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 loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.” (Ps. 33:5)
Prayer of Confession
Merciful God, give me the grace to admit, every day, that I am the sinner, that I stand guilty before you. When the latest spiritual fad promises me the key to finding real life, let me calmly pass by that advice and come back to the simple truth that I am a sinner you freely forgive for the sake of Jesus Christ my Savior. Amen. (Prayer based on the Heidelberg Catechism, Question 83)
*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 30 | Read Luke 10
- 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 31 | Read 1 Kings 22
- 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
God hurled the storm at Jonah not to destroy him but to rescue him from his self-righteousness. Call it what you like, “a severe mercy,” “divine chastisement,” or even “nautically-themed divine correction” (a personal favorite of mine), but the reality is that God is the one who sends the storm.
Sit with that for a minute.
People love attributing the good things in their lives to the Almighty but here we have God brining something pretty disastrous into the life of one of his servants. Jonah himself confesses to the mariners that the storm is meant for him and when, after a brief stint in the sea, Jonah presumably finds himself pocketed away inside the fish, he concludes that perhaps God really was merciful to send not only the storm but the gargantuan fish as well however cramped his quarters may have been.
What should we take away from this?
First, I think Jonah’s story should encourage us. As the British theologian Peter Williams notes, “God sometimes allows us to think that we can hide from him and evade his demands in order to teach us how much we need him, and how much he loves us. For he never gives up on us and will pursue us until we are drawn back to himself.”
Second, I believe that we should pay closer attention to what God is teaching through our pain. Jonah’s distress came from his disobedience to God. It’s self-inflicted. However not all distress has this origin. Think of Job who experiences distress not because he’s sinned against God but rather because he’s been faithful (this is the very reason that the Accuser requests to test Job).
And yet, both Job and Jonah draw incorrect conclusions about their God. Job concludes that God is a tyrant who doesn’t care about his creation or justice. Jonah seems to draw a similar conclusion, though from a very different starting point than Job’s true friendship with God. By the end of the book Job is transformed. His friendship with God is restored and he knows his divine friend far better than before. Jonah on the other hand is more open ended but I hold out hope that anyone who was willing to tell a story where he’s clearly in the wrong, just might be someone whose heart was finally, at long last transformed by grace.
REFLECT: When in your life have you experienced a storm? In what ways did it transform you? As you look back, can you trace the lines of God’s grace to you in the midst of it all?
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 those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)