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 morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. (Psalm 143:8)
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.
“Long have I known from your testimonies that you have founded them forever” (v. 152). —Psalm 119:145–152
*How do we experience the nearness of God?If we were to ask that question of several people, we would likely get a number of different answers. Some of the answers might border on the sappy; others would be more biblically and theologically robust. But how many would say that they experience the nearness of the Lord in His Word? To bring it a bit closer to home, how many of us would say that we sense that God is near when we are reading and meditating on Scripture?
In systematic theology, we refer to the nearness of the Lord as His attribute of immanence, which tells us, among other things, that our Creator is always near to and present in His creation (but not identified with His creation) regardless of whether we feel like He is close. The biblical teaching on divine immanence also tells us that God promises to manifest His presence in special ways and at special times. For example, under the old covenant, our Maker manifested His presence in a unique way in Israel’s tabernacle and temple. During the earthly ministry of Jesus, God revealed Himself most clearly in Christ, who is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:1–18). And under every administration of the one covenant of grace, God’s closeness is manifested when His people study His Word. In other words, both old covenant believers and new covenant believers have been able to count on His presence with us when we read Scripture, meditate on it, and study it.
One of the biblical passages that tells us as much is Psalm 119, specifically vv. 145–152. Note particularly the contrast that the psalmist establishes in the conclusion of today’s passage. The enemies of the psalmist draw near to attack him even as they are far from God’s law (v. 150). However, the author is confident that God will rescue him, and he notes the nearness of the Lord to him while praising the truth of our Creator’s commandments (vv. 151). There is a connection here between the writer’s sense that God is near and the confidence the author has in the truth of the Scriptures. That is because the Lord comes alongside His Word, making it effectual for His purposes (Isa. 55:10–11). Indeed, to have the Word of God is to have God Himself, for when Scripture speaks, God speaks (2 Peter 1:20–21). When we read the Bible and hear it preached and taught, we are enjoying a personal encounter with the very Lord who made us. And He attends every word of Scripture, for every word was given by Him and embodies His authority and truthfulness (2 Tim. 3:16–17).
Reflect: Although we do not always feel as if God is near to us, we can be sure that He always draws close to His people when they study His Word and hear it preached. The Holy Spirit attends the reading and hearing of His Word, instructing us, convicting us, and conforming us to the image of Jesus. We do not need to look for special “mountaintop” experiences to know that God is near, for He is always near in His Word.
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 God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)