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
But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. (Psalm 59:16)
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.
God of all that is, was, and will be, you hold it all in your hands. And yet,
I confess that my heart is often like that of Jacob: wanting the moon, but not its Maker.
Remake my self-sufficient heart, O God, and hobble me to do it if you must.
It is surely better to walk alongside you with a limp than to sprint through this wilderness alone.
But don’t stop there! Continue working out your redemption of me by your Spirit
And not just today, but tomorrow, and every sunset and sunrise until I return to the dust. Amen.
Take a moment to confess your sins, knowing that he hears you.
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 Ephesians joins together what has been torn apart in our sin-wrecked world. He begins with an exuberant exploration of what Christians believe about God, and then, like a surgeon skillfully setting a compound fracture, “sets” this belief in God into our behavior before God so that the bones—belief and behavior—knit together and heal.” 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 25:19-33
All of us face limitations at some point in our lives. Where we come face to face with a reality that is undeniable. Whether it’s the wild child who realizes midair that flight is for the birds whereas falling is very much what she’s about to do, or the boy who just cannot get that girl to like him no matter hard he tries (yes, I’m speaking from painful, cringeworthy experience).
We carry these limitations into our adulthood as well. Like for instance, I will likely never live in a studio apartment above a coffee and book shop that smells of old books, fresh ground coffee, and pipe tobacco.And, aside from being oddly specific, this limitation is based on the fact that while I do love books and own far too many to ever read (I like to have options), I also have 3 small children and a wife, and I’m not in the book and coffee selling business.
Simply put: I can’t do all the things I want to do and still be the sort of husband, dad, friend, and pastor I want to be. We all have limitations, but we try to live like we don’t.
Today’s passage takes us into the story of Jacob who schemed from the day he was born to outrun his second born limitations (even though he had been promised it all anyway!). Why was Jacob so anxious to get one up on his brother?
The answer is found earlier in the story. One day during her pregnancy with the twins, Rebekah had became concerned about the turmoil inside her. Her boys were wrestling day and night, so she did what any sleep-deprived mother would do: She prayed! “What is with these two? They’re gonna kill each other in there!” God responded by telling her “two nations are in your womb; two peoples will come from you and be separated. One people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”
We aren’t told how aware Jacob was of this promise, but his parents surely would have understood what this promise meant. It was God’s way of telling them that the promised Rescuer would come from the family line of the younger son, Jacob.What should have happened next? The boys should have been raised to step into the roles that God had assigned to them: Esau finding his blessing in Jacob’s descendants and Jacob humbly preparing to be the ancestor of God’s snake-crushing Messiah.
But that’s not what happened. We don’t know all of the details, but it seems that the boys were simply left to their own devices and Jacob, for one, was just as adept at deception and cunning as his parents. It’s no surprise then that Jacob took matters into his own hands when it seemed that God’s promise that “the older will serve the younger” was never going to arrive. Jacob cheats his older brother not once but twice but at a terrible cost: he heads into exile away from his family and inheritance. And we are left with the question: Is God up to the task of redeeming this wreck of a family upon whom the hopes of the world depend?
A bit of a cliffhanger there, but our lives are filled with cliffhangers. We find ourselves in moments and long weary seasons where we wonder: Is God really up to redeeming this? Have I wrecked everything? Or is his grace sufficient for even this?
Reflect: Where in your life do you see some wreckage? Take some time today to ask God to begin to redeem what seems irredeemable to you.
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.
The Lord answer you in the day of trouble. The name of the God of Jacob protect you. May He send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion. Amen. (Psalm 20)