June18th devo image, old letters.

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

“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders” (Deuteronomy 33:12).

Prayer of Confession

God, when I count on my pious actions to make me right with you, I get the gospel confused. I’m flattering myself, relying on my capacity to gain your approval.

Today, help me first to trust only in Jesus, transferring my heart’s confidence to him and so making mine all of his satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness. Amen. (a prayer based on the Heidelberg Catechism, Q61)

*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 20 | Read 1 John 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 apostle John explains how our understanding (or lack thereof) of God’s love affects the way that we view ourselves and others. God’s love is key in knowing that we have eternal life in Jesus Christ” Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.

Evening Readings:

Pray Psalm 21 | Read Ruth 1

  • OT Context: “In its artful telling of this “outsider” widow, uprooted and obscure, who turns out to be the great-grandmother of David and the ancestor of Jesus, the book of Ruth makes it possible for each of us to understand ourselves, however ordinary or “out of it,” as irreplaceable in the full telling of God’s story. We count—every last one of us—and what we do counts.” Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?

Sermon Devo

Read: Genesis 23

This week we are looking at the story of Abraham for Father’s Day (so it’s gonna get interesting).

Here is a tender conclusion to Abraham and Sarah’s story. Rich as he was Abraham still had no land to call his own, no place to bury his wife. God had made good on his promise of a son but Abraham remained “an alien and a stranger.” Abraham’s whole life had been shaped by the living in the gap between promise and reality, between departing and arriving home. God had promised Abraham the land of Canaan as an ’achuzzah (everlasting possession), a place where he could finally rest his head. Here in Genesis 23 Abraham purchases a place where he could rest his head in death (an achuzzah; 23:9, 20) until God made good on the rest of his promise. There’s poetry in his purchase but at the core it was a resolute act of faith. God had promised and that was enough for him.

I think this is why their story (and that of their descendants) has always set my imagination whirling. What must it have been like to hear God’s voice the way that Abraham did? And then to leave behind his moon-god worshipping kin to go to a land that was promised, yes, but also inhabited by other someone else’s kin! And go they did! Though they didn’t know the way. Hebrews tells us they charted their whole lives by faith in the God who made stars. It was an extraordinary yet ordinary life.

This should comfort us. It should help us to see ourselves not as remote from the kind of faith Abraham had but rather as the true spiritual descendants of Abraham’s kind of faith. A faith made up of ordinary, everyday reliances. Little moments where we are faced with the question of whether we will build whatever Babel-ish desire has come into our hearts, or whether we will receive and yield to God’s good designs for us. 

If we come see ourselves in this way, then (ah, then!), we have reached the bend in the trail, the moment where we start to realize how God has woven redemption into every crevice of our lives. It’s the ah ha! of grace where we, like Abraham, confess that we don’t come to God with a clean slate. We have a past, ordinary as our days feel when you add them up we are “history of horror” as a woman once confided to Flannery O’Connor. 

Abraham’s only hope is our only hope. We need mercy for what we have been and redemption so we can live, actually live as the kind creatures God made us to be! In fact, as Flannery responded to her friend, the precise meaning of Redemption is that “we do not have to be our histories.” Abraham was not his history. Instead, in a way that still defies our full understanding, God’s history of righteousness was counted as Abraham’s own righteousness. 

And yet, Scripture reveals to us everything from Abraham’s history necessary for God’s gospel of grace to set down roots in our hearts. We learn from him what it looks like to walk an ordinary:extraordinary life by faith with God. 

Reflect: How has the story of Abraham encouraged you this week? How are you relying on God as you live your ordinary:extraordinary life by faith?

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

“May you be ‘filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.'” (Philippians 1:11)

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