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
Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! (Psalm 98:1-4)
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.
Heavenly Father, have mercy on us according to your steadfast love. We confess that we have forgotten your compassion and grace, how You bore us on eagles’ wings and brought us to Yourself; and we have forgotten your glory and holiness, and have not trembled before you in reverential wonder. Forgive us all our sins, we pray, through the finished work of Jesus Christ our Savior. By your Holy Spirit, please purify us and shine the light of Your gospel in our hearts, that we may live and serve You in the joy of resurrection life. 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: 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.
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 4:10-23 (and the whole letter if you have about 14 minutes)
This wonderful concluding section of Paul’s letter contains one of his most familiar phrases: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”
Contentment does not come easily for us. We wake and our discontent rises within us before steam begins drifting its wispy heavenward flight from our morning coffee.Western culture’s seemingly continuous refrain cries out in fever-pitch the classic U2 lyric, “…but I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…”
Contentment is more than a modern invention of the self-help book section, though.The Stoics of Paul’s day taught that most people fail to live a contented life because they love the wrong things. If you love your own success, you’ll fall apart when it does, and if you do succeed, then you’ll only drive yourself crazy with anxious worry about losing it! If you make your family the source of your contentment, then worry about losing them will consume you, or devastation will drag you under when something does go wrong. No, the Stoics said, You must only love those things which you can control.
Enter unflappable, equanimous Paul who seems to be filled by a secret source of poise and composure that every leadership promises and fails to deliver. Imprisoned for reasons beyond his, yet he can’t stop talking about his “joy” because of what God has done, is doing, and will do.
His latest joy infusion burst forth because the Philippians’ concern for Paul has been “revived,” not that it was ever lacking, but it now it has blossomed again as the Greek expresses it. Perhaps the best image for this is that of a dear friend who, for reasons neither of you could control has been absent, only the turn up on your doorstep to comfort you just when you were beginning to feel utterly alone.
But deep friendship, as refreshing as it may be, is not the secret source of Paul’s contentment. No, we can hear Paul say, “I’m not speaking of being in poverty, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” What Paul says is at one and the same time complementary and contrary to the Stoics’ teaching on contentment.
The Stoics said, “Don’t love anything that you can’t control. You’ll never be content if you’re not in control.” Paul says, “I am to be content in whatever circumstances, even if I’m not in control.”
Questions to Ponder:
Think back on the last 24 hours. Have you lived more like a Stoic or like Paul?
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.
“To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43)