DEVOTIONAL (March 22 – April 9, 2017): “Overjoyed”

by Lauren Muzyka, Executive Director, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verses: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” — Philippians 4:4

“But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You.” — Psalm 5:11

“Jesus replied: ‘A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests.  At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready…’” — Luke 14:16-17

Reflection: Here we are, three years after our beginnings on the sidewalk: Giving God praise for a multitude of victories after a group of people took a leap of faith and launched Sidewalk Advocates for Life!

When the idea of SAFL 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 that leap might bring.

And yet, here we are a few years later, rewarded and rejoicing in almost 1,700 precious babies saved, 43 workers who have left the business, 5 facility closures by God’s amazing grace — along with so many other amazing blessings!

Psalm 5:11 and Luke 14:16-17 tells us, in essence, 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 through this ministry!

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.  Our grateful heart opens us to new, amazing blessings in the future!

Then, please consider a gift of $30 to the life-saving ministry of Sidewalk Advocates for Life to help this work continue — just $10 every year we’ve been on the sidewalk!  (And it will double due to our matching fund challenge!)

You can make a financial gift of any amount at the secure giving link HERE: sidewalkadvocates.org/donate

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

DEVOTIONAL (March 1 – 21, 2017): “Free to Serve”

by Chantel Poisel, Communications Coordinator, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verses: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” — Galatians 5:13-14

Reflection: Wow.  We are called to be free!  What a beautiful, and sobering thought that is.

The Lord has given us the free choice to decide what paths we will take, who we will serve, how we will spend our time, how we will spend our talents, and how we will spend our treasure.

In this passage, we are being encouraged to choose to use that freedom to serve one another in love — give others our time, be that shoulder to cry on, offer up our talents and our treasure to support our brothers and sisters in their time of need.  Love them as ourselves.

What better way to do that than by being or aiding the hands and feet of Christ in front of the darkest place where a child’s chance for free choice is being taken away?

Get trained as a Sidewalk Advocate and learn how to peacefully and lovingly reach out to women-in-crisis.

Become a prayer volunteer, standing on the sidewalk, praying for all who pass by, praying for all who enter those dark doors, and praying for those who are reaching out in love to those-in-crisis.

Join us in partnership as a donor, sacrificing everything from supplies for training events, literature to be handed out on the sidewalk, water for those volunteers donating their time, and your treasure to support all of these efforts to save every life possible by the grace of God!

Today, I challenge you to exercise your free choice and choose to serve one another in whatever capacity the Lord calls you to!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for the sacrifice you gave on the cross. We thank you for your grace and love that you continually pour out upon us. We thank you for the gifts you give us, including this gift of free choice. Help us to use the gifts you give us wisely. Help us to love our brothers and sisters as ourselves, and to freely give to others of our time, our talents, and our treasure. Help us to shine your light in the darkest of places, and to reach out in love with hope to those in crisis. Help us to better serve you by serving those we meet, and by showing your love to each and every one.

Lord, we give you praise and thanks for the blessings you have given each one of us, and the blessings you have revealed through this ministry. We thank you for the lives that have been saved, the women who have been helped, and for those who have been pointed toward you. Help us to continue being your hands and feet so that more may come to know you in a more personal way. Amen.

BI-WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL (February 14 – 28, 2017): “The Answer is Love”

by Lauren Muzyka, Executive Director, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verses: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.  This I command you:  love one another.” — John 15:16-17

Reflection: Many debate in the pro-life movement about the best tactic for ending abortion: Is it more political prowess?  Media connections?  The greatest advertising campaign or even, pooling the greatest amount of money or resources?

While these things can aid the battle for life, we must recognize that Jesus has already answered this question:  it is LOVE.  Love is what lead Christ to the cross to redeem all sin and death, and Love raised Him from the dead.  Love is what heals relationships, transforms broken hearts and gives us the ability to persevere and do what’s right.

At the end of the day, the abortion decision rests with a mother — we recognize that she doesn’t have a moral right to take the life of her preborn child, but unfortunately, she does have the legal option to do so.  Maybe the boyfriend left her, the family is pressuring her and she sees all of her future plans crumbling before her eyes; ironically, she may feel she has NO choice.  The world keeps telling her that for $500, her biggest problem will be solved.

When we head out to the sidewalk to pray and love these mothers through faith-in-action, miracles can happen.  In all of my time as a sidewalk counselor, I have never seen a mother change her mind because of a mere political or philosophical argument.  But I can tell you about the countless number of times I’ve witnessed lives saved and hearts transformed because a peaceful person on the sidewalk was willing to pray and offer love and assistance without judgment to that mother-in-crisis.

