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
Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. (Isaiah 26:8-9)
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.
CONFESSIONHoly Lord, we are guilty — of pride and unbelief, of failure to find your mind in your Word, of neglect to seek you in our daily lives. Our violations and shortcomings present our consciences with a long list of accusations, but they shall not stand! For we lay them all now on Christ, our sacrifice and advocate. Lord, subdue our weaknesses and selfishness, granting us grace to live above them. Let us not be mastered by them, but have you rule over us in liberty and power. We praise and thank you for your wisdom and love, for sometimes putting us into the furnace to refine our gold and remove our dross. Deliver us from every evil habit, everything that dims the brightness of your grace in us, everything that prevents us from taking our deepest delight in you. Amen.
PARDON (try committing this one to memory this week!) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)
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 1:12-26 (esp. v.21)
We come to it at last. Paul’s famous quote in verse 21: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Here in this little phrase is the secret for whether or not hard times will refine you, or crush you.Read it again. Did you see the secret? It’s your definition of life.
Paul says that if you have a proper definition of life, then you can face anything.Think of all that Paul was facing: loss of his aspirations, isolation from friends, potential beheading. Think of all that you are facing. Don’t compare them. Just be realistic for a moment about the difficult things in your life. Does it feel like you are being refined right now, or crushed?
Paul says that what you’ve got to get straight is what your bottom line is for what make life life for you. Everyone has a bottom line like this. Something like:
“For me, to live is pleasure. I work hard, make a lot of money, so that I can do the things that really give life meaning.” Take away the pleasure, no life.
“For me, to live is to be strong, self-reliant, tough, and in control. I work hard at the appearance of self-sufficiency. I don’t need anyone else.” Take away the strength and control, no life.
“For me, to live is to be moral, to know that I’m a good person. I work hard to live up to a certain moral code.” Take away your moral goodness, no life.
Tim Keller puts it this way: Do you see what Paul is showing us? Whatever your “For me, to live” is whether it’s family, friends, career, spouse, children, whatever it is. It had better be good, because when the tragedies of life come and go after your bottom line, you either utterly collapse, or you have to convert to a new bottom line.
Paul gives us his bottom line:“If I have this, then I’m living, regardless of what else is taken from me. For me, to live is Christ.” Why? Why is this the thing that anchors Paul? It’s because God, in the person of Jesus, gives his bottom line to Paul and to everyone who believes the gospel: For me to live is you.
That’s the gospel. Jesus at the Last Supper prayed, “And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth” (John 17:19). What’s Jesus saying? It’s simply this: On the cross Jesus was going to set himself apart as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (that’s what consecrate means), so that we can draw near to God and grow in relationship with Him. It’s as though Jesus says, “My life beside you, my blood for yours. I’m willing to do anything to have you with me. For me, to live is you.” To which the only response is: “For me, to live is you, Jesus. For me, only Jesus.”
Questions to Ponder:
What is your “bottom line” for me, live is ____________? How is that bottom line shaping your life today?
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.
O God, grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 832)