Monday, November 8, 2010: Commands
Daily reading: Micah 6:8 and Matthew 22:37-40
Micah 6:8 contains three simple, yet profound, commands from God. What does God require of us? It’s simple and clear: do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God. Micah 6 is a courtroom scene in which God calls the people of Israel – especially the people of Jerusalem – to account for their actions. The people have forgotten God, especially God’s mighty acts on their behalf. Having forgotten God, the people have become increasingly corrupt, dishonest and violent. When Jesus is asked “What is the most important commandment?” he responds, “Love God; love neighbor.” It is precisely the failure of God’s people to uphold these commandments that has so angered God. Where, in your life, have you forgotten God? In your prayers, ask God to give you a willing and open heart to live as God has commanded us to live.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010: Restorative Justice
Daily reading: Isaiah 10:1-2 and 1:16-17, Hebrews 11:32-34
God’s definition of justice is not “people getting what they deserve.” It’s people getting what they need to be whole in body, mind and spirit. It’s not that God turns a blind eye to sin, but that God is more interested in restoration than retribution. When God requires that we “do justice,” God is primarily asking that we advocate and provide for the powerless, voiceless, impoverished and oppressed people in this world. If you read Scripture carefully you will find this theme of restorative justice repeated over and over. Where do you need God’s restorative justice in your life? Where do we need God’s restorative in our world? In your prayers today, ask God to lead you to someone who is powerless, voiceless, impoverished or oppressed. Be the hands and feet of Jesus for someone this week.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010: God’s Will
Daily reading: Micah 6:8 again; John 3:39-40; 1 Thessalonians 4:3
This profoundly powerful verse in Micah gives shape to the question, “What do we mean when we pray that God’s will be done? What is God’s will?” We don’t want to give the impression that this is the definitive statement on the will of God. There are many others, including the John 3 and 1 Thessalonians texts. But issues of justice, kindness and humility are foundational to loving God and loving neighbor, and these things are at the very center of God’s will for our lives. Where do these issues of justice, kindness, and humility connect in your life? Ask God to reveal one new way for you to more fully live into God’s will.
Thursday, November 11, 2010: Genuine Generosity
Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 8:7-9; Psalm 8
Genuine generosity often comes from a grateful heart; the psalmist expresses this gratitude. In 2 Corinthians we see a gratitude problem with this church. Because of the persecution that has broken out in Jerusalem, Christians are suffering severe hardship. Paul travels to the churches to receive offerings to support the suffering saints. The Corinthians were well off, and have enthusiastically supported the idea, but are slow to deliver. In order to encourage the Corinthians to give, Paul points to the Macedonian churches. While impoverished and probably suffering persecution themselves, the Macedonians give “beyond their ability” to support those in Jerusalem. Paul calls this generosity a grace that God has given the Macedonians. They are so compelled to give that they plead for the privilege of giving. Paul is blown away by this experience. Have you ever been “blown away” by unexpected generosity? In your prayers, ask God to show you how you can experience the joy of giving more fully.
Friday, November 12, 2010: Love and Generosity
Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 8:7-9 again; Leviticus 19:17-18
There is a direct link between love and generosity. God has so richly blessed the Corinthians in faith, knowledge, speech (tongues) and love, but they have not yet learned to express their faith and gratitude through giving. Just as God loved and so God gave (John 3:16), the Corinthians are challenged to express their love through generosity. In Leviticus, we find the command of God to love, but true generosity cannot be commanded. It must be freely given. In fact, Paul calls this generosity a test of the genuineness of the Corinthians’ love for others. Love and generosity are clearly linked. How is generosity an extension of the love you have received? Ask God to give you a generous heart as an extension of genuine love.
Saturday, November 13, 2010: Inequity
Daily reading: Job 5:8-15; Luke 19:1-10
What do we mean when we pray, “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”? We’ve all heard the phrase “the truth hurts.” Here are a few statistics: 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to clean water, and 2.6 billion people lack basic sanitation. One in three children (640 million) in developing countries do not have adequate shelter. Around 27-28% of children in developing countries are underweight and stunted due to lack of food. 121 million children worldwide have no access to education. 2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized. When we hold up those statistics against the global reality that every day in this world 30,000 children die of starvation and preventable disease, we, as disciples, are forced to consider God’s call for justice. Today, can you do one simple thing to “level” the inequities in our world? In your prayers, ask God to guide you to one simple act of justice.
Sunday, November 14, 2010: Obstacles
Daily reading: 1 John 2:15-17; Psalm 40:7-8
When we pray “thy will be done” we are, among other things, praying that God will make us agents of justice in this world, people through whom God works to make the Kingdom of God a reality right here and now. There are obstacles on the road to justice. The complexity of the word’s problems is overwhelming. We can easily become hopeless if we forget that God is at work in and through us. We will not travel far down the road of justice before we realize that we need to change much in our own lives. We will need to make different choices daily. We cannot truly battle injustice in this world and live in the kind of excess that almost every one of us lives in. Nor can we ignore the impact of our daily decisions upon others around the globe. What changes can you make to more clearly connect your lifestyle with justice for everyone? Ask God for wisdom and courage to walk this road.