Wild Wonder


SUNDAY, February 19
Exodus 24:12-18

I love climbing mountains and the feeling you get when you are on top of a summit—being lost in the wonder of the clouds, creation, and spectacular vistas. 

This text is such an awe-inspiring mountaintop experience for Moses. When you read the passage again, picture yourself ascending the mountain with Moses, waiting for six days, and seeing the glory of the Lord as a “devouring fire.” It is transcendent, wild, and mysterious—yet God comes in such a practical way with the gift of the Law. What a paradox.

What if God wants us to live in a state of wonder in our daily lives? We are reminded in the New Testament that the same God who lit up that mountain is the God who lives inside of us by his Spirit. The wonders of his love are all around us moment by moment. 

Wonderful God, open our eyes and heart to your wonders today. AMEN.



A Hidden Presence

MONDAY, February 20
Matthew 17:1-9

Recently I had the opportunity to summit a 13,000-foot pass in California called the Lamarck Col. On the long, hard hike up, a friend and I spoke about the hiddenness of God in the hard moments of life. We all long for those moments of celebration and victory when we
can easily feel the presence of God. But this passage reminds us that those moments are fleeting. I can relate to Peter’s desire to stay on
the mountaintop for a while.

Most of the ministry of Jesus, however, is not on the mountain. It is down in the valley with people who need him. He shows up in places of suffering and desperation. He shows up with the poor in spirit. The presence of God is hidden in moments of grieving, hardship, and suffering. In those moments God reveals his healing, comfort, and presence. 

Lord, give us eyes to see where you are present in surprising places and moments. AMEN


The Shining Lamp

TUESDAY, February 21
2 Peter 1:16-21

We live in a dark world. On a camping trip last fall I was reminded of the necessity of light for survival. We arrived at a campsite just before sundown, and I quickly realized I needed to find my flashlight to find water, make fire, make dinner, and set up camp. I literally would not survive without help from a small flashlight. Light is life.

The truth of God’s Word is a lamp shining in a dark place. The psalmist tells us that his Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path (119:105). Peter reminds us in this passage that we will do well to “be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place” (v. 19, NRSV)—that Jesus is truly the Lord, the Light of life, the way, the truth, the life. In a world of deep confusion and division, Jesus is an anchor for our souls that we can rely on and trust to bring light to our lives. 

God, we praise you today for the light you bring through your Word. AMEN.



Invitation to the Uncomfortable

WEDNESDAY, February 22
Psalm 51:1-9

I don’t like pain, and most days I try to avoid it. To be honest, I am addicted to comfort. But Ash Wednesday is an invitation into the uncomfortable reality that we are all mortal, that we all face death,
that we came from dust and will return to dust. This is the start of a season to lean into the discomfort of confession, repentance, and
being real with ourselves so God can work in our hearts.

Pastor and author Paul Tripp wrote, “In case you failed to notice, God’s work of delivering you and me from our addiction to self and sin and transforming us into his image isn’t always a comfortable process. There are times, in order to make our crooked and fickle hearts straight and loyal, God has to break some bones.” David knows this truth as he writes Psalm 51, “Let the bones that you have crushed rejoice!” (v. 8, NRSV). He knows that when we are truly broken before God, we can really experience his grace and forgiveness. 

God, reveal the grace that can be found in the hard, uncomfortable places of our lives. AMEN.


A Clean Heart

THURSDAY, February 23
Psalm 51:10-19

Do you ever wonder how people really change? How do you get unstuck? How do you get rid of that bad habit? How can I become more like Jesus? 

It is clear David understands how change happens. At the center of this psalm he writes, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (v. 10). The word for “create” here is the same word used in Genesis 1. David understands he is talking to the Creator of the universe. He is appealing to the Creator of his heart as the only one who can truly change his heart. He needs something more than a new plan, a new agenda, a new self-improvement curriculum. Another sermon, discipline, or religious act is not going to change him. He needs the Creator to step in and create a new, clean heart in him. He realizes he is helpless to do that on his own. 

Creator God, change us from the inside out. AMEN.



Trembling Hearts

FRIDAY, February 24
Psalm 99

The majesty and grandeur of the mountains often make me tremble—standing at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains reminds me of how small I really am. It’s one of the reasons I love going to them. They speak of our infinite and powerful Creator. They stir up in me a desire to worship, to lift up the God who spoke all of this into being. David writes, “The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble” (v. 1, NIV). I don’t think many of us visibly shake when we contemplate God in worship. But worship requires trembling. 

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Saints quiver with devout emotion and sinners quiver with terror when the rule of Jehovah is fully perceived and felt.” Do you tremble at the holiness of God when you come into his presence? Does your heart leap, knowing holy God calls us sons and daughters and invites us to know him? 

Jehovah God, open our hearts to your wonder and majesty in this season of Lent. AMEN.


The Real King

SATURDAY, February 25
Psalm 2

I like to be in control of my life, my schedule, my calendar. I have a plan of what I want to do. When other people interrupt or change that plan, I get frustrated and am confronted with my desire for control. I want to rule my life. 

Today’s psalm confronts our desire to rule our own lives (vv. 1-3). God reminds us in verses 4-9 that his Son is the ruler—Jesus is the King of kings. The one who was transfigured on the holy mountain is the one who is enthroned to rule the world. The question we are left with is, will we follow? (vv. 10-12). Will we submit to the real King and trust him, or will we continue to go our own way, which leads to destruction? The way of trust leads to blessing. Holding on to control leads to disaster. 

God, show us how we can surrender more fully to your rule and reign in our lives today. AMEN.



About the Author

  • Jono Shaffer

    I have been a pastor since 2003 in Santa Barbara at Oceanhills Covenant Church. I love serving the church in a variety of ways as the executive pastor and am passionate about helping others encounter God through adventure, spiritual practices, and deep relationships. I studied counseling at Northwestern University, earned my MDiv from Fuller Seminary, and then was ordained in the Covenant. I have been married to my wife, Erin, since 1998, and we have three kids—Nathan, Kyle, and Keira. I feel fully alive when I am hiking or skiing in the mountains, playing tennis with friends, or just having meaningful conversation around a fire pit. I love to see people grow in their faith as they learn to follow Jesus in community and for the sake of others.

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