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
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
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.
“work out your salvation with fear and trembling…” What images come to mind as you read those words? “Fear and trembling” Does Paul mean that we are to cower in fear, arms raised to deflect a blow if we mess up? “Work out your salvation…” Is Paul suggesting that we earn our salvation through hard moral labor? What’s going on here?
“Work out” in the Greek refers to continuous, sustained labor. We might get the idea that Paul simply wants us to work really hard to be morally good. Remember, though, that in this section Paul is picking up the thread of what he has said before, especially that we are to “live in a manner worthy of the gospel” (1:27).
This means is that “working out our salvation” is working to see that gracecontinues working its way in to reshape our hearts and minds, and then works its way out into our relationships. It means that we are conscious of the tone of our life. Is it harsh, or does it say, “my friend…” even when difficult words must be spoken.
That’s a difficult calling. How could we ever ensure that grace works all the way down deep and then all the way out into our lives? Thankfully, though, it’s not all on us: “for it is God who works in (not just with) you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” God is at work, Paul tells us, completing the good work of grace he started in us (Phil. 1:6). It’s hard to find an image of this in our world. After all, people can work with you, but not in you. But perhaps this image will help.
As a child I would visit my grandfather’s farm during the summer. Later I would work on farms, but at this point I was small and filled with awe and reverence for this master at his craft, and farming truly has an art to it. I would help him work on projects, often standing back, attentive and listening for what he might need next; hands trembling as the work came together. I was working out what it meant to be a farmer. But here in Philippians, God is the Master at work in his craft of redemption, and the work is you. His work is salvation. We work out what it means to be saved by him: by obeying and listening for what he says works grace deeper into you, and then welcoming it. That’s hard…but the first step is easy. Pay attention to God.
Questions to Ponder:
How will you pay attention to what God is working in, around, and through you this today? In what ways is the gospel moving forward in you?
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.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)