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
But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. (Psalm 59:16)
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.
Lord Jesus, We sin – Would you grant that we may never be content with our sin?Kill our envy and command our tongues. Give us grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure, peaceable,
to live for you and not for self,
to copy your words, acts, spirit,
to be transformed into your likeness, to be consecrated wholly to you,
to live entirely to your glory.
Deliver us from attachment to things unclean, from wrong associations, from the predominance of evil passions, from the sugar of sin as well as its audacity, that with deep contrition, earnest searching, we may come to you, cast ourselves on you, trust in you, cry to you, be delivered by you. 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 2:19-30 (esp. vv.25-28)
Paul unfolds what little we know of Epaphroditus’ story for us. It seems that he had been sent by the Philippian church on an 800-mile trek to Rome to visit Paul in prison. Epaphroditus’ mission was a testament to the abiding friendship this church had with the apostle.
Their deep love of Paul cultivated a desire to aid Paul in more practical ways as well. Prisons in Paul’s day, though state sponsored, did not provide food, clothing, or medical care. So it is likely that the Philippian believers had sent Epaphroditus along with others (according to Paul’s stewardship of gifts principle, 2 Cor. 8:16-22) to pay Paul’s prison expenses and to minister to him. When Epaphroditus fell ill, some of the traveling party headed back to Philippi with news of his illness (v. 26).
If you had to write the headline for this journey, it might read like this: “Epaphroditus Gets Sick on Journey to Visit Apostle, Almost Dies. Heads Home Early.” But there was more to the story, which Paul seems to want to make clear.
Paul calls Ephaphroditus has brother, gospel co-worker, and fellow solider. He’s no weekend warrior in Paul’s mind. Dennis Johnson notes that, “When Epaphroditus reached Rome, it was as though the whole Philippian church had arrived to care for the apostle.”
His care was a means of humbly serving Paul by playing a supporting role. There are never any “small part” in the work of the gospel. Here is someone who knew this and exemplified what it looks like to “put on the mind of Christ” in his living that truth. Even his homesickness is evidence of living in a manner worthy of the gospel. His longing mirrors that of Paul who, “yearned for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:8).
Paul and Epaphroditus’ longing to be with their brothers and sisters in Christ is counter-cultural to our ingrained individualism which subtly consumes our days and alters our affections. It is hard to have the “affection of Christ Jesus” toward other Christians when our affections have been lavished upon our own “selfish ambitions” (Phil. 2:3). We can learn from faithful Epaphroditus to cultivate such a yearning to be with God’s people.
Questions to Ponder:
Take a moment to meditate on what you’ve learned from Epaphroditus’ example. Write it down and then look for ways to live this out in your relationships today.
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.
Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are weary from the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, 133)