God’s Forever Faithfulness
SUNDAY, July 23
Eighth Sunday After Pentecost
The concept of infinity can be hard to wrap our brains around. Forever just goes and goes and goes and goes. So does the faithfulness of God. It endures day after day. It existed yesterday and all the days before. It will exist tomorrow and all the days after. As we find ourselves in a sea of constant change, of unknowns and uncertainty, we can tether ourselves to the consistent, persistent, forever faithfulness of God.
Being tethered to God allows us to take divinely inspired risks, knowing that God goes before us, is beside us, behind us, above us, within us. Being tethered to God allows us to practice joy, to be transformed by his goodness and love. We can trust the strength of our tether, as we can trust that God holds us today, tomorrow, and all the days to come.
God, let us trust your forever faithfulness each and every day of our lives. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: TO BE GENEROUS STEWARDS
God’s Faithfulness in Adversity
MONDAY, July 24
One of the first worship songs I ever heard was Amy Grant’s “Thy Word,” almost word for word taken from today’s psalm: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (v. 105, NRSV). As a kid, I heard the lyrics to the song and imagined a lamp on a serene path, next to a peaceful river in broad daylight. An idyllic interpretation for sure. Many years later, however, I looked back on this passage and remembered that lamps are not necessary in the daylight; we really need them in the darkness. It can be effortless to follow the Word of God when life is going smoothly and another thing altogether to cling to God’s promises when faced with hardship and adversity. The light from the lamp we may barely notice in sunshine may be our lifeline late at night, even if it seems to cast only a shadow.
God, let us follow your light amidst hardship and adversity. AMEN.
God’s Faithfulness on the Journey
TUESDAY, July 25
Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67
I love road trips. I like to invest in all of the finest snacks our West Coast gas stations have to offer and curate about one billion playlists to listen to along the way.
But some journeys are not a blissful road trip. Some are excruciating, with every mile more painful than the one before. In those journeys we ask God to straighten the path, and we beg for some sort of shortcut to our destination. Perhaps in the most dire times, we may set out toward a destination that is undefined or uncertain. No matter our journey, God is our faithful travel companion. He sees the highways and backroads we travel, the times we get stuck in traffic, and the times we have the window rolled down with our hand in the wind. He knows the destination when we have no idea where we are headed. So let us press on and let the promise of God’s faithfulness lead the way.
God, help us trust you on the journey ahead. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: THE WORK OF PAUL CARLSON PARTNERSHIP
God’s Faithfulness in Struggle
WEDNESDAY, July 26
There is no dignified way to eat soup. It is one of the most awkward foods in existence, and thus high on my list of least favorite foods.
To think Esau traded his birthright to Jacob for some stew in today’s passage is mind-boggling to me. This lopsided trade is just a window into the greater relational tension between Jacob and Esau. Esau was loved most by Isaac, Jacob loved most by Rebekah. Esau was the gregarious, successful hunter and Jacob the quieter, tent-living son. Even Rebekah’s pregnancy and the brothers’ birth was dramatic, as Jacob was born with his hand gripping Esau’s heel. Perhaps Jacob’s most profound struggle comes later in Genesis when he wrestles the angel. Jacob’s new name, Israel, reflects the outcome of his struggle with God and with his people.
Maybe, like Jacob, our lives are defined by tension and struggle. The account of Jacob throughout Genesis shows that God does not abandon us in times of trial, and his presence is greater than any foe we may face.
God, remind us of your presence in the midst of struggle. AMEN.
God’s Faithfulness in Judgement
THURSDAY, July 27
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Each spring and fall, I trudge into the deep corners of my backyard with clippers to face the veins of ivy running up, around, and through every other plant in the garden. I spend my time carefully removing the ivy in such a way as to not cut the plants I planted intentionally. Sometimes it’s tempting to just hack away at the entire garden, destroying both the invasive ivy and everything else in its path.
In the story of the weeds and the wheat, Jesus explains that at the time of judgment, there will be much destruction of the weeds, but God will not destroy the entire field. The wheat—from the good seed planted by the Son of Man—will be spared. This deliberate act of grace will unfold amidst fire and flame. God will remain faithful to the end of the age and will gather together what has been intentionally planted.
God, thank you for your intentionality in planting the good seeds. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: FAMILIES AND SURVIVORS OF GUN VIOLENCE
God’s Faithfulness Amidst Our Sin
FRIDAY, July 28
My husband and I have owned a set of stainless steel steak knives for 18 years. The instructions explicitly state to hand wash the knives and not to put them in the dishwasher. However, every time I use these knives, I ignore the instructions and run them through the dishwasher anyway. I have no plans to change the way I wash them. I continue to ignore helpful instructions and do what I should not do.
Every day, we behave in ways we shouldn’t. Over and over and over. Though we are deeply flawed, God doesn’t write us off as lost causes. Because of his good grace, we are saved. There is nothing we can do to earn the gift of God’s grace, as we will forever and always be human and in our human nature, continue in sinful patterns. Even so, in all our sin, the faithful grace of God remains.
God, allow us to receive your gift of grace today. AMEN.
God’s Faithfulness in Freedom
SATURDAY, July 29
There’s no feeling like that of being unhindered, unencumbered, unfettered. It’s that feeling of the last day of school before summer, heading home to a seemingly endless supply of snacks, TV, swimming, and relaxing. Something deep within the human heart longs for freedom, like a fish on the line ready to be cut loose.
We can find God’s faithfulness in our freedom. In the power of the Holy Spirit we are free. This is not freedom from responsibility or an invitation to be shortsighted and reckless. Rather, it’s in Jesus’s loving sacrifice on behalf of all sinners that we are free. We are free because Jesus set us free to live under the law of the Spirit.
God, may we live like people living in the freedom of the Holy Spirit today. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: GRATITUDE FOR THE PROMISES OF GOD