DEVOTIONAL (July 15 – August 15, 2018): “The Greatest of These”

by Jeff Reedy, National Program Assistant, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verse(s): “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. …Love never fails. …And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

– 1 Cor 13: 4-8a; 13

Reflection: Paul tells us something very important through this discourse about love, and something we need to heed in the midst of today’s crises.

Yes, there are lots of things to alarm us in the world around us: Sex abuse scandals in Hollywood or the Church …or your local abortion facility that has taken the lives of countless innocent children.  As yet another example, they recently discovered a compound in New Mexico where ISIS was teaching children how to do mass shootings. (Crazy that didn’t make the news!)  And YES, there should be moral outrage about these things, no doubt.

But we also have to remember the number one commandment and what Paul tells us.  No matter how outraged we might become, if we don’t exhibit love — even towards those who have done these incredibly harmful things — we become nothing.  No matter how horrible some action is that some person in authority has committed, we have to remember love.

Does love mean giving them a get out of jail free card?  No, of course not.  Sometimes love means locking them away for life to keep them from hurting other people and from destroying themselves.  But let’s not give in to the desire to cry out for their blood — to want them to be tortured and killed.  Let’s pray for their souls and hope and pray that they find God and turn from their lives of foolishness and pain.

That’s what love demands.  And John DOES tell us that God is love.  God demands that we love our enemies, pray for them, and care for them.

It’s not easy when you think of the horrible things they’ve done.  It gets a lot easier, though, when we think of the horrible things WE’VE done — and how we’ve also been infinitely offensive to an infinitely good, holy, and loving God.  It’s also a reminder that unless we are ready to forgive others for their offenses when they are truly sorry, we won’t get off so easy (cf. Matthew 18:21-35).

Once we have humbled ourselves to see what God has done for us, we can start to grasp the beauty and power of forgiveness, mercy, and grace.

Faith Challenge: Let us pray for all those who have been wounded by others’ sins.  Then, let’s us pray for a conversion of heart for all sinners in need of the redemptive love of Jesus Christ.

DEVOTIONAL (July 1-15, 2018): “Lack of Faith?”

by Jeff Reedy, National Program Assistant, 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 (June 15 – June 30, 2018): “The Answer is Love”

by Lauren Muzyka, Executive Director, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

(originally published at liferunners.org)

Verse(s): “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 led 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 on the public right-of-way, even if just for 15 minutes.  Also, consider getting trained as a Sidewalk Advocate!  Find your nearest location HERE: http://sidewalkadvocates.org/locations/  Contact the Program Director(s), and ask when the next training will be!

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.