(Tenth Sunday after Pentecost) SUNDAY, August 14
“It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them” (v. 3, NIV).
Even when one of our children is acting a fool, I never stop loving them. Though my love for my children is imperfect, I could not imagine a time or circumstance that would cause me to feel otherwise. How much more is it true of God!
God’s love for us is not contingent on our faithfulness. This is good news because we inevitably falter. It is not a question of “if” but of “when” we go astray. Yet God is like a parent—a perfect parent—who cares for and nurtures us, even when we don’t know we need it.
Gracious God, thank you for your unfailing love. Thank you for your nurturing care. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: GRATITUDE FOR GOD’S LOVE
Longing for Restoration
MONDAY, August 15
“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, Lord, and grant us your salvation” (vv. 6-7, NIV).
As Christ followers, we are aware of God’s saving grace for our broken world. We know of God’s promise to restore things and make all things new. Why is it, then, that it always seems like there is no end in sight? No end to injustice. No end to the brokenness. No end to division and strife. No end to the personal, social, and societal effects of sin.
We join the psalmist in pleading for God’s favor. We cry out for God’s love to be manifest in our world. We long for restoration—not on the basis of our worthiness but on the basis of God’s steadfast love.
Gracious God, we long for restoration in our hearts, in our relationships, and in our cities. Show us your steadfast love, O Lord. Amen.
A Picture of Restoration
TUESDAY, August 16
“The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps” (vv. 12-13, NIV).
When I think about restoration, I often think about folks on TV who take old cars and turn them into beautiful works of art and engineering—restoring them to the way those cars used to be. But the picture of restoration in Scripture is richer than that. In the psalm we are not given an image of the way things used to be. Rather, we are reminded of the way things should be. When we are restored, love and faithfulness, righteousness and peace are manifest among God’s people and in
With this picture, I am reminded not to long for the “good old days” but to allow my imagination to be captured by a more beautiful vision of God’s shalom on earth which far exceeds anything we have ever seen on this side of heaven.
Gracious God, may our imaginations be captured by your vision for restoration. May our dreams for our lives and our communities be enlarged by your love. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: YOUTH TRYING TO FIGURE OUT THE NEXT STEP
An Ongoing Rescue
WEDNESDAY, August 17
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (vv. 6-7, NIV).
I wish good change could happen overnight. If our kids go to bed cranky, I wish the next morning, everything would be all better, as if the reset button was pressed. I wish the same in my own life in those areas of sin I am faced with every day. In this long and sometimes arduous journey of faith, we face many obstacles and distractions. We often face plenty of reasons to give up. The journey just seems too long.
The journey of being restored in Christ requires perseverance as we cling to the ongoing rescue that the Spirit of God empowers in our lives. The Apostle Paul challenges us to continue our journey, knowing that it is the power of Jesus that enables our restoration.
Lord Jesus, we trust in you for our ongoing salvation as we persevere. Empower us by your Spirit to live into the promise of your restoration. Amen.
THURSDAY, August 18
Long-range three pointers in basketball. Sticking a landing in gymnastics. Replicating my mother’s Taiwanese beef noodle soup. There are times in life we can say, “Nailed it.” It is an expression of when something is accomplished in just the right way or at just the right time. When the pressure is on and everything is at stake, the true heroes of sports (or cooking) nail it every time.
Jesus nailed it. Literally. In nailing the debt of our sin to the cross, God frees us from the power of sin. In nailing it to the cross, God accomplishes our salvation at just the right time, in just the right way.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your victory over sin and over the powers of wickedness in our world. Thank you for the freedom that we have because
of your victory. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: TEACHERS AND THEIR CLASSES
Restored to True Freedom
FRIDAY, August 19
Rules can be annoying. Of course, there is wisdom to many of the rules that help our societies function properly and equitably. Rules in the household can be helpful in steering children (and adults) toward healthy living and thriving. But it can be easy to become more interested in the rules themselves than the outcomes they are intended to produce. It is easy to fall into a Pharisaical adherence to the “right way” to live.
The restoration made possible by Jesus’s work on the cross challenges our legalism and our judgmental spirit and points us to a life of freedom.
“Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (vv. 16-17, NRSV).
Lord Jesus, may I experience freedom from condemnation in my life. Help me to live in the joy and freedom of your love. Amen.
Rooted in Love
SATURDAY, August 20
Love can cause us to do all kinds of things. It makes us feel butterflies in our stomachs. It makes us go through all kinds of lengths to make someone else smile. It makes us long for the joy and thriving of the ones we love. If you have ever watched a loved one struggle with depression or go through a very difficult season of life, you understand that feeling of wishing you had the power to change it all to restore them.
God has that power. Furthermore, God’s act of restoration in our lives and in our world is rooted in his deep love for us. It is not just that God wants to fix that which is broken. No, God fixes because God loves.
“For your steadfast love is higher than the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds” (v. 4, NRSV).
Loving God, thank you for your deep and restoring love. May you show your power in those areas in my life and in my community that need your deliverance. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: RETIREES OF FIXED INCOMES