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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?