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
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. (Isaiah 58:8-9)
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.
O God, grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 832)
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 56 | Read Acts 9
- 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: The story of Jesus doesn’t end with Jesus. It continues in the lives of those who believe in him. The supernatural does not stop with Jesus. Acts makes it clear that these Christians Luke wrote about were no more spectators of Jesus than Jesus was a spectator of God—they are in on the action of God, God acting in them, God living in them. Which also means, of course, in us.
Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
Pray Psalm 57 | Read Leviticus 8
- OT Context: “Holy” is the word that sets God apart and above our attempts to enlist him in our wish-fulfillment. The first thing that strikes us as we read Leviticus in this light is that this holy God is actually present with us and virtually every detail of our lives is affected by the presence of this holy God; nothing in us, our relationships, or environment is left out. The second thing is that God provides a way (the sacrifices and feasts and Sabbaths) to bring everything in and about us into his holy presence, transformed in the fiery blaze of the holy. Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
This section of the Devo focuses on the passage(s) for Sunday’s sermon. Go ahead and read the following passage(s) and use the Parables Reading Plan + Study Guide to journal what stands out and what you have questions about in the passages. Below is a helpful commentary that can help to fill in the gaps.
Read: Luke 14:28-32 + Proverbs 24:3, 6, 27
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Our parable this week centers on discipleship. Jesus follows up his well known saying about “taking up one’s cross and following him” with two parables in the form of questions (What kind of builder…?; What king…?). Both questioning parables expect the same response: No builder and no king would go about their business without adding up what their actions would cost them.
So too, Jesus says, should those who are considering following him. It’s not a question of whether or not we are gritty enough to follow Christ. That’s not the true measure of Christian faith. Ray Ortlund once said,
“If you ever think, ‘I’m really not good at following Jesus, I’m not good at believing in Jesus, I don’t have the knack for it. If you ever feel like quitting…real Christianity is not us proving to Jesus that we have what it takes. Real Christianity is Jesus proving to us time after time that He has what it takes for us.”
How do we know that grit isn’t what Jesus is talking about here in these parables? Well, remember, earlier in our chapter Jesus has continued to teach in a way that challenged the social assumptions and practices of the day. He begins by going to a house party of a Pharisee where he says to his host, “Don’t throw parties for only those who can advance your career and social standing.” Then he goes on to tell a story about party where nobody who was invited came. They all made excuses, so the man invites total strangers, the vulnerable, anyone who can be found and isn’t “too busy.” His large point is clear: If you want to be part of God’s kingdom, you don’t need to have any special qualification. You just have to be a warm body ready to say, “I’m just glad to be at the party.”
Now, notice what Jesus says about the builder and the king. No special qualifications: they just are planning out what it’s going to take in order to see things through.
What does it take to become a Christian? Well it seems that all you really need to be is available and willing to be honest with yourself about what you need. Jesus’ final words summarize it well: You have to be willing to renounce all that you have in order to follow Jesus.
However, the moment you realize that you haven’t brought anything to the table after all, that you are just like the blind beggars and poor cripples (Luke 14:21), then it’s pretty easy to say with the old hymn: “Nothing in my hands I bring / Simply to the cross I cling / Naked, come to Thee for dress / Helpless, look to Thee for grace…”
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 my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2)