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
One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)
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 O Lord, our most just and most compassionate heavenly Father, we acknowledge our guilt, that we have rebelled against you and have not obeyed your voice. We have hardened our hearts and chased after other gods of our own making. And we have looked for ways to serve ourselves rather than others. Merciful King, do not look upon us in anger, but for the sake of Jesus Christ and his perfect righteousness, have mercy upon us!
Please forgive our sins and cause us to return to you with our whole hearts. And by the grace of your Holy Spirit, strengthen the weakness of our faith and enable us to embrace the beauty and glory of the cross of Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
PARDON Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
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).
Pray Psalm 20 | Read Matthew 3
- 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.
Pray Psalm 21 | Read Genesis 2
- 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 1:1-8 (esp. 1:6)
Paul’s Confidence. Sandwiched between Paul’s gospel joy and his prayer for the Philippian community we find Paul’s confidence: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Paul was a confident fella even before Christ called him. He was sure of himself, sure of his education, sure of, well, everything! That is until his had a life-altering encounter with the risen Christ as he was heading to arrest and, let’s be honest, murder some Christians.
Imagine that! Imagine how unsettling it would be. It would be like building a house from the ground up only to realize as you apply the finishing touches that your foundation is crumbling. Paul’s foundations fell to pieces right there on that road. What’s interesting is that Paul try to pick up the pieces. How could he? And so it is with every true encounter with Christ. God began this good, gospel-work in him and for the rest of his life that gospel would work and rework and rebuild the ruins of his social and political and spiritual understanding of the world around the grace of the gospel.
It’s the same for us. We receive what we have no right to expect from God: his gracious, life-giving, life-restoring presence in our lives. Renovation begins, but the work is not yet finished. Paul says there someone in charge of both the beginning and the end of the project: “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
The beginning is now. God’s Spirit comes and dwells within us now, working a transformation of us more and more each day. We become the sort of people who slowly, surely take on the particular shape and form God made us to have. A shape and a form perfectly crafted for the role we are to play in God’s redemptive work. But, for Paul, the later determines how you live now.
The completion is later. So what’s the later for Christians? It’s a feast! It’s a wedding! It’s a renewed creation. It’s you and me waking up and walking outside into a world with no more fear, no more racism, no more political muckraking, no more affairs, no more self-destructive tendencies, no more embarrassment over our inadequacies. We will be made whole. 1 Corinthians tells us we will know fully and be fully known. We’ll turn to our friend and they to us and say, “I always knew you could be like this. I saw the good work that God began in you, but wow! You’re even more you than you’ve ever been!”
But the work is God’s. Not yours. Not mine. The burden of you becoming whole is Jesus’ not yours’. The gospel, Paul is telling us, is a vote of no confidence in ourselves to arrive at the day of Christ pure and blameless, and a vote of full confidence in Christ to carry us to completion. It’s fully embracing this belief: “I don’t fully see it now. In fact, I seem to be quite the walking contradiction, but this I know: God won’t give up on me, because in Jesus he has bound himself to me. He will make it happen, and one day I will rise into the fullness of all that he made me to be.”
Questions to Ponder:
What excites you about God’s work in you being carried to completion? In what ways can you see his good work moving forward in your life even now?
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.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35, 37-39)