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
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalm 30:4-5, 11-12)
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.
Our Lord, we confess our many sins.We are slow to repent of our selfish and hateful hearts, and quick to blame our circumstances. Our hearts are cold toward the brokenness of our city and world. We avoid the people and places that threaten to humble us. We distort the truth to cover the appearance of weakness; we injure others with angry words to create the appearance of strength. As a result we lack joy and thanksgiving in our lives. O Lord, please have mercy on us! 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)
Thereforeis a dramatic word. It seats us in the audience at the moment right before the curtain is lifted. What will we see on the other side? Paul is going to reveal to us something about God, about ourselves, and about our lives. Therefore orients us. It situates us, casts us into the role we’ve been called to play, and directs our attention to how Christ’s humility informs the way we deliver our lines.
Just as we ready ourselves to for the curtain to be raised, Paul pauses to prepare his audience, and us, to receive what they are about to hear. They need to know that what comes next is spoken out of love. It is meant to encourage them.
“Therefore, my dear friends…”
The way that Paul talks to his brothers and sisters in Christ is filled with a deep and abiding affection for them. How did your sentences begin this weekend?What words did you use? Did they start with “My dear friend…”? Or did it sound like this, “Raca! You idiot!” (Mt. 5:22), or perhaps a little more up-to-date with our culture, “You, liberal!” or “What a Karen!”
Paul’s first words are instructive for the first words out of our own mouths. Will they build up or disparage? Encourage or embarrass? Bear-with-in-love or build a wall? Heal or harm?
“…as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence but now much more in my absence…”
Paul’s next words offer more encouragement. You have always obeyed. Keep going! They have what we might call “obedience momentum”going for them, and Paul wants them to keep rolling. Where are they going, though? It seems, based on what Paul has said and what he will say, that they are headed into circumstances where it will become harder and harder to obey. And Paul can’t be present with them to tell them at each crossroad the way they should go. They are entering the wilderness. A place of testing and refinement where your salvation is worked out “with fear and trembling.” But more on that tomorrow.
Questions to Ponder:
How will your sentences begin this week? Will they sound like Paul’s gospel- and humility-saturated words? (My dear friend…) If not, then what would happen if you were silent instead? And listened for what God fills that silence with instead of whatever words you would have spoken?
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.
“I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.” (Jer. 33:8)