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
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this greatly rejoice. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
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.
Dear Heavenly Father, we bow ourselves before you and confess that we have too often forgotten that we are your sons and daughters. Sometimes we carry on our lives as if you do not exist, and we fall short of being credible witnesses to you.
We have denied you with silence, passivity, and cowardice. We have betrayed you by our idolatry, disobedience, and selfishness. Instead of following your ways, we have turned to our own ways. Instead of honoring you, we have desired the applause of man.
For these things we ask your forgiveness and your enabling grace. Transform us into courageous ambassadors for Christ. Give us clear minds and open hearts so we may be your witnesses in a lost world. Draw us closer to you and embolden us to be your servants regardless of what we are doing, where we are, or whom we are with. For the sake of Jesus our Savior, 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: 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.
Read: Philippians 2 (and the whole letter if you have about 14 minutes)
Philippians 2:1-2 is a run-on sentence showing us the posture required to “live in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Here’s the posture: Unity.But before and as the basis for that unity, Paul lavishes us with the encouraging realities of the gospel.
Pause for a moment and read the first two verses again. Now close your eyes and turn them over slowly in your mind. Encouragement in Christ, comfort from love, fellowship in the Spirit, and deep-hearted affection and sympathy. If we have these four, then we can begin to experience the sort of unity Paul describes in verse two.
What does Paul mean by these four phrases? He’s talking about the consolation that we have at any time, and especially during hard times, because of Christ. Everything may be shambles, but Christ is for us, who can be against us (Rom. 8:31)? In him, in the gospel, we continually receive everything that have no right to expect: comfort from Christ’s steadfast love, fellowship with God and other Christians in the Spirit, and the tender mercy and compassion of God. If we have these, and we do because of the gospel, then we have everything we need to “complete” Paul’s joy! (2:1)
The word Paul uses for complete has a root image of a bottle or a cup being filled up to the brim, to the point of overflowing. Do you see Paul’s logic? He’s saying that a life that shows the worthy of the gospel is lived in unity with other Christians (1:27-30). Therefore…be of the same mind, have the same love, be in full accord (2:1-2). That’s what will fill to overflowing Paul’s morning cup of joy! Christians having the same attitude, or mindset, or better yet: attitude-set (which is a better translation).
This sameness, however, does not mean that each Christian is to have the exact same opinion about everything. Or that we should be clone-like. Yes, every Christian must believe the same truths about the gospel, but that’s not what Paul is talking about here. He’s talking about the way we go about our days and live our lives and think about doing those things. We are to live with the same attitude, in full accord (lit. “one-souled”) that is shaped by the same love. What love is that? Well, the rest of our reading this week will tell us, but I’ll give you a hint: it’s Jesus’ love.
Questions to Ponder: What images does “one-souled” bring to mind? What would it look like to live this way with other Christians? Why do you think the church so often becomes such a “many-minded, many-loved, and many-souled” experience? How might Philippians 2 challenge that?
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.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sins and live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)