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
“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” (Ps. 40:1-2)
Prayer of Confession
Inviting Father, you have laid down the invitation of a lifetime: to ask you for anything. A long list of things I think I want easily comes to mind, but let my prayers wisely be for what you want—for all that I might never dare ask and couldn’t even dream of wanting but trust is good because it is from you. Amen. (Prayer based on the Heidelberg Catechism, Question 118)
*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 36 | Read Luke 13
- 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 37 | Read 2 Kings 2
- 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 Fall our sermon series is in Jonah. Follow along here as we explore this work of literary genius (it is really multilayered and complex) and theological profundity (we discover much about the nature of God, humans, and redemption in just 4 chapters)
READ: Jonah 2:1-7
Yesterday we noted that Jonah is more complex than we sometimes give him credit for being. His distress and words are both filled up with the reality of what it means to be human. We are walking paradoxes. But here’s the good news! Nothing makes us a greater walking paradox than God pouring is grace out upon us.
And that’s just what happens to Jonah! He becomes a walking (technically submarining) paradox of God’s lovingkindness being poured out on those who have no right to expect it! How? How does this happen?
Something happens to Jonah as he is sinking down toward what he presumes will be his end in the depths of the sea. He’s rescued by a divinely appointed fish and while he awaits his fate he begins talking to Yahweh again. We’ll get to the significance of his words tomorrow, but for today let’s notice what’s happening. This is a turning point in the story. Everything hinges on whether or not Jonah is rescued not only from the belly of this fish, but also from himself, from his inward opposition to God’s grace.
It’s like that moment in Casablanca when the patrons of Rick’s cafe drown out the Nazi’s hymn with Marseillaise, but the most powerful moment comes as the camera pans to Yvonne, a young French woman, who has compromised herself by fraternizing with the Nazis. But something has changed in her. The moment the band strikes up the French national anthem, she realizes just how far she’d fallen, she realizes that she’d rather die as a true Frenchwoman than live as a traitor. Tears stream as she sings along with her countrymen. Her life is forfeit but her conscience is clear.
Ray Ortlund comments, “Redemption is beautiful. To see a new human being rise from wreckage is moving. The gospel is about redemptive newness for you and me. But the difference between redemption in Casablanca and redemption in the Bible is that the stories in the Bible do not inspire us to redeem ourselves. The gospel offers redemption by God.”
The same thing seems to be happening with Jonah. A new Jonah begins to rise in the belly of that fish. He’s not completely transformed. He’s still filled with prejudice, but he sees himself for what he’s become: a traitor to his God, and he says, “It is better to die with my sins forgiven than to hold onto the self-righteousness that has plunged me into these depths.”
REFLECT: Redemption is rising in Jonah, and it’s not of his own doing. It’s solely of the Lord. Where in your life is God at work continuing his redemptive work in your life? Take some time today to thank him for his ongoing rescue of us from ourselves.
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 merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)