Genesis 1:27

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
 
You reveal Yourself to us. God our Creator, as an all-powerful God whose very Word calls creation into existence. You are a God of perfection, whose incomprehensible goodness is mirrored in the wonder of Your creation. An even greater wonder is this: We reflect You, having been created in Your image, the very image of God! You have made us a little lower than the heavenly beings. You have crowned us with glory and honor. You have given us authority over Your creation, to fill it and to rule over it for Your purposes. Yet when we allow the magnificence of Your creation to show us just a bit of Your unique majesty, what are we that You are mindful of us? What are we that You should care for us?

John 4:4-18

4 Now he had to go through Samaria.
5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”
8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.
18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
A Samaritan. An outcast. A nobody. Living in shame. Living with failure. She was not looking for You on this day. But You were waiting for her. Thank You, Lord, for the surprise of grace. Thank You for reaching out to the “wrong” people – people who know they are sinners, people who have given up hope, people like me. In Your mercy You penetrate beneath my carefully polished veneer to touch my heart, to expose my sin, to heal my pain. You offer healing and forgiveness far beyond what I would dare to seek. You quench the thirst of my soul. All praise be to You, my gracious, saving Lord.

Romans 15:1-13

15 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”
4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had,
6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed
9 and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing the praises of your name.”

10 Again, it says,

“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”

11 And again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
let all the peoples extol him.”

12 And again, Isaiah says,

“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.”

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Lord Jesus, Suffering Servant, teach us to model ourselves after You. Fill our hearts with joy and thanksgiving as we share Your life and love with one another. By the power of Your Holy Spirit help us to protect and build up those who are weak. Bring all Your people together in unity, Lord – weak and strong, rich and poor, young and old – so that with one heart and one mind we might glorify our Father in heaven and bring praise to Your wonderful name.

Romans 12:12-21

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Now that I am alive in Christ, help me to live like Christ. May the presence of Your Holy Spirit be manifested through my life to those around me. May I abound in the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And let everything I do be done for Your glory, O God, and bring praise to Your holy name.

Ezekiel 5:11-17

11 Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your vile images and detestable practices, I myself will shave you; I will not look on you with pity or spare you.
12 A third of your people will die of the plague or perish by famine inside you; a third will fall by the sword outside your walls; and a third I will scatter to the winds and pursue with drawn sword.
13 “Then my anger will cease and my wrath against them will subside, and I will be avenged. And when I have spent my wrath on them, they will know that I the Lord have spoken in my zeal.
14 “I will make you a ruin and a reproach among the nations around you, in the sight of all who pass by.
15 You will be a reproach and a taunt, a warning and an object of horror to the nations around you when I inflict punishment on you in anger and in wrath and with stinging rebuke. I the Lord have spoken.
16 When I shoot at you with my deadly and destructive arrows of famine, I will shoot to destroy you. I will bring more and more famine upon you and cut off your supply of food.
17 I will send famine and wild beasts against you, and they will leave you childless. Plague and bloodshed will sweep through you, and I will bring the sword against you. I the Lord have spoken.”
Sovereign Lord, You are slow to anger, abundantly merciful, full of love and grace. But You are also a jealous God. What horror then, to think that Your people could be so stubborn as to exhaust the resource of Your patience and drive You to anger. Your mercy that had so long been abused was now silent. It had surrendered its cause to the hand of judgement. The sword that had been drawn for Your people’s defense would now be drawn for their punishment. Those who forgot You in their prosperity would remember You in their captivity. If You are against us, O God, who can stand for us?

Romans 12:1-2

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
In light of Your kind mercy to me, dear Father, I offer to You my whole self without reservation, holding nothing back. My body is now Your temple. I am no longer my own; I was bought at a price. Therefore, I will honor You with my body. I will live as one who has been crucified with Christ, and who lives again in Him, through Him, and for His glory. I bring every thought captive to obedience to Christ. I make a covenant with my eyes to keep them pure. I offer You my hands and feet for the service of Your ministry. Come and fill me with Your Spirit, Lord, and teach me to live a life that is worthy of Your calling and that conforms with Your good, pleasing and perfect will.

Ezekiel 2: – 3:4

8 But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”
9 Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, 10 which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.
3 And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.
3 Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
4 He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them.
Lord, as I approach Your Holy Word, may I never take it lightly. You have taken such care to preserve it through the ages. May I take equal care to cherish it this day. Help me to come to Your Word as I would to a fine meal—not just to taste it, but to savor it, to take it in and absorb it into the very fabric of my being. And then, out of the abundance of my heart may my mouth speak the Truth of God.

1 Kings 17:7-15

7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.
8 Then the word of the Lord came to him:
9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.”
10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?”
11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”
13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.
14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”
15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.
O Lord, You have chosen “the foolish things of the world to shame the wise” and “the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” To fully trust You often requires us to set aside our “common” sense and to choose instead uncommon obedience. The widow’s simple faith in the words of Your prophet caused her to “foolishly” give up the last of her food. In doing so, she saved her own life and the life of her son. O Lord, give me this kind of “foolish” faith, the kind of faith that says, “Here, take everything,” so that I may see the wonders of Your power.

Revelation 7:9-17

9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,

12 saying:

“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”

13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”

And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 Therefore,

“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
16
‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
17
For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”

Great Lamb of God, Your blood purifies us, protects us from eternal death and grants us entrance into the presence of Your Father. Just as the Passover Lamb fed Your people log ago, giving them strength for their journey, so You, our Paschal Lamb, sustain us and enable us to follow You wherever You lead. We bow before You, Jesus, for You have clothed us in righteousness. You have put palm fronds in our hands and placed words of praise and worship on our lips.

Acts 1:4-8

4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.

5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
The Ascension of Jesus

6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Father, as You promised, You sent the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter, to testify about Jesus Christ and to give power to all who believe in Him. I stand before You believing in His name, having been sealed with Your Holy Spirit. When You empower me, I am set free to please You and to live as Your child. Enable me today to keep in step with You and to be Your witness wherever I go.