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
“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. . . . The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” (Ps. 126:2-3)
Prayer of Confession
Redeemer God, no words of mine are strong enough or deep enough to express my gratitude for all you have done in the glory of your cross.
When my language has pushed its limits, let my love for you and for my neighbor be a poem of praiseto your name;
take my living and make it a joyful noise that others can’t help but join in, to your glory. Amen.
*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: “In his letters to two young associates—Timothy in Ephesus and Titus in Crete—we see Paul encouraging and guiding the development of just such leadership. What he had learned so thoroughly himself, he was now passing on, and showing them, in turn, how to develop a similar leadership in local congregations. This is essential reading because ill-directed and badly formed spiritual leadership causes much damage in souls. Paul in both his life and his letters shows us how to do it right.” Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: “People who want God as an escape from reality, from the often hard conditions of this life, don’t find this much to their liking. But to the man or woman wanting more reality, not less—this continuation of the salvation story—Joshua’s fierce and devout determination to win land for his people and his extraordinary attention to getting all the tribes and their families name by name assigned to their own place, is good news indeed. Joshua lays a firm foundation for a life that is grounded.” Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
Read: Genesis 16
This week we have been reflecting on the story of Hagar. It’s a difficult story to unpack. Today Iain Duguid helps us with some key insights into the story. Let’s read:
Instead of waiting for God’s time…Abram listened to his wife and took her maidservant, Hagar, as a concubine. Documents from the ancient Near East show that this was a regular custom in some societies, and some premarital agreements actually stipulated that a barren wife was to provide her husband with offspring in this way. But the same documents also bear witness to the likely costs of such relationships, providing laws to deal with the situation in which the concubine bears children and falls out of favor with her mistress. In other words, the domestic problems of jealousy, reproaches, and broken relationships that ensued in Abram’s family were common occurrences. Hagar became pregnant and proud, Sarai felt despised and proceeded to make Hagar’s life miserable, and Abram quickly sought to wash his hands of the whole business…
What a mess! Inevitably, the weakest comes out of it the worst. Hagar ran away and headed for her original home in Egypt. She ended up in the wilderness of Shur, on Egypt’s northeastern frontier. This apparently insignificant geographical note draws our attention to a continual undercurrent in the story of Abram: the conflict between the attractions of Egypt and the apparent barrenness of the Promised Land…And now we meet Hagar, whose Egyptian origins are emphasized in the story (16:1, 3). Not surprisingly, she was fruitful, while Sarai was barren. And when living with Abram’s family became intolerable, Hagar headed for Egypt. Hagar herself, in attempting to run away to Egypt, found herself not in a land flowing with milk and honey, but on her own out in the wilderness.
[However,] Hagar was fortunate. In the wilderness, she met a better friend, the angel of the Lord. Like Eve before her, she found that her sin and failure were not the end of the story. The Lord was out there in the wilderness looking for the wanderer. In his gentle but firm approach, the angel of the Lord provided a classic model for evangelism: with a few brief words, he convicted Hagar of her sin of rebellion, pointed out the helplessness of her condition apart from Abram and his house, and assured her of both safe passage on her return and future blessing. Hagar was promised a son who would be great, the first of many descendants. In this gracious encounter by the well, we are reminded of another woman who met the Lord beside a well, the woman of Samaria (John 4). She too found that the Lord saw right through her, even to the depths of her sin, yet was still seeking to turn her into a true worshiper.
Reflect: Hagar certainly had been sinned against. She had been wronged even by ancient standards. But notice that the text emphasizes God meeting her as a friend, an advocate in the wilderness. She goes back but she goes back with the Lord on her side. I love that! It’s what happens to us in the gospel. God meets us in the wilderness of our sin and, though it doesn’t happen overnight, he turns us into true worshippers of him. Spend some time today reflecting how God has met you in the wilderness?
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.
“Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” (Jude 21)