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
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
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 2:12-18
Do everything without grumbling or arguing…” Paul invites us into an ancient story through these words. God had worked salvation for his people from slavery in Egypt. Oh, and what a rescue it had been! There could be no question who had accomplished this feat. “God peeled back Pharaohs hold on them one finger at a time by sending ten plagues upon the land,” says Russ Ramsey. That final plague. Who could forget that? The life of an innocent lamb for the life of God’s people and, like that, they were free from generations of oppression.
God told them to remember those first breaths of free air. They were liberated, yes, but they were also leaving. Heading out into the wilderness where God would work in them. He would reshape them into His people in that place. Getting out of Egypt to simply follow their own paths wasn’t the end game. No, God had called them out of bondage to himself, to have relationship with him. Here in this barren waste they would once again learn to call upon him as their God, as the good work of their salvation was birthed and worked out in utter reliance upon him.
So the wilderness would be a place of trial, yes, but also transformation.Here they became worshippers of Yahweh.Egypt had told them they were born destined to be slaves, but Yahweh showed them who they really were: beloved children created in God’s own image to worship, to cultivate, to build and fill all Creation with beauty and goodness and light.
The badlands were also where God’s people faltered, and this is Paul’s point. “Do everything without grumbling and arguing,” says Paul, because they are the language of slavery to sin, not worship of God who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Ex. 34:6-7).
And in Jesus Christ, this same God entered into our wilderness without grumbling or arguing (Matt. 4). He lived the life would should have lived, and die the death we deserved. All so that we might be restored to who we really are: beloved children created to worship, to cultivate, and forever enjoy his beauty, goodness, and life.
Questions to Ponder:
How is God at work forming you to worship him right now? Where can you see his “merciful, gracious, steadfast love” at work in your life?
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.
Return O my soul to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. (Psalm 116:7)