Home Altar: Week of June 6, 2021

by Julio Isaza

Sunday, June 6
Mark 2:13-22

Loving Instead of Judging

One day, I was in a pastor’s meeting and experienced a very difficult moment when I witnessed a person being mistreated by others in a way that did not see kind or Christian to me. Afterward, I asked a friend who was leading the time with the pastors how he was able to handle such people and serve with them. He reminded me that Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners” (v. 17). His answer helped me realize that I too was sick and I needed Jesus to heal me—perhaps more than the pastors I was judging.

Lord, help us to remember that we are all sinners and we are called not to judge others but to love them with compassion just as you did for us even when we don’t agree with other people’s behavior. AMEN.

Monday, June 7

Serving Instead of Helping

“Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (vv. 5-6) We are called to serve not just to help. We often say that we need to help the most vulnerable in society; however, in some ways we are all in need of help. Only God can help us all. Only God is in position to extend us grace. To serve is to put myself in an equal or lower position to those I serve, just as Jesus did. He came to serve not to help, even though he is the only one who can help us.

Lord, help us to serve others in and through your Holy Spirit in tangible and visible ways so they experience the life only you can give. AMEN.

Tuesday, June 8

In the Spirit Instead of in Our Strength

The ministry of God’s Spirit is glorious because it brings justice and freedom. The people of Israel were freed by God from Egypt, but they could not get Egypt out of them. The narrative of the Old Testament demonstrates that idolatry or worshiping other gods and social injustice (oppressing the vulnerable) as the Egyptians did were the two major sins of Israel. Even though they had the law God gave them on Sinai that explained how to become free by loving God and people, they could not do it. The law could not change their hearts in order give them real freedom from Egypt. So the Lord promised to intervene and transform their hearts with God’s Spirit (Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 11:14-21; 36:22-27) so they could be free. Paul affirms that if the ministry of Moses was glorious, the one in the Spirit is even more glorious because it brings justice, righteousness, and freedom (2 Corinthians 3:9, 11). We are transformed not in our own strength but through God’s Spirit. We cannot bring justice and freedom to others if we are not experiencing them ourselves through the action of the Spirit of Lord within us.

God, we pray that we live in and through your Holy Spirit so we can be free and proclaim real justice and freedom to others. AMEN.

Wednesday, June 9
PSALM 103:1-5

My Whole Being Needs God

We usually talk directly to God, but I don’t think I’ve ever encouraged my whole being to pray to God. In verses 1-2 of today’s psalm, David asks his soul to praise the Lord’s holy name, because God has done a lot of good things for him. The psalmist urges his whole being not to forget God, because the Lord is the one “who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (vv. 3-5). It is necessary to remember constantly in our whole being how good God is, especially when hard moments come so we can be strong in the Lord based on who God is and what God has done for us.

My soul prays to Lord because God is good to me all the time. God is the one who heals, redeems, crowns with love, who satisfies with good things and the one who renews my whole being. AMEN.

Thursday, June 10
PSALM 103:6-12

Through the Lens of God’s Steadfast Love

As a Christian I sometimes tend to judge other people because they are “not so good like me,” not realizing that God’s steadfast love for them is real and greater than I think it is. David was violent, a murderer, an adulterer, and more. However, he experienced God’s love so deeply that he was able to say, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever” (vv. 8-9). Before judging others, I need to remember that only God can judge and that I’m not better than they are. We are all sinners. God’s judgment is based on God’s steadfast love because “he does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (v. 10). So, who am I to judge, knowing that “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us” (vv. 11-12)?

Lord, help me to see others based on your steadfast love, because when I do that I will be transformed and love others based on your love for them. AMEN.

Friday, June 11
PSALM 103:13-22

God’s Love Is Not Just for Some People

Sometimes when we fail to think about specific verses in the context of the whole Bible, we can arrive at wrong conclusions. Reading today’s psalm, we might conclude that God’s compassion is only for those who fear him and keep his commandments, which might lead us to think that those who are not part of the Christian faith or don’t think like us are not as deserving of God’s compassion and steadfast love as we are. However, we need to remember that the point of the whole biblical narrative is that God’s steadfast love and compassion is available for everyone who wants it (John 3:16).

God, help us to see other people as you see them, with compassion and love, even when we don’t agree with them. You desire for all people to experience your steadfast love. AMEN.

Saturday, June 12
MICAH 7:18-20

God’s Compassion Is Beyond Our Comprehension

I’m amazed at how the people of Israel experience so much tragedy in their story (slavery, deportation, destruction, etc.) yet still were able to recognize God’s compassion, asking who was like God who delights in showing clemency (v. 18)! Their faith was based on God’s promise to Abraham and Jacob to bless them and be their God no matter what. Jesus also promises to be with his disciple to the end of the world. It is God’s constant presence with us, even in the most difficult times when we experience the brokenness that comes from sin or living in a sinful world, that allows us to say that God delights in clemency. We remember God “will again have compassion upon us; he will tread our iniquities under foot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (v. 19). I’m amazed by God’s mercy for me despite who I am.

I pray that I will always call upon your compassion for me and those around even in the midst of difficult times because it is in those moments when that I need to experience your the clemency the most. AMEN.

About the Author: Julio Isaza

I was born and raised in the countryside of Colombia. Because of conflicts in the rural areas, I emigrated to the town of El Bagre. I became a follower of Christ when I was 17 years old. I’ve been married to Katie since 2004, and I’m father of Samuel (13) and Benjamin (10). We have been serving in Colombia as Serve Globally personnel since 2012. I love to serve in the areas of theological education (especially wholistic theology), peace-building, and creation care. I have been educated in theology as well as in conflict and peace. I like to play soccer, ride bikes, and read.

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