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 is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” (Ps. 145:13b)
Prayer of Confession
Covenant-making God, thank you for the deal of a lifetime you cut with me, promising to be my God and the God of all who trust in you. As I live out this life with you, may it be marked by deep trust and open gratitude. In Jesus’ name, amen. (A prayer based on The Westminster Confession, Q7.3)
*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).
Pray Psalm 76 | Read Matthew 2
- 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: Matthew provides the comprehensive context by which we see all God’s creation and salvation completed in Jesus, and all the parts of our lives—work, family, friends, memories, dreams—also completed in Jesus. Lacking such a context, we are in danger of seeing Jesus as a mere diversion from the concerns announced in the newspapers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
Pray Psalm 77 | Read 1 Samuel 25
- 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.
Read: Proverbs 3:17-18
Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed. (3:17–18)
One of the things that I love about the Proverbs are the varied descriptions of wisdom contained throughout it. Here wisdom is a “tree of life” to those who take hold of her.
The imagery is rooted in the biblical story of the world. Trees feature prominently in the Bible as symbols of longevity and stability. The most famous tree, however, is the Tree of Life. It appears throughout the Bible in small glimpses and grand vistas but nowhere more pronounced than in the first and last books of the canon: Genesis (3:18; 11:30; 13:12; 15:4) and Revelation (22:2).
The Tree, as Tim Keller notes,
“stands at the center of the renewed creation, paradise regained…Until then, this proverb promises that when we walk in accordance with God’s Word and wisdom we begin to get a foretaste of the Tree of Life—the fullness of life that will be restored to us on the last day. And we may approach the Tree of Life only because Jesus was hung on a tree of death (Galatians 3:13). As Jesus says in George Herbert’s poem, “Man stole the fruit, but I must climb the tree; The tree of life to all, but only me.”
But notice how else Wisdom is described in these verses. She has “pleasant ways” and “paths of peace.” The two images work together to show us what Romans 8:6 describes as the mindset that comes with walking in step with the Spirit: life and peace. Our minds are naturally set on things that are destructive to us, but when the Spirit of God comes to dwell within us, he helps to set our minds on cultivating things that will be fruitful for us: love, joy, peace, patience…
Reflect: We’ve seen today that the path and mindset of Wisdom is synonymous with keeping in step with the Spirit. How have you seen this to be true in your life?
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.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jer. 29:11)