  • 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.

Evening Readings:

Pray Psalm 14 | Read 2 Chronicles 10

  • 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 1:13-18

We saw yesterday that James is teaching us is that God tests us, but he never tempts us. We also saw that our belief does not always line up with our response. We often respond to our trials as though they are surefire tragedies. We blame, get angry, grow spiritually cold and embittered toward God and those around us. What’s happening? James says, “You’re being tempted (and not by God) within your testing.”

But the temptation is not always easy to see. Often the temptation is subtle. You sit down at the end of a long day and think about how things are going and suddenly your whole life flashes before your eyes. You wonder “Where am I going in my career?…Is this really worth it?…Am I enough?…and, oh by the way, why do I feel so [fill in your choice expletive] spiritually dry?” Suddenly you’re sullen and wondering, “Is God really with me in this?”

Or maybe the temptation arises when you go to church and, despite the fact that you’re actually really not feeling like God is all that wonderful, you say to a friend, “Yeah, I’m wrestling through some stuff right now, but, you know, God is good.” On one level, it’s true, we all struggle and it can be difficult to name exactly why our trial is bringing us low. 

But often what’s happening is that we are, conscious or otherwise, resisting an honest naming of the temptations we face. Because to quote, Joy Clarkson,

“We have the feeling that ‘life’ is waiting for us in the future. Things will be different, sturdier, make more sense…” after we’ve fixed our marriage, or worked through that frantic season at work, or fixed up the house, or raised the kids, or land that new job, or, or, or… 

The issue is not that we have good desires like working on relationships, or working a job to the best of our ability. The issue is that our desires get disordered. Our good desire becomes an ultimate desire and turns that good thing into an idol (something that we worship and believe will bring us wholeness and happiness). 

These dalliances with idolatrous desires (v. 14) lead to what one might expect: an unexpected, embryonic idol that grows and is birthed as a counterfeit god in our lives (or at least that’s what James is telling us to expect!) It promises us lasting joy and wholeness, but it’s fools gold. How do we escape this cycle? 

James says, look to God who is the true giver of every good and perfect gift. Desire him above all else. Wondering how to do that? That’s what we’ll dig into tomorrow. Stay tuned. 

REFLECT: Where in your life do find yourself tempted with subtle sin? What embryonic idols can you see growing? Spend some time today confessing both the temptations and the sin to God, ask him to help you to desire him above all else.

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.

Benediction

“Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Ps. 25:4-5)

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