SUNDAY, July 2
Fifth Sunday After Pentecost
We all mess up. Sometimes I mess up a lot! Some days it feels like nothing goes right and I keep repeating the same mistakes over and over.
I wonder if David felt like that. I wonder if he had days when it felt like he could not possibly get it right—days he made mistake after mistake and was so far from God’s best for his life. I imagine David writing this psalm from that kind of place. He prays to a God who is faithful and trusts that God will guard his life. David doesn’t rely on his own ability. He is humble in his confident cry for help.
When we mess up and fall short, we can take heart that being godly doesn’t depend on our learning past lessons. Our godliness depends on a merciful God and his dependable guidance.
Take heart, friend. We don’t have to get it right all the time. We serve a loving and merciful God who does get it right, and he will restore our joy.
God, help us to know that when we don’t get it right, you do. Remind us that you are capable and faithful. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: IRENIC SPIRIT IN OUR CHURCHES AND COMMUNITIES
To Make Us Stronger
MONDAY, July 3
My family lives in a suburb of Minneapolis, in a sleepy little neighborhood where people wave as they walk their dogs and our kids play in the street with the neighbor kids. Every fall, about 100 trick-or-treaters giggle when they get their Halloween candy through the chute my husband made to facilitate social distancing during the pandemic. We still use the chute because the kids love it so much.
The idealistic safety of our life came to a crashing halt on June 7, 2020, when our city was imploding with riots. My husband called from work to warn me that he was on his way home early because he could see people gathering on University Avenue. I prayed that he would make it safely.
Jeremiah lived during one of the most troublesome seasons of Hebrew history leading up to the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC. He knew tragedy and he knew fear.
In times of tragedy and deep fear, do we conform to who God truly is? Or do we reach for a God we wish for? God longs to take the evil at our door and work good in our lives. He will refine us into who he has created us to be.
Lord, remind us that you can use even the darkest of times for your good. AMEN.
TUESDAY, July 4
One of my favorite songs is written from this set of verses. “When Jesus is my portion, / A constant friend is he / His eye is on the sparrow / And I know he watches over me.”
If God cares about a sparrow, how much more, Beloved, does he care for you? God counts the very hairs on our head, so how much more concerned is he of our well-being in all things?
“I sing because I’m happy / I sing because I’m free. / His eye is on the sparrow, / And I know he watches over me.”
How will you sing this day? How will you sing of a God who created you, loves you, and calls you his?
We are his and he loves us!
Dearest Jesus, thank you for giving us a reason to sing. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
A Good Promise
WEDNESDAY, July 5
Where would you be standing in the crowd when Jesus carried his cross to Golgotha? Would you be standing next to your mother? Huddled with your sister? It’s easy to place ourselves next to those we love, assuming they agree with our faith.
But what if they mock you for your beliefs? That is the reality for many people—including me. I have siblings who do not know Jesus. My heart is heavy as I pray for them to know their Creator and know the fullness of a life spent in his love.
Jesus calls us not to love our people less, but to love him more. The Prince of peace knew that he will bring not only peace but also conflict. He knew his followers would experience conflict in relationships because of him. He makes a promise though: Even though we may have to walk away from some to walk toward him, we will find our life.
Lord, we pray for the ones we love to know you and to know the fullness of a life in you. AMEN.
Alive to Life
THURSDAY, July 6
If we have been forgiven for our sins, why do we need to stop sinning?
If we do something wrong, then it will be forgiven, just as our past transgressions have been wiped clean—right?
When my children forget to do something for the twentieth time or even purposely do something they know they are not supposed to do, I don’t stop loving them. My love does not falter. However, I have wisdom that they do not. I know what is best for them, whereas they are focused on the rewards of the moment.
Likewise, our Father knows the end of the story. He knows how easily sin can entangle. He gives us tools to avoid sin and live righteously—his church, his followers, his Word, and his Spirit. We reach for these things so that we may experience life as it was intended by the Creator of the universe.
Let us count ourselves dead to sin but alive to life in Christ Jesus!
O God, help us to truly die to sin and live a life focused fully on you. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: WILLINGNESS TO BRIDGE OUR DIFFERENCES
God Is on Our Team
FRIDAY, July 7
She stands at the free throw line and the court gets quiet. Just one of these two shots could win the game. She’s just 12, and everyone’s eyes are on her. It’s been a long game. Her spirit has taken a hit and so has her confidence. Yet she stands tall and takes on the pressure of shooting free throws. She will do her best and take one for the team.
This is often how we feel. Sometimes life seems to bruise us, and we feel the pressure. We stand for Jesus and we are mocked. We are called to endure even when God seems silent.
Yet God is faithful and on our team. He always has been and he always will be. We already know the end of the story. We know how this game ends—in victory for God and those who follow him.
Holy God, hold us close when we are hurt and scared, and help us to stand for you. AMEN.
Rest and Breathe
SATURDAY, July 8
As a society, we tend to be so driven sometimes it seems selfish to rest. If we are not constantly on the go, we feel like we are doing something wrong. But that could not be further from the truth. At the beginning of creation, God designed rest. He rested!
Our bodies need sleep and we also need to rest in God. Resting in God is a spiritual discipline that we need to practice. Doing so helps prepare us to do the work that he has for us.
So rest, dear one! Sit at the feet of God. Go for a walk. Sit by the ocean. Play in the snow. Color a picture. Go for a run. Read a book. Close your eyes and breathe. Be filled and restored to do his good work.
Dear Lord, thank you for rest. Remind us to sit at your feet so that you may restore us to do your work. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: WORK OF HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES