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.
Good God, you didn’t turn your back on a world plunged up to its neck in physical and spiritual death but set out to rescue it.
We confess that we often and subtly are drawn back into living as though you have not rescued us by your grace and steadfast love.
We worship you for your resolute goodness and wisdom that sought and found us;
We thank you for the blessing that has come to us in Jesus,
And we pray that our lives may be a blessing to others. 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 Second Letter to the Corinthians was written during a difficult period in his relation with the church at Corinth. Some members of the church had evidently made strong attacks against Paul, but he shows his deep longing for reconciliation and expresses his great joy when this is brought about.” 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?
Over the next few months our sermon series will explore who God is and what it means for us as His Creation to know Him. 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: 1 Timothy 1:11-17
In Flannery O’Connor’s novel, Wise Blood, the cynical and, ironically, anti-religious pharisee Hazel Motes, says that “he knew that the best way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin.” It was 1952 when O’Connor wrote those words to depict the way Christ haunted a Southern culture where folks claimed the gospel, but without any real, powerful sense of God and the transformation his grace must work upon a life.
Her characters speak true even in our post-Christian culture where folks still avoid Jesus by avoiding whatever our culture deems intolerantly sinful. Not that we believe in sin, mind you, but there is a straight and narrow cultural orthodoxy upon which you must tread, or watch out!
The doctrine of grace for our culture reads like this: “We, of course, can have grace for those who deserve it, who earn their way back into our good graces, but those who really mess up. They’re done. There’s no coming back for them. And good riddance!”
This social doctrine has taken root across all political and cultural allegiances. And why should it not! This world is no friend of grace. As Mrs. O’Brien (deftly played by Jessica Chastain) says at the beginning of the film The Tree of Life,
“there are two ways through life, the way of Nature and the way of Grace…Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things.”
Beautiful as these words are, their vision of Grace falls well short of what God gives us in Christ. And that is because the real secret of Grace is this: It is a gift that only those who know they are moral failures can receive. In 1 Corinthians 6, Saint Paul says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” Cultures through the ages waiver on whether or not to deem these actions as immoral, but Paul doesn’t seem to care about what culture thinks about these things. The implication is that neither should we.
But the more shocking reality comes next.“And such were some of you…” God has a heart for the misfits and mess-ups. He takes them in. Cleans them up, “…you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” He gives them what our society could never give: grace to the truly despicable which, as it turns out, is actually all of us. Some of us may be better at covering it up, or aligning with what our culture praises and avoiding what it condemns.
God sees to the heart (Proverbs 21:2) and yet, he doesn’t reject the broken and contrite (Psalm 51:17), he doesn’t treat us the way our sins deserves but forgives and remembers our sins no more (Psalm 103; Psalm 130:3-4; Hebrews 10:17-18), and tells us to draw near to him, assured that he both loves and accepts us (Hebrews 10:22).
Whatever grace, love and acceptance our world offers simply cannot compete with that, and that’s what makes grace so amazing, so divine…
Reflect: Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:15 that he, “Christ Jesus comes into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first…so that Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were yet to believe in him for eternal life.” How has God graciously displayed his patience in your life? Take some time to thank 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.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure. (Psalm 16:8-9)