DEVOTIONAL (June 1-15, 2018): “First of All”

by Lauren Muzyka, Executive Director, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verse(s):

“One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’
Jesus replied, ‘The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.'”

– Mark 12:28-31

Reflection: Loving our neighbor — sounds great on paper! But in real life, especially on the sidewalk?

We’re so tempted — based on our righteous anger about abortion — to forget to love our neighbors as ourselves…

– The woman walking into the abortion facility, confused, scared, and misled
– The boyfriend who washes his hands of his involvement in the abortion
– The abortion worker, working in the industry due to pain from past abortions
– Clergy and community who seemingly don’t care that there’s an abortion facility right down the road from them

…and so many others who cross our path in this great battle for life.

Yes, we can be righteously angry that they “condone” this great act of evil in some way, but the Lord calls us, first, to love them, knowing that they might be misled by their own pain. When we resolve to start with love, the Holy Spirit can more aptly guide us because our hearts are open to His love.

Perhaps we start with a smile and an invitation to talk. Of course, it doesn’t mean that, at some point, we may not say something to convict their hearts as the Lord directs, but it means that we start, first, with love.

Faith Challenge: Pray for all those who anger you, and ask the Lord to give you a great love for each one.

DEVOTIONAL (May 8 – 31, 2018): “Do Not Give Up”

by Lauren Muzyka, Executive Director, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verse(s): “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

Reflection: We hope to be “lucky” — in other words, successful — in all our endeavors concerning work, life, and love.  But is it luck that leads to true success in this life?

The Scriptures point us to a different model when it comes to success:  It’s one that perseveres in faith, hope, and love.  When we face challenges in the Christian life, we don’t hope against hope — we are told that we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  And as we persevere, everything we do should be covered in prayer which is the ultimate power source for the Christian life.

In that way, we cooperate with God’s grace which is abundantly available to us as believers.  God does His part — and He admonishes us to do ours.  Let’s pray, work and persevere — and then, we’ll no doubt be “lucky.”

Faith Challenge: What challenges are you facing today — whether on the sidewalk or in your personal life?  Are you submitting those in prayer to the Lord and asking for His guidance?  Then, are you doing the part that He is asking you to do to see victory in that challenge?

DEVOTIONAL (April 2 – May 7, 2018): “We’re Not Worthy”

by Jeff Reedy, Shipping Coordinator, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verses: “As John finished his work, he said, ‘Who do you suppose I am?  I am not the one you are looking for.  But there is one coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.'” – Acts 13:25

Reflection: Working for a pro-life cause can be a struggle!  The work that we do each day is very counter-cultural.  And it is directly opposed to the designs of our enemy, who wants a culture of death to be accepted by everyone. 

But it’s our God who has called us to do this work, and it’s good for us to remember, like John did, that we are His instruments in accomplishing His will.  We “prepare the way” in the hearts of those we talk to each day for the work that God wants to do in their lives.  We are unworthy instruments, of course.  None of us “deserve” to do this important work of saving lives.  On the other hand, it is a high and holy calling that He’s given us.

As C.S. Lewis said, the fact that we are sinners called to His service is “both honor enough to raise the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth.”  It is good for us to remember that we are voices crying out in the wilderness, protecting the vulnerable, and preparing the way for God’s work in the lives of those we speak to.

Call to Action: This week, challenge yourself to spend time in His presence, reminding yourself of your great worth and your great need for His work in us, without which the work that we do is empty.  Then, pray over this great mission, and ask God to bless and protect it, not for our glory, but for His.

DEVOTIONAL (March 11 – April 1, 2018): “Overjoyed”

by Lauren Muzyka, Executive Director, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verses:

“When they looked up,
they saw that the stone had been rolled back;
it was very large.
On entering the tomb they saw a young man
sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe,
and they were utterly amazed.
He said to them, ‘Do not be amazed!
You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.
He has been raised; he is not here.
Behold the place where they laid him.
But go and tell his disciples and Peter,
‘He is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him, as he told you.””

— Mark 16: 4-7

Reflection: When the idea of Sidewalk Advocates for Life was put on our hearts, we had no idea what this leap of faith might bring — but that’s the fun part with God!  He tugs …and we respond, many times, without any preview of what to expect.

And yet, here we are, rejoicing in almost 4,000 precious babies saved, along with so many other amazing blessings!

Our Lord tells us that we who rejoice in Him — in his ultimate victory over sin and death — should take that JOY, exult and trust in Him, and run to follow wherever He leads so we may partake of the many blessings He wants to give us.  He always has good things in store!

How many times have we been invited to the feast and missed out because we were afraid or refused to say YES?  And yet, we know that God will never invite us somewhere where he cannot transform, bless, and bring victory.

