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
“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” (Ps. 84:10)
Prayer of Confession
Purposeful God, there is a definite grain to the universe, a way this world works, a holy and common wisdom that shines in what you have created and how you continue to handle it. Give me the good sense to pay attention to it—to observe, enjoy, learn from, and live it. Amen. (Prayer based on the Belgic Confession, Question 2 and the Westminster Confession 5.1)
*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 60 | Read John 1
- 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 59 | Read 2 Kings 13
- 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 3:1-10
Again and again in the story of Jonah we find that God does not respond the way our wayward human hearts anticipate that he will. The king’s question lingers in our minds: Will God turn and relent? How does this repentance thing work? And what kind of God is he anyway? Is he like everyone else that we’ve known throughout our lives? Temperamental? Emotionally volatile? Given to sudden changes of heart?
The answer to our questions at first seems to be a neon-sign-sized YES! “When God saw what they did…God relented/repented of the disaster…” (3:10). But, if God has seemingly arbitrary changes of heart, then he’s just as unpredictable like the pagan gods that fill up my children’s mythology books, right? What’s going on here?
Biblical scholar, John Mackay, notes,
“The Old Testament does not hesitate to affirm both that God is unchanging, and that he can and does alter his attitude towards people and his way of dealing with them…When God is said to change his mind, matters are viewed from our human perspective. It appears to us that there has been a change in God, but what has in fact changed is our human conduct…God would have been inconsistent if his attitude towards them had remained the same despite the change in their behaviour. God is consistently against sin.”*
Yet we still wonder, “How could God forgive the kind of atrocities that Nineveh committed?” It’s a question that we must also ask ourselves, “How is it that God can forgive the atrocities my own heart commits on a daily basis and the character assassinations I perform on those who wrong me?”
The answer is found in the Hebrew text. Nineveh turned from evil to good (they shubh). But God has no need to turn from evil, and so the Hebrew word used for his relenting is nacham which describes “inward suffering.” French philosopher Jacques Ellul puts it this way, “He takes upon himself the evil which was the wages of man’s sin. He suffers the very suffering which in his justice he should have laid on man. God causes the judgment to fall on himself; this is the meaning of his repenting.”
Richard Phillips sums it up well, “God placed the evil of all those who turn to him on the cross of Christ, so that he might justly repent of his holy obligation to condemn us, all because of the merciful grace that calls us to believe and repent.”
REFLECT: God’s mercy shows up in some incredible ways throughout Jonah, but this one always leaves me filled with a sense of wonder at the lengths to which God would go to redeem us. Spend some time in that wonder today. Pray. Thank God for his relentless grace.
*Mackay’s commentary is very accessible and well worth reading, if you’re ever looking for a helpful commentary on Jonah, btw!
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 peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)