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
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3)
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.
Heavenly Father, have mercy on us according to your steadfast love. We confess that we have forgotten your compassion and grace, how You bore us on eagles’ wings and brought us to Yourself; and we have forgotten your glory and holiness, and have not trembled before you in reverential wonder. Forgive us all our sins, we pray, through the finished work of Jesus Christ our Savior. By your Holy Spirit, please purify us and shine the light of Your gospel in our hearts, that we may live and serve You in the joy of resurrection life. 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.
Today our Devo comes from Kent Hughes who does a wonderful job showing how the gospel makes us “sufficient in Christ.”
“The Stoic Seneca put it this way: “the happy man is content with his present lot, no matter what it is, and is reconciled to his circumstances.” The Stoic ideal was a kind of self-contained superman who could rise above it all in independent self-sufficiency and serenity.
But Paul transformed the termwith a “powerfully Christ-centered redefinition of contentment.” Paul and all who are in Christ are God-sufficient as opposed to self-sufficient. Contentment is rooted in the eternal God rather than in the temporal self. Thus while Paul and Seneca may appear to be close, they are a universe apart! Paul is sufficient and content not because he is independent but because he is totally dependent—upon Christ.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” is one of the most frequently quoted verses of the Bible. It has been taped on the ceiling over bench presses in weight rooms.
But, sadly, Philippians 4:13 has been widely misused as it has been removed from its context and employed as an inspirational snippet to say, “I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me” or “I can do everything (especially extraordinary things) through Christ who strengthens me.”
As with every other line of Scripture, the assertion “I can do all things” is controlled by the context. Thus what Paul says is that in whatever circumstances I find myself, in whatever extremes—whether experiencing abundance with the wealthy or fellowshipping with the poor or struggling to proclaim the gospel to people who don’t want to hear or enduring the wrath of the establishment or bringing peace to the church or languishing in prison—I can be content and “can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Here the precise sense of the Greek of Philippians 4:13 will help us because the preposition “through” should be rendered “in,” so that the promise reads, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” Whatever comes Paul’s way, he has the strength to meet it. If he is brought low, he is a man in Christ; if he abounds, he is a man in Christ. In any and every circumstance he is a man in Christ. As a man in Christ he can do all things. As a man in Christ he is content regardless of the situation.
Questions to Ponder: If Christ is in you, then you can do all things in him who strengthens you. What things might Christ be calling you to do in him this week?
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.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 62:5-6)