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

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isa. 6:3)

Prayer of Confession

Sovereign God, the pathways of your purpose are beyond human understanding. As we experience the groaning of creation in human evil and natural disaster, help us discern both your justice and your mercy, always ready to repent of our sins and always eager to walk again in your ways. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen. (Prayer based on the Belgic Confession, Question 13)

*Prayer borrowed from Philip Reinders’ Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

Lent Devo: Backyard Pilgrim

Throughout Lent this year we will follow along over the next 40 days with quotes from Backyard Pilgrim by Matt Canlis which gives us a daily Bible Path (the story of God’s redemption) and Parish Path (a literal path through town where you can walk and ponder what God has shown you through his Word).

Day 20: Jacob | Read: Genesis 31:11


Two wrestling matches bookend Jacob’s “Here I am” in Genesis 31. Both matches begin in darkness, take place in or near water, and end in being named. 

The first wrestling match is in his mother’s womb. “Jacob” means “heel-grabber” or “trickster” because Jacob was born grasping his brother’s heel. Jacob spends the first half of his life grasping whatever he can by whatever means, but he hits a mid-life crisis when he has to reckon with the brother he betrayed and the relationships he has broken. 

The second wrestling match is at night, beside a river. Here Jacob wrestles with an angelic figure whom he puts into a vice-grip, demanding a blessing. But more than merely blessing him, the strange figure renames Jacob “Israel” (which means “wrestles with God”) “because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome” (Genesis 32:28). 

Jacob is blessed for his skills as a wrestler. When God redeems us, he doesn’t start over from scratch. Jacob is called to be who he is—the wrestler God first created and is now redeeming him to be. That’s why Jacob’s new name, Israel, is different from but congruent with his original name. It’s also why God’s participation in your future story will one day redeem your whole history. 

Here i am . . . wrestling with God. 


We are God’s long labor of love—a labor God started by knitting us together in our mother’s wombs, a labor God will bring to fruition as we are born again in Christ. The particular person God first created you to be is the same one he wants to redeem! 

Saying “Here I am” to God means letting God make us more fully who He first intended us to be. What are you wrestling with God about? As you wrestle, take comfort in knowing that this may be part of his plan to rename you. Being renamed doesn’t mean losing who we are; it means losing who we are not. It means becoming who God first conceived, who Christ redeemed, and who the Spirit is now recreating us to become. 

Today as you walk your path and perhaps wrestle with God, listen to a song by U2: “Origin of the Species .” 

Also, spot something growing—or struggling to grow—into what it was created to become.

Sermon Devo

We are in our Winter series through the book of James. Each day we will dig into a different aspect of this New Testament wisdom book which will, by the end of the week, help to give you a fuller portrait of the kind of lives we are called to live as Christians.  

Read: James 4:13-5:6

The story goes that Upton Sinclair, the novelist, once read a paraphrase of James 5:1-6 to a group of ministers and attributed it to a well known anarchist. The ministers were so enraged they declared she ought to be deported! Such is the heat the the subject of wealth produces. We as human beings are keenly aware of our propensity to misuse wealth. We are also keenly sensitive to any accusation of impropriety in relation to our money. So we should not be surprised if, like the ministers did in Sinclair’s day, we react strongly to James’ words. They are, in fact, meant to provoke us to inward reflection.

Yet, we must read carefully, James does not simply declare that all rich people are to weep. Instead he’s describing, and has been throughout his letter, a particular kind of proud person who obedient to God outwardly, but inwardly is resistant to God and his ways. This time his portrait incorporates the indiscriminate use of wealth in ways that advantage only this proud individual.

See what he says, “Come now, you rich, weep and howl…your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts…

Wow! I mean, don’t hold back now, James! We can feel ourselves tensing up and saying inwardly, “No, wait a minute, that’s not me!” or “Well, I know people who are like that…” So how are we to receive this message?

Here’s what I would suggest: First, let’s be open, at least just a little, that some of James’ critique may stick to us. God’s grace has redeemed us but we are still prone to wander in many ways without even meaning to do so! Second, notice where the proud person’s hope is place. Their hope is situated solely in their things (riches, garments to signal status, gold, silver) and in their ability to hold onto their riches and power (not paying a working wage, living self-indulgently, condemning and murdering the righteous person).

REFLECT: We may not fully embody each of these things (maybe not very much at all) but do we recognize at least some of the tendencies in our own hearts? A desire to be self-reliant and self-sufficient? A stumbling into finding our significance through status symbols rather than God? James is trying to point out to us that these are not minor sins. They are actually rebellion against the true King of Creation. Let’s spend some time today in prayer asking God to help reveal where in our hearts we may be giving safe harbor to these desires, and then ask God to help us to die to those desires and live a life of true dependence on him.

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.


“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them.” (Ps. 32:1-2)