Home Altar: Week of July 11, 2021

by John F. Udochi

Sunday, July 11
PSALM 85

The Continuity of God’s Love


I love history and poetry, and the psalmist has a beautiful way of intersecting both in today’s psalm. There is continuity to God’s love in spite of the generational history of sin in our humanity.

The psalmist paints a poetic tapestry of the historical cycle of human sin, God’s anger, our repentance, and God’s forgiveness.

As people of God, we can find ourselves in moments of sadness and periods of desolation when we sin. When we remember God’s goodness, we cry out in repentance. God extends his mercy and forgiveness to underscore the continuity of his love.

God’s forgiveness illustrates one simple truth—God loves us. His righteousness looks down on us from heaven. His righteousness goes before him in the Person of Jesus. In Christ we find the continuity of God’s love in his forgiveness, our salvation, and our redemption.

Father, you are a loving God. We repent of our sins and seek your forgiveness. Help us to remain faithful. AMEN.

MONDAY, July 12
MARK 4:1-9

The Receptive Heart


Jesus spoke in parables—a tradition of the Near Eastern and African cultures of stories shared to captivate the listener and impart knowledge. They present the riddles of life that bring to our understanding what is in doubt, and to our attention what is true.

In the Parable of the Sower Jesus uses an agricultural metaphor to illustrate how the Word of God is retained in our hearts. Our hearts are the soil, the seed is the Word, and the Sower our Lord. The parable explains our heart’s response to the kingdom of God, freely given to us as the gift of Christ.

In this parable Jesus shows that our hearts could be hard, shallow, or self-indulgent. These conditions reject God’s message and are unresponsive as opposed to the good soil that receives the seed and produces fruit.

Father, please give us a heart like the good soil to discern your truth, to receive your Word, and to bear fruit in Christ. AMEN.

TUESDAY, July 13
MARK 4:10-20

The Signpost to Christ


Signposts help point us to places we are unfamiliar with. We need to look at the directions in order to get there. We also need to be able to decode and understand the directions to get to the destination.

Before I was saved, I required signposts to direct my understanding of Christ and the ways of his kingdom. Parables are some of these signposts, but the parables in and of themselves do not bring the kingdom of God into our hearts. Rather, as Jesus proclaims, the secret of the kingdom of God is revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). The Parable of the Sower is a signpost that reveals to us the direction to faith in Christ and citizenship in his kingdom.

Jesus, help us clearly see the direction you are pointing us to so we can be effective in the kingdom and in evangelizing to those who do not know you. AMEN. 

WEDNESDAY, July 14
MARK 4:21-25

The Light of Christ


The Herodian lamp used during the ministry of Jesus was handcrafted and powered by oil. The lamp on its stand brings light. The light from the lamp penetrates the darkness. But the lamp under a bowl does not bring light.

The light of Christ (John 8:12) is the light of truth. His light shines when we put it on its stand for all to see. Under a bowl no one sees it and it is eventually extinguished.

Jesus’s work of salvation and his discipleship is the metaphor of the light from the lamp that gives light to everyone in the house, so that nothing is concealed. We have been called out to be the light of Christ in this world. We are to shine his light into the darkness.

Lord Jesus, help us to become the bearers of your light in this world. AMEN. 

THURSDAY, July 15
JOHN 12:37-43

The Challenge of Unbelief


One of the biggest challenges confronting our world is posed in the question, “What is truth?” Answers expose the relativity of our reality today.

At the beginning of John’s Gospel, he addresses the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?” In other words, “What is the truth?” Truth is the Person of Christ (John 1:1-4, 14, 10).

The Truth which brings light does not operate in secret or in deception (John 18:20).

We are called to come into the light. Our refusal to do so happens when we are in love with accolades from humankind instead of being in love with pleasing God. But glory to God because in spite of our unbelief, truth resurrects and prevails.

Father, we are truly thankful that the prophetic words of Isaiah in the coming of the Messiah were fulfilled in Christ! We praise you because our gospel is a Person and he still lives as Truth. AMEN!

FRIDAY, July 16
JOHN 12:44-50

Christ Brings Salvation


The heart of God wants salvation for all of us through Christ. However, the Word of God also confronts our sins to bring a final judgment to all unbelievers.

Believing in Christ is also believing in the Father who sent him. The Father’s vision of salvation is also the vision of Christ to bring his salvation for humankind. Jesus Christ is the light of the world. He came not to judge but to rescue humankind from the darkness. In him we find light and life.

Let us stay focused, remain steadfast, and keep striving to hold on to God’s gift of salvation in Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your gift of salvation. Help us to continue to look forward to that promise of eternity with you. AMEN. 

SATURDAY, July 17
PSALM 24

Our Vindication Is in Christ


The beauty of poetry is once again expressed through the Psalms. King David, who is in the generational line of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, gives us this prayerful hymn.

The hymn believed to have been a victory processional connects the victories of God who owns the earth to those of us who meet him in his righteousness. This is righteousness expressed through a right relationship with Christ—the gift of our salvation and with others—who we are to call our neighbors.

Our righteousness is received in Christ. It is not achieved by anything we do. We are saved from sin as God gives Christ to those who seek him. Through God’s victories we receive our strength and our salvation. Our vindication comes from no other but Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Let us therefore remain vindicated through God’s strength and in Christ through his grace.

Heavenly Father, we seek your face to receive your blessings, because you are our vindication. AMEN.

About the Author: John F. Udochi

I serve as the training pastor and lead the training team of the New York Covenant Church (NYCC) in New Rochelle, New York. I am also a member of the Love Mercy Do Justice ministry of NYCC and lead the Justice Institute of the ministry. As a supervising administrative law judge, I am involved in addressing issues affecting the welfare of the children and families of New York state. I attended Nyack College–Alliance Theological Seminary, where I received my MDiv in Bible and theology. I love reading, music, poetry, history, meditating on the Bible, and discussing law, politics, and international affairs. I am married to my beautiful wife, Abbe, and we are blessed to have and care for two lovely children, Julius and Naomi.

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1 Comment

  1. I grew up in New Rochelle, NY and attended the Covenant Church that was on Mayflower Ave. I grew up to become a Covenant pastor in Maine and Michigan. I am glad there is still a Covenant Church in New Rochelle. God bless you in your ministry!

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