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
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. (Psalm 65:8)
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 2:1-11 (esp. vv.3-4)
Christians are to have the same mind, same love, and to be “one-souled,” Paul tells us. Now, in verses 3-4, Paul susses out what this looks like with four words: two negative (selfish ambition, vain conceit), one positive (humility), and one applied both negatively and positively (seeking). That seems a little confusing, so let’s take a closer look to see what Paul is talking about.
Paul continues talking about unity by describing some “do nots” for pursuing unity in Christ. “Do nothing out of (literally) mercenary motivations…”Christians are citizens whose loyalty is reserved for their heavenly kingdom and King. Therefore, we live with a abiding allegiance to Christ, rather than who- or whatever is giving the “best” deal at the moment.
Christians are also citizens who do nothing out of a desire for, literally, “nothing glory.” Here Paul contrasts between God who possesses all glory, Jesus who possesses glory but acts as a servant (even though he has the right to exercise his glory), and foolish people, who like Adam in the garden, seek their own “nothing glory.” (And tomorrow we’ll see how Christ triumphs where Adam failed, so stay tuned!)
Put into everyday life terms, Paul is saying that one way you can tell whether or not you are living a life worthy of the gospel is by asking: “Is what I am doing, saying, feeling, or thinking something that has ‘eternal weight’ to it? Will it matter in a thousand years? Ten thousand? Is God advancing the gospel through it?” If it has gospel weight to it, then pursue it alongside other Christians with one mind, one love, one soul (2:1-2).
Okay, you say to Paul, “I’ll play along. What kind of things have “eternal weight” to them?” Paul’s answer is plain: humility.Humility of the sort that “counts others as more significant than yourself.” Humility that let’s you “seek after the interests of others” and not just what best serves you. Humility which, as we will see, is found in Christ Jesus himself. But that’s tomorrow.
Questions to Ponder:
Meditate on your life for a moment. Where do you feel most tempted to act out of a desire for “nothing glory?” How do these verses help to constrain that desire?
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 my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2)