Home Altar: Week of July 25, 2021

by Elisa Lugo

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, July 25
2 Samuel 7:18-22


According to Benjamin Franklin, there are only two things certain in life: “death and taxes.” Thankfully that is not our only certainty in life. We have God’s Word!

With that assurance we can walk our daily lives knowing that God is serious about fulfilling his promises. And because he says and does what he says, we are able to have confidence in the direction he takes us. In today’s passage, David takes a moment to take it all in and see God in all his power fulfill a promise God made to a shepherd boy. What promises are you waiting to be fulfilled? Know that God is working out the details and fulfillment of those promises.

Lord, we are in awe that you are mindful of the smallest details of our lives. We thank you for your care and faithfulness toward us and your Word. We put our trust in you and not in what we see. We will remember you are faithful and true. In your name we pray, AMEN!

MONDAY, July 26


Psalm 14 is not one that we would choose to read before our worship service begins to inspire a gathering! Yet David was able to speak a truth we can see today more than ever. In this psalm we picture a society that turned its back on God and turned to their own understanding. This hits home. Yet one verse gives us hope: “For God is with the generation of the righteous” (v. 5, NKJV). The righteous who extend a hand to the poor, who speak up for the silent ones, who stand for the injustices in this world— God is with these people. And if God is before us who can be against us? Friend, today I invite you not just to turn your head away from the evils of this world but to act and cry aloud that God is our refuge for all to run to.

Father, we acknowledge that we are in a time of Noah where many have turned to their own understanding. We also know that you always have people willing to stand in the gap. Lord, help us to stand with those who are willing to point to you and to your Word. We do this all for your glory! AMEN.

TUESDAY, July 27
ISAIAH 29:13-16

The Heart to Worship

Every night before I tuck in my daughter into bed, we say our prayers, give a hug, and tell each other, “I love you.” It’s become part of our evening routine. One night my daughter hugged me and asked, “Mom, do you really mean it when you tell me you love me every night?” After many assurances and telling her the many reasons why I love her, she was content and went to sleep. But it got me thinking. How many Sundays do I stand in church or watch worship services online lifting up a song—but not my heart—in worship? How many times have I sung my favorite part of “The Blessing” with a to-do list in my head instead of thankfulness in my heart? Isaiah 29 reminds us that God is not in search of the perfect pitch in our worship. Rather, he seeks a heart of thankfulness. The heart of worship is seeking not just God’s blessings but the Blesser himself.

Lord, help us to draw our hearts to you and not just our words. Let our hearts and lives love you and not just the things you bless us with. AMEN.

HEBREWS 12:1-13

Train Up

“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed” (vv. 12-13).

If you have ever done strength training, you know that to increase your ability to lift more you have to be able to endure the pain of more weight. Hebrews 12 tells us that the Lord trains us so we can yield a fruitful life. The Word says this training comes through chastening or in some translations, discipline. Discipline is effective when its aim is to improve, not hurt. That is what our Heavenly Father does. He corrects and disciplines us to bring life, growth, and maturity that can only be done by the loving hand of the Holy Spirit.

Is the Holy Spirit training you in a season of correction? Can you see what areas in your home, family, and spiritual journey the Holy Spirit is training you for growth?

Lord, we thank you that you know how and in what areas to train us so we may grow more like you. May your Holy Spirit continue to guide and bring strength as we press on toward the mark of our high calling. AMEN.

MARK 6:35-44

Picnic on the Lawn

Jesus has been teaching the 5,000 for several hours. The disciples, noting the late hour, suggest to Jesus that he disperse the crowd to go buy food. Jesus momentarily pauses his teaching to look over his shoulder, telling the disciples to feed the crowd, and turns back to teaching.

With protest, the disciples gather up some scarce rations. They seem to know not to argue with the Master, and they present Jesus with two fish and five loaves of bread. Jesus asks them to organize the crowd into groups for a picnic on the grass. When all are settled, Jesus blesses the food, and it is miraculously multiplied as it is distributed to the crowd.

I wonder what the disciples thought as the meager food they rounded up continued to multiply in the hands of Jesus. What was it like to suddenly be participating in a miracle?

Lord Jesus, may I always be ready to step into the audacity of your story, knowing that when I yield to allow you to work through me, you will always supply the feast. AMEN.

HEBREWS 12:14-15

Pay It Forward

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God” (vv. 14-15).

Relationships are where we can experience both the receiving and giving of God’s grace. So many times in our relationships when there is discord we think the problem is outward. Let us not miss the opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to show us untended roots beneath the surface. Whether it be a casual co-worker or a personal lifelong friend, relationships can be the space where we see and demonstrate the true nature of God.

God, we thank you that you have called us, not only to be recipients of your undeserved favor, but also to be givers of your grace. Help us to see and address these roots that try to spring up in our lives. AMEN.

Friday, July 30
Hebrews 12:26-29

Strong Enough

I had never experienced an earthquake before. One day while I was at a friend’s house in Puerto Rico, the whole house shook. I was able to feel the tremor, but it felt unreal, as if the whole world was being shaken.

How many times have we experienced such shaking in our lives? The phone call from the doctor with an unexpected prognosis, or the shaking we all experienced last year. What I find hopeful in these shakings is that after all is said and done, it is the things that “cannot be shaken” that will remain. God is able to show us the things that will endure the trials and shaking of our lives. In his wisdom and guidance we are able to see that God’s Word helps us pass through the fire.

If you are in a season of trials, be encouraged that there is Another in the fire with you and you will see fruit that remains after the storm.

God, your Word says you are a consuming fire. We ask that you burn up those areas that weigh us down. We trust your wisdom when the seasons of shaking begin. Help us to hold to your unchanging hand in these moments and have faith in your plans to give us hope and a future. We put our lives in your hands. AMEN. 

Saturday, July 31
Ephesians 3:14-21


When was the last time you prayed and when you said amen, you realized you were praying to the One who takes our humble words and is able to do above all what we can ever ask or ever think! That’s how seriously God takes our prayers. He doesn’t just invest in them, he takes our prayers and runs our cups over.

I invite you today to take your prayer time to the next level and believe in his Word and what only he can do.

Lord, your Word says we can enter and pray boldly to your throne of grace. May our prayers reflect this boldness and power that you said is already working in us. We believe in you and we believe in your Word. Remind me, Holy Spirit, that my prayers are the weapons of warfare for the pulling down of strongholds. We pray this is Jesus’s name. AMEN!

About the Author: Elisa Lugo

I am a pastor and co-lead with my husband, Alex. We have been on the adventure of planting Uturn Covenant Church in Chicago for the past five years. I have been with the denominational team for the past two years and recently joined the Start and Strengthen Churches mission area as an administrative coordinator. My favorite song on my playlist is “God, Turn It Around” by Church of the City. My new hobby is making cafe style coffee at home. I’m getting pretty good at it!!

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