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?
Read: Revelation 21:1-27
Revelation gets the last word on the church and on the gathering in of God’s people into the New Jerusalem. What is unveiled in the Apocalypse (apocalypse = unveiling) is not most people’s conception of what our eternal state will be. First of all, heaven comes down we don’t go to it. I won’t unpack all the details on that right here, but if you were expecting to fly away, don’t. The New Jerusalem is Creation regained, Creation renewed. Second, heaven comes down, yes, but it comes down in the form of a city.
This shouldn’t surprise us. Eden was always meant to expand to the ends of the earth. Humans were created to cultivate places where they could live together, connected to God and to one another. Sin wrecked this design and the entirety of Scripture tells the story of how God made to dwell among us again as he did in Eden. But not Eden as it was; Eden as it was meant to become: a Garden City. There’s glimpses of it throughout the OT but the prophet Isaiah saw it and he used his massive vocabulary to describe it (Isa. 65:17-66:24) but he only saw it, as it were, through a mirror dimly.
Now in the Apocalypse, John sees this Garden City plain as day. Details that were fuzzy for Isaiah now come into focus: the Lamb, Christ himself, gives light to the whole city. The city is a bride (the church) and the groom is also the Lamb (Christ again). It is a city where all that was sad about our sinful experience of the Creation is seen for exactly what it was: a small and passing thing. The ills of humanity are no more. Christ is at the center and God again walks among and delights in his people.
The church needs to recover this vision of herself. We need to understand that together we are running down the aisle to meet our Beloved at the altar. We need to see this because sets all the things that we struggle with in relationship to one another in right proportion to where we are headed.
This is the great news of the gospel for us!All of our envy, bickering, gossip, lying, slander, rivalry, idolatry, fits of rage, drunkenness, disordered sexual desire, and jealousy are just a small and passing thing. We should be serious about killing this sort of sin in our lives (or “it will be at work killing us” as John Owen famously said), but we should treat these sins as fleeting, destined to fall away from us.
Reflect: Find the sin you are struggling with most in that list from Galatians 5. Maybe it’s in relationship to someone else in the church.
Now consider: what Revelation 21 is tell us is that when we get caught up in sin, we are living on the wrong side of history. Sin, of whatever sort, is nothing more or less than participating in a thin shadow-of-a-world that is fading away.
Grace gets us on the inside of a world that is more real than anything we’ve experienced. It’s the world we are made for, it’s the world we all want, and it is the world that Christ himself promises is headed our way from heaven.
How is God calling you to live within His reality today?
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)