Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Daily Devotional Tuesday 13th September

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"God is jealous."
Nahum 1:2

Your Lord is very jealous of your love, O believer. Did he choose you? He cannot bear that you should choose another. Did he buy you with his own blood? He cannot endure that you should think that you are your own, or that you belong to this world. He loved you with such a love that he would not stop in heaven without you; he would sooner die than you should perish, and he cannot endure that anything should stand between your heart's love and himself. He is very jealous of your trust. He will not permit you to trust in an arm of flesh. He cannot bear that you should hew out broken cisterns, when the overflowing fountain is always free to you. When we lean upon him, he is glad, but when we transfer our dependence to another, when we rely upon our own wisdom, or the wisdom of a friend--worst of all, when we trust in any works of our own, he is displeased, and will chasten us that he may bring us to himself. He is also very jealous of our company. There should be no one with whom we converse so much as with Jesus. To abide in him only, this is true love; but to commune with the world, to find sufficient solace in our carnal comforts, to prefer even the society of our fellow Christians to secret intercourse with him, this is grievous to our jealous Lord. He would fain have us abide in him, and enjoy constant fellowship with himself; and many of the trials which he sends us are for the purpose of weaning our hearts from the creature, and fixing them more closely upon himself. Let this jealousy which would keep us near to Christ be also a comfort to us, for if he loves us so much as to care thus about our love we may be sure that he will suffer nothing to harm us, and will protect us from all our enemies. Oh that we may have grace this day to keep our hearts in sacred chastity for our Beloved alone, with sacred jealousy shutting our eyes to all the fascinations of the world!

Evening

"I will sing of mercy and judgment."
Psalm 101:1

Faith triumphs in trial. When reason is thrust into the inner prison, with her feet made fast in the stocks, faith makes the dungeon walls ring with her merry notes as she cries, "I will sing of mercy and of judgment. Unto thee, O Lord, will I sing." Faith pulls the black mask from the face of trouble, and discovers the angel beneath. Faith looks up at the cloud, and sees that

"'Tis big with mercy and shall break

In blessings on her head."

There is a subject for song even in the judgments of God towards us. For, first, the trial is not so heavy as it might have been; next, the trouble is not so severe as we deserved to have borne; and our affliction is not so crushing as the burden which others have to carry. Faith sees that in her worst sorrow there is nothing penal; there is not a drop of God's wrath in it; it is all sent in love. Faith discerns love gleaming like a jewel on the breast of an angry God. Faith says of her grief, "This is a badge of honour, for the child must feel the rod;" and then she sings of the sweet result of her sorrows, because they work her spiritual good. Nay, more, says Faith, "These light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." So Faith rides forth on the black horse, conquering and to conquer, trampling down carnal reason and fleshly sense, and chanting notes of victory amid the thickest of the fray.

"All I meet I find assists me

In my path to heavenly joy:

Where, though trials now attend me,

Trials never more annoy.

"Blest there with a weight of glory,

Still the path I'll ne'er forget,

But, exulting, cry, it led me

To my blessed Saviour's seat."

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Today's reading: Proverbs 13-15, 2 Corinthians 5 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Proverbs 13-15

1 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction,
but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.

2 From the fruit of their lips people enjoy good things,
but the unfaithful have an appetite for violence.

3 Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,
but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.

4 A sluggard’s appetite is never filled,
but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

5 The righteous hate what is false,
but the wicked make themselves a stench
and bring shame on themselves.

6 Righteousness guards the person of integrity,
but wickedness overthrows the sinner....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 2 Corinthians 5

Awaiting the New Body

1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come....

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Naomi

The Woman Who Tasted the Cup of Bitterness

Scripture Reference - The Book of Ruth

Name Meaning - Naomi means "my joy," "my bliss," or "pleasantness of Jehovah," and is a name suggestive of all that is charming, agreeable, attractive. Until deep sorrow overshadowed her, we can understand Naomi having a nature corresponding to her name. Although her character came to be purged and enhanced by her suffering, Naomi had an innate nobility that gave her personality an irresistible charm.

