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
“God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.” (Psalm 47:5-7)
Prayer of Confession
Creator God,garden my life—turn it over, cultivate it, and make it ready for gospel seeds to take root.
And in quiet darkness let the gospel do its work, slow but powerful, stirring up life in my heart, increasing joy, strengthening all your graces until shoots of new life rise and good fruit bursts forth on the branches of my life, a life beautiful for you and a blessing to others. Amen.(a prayer based on the Westminster Longer Catechism, Q75)
*Prayer borrowed from Philip Reinders’ Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
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: ” Our main and central task is to live in responsive obedience to [the gospel]. But more often than not we become impatiently self-important along the way and decide to improve matters with our two cents’ worth.” We add on, we supplement, we embellish. Hebrews is written to “add on, Jesus-and” Christians such as ourselves. It wakes us up to the reality that Jesus is just plain better than all our add ons.” Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: “People who want God as an escape from reality, from the often hard conditions of this life, don’t find this much to their liking. But to the man or woman wanting more reality, not less—this continuation of the salvation story—Joshua’s fierce and devout determination to win land for his people and his extraordinary attention to getting all the tribes and their families name by name assigned to their own place, is good news indeed. Joshua lays a firm foundation for a life that is grounded.” Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
Consider today a bit of a workshop day. Read the passage, reflect on the questions, and then I’ll provide a little bit of context.
1. Meditate on the different images Paul uses. What does each of the three images tell us about Christian unity and community?
We are a new nation. We are part of God’s family. We are a spiritual temple. We are meant to notice the increase of relational intensity and intimacy with each image: a king lives in the same country as his people; a father lives in the same house with his family. But the Spirit of God actually comes to live inside the temple of the church.
Not only do the images increase the intimacy of our relationship with God but also with one another: citizens are connected by being part of the same country, abiding by the same laws; siblings have the same DNA and family history; but only the stones of a temple are cemented to one another.
2. Draw some practical implications for community. If we are a nation, a family and a temple, how should that effect the way we live?
I’ll only focus on the new nation image which implies that Christian community involves making close friends with people who are both like and unlike us, people who, apart from the gospel, we would never know or really care to know. As D.A. Carson puts it, “The church is made up of natural enemies…What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything else of that sort. Christians come together… because they have all been saved by Jesus Christ… They are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake.”
3. Look at verses 14-16 again. What is Paul saying in this particular image? How does this statement relate to the claim in 1 Peter 2:9 that we are a “chosen people… a holy nation?
A good translation of verse 15 would be: “His purpose is to create a new humanity.” What Paul is saying is that Christians are called to be a new human race — a new way of being human beings together, a new social order. Peter tells us that God has made us “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
What does this mean? The words Peter uses literally mean that God has made us a “spiritual ethnic,” or a spiritual culture that has a distinct (holy) way of doing pretty much everything: how we use money and possession; how we enjoy relationships and family life; how we do our work. The list is endless because the gospel is meant to invade every crack and crevice of our lives.
Reflect: What would it look like for the church to reflect this passage more?
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.
“Go and make disciples of all nations. . . . And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)