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
Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God: for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. (Psalm 147:1)
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 Lord, we bring our confession to You. Although we recognize both your right and ability to choose and rule, we often resist You. At times our spirits rage against your Spirit. Our so called “small sins” often evidence the greatest resistance – fiercely clinging to past sins and daily devices. We also pick and choose how we will obey You, and then, are self-righteous about the ways other resist Your will – blind to our own stubbornness. O Lord, we plead for Your mercy. Amen.
PARDON 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(+ the whole letter if you have 14 minutes)
“If we really believe what we say we believe—if we really think that home is elsewhere and that this life is a ‘wandering to find home’, why should we not look forward to the arrival? There are, aren’t there, only three things we can do about death: to desire it, to fear it, or to ignore it. The third alternative, which is the one the modern world calls ‘healthy’ is surely the most uneasy and precarious of all.” —C.S. Lewis in a letter to Mary Shelburne, 7 June 1959
C.S. Lewis offered this short commentary on Philippians 1:21 four years before his own death. We might well wonder which of the three approaches the Apostle Paul was using when he famously said, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain”? What’s going through his mind? Isn’t he being a bit morbid? What on earth does he hope to gain by dying?
But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. We need a little context first. As you know, Paul is writing from prison. Things have not turned out according to his plan for sharing the gospel, but apparently things have turned out according to God’s plan, because the gospel is advancing in new and surprising ways because of his imprisonment (v.12-14).
Not only has it “become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ,” but Paul’s imprisonment has made other Christians bold in sharing the gospel. They are growing, maturing in Christ in ways that they wouldn’t have if not for Paul being in prison! Do you see what’s happening here?
As Paul sits in prison with death potentially lurking around the corner, he looks to what God is doing in spite of his plans being squashed. He doesn’t pout. He doesn’t stamp his feet and say, “Can you believe this is happening to me?!?” Instead, he’s tracing out the lines that God has used to bring him to this place, and he is listening, watching, being attentive to what God is doing in and through his circumstances. Don’t miss that!
This is a neglected discipline in the Christian life. The best gardeners will tell you that tending a garden means being attentive day in and out to soil, growth, conditions. Our lives are the same. Storms inevitably arise. We can fear them as though God didn’t know they were coming. Desire them as though they are the only means God uses to grow us (though we should desire the growth they can produce!). Ignore them as though God has called us to a Stepford-like cookie cutter happiness. Or, we listen to our lives in Christ, paying close attention to what God is doing as though he really is our Creator and Redeemer who has a good work that he’s completing in us and in our world!
Here’s what we’ll discover this week: as each of us learns to approach our own life and death as Paul did, we will be led to the entrance of a path hedged and prepared for us to travel along in a “manner of life…worthy of the gospel of Christ” (the theme of next week’s Devo). All that remains is to start our journey.
Questions to Ponder:
What does it look like for you to be attentive to what God is doing 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.
“And this is my prayer, that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)