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
Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. (Isaiah 33:2)
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.
CONFESSION Father in heaven, we confess to you this morning that you have sent your Son to declare the coming of your kingdom. And we need your kingdom. Our city needs your kingdom. Our world needs your kingdom. Yet we resist your rule at every point. We are constantly trying to limit your kingship.
We confess that we try to take power from you.We want the control and fear trusting you with our priorities, our schedules, our money, our relationships, our children, our bodies, and our reputations. Forgive us for doubting your goodness.
We confess trying to limit your power. We act like you are a private god who does not exercise authority over every facet of this world, from individuals to institutions. Forgive us for doubting your power.
Father, you have said that your Kingdom makes all things new. Prove it to us. Prove it in us, we pray. Be our Lord; reign with your loving power over us. Meet us where we are and enter our lives, our city and our world. We ask this not because we deserve it, but because Christ has earned it for us on the cross. Amen.
PARDON (try committing this one to memory this week!) Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)
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: Matthew provides the comprehensive context by which we see all God’s creation and salvation completed in Jesus, and all the parts of our lives—work, family, friends, memories, dreams—also completed in Jesus. Lacking such a context, we are in danger of seeing Jesus as a mere diversion from the concerns announced in the newspapers. Nothing could be further from the truth. 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.
Today’s Devo comes from a sermon from Dennis Johnson. Notice how the gospel makes us both confident and humble at the same time. Why do you suppose that is?
Read Philippians 1:27-30 (one more time!)
“…the very grace that silences our fears at the same time shatters our pride, our edgy competitiveness, our bristly impatience…We can and must stand strong in solidarity, not because we have something to prove about ourselves but because we have a Champion who is worthy of our wholehearted allegiance.
When you find your Christian brother or sister frustrating—perhaps his agenda for the church conflicts with yours, or her thoughtless comment grieved your heart—then you will be tempted to see that fellow Christian as the enemy and to withdraw from him or her. That is precisely when you need to remember two truths: first, that your real Enemy, Satan, is intent on disrupting believers’ unity with each other (Eph. 4:26–27; 6:10–12); and second, that you both stand together in need of God’s redemptive grace, and as recipients of that grace through Jesus.
Humbled by grace, then, take the painful initiative to speak truth in love to the one who has hurt you (or to go in humble repentance to the one whom you have hurt), striving to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3).
Surrendering to God’s grace in Christ produces in us an unusual reaction to opposition and our marginalized position in society. Grace makes us confident and humble at the same time. In The Reason for God, Pastor Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York confesses:
When my own personal grasp of the gospel was very weak, my self-view swung wildly between two poles. When I was performing up to my standards—in academic work, professional achievement, or relationships—I felt confident but not humble. I was likely to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. When I was not living up to standards, I felt humble but not confident, a failure. I discovered, however, that the gospel contained the resources to build a unique identity.… The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling.
Here Paul applies this power of the gospel to a group of people who feel the pressure of being marginalized by the society around them, people who might be tempted to retreat in fear, or to lash out in retaliation, or to vent frustration on each other.
But Jesus offers another avenue of response: confidence grounded in God’s grace that frees you to react to opponents with calm kindness, and to failing fellow believers with humility and forgiveness.
Citizens of heaven, behave in ways befitting the character of your King, who rules now and will return in glory. By his transforming grace, show courageous humility, bold gentleness, and selfless solidarity, calmly enduring all that this decomposing culture can throw at you. All the while, invite the very people who would intimidate you to share in the gifts of the King’s grace, to join you in believing in him and in suffering for his sake.
Questions to Ponder:
How have you responded to people this week when you’ve felt challenged?
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.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)