Uncertain Times—Are You Hungry?
(Ninth Sunday after Pentecost) SUNDAY, August 7
Israel faced a dark time. It wasn’t easy to be a prophet. Was Amos called to simply dispense fear, or could he give a new foundation for hope?
I remember well those early 2020 events that darkened everything. Hope gave way to fear. We thought it would last three weeks. Then three months. Then it seemed every three months something changed worldwide.
When Amos spoke to Israel, justice had disappeared. The temple was no longer a gathering of joy. Amos prophesied untold deaths. A cloud of sadness and a fear of famine hung over the land. Amos said this would be a new kind of famine: “Not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it” (vv. 11-12, NIV).
May we find our appetites satisfied reaching for the Word of the Lord. Might that give strength for today, hope for tomorrow.
God, we confess we have not trusted you in uncertainty. We desire to allow you to satisfy our hunger with your Word. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: PRAISE FOR GOD’S BLESSINGS
Uncertain Times—Do You Need a Miracle?
MONDAY, August 8
I needed a miracle. Go had led me to a man whom I was convinced had a legal pathway into the U.S. But I couldn’t find a lawyer who agreed with me. Still, when I prayed, I heard the same message: “There is a way. You help him.” One day upon leaving a meeting to help Afghan people resettle, I bumped into a woman in the hall. We quickly discovered she was not only an immigration attorney specializing in the pathway I knew existed for this young man, but she had been praying for someone like me to assist her with Afghans. We laughed as we knew God himself had orchestrated that moment.
In today’s passage Sarah needed a miracle. Three men came to Abraham’s tent to remind him of the promise. As Sarah listened, she laughed. Perhaps because she knew her age meant a child was impossible, but what if she secretly laughed in joy, knowing only God could orchestrate this? In the next year, the couple conceived and gave birth to Isaac. The miracle had come.
Father God, we have received your promises, but we do not always believe. Let us smile expectantly, knowing you will fulfill them. Amen.
Uncertain Times—Are You Distracted?
TUESDAY, August 9
“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better’” (vv. 41-42, NIV). What did Mary choose? A sacred space.
Distractions drive our lives. It was no different two thousand years ago. In her loving desire to serve and do the right thing, Martha gave in to those distractions.
While we don’t have the bodily presence of Jesus with us today, we can create a sacred space into which we come and hide for a moment, to sit in his presence. There’s a candle. Well-chosen books. At minimum a Bible. A place and time to ask questions of our Lord. Or return to him all our uncertainties and fears. Just to sit and listen to him say, “I love you.”
Holy Spirit, help us remember to take a moment every day to sit in the sacred presence of our God. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: COMMUNITIES REBUILDING AFTER DISASTERS
Uncertain Times—Made in His Image, Really?
WEDNESDAY, August 10
Imago Dei means “made in God’s image.” It’s how God sees us. “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (vv. 19-20, NIV).
Genesis 1:26-28 reports three times that God made humans in his image. Then sin entered. People broke. Not unlike a potter creating a beautiful, original ceramic work of art. What happens when it breaks? Perhaps it is thrown away. Or repaired. Japanese use gold (kintsugi), filling cracks and adding value. The French create innovative designs (trencadis) with broken parts. Others use clay, recreating a cracked version resembling the original. All efforts to repair brokenness.
But God, Master Creator of all time reconciles back to himself that very image of what he made us to be. Not just repaired cracks. Reconciled. Made anew. In God’s own image.
God, thank you that you chase after us to restore and reconcile us to yourself. Amen.
Uncertain Times—When Faith Tends to Waver
THURSDAY, August 11
I help orient refugees to American culture and law. Sometimes they are surprised to learn there is punishment for breaking a law they didn’t know existed. That often invokes fear.
Before Jesus, no one could know, much less follow, all God’s laws. But now Jesus presents us as holy before God. Who would die or go to prison so that a lawbreaker may live? Yet that is the gospel, the reason for which Jesus walked here among mockers and betrayers.
The gospel is countercultural to any worldview. It can replace doubts about one’s faith, worry that something’s not working. Fear that God has forgotten me, or that I can’t protect the future for my children.
God’s reconciliation overpowers uncertainty and fear. The God of time, space, power, and eternity reaches out, calling to continue in our faith, established and firm, not moving from the hope in the gospel (v. 23).
God, forgive me for not trusting the power of the resurrection. Stretch my faith, let me find strength in all you say to me. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: COVENANT ENABLING RESIDENCES
Uncertain Times—Why Such a Mystery?
FRIDAY, August 12
During the early days of the pandemic, I started reading mystery books. Feeling so little control over my life and finding it difficult to get things done that used to be routine, I found gratification in completing a story where the impossible problem was solved. Sometimes it only required a Friday evening!
Paul explains the Word of God in its fullness as a mystery, kept hidden for ages and generations but now available to all Christ followers. Not so simplistic as a Friday night read, this mystery promises glorious hope and wisdom. This mystery takes a lifetime to come to full maturity in Christ, but Paul testifies God will powerfully provide the needed energy to his servants.
“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (v. 27, NIV).
God, we praise you for entrusting this mystery to us. Let us live in anticipation of the work you are doing in the world, inside and through us. Amen.
Uncertain Times—Stable Foundations
SATURDAY, August 13
One of Disney’s most popular fireworks shows was “Happily Ever After.” When the parks retired that show, people complained. They said it proved a dream is not enough, but as the narrator said, “That dream will lead us on a journey to discover who we’re meant to be.”
Psalm 15 shows the real dream of who God made us to be. Who can dwell with God? The blameless, righteous, truthful, affirming, forgiving, loving, those who honor all who fear him, those who keep promises even when it hurts, live in integrity, consistency, sacrifice. Can anyone be all these things? Even for a moment? No! However, the more we commit to the principles God has given for living in uncertainty, the more stable is that foundation. As we seek his Word, expect miracles, sit in sacred spaces, celebrate community that’s made in his image, renew our faith, and seek after that hope of glory, God renews in us who he made us to be. Our foundation stands on that rock.
God, might we discover the promises of Psalm 15, “Whoever does these things will never be shaken” (v. 5, NIV). Amen.