Monday, January 17, 2011: Messenger
Daily reading: Jeremiah 33:6-11
In 587 BC, Jerusalem is besieged by Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon.The city will fall and its inhabitants will be deported to Babylon. God calls Jeremiah to prophecy to a nation so corrupt and sinful that God needs to tear it down in order to build it back up. Jeremiah is not a popular figure because of this message. Not only does he convict the people of idolatry and injustice, he also foretells of Jerusalem’s destruction by the Babylonians. Even worse, Jeremiah advises the people to not resist the Babylonian aggression, to live life “as usual” in their captivity. Judah’s King Zedekiah is so upset by this message that he imprisons Jeremiah until Jerusalem falls. Jeremiah is just God’s messenger bearing a very troubling message. Are there times when you need to deliver an unpopular message? Ask God for the courage to speak the truth whenever necessary.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011: Hope
Daily reading: Jeremiah 33:6-11 again
Jeremiah does not only predict gloom and doom. He also holds out a message of profound hope: the God who loves the people too much to allow their sins to rule them will also restore them in due time. Chapter 33, which comes to Jeremiah while he’s under house arrest, is a powerful proclamation of restoration. God promises to bring the people of Judah and Israel back from captivity; to “rebuild them,” to reestablish them as a nation; and to forgive their sin and rebellion against God. God promises to restore the people, the land, and, most importantly, their relationship. Where do you need a word of hope from God? Ask God to give you that word of hope.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011: Hunger
Daily reading: Psalm 107:4-9
Do you hunger to experience restoration personally? Biblically, restoration often carries a sense of turning, or returning, to God. Throughout the Scriptures, God’s restoration follows a period in which God disciplines his people to turn them back to God. When we pray “give us this day our daily bread,” we are tapping into that same hunger that God’s people have sensed and experienced throughout history. As people who have experienced the restoration of our lives through the grace, love and forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ, we are called and empowered to proclaim with words and with our lives that God is loose in the world, restoring all things. Are you hungry for the things of God? Ask God to give you a deep desire for God’s work to be active in and through you today.
Thursday, January 20, 2011: Restoration
Daily reading: Psalm 23
Have you seen the TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? Families in the midst of devastating circumstances apply for a home restoration. The family selected is sent on a week’s vacation while crews work 24/7 to restore their home, transforming broken spaces into places of function and beauty. The high point of each show is the unveiling of the home makeover to the family. Tears of joy make it clear that more than a house has been restored. Lives are restored with hope. What the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team does for homes, God does for our lives and for all of creation. God is in the business of restoration. When we pray “give us this day our daily bread,” we are asking that God would enter into those rooms in our life in need of repair and do the work of restoration that we are unable to do for ourselves. In your life, what’s in need of restoration? Ask God to do for you what you cannot do for yourself.
Friday, January 21, 2011: Cleanse
Daily reading: Psalm 51:10-12
There are times when we need to clean our hands. We might be working on a project or cooking a meal. We might have been working in the garden or painting the house, and we need to wash our hands. God is in the business of cleansing, as well. There are some things that only God can do, and this is one of them. Try as we might to cleanse our hearts, only God can do this work. Today, every time you wash your hands, repeat this prayer: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” Say it over and over and as your hands become cleansed, let it remind you that God is cleansing your heart at the same time. The dirt of sin and rebellion are being washed away through the power of God. Make this your prayer for today: create in me a clean heart, O God.
Saturday, January 22, 2011: Reveal
Daily reading: Romans 8:18-25
At the end of every episode of Extreme Makeover we see “Reveal Day,” when the family returns to find their ugly, decrepit, toxic house transformed into a place of beauty and joy. They squeal, giggle and cry with delight. Someone has done for them what they could never do for themselves. As Christians, there is a “Reveal Day” coming. When we engage with a hunger initiative, we don’t just do it because it’s the right thing to do. We do it because it is our response to God’s call to be agents of restoration in this broken world. We discover along the way that, when our hearts beat along with God’s for the restoration of this world, we are powerfully restored in the process. We love because we have first been loved. By God’s grace we will keep on loving and restoring until that great reveal day when Christ returns and the fullness of God’s restoration is complete. How can you live as an agent of God’s restoration? Ask God to reveal how you can join the movement of God in the world today.
Sunday, January 23, 2011: Sustainable
Daily reading: Matthew 4:1-4
It’s interesting that Satan begins tempting Jesus with bread. Jesus hasn’t eaten for 40 days, so this is probably a great place to begin. To pray “give us this day our daily bread” is to move into partnership with God to be a systematic and sustainable answer to this petition for others. When we pray “give us this day our daily bread” we are so often focusing on asking God for what we need, but by praying for “us” and “our” we are also praying that God will provide for all people. We are literally answering our own prayer, and the prayers of those who really do hunger for daily bread. We are the sustainability in this prayer as we carefully steward God’s resources and eagerly share this daily bread with others. Who needs you to be the sustainability factor for them? Ask for God to guide you directly to someone who needs you to be God’s agent of restoration.