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?
This week’s theme is: GIVE Read: Luke 17:3-10
Yesterday we talked about the self-giving life to which Christians are called. We discovered that the root of a self-giving life is that we see every aspect of our lives as under Christ’s authority. Today I want us to explore this trait of generous giving in relationships.
Each culture has its own definition of generosity. We see that in Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness and the apostle’s response: “Increase our faith!” Jewish culture at the time gave a limit to the number of times you had to forgive. Jesus more than doubled it. It’s hard to believe that God’s forgiveness really works this way, and that our own should as well, that when we are offended, we ought to pray along with the apostles: Increase my faith so I can be generous with my forgiveness. You weren’t stingy with me. Help me not to be with my friend.
And yet, we feel held back in our forgiveness. We are fearful. What if they offend me again? We feel that generosity should be limited to a one time offer. And the devilish whisper floats into our ear: Did God really say…? He couldn’t have meant this!
I recognize I am treading on tender ground here. Wisdom is required in how forgiveness is applied and yet Christians don’t get to define the boundaries of our generosity in relationships. God really did say, through his Son, “Forgive.” What we need, then, is an expanded definition of Christian generosity:
“Generosity means living for God and others, not ourselves. It embodies a lifestyle shaped by a deep conviction that in Christ we find true riches and abounding treasure. Generous people do not use others for personal gain, demand that their rights be upheld at all costs, or hold grudges against those who offend them. Instead, the gospel changes their attitudes toward others so that they are able to constantly wipe the slate clean and eliminate all record of wrongs. Generous people cancel debts and absorb the cost themselves.”
More could be said (i.e. what do we mean and not mean by “wipe the slate clean”?) but that’s a conversation for another time. What we should be picking up on is that Christian generosity is more than charity. Gospel-shaped generosity is a way of living that brings everything into its orbit.
Another way of saying this is that when we truly come to see the riches that we have in the gospel, we will be able to let go of our rights when necessary because they no longer define who we are. Keith and Kristyn Getty’s lyric captures this well:My worth is not in what I own / not in the strength of flesh and bone…not in skill or name / in win or lose, in pride or shame…I rejoice in my redeemer / Greatest treasure, Wellspring of my soul / And I will trust in him, no other / My soul is satisfied in him alone.”
Reflect: Satisfied souls are generous souls, and only Christ can fully satisfy. How have you experienced God expanding your generosity toward others?
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)