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
My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! (Psalm 108:1-2)
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, we confess that we do not live up to the family name. We are more ready to resent than to forgive, more ready to manipulate than to serve, more ready to fear than to love, more ready to keep our distance than to welcome, more ready to compete than to help. At the root of this behavior is mistrust and self-love. We do not love one another as we should, because we do not believe that you love us as you do.
Forgive us our cold unbelief. Show us what it cost you to give up your Son that we might become your sons and daughters. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our only righteousness. 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).
Pray Psalm 128 | Read Revelation 4
- 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.
Pray Psalm 129 | Read Haggai 1
- OT Context: Haggai prophesied to the people of Jerusalem after they had returned from Babylon, but before they rebuilt the temple. The city of Jerusalem lay in ruins. Haggai, together with Zephaniah, called upon the people to stop focusing on on their own economic well-being, and to complete the temple. 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.
Read Psalm 107:10-16
Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death…”
As we have seen, Psalm 107 describes four groups of people who are historically Israel and poetically representative of all of us. Here in the second stanza we hear the story of some prisoners who get set free from a prison and shackles made with their own hands. They had rebelled against God’s reign and “spurned (despised) God’s wise counsel.” The price they payed was heavy — darkness, toil, and bondage, with no way out.
As you read, you immediately realize that there is more than mere physical imprisonment going on here. Their hearts have become dark prisons filled with deathly shadows. What they to be delivered from is not so much a mortar and stone prison (though they may need that too!), but a spiritual one. These people know they owe their allegiance to God, but “they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:18). There doesn’t seem to be much hope for these folks, but remember that each portrait in this psalm turns on God’s hesed (steadfast love) showing up and doing the unexpected, the impossible.
So here’s the unexpected turn. Who’s prison is this? Here you have these imprisoned rebels who have preferred the darkness of their own thinking to the radiance of God’s wisdom. They’ve broken the law of God, so what does God do? “he bowed their hearts down with hard labor…” Suddenly we realize that they are in God’s prison. It’s His iron chains they are shackled in. And they know it. So they “cry out” to Yahweh. They repent. And then something strange happens, at least for a prison. God carries them out of their dark cells and tears their shackles off. Psalm 107 is a bit of a paradigm buster for our one dimensional religious conceptions of God.
On the one hand, He is not just this big loving God who says, “Well, it’s alright, we’re pals, let’s just let bygones be bygones.” No, says the psalmist. God is the one who put them there. But, on the other hand, God is not a tyrant king who says to earnest cries of repentance, “What are you talking about? I can’t let you out. You’re guilty!”
Something we have no right to expect happening is about to happen. God is about to do the impossible. He’s going to both the One who put them in prison and the one who breaks them out. How? Keller notes, “The psalmist had no idea how it could be, and yet he was still transformed by it.” But we do know how it happened! It happened on the cross. That’s how God can take us out of the deathly shadow of our sin and bring us home. And if we know that, then we can have even greater joy than the psalmist! Joy and laughter at the absurd, impossible love of our God should ever be on our lips! So come on! What are you waiting for? “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so!”
Questions to Ponder:
Take a few moments today to remember and to smile over God’s absurd, impossible love for you in Christ. Thank him for it. Delight in it. And then go and tell someone else about it!
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.
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! (Psalm 107:14-15)