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
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)
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).
Pray Psalm 52 | Read Ephesians 3
- 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.
Pray Psalm 53 | Read Deuteronomy 20
- 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 27-28:9
The Bible is not what we think it is at first. Stories like the one we’ve just read are not morality tales to get us to behave well. No, the Bible is not primarily about showing you how to live a good life, or giving you heroes to emulate. What stories like this one show is something far better: Jacob doesn’t model for us how to live life right. His life shows us our limitations and how God is sufficient to meet people who aren’t looking for grace and don’t deserve it with the very grace that we all need.
I think that is why the story of Jacob resonates so deeply with us all. We all mess things up in our lives in ways that seem irredeemable. Just take a look at this family. All of them contribute to the catastrophe that’s about unfold. Laughter, as he was called, and Rebekah not only each prefer one son over against the other, but they let each run unchecked into folly. We’ve all been foolish to be sure, but this family actively and passively fanned the flames of their foolishness.
Read the tale! Nowhere is there quick repentance, no asking for and receiving grace from God and from one another. Instead each hardens themselves against the realities of life. “Hell is other people” Jean-Paul Satre said and each person in this family proves it as they try to get one over on the other in a never-ending, ever-quickening race for Machiavellian dominance.
No one stops to ask God what he thinks. In fact God is absent from these chapters. He’s nowhere on the tongues of his chosen family, nor in their actions. Instead they are intent on scraping and clawing for purchase like tumbling mountaineers reaching for something, anything to hold onto so they can begin their reckless free-climb all over again!
The result is a complete lack of security (what modern psychologists would call “insecure attachment”) and intense bitterness. Bitterness between the brothers. Bitter rivalry between Isaac and Rebekah. Bitter indifference in Esau toward his inheritance and the things of God which results Isaac and Rebekah’s lives being bitter because of Esau’s poor choice in women. And bitter jealousy that turns into unabashed plotting in Jacob over his father’s rejection of him.
When the inevitable crash happens, the tangled web unravels and the brothers wrestle with the life-altering implications. Esau blames Jacob for his misery. Jacob for once is silent. Rebekah blames Esau’s stupid choice of wives. Isaac blames Jacob’s deceitfulness but what can he do now? Perhaps Rebekah’s confession sums up how everyone was feeling: “I am sick of my life…” and if things don’t change “what good is my life?”
But remember this is no morality tale. The point is not to look for ways to avoid becoming like these people. The point is that we ARE these people. We ARE no better than them in our seemingly minor dalliances with sin. We ALL live our lives independent of God. We ALL need God to show up in our lives just at the right moment when all is seemingly lost.
Reflect: We’ve established that we are all messes in need of mercy. So rather than retracing our steps there, let’s ask today: When has God shown up in your life when all hope seemed lost?
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.
And may the God of peace Himself make you holy through and through. May your whole being, spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful and He will accomplish it. Amen (1 Thessalonians 5:23)