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: Genesis 12:1 + Matthew 28:18-20
Go. I’ve always loved adventure stories. In fact, the first stories that I can remember reading were tales of pirates, double-crosses, and buried treasure. Pages alone couldn’t hold those stories and so naturally they spilled out into the wood-crested hills outside my front door. Walnut tree masts creaked and swayed as the clearing just north of home was transformed into a vast ocean filled with foes to vanquish before supper and bed. Most nights I was filled with the longing every young boy feels to set sail and go wherever the wind and my swashbuckling heart carried me.
So, as you can imagine, adulthood has been a bit of a disappointment to me. There are relatively few sword fights in modern American life. Leaving behind kith and clan happens, yes, but far less often because of the kind of treasure hunting I dreamed of as a child. No, our days are more, well, ordinary. This is probably better for everyone’s livers (malaria and scurvy are no joke!), but don’t you sometimes just want to go on an adventure?
I think that’s why the story of Abraham and Sarah (and their descendants) has always set my mind whirling. What must it have been like to hear God’s voice the way that Abram (as he was called at the time) did? And then to leave behind his moon-god worshipping kin to go to a land that was promised, yes, but also inhabited by other someone else’s kin! And go they did! Though they didn’t know the way. Hebrews tells us they charted their whole lives by faith in the God who made stars. It was extraordinary! But I think sometimes we miss that there were many, many ordinary days that made up the years between the promise and its fulfillment.
This should comfort us. It should help us to see ourselves not as remote from the kind of faith Abraham had but rather as the true spiritual descendants of Abraham’s kind of faith.If we see ourselves this way, then, we will begin to see that Jesus’command to “Go into all the world and make disciples…” is really something adventurously ordinary.
It is an invitation to see ourselves as part of this extraordinary new humanity that God has created through the death and resurrection of his Son. It is a commission to invite others to be part of this new humanity in the most ordinary of ways: in the raising of our children, in the loving of our neighbor as ourselves, in the caring for the orphan and the widow, and in the reconciling of sinful people with their holy God. There never has been a greater adventure than the one we are called into by faith!
Reflect: Take a few moments to reflect on the last few days and weeks. Would you describe them as mundane or filled with adventure? Based on what we’ve read in our passages and discussed today, how do you think God is working them (and you!) into his Big Story of Redemption?
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)