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 22 | Read Luke 6
- 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 23 | Read 1 Kings 18
- 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 1:3-16
“Within a few minutes of swallowing the prophet Jonah, the whale suffered a severe attack of acid indigestion, and it’s not hard to see why. Jonah had a disposition that was enough to curdle milk.” —Frederick Buechner
Jonah doesn’t get much love from biblical scholars or even the ever-quotable Frederick Buechner. And it’s pretty easy to see why. He’s surly, cowardly, and his tale isn’t told to inspire us so much as to warn us like the old sea-farer’s maps: “Beware! This way be the path of Jonah!”
The trouble with Jonah, though, is that as much as we like to gawk at cautionary tales, we don’t like seeing ourselves in them. They don’t line up with the cinematic vision we’ve crafted for our lives. Reading Jonah is a bit like going to the movie theater expecting to watch a feel good movie only to discover that you’ve stepped into a gritty Cormac McCarthy film.* It’s unsettling and, I suspect, that’s why I’ve heard so many “defenses” of Jonah’s choices over the years. “Sure he shouldn’t have run, but God came to him while he was minding his own business with a heckuva knuckleball…What do you expect the guy to do?”
Why is Jonah’s story so jarring? Why does it make us feel alternatively so self-conscious and self-righteous? Maybe it’s because the author is more than subtly suggesting that we’ve got a bit of Jonah in our own hearts. The whole premise sets us up to be offended as we compare ourselves with the wayward prophet. So maybe the best word of advice for continuing on in our reading is “Beware how much you mock Jonah because your words can and will be used against you by the literary genius who this gospel-tale.”
We’ll see a lot more this week from what it means that God “hurled a great wind” to the mariners’ oddly pious response to Jonah’s uncanny ability to sleep amid this chaotic storm. All this lies ahead but for today let’s do a little “heart work.”
REFLECT: Buechner gives us the image of a person with an acidic personality. Take stock of your emotions over the last week. Think of a moment when anger flared or you felt defensive, offended, or surly enough to curdle milk. How did you respond to that moment? Was grace at the center or self-righteousness. Spend a few minutes processing that with God.
*Side note: I’d love to see Cormac McCarthy write a screenplay based on Jonah. Most of his work already shares similarities from a secular vantage point with the book of Job, so I think he’d be able to handle it. All I’m saying is that a pastor can dream!
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)