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 whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. (Psalm 65:8)
Prayer of Confession
Confession is formative. It trains us to recognize the ways our hearts have become de-formed and how Christ is at work bringing redemption in our lives. Pray with this in mind.
Surprising God, who would have thought that dying was good?
My instinct is to avoid it. But, in Jesus, I see that dying is the way to life.
Equip me to do what is so difficult—to die to myself and become new.
May I be genuinely sorry for my sin, to hate it more and more,
and to run away from it. Amen.*
Take a moment to confess your sins, knowing that he hears you.
*Prayer borrowed from Philip Reinders’ Seeking God’s Face
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: “Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches helps them, and us, recover the original freedom of the gospel. It also gives direction in the nature of God’s gift of freedom—most necessary guidance, for freedom is a delicate and subtle gift, easily perverted and often squandered.” Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: “The book of Deuteronomy is organized as a series of addresses given by Moses to the people of Israel in the land of Moab, where they had stopped at the end of the long wilderness journey and were about to enter and occupy Canaan…The great theme of the book is that God has saved and blessed his chosen people, whom he loves; so his people are to remember this, and love and obey him, so that they may have life and continued blessing. The key verses of the book are 6:4–6, and contain the words that Jesus called the greatest of all commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
Each day this devo will tread along a variety of paths connected to the week’s theme in Knowing God. Consider this your invitation to come along for the ride as we head into the wilds of coming to know and experience God’s person and grace.
Read: John 1:19-39
Who are you? We ask this question endlessly as humans.We ask it of one another when we are introduced for the first time: “Hi, I’m so and so…I’m friends with the bride’s father” with the anticipated response of the person’s name, perhaps their occupation, or how they happen to be in this particular place at this precise moment: “Oh, me? I stumbled in off the street driven by the the scent of hors d’oeuvres wafting through that window.”
Children are less polite and will bluntly and, on occasion, rather self-importantly inform you of their identity, “I’m a princess. My parents died. I have a beautiful horse and castle.” This child is obviously lying, but the point stands nonetheless: we love to tell people who we are and what we are about. Jesus’ introduction in the narrative of John’s gospel is quite different.Jesus doesn’t introduce himself right away. He is instead introduced by two Johns.
John, the beloved disciple, starts off dramatically. A whole creation story is unfolded before our eyes replete with allusions to the Hebrew Scriptures that hint at the identity of this Word, this Jesus who is (surprise!) God in the flesh, come down to be near to us, and dwell among us again in order to make a way for us to dwell with him as we did in the Garden.
John the Baptist speaks next. He gives us a more earthy introduction that sets us in the dust next to him as he prepares God’s people for this mysterious Lamb of God who would atone for all their sin. His preaching and baptizing caused quite a revival, and wherever there is religious upheaval, religious leaders appear to ask that most basic of human questions: “Who are you? What are you doing?” John responds by telling them exactly who he isn’t and then says, “I’m just the voice saying get ready for your true King to come. In fact, he’s already here among us.”
Imagine the stir that must have caused. Did they look at one another and wonder which of them he was speaking about? How surprised were they when the next day the haggard prophet shouted from the riverbank “Look, there he is! The Lamb of God!”
The words of the Beloved Disciple and the Baptist combine to introduce us to the God who comes near. He is God himself, who spoke into the shapeless and void (Hebrew: tohu va bohu) darkness and light and life sparked into being. This God came in the flesh to live among us and for us as “the Lamb of God” who would be offered as a sacrifice for our sins.
And yet, he doesn’t introduce himself this way. He is introduced by others so that by the time we hear Jesus’ first words in John’s gospel, we ought to be tripping over ourselves to hear exactly what he’s going to say about himself, and instead he asks a question: “What are you looking for?” The soon-to-be disciples give a starstruck response, “Uh, where are you staying?”
What do you expect Jesus to say? The two Johns have prepared us for Jesus’ next words. This Word made flesh has come to be among his people. Of course he’s going to say, “Come along and see for yourselves!” Of course! God had come to be near. But do we marvel at that reality? The Maker who dreamt up the whole cosmos and set it spinning came not with fireworks or trumpets, but with a question and an invitation.
Reflect: How would you respond to Jesus’ question: “What are you after?” How have you responded to his invitation? “Come along and see…”
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 the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)