The Righteousness of God
SUNDAY, September 18
As a child, I lived in rural Ohio. I remember loving the slowness of life and the knowledge that every neighbor’s door was open to visitors. I have fond memories of playing with the neighbor kids in the evening, catching and releasing fireflies. Sometimes, we’d venture into the inky black fields. All my senses would be on alert looking for the outline of one of my friends to anchor me in the darkness. It was sweet relief whenever we found one another.
Psalm 112 reminds us that those who fear the Lord and delight in his commands are blessed. God’s commands are light shining in the darkness, sweet relief to anchor disciples. In cherishing God’s law, we find ourselves in God’s grace, mercy, and righteousness.
How are the words of this psalm inviting you to respond to God? Praise to God! His commands are sweet relief in dark times.
Lord, we ask for grace to delight in your ways. amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: RESPECT FOR ALL OF GOD’S CREATION
The Desires of the Righteous
MONDAY, September 19
When is the last time you paid attention to your desires? How does what we desire impact our actions? Psalm 112 continues by turning our attention to the behaviors of those who delight in the commands of God. God calls us to let our desires mirror God’s, who delights in caring for the poor, the oppressed, the widow, and the orphan. God calls his children to live his commands.
This is life in the kingdom of God where we live under the authority
of his reign as his people for the sake of the whole world. We need
God’s grace in Jesus empowered by the Spirit to slow down and order our desires around his commands. It doesn’t come naturally in a world
of distraction filled with voices encouraging the fulfillment of self-interested desires.
Dear Jesus, please help us order our affections and our actions according to your way. Grant us the grace to be good stewards of our desires, resources, and energy for the sake of your kingdom. Amen.
The Way of the Cross
TUESDAY, September 20
Luke 14:1, 7-14
Arriving at dinner parties can be a challenge. We can be distracted by the ways of the world, as we seek to sit with the influencers and power players. Perhaps we even see ourselves as someone who belongs in the company of influential leaders. The head of the table feels right at home to us.
It is the way of the world to seek power and influence. Yet Jesus calls us to humility and to pattern our life after his. Jesus, who being in very nature God, humbled himself, even dying on a cross so we might take on his righteousness. In Jesus, we find that leading is serving, status is unimportant, and humility is the mark of true discipleship.
What does humility mean to you? How is Christ calling you to be present at your next networking lunch, dinner party, or staff meeting?
Lord Jesus, help us to be like you in the way we enter every social engagement. Help us to love, serve, and regard every person as significant in your kingdom. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: RESPECT FOR THOSE WE DON’T AGREE WITH
WEDNESDAY, September 21
Jesus speaks these words into a culture driven by status and honor. One could climb the social ladder by entertaining influencers who could reciprocate. With strategic invitations one’s status in the community could rise. Power and influence were obtained by working the system. We see this in our culture too. We are tempted to impress others by keeping company with the powerful. However, this is not the way of Christ, who kept company with untouchables, criminals, the poor, and the least of society. Jesus calls us to open our homes and hearts to those who cannot pay us back; he calls us to be generous with our hospitality as we see the great worth of all.
How do you feel about Jesus’s invitation to extend hospitality to those on the margins? How will you respond?
Lord Jesus, help us to be hospitable to those the world has forgotten, to those who cannot pay us back. Help us to be humble enough to learn the lessons they can teach us about your grace. Amen.
Invitation and Response
THURSDAY, September 22
Imagine the scene. Fancy dinner invitations have been sent to friends and family. All have RSVP’d in the affirmative. Preparations are underway and the atmosphere is ripe with anticipation for the coming celebration. A final notice is sent signifying all is ready and the doors are open. But no one comes. Instead, the guests offer lame excuses for rescinding their acceptance. The sense of rejection is palpable. How did this host respond? More invitations went out.
In this parable, God’s character is personified, revealing that his compassion, grace, mercy, and inclusivity are not diminished by rejection. He does not turn inward or seek to “save face.” God broadens the access to those on the margins who understand the sacredness of his invitation to come and taste his goodness. How do you want to respond to this invitation?
Lord Jesus, help us embody your grace, mercy, and inclusion. Grant us the ability to see your invitations as sacred and share them with all people. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: YOUTH WHO AGE OUT OF FOSTER CARE
Love As Solidarity
FRIDAY, September 23
Jesus makes clear in Matthew 12:28-34 that love of God and neighbor are the greatest commandments because they bring to life all the others. Today’s passage puts love in the context of action that pleases God. It pleases God when we offer hospitality to strangers and stand with the imprisoned, oppressed, and tortured by feeling with them the sorrow of their circumstances. This is Christlike love. Through Christ we can stand with others, free from attachments to comfort and security, amid terrifying and hopeless circumstances because, “The Lord will never leave us, and he is our helper.” We love in joy and sorrow because he first loved us when we were without hope.
How have you experienced God standing with you in trials? How do these experiences inform your response to the trials of others?
Lord Jesus, come and help us experience the fire of your love and the nearness of your presence. In response, help us stand with others through joy, sorrow, and trial. Amen.
Sacrifices Pleasing to God
SATURDAY, September 24
In the context of today’s passage, we are invited to offer a sacrifice of praise to God as we confess his name and tangibly love others in the way of Jesus. We are called to stand with Jesus and love others, even when doing so leads us outside the “camp” where life is hard, messy, and unpredictable (vv. 12-13). With our culture’s emphasis on achievement, hurry, and consumption, we can certainly overcomplicate what it means to love well. Hebrews 13:15-16 draws us back to loving others through simply doing good to all and sharing resources we have been given.
What are some tangible ways to pay attention to those outside your camp today? How do you feel about doing good by sharing resources with them? How is God inviting you to live this passage today?
God, we ask for the strength to give generously, to do good, and to be gracious to others as we offer a sacrifice of praise to you. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: NATION’S COMMITMENT TO REDUCE POLLUTION