Family Connections - While both Naomi and Elimelech were staunch members of the Hebrew race, we are told nothing of their genealogy. Elimelech, who married Naomi, is thought to have belonged to one of the outstanding families in Israel, being a brother of Salmon, prince of Judah, who married Rahab. If this was so, then Naomi began her married life in comfortable circumstances. Naomi and Elimelech belonged to Bethlehem-Judah where two sons were born to them, namely, Mahlon and Chilion.

The Book of Ruth, which is one of the most lovely idylls in literature, and has enchanted every age, presents us with two women who are among the best-loved in history and whose story still captivates the world because of their unique devotion. Naomi and Ruth, her daughter-in-law, afford a relief after characters like Tamar, Delilah and Jezebel. In this sketch let us try to delineate the life and experience of Naomi who knew a great deal about "the ringing groove of change," to use Tennyson's phrase. Because of her manifold changes in life, Naomi came to fear God in a deeper way ( Psalm 55:19).

Her Change of Country

During the rule of the Judges, Israel suffered a serious famine which was deemed to be one of the punishments visited upon the people when they had sinned (Leviticus 26:14, 16 ). Driven to consternation, Elimelech the Ephrathite of Bethlehem decided to emigrate with his family to another land where food was more plentiful, and so traveled from Judah and settled in the highlands of Moab. For Naomi such an uprooting from her native home must have constituted a real sacrifice. Sincere in her faith, she loved the people of God and was strongly attached to the wonderful traditions of her race.

In taking the initiative to go to Moab - a foreign country - from Bethlehem, Naomi's husband stepped out of the will of God. If the famine was a judgment upon the nation, Elimelech should have repented, tried to have helped his fellow countrymen back to God, and prayed for the removal of the scourge (Psalm 34:9,10, 17 ). One may argue that Elimelech was wise in taking Naomi and their two sons out of a famine-stricken area to another land where there was sufficient food. But Elimelech was a Hebrew, and as such had the promise, "In the days of famine, thou shalt be satisfied." Elimelech means, "My God is King." Had he truly believed God was his King, he would have stayed in Bethlehem, knowing that need could not throttle God who is able to furnish a table in the desert. But Elimelech belied the name he bore when he left Bethlehem - "the house of bread" - for Moab, meaning "waste" or "nothingness." With his family he went from a place where God was honored to another land so heathen in its ways.

Although the land of Moab may sound remote it was only some 30 miles from Bethlehem-Judah - a long enough journey in those far-off days when they had no transportation. The distance, however, was not one of miles, but of mind . As H. V. Morton puts it, "Distances in the Bible are not measured from one place to another, but from God. Naomi and her husband felt they were going into a far country because Moab was a land of foreign worship." Thus Bethlehem to Moab measured the distance from God to the alien worship of an alien country. What disturbed feelings Naomi must have had as, with her family, she found herself in a strange land, unknown, and with all the problems of establishing a home in repellant surroundings.

Her Change of Connections

It was not long before Naomi discovered the error in leaving Bethlehem for in the new and heathen land nothing but misfortune dogged her footsteps. Her two sons married women of Moab. Instead of helping to support their mother they took wives of the alien country they were in. The Jewish law forbade marriage outside of the nation. Naomi's husband, Elimelech, died. He had fled to Moab to escape a possible death from famine, and died in the midst of plenty leaving his wife a widow in a land of idolaters. Bereft of her husband, Naomi loses all heart to live on in a land of foreigners.

When the stem dies, the leaf that grew

Out of its heart must perish too.

Naomi became one of the widows whom Paul describes as being "desolate." To add to her desolation and grief, she also lost both of her sons and so Naomi "was left of her two sons and husband." By this time she was old and helpless with her widowed daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, to shelter. As they were not of her people, nor of her faith in God, Moab true to its name, must have been empty, desolate and inhospitable to Naomi's grief-stricken, aching heart. Doubtless, Ruth and Orpah, whose hearts too had been emptied, were a source of comfort to Naomi, even though they knew that their marriage to Mahlon and Chilion was against her religious principles. So, as George Matheson fittingly expresses it -

To all appearance Naomi was desolate. Husband and children were gone - the place of sojourn was a land of strangers - the voices of the old sanctuary were silent. Her heart and spirit were broken, her conscience was up in arms. The God of her fathers, she felt, had deserted her for her desertion of Him. She must retrieve the past - she must go back - back to the old soil, back to the favour of her God.

