DEVOTIONAL (February 1- 15, 2019): “Fixing the World”

by Jeff Reedy, Store Manager, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verse(s):  “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.'” – Matthew 18:1-3

Reflection:  Jesus is answering the disciples’ foolish questions about who will be greatest in the kingdom. The questions are foolish because they don’t understand how things work in the Kingdom. Yet.

So Jesus gives them a little lesson: He welcomes a small child to come sit with Him, and He tells the disciples that they must become like little children in order to even ENTER the Kingdom of Heaven. And then He goes on to give very serious consequences to those who harm the little ones.

We start at home. I begin fixing my own “stupid.” In my life, I’ve had the gift of tutoring children with different kinds of challenges. The way I challenge myself, for example, is by learning to be patient with those who are slower at learning, and helping them along their way. Teach them, rather than ridicule them. That’s helping the little ones Jesus talked about, not hurting them.

Obviously, we can’t FORCE anyone to leave their foolishness and stupidity behind and move into the light — we aren’t responsible for MAKING them change. We are responsible for how WE act, and for setting an example that they can follow if they are willing.

We can fix stupid — our own stupid. And then we can help those who are willing to fix theirs, too. Maybe if enough of us start doing that, we can help to begin healing our broken world.

God, thanks for reminding us that fixing the world begins with fixing ourselves.

Faith Challenge:  What in your life is not healthy, happy, or holy? Begin with one thing — one virtue that you resolve to pray about and grow in. Ask God to help you walk more closely with Him as He uses you to be a docile, powerful light to those in need.

DEVOTIONAL (January 22 – 31, 2019): “You Knit Me”

by Kristi Noem, Governor of South Dakota

(the following appeared at liferunners.org)

Verse(s):  “You created my innermost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful.” – Psalm 139:13-14

Reflection: 46 years ago today, our Supreme Court justified the killing of unborn babies. Since that day when abortion was legalized, more than 60 million babies in America have been murdered – their potential ripped away, their laughter silenced before it had a chance to start.

I believe every life, starting from the time of conception, has dignity and value. I understood that even deeper the first time Bryon and I heard our oldest daughter Kassidy’s heartbeat. As believers, we know that value not only comes from the existence of life, but from the very fabric of our being. Scripture states that we are made in the very image of our Creator – we are the product of His hands. He created our innermost being. Life must be valued because He is life. Dignity must be valued because He created us in His image; it’s His breath in our lungs.

Faith Challenge:  I’m a firm believer in the power of prayer. As we recognize this momentous date in our nation’s history, may we also pray prophetically over the future of our nation. Pray that eyes will be opened to the evil of abortion. Pray that the Lord would place people in power who are able to confront this injustice and defend unborn lives.

DEVOTIONAL (January 1 – January 31, 2019): “The Laborers Are Few”

by Christina Faucett, Program Administrator, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verse(s): “After this, the Lord appointed 72 others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.'”

– Luke 10:1-2

Reflection: It seems odd to think that God needs us for anything. He is God, after all. He can do all things. He made us, and to Him, we are like the dust of the earth or the clay in His hands. Without Him we could not live. And yet, that is what he says to us over and over again: “I need you. I need you to come forward, choose me, step out in faith.” God can do great things in us and through us, but He wants us to participate. As Paul says in Ephesians, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Jesus points to that reality here: A harvest is waiting to be reaped – but where are the workers? Without workers in a farmer’s field, the grapes rot on the vine, the grain molds in the field. And without workers in the spiritual field souls perish in the darkness. God has planted many seeds in the hearts of those all around us: Will we reap what He has sown? Or will we remain blind to the harvest all around us, focusing only on our own measly patch of dirt?

Faith Challenge: Will you do the good works God has created you to do? Will you do it even if the work means standing in the rain tirelessly, day after day, fingers numb, and legs sore? If you are willing to take on this tedious work, Jesus has a promise for you – with His help, you will reap the rewards! The reward is the Bread of Life.

DEVOTIONAL (December 15 – 31, 2018): “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 isn’t always predictable; things don’t always 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 15 – December 15, 2018): “When the World Hates You”

By Jeff Reedy, Store Manager, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verse(s): “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

– 1 John 3:13-16

Reflection: John tells us not to be surprised when the world hates us.

He got this from Jesus, of course, who said the same thing in John 15:18. And it’s true today just as it was at the time he wrote it.

The world especially hates when we point out what it right and wrong. Which is sad because we point out these things, not to make them feel bad (or, at least, that shouldn’t be our motivation) or to make ourselves look better, but in order to help people to live good, full, vibrant, abundant lives. But they don’t want to hear it, partially because it means they have to change and admit they’re wrong — two things people hate doing. But partially because they have been lied to by the “spirits of the age” against whom we are truly fighting.

So, keep this in mind: Don’t be surprised when the world hates you. It’s GOING to. We KNOW it will. Be prepared for it. Go in knowing that it will happen.

And love them anyway. You never know whose soul will be saved because you were prepared to love them anyway.

Faith Challenge: Pray for all those who hate us and the pro-life movement. They are hurting. Know this His love is enough to win them from hate to healing, peace, and love.

DEVOTIONAL (October 9- November 15, 2018): “Saving the Lost”

by Jeff Grabosky, National LIFE Runners Team

(originally appeared at liferunners.org)

Verse(s): “For the Son of Man has come to seek and save what was lost.” – Luke 19:10

Reflection: Zacchaeus was a wealthy tax collector, a person rejected by the people due to the nature of his business.  Jesus seeks out Zacchaeus as well as all sinners and the lost.  There are times in my life when I was counted among the lost.  We can take confidence in knowing Jesus is always seeking us out and all we have to do is open our hearts to Him.  We are called to be Jesus to others, and in the same way He reached out to us, we should reach out to those who may be lost.  We should especially reach out in any way we can to those who may be considering an abortion and to post-abortion women.  In doing so, we allow Jesus to work through us in bringing the lost back to Him.

Faith Challenge:  Pray for all those who didn’t choose life or abortion workers, knowing Christ’s grace and abundant healing is available to anyone who asks for it.

DEVOTIONAL (August 15 – September 15, 2018): “Unity in One Body”

by Jeff Reedy, Store Manager, Sidewalk Advocates for Life

Verse(s):  “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In Him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

– Eph 2:19-22

Reflection:  In Ephesians 2:1-22, Paul tells us that God has made us one, taking Jews and Gentiles and erasing the walls that separated us, making us one body in Christ.

But we know that the enemy wants to split us up; we even see evidence of this even in the pro-life movement.  We’re not, at times, one body — there are deep wounds in the body of Christ because we often refuse to find ways to work in unity.  If we read the prayer that Jesus prayed for ME AND YOU specifically, we know that it was His intent (and still is His intent) for us to be one, as He and the Father are One.

So let’s work tirelessly to heal those wounds.  Let’s reach out to our brothers and sisters in Jesus, no matter what their background or denomination might be, and help bring us all back together again.  Let’s pray that those wounds will be healed, and that we’ll find a way to love one another once more — and to be truly ONE, as He and the Father are One.

Faith Challenge:  Let us pray: “God, thank You for making it clear that You want us to be one. Please help us work to that end in all that we do for the good of LIFE and your Holy Name.  AMEN.”

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!