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
Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. (Isaiah 33:2)
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.
Father, we are far too easily pleasedwith the limitations of this world instead of enjoying the limitless blessings that come from you.
We have sinned times without number, and have been guilty of pride and unbelief. We cling too tightly to our selfish ambitions and earthly possessions while neglecting to seek you in our daily lives.
Our sins and shortcomings present us with a list of accusations, but we thank you that they will not stand against us, for all have been laid on Christ. Help us to approach your throne of grace with confidence,so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. 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: Luke is a most vigorous champion of the outsider. An outsider himself, the only Gentile in an all-Jewish cast of New Testament writers, he shows how Jesus includes those who typically were treated as outsiders by the religious establishment of the day: women, common laborers (sheepherders), the racially different (Samaritans), the poor. He will not countenance religion as a club. As Luke tells the story, all of us who have found ourselves on the outside looking in on life with no hope of gaining entrance (and who of us hasn’t felt it?) now find the doors wide open, found and welcomed by God in Jesus. 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.
Did you notice the telling similarity of wording in 63:15 (‘your mansion of holiness and beauty’) and 64:11 (‘our house of holiness and beauty’)?
The former is the Lord’s heavenly habitation, the latter the earthly house where he promised to live among his people (cf., Exod. 25:8). The former is inviolable in holiness and beauty; the latter, given into the charge of his earthly people, is caught up in the disaster caused by their sin (cf., Ps. 74:4–7). In the divine intention the earthly was meant to be the replica of the heavenly(cf., Exod. 25:40).
The truth remains the same today: the Lord’s earthly people are themselves the temple in which he lives by his Spirit(1 Cor. 3:16), the locus and display of his holiness and beauty. Well may we mourn that our sinfulness, divisiveness, our failure in biblical distinctiveness, and our manifest lack of holiness have marred the image. Who, looking at today’s church – denominational or local – can see the likeness of Jesus? And this is not a matter only of denominational failure, though that is all too plain.
The Bible knows nothing of our ‘denominationalism’, and if Isaiah’s wording prompts us to put our hand to reform and renovation then its proper focus is the local church to which we each belong.
When we look at the merest sliver of a crescent moon we don’t say, ‘Oh, there’s part of the moon’. We say ‘Look, there’s the moon.’ In the same way each local church, however small – or in the eyes of onlookers, insignificant – is meant to be a mirror and image of the whole, an earthly replica of the heavenly reality where Christ is all.
We should be able to look at the fellowships to which we belong and say, ‘There is The Church’, bearing the two outstanding marks of holiness and beauty; obeying the command, ‘Be holy because I am holy’ (Lev. 19:2), and displaying the beauty of Jesus in all its gatherings, relationships and individual characters.
Questions to Ponder: God has made us as his people the temple in which he lives by his Spirit. We are the image, the likeness of Jesus that not only our brothers and sisters in Christ will see, but also our neighbors. Who is sufficient for this calling?Well…us! By the Spirit’s indwelling we really do have the ability to mirror, albeit imperfectly, the heavenly kingdom where Christ is all. How will you mirror this reality 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.
Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning. I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law. (Psalm 119:54-55)