Standing Through The Storm: Love Your Neighbor

 
 
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LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

The scriptures teach that God is committed to one major objective in the lives of all His people; conforming us to the image of His Son. What is the “image of His Son?” It is found in the words of Jesus, Himself, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark10:45).

It makes sense then to say that God desires the same for us. After bringing us into His family through faith in His Son, the Lord sets His sights on building into us the same qualities that made Jesus distinct—a servant’s heart and a giving spirit. It’s so easy to lose sight of our primary calling as Christians. Even those who lead must do so with an attitude of genuine humility and an authentic desire to help others.

The best-known symbols of Christianity are the cross, theichthus (fish symbol), and the dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit. Probably the least known—yet most appropriate for the Christian—is the symbol of the towel and basin. The towel Jesus used when in humility and service, he washed and wiped his disciples dirty feet. Jesus instructed his disciples after washing their feet that they were to wash one another’s feet.

J. Dudley Woodbury tells a poignant true story that occurred in the dismal refugee camps of Peshawar, Pakistan. The fighting between the Majahideen in post-Soviet Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban resulted in thousands of refugees flooding into the camps near the border. Most of the children in the camps ran around barefoot in both the intense heat and intense cold.

A Christian organization brought in hundreds of sandals for the children but decided not to just distribute them but care for the children’s feet as well. So they utilized as many Christian volunteers as possible who washed the children’s filthy feet, put medication on their sores and prayed for them silently as they gave out the sandals.

As he tells the story, some months later a Muslim primary school teacher in the camp asked her students who the best Muslims were. One little girl raised her hand and responded, “The kafirs.” (unbelievers).

After the teacher recovered from cardiac arrest, she asked, “Why?” The little girl said, “The Mujahedeen killed my father, but the kafirs washed my feet!”

Missions to the Muslims, he concludes, will be affected less by the flames of 9/11, or even the flames that started the Arab Spring, than by the inner flames that are ignited if we so follow our Lord.[1]

RESPONSE: Today I will look for ways to serve others in genuine humility as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

PRAYER: Lord, help me love as You did, serve others as You did and give of myself as You did!

1. J. Dudley Woodberry, “Muslim Missions: Then & Now,”Christianity Today (September 2011), p. 36.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

 

 

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Proverbs 31 Ministries: Encouragement for Today: Lord, I Need Your Help

 

Encouragement For Today
Renee Swope October 8, 2013

Lord, I Need Your Help
Renee Swope

“In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help.” (Psalm 18:6 NIV)

One evening after an intense “discussion,” my husband, J. J., told me that no matter what he did or how hard he tried, it was never enough for me. He was right. I constantly found fault with him as a husband and as a dad.

But when he implied that I was impossible to please … well, that sent my already-out-of-control emotions reeling. I grabbed my coat and stormed out the front door. Hot tears streamed down my cheeks as I replayed our conversation in my head.

I was determined to figure out what J. J.’s problem was and get Jesus to fix him. So I started filing complaints against my husband in what you might call a prayer. And I finally heard myself—all the ugliness, all the anger. That’s when I realized, I need help. I needed God to help me figure out how—after seven years of a happy marriage—we had gotten to this ugly place.

Instead of just crying, I found myself crying out to God for help.

King David was much better at this than I was that day. He had a habit of crying out to God for help when he was in distress. One Bible scholar notes that the phrase, “‘In my distress’ refers, most probably, not to any particular case, but rather indicates [David’s] general habit of mind, that when he was in deep distress and danger he had uniformly called upon the Lord, and had found him ready to help.”*

That night, when I stopped talking and started listening, I sensed God showing me I wanted J. J. to make up for all the ways my dad had fallen short as a father to me and as a husband to my mom. Years as a child in a broken home with a broken heart had led to a significant sense of loss and deep disappointment. Yet, up to that point, I had never grieved the happily-ever-after that I longed for but didn’t have.