There is more work to do: More soil to till, more harvest to reap!  Together, let’s move forward in faith, expectantly waiting to see what other blessings God wants to bring us!

Call to Action: As a part of our family and community of faith, please join us in a prayer of thanksgiving for all He’s done.  A grateful heart opens us to new, amazing blessings in the future!

Then, please consider joining us on our next big webcast event this Thursday night, ENDING ABORTION Through the Power of Love, where you can learn how to keep the life-saving moment going!

GRAB ONE OF THE LIMITED SPOTS HERE: sidewalkadvocates.org/webcast

THANK YOU for being on this exciting, life-saving journey with us!

DEVOTIONAL (FEBRUARY 25 – MARCH 10): “LACK OF FAITH?”

by Jeff Reedy, Shipping Coordinator, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verse: Jesus could not perform very many miracles there, except to lay hands on a few people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. – Mark 6:5-6

Reflection: That’s not the way we want to amaze Jesus, right?

How often is He wanting to perform miracles in our lives or in our communities, but our lack of faith leaves Him unable to do much, amazed at how little we believe. Would it not be better for us to amaze Him as did the centurion, with his great faith? 

God can do a great deal or not very much in our lives, depending on how much faith we put in Him.  And it only takes a mustard seed to go a long way.

Faith Challenge: Let’s ask God how we can get out of the way, allow Him to work more freely in our lives, and how He can help our faith grow in the process.

DEVOTIONAL (February 1 – 25, 2018): “For the Good of Those Who Love Him”

by Jeff Reedy, Shipping Coordinator, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verse(s): “For we know that God works everything for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Reflection: The world seems to be in a tumult of scary news at times:  Political upheaval.  Police officers gunned down.  Terrorist acts.

And yet, we know that God works everything for our good. Everything!  No matter who is in the Oval Office …no matter what laws get passed in our nation. God works everything for good under Nero just as He does under Constantine. If we but turn to Him, we can trust that He will work everything out in the end.

An example of this comes immediately to mind: It’s such a beautiful thing to see a baby spared from abortion and given the opportunity for a full and happy life. It makes people wonder, what can I do to help save babies like this?

Well, that brings us to our second example: Sidewalk Advocates for Life has applications open this month!  You can learn how to bring this peaceful, lawful, incredibly effective program to your town or city and build a team of trained Sidewalk Advocates in front of your local abortion facility.

Ever wondered what you can do to make a difference in the world? To be part of God “working everything for our good?” Here’s your chance to be part of the solution!

Faith Challenge: Pray for God to work everything for good in our country and to begin with us, perhaps by bringingSidewalk Advocates for Life to YOUR area!

DEVOTIONAL (January 1 – 31, 2018): “Time and Revelation”

by Jeff Reedy, Shipping Coordinator, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verse(s): “Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom He wanted, and they came to Him. He appointed Twelve, whom He also named Apostles, that they might be with Him and He might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.” — Mark 3:13

Reflection: Jesus is calling us. He is summoning you for some important work that He wants you to do.

When we go on to read the rest of the story, we see clearly that the disciples were first called to be with Him. That’s what all of us are called to above anything else. Every disciple who followed Jesus was called to “be with Him.” And when we’re with Him, He reveals to us very important things that we wouldn’t otherwise have the grace of knowing — things essential for our unique mission in life.

Quite often, He shows us the gifts that He has already given us: Some of us are given the gift of having big hearts with a special mission to care for others. Some are given the gifts of healing. Some can write well. Some are given the gift of boldness through speech.

Whatever the gift He’s given you, He now wants you to use it. He calls us to be with Him, find our gifts, and then GO OUT to “preach and have authority to drive out demons.” We are all called to go out, sharing the love that He’s given us, pushing back the darkness.

Faith Challenge: Spend time “with Him” this week, and ask Him what gifts He’s given you that you might not have uncovered until now. And then ask Him to show you how to use your gifts in a greater way to drive back the darkness and spread His glorious light.

DEVOTIONAL (November 23 – December 31, 2017): “The World Turned Upside Down”

by Christina Faucett, Program Administrator, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verses: In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” – Luke 1:26-33

Reflection: The world was saved by an unplanned pregnancy. I know it’s a bit cliché, but this is the season for remembering those things we have heard a hundred times before. We should remember how messy it was: an unwed mother, a father who wasn’t really the baby’s father – whom everyone must have considered either a sinner or a fool – a birth in a stable surrounded by animals and strangers, fleeing to a foreign country in terror in the middle of the night. It’s not the way any of us would choose to start a family, but it’s the way God choose to bring us into His.

