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 whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. (Psalm 65:8)
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.
Merciful God, who pardons all who truly repent and turn to you, we humbly confess our sins and ask for your mercy. We have not loved you with a pure heart, nor have we loved our neighbor as ourselves. We have not done justice, loved kindness, or walked humbly with you, our God.
Have mercy on us, O God, and cleanse us from our sin. Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right Spirit within us. Restore to us the joy of Your salvation, and sustain us with your bountiful Spirit through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 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: Mark wastes no time in getting down to business—a single-sentence introduction, and not a digression to be found from beginning to end. An event has taken place that radically changes the way we look at and experience the world, and he can’t wait to tell us about it. There’s an air of breathless excitement in nearly every sentence he writes. Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: First, God. God is the subject of life. God is foundational for living. If we don’t have a sense of the primacy of God, we will never get it right, get life right, get our lives right. Not God at the margins; not God as an option; not God on the weekends. God at center and circumference; God first and last; God, God, God. Genesis gets us off on the right foot. Genesis pulls us into a sense of reality that is God-shaped and God-filled. It gives us a vocabulary for speaking accurately and comprehensively about our lives, where we come from and where we are going, what we think and what we do, the people we live with and how to get along with them, the troubles we find ourselves in and the blessings that keep arriving. 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) from 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 Philippians Reading Plan + Study Guide as we all read Philippians every day this summer.
Read: Philippians 3:15-21
What comes to mind when you hear the word “imitation”? Perhaps a well-worn platitude? “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Or a child dressing up and embodying the mannerisms of their parent? For me, it’s the image of one of Rembrandt’s students practicing and imitating the Master’s technique.
But note that Paul says, “join together” in imitating me, in following my example. It is quite easy to read past this communal statement. This is no solo endeavor. Others are required for this kind of imitation. We know this because Paul not only encourages these Christians to imitate him, but also encourages them to “keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”
What example is that? Again we return to the call to “live in a manner worthy of the gospel,” and to the example of Christ who made himself nothing even though he is the creator of everything, who served and obeyed without grumbling or arguing, but rather in humility valued others (us!) above himself!
Some, says Paul, who used to walk with Christ now walk as “enemies of the cross.” The issue, though, doesn’t seem to be an outright denial of the gospel, but what biblical scholar Walter Hansen calls, “an ethical divergence from the way of the cross of Christ. The narrative of the cross presents a way to walk in humility as a servant, by becoming obedient unto death—even death on a cross! (2:7–8). The narrative of Christ (2:6–11) is framed by exhortations to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit (2:3) and to work out your own salvation (2:12).”
This is Paul’s own story. He used to do everything out of self ambition, but once the gospel took root in his life, he renounced “his elite position in order to participate in the sufferings of Christ (3:4-10). Self-focused living grieves Paul, and as Hansen says, “though his words are harsh, his heart is broken.” He’s weeping, because these people have professed belief in Christ, but then set their minds on earthly things.
But why have they set their minds on earthly things? Paul uses a play on words to explain both his heartache and their folly. These people think that they have “arrived” at the goal, the finish line (the telos). They think that they are perfectly mature (teleioi), but those who are truly “mature” (teleioi) have a different mindset. The truly mature are able freely admit that they have not yet arrived at their goal (3:12), because they know that the good work of redemption that God started in them is still in motion.
There are no shortcuts in the Christian life.Like one of the artists working in Rembrant’s studio, we will continue to learn, continue to discover what paths are best and which ones lead to destruction. We will either join together in imitating godly examples, or not.
Questions to Ponder: Who do you “keep your eyes on” who walks in a manner worthy of the gospel? What is it about their life that you find worthy of imitating?
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.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day. (Psalm 91:4-5)