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: “Christian churches are not, as a rule, model communities of good behavior. They are, rather, places where human misbehavior is brought out in the open, faced, and dealt with. The letter of James shows one of the church’s early pastors skillfully going about his work of confronting, diagnosing, and dealing with areas of misbelief and misbehavior that had turned up in congregations committed to his care.” 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?
We have been exploring what it means to go. Today’s devo from The Reservoir calls our attention to the fact that this “going” and “being” and “following” of Christ is a way of life, not just a religious practice that brings comfort.
Read: Acts 5:12-21a We must also “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” What is the object of our quest? The Church? Heaven? No; we are to seek God’s righteousness—His sway, His rule, His reign in our lives. — George Eldon Ladd
Today we find the apostles just months after they abandoned Jesus in his hour of greatest need. Yet here they are,emboldened by the resurrection and filled with the Holy Spirit, working miracles and being arrested for the sake of the gospel. There in prison, an angel opens the doors, frees them, and charges them to go to the temple and speak. Pay attention in verse 20 to what the angel says they are to speak. It can be translated, “all the words of this Life” or “the whole message about this way of life.”
The Christian faith is about becoming like Jesus in all of life. The good news of Jesus isn’t only about his death and resurrection. That is the foundation, to be sure—apart from which we have no hope. But the whole message is more: Jesus has died and risen to make the kingdom of God available to us now and forever. He has made possible a new way of living, a new life in and through and with him.
1. Today’s passage lines up with the Great Commission: “Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20 The Message). What “all” did Jesus command? What is “the whole message about this life” (Acts 5:20)?
2. Why was there such opposition against the apostles preaching this life? What were the religious leaders afraid of?
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)