It wasn’t really unplanned, of course. It had been planned from before the beginning of the world. It was foretold in the Garden of Eden: “[H]e will crush your head, and you will strike his heel,” (Genesis 3:15). But to everyone but God it must have been surprising. In the words of one of my favorite Christmas songs: such a strange way to save the world.

The birth of Christ turned the world upside down, starting with the lives of two ordinary small-town people. Two people willing to have their lives upended for the sake of a baby they were told would save his people from their sins.

For most women, the news that they are going to have a child isn’t brought by angels. For many, the news isn’t joy-bringing, but fear-instilling. Their life is about to change dramatically. No one is going to tell the man they love in a dream that he shouldn’t abandon them. No one is bringing gold to the birthing suite to pay the hospital bill. They may feel just as alone and scared as Mary must have felt in a strange town with no family and friends to support her. But the same truth the angel told Mary is true for all women: the Lord is with you. God may have made the lives of the Holy Family more chaotic than they planned, but He also provided for them every step of the way. He used everyone from poor shepherds to rich kings to do it.

Faith Challenge: We may be neither kings nor shepherds. No angelic choir or strange star may guide our path, but we can still heed the voice of the Lord when He calls us to help the single mother, to encourage the poor father, to take in the stranger, or simply to come and marvel at the newborn baby. Life is unpredictable and often scary. Things don’t go the way we planned. But God is always there, whether in the form of an angelic message, or a simple manger in which to rest our head.

DEVOTIONAL (November 22, 2017): “Give Thanks”

by Lauren Muzyka, Executive Director, Sidewalk Advocates for Life (with contributions from Chantel Poisel)

Verses: “Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known His deeds among the people.” — 1 Chronicles 16:8 (KJV)

Reflection: This week, many of us in the U.S. will be celebrating Thanksgiving, a time of celebration with family and friends where we share a meal and count our blessings to give thanks for all the Lord has done!  We have so much to be thankful for!

This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to “give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.” Thank Him for all he has done in your life and in the lives of your loved ones. Thank Him for the 2,600 lives that have been spared from abortion, for those families that have been forever changed for the better, and for the eternal souls that have been impacted through this ministry.  Make known His deeds among the people: Share those blessings with those around you and people you meet so they can rejoice, too, and know what an amazing God we serve!

Let us pray: Dear Lord, we come to you in humble thanks, first and foremost for your son, Jesus Christ, who died for our sins. Thank you for your Word, so we may learn and know the truth about life, you, and your plan of salvation for our lives.  Thank you for your abundant love and your grace and mercy!

Lord, we thank you for the 2,600 lives that have been spared from abortion and for the those that have been forever changed as they’ve come to know you. Thank you for each person who has answered your call to be a Sidewalk Advocate, Prayer Partner, or financial supporter of this ministry.  Thank you for our Board and National Team and their families who make so many sacrifices to run this ministry in order to serve and shine your light to those they meet.  Thank you for this ministry where we can, by your grace, impact lives and souls for all of eternity.

We have nothing without you, Lord, and as we count our blessings and all that you have done for us, through us, and with those around us, we give our heartfelt thanks and praise to you.  AMEN!

DEVOTIONAL (November 15 – 30, 2017): “Sharing the Truth in Love”

by Lauren Muzyka, Executive Director, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verse(s):  “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”  — Eph 4: 14-16

Reflection: Sometimes, because we speak earnestly about being “peaceful, loving, compassionate” Sidewalk Advocates, some might be tempted to think that we are doormats on the sidewalk who never say tough things about abortion!

It’s very true that we believe “people-skills” — knowing God created us, subject to our human condition, attracted to love — are essential on the sidewalk.  Indeed, I’m sure you can guess that we don’t win a life-saving conversation with a woman if we are ugly, confrontational, and shouting her head off!

Still, once we make contact and offer love and help and begin to assess the situation and her needs, we might need to be more direct with her about what abortion is and how it will affect her and her child.  (In the same way, if she is servicing that Planned Parenthood for something else like birth control, an unmarried woman needs to hear the glory of chastity — or an unmarried woman needs to hear about Natural Family Planning as an alternative to her abortifacient drug.)  Still, because the abortion facility has told her that we are “angry protesters” and warns them to stay away from us, we must go out of our way to be the opposite of that image so we have an opportunity to share that truth in love.

Additionally, research, testimony, and experience tell us that she doesn’t want us to “stay stuck” on the plight of abortion, but she needs to hear the “resurrection”: How she can do this, and how we pledge to walk with her as long as she needs us.

Faith Challenge: The next time you are conversing with someone about abortion, ask the Holy Spirit to give you proper discernment to know what the person on the receiving end needs: A listening ear?  Understanding and compassion?  Or is it time to  in love — share some tougher words?