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
But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. (Psalm 59:16)
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.
Our Father in heaven, broken hearts and bodies are part of this life and we are vulnerable to it. You would have us trust you even in the midst of deep pain. We confess that try to heal ourselves by ourselves. Forgive us Lord. Jesus came to bring us into the liberation that only his Spirit brings. The liberation that enables us to entrust our entire being to you. We come to you by faith, asking for help, based on your compassionate heart. We offer ourselves to you. Remake us. Glorify your name. We ask in the name of Jesus Christ, who dwells with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever. 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).
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.
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. Use it to reflect upon the ways Christ has been working in your life this week. Makes a great midday reflection, or group discussion guide. Follow along with our Parables Reading Plan + Study Guideas we all read the Parables every day this Fall.
Read: Matthew 19:16-27 + Leviticus 19:14 + Galatians 5:14
As we have seen this week, entering into the Kingdom of God requires giving up and receiving. Giving up our pride, our self-righteousness, our self-sufficiency, and our self-directed plans in order to receive all that life in God’s Kingdom offers: freedom, joy, a life delighting in God and his purposes.
Today we arrive at a story which echoes this theme of giving up in order to receive the kingdom, and it comes in the form of a rich young man upon whom Jesus has compassion.
Here’s how the story goes: The young man comes to Jesus to ask a flawed question. It’s unlikely that the man knows his question is flawed, but Jesus’ response quickly reveals the separation between their understandings of how a person gets into the kingdom of God.
Take a minute and put yourself in the young man’s shoes. How would you have phrased the question? “Teacher, how does one get into the kingdom of heaven?” “Teacher, who gets into the kingdom of heaven? Those who obey the most, right?”
Note the young man’s phrasing: “what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” It’s clear that, like Peter in yesterday’s passage (Mt. 16:21–26), he is still operating on “old flawed definitions” of God’s Kingdom and what is good. Next comes a little conversation and questioning about which commands the man has kept. He’s kept them all, since childhood! We laugh, but he is “part of “the old orthodoxy that has reduced the law to something that is actually ‘keepable.’”
Mark tells us that in this moment, Jesus looked at him and loved him. I cherish this detail. I need it, in fact, because it gives hope to my own self-righteous heart! The heart of Jesus has deep love and compassion for self-deceived sinners. That’s the good news of the gospel! Out of his love, Jesus responds in a way that engages the imagination, “Good, now go, sell all you have, and give it to the poor!” The man becomes sad. Mike Card concludes, “The sad truth is that he had not kept all the commandments; he had broken the very first one and made money his God.”
Jesus then tells the disciples how hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom. The disciples are shocked. The rich were assumed to have been specially blessed by Yahweh with their wealth. If they can’t get in, then who can? Jesus simply responds that saving is God’s business. “His business is making impossible things possible.”
What is Jesus doing in that moment? He’s revealing the upside-down nature of the economy of grace! God’s grace does the impossible. God’s grace makes our “leaving everything behind” and “selling the farm” seem a small price to pay in comparison. God’s grace leads us home to that farther shore and undying land where all that was “lost” is gained and multiplied a hundred times over!
Contemplate: What surprises you in this story? What is Jesus doing in this story? How is he doing something similar in your life?
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.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure. (Psalm 16:8-9)