Bethlehem was Naomi's native land, and all her relatives and friends were there. Thus she left for Bethlehem, not so much because of her cup of sorrow in Moab, but because she had heard that "the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread."

Her Change of Character

Naomi was determined to return to Bethlehem alone, but her daughters-in-law left with her, possibly excited about a new start in a new land. But on the journey back, Naomi paused and pleaded with Ruth and Orpah to return to Moab. She knew what it would mean for them as Moabites to cross the boundary line, stressing the point that in Canaan there would be very little prospect of their finding husbands. What a moment that must have been as those three widows stood there at the parting of the ways. Orpah, without much ado, kissed Naomi, and then went back to her own idolatrous people, but Ruth clave unto Naomi and begged her to take her to Bethlehem (see Ruth).

As Naomi and Ruth entered the city together the thoughts of each must have been different. To Naomi there came flashing back thoughts of a happy youth and of a life at peace with God - thoughts which tended to aggravate her desolation. But for Ruth, there was the novelty and strangeness of a foreign people, a speech not fully understood, and youth's quest for new adventure. Naomi's arrival in the old community created a sensation. Quickly it passed from lip to lip that the well-known, beautiful and pleasant woman who had left ten years before was back, and as all the city met her they cried, "Is this Naomi?" Why the question form of their welcome? Did they detect a radical change in her appearance and demeanor? The repetition of her significant name irritated her as she cried -

Call me not Naomi [pleasant, winsome, agreeable], call meMara [bitter]: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

Naomi could not bear the contradiction between the name she bore, and the person she was. Ten years in Moab with all its anguish, and also the loss of fellowship with God and His people had dried up her finer feelings. Once so sweet, Naomi was now sour, and blamed God for the poverty and desolation she had endured. But why chide God? Was not her cup of bitterness the result of the act of disobedience when, with her husband, she left Bethlehem for Moab? Had she stayed in her own land and maintained her trust in God, in spite of the famine, He would have undertaken for her and her family and brought them through. But the journey to Moab was a journey from God, and consequently her bitterness was the fruit of such an act of disobedience.

Her Change of Circumstances

Naomi was back in Bethlehem as a "returned empty." She went away to Moab with plenty but retraced her steps in poverty. How descriptive of her adverse circumstances is her lament! "I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty." Naomi and Ruth, then, clinging to each other, plunge into the poverty and solitariness facing them - but with a different outlook. Both women were widows and sufferers, but suffering old age often yields to hopelessness and despair, whereas suffering youth rebounds and seeks to be responsive to the life that is around. Thus Ruth felt the stir of excitement in her new surroundings. Naomi and she must eat, and knowing that her mother-in-law, whom Ruth surrounded with loving care, was too old to bend her back to work in the fields, Ruth goes out and secures work as a gleaner in the fields of Boaz. Under Jewish law the poor were allowed to glean in any harvest field, and Ruth qualified for the weary, humble task of following the reapers and gathering up the gleanings for Naomi and herself.

Boaz, related to Naomi's husband, was therefore connected by marriage to Ruth, and by Jewish custom, Boaz, as next of kin, could be regarded as Ruth's rightful betrothed. Naomi, with her bitterness now subdued and her former pleasant disposition restored, took a lively interest in the kindness of Boaz to Ruth, and advised her in the steps leading to her marriage to Boaz. The idyllic conclusion was reached as Naomi, through her tender boldness, saw Ruth lifted out of obscurity and poverty into marriage with a godly man, as well as a mighty man of wealth. For Naomi, the winter of desolation was past, and the time of the singing of birds had come. Although her natural hopes had perished, Naomi lived again in the life of her dear, sacrificial daughter-in-law, and there were loud rejoicings when Ruth's first-born, Obed, was carried to Grandma Naomi. Now her daughter-in-law who loved her was better to Naomi "than seven sons." How lovingly she would nurse Ruth's child and bless God because, as Professor R. G. Moulton expressed it -

The family she thought she had seen perish has been restored to the genealogies of Israel; for baby Obed lives to become the father of Jesse, and Jesse is father of the great King David. And in the genealogical tables of Matthew, the Moabitess who left her people for love of Naomi is duly named as an ancestress of the Messiah Himself.

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Matthew

[Măt'thew] - gift of jehovah.

The Man Who Left All to Follow Christ

This son of Alphaeus was a Hebrew with two names, a common thing in Galilee at that time. Mark and Luke, when recording Matthew's call to discipleship, speak of him as Levi, but Matthew himself uses the name he has been loved by throughout the Christian era. In his despised occupation he was Levi, a name meaning "joined," and joined he was to the world's crooked extortionate ways and mercenary aims. He was also joined by his vocation to a hated foreign power under whose yoke orthodox Jews chafed.

Thus Levi and his craft were so detested that the very namepublican or tax-gatherer was commonly associated with sinner (Luke 15:1). His original name connected him with the tribe of Levi, the priestly house set aside for sanctuary service. But this Levi degraded his holy name. Whether the Lord changed the name to Matthew when He called Levi or whether the new found disciple chose it himself, we do not know. Meaning "the gift of God," Matthew's new name magnified the transforming power of Christ and indicated that Matthew was like the One who called him, a gift to Israel and to the world.

The call to service came when he was sitting at the receipt of custom (Matt. 9:9; Luke 5:27 ) at Capernaum, the first world center, "the Great West Trunk Road from Damascus and the Far East to the Mediterranean Sea." Matthew was a "publican," which is not to be confused with the modern usage of the term as an English innkeeper. "Publican" is from the Latin wordpublicannus , meaning the collector of Roman taxes, the gathering of which was farmed out to minor officials ready to undertake this odious duty among their countrymen. A publican's reward was that he could extort for his own benefit more than was due, so long as the extortion did not lead to revolt. This was why the publicans, as a class, were spoken of as "leeches." They gorged themselves with money in the process of gathering money for the Caesars and consequently were reckoned to be outside the pale of decent society and of the synagogue.

"Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter's Son, knew Matthew the publican quite well," says Alexander Whyte. "Perhaps only too well. Jesus and His mother had by this time migrated from Nazareth to Capernaum. He had often been in Matthew's toll-booth with His mother's taxes, with other poor people's taxes." But the outcast was called by Christ to a better occupation, to better wealth than silver and gold, to serve a better King than Caesar. Without hesitation Matthew left all, arose and followed Christ (Luke 5:28).

To celebrate his surrender to Christ, Matthew entertained Christ and others to a feast in his own house ( Matt. 9:10; Luke 5:29). This feast was a token of gratitude for his emancipation from a sordid occupation, and revealed a missionary spirit. Such an "At Home" served a threefold purpose:

I. It was a Jubilee Feast to commemorate his translation into a new life. Matthew wanted all and sundry to know that he was now a new creature in Christ Jesus.

II. It was a Farewell Dinner to declare his determination henceforth to follow and serve his new found King. It was his public confession of surrender to the call of Christ.

III. It was a Conversazione to introduce his old associates and friends to his new found Saviour, that they too might have an opportunity of hearing His wonderful words of life. Matthew sought to make a dinner party an evangelistic service. He knew many would come to his house to meet Christ who would not go to the synagogue to hear Him. Doubtless many publicans and sinners learned that day that Christ did not despise them.

Matthew became not only an apostle but also the writer of the first gospel. He left behind an undying image of his Lord. Matthew has given us The Galilean Gospel -unique in every way. When he rose and left all to follow Christ, the only things Matthew took out of his old life were his pen and ink. It is well for us that he did, since he took them with him for such a good purpose.

Matthew's gospel is striking in that it alone gives us the Parables of the Kingdom. The theme of his book, known as "the Hebrew Porch of the New Testament" is The King and His Kingdom. Some fifty-six times he uses the word "kingdom." In his record of the life and labors of Christ, Matthew has given us the image of Christ as it fell upon his own heart.

