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
Concluding our study this week, Tim Keller notes,
It is worth briefly noticing what crucifying the sinful nature does not mean. Paul is not saying: Be hard on yourself, especially the body. For example, it is an old tradition to give up something for Lent. Usually this means to refuse to satisfy some needs for rest, comfort, or pleasure. This is a serious mistake. It is obvious from the list of the acts of the sinful nature (v 19–21) that many of them have nothing to do with the body (eg: ambition, jealousy, envy). Asceticism—the denial of pleasure—does not touch these.
Next, Paul is not simply saying: Just say “no” to sin. Our sarx desires to live under the law in some way. It instinctively wants to find a form of self-salvation. Just to say no without examining the motives underneath wrong behavior can actually be part of a new form of seeking self-righteousness, as we seek to justify ourselves by saying no to ungodly attitudes and actions. The Galatians were on the verge of “just saying no” to a lot of things, but in a way which Paul was warning would leave them “alienated from Christ” (v 4).
Last, Paul is not talking of a passive process. A Christian can say “I have been crucified with Christ” (2:20), as something that has been done to us; we are as free from the condemnation of sin as if we had already paid the penalty ourselves with our own death. Christ’s death was our death. But 5:24 is talking about an ongoing “crucifixion” which we ourselves do to our sinful nature, as we put to death the old nature within us.
So third, we need to “keep in step with the Spirit” (v 25). This is a positive process (not simply giving things up), an active process (which we do), and something more than simple obedience (though it is not less than simple obedience). The Spirit is a living person, who glories in and magnifies the work of Jesus. Once we specifically find the particular false beliefs of our flesh which generate the “over-desires” and lead us to sin, we must replace them with Christ.
This is not just an intellectual exercise. We must worship Christ, with the help of the Holy Spirit, adoring Him until our hearts find Him more beautiful than the object we felt we had to have. As we do that, we will put to death our old sarx nature, clearing room for the fruit of the Spirit to grow; and we will find that fruit growing, changing us more and more into the people we long to be, and God desires us to be.
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)