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
I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he. (Deuteronomy 32:3-4)
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 Father in heaven, we confess to you this morning that you have sent your Son to declare the coming of your kingdom. And we need your kingdom.Our city needs your kingdom. Our world needs your kingdom. Yet we resist your rule at every point. We are constantly trying to limit your kingship.
We confess that we try to take power from you.We want the control and fear trusting you with our priorities, our schedules, our money, our relationships, our children, our bodies, and our reputations. Forgive us for doubting your goodness.
We confess trying to limit your power. We act like you are a private god who does not exercise authority over every facet of this world, from individuals to institutions. Forgive us for doubting your power.
Father, you have said that your Kingdom makes all things new. Prove it to us. Prove it in us, we pray. Be our Lord; reign with your loving power over us. Meet us where we are and enter our lives, our city and our world. We ask this not because we deserve it, but because Christ has earned it for us on the cross. Amen.
PARDON (try committing this one to memory this week!) Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)
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 1:27-30
We left one thing out from our short civics lesson yesterday: Citizens require an ethos by which to live.What is an ethos? Have you ever noticed how a friend from a different country, though quite similar in many ways, will have very different goals and ways of approaching life? That’s ethos:the beliefs and aspirations characteristic of the citizens of a particular country.
Fortunately, Paul has not forgotten this truth, and so he tells us that Christians must live as citizens with a manner of life, an ethos, that is worthy of the gospel. If we are reading attentively, then questions should begin to form in our minds. What makes an ethos worthy of the gospel? Who decides its worthiness? How will I know when my life, my ethos is worthy? I’m so glad you asked. Let’s reflect on three images to help us.
The Scales. Imagine Lady Justice with her scales. She is meant as a metaphor of fairness, equability, morality. She is blindfolded. Her scales are meant to be fair. Each person is meant to enter into her court with the expectation of getting a fair shake. This is the idea behind the word worthy. We are to “live with an ethos that is balanced by the gospel,” Paul says. The gospel roots our beliefs and gives proper constraint to our aspirations.
The King. Paul describes Christians as citizens of heaven who owe their whole allegiance to a far better country (Hebrews 11:16) and to a far better Lord, or King to whom all kings will one day bow (Phil. 2:9-11). Earthly lords are arrogant, unjust, self-centered, and angry. But Jesus is humble, a servant, willing to die in place of his rebellious citizens, so that they can become worthy citizens of his kingdom. Sit with this image for a moment. How does Jesus compare to other “lords” you could serve? How would you describe His ethos?
The Message. The gospel as counter-balance to our lives is, to put it gently, the most unbalanced thing in the universe. How could our lives ever balance out the immense mercy and love directed toward us by God in the gospel? But this is the counter-intuitive message of the gospel: Jesus becomes our life (Col. 3:4). His life unbalances the scales permanently in our favor, and our lives are to reflect the beauty of his mercy and love. How is the gospel “unbalancing” your life in the direction of mercy and love toward others?
Questions to Ponder:
Which image resonates with you most? Why do you suppose that is?
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.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)