• calebharlan

Daily Devotionals: Sept. 7 - Sept. 11

Updated: Sep 7




Session 1 Content: The Unhurried Life


This first session we are pursuing an Unhurried Life. There will be four weeks of biblical teaching on finding rest in a chaotic world. Along with the weekly teachings we will have weekly small group discussion based on chapters taken from several books, daily devotionals, prayer prompts, and daily and weekly practices. All of these things will tie together and hopefully engage your heart, mind and hands: what we love, what we think about and what we do.


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Why Do Devotionals?

Devotionals are different then time of study. Devotions are like a stairwell: a set aside time where we bring ourselves to God and we meditate on God's Word, where He has revealed Himself to us. We bring our emotions, our hurts, our sins, and our petitions to God, in prayer, and we read Scripture to learn of His Merciful and Just character. His word speaks to us today if we give ourselves the space to listen.


Every day we will encourage you to read through Old Testament (OT) passages and New Testament (NT) passages as a way to know Scripture and saturate yourself in God's Word. This is not a time to intensely study everything within those passage, but simply to read them to better know God and His Word. In addition we will highlight a Psalm which we encourage you to meditate on, answer questions for, and even read a short devotional (most of which are not original to us) that goes with it.


We hope this time blesses you.

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Sept. 7


OT Reading: Exodus 1-2 (see video of Exodus at the bottom of the page)

NT Reading: Colossians 1:1-14 (see video of Colossians at the bottom of the page)


Psalm 139:1-6

1 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. 5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.


1. How is God portrayed in this psalm?

2. Read the psalm again: How does this psalm speak to your current situation (i.e., what you are facing/feeling/etc.)?

3. Read the psalm one more time: What word, phrase, or verse would you like to speak back to God as your response/answer?


"David was both the greatest king of ancient Israel and one of its greatest theologians as well. We see this illustrated in Psalm 139:1–12, which contains some of the most significant teaching on God’s omniscience and omnipresence in all of Scripture.We see in vv. 7–12 a focus on divine omnipresence, which means that God is present everywhere in His creation. As David writes, there is no place where we can hide from the Lord. When he asks where he can flee from the presence of the Creator (v. 7), the answer expected is “nowhere,” a truth Jonah learned the hard way when he attempted to run away from God (Jonah 1–2). From the highest heights to the lowest depths, from land to sea—we can never get away from the Lord. Moreover, God’s omnipresence does not mean that part of Him is present here and part of Him is present there. He is fully present everywhere in the universe, though He does not make His presence felt as strongly in some places as He does in others. For example, under the old covenant, God was no less present in Assyria than He was in the tabernacle and temple. Nevertheless, He made His presence felt in Israel’s sanctuary in a special way that He did not make it felt elsewhere (Ex. 40:34–38; 2 Chron. 7:1–3).


Verses 1–6 emphasize divine omniscience—the fact that God knows everything. In the psalm, the Lord’s knowledge is depicted in personal, intimate terms. He is thoroughly acquainted with all of David’s ways. His knowledge extends even to the future—before David speaks a word, our Creator knows what He will say (vv. 1–5).


John Calvin issues a warning to us in his commentary on today’s passage: “Many when they hear God spoken of conceive of him as like unto themselves, and such presumption is most condemnable. Very commonly they will not allow his knowledge to be greater than what comes up to their own apprehensions of things.” We must not think of the Lord’s knowledge as being of the same kind as ours. Divine omniscience does not mean merely that God knows a whole lot more than we do. Yes, the quantity of God’s knowledge is greater than ours, but His knowledge is also qualitatively di’erent from ours. For example, our knowledge is not determinative of reality. Our knowing that apples are red does not make them red. The Lord’s knowledge, however, does determine reality. Divine foreknowledge with respect to salvation illustrates this. When Paul says God foreknew those whom He would justify (Rom. 8:29), He means that the Lord determined whom He would justify." - Ligoneir Ministries


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Sept. 8

OT Reading: Exodus 3-4

NT Reading: Colossians 1:15-29


Psalm 139:7-12


6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.


1. How is God portrayed in this psalm?

2. Read the psalm again: How does this psalm speak to your current situation (i.e., what you are facing/feeling/etc.)?

3. Read the psalm one more time: What word, phrase, or verse would you like to speak back to God as your response/answer?


“Theologian Paul Tillich said it is the reality of our human condition to run from God, to be on our own, to live in the world as if God were not here. But Tillich wrote, “To flee into darkness in order to forget God is not to escape God. For a time we may be able to hurl God out of our consciousness, to reject God, to refute God, to argue convincingly for God’s nonexistence, [or] to live comfortably without God.”


