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
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3)
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.
Grumbling and arguing, Paul says, can never make you “shine like stars in the sky.”Words spoken in this way only blend in with the darkness.
A fairly obvious question for us to ask then is: What do stars do? They produce light. They are little pinpoints of light in an otherwise cavernous darkness. What does Paul say we are to do? Produce light. But what does it mean for us to produce light? Genesis 1, at the very beginning of the word of life, gives us a hint.
See if you can complete this sentence for me?: “In the beginning…”
I asked my children to do the same. They did pretty well. “God created the heavens and the earth.” But when I asked what they though happened next, one responded “God blasted the world into existence!” “Not quite! But good imagination,” I said. Another said, “God said let there be light!”
To which I responded: “That happens soon, but not yet.” Before there was light the “earth was formless and void. The Hebrew words for formless and void create a rhyme. They are: tohu (formless) and bohu (void). So the world was tohu va bohu, and darkness covered the chaotic, shapeless, void-ness. But where was God? God is there. Present in the darkness by His Spirit who hovers over the chaos and then: God brings order, life, and light to that chaos.
What happens in our salvation?The Apostle John referenced this same story of creation to show how Jesus as the light of the world brings order out of spiritual chaos in redemption.
Do you see now what Paul means by “shine as lights or stars”? It’s not a defensive posture. It’s a creative posture. Shining as lights means Christians are to live in humble harmony, considering others more important than ourselves, shining redemptive light into the chaotic dark.
Questions to Ponder:
How will you shine if all your words add to the chaos? So as you speak this week ask: Are my words bringing light or only heat to this conversation?
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)