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
The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him. (Habakkuk 2:20)
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.
Gracious Father, we confess that we often cling to the idol of self-sufficiency. We conceal our weakness and faults, presenting only our best sides to one another. In doing so, we obscure the beauty of Your grace in our relationships and community. We hide behind our schedules and personalities as excuses to serve ourselves and neglect our neighbors. O Lord, cover our sin with the blood of Jesus. 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 20 | Read John 12
- 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: In deliberate parallel to the opening words of Genesis, John presents God as speaking salvation into existence. This time God’s word takes on human form and enters history in the person of Jesus. Jesus speaks the word and it happens: forgiveness and judgment, healing and illumination, mercy and grace, joy and love, freedom and resurrection. Everything broken and fallen, sinful and diseased, called into salvation by God’s spoken word. Jesus, in this account, not only speaks the word of God; he is the Word of God. Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
Pray Psalm 21 | Read Exodus 30
- OT Context: The Exodus is a powerful and dramatic and true story of God working salvation. The story has generated an extraordinary progeny through the centuries as it has reproduced itself in song and poem, drama and novel, politics and social justice, repentance and conversion, worship and holy living. It continues to capture the imagination of men and women, especially men and women in trouble. It is significant that God does not present us with salvation in the form of an abstract truth, or a precise definition or a catchy slogan, but as story. 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 15:10-20 + Daniel 12:3
The themes of soil and seeds, plants and weeds, sowing and harvesting are prominent in Jesus’ teaching. This imagery would have danced in the most realistic of motions across their imaginations. The sower scattering seed across his field. The plow tearing a gash into the crusted toil layer of earth before entombing the seed in the nutrient rich soil beneath. These were the activities and rhythms that gave shape to their days.
So even when Jesus moves on from a parable the images would have lingered in the ether of their minds and hearts, now awakened, alert to the true nature of the kingdom of heaven. They could get in on this! The more Jesus taught, the more the crowds were drawn to him. Maybe it’s because here was a religious teacher with whom they could really relate. Or maybe it’s because of what he promised to all those who are weary and need a rest: “I will give you rest…I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your weary souls…” (Matthew 11:28-30).
This is the heart of Christ for sinners and sufferers; ragamuffins and prodigals. These are the folks who would have found comfort in Jesus’ words in Matthew 15: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth…” Jesus says this because the Pharisees have just confronted him because the disciples are lax in their observance of Jewish law (washing their hands) and because they freely associated with sinners.
His words offended the religious leaders. Jesus casually replies, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Leave them alone. They are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both fall into a pit.” He doesn’t seem too concerned about them or their rules. Such are all man made rules in the kingdom of heaven where what matters most is the condition of your heart.
Eugene Peterson perfectly captures Jesus’ explanation of where evil comes from, “It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That’s what pollutes.” We have two options in this life. We can add to the pollution of our own and others’ hearts, or we can become what Daniel 12:3 describes the righteous as becoming: stars rising up out of the smog, bound for the heavens, burning brighter with each day for all eternity.
Contemplate: Jesus makes it pretty clear that it’s not the exterior that matters to him, it’s our hearts. How should this cultivate in a us a desire to chuck everything else and wholeheartedly follow him?
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.
You have put gladness in my heart, more than when grain and wine and oil increase. I lie down in peace; at once I fall asleep; for only you, Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:7-8)