(Seventh Sunday after Pentecost) SUNDAY, July 24
Today’s psalm is a song of praise. The psalmist lists all that God has done for them, “Come and see what God has done, he is awesome in his deeds” (v. 5, NRSV). Have you ever felt so good that you wanted to shout out loud? It might be easy to name times when everything comes together and it’s all fantastic. However, there are also times when we are filled with great sadness and grief. During those times, it can be hard to remember those good seasons. Perhaps, as humans we focus too much on the sources of our highs and lows. Maybe we should focus on God’s constancy in our lives instead. God is present both in the highs and the lows of life.
God wants a close relationship with us and asks us to trust him, whether everything feels great, or everything feels terrible. This reminds me of Joshua 1:9, where we are told to “be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (NIV).
Dear God, help us to remember that you want a relationship with us that transcends the ups and downs in life. We thank you for being a God who is faithful and always with us. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: COMMITMENT TO GOD’S COMMANDS
Service to Others
MONDAY, July 25
Our society constantly tells us to be the best at everything we do, whether in our jobs or our hobbies. People who have titles before or after their names receive prestige and honor—MD, PHD, CEO, or director mean something to the world. But guess what? God doesn’t care about our titles or salaries or bonuses—or all the things we can buy with them. God invites us to love and serve others instead of loving and serving ourselves.
This passage reminds me of the story of the Good Samaritan. The first two people who come upon the man who was beaten feel that they are too important and too busy to help him. Let’s look at our lives carefully to see if we have carried each other’s burdens (v. 2). Let’s leave our prideful self-importance behind so we can truly love and care for our neighbors.
“If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves” (v. 3, NIV).
Dear heavenly Father, please help us to live humble lives with a focus on service to others. Amen.
You Reap What You Sow
TUESDAY, July 26
Agricultural imagery is frequently used in the Bible. “You reap whatever you sow” (v. 7, NRSV) appears in today’s reading, meaning of course, that the effort we put into something will influence what we get out of it. God calls us to spend time building relationships with others. He wants us to choose people instead of our own selfish pursuits. This is not a practice that comes quickly or easily. It takes time and effort to get to know the people around us. Farmers understand the hard work involved in raising crops. The good news is that God knows this can be difficult. God knows we won’t be perfect, and he knows what each of us is capable of. It is important to remember that through all this work, he promises to be with us always.
Dear God, help us to work hard at loving each other. Place people in our paths whom we need to love each day. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: COMMITMENT TO LIVE SIMPLY
WEDNESDAY, July 27
2 Kings 5:1-14
Why is it so hard for us to trust and obey God? God assures us that when we trust in him, our burdens will be made light and we will be comforted. But so often we think we know best. We worry and try to solve our own problems. At first, Naaman thought he knew best and scoffed at Elisha’s remedy for his leprosy.
My mother died of cancer when I was a child. Throughout my adult life, I worried that I, too, would get the same cancer. Then two years ago, I was diagnosed with the same form of cancer. Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus said this because he knew how hard it was for us to fully give up our worries and trust in him. God wants to ease our burdens if we just trust in him. My experience with cancer has led me to trust in God much more than I ever had before, but I still struggle at times. And in that struggle, I move closer to God.
Dear heavenly Father, help us trust and obey you in all things. Help us see that you promise peace and rest if we lay down our burdens and our worries and give them to you. Amen.
Don’t Be Afraid
THURSDAY, July 28
Luke 8:40-42a, 49-56
When I was a child, my father read Bible stories to me, and I was especially drawn to today’s story of Jairus and his daughter. The children’s Bible we read focused on the limited amount of time Jesus had to get to the girl. Things held him up, like the crowds of people and then the woman whom Jesus stopped to speak to. The story is told with a sense of urgency, highlighting how worried Jairus was for his daughter. Imagining myself in the same situation, I know I would be frantic! After all the rush and effort of seeking Jesus, to be told that your child had already died is a parent’s worst nightmare. However, Jesus simply tells him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe” (v. 50, NIV). It seems like Jesus is saying something so easy, but how many parents would be able to set aside our fears and find peace with his words? This story illustrates how faithful Jairus was, to be able to lay his panic aside and trust Jesus.
Lord Jesus, help us to set aside our fears in life and just believe. Teach us to trust you as fully and faithfully as Jairus did. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: RESPONSIBLE USE OF THE WORLD’S RESOURCES
Reach Out to Jesus
FRIDAY, July 29
When Jesus healed people in the Bible, the healed body was only part of the message he was communicating. He also healed their souls. When Jesus tells the woman who touched his cloak, “Your faith has healed you” (v. 48), he is communicating the importance of fostering our faith. If the woman’s faith healed her, how do I attain that level of faith for myself? How does a person grow their faith? Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (NIV). The woman who touched Jesus’s cloak fits this definition perfectly. She wanted to be well and she believed unequivocally. God wants us to have faith throughout both our sicknesses and our periods of wellness. We grow our faith through prayer and reading his Word. In this way we can fully trust in Jesus.
Dear God, please give us faith like the woman who touched Jesus’s cloak. Help us to reach out for you each day so that we will feel your peace and your calm. Amen.
Guide Our Words
SATURDAY, July 30
Jesus wants his followers to spread the word to as many people as we can. He instructs us to tell the good news to everyone who will listen. We are not called to worry about the people who don’t want to hear about God. That is not our concern but God’s. As someone who is a worrier, I find this to be of great comfort.
When I was the director of a Christian preschool, our mission was to educate children within a Christian environment. During chapel time, I would look out over the little faces and tell them as well as I could about the love of God. There was no way to know if my words would plant seeds within them or if I was watering already planted seeds. My job was to teach them and model Christian love for them. The rest was in God’s hands. When we approach people in our lives, it’s important to remember that our call is to those who are receptive about God and model neighborly love. We must trust God for all the rest.
Dear God, help us to trust in you. Guide our words and actions when we are with others, so they may be pleasing to you. Amen.