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 their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How attractive and beautiful they will be!” (Zech. 9:16-17a)
Prayer of Confession
God of truth and light,my sworn enemies—the world, my own flesh, and the devil—are not always obvious opponents. They are shifty prowlers, usually hidden and wickedly crafty. So make me wise to their schemes but mostly alert to your grace. In Jesus’ name, amen. (a prayer based on the Heidelberg Catechism, Q127)
*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).
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: Revelation contains 404 verses into which St. John, the pastor, makes reference to earlier scripture 518 times. The message is clear: This last word on scripture will not being saying anything new. Instead, the Revelation reveals Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God by bidding us to look to the past to the Old Testament promises and to the resurrection; to live in the present as the people of God; and to look toward the future when the triumph of King Jesus will be fully revealed.Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: “Four lives dominate the two-volume narrative, First and Second Samuel: Hannah, Samuel, Saul, and David. Chronologically, the stories are clustered around the year 1000 b.c., the millennial midpoint between the call of Abraham, the father of Israel, nearly a thousand years earlier (about 1800 b.c.) and the birth of Jesus, the Christ, a thousand years later.” Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
This summer we are exploring what it means to keep “in step” with the Spirit. Each week we will consider a specific fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) by looking at other stories and themes throughout Scripture that express this fruit.
This week we are looking at love as part of the fruit the Spirit produces in the lives of followers of Christ.
Read: Galatians 5:16-26
Continuing from what we say yesterday, Tim Keller notes,
“How, then, can the fruit of the Spirit take root in our hearts and be produced in our lives? Paul immediately supplies the answer.
First, we need to remember that we “belong to Christ Jesus” (v 24). All that is His, is ours. Our approval and welcome from the Father rests not on our character or actions, but on His. We are free to acknowledge where we have given up ground to the sarx in our lives; free to confess where we have not sought to keep in step with the Spirit; free to realize where we have confused our gifts or natural character with the fruit of the Spirit.
Second, because we belong to Christ we “have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires”(literally “over-desires”, v 24). “Crucifying the sinful nature” is really the identification and dismantling of idols. It means to put an end to the ruling and attractive power that idols have in our lives, and so to destroy their ability to agitate and inflame our thoughts and desires. Crucifying the sarx is about strangling sin at the motivational level, rather than simply setting ourselves against sin at the behavioral level. Real changes in our lives cannot proceed without us discerning our particular “characteristic flesh”—the idols and desires that come from our individual sinful nature.
We have to ask ourselves not just what we do wrong, but why we do it wrong. We disobey God in order to get something we feel we must have. That’s an “over-desire”. Why must we have it? Because it is a way we are trying to keep “under law”. It is something we have come to believe will authenticate us. To crucify the sinful nature is to say: Lord, my heart thinks that I must have this thing, otherwise I have no value. It is a pseudo-savior. But to think and feel and live like this is to forget what I mean to you, how you see me in Christ. By your Spirit, I will reflect on your love for me in Him until this thing loses its attractive power over my soul.
Reflect: Tomorrow we will continue to look at how we grow in the fruit of the Spirit, but for now: Examine yourself. What are the idols which need identifying and dismantling in your life? How can you replace them with Christ?
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 God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” (1 Thess. 5:23-24)