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
Yours is the day, yours also the night;you have established the heavenly lights and the sun. You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;you have made summer and winter (Psalm 74:16-17).
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.
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:8, 10-12).
Compassionate and gracious Lord, for your patience and enduring love we adore you; for your “not-dealing-with-us-according-to-our-sins” we thank you; for your miraculous removal of our willful rebellion against you, we worship you.
It is because of these gifts of grace and the mystery of your mercy that we gladly take the low place of confession before you.
Forgive us for cultivating conflict over pursuing peace. Forgive us for vegging away our pain instead of processing it through prayer. Forgive us for demanding our rights rather than giving them up in service of others (Phil. 2) Forgive us for being easily satisfied by lesser loves in place of your lovingkindness that is “as high as the heavens are above the earth.”
For these things and more, we say, “Have mercy, Lord, on us. Have mercy on me 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: What does it mean to be secure in Christ? Peter challenges Christians to look for the hope that Christ provides as the apostle addresses conduct within and outside of the church. Meditate on the passage. What new insight have you received?
OT Context: Listing a large amount of sins, Micah tells Israel that Babylon and Assyria will be God’s instruments of judgment against them. Yet in the midst of this, Micah speaks of a Shepherd King who will gather and lead a remnant forward. As you reflect on the passage, pray its truths into your heart.
“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 32:8-9
A new speaker enters into the psalm. It’s none other than Yahweh himself! Here again is a unique feature of the psalms in the journey of faith. God shows up in the middle of this community confession time to say that He will show us the way to go; that He will “counsel” us “with his eye upon” us. Those two phrases are a consistent theme throughout the psalter.
Psalm 25, for example, says that God instructs both sinners and those who fear Him “in the ways they should choose.” Fearing God, by the way, is not being scared of him, but rather, as Tim Keller notes,
“bowing before him out of amazement at his glory and beauty…you find him ‘fearfully beautiful.’ That is why the more we experience God’s grace and forgiveness, the more we experience a trembling awe and wonder before the greatness of all that he is and has done for us.”
Like a father watching over his children as they play in the backyard, Psalm 33:18 tells us, Yahweh (translated LORD) keeps his eye “on those who fear him, on those who hope in his hesed (steadfast love).” The combined imagery of Verses 8 and 9 has a familial feel to it. There’s tenderness in God’s instruction. He promises to teach and give direction to his people like a father gently passing on wisdom about how life is best lived with God.
There’s also an invitation: “Don’t be like a horse or a mule that needs a bit and bridle to get it to go where you want.” Did you read that as an invitation? Because it is. What’s God saying? He’s inviting you to go beyond mere forgiveness to a real relationship with him. A real friendship of the sort the he had with Moses and Abraham (Ex. 33:11; James 2:23) and promises through Jesus Christ to all who believe in Him.
We as humans have a tendency to live as we should only if we have to, out of self-interest. The potential social, relational, or criminal consequences keep counsel, keep their eye upon, and teach us the way we should go. Step out of line and there will be consequences! But notice how different relationship with God is meant to be. He doesn’t want us to be like stubborn animals that need to be controlled by force. Instead, He made us to love and obey Him because we want to, out of love for him, the One who counsels us directly.
How do you receive God’s counsel? The same way you would receive it from a friend: by talking with Him. God has already initiated the conversation by the words in Scripture which He has used to reveal himself to us. Prayer is how we answer God. We take the words that God has already spoken and, like a good listener, we use them to give shape to our response in prayer. Prayers of confession like this psalm are responsive too. They lead us to look at the costly love of Jesus until we are truly sorry, not just for the consequences of our sin, but for the sin itself. It’s only then that our sin will lose its power over us.
Questions to Ponder:
Are you being responsive to what God is teaching you? How do you find that influences your confession of sin? Does it make it harder or easier? Why do you suppose that is?
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.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25)