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?
This week we enter into the second half of the Christian year. The first half (Advent-Pentecost) traces the grand arc of God’s saving action in Jesus Christ. Ordinary Time offers us time (half the year!) to find our place in God’s story. It gives us time to absorb the story of the gospel, and then allow it to shape our ordinary lives, making connections between Jesus’ story and our lives.
Call to Prayer
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezek. 36:26-27)
Prayer of Confession
Giver of every good gift,you never send your people off empty-handed but always outfit them with good things—your guiding presence in the fiery cloud, the manna that rained down from heaven on the wilderness trek.
Thank you for pouring out your Holy Spirit and all his gifts for the journeys you send us on. Make us freely generous with all your gifts to bless the world, the very reason for which you sent us. Amen. (a prayer based on the Helvetic Confession, Q51)
*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: “Twice in Judges (17:6 and 21:25) there is the telling refrain: “At that time there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing.” But we readers know that there was a king in Israel: God was king. And so, while the lack of an earthly king accounts for the moral and political anarchy, the presence of the sovereign God, however obscurely realized, means that the reality of the kingdom is never in doubt.” Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
Read: Matthew 28:18-20
Go! Jesus didn’t say, “Wait for them to come to you.” He didn’t say, “Start a church, put an ad in the paper, and hope people walk through your doors.” He didn’t say, “Stop talking about religion (and politics) if it becomes culturally unacceptable.” He didn’t say, “Do good deeds but don’t ever open your mouth to talk about Me.”
He told His disciples to go to the world with the good news, the gospel. He repeated His command to His disciples the last time He appeared to them before ascending back into heaven:
So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:6-8).
They wanted to know how the end-times were going to play out. Jesus basically said: “That’s none of your business. Your business is to be my Spirit-empowered witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The book of Acts tells the story of how the first Christians obeyed this command, in a world where it was anything but easy to talk about Jesus. In most cases, they were marginalized for talking about Jesus. In some cases they were persecuted, but they were not silent. Going means taking the initiative to help others take a step toward Jesus.
Reflect: Who is in your Top 3? Going means taking the initiative to help others take a step toward Jesus. It leads us to ask questions like: Who are the three people with whom I seek to share my faith right now? Am I being public with my faith and seeking to connect with them in community that overlaps with faith?
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.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13)