Monday, July 18 – “He said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.’” (Luke 16:15) How many things will you do today, or did you do today, because you need to justify yourself to someone else? How much of your daily life is lived because of someone else’s idea of who you should be and what you should do? Dig deep and you will realize that all you do is an effort to justify yourself to someone else. So, last question for today: Since all of us live our lives in some way to justify ourselves to someone else, are you open to that someone else being God?
Tuesday, July 19 – “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48) To all of you who have decided to follow Jesus, much is expected. One of these expectations is that you love your neighbor. Who is your neighbor? Every single solitary person that you see, in the midst of your daily life. Unrealistic demand? Yes. Impossible to accomplish? Yes. Thus, the reason why God has given you the gift of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Left to your own devices, you will never love your neighbor. Yet love your neighbor you will, following the lead of the Holy Spirit.
Wednesday, July 20 – “Anyone out in the open who touches someone who has been killed with a sword or someone who has died a natural death, or anyone who touches a human bone or a grave, will be unclean for seven days.” (Numbers 19:16) In the story that Jesus tells, the story we call “The Good Samaritan”, this is the teaching that keeps the two religious guys from helping the poor man who was beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. Before you judge, ask yourself this question: How many times have you made the decision not to help someone out because it would inconvenience you in some way? Jesus is teaching us that when it comes to helping out a neighbor, your convenience or inconvenience is inconsequential.
Thursday, July 21 – “The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink? (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)’” (John 4:9) Prejudice and bias is a two-way street. The world is very good at teaching you who you can love and who you must avoid. The world is also very good at teaching you who doesn’t love you and who will avoid you. Both teachings are a choice. Even though the world will tell you that you have no possibility of behaving differently. Jesus presents you with the possibility of a choice. You can meet that “Samaritan”. And you “Samaritans” can give those “Jews” a drink.
Friday, July 22 – “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” (Isaiah 61:1) This prophecy was written some 500 years before Jesus’ birth. These are the very words that Jesus fulfilled in his life, death and resurrection. Notice that nowhere in this prophecy is there a reference to nationality, gender, race, political affiliation, denominational affiliation or socio-economic status. This promised truth is for every human being. If Jesus was willing to fulfill this promise for everyone, the least you can do is love all of those very same people.
Saturday, July 23 – “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.’” (Acts 10:34-35) This is Peter. This is eight chapters after his powerful Pentecost sermon. And he is just now realizing that the gift of Jesus isn’t for one people, but for all people. Don’t beat yourself up if you have been a little slow on the uptake. Obviously, you’re in good company. But, just like Peter, change your life by allowing your perspective of your neighbor to be transformed by the good news of Jesus.