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.
CONFESSION Our gracious Father, you sent your Son to die and rise to new life in order that death might be brought to an end and that we too might live a new life. Yet we have too often chosen death over life. In our thoughts, words, and deeds we have rebelled against you and your intentions for us. In so doing, we have broken our fellowship with you, whose love is better than life and whom to know is life itself. In so doing, we have hurt others, sometimes unintentionally and sometimes deliberately, and have diminished their lives. In so doing, we have damaged ourselves who were created to reflect your beauty. Father, forgive us our sin for Jesus’ sake. And grant that your resurrection power might course through our entire being that we might walk in the ways of love and justice, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.
PARDON (try committing this one to memory this week!) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)
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 1:12-26 (esp. 1:22-26)
“If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I am cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better…”
How do you picture the Apostle Paul? What I mean to say is what image comes to your mind after you read these verses? For me, I see Paul working in a field. His words throughout this section are friendly, as though he’s paused from his work for a moment to catch up with a friend who has come to the edge of the field. A smile crosses his face as he wipes sweat from his brow and takes a drink of water. “Really, for me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He takes another drink and exhales. “If I am to live in the flesh, that mean fruitful labor for me, you know?”
The farmhand imagery seems even more apt because Paul uses it in 1 Corinthians 3, when he says, “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth…For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field…”
Paul saw himself as a farmhand in God’s field.His desire is simply to be useful, fruitful. Fruitful labor for Paul is attending to the growth that God gives. He’s watching the God’s field for signs of spiritual life breaking through the soil bearing spiritual fruit in people’s lives.
But his desire is to depart and be with Christ. The word for depart here means to loosen, to free. Picture a boat that has been purposefully unmoored from a dock to go on a voyage to some new destination. Paul’s desire is to be set free, to pull up anchor and head home to the undying lands where Christ is.
But something is causing him to tarry. He’s like a gospel supply ship that is tarrying in the docks, because there are still more valuable resources in his hull that need to be unloaded for the sake of the gospel advancing before he can depart. So his personal desires are laid aside for the sake of the gospel. The old Scottish pastor James Philip put it like this (read it with a deep Scottish brogue) “With Christ-like submission and compassion he reflected the Saviour’s laying aside of His glory for the Church’s sake. The work of the gospel needed him, and he was content to embrace poverty and tribulation a while longer in order to further that work.”
Questions to Ponder:
What does “fruitful labor” for Christ look like 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.
O God, grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 832)