We are called to bring His love and light out to the sidewalk, knowing that He can work miracles through us, if we let Him.

Faith Challenge: Grab a friend and go out to an abortion facility this week and peacefully pray, even if just for 15 minutes.  Consider getting trained as a Sidewalk Advocate!  See sidewalkadvocates.org/locationsfor the location nearest YOU!

BI-WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL (February 1 – 14, 2017): “We are the Children of God”

by Jeff Reedy, Shipping Coordinator, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verses: “See what great love God has lavished on us, that we might be called the children of God. And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” — 1 John 3:1

Reflection: There is so much packed into this one verse in regards to our lives in the pro-life movement, isn’t there?

God has lavished His love on us — not just those of us who happen to have been born, but on the unborn as well. He calls all of us His children as those made in His image and likeness. And in response to that great love comes an obligation and a privilege: to defend the lives of those whom He loves who are most vulnerable and at risk: the unborn.

Let’s show God how much we love Him by taking care of those who need our help so desperately. And the last sentence really hits home, too: The world doesn’t know Him. It is languishing in its despair and the emptiness that comes when He isn’t in our lives.

Let us be patient with those who hate us — they need love, they need kindness, and they need Jesus. Let’s remember not to take it personally when the world hates us — it hated Him, too! But take heart… He has overcome the world.

Faith Challenge: In what new way can we reach out and love those who don’t understand why we’re pro-life? How can we shine the love that God has lavished on us into their lives?

DEVOTIONAL (January 15 – 31, 2017): “Stand Firm”

by Chantel Poisel, Communications Coordinator, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verses: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)

Reflection: We all have moments where we wonder if all of our time and sacrifice on the sidewalk is worth it. We don’t always receive confirmation that what we are doing is having a positive impact.

In this passage, Paul is admonishing us to stand firm and to always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord. In our pro-life work, we need to not give up and persevere in sharing the truth. We must continue showing up on the sidewalk and reaching out to women-in-crisis with truth and love!

And we aren’t to be passive about it: While we are peaceful on the sidewalk as we reach out to abortion-minded clients, we are to “give ourselves fully” – with our best effort and our whole hearts. We shouldn’t be aggressive on the sidewalk, but bold in love and reaching out to all.

Sometimes, that takes a lot. We may receive persecution when we speak with those who disagree with our message. It is sometimes a hardship to stand on the sidewalk every month, every week or every day.

However, Paul assures us that our labor in the Lord is not in vain. There is worth to what we are doing when we are doing it for the Lord — seeds are being planted every time we go out, and we never know what amazing victories will suddenly blossom!

Faith Challenge: Stand firm! Keep pressing on in this work. Do not give up! We might never meet a child that was saved from our efforts. We may never receive earthly recognition for our sacrifices. But we are assured that if we are doing it for the Lord, it is worth it, and there are — at the very least — victories that go unseen that will reveal themselves in Heaven.

So therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and let nothing move you!

DEVOTIONAL (January 1 – January 14, 2017): “The New Has Come”

by Jenna Scott, Program Administrator, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verses: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” — 2 Corinthians 5:17

Reflection: Now is the time of year that everyone is making New Years’ resolutions. We are all looking for ways to better ourselves — lose weight, be more financially responsible, volunteer more… the list goes on and on.

But it is important that the most important change that could ever happen is belonging to Christ. We became new and we became His. This is not to say that we don’t have our own struggles to work through still, but it means that Christ has already conquered our biggest faults through His blood on the cross. Our old selves and old ways we once held onto have been made new through Christ.

So when we make our resolutions, let’s make them in a way that honors God and is ordered towards claiming that new self Christ has already claimed with his new creation.

Let us pray: Lord, as we enter a new year, help us remember to put you first this year. Help guide us towards bettering ourselves in service of your Kingdom. Show us the way to help protect and serve those who need us the most. Give us the words to minister to the women-in-crisis. Help us spend this new year with our focus on you.

Thank you, Lord, for all the gifts you have already given us, including the beauty of your new creation through our relationship with you. Help us make the most of our gifts by using them in a way that glorifies you and serves your people. Amen.

DEVOTIONAL (December 14 – December 31, 2016): “Come to the Throne of Grace”

by Chantel Poisel, Communications Coordinator, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verses: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” — Hebrews 4:16

Reflection: Today’s email shares a story of three Sidewalk Advocates praying and reaching out in love to women-in-crisis on the sidewalk in front of an abortion facility. The photo shows a man praying, and our Executive Director, Lauren, walking with a woman, escorting her to a pregnancy center next door.

This photo embraces the spirit of this verse.