Trained to systematic methods and well acquainted with Jewish character and religion, Matthew was fitted to commend Christ to the Jews. He appeals to the student of Old Testament literature. As a writer, he is before us as an eyewitness of the events he describes and as earwitness of the discourses he records. As to his qualifications, Matthew had a love of truth and was sensible of the mercy of God, and the misery of man. In self-effacing humility, he loses sight of himself in adoration of his Hero. It is thus that his book can be divided in this three-fold way:

The early days of the Messiah (Matt. 1-4:16).

The signs and works of the Messiah (Matt. 4:17-16:20).

The passion of the Messiah (Matt. 16:21-28:20).

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September 12, 2011

Don't Scratch That Itch!

Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

"When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed" (James 1:13-14 NIV).

Friend To Friend

I once woke up with a spider bite that was the size of a quarter. It may as well have been the size of North Carolina for as much as it itched! I was half-tempted to scratch off my arm. That nasty bite was just begging to be scratched. However, I have learned a thing or two in my thirty-something years, and one thing I know for sure: it is best not to scratch this type of itch.

It would be like opening a bag of chips with the naive intention of eating only one (yeah, right!) I knew that if I started scratching my bug bite, it would be nearly impossible to stop. I would regret having ever started.

Super-itchy bug bites are a lot like temptations. Temptations are itchy! The call on us with urgent voices that scream, "Scratch me! Scratch me!" Yet, in all reality, a little scratch will not satisfy temptation's itch at all...it will just make matters worse. When we scratch the itch of temptation, the itch does not diminish. To the contrary, it increases.

The Bible teaches us that when we resist temptation, our faith is then mobilized and the muscles of our character are strengthened. Let's look at what that looked like for a guy named Joseph. (For the full account, pause here and read Genesis 39.)

Joseph was a man of integrity who did right in the eyes of the Lord, but he definitely faced some temptation! He was seduced by temptation in the form of his master's wife, Mrs. Potiphar. You see, Mrs. Potiphar wanted her husband's right-hand man to sleep with her, and she pursued him with aggression. Hers was a hand-delivered invitation for Joseph to sin that had itchy written all over it. But he flat-out refused. His heart was determined to honor God.

"My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" Though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her (Genesis 39:9-10).

Temptation chased Joseph relentlessly. Oh, how he must have longed for the itching to stop! To give in would be sinful. To give in was simply not an option for this young man of character. So on the day that Potiphar's wife caught him by the cloak and begged again for Joseph to sleep with her, Joseph ran out of the house. He ran from that tempting situation as fast as his legs would carry him.

God was honored in Joseph's response.

He ran from temptation.

We would be wise to do the same.

What do you need to run from today? Have you determined in your heart to honor God in everything? Temptation comes in all shapes and sizes. It might be calling your name from your pantry - or from your computer - or from a bottle - or from another cubicle in your office. What temptations do you face today? Name them and run the other way! Don't scratch that itch! Determine in your heart that you will choose the path that brings honor to God, and call on Him for strength.

I realize that dealing with temptation is not easy. When that nasty spider bit my arm, I struggled not to scratch the bite. I had to re-direct my thinking to persevere through the temptation. When we come face to face with temptations, God's strength is always available to us. We need God's strength. Ours will fail us. Friend, when we resist temptation, we get to experience the peace and protection of God, our faith is mobilized and the muscles of our character are strengthened.

Let's Pray

Dear Lord, I need You so much. I constantly find myself being dragged away and enticed by temptation. Please give me strength to run the other way, and give me the wisdom to run to Your arms. I want to be a woman of godly character. Help me be that woman!
In Jesus' Name,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Contemplate the following questions: What have you been dragged away and enticed by in the past? How did you respond? How have you grown from those experiences?

Though our sovereign God allows trials to enter our lives, He does not ever tempt us. (James 1) Tuck that truth in your heart today, and the next time you experience a temptation - great or small - recognize that the enemy is behind the allure. Then tell him to get behind you and pray that Jesus will re-direct your thinking.

Read and memorize Psalm 105:4: "Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always."