Ultimately, Tillich argued, it is not God whom we reject and forget, but rather some distorted picture of God. The God who is really God is inescapable. There is finally “no place to which we can run or flee from God which is outside of God”


Biblical faith boldly proclaims the inescapable presence of God in Psalm 139:7-12. Do a careful study of vv. 7-12 in the larger context of the psalm as a prayer for God’s help against enemies or persecutors. The point of these verses is that there is nowhere that one can hide or escape from the presence of God. God is ever present and everywhere present. Even though we may “flee” God out of fear, guilt, or doubt, God is still there. That may sound scary, but it is good news. God is there to “lead us” and to “hold us fast.” There is great peace and comfort in that. The spirit of this psalm is not fear but trust—the trust that nothing can separate us from the loving presence of God. Wherever we go, whatever happens to us, God is there. And He knows us intimately. He see’s our scars, our sins, our pain, and loves us still. Deeply loves us.


So why do we run from God? What takes us away from God? For many people in an affluent, technological culture like ours, it is easy for material things and the consumption of things to take center stage. Money, success, or an obsession with our image easily lead to the assumption that we are self-made masters of our own destiny. God isn’t necessary. Or God is far down the list of our priorities. Material things become the focus. Sometimes people also run from distorted pictures of God or from the church. They have been hurt or wounded by bad theology or by people in the church who have abused them. They may have been taught distorted images of God which might include: a God of unrelieved wrath and judgment, a God of fear, rigid rules, legalism. Grace can be easily lost or minimized. Distorted pictures of God and unhealthy or abusive churches have done much damage to people. Sometimes we run from God because we’re running from distorted views of God.


So what do we do with this? If even in our sinful and pitiful state, we are known, and loved by a gracious Father (read Exodus 34:6-7 to fully see his character of love) then we do what the Prodigal Son did. We arise and go to the Father.” - Theology of Work Ministry


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Sept. 9

OT Reading: Exodus 5-6

NT Reading: Colossians 2:1-15


Psalm 139:13-18


13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.


1. How is God portrayed in this psalm?

2. Read the psalm again: How does this psalm speak to your current situation (i.e., what you are facing/feeling/etc.)?

3. Read the psalm one more time: What word, phrase, or verse would you like to speak back to God as your response/answer?


"Without a doubt, Augustine of Hippo is the most significant of all the church fathers of the West. His thought has impacted not only the entire course of Western theology but also Western philosophy, psychology, and other disciplines. In redeeming Augustine, God gave us a great thinker and pastor.


Augustine, who was born in AD 354, left many works in which he explores the depths of sin, free will, the doctrine of the Trinity, and the sacraments, to name but a few. His musings on the nature of wickedness are especially illuminating, as in the case when he recounts his theft of some pears during his youth. Augustine noted that he could understand why a starving person would steal food — hunger drives him to take from others to feed himself. Of course, Augustine was not excusing the behavior; he was only explaining that theft of food in the case of starvation has some kind of rational basis. Yet Augustine said he was not hungry when he stole the pears, and, moreover, he did not really like pears to begin with. In other words, he did evil for the thrill of doing evil. Such is the degree and irrationality of sin.

Long before John Calvin wrote the same thing in the first chapter of his Institutes, Augustine said that to know God we must know ourselves, and at the same time we cannot know ourselves unless we know God. This is no contradiction; Augustine is only showing how knowledge of self and knowledge of God are reciprocal. When we honestly examine ourselves, we come face to face with the fact that we are creatures, giving us a sense of our Creator in His transcendent majesty. Yet such knowledge of ourselves is not complete unless we study God’s character. In learning who He is, we learn more about ourselves in relation to Him; thus, we gain a fuller understanding of our own dispositions, both the excellencies of which we are capable and the depths of our depravity.


Knowledge, Augustine said, is based on an ultimate standard of truth. We begin to know our wickedness and excellence only because we can compare ourselves to the perfectly holy God. In like manner, the acquisition of learning in any area is possible only through relating data to the final measure of truth." - Ligonier Ministries


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Sept. 10

OT Reading: Exodus 7-8

NT Reading: Colossians 2:16-3:17


Psalm 139:19-22


19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! 20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? 22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.


1. How is God portrayed in this psalm?

2. Read the psalm again: How does this psalm speak to your current situation (i.e., what you are facing/feeling/etc.)?

3. Read the psalm one more time: What word, phrase, or verse would you like to speak back to God as your response/answer?


"A few things to consider:

1. These verses are in the category of “imprecatory psalms,” which include Psalm 5:10; 10:15; 28:4; 31:17–18; 35:4–6; 40:14–15; 58:6–11; 69:22–28; 109:6–15; 139:19–22; 140:9–10. They call down divine curses and express hatred for the enemies of God.

