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
Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; And you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. (Nehemiah 9:5–6)
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.
Father, we are far too easily pleasedwith the limitations of this world instead of enjoying the limitless blessings that come from you.
We have sinned times without number, and have been guilty of pride and unbelief. We cling too tightly to our selfish ambitions and earthly possessions while neglecting to seek you in our daily lives.
Our sins and shortcomings present us with a list of accusations, but we thank you that they will not stand against us, for all have been laid on Christ. Help us to approach your throne of grace with confidence,so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. 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.
John Newton, as usual, got it right. He sang, ‘Saviour, if of Zion’s City, I, through grace, a member am’.
There is this great Zion, the fulfilment of everything the historic Zion was meant to be and never was, the city of those saved by grace, the city of the people of Jesus. Psalm 87 glimpsed it, in a poetic, slightly enigmatic way; Isaiah caught its radiance more fully than anyone else in the old covenant; Paul saw it as the ‘mother’ of the children of promise in Christ (Gal. 4:26–31); Hebrews 12:22 described it as the city we now inhabit by right, the city of the firstborn, its registered citizens, sheltered under the blood of Jesus, safe and accepted in the presence of God the Judge; John was privileged to watch its eternal fulfilment in the city descending from heaven, the bride of the Lamb (Rev. 21:9–10), exclusive to those whose names are in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev. 21:27).
‘The city’ is one of the Bible’s pervasive themes. In Genesis 11:1–9 a ‘city’ was humankind’s remedy for the divisiveness of sin and the ever-threatening world sin had created – a human organisation for salvation and security. Isaiah foresaw the whole world organised into a ‘global village’, and called it ‘the city of meaningless’ (24:10), sharply contrasting with the ‘strong city’ of salvation (26:1–4), the city of peace and of believers.
Philippi (Acts 16:12) was a ‘colony’, a prized privilege in Roman days, for citizens of a ‘colony’ were actually enrolled on the citizens’ lists in Rome, the capital itself, and, in distant Philippi, lived by and enjoyed the privileges of the capital city itself. ‘Our citizenship’ – Paul reminded the Philippians – is in heaven; our names are enrolled there.
In our far off, earthly ‘colony’ we enjoy the privileges of the eternal city which is now our home, and which will be so everlastingly. We read Isaiah 60 and say – with wondering delight – these joys are my joys, these privileges mine.
Questions to Ponder: God in Christ assures us that we are citizens of heaven. How will this alter the way that you enter into your day?
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.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. —Romans 8:1-2