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
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. (Psalm 65:8)
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
Yesterday we saw how attentiveness to God within his difficult circumstances helped Paul to see what God was doing through those circumstances. He was advancing the gospel in new and surprising ways as a result of Paul’s imprisonment! Some people were preaching the gospel out of goodwill (v.15), but there were other Christians who were preaching the gospel, “not sincerely but thinking to afflict” Paul while he was in prison.
It’s as bad as it sounds.They saw Paul as their rival, their “gospel competition” (as though there could be such a thing!) The gospel message was the same, but their motivation was to hurt Paul by stirring up some inward annoyance at their success. I love how Kent Hughes describes their “ministry success:” “The sheer cussedness of this is astonishing…They actually preached Christ with the hope that it would rub salt in Paul’s wounds. How small! How perverse! There can be no doubt that their actions did hurt him and made his imprisonment worse.”
And yet, Paul is unshaken, unstirred. He’s doesn’t fume or fuss. He simply says, “So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!” (v.18-21, The Message).
Has someone ever done something to intentionally hurt you? How did you respond? Think about it some this week. Why do you suppose Paul could respond as he did?
Here’s one reason. Paul had discovered the freedom of what Tim Keller calls “self-forgetfulness.” Which is exactly what we see in 1 Corinthians 4:3-5 where Paul says: “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.”
Did you catch that? Paul says, “I don’t care what you think of me. In fact, I don’t care what anybody thinks of me!” An attitude to which our culture heartily shouts, “Amen! Yeah, you tell ‘em, Paul!” Then he keeps going, “I don’t even care what I think about me. I mean just because I think I’m right, doesn’t mean I am.” A confused silence passes over the crowd. “Ah…hmm.”
All that Paul cares about is what Christ thinks of him. He’s the true judge. So he’s not rushing to defend himself. He’s actually forgotten himself, because all that really matters is that the gospel is advancing. The grace of the gospel actually freed Paul to just be himself, to watch what God is doing and enjoy the show without caring so much what others think about him, or his reputation, or his “legacy.” God’s got that covered.
Questions to Ponder:
How do you respond when your reputation gets tarnished? When your legacy is threatened? Are you self-forgetful and gospel-focused like Paul? If not, what stops you?
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 grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)