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
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,and give thanks to his holy name.For his anger is but for a moment,and his favor is for a lifetime.Weeping may tarry for the night,but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:4-5)
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, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint, heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long? Turn, LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave? (Psalm 6)
PARDON Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:33-34)
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: Malachi gets in the last word of Holy Scripture in the Old Testament. The final sentences in his message to us evoke the gigantic figures of Moses and Elijah—Moses to keep us rooted in what God has done and said in the past, Elijah to keep us alert to what God will do in the days ahead. By leaving us in the company of mighty Moses and fiery Elijah, Malachi considerably reduces the danger of our trivializing matters of God and the soul. 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
Grace & Peace. What was the room like where Paul wrote this letter? I’ve wondered that since I was child. By now Paul has tasted the many flavors of Roman imprisonment. Was it the relative comfort of house arrest in Rome where he could move about and receive guests? Or was it an underground cell like those at the Mamertine Prison where light only filters in through the ventilation shafts carved into the rock ceiling? Some of these details are unknowable, and yet when we “engage the text at the level of the informed imagination” many details surface through listening closely.
And as we listen, perhaps closing our eyes and leaning our heads back slightly, Paul’s familiar voice comes into focus. Only something is different this time: “Paul and Timothy, slaves (doulos) of Christ Jesus.” Why does the Apostle to the Gentiles call himself and Timothy slaves? The answer only comes as you read the letter slowly and in one sitting. This is, after all, the way a letter is meant to be read. Sitting down at the table with some food and drink and hearing your friend’s familiar cadence lift off the page and fill the air.
Their minds would have picked up on it quickly. It’s right there at the heart of the letter. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a slave (doulos)…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
Our modern ears miss so much. Paul leads in with this clue about where his letter is headed. It’s poetry. It’s good letter writing. It’s also important for us and the Philippian believers to hear, because if both Paul and Jesus can take on this role within God’s gospel work (which we’ll hear more about soon) without detriment to their dignity, then surely we can “have the same love,” be of “one mind,” and “in humility count others more significant than ourselves”? But we’re jumping ahead of ourselves. There’s more to see here.
We refocus just in time to hear Paul’s usual greeting ring out, “grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Always a fan of wordplay, Paul has a way of subtly modifying an everyday, colorless Roman “To Whom It May Concern” into a rich Gospel-greeting: Grace to you and peace from none other than God himself who, because of Jesus (who is Lord and not Caesar, by the way), is now our Father! His greeting may be Greek to you, but it’s more Hebrew in origin. Numbers 6:24-26 to be exact. It’s a benediction at the beginning meant to evoke the gospel realities Paul will unfold and make concrete for his friends in the remainder of his letter.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
And, oh, how He has in Christ!
Questions to Ponder:
What surprises you most about the way Paul greets the Philippians?
Are you a slave to anything? What is God doing to save you from this?
What do you suppose he’ll say next? How can I thank Jesus as the ultimate revelation of the grace and peace God promises in Numbers 6:24-26?
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.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Number 6:24-26)