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
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! (Psalm 95:1–6)
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 Dear God, thank you for loving me, even when I disobey you. I’m sorry for my sins. Please forgive me, because Jesus died for my sins. Thank you for your Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (Ezekiel 36:25; 1 Corinthians 6:11)
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 1:1-11 (esp. v.3-5)
Gospel Joy, Gospel Friends. I have to imagine that as they closed their eyes and listened, the Philippians were warmed by the cadence of Paul’s voice, his infectious enthusiasm bringing a smile to their faces. “Oh, he’s using run-on sentences again. I love when he gets going like this. I better listen closely so I don’t miss anything. This is gonna be good!”
Paul couldn’t be bothered with punctuating his thoughts. What God has done in the gospel is too big to be contained within a sentence. God has brought together people who, culturally speaking, should hate each other. How? Verse 2 tells us that he did it by his charis: a Greek word meaning grace, and his shalom: a Hebrew story-word for the peace that God promised would spread through his Messiah to heal the world.
But that’s Verse 2. What has Paul so excited now? It’s his “remembrances” of the Philippians. Paul says “I thank (eucharisto, another story-word we don’t have space for now) my God every time I remember you.” His words are running roughshod over the rules of grammar because he’s excited to share with his friends. He can’t help but think about them, remembering them, their faces, their particular giftings working together to move the gospel forward in their hearts and in the world. For Paul every remembrance of them brings him a joy that spills over into prayer for them: “I always make each of my prayers for you with JOY!”
Why joy? It’s because of their partnership in the gospel. If church history is correct, then, this little gospel community only grew to around 75 people. They were poor and many were slaves, and yet they were well-known throughout the early church for both their generosity in helping to advance the gospel, and for their love of knowing and obeying God’s Word. No wonder Paul loves these people!
Like the Philippians, each local gathering of the church gives unique, particular expression to the gospel as only they can. We participate in what God is doing to “make all things new” by the gospel, or not. The Philippians got it right away, “from the first day..” As if saying, “If God has given me this kind of grace, this kind of world re-shaping peace, then how can I not want to get on the inside of what he’s doing?” It’s a response. The only one you can give.There’s no choice really. You just have to get in on loving the things he loves, pursuing the things he says are priority within his reconciling, redeeming, gospel-reordering work.
Now, there’s no shame in not getting it at first, or even for most of a lifetime. But once you see what Paul saw. Once you see that the gospel is “participation” in God’s grand story of Redemption, then everything has to change. It has to. How do we start? We start asking the right questions.
Questions to Ponder:
Who has God made you to be? Whatever the answer is, it will be particular to who Christ has called you to become. Listen closely again to how Philippians 1:1-11 describe who you are in Christ. Whatever other words you use to describe yourself, these are who you are in Christ. Write them down and ask God to help you see how he wants to make these more true of you.
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.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 3:3-5)