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
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble (Psalm 107:1-2)
Prayer of Confession
Confession is formative. It trains us to recognize the ways our hearts have become de-formed and how Christ is at work bringing redemption in our lives. Pray with this in mind.
Father in heaven, we need to be forgiven.
We have tried to work off our guilt and shame; to pile up good deeds that outweigh our bad deeds. We have tried to change through our own efforts. When this doesn’t work, we turn to denial and distraction, leaving some of us arrogant and the rest of us anxious and depressed.
Forgive us for thinking we could save ourselves rather than resting in the merits of Jesus Christ. Forgive us for our pride. Forgive us and heal us, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Take a moment to confess your sins, knowing that he hears you.
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: Revelation contains 404 verses into which St. John, the pastor, makes reference to earlier scripture 518 times. The message is clear: This last word on scripture will not being saying anything new. Instead, the Revelation reveals Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God by bidding us to look to the past to the Old Testament promises and to the resurrection; to live in the present as the people of God; and to look toward the future when the triumph of King Jesus will be fully revealed. Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: In spite of having seen the destruction and exile of Israel a generation earlier, Judah refuses to turn back as a nation to its covenant obligations to God. Zephaniah reminds Judah that there is no such thing as a second-generation child of God. Every generation must own God’s covenant, not relying on the faith of a previous generation. Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
“Psalms Mix” Readings
This section of the Devo focuses on the passage(s) from Sunday’s sermon. Use it to reflect upon the ways Christ has been working in your life this week. Makes a great midday reflection, or group discussion guide.
“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.”
This is a song of returns. The people who first heard it were hungry, thirsty, and exhausted exiles (v.5) returning to their homeland. But something larger is at work here. There is a worldwide emphasis to this psalm. Redeemed people are being gathered from the north, the east, the west, and the sea (which is what the Hebrew says). What’s going on here?
The history is clearly that of Israel and the literal wanderings, imprisonments, maladies, and sea-terror they faced. But the poetry is clearly a depiction of wholeness, or the complete range of human experience. Four utterly different kinds of people (wanderers, prisoners, the sick, and seafarers), and all of them are us. What we should note then is that every single one gets the same treatment from God. Our focus today is on the redeemed wanderers.
“Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in.”
The Exodus seems in view. There are many things we could focus on here: the “straightness” of the way; their hunger, thirst, and soul-weariness; the desolateness of those desert wastes. But what seems foremost in the psalmist’s mind is the lack of a home. That was, after all, what God promised to his people: a place to call their own. The home from which the worldwide blessing promised to Abraham (Genesis 12) would begin to flow.
But they didn’t have a city-home yet, though.Cities were places of stability, of safety. There’s no protection in a desert waste. Out there you were vulnerable to the attacks of wild beasts, bandits, and the elements. So they cried out to Yahweh in their trouble and He delivered them. He loved them like a Father and led them to earthly cities where they would be safe.
But that’s not the end of the story. You see Israel desired an earthly city, but Hebrews 11:10-16 tells us that their ancestor Abraham, “was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” He too wandered in desert wastes, but he never found an earthly city to call his own. Instead, he desired “a better country, that is a heavenly one” to call his own. That, my friends, is what it means to be a Christian. A Christian is a person who sets their hope entirely upon the steadfast love of God.
That, by the way, is how the first refrain of the psalm ends: thanking God for his steadfast love in action. You might say, then, that Christians are people whose longing and hungry souls have been satisfied and filled with the good things of that eternal city where God dwells in the midst of his people after the last tear falls and death is no more (Ps. 107:9; Rev. 21:1-5). And until then, we are those who say: “we have no abiding city here, but we seek the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14).
Questions to Ponder: Where have you set your hope? Where is your longing and hungry soul being satisfied?
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.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (Psalm 107:8-9)