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
Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. (Isaiah 33:2)
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.
We have seen that part of “working out our salvation with fear and trembling” means being lights in the tohu va bohu darkness of our world. It means looking and listening for and joining in on what God is doing to redeem people, places, and things in our world. “Poured out like a drink offering” is the image the Apostle Paul used to describe what it means to live in this way.
Drink offerings were a fairly common religious ritual back in Paul’s day. Israel’s worship included daily morning and evening burnt sacrifices that were accompanied by drink offerings. “Before the fire was lit to incinerate the slain lamb, a priest poured wine over [the lamb] to enhance the “pleasing aroma to the Lord” (Num. 28:7–8; see Phil. 4:18). Although both lamb and wine were consumed in consecration to the Lord, the lamb itself was central.”
Here’s what Paul is saying: I’m being poured out (as wine) on your faith (the lamb). As we offer our lives, as we live as lights in the tohu va bohu culture around us, we participate in worshipping God. Even if it leads us to suffer, to sacrifice things that we could hold onto. We are willing to give up those things so that others might move forward in their faith. It’s a beautiful picture! All of us doing nothing out of selfish ambition, but rather in humility considering them more important than ourselves.
It’s almost as though we would fight over the privilege to serve one another. “No, I want to lay down my rights, so that this beloved brother, this dear sister, my dear friend might grow more and more in their love (and so that I might abound more and more in my love as well!).”
As you and I do these things this week, our lives are becoming exactly what Paul says, “poured out like a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of others faith.” That’s what will lead us to joy this week.That’s what led Jesus to joy when he “for the joy set before him endured the cross.” (Heb. 12:2). Let’s go and do likewise.
Questions to Ponder:
Who will you be this week and next?
Will you be someone who speaks life with their words, even hard to hear ones, by beginning your sentences with “my dear friend”?
Will you be someone who pays attention to the work God is doing in, around, through you? Obeying him along the way.
Will you be someone who brings light, who humbly creates conversations and environments where “the true light” as John describes Jesus can be clearly seen?
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.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)