More From The Girlfriends

I wish my temptations were always as simple as the itch of a pesky little bug bite! But, of course, they are not. Each of us will encounter some real whoppers in our lives. James chapter one tells us that when we persevere through trials and temptations, one rewards is maturity. That really encourages me! I hope it encourages you as well.

NEED ENCOURAGEMENT? Allow this song to lift your heart to God's. Turn your speakers up, click over to my Facebook page at: www.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic and listen toTAKE MY HEART CAPTIVE.

If this devotion resonated with you and if you would like to learn more about how your brokenness can be reworked into a picture of God's beauty, don't miss Gwen's book Broken Into Beautiful. Every step of transformation begins with the heart of God. Broken into Beautiful will take you there. To order Broken Into Beautiful, go to Amazon or, for a signed copy, visit Gwen's website: www.gwensmith.net.

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Seeking God?

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how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God

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info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

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P31Header
Samantha Reed

September 12, 2011

Into Her Pain
Samantha Reed, Executive Assistant

"A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man's condition, his heart went out to him." Luke 10:33 (MSG)

We inhaled the muggy evening shrouding the back porch, too warm to even rock in our chairs. Not a slight breeze of mercy murmured. The quiet moment urged me to be still. Listen. Administer mercy.

Knees kissed her chin, her eyes pleaded, "I need someone to crawl in my pit with me. Someone to help me out of the pain."

A lump in my throat responded to her grief. Circumstances had beaten her down; left her half-dead on the side of life's road. Uncomfortable empathy warned,press the escape hatch quick, before awkward mercy takes over. Obvious quick fixes lunged at me:

Time heals all wounds.
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
God's timing is perfect.
To everything there is a season.

But when he saw the man lying there,
he crossed to the other side of the road
and passed him by. (Luke 10:31b NLT)

I wouldn't disrespect her loss with a walk-by. Wouldn't slap thoughtless words into her pit as I stepped over her pain. A word aptly withheld is often better than a word care-lessly tossed. Be still. Listen. Administer mercy.

A Samaritan traveling the road came on him.
When he saw the man's condition,
his heart went out to him. (vs. 33 MSG)

I try not to deal in slick mercy if possible. You see, slick things don't stick. Instead I plastered a cast of mercy on her broken heart. Comfort doesn't come in clichés. It is delivered in a still presence, a listening ear, a merciful hand. Comfort ushers in healing when the truth of the Word is coupled with merciful deeds. Into the pit we're called. Into silence we wade. Be still. Listen. Administer mercy.

He gave him first aid,
disinfecting and bandaging his wounds.
Then he lifted him onto his donkey,
led him to an inn,
and made him comfortable. (vs. 34 MSG)

The Good Samaritan did more than throw a nickel, blanket or splash of water. He leaned into, learned of the need, loved the broken with what resources he had. He was the first in a line of others who attended to the man, aided him in getting up and getting well. The Good Samaritan stopped, stooped and secured additional help.

That humid night with my friend, her journey of healing began. I didn't have much, but a meager offering from a willing heart: it is capable of great things. My arm lingered still, touching hers-a reminder life begets life. I listened to her hope levels, refilling when low. Administered merciful possibilities of trusting again, believing once more. Others counseled, covered in prayer, spoke truths. We tucked arms under my friend, lifted her up and out. Onward to healing.

In the morning he took out two silver coins
and gave them to the innkeeper, saying,
'Take good care of him. If it costs any more,
put it on my bill-
I'll pay you on my way back.' (vs. 35 MSG)

Years later, my heart cracked open, pieces clattered out like marbles from a jar. Flailing about, I slipped headlong into my pain.

My friend crossed the road to me, leaving convenient clichés of "chin up" and "better to have loved and lost" on the other side. Toward my pain she leaned; still, listening, administering mercy. One temperate morning on the same back porch, the breeze stirred slightly. The only thing between us, two mugs of coffee.

"You'll be whole again, you'll heal. Once more you'll believe He's always been good; has plans, a future; never left you."

With a wink my friend glimmered, "Someone once told me that and she was right. I believe again; I trust." Mercy nodded at her and together, they wrapped their arms on either side of me. Ascending out of my pain. Time to leave; time to heal.

