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
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
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 humbly bow before you.What is mankind that you are mindful of us? We are too entitled to the trivial things in life. We are too proud in our own eyes, and we hold on to past hurts that reap the bitterness of a controlled life.
Lord, we need help.Please deliver us from how we’ve placed ourselves, our nation and our future prosperity into our own hands. You are the salvation that we need. We believe in Jesus, your son. Help our unbelief. Seal us with the assurance that grabbed our hearts from when we first believed.
We put our hope solely in you, our refuge and strength. In Jesus’ name we pray. 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 3:1-14
Paul is writing some familiar advice to the Philippians to help safeguard them as they live in a manner worthy of the gospel. He doesn’t want them to get sidetracked or misled about the core of what it means to follow Christ, and so his words are appropriately strong, though they may sound overly so to our Western ears.
His threefold warning is about a group that has come to be known as the Judaizers. They were Jewish Christians who made a bold claim: that Gentile Christians could only truly be blameless and pure if they submitted to the Mosaic law, including circumcision.
Some quick background: In the Old Testament, circumcision was the one pure cultural expression that showed you belonged to God’s covenant people, that you were children of God without fault whom Yahweh had promised to make blameless and pure through his unfailing love.
But all of this changed in the gospel. Circumcision, says Paul, moved from being a physical symbol to a spiritual one. So Paul makes an equally bold claim: anyone who insists on “one pure cultural expression of gospel” is actually missing the point of the gospel.
If you think that your moral goodness makes you pure, then you’ve missed the impurity of your sin that makes even your best efforts filthy like the street dogs that plagued ancient cities. If you consider yourself a “blameless law-doer,” then you reveal the self-righteous condition of your own “evildoing” heart. If your greatest source of pride is circumcision, then all you’ve really done is mutilate your flesh like pagan idolators. In sum: each is a sign that you haven’t really understood grace at all.
The gospel offers a rich alternative to the thin-as-broth offerings we cook up for ourselves. Here, in this wide country called Grace, we worship in the Spirit of God instead rather than in the ritual of religion; glorying in Christ covers over our vainglory; confidence in our own goodness is exchanged for throwing ourselves body and soul in life and death upon the grace of our faithful savior (Heidelberg Q1).
“For we are the circumcision…”Paul means, by this, that these are people who have truly experienced God’s grace. They no longer look at their moral works, but know themselves to be moral failures made new by the power of the gospel.
Questions to Ponder: What does it mean to “understand grace”? How might someone misunderstand grace?
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.
You keep them in perfect peace whose minds are stayed on you, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord for ever, for the LORD God is an everlasting rock. (Isaiah 26:3-4)