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.
CONFESSION Father, teach us not to sin with such abandon. We do it all so easily: Pretend, lie, envy, lust, criticize, brood, ignore, deny, consume, hoard, defame, distort, make excuses, and then expect an easy forgiveness for the asking. God, forgive us for our negligence of your holy character. Let us not misinterpret your patience with our sin as though it were permissiveness. Loving Father, astonish us with a wholesome, godly fear which will not drive us to despair, but cause us to number our days and give us hearts of wisdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
PARDON (try committing this one to memory this week!) 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 1:12-26 (esp. v.18b-20)
Great Expectations. One of the things we must learn to do if we are to read scripture well is to slow down. Slowing down allows us to notice the details and to quiet ourselves before God, to allow his scripture to interpret us, to reveal aspects of our hearts that we didn’t dare imagine were there before we turned the page.
Reading this way let’s us notice words and phrases that, upon further inspection, reveal distinct images that we often miss when we read in a drive-by fashion. There are several here that I’m sure Paul hoped his friends would catch as they read, but one in particular that helps us modern readers understand why Paul is rejoicing in his jail cell.
This whole time, the Philippians have been praying for Paul, and the Spirit has been helping Paul endure his the cramping restrictions of his imprisonment. But what has Paul been doing? One thing that we said yesterday was that he was being attentive. Attentive to what God is doing. Listening to how the story is unfolding as God advances the gospel even through his imprisonment. He is waiting to see what God is going to do next. And that’s where our word image comes into play.
“…it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”
Now imagine a child waiting by the window, perhaps on tip-toes, straining her head to see a long anticipated visitor. That’s how Paul describes himself: “stretching his head forward” to see what God has for him next. So what’s he expecting to see? Christ being honored (lit. “shown to be great”). In other words, Paul expects that God, who began this good work in Paul, will carry it to completion in him by helping him to be bold in sharing the gospel even if it leads to his death.
Questions to Ponder: When was the last time you were eagerly expecting something? What did you do while you waited? We will all experience some form of expectation this week. What would it look like to wait with the sort of ultimate hope Paul had?
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.
Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. (Psalm 80:7)