We can come boldly to the throne of grace — through prayer. We may, then, obtain mercy for our shortcomings. We will then find grace to help in times of need — grace for ourselves to know how to help, and grace for those we are trying to help.

This verse reminds us that it all starts in prayer — by coming boldly, purposefully, to the throne of grace. Every time we are present on the sidewalk, we must start in prayer. It prepares our hearts and fills us with grace that we can then share with those we encounter.

We never walk alone. When we come to the thrown of grace, we invite the Holy Spirit in and He walks with us. Those who are covering us in prayer are walking with us.

Just like Lauren is walking with the woman in the photo to a place where she can receive real help, the Lord walks with us each step of the way — if we allow Him.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, Thank you for your overflowing mercy and grace!

Prepare our hearts as we go out to the sidewalks to minister to those in need of help. Thank you for the reminder that the first step is always coming to you, to your throne of grace. Thank you for your presence, and the reminder that we never walk alone.

Help us to show your mercy and grace to the men and women we encounter, and allow us to come alongside them with encouragement in the right direction as we strive to follow your example and love them to a better place.

Through your mercy and grace, help us to help those-in-need. Help us to honor you through the work we do, that you may be glorified in all things. Amen.

DEVOTIONAL (December 1 – December 13, 2016): “Seeking the Lost”

Verses: “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.'” — Matthew 18:12-14

Reflection: I think back to our time on the sidewalk in Tampa this past Saturday — and the victory of THREE precious babies saved!

As we sought to reach out to every client, we utilized something called a “Blessing Bag”: a bag of store-bought goodies that showed the client we cared and wanted to help. On the front of the bag was a note + coupon for a free pregnancy test and sonogram.

As we called out to each client, lovingly, across the parking lot or spoke to them through the fence, we got laser-focused on each person, letting them know that we loved them, we cared for them, and we had real help for them. The two women that we had the pleasure of walking over to the pregnancy center teared up when we told them they could do this — they were strong enough, and we’d help them figure out a plan where they could continue with their plans and be a hero for their child.

I often reflect on these verses, knowing God doesn’t want anyone to be lost. As we go to the sidewalk to be His hands and feet, we pour ourselves out in that spirit, praying and advocating for them and their children. And even if we are rejected, we have faith that He will use that love to plant seeds in their life, and these seeds may be used to save their souls later.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, Thank you for your abundant love, and for your grace and mercy!

We pray for all the clients who did choose life this past week …and we lift up to you those who didn’t. We pray that you would help them to be healed and come to know you and the abundant life you offer them. We pray they come to see the amazing gift of life you offer through your son, Jesus Christ.

Thank you for each person who has answered your call to be a Sidewalk Advocate, prayer partner or financial supporter of this ministry — indeed, the great army of light you are raising up to end abortion!

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.

BI-WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL (OCTOBER 1 – 15, 2016): “HE PROVIDES FOR HIS CHILDREN”

by Jenna Scott, Program Administrator, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verses: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” — Matthew 6:26 (NIV)

Reflection: The Lord provides for us in all of our needs.  This has been promised to us many times over, throughout His Word.  Our needs are taken care of by our Father because of our immense worth as His children, like any good father would do.

However, there are many that we minister to who do not see that they can and will be taken care of, which is why they see the blessing of a child as a financial (or other type) of hurdle that they cannot overcome.  We know of God’s promises to us, but they may not. We can shout this from the rooftops to everyone and sadly, there will be those who won’t hear or acknowledge that promise.

What people do see and what people do hear are actions. So when we step forward to say “yes” to God to be His hands and feet to help someone else with their needs, then we live and pass on the Gospel by allowing God to work through us to take care of His children.  Everyone we meet will have different needs, but what is important is that we really listen and acknowledge those needs so we can truly fill them and provide real, ongoing help.

Letting God work through us sometimes requires a lot of listening skills as others convey their needs …but we also need to be challenged to quiet our mind so that we may hear God’s answer in how to best take care of His children.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, help us be better listeners in our lives so that we may really hear others’ needs and listen to you for how best to help.  Let us think less of our own experiences and ourselves and instead, focus on who we are helping and your path for them.  Help us spread your Gospel by being your hands and feet in this world so that we may show the world your love and desire to take care of all your children.

BI-WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL (August 1 – 15, 2016): “For the Good of Those Who Love Him”

by Jeff Reedy, Shipping Coordinator, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verses: “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: 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. He is sovereign, and we can trust that He will work everything out in the end.

Two good examples of this come immediately to mind this week: We are celebrating, as you see, a baby saved in Grand Rapids. It’s such a beautiful thing to see a baby spared from death 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 bringing SAFL to YOUR area!