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
“Shout for joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious.” (Ps. 66:1-2)
Prayer of Confession
Holy God, I confess I’m not far from murder because I see shoots of it snaking through my heart. The ugly wish for another to fail, bitter sarcasm, anger I throw like grenades, even the secretly guarded prejudice I keep locked down. Kill off this ugly root and grow the good fruit of love. In Christ who died for me. Amen. (Prayer based on the Heidelberg Catechism, Question 106)
*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).
Pray Psalm 20 | Read Luke 5
- 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: Luke is a most vigorous champion of the outsider. An outsider himself, the only Gentile in an all-Jewish cast of New Testament writers, he shows how Jesus includes those who typically were treated as outsiders by the religious establishment of the day: women, common laborers (sheepherders), the racially different (Samaritans), the poor. He will not countenance religion as a club. As Luke tells the story, all of us who have found ourselves on the outside looking in on life with no hope of gaining entrance (and who of us hasn’t felt it?) now find the doors wide open, found and welcomed by God in Jesus. Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
Pray Psalm 21 | Read 1 Kings 17
- OT Context: “Sovereignty, God’s sovereignty, is one of the most difficult things for people of faith to live out in everyday routines…This story makes it clear that it was not God’s idea that the Hebrews have a king, but since they insisted, he let them have their way. But God never abdicated his sovereignty to any of the Hebrew kings; the idea was that they would represent his sovereignty, not that he would delegate his sovereignty to them. Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
This week marks our 10th year as a church. So in celebration of God’s faithfulness, we are re-running a series of devotions from the Psalm 13 about God’s faithfulness in his person, promises, and provision.
READ: Psalm 13:1-6
When was the last time you watched a storm roll in? Watched darkness race toward you under wind-driven clouds? Counted the seconds between bursts of light and the air cracking to measure the storm’s distance? A storm’s arrival is inevitable. You can only prepare for its arrival and endure its fury.
The Psalm we have been reading together this week sets us in the middle of a storm. Violent winds have swept into David’s life and all he can do is cry out, “How long…how long…how long?” His anguish is met with silence. No light comes to steer him clear of his trouble. He feels abandoned. Rejected. Alone. No word of answer or comfort falls from heaven.
But heaven did have an answer. David lived and continued to trust in God’s hesed (God’s love, mercy, and goodness unexpectedly lavished on undeserving people). But eventually David’s days would come to an end. He would sleep the sleep of death, just as every generation before him, still holding onto (or being held by) God’s hesed. And generation upon generation would cry out: How long, O Lord, till you “deliver us from all our sin and sorrow?” (Psalm 130:8).
Until one day heaven’s ultimate answer came as the Word became flesh and God’s hesed became human in the person of Jesus Christ.
What happened in Jesus was that David’s questions were finally and fully answered. The silence, rejection, and abandonment by God that we all fear fell on Jesus like a storm. He was crushed for our evils, felt our punishment, and by his wounds we are healed.
Jesus got the full fury of the storm and abandonment David thought he had gotten but hadn’t. He was absolutely and utterly truly abandoned. Why? Why was God’s face turned away from him? The answer is because God wants to forgive us. He wants to pour out his hesed on us. That’s why Jesus slept the sleep of death in our place. He was trounced by our last enemy (1 Cor. 15:25-26), but death could not hold him (Acts 2:24).
Saint Augustine said it well: “He who is our very life came down and took our death upon himself. And then He slew our death by the abundance of his life.” All so that we can “rejoice in God’s salvation” and “sing to the LORD because he has dealt bountifully with us” because of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. How do you respond to that kind of salvation? The way David did! You sing!
Questions to Ponder:
How are you responding to God’s love for you? Are you throwing yourself headlong into his love for you, or are you holding out for something better? Do you feel like you’re in the midst of a storm? Good news! Christ has gone before you into the storm and come out the other side. His love for you ensures that “this is the dark before the dawn, the pain before the balm, the tears before the song.”
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.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)