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.
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.
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.
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.
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.