July 3 - 8
Monday, July 3 – “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:12) Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount teaches us many things about our relationships with other people. Know that if you make the choice to follow Jesus, you will suffer some form of persecution. It might be as trivial as people you used to consider friends making the choice not to hang out with you any longer. It might be as monumental as your very life being threatened. No matter the case, Jesus wants you to know today that making the choice to follow him will have consequences. The question for you is if these consequences are worth it? Is persecution today worth the forgiveness of your sins, the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit and eternity in heaven?
Independence Day – “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.” (James 5:7) “Lord, give me patience and give it to me now!” This is our prayer. We struggle with patience. We just want to get from where we are to where we want to be, in the blink of an eye. We want all of our troubles fixed in a fifty-minute episode, so that we can binge our lives. Part of the independence that we have received, in our great country, is the freedom to be patient. To plant a seed and wait for it to grow. To have an idea and take the time to make it come to life. To fight for what is just, what is right and what is true. “Lord, grant us the patience to yield a valuable crop.”
Wednesday, July 5 – “For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” (Luke 21:15) The number one thing that silences followers of Jesus is the fear of not knowing what to say or what to do. Obviously, this isn’t a new phenomenon. Jesus spoke these words to the disciples some 2,000 years ago. Today, instead of allowing fear to silence you or to fit you with concrete galoshes, try faith. The faith that when you need to say something, Jesus will give you the words. And when you need to do something, Jesus will give you the guts.
Thursday, July 6 – “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.” (Proverbs 19:20) A close second behind practicing patience in your faith life is accepting discipline. So many sadly struggle with discipline. Because so many have received punishment, in the name of discipline. True discipline isn’t a punishment, but a teaching tool. A way to be better, not a way to be oppressed. A way to learn and grow, not a way to be “put in your place”. God’s discipline is only for your good. A way for God to course-correct your life. A way for God to open your eyes to a new kind of way. But, like everything else, accepting discipline takes practice. Practice to correctly give it and practice to correctly receive it.
Friday, July 7 – “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:16) Your faith in Jesus is a tool. A shield that will protect you from “the evil one”. And protection is what all of us need. For there is evil in this world. Faith in Jesus doesn’t remove the evil, but it does help you overcome the evil. There is darkness in this world. Faith in Jesus doesn’t remove the darkness, but it does help you to see in the darkness. Faith in Jesus isn’t about removing yourself from this reality. Faith in Jesus is about living in this reality.
Saturday, July 8 – “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’” (John 4:10) “If you knew”. How many of us can apply that statement to countless situations in our lives? “If you knew” that decision would turn out that way. “If you knew” to whom you had been talking. “If you knew” what the other person wanted. And on and on and on it goes. Pre-knowledge is something that we all wish we had. Yet, this is the very thing that nobody has. Yes, very wise people will be better at it than most. But even then, nobody has perfect pre-knowledge. Understanding this reality, what fills in the gap between perfect pre-knowledge and your actual knowledge? Faith.