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
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3)
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.
Jesus, here we are again, desiring a thing, desiring many things, that were we to indulge in, it would war against our own hearts. O Christ, rather let our lives be thine! Take our desires. Let them be subsumed in still greater desire for you, until there remains no room for these lesser cravings. We would rather choose you, Jesus— but we are weak. So be our strength. We are shadowed. Be our light. We are selfish. Unmake us now, and refashion our desires according to the better designs of your love. 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 46 | Read Acts 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: 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 47 | Read Leviticus 3
- 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: Matthew 20:1-16 + Deut 24:14–15 + Psalm 104:22-23
Matthew is the only gospel writer to tell us this agrarian tale about this eccentric vineyard owner (aren’t they all?) and his employees. I think this is because it was significant to him, and to the original Jewish Christian communities in which he pastored. I like to imagine that he recounted this parable of Jesus after Deuteronomy 24 was read in synagogue one day, perhaps as they were at table reflecting on what it means to live justly.
“You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin.” (Deut. 24:14-15)
Day laborers in those days relied upon daily wages in order to buy food for their families that day. God required that they be treated justly. Each of the people hired in Jesus’ tale is one of these daily bread laborers. The one’s hired first arrive and begin working in the cooler morning hours, but as the sun rises higher in the sky, it becomes obvious that more laborers are needed to bring this harvest in, so more sign on , and then again at the eleventh hour a final group of laborers is brought in to finish out the harvest.
The day concludes, the harvest is in, and everyone lines up to receive their pay. Up to this point the tale seems fairly straightforward. The disciples, everyday folk in Matthew’s audience, and the religious leaders all would have been tracking right along right up until the moment Jesus says that the foreman was instructed to pay the last first. It’s a dead giveaway that something surprising is about to happen.
The mood changes in the room. The last are payed for a full day’s work. This kingdom tale is all upside down. Jewish rabbis in those days taught what is familiar from our American work ethic: “You get payed for the work you do. Nothing more. Nothing less.” But perhaps the harvest was really good, and the vineyard owner is simply being generous. Whatever the case, the rest of the workers begin to anticipate a big payday. Visions of what they might do with this windfall begin to dance in their heads, only to come crashing down when a single denarii is placed in their palms.
What gives? One of the early comers cries foul! Matthew says that his eye literally “turned evil” toward the vineyard owner. Remember what Matthew 6:23 says about the eye? This worker is full of darkness. He hates how unfair the landowner has just been. He hates the hesed shown to those who had no right expecting a full day’s wage. But that’s hesed for you: always giving everything to those who have no right to expect anything.
And, when it comes to God, hesed is the key to knowing what he is really like. It’s what we will explore in more depth tomorrow and the rest of the week.
Read Exodus 34:6 and meditate on God’s character. Hesed = steadfast love or lovingkindness. Ask God to help you to see how his hesed changes everything.
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.
Return O my soul to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. (Psalm 116:7)