"Now which of these three would you say
was a neighbor to the man who was
attacked by bandits?" Jesus asked.
The man replied, "The one who
showed him mercy."
Then Jesus said, "Yes, now go
and do the same."(vv. 36-37 NLT)

Dear Lord, thank You for Your healing mercy. Thank You for sharing in my pain when You died on the cross. Please give me eyes to see those hurting around me, and teach me to be still, to listen, and to administer mercy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Need a friend to walk you out of your pit? Then you won't want to miss Melissa Taylor's Online Bible Study of A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. Click here to sign up and click here to purchase your book!

Also consider the Four-Part Conference Call Series that accompanies this Bible study. Click here to join Melissa, Renee, and other encouraging guests!

Click here to download the first chapter of A Confident Heart for free.

Hop on over to Samantha's blog for more encouragement and enter to win a book or conference call.

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!

Application Steps:
Pray and ask the Lord if there is someone in your life He is calling you to help out of their pain. With whom can you be still, listen, administer mercy?

Ask for words and deeds of mercy to show that person, rather than a quick pat on the back or cliché.

Reflections:
Are there pits in which I've stayed, not allowing in truth, help or healing? What do I fear will happen if I am still, if I listen and if I accept mercy administered by others?

Power Verses:
Micah 6:8, "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (ESV)

Galatians 6:2, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." (ESV)

1 John 3:18, "Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions." (NLT)

© 2011 by Samantha Reed. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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Personal Development: Integrity Week Two

Read 1 Samuel 12:1-4

Most concepts are easier to understand if we can see a model. Samuel is one of the Bible's greatest models of integrity. We started this study of integrity with him. Now let's take a moment and walk back through the passage which we read on that first day of this series on integrity. As you read, notice the following:

  1. How long had Samuel been Israel's leader (vv.1-2)?
  2. Every leader decides those accomplishments or values for which he or she wants to be remembered. For some this might be their decision-making genius; for others the amount of money they were able to amass; for still others the degree to which their followers loved or respected them. In verse 3 Samuel read his evaluation sheet to the people. What mattered to Samuel?
  3. Read the people's response to Samuel (vv.4-5). What does this tell you about Samuel's tenure as Israel's leader?
  4. What is the key to this kind of integrity? To discover the short answer, read verses 5-7; then jump to verses 20-24. Meditate for a few moments on these readings. Then answer the question: "What was the driving and guiding value that explains Samuel's years of integrity?"
  5. Consider this question: What is your plan, specifically, to develop the same perspective that kept Samuel on track for all of those years? Spend some time thinking about your own view of God and his role in your life of integrity.

Integrity and How It Works

Samuel's integrity places a challenge before every leader. A brief look at his character is instructive to us all. Read his character profile to gain additional insight into the value system that inspired this great leader .

Integrity and Who God Is

How many times have you struggled with your own personal integrity and resolved to do better? Jesus knew that we would struggle with hypocrisy, so in Matthew 6:1-34 he addressed a core issue which we must wrestle to the ground if we hope to increase our level of integrity.

This Week's Verse to Memorize

1 Timothy 4:15-16: Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Integrity and Who I Am

Even the most spiritually committed among us will blow it at one time or another. No matter how devoted or mature we are, we will find ourselves asking, "What do I do when I have violated my commitment to God and to my own integrity?" David demonstrates what a godly person does in the face of his own failure. Read Psalm 32:1-11 and meditate your way through David's prayer of repentance.

Integrity and What I Do

Just how important to leadership is this business of integrity? David, one of history's most godly leaders, offers his view on the matter in 1 Chronicles 29:10-19. Meditate your way through this rich commentary on life, and then read Richard Baxter's penetrating statement in the note that accompanies that passage.


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Handbook to Leadership: Leadership in the Image of God

by Kenneth Boa
Buy the Handbook!
All the features of The Leadership Bible created by Kenneth Boa, Sid Buzzell, and Bill Perkins have been combined in this attractive and compact black leather volume. Handbook to Leadership has four parts: 52-Week Leadership Guide, Topical Leadership Guide, Leadership Character Studies, and Books of the Bible Leadership Guide.



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