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.
Read:Genesis 28:10-22 + John 1:51
We see throughout Scripture various times that God “comes down” to meet with people. God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day in the Garden; he talked with and made world-altering promises to Abraham; he comes to Jacob first through a dream and then a wrestling match. Again and again God comes down to our level. Sometimes it is with the purpose of blessing as seen with the previous examples. Sometimes in judgment as with the people of Babel who tried to make a name for themselves, build their spiraling stairway to heaven, and attain the security and significance which every human heart craves.
Ian Duguid points out that it is in the story of Abraham and his family, and Jacob in particular, that we find God’s answer to the Babel-ish cravings of our own hearts.
It’s no coincidence that Genesis 12, with its promise to Abraham of a name and blessing for the nations, follows right after Genesis 11 and the failure of human efforts to find those things. [God came to Jacob] at the moment at which it must have seemed to Jacob that all was lost, when [like Babel] it was evident that all his scheming had misfired…You can probably relate to Jacob’s experience. You too have sought security and significance in all the wrong places…But then your world caved in upon you, God took you through dark times in order to reveal his light to you. God sought you when you were not seeking him.
Again our theme of God drawing near to us appears in the must unlikely of places. God comes to Jacob at his lowest point to promise him something which Jacob does not deserve and could never scheme or dream up for himself: the gift of a name (he will eventually be called Israel; see Gen. 32) and a blessing (the same covenant promises given to Abraham now belong to his grandson).
All of this is great, but let’s please notice what else God says: “Behold I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” God didn’t make his promises and then flee from the scene to let Jacob work them out on his own. No, God said that he would be with him until God had accomplished everything he promised Jacob.
And he would, every step of the way, all the way through Jacob’s misgivings, victories, failings, and beyond into the lifetimes of his children and his children’s children, and his children’s children’s children, until one “when the fullness of time had come” Jacob’s greater Son arrived. He is the ultimate reversal of Babel, the true stairway to heaven, and the only way to God. “It is through his death and resurrection alone,” Ian Duguid notes, “that grace comes to scheming scoundrels like Jacob, and like you and me…”
Reflect: Do you find yourself like the people of Babel and Jacob longing for security and significance in your life? What do you think God might be saying to you through what you’ve read today?
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.
Now may the God for whom you wait, lift you up out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire and set your feet upon a rock, and may He place you in the shadow of His wings until the storms of destruction pass by. Amen. (Psalm 40:2 + Psalm 57:1)