2. Consider that, in some of these psalms, love for the enemy has been pursued for a long time. “They requite me evil for good. . . . When they were sick, I wore sackcloth” (Psalm 35:12–13). “In return for my love they accuse me, even as I make prayer for them. So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love” (109:4–5). Though unexpressed, this may be the case for all the psalms. The wickedness in view has resisted love.

3. Hatred may be moral repugnance, not personal vengeance. This is not the same as saying, “Hate the sin and love the sinner” (which is good counsel, but not all there is to say). There is a kind of hate for the sinner (viewed as morally corrupt and hostile to God) that may coexist with pity and even a desire for their salvation. You may hate spinach without opposing its good use.

4. But there may come a point when wickedness is so persistent and high-handed and God-despising that the time of redemption is past and there only remain irremediable wickedness and judgment. For example, Jesus speaks of unforgivable sin (Matthew 12:32) and John says there is sin that is “unto death” and adds, “I do not say that one should pray for this” (1 John 5:16). And Paul says, “If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be accursed” (1 Corinthians 16:22). This imprecation is like the Psalms, and assumes that there comes a point of such extended, hardened, high-handed lovelessness toward God that it may be appropriate to call down anathema on it.

5. The imprecatory Psalms were not avoided by Jesus. At least one of the most severe of them (Psalm 69) seems to have been a favorite from which Jesus, in his human nature, drew guidance and encouragement and self-understanding. (John 15:25 = Psalm 69:4, “They hated me without cause.” John 2:17 = Psalm 69:9, “Zeal for your house has eaten me up.” Matthew 27:24 = Psalm 69:21, “They gave me gall for my food.”) This is a Psalm which prays, “Pour out your indignation on them, and let your burning anger overtake them” (Psalm 69:24).

6. The apostle Paul quoted the very imprecatory words of Psalm 69:22–23 in Romans 11:9–10 as having Old Testament authority. This means Paul regarded the very words of imprecation as inspired and not sinful, personal words of vengeance.

7. Paul read the imprecatory Psalms as the words of Christ, spoken prophetically by David, the type of Christ. We can see this from the fact that David’s words in one imprecatory psalm (Psalm 69:9) are quoted by Paul as the words of Christ in Romans 15:3, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” The implication, then, is that David spoke in these Psalms as God’s inspired anointed king, prefiguring the coming King and Messiah, who has the right to pronounce final judgment on his enemies and will do so, as the whole Bible teaches.

Conclusion

We will grant to the psalmist (usually David), who speaks, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, as the foreshadowed Messiah and Judge, the right to call down judgment on the enemies of God. This is not personal vindictiveness. It is a prophetic execution of what will happen at the last day when God casts all his enemies into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). We would do well to leave such final assessments to God, and realize our own corrupt inability to hate as we ought. While there is unforgivable sin for which we are not to pray (see #4 above), we are told to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us, and return good for evil (as David did, see #2 above). This is our vocation by faith. Let us tremble and trust God, lest we fail, and find ourselves on the other side of the curse." - Desiring God Ministries


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Sept. 11

OT Reading: Exodus 9-10

NT Reading: Colossians 3:18-4:18


Psalm 139:23-24


23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.


1. How is God portrayed in this psalm?

2. Read the psalm again: How does this psalm speak to your current situation (i.e., what you are facing/feeling/etc.)?

3. Read the psalm one more time: What word, phrase, or verse would you like to speak back to God as your response/answer?


Anxiety is not a new feeling. Do we live in a anxiety filled time? Yes. But anxiety has been around since the beginning of time. When we eat from a tree that we were not designed to eat from, wanting to have life under our control though we are not capable of controlling it, we will be anxious. What does tomorrow bring me? What do these people think of me? What if I fail that test? What if ___? There is a lot to say about anxiety. But notice what the Psalm does and doesn't pray. He does not ask that the Lord cure him of his anxious thoughts. What does he do? He brings the Lord into his anxious thoughts.


This different is revolutionary. Imagine having this sort of prayer conversation in the midst of your anxiety. I don't know about you, but when I'm feeling anxious I often believe that the Lord doesn't want anything to do with me in that place of anxiety. I often retreat into guilt mode, that my anxiety must be a sin and the Lord doesn't want to meet me in that place. So what happens? The anxiety magnifies. I'm left in the darkness and shame and anxiety and everything else grows in the darkness. In this Psalm, David has rehearsed the truths about God over and over. He is known, protected, pursued, and cherished. Because of these truths he knows that even in His anxious thoughts, the Lord must too be there. So he prays: "know my anxious thoughts." And it's in that prayer, it's in bringing your true self to God where He meets us and leads us.


If you're feeling anxious today, the invitation of David is to name it and bring God into it. Ask that He would know your anxiety and lead you in it, not take you out of it.


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