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
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. (Isaiah 58:8-9)
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.
Merciful God, who pardons all who truly repent and turn to you, we humbly confess our sins and ask for your mercy. We have not loved you with a pure heart, nor have we loved our neighbor as ourselves. We have not done justice, loved kindness, or walked humbly with you, our God.
Have mercy on us, O God, and cleanse us from our sin. Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right Spirit within us. Restore to us the joy of Your salvation, and sustain us with your bountiful Spirit through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 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: Mark wastes no time in getting down to business—a single-sentence introduction, and not a digression to be found from beginning to end. An event has taken place that radically changes the way we look at and experience the world, and he can’t wait to tell us about it. There’s an air of breathless excitement in nearly every sentence he writes. 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 3:15-21 (esp. v.18-21)
I’ve always loved the way Eugene Peterson translated these verses in Philippians. He captures the crassness of choosing to stumble down a path of our own making, when Christ has already blazed a trail: “All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.”
Peterson made a habit of rendering these “American” translations for his suburban Baltimore congregation to help wake their ears to hear St. Paul’s words which, as it turns out, are the very Word of God for our lives as well. Go ahead and read verses 18-21 again in your translation. Read slowly as if for the first time. Go line by line. Then pause for a minute and try to summarize it in your own accent.
This habit of reading and then meditating on God’s Word is essential for forming a Christian and biblical imagination. These aren’t crusty old words written solely to people now long dead. They ARE God’s words to you, and to me, in our time, our circumstances. Do you treat them this way?
Peterson finishes our section this way, “But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.”
Now there’s a passionate paraphrase of St. Paul! There is far more to life for us! Accumulating, hoarding, and obsessing over transitory possessions, glittering as they are, offer far less of a life than what Christ offers. He offers citizenship in a kingdom where thieves no longer steal for, having become children of God, they lack no good thing. A land where moths no longer destroy for, Behold! He is making all things new (Rev. 21:5).
Questions to Ponder:
Do you see that there is “far more to life” for citizens of high heaven? Take 2 minutes to write down how Christ has given you far more to live for, and then ponder what it means that we are awaiting Christ’s arrival? We will talk about that tomorrow!
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.
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17)