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
“Since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. . . . Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:14, 16)
Prayer of Confession
Ascended Jesus, I often move through my days with a guilty conscience, an accusing voice that tells me of the evil I have done, or the good I have failed to do.
Cleanse my conscience by your shed blood, and strengthen me to serve the living God. Amen. (a prayer based on the Helvetic Confession, Q56)
*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: Mark 10:17-30
“They share their table with all, but not their bed with all. They are poor and make many rich; they are short of everything and yet have plenty of things.” Letter to Diognetus, c.100-150 A.D.
What set the message of the early Christians apart in the culture was that it was a lifestyle. It’s not that they were an association of do-gooders. They weren’t getting in their community service hours, or working off their guilt at “having so much while others have so little” as the rich young man was perhaps hoping to do!
What had happened to these people? They were responding to the generous grace of God. His generosity led to their generosity. God forgave much so they not only forgave much but also gave generously! If you dig into the history books you will quickly discover that these Christians lived in a world of scarcity and yet, as Tim Keller has frequently said “unlike their neighbors, Christians were promiscuous with their money, not their bodies.”
Do those seem like odd traits to connect? The early church was known for many things but these two show the distinct nature of Christian ethics. We are at the same time “too liberal for our conservative friends (fiscal promiscuity) and too conservative for our liberal friends (a distinct sexual ethic).” Why?
It’s because Christians are called to a life of sacrificial self-giving that reflects and responds to God giving himself for us (Titus 2:11-14). We are promiscuous with our money because God has lavishly given us all that we truly need in Christ. We are distinct and exclusive in the way our sexuality and sexual desires are expressed because not every sexual desire is meant to be an act of self-giving.* Some sexual desires are disordered and not meant to be acted upon (including within a marriage). Just as some financial desires are not meant to be acted upon but must be constrained and rightly reordered by God’s prescribed uses and boundaries for wealth. Do you see the common thread?
The way Christians give ourselves to people, places, and things is now under the re-ordering authority of Christ. That’s what Jesus was saying to the rich young man in today’s passage: “You have to be willing to give up everything you hold dear (way more than money!) in order to follow me.” Everything that we are and have and do belongs to Christ, and understanding this is the beginning of knowing how to go about serving and giving for the work of God’s kingdom.
Reflect: How have you thought about giving in the past? How does Jesus’ teaching challenge what you have previously assumed?
*Christ denied his desire to avoid the cross, took up the cross, and sacrificially gave himself for us. We must do the same with desires (whatever they may be) that run counter to the boundaries God has created for our humanity.
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.
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13)