My unfulfilled hopes had become bitter expectations. I became controlling and critical, thinking that if I could get J. J. to be the husband and dad I wanted him to be, maybe my broken dreams could be put back together. But I was wrong. Instead of expecting my husband to make up for my losses, I needed to cry out to God with my hurts and call on Him for help.

Are there hurts that hold you hostage? Expectations no one could really ever meet? Need some help today? I know I do. And I know God is there, waiting for us to cry out to Him.

As I continued to process what had happened in my childhood and how it affected my marriage, I learned to ask God for help through each step of my healing journey. It took time, prayer, and courage, but God was my very present help.

By the way, I’m crazy about my husband. And so very thankful for that day several years ago when I finally asked the Lord for help.

Dear Lord, I need Your help, especially with _______________. Please show me where to start and be my help each step of the way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Related Resources
For 20 years Proverbs 31 Ministries has been a trusted friend to offer comfort in knowing you’re not alone in your day-to-day struggles, questions, and hopes. Today’s devotion is a sample from our newest book, Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living.

We’ve compiled 100 of our favorite devotions to share with you. They are hopeful. Relevant. Trustworthy. And offer God’s perspective and a bit of humor to help you through the rough patches. Pick up your copy by clicking here.

Visit Renee Swope’s blog for more encouragement.

Remember
Hurts from your past can hold you hostage. God is there, waiting to heal you.

Reflect
In what ways do you file complaints against your husband (or other loved one) in what you might call a prayer?

Respond
Determine if your hurts are too deep to heal without outside help. If they are, consider seeing a pastor or counselor.

Power Verses
Psalm 46:1Deuteronomy 4:7

*Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983).

Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst and Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan.www.zondervan.com.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

Tozer on Christian Leadership: Failure and Success

 

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Failure and Success: Stop Tinkering

Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?’ —Genesis 16:13

Faith is the least self-regarding of the virtues. It is by its very nature scarcely conscious of its own existence. Like the eye which sees everything in front of it and never sees itself, faith is occupied with the Object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all. While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves— blessed riddance. The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ, the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and to do. . . .

When we lift our inward eyes to gaze upon God we are sure to meet friendly eyes gazing back at us, for it is written that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout all the earth. The sweet language of experience is “Thou God seest me.” When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on this earth. The Pursuit of God, 84-86.

“Keep my eyes fixed on You, Lord. Help me to stop tinkering and realize my total inability to change. I look to You to change me and give me victory as I focus on Your friendly eyes looking lovingly at me. Amen.”

 

Proverbs 31 org: A Woman who Doesn’t Give Up

 

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Encouragement For Today
Nicki Koziarz October 7, 2013

Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Give Up
Nicki Koziarz

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23 (NLT)

For years I’ve dreamed of writing a book. Not to see my name on a cover or personal benefit. Rather, I want others to see God’s faithfulness. Most days I’m motivated to press on, but other days it’s difficult to maintain my “oomph.”

Another rejection letter hits hard. My toes get stomped on by a hurtful comment on my blog. Or defeat attacks, making me want to quit.

But I believe this is a God-calling. These are words He has entrusted to me. A book He’s asked me to write to tell others about His goodness. And so I try to push these negatives off.Colossians 3:23 inspires me to faithfully plug away another day:“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

Maybe you can relate? For every step you take to fulfill your calling, something knocks you back three feet. Might I encourage you, as one who has been there—is currently there—to keep at it?

Here are five habits I’ve discovered which characterize a woman who doesn’t give up:

1. She gets up each morning and follows through with her commitments, despite how she feels.

Her feet are firmly positioned in the day’s tasks. While quitting may seem like an option, she refuses to become someone others or God can’t count on. Her heart understands that she must be found faithful in small steps to be trusted with big steps.“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much …” (Luke 16:10 NIV)

2. She approaches the Word of God with reverence.

She opens God’s Word and believes each day He has a personal message for her. She listens to sermons and teachings. Instead of automatically thinking of the friend who needs to hear that message, she knows there’s something there for her. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT)

3. She longs for the grace of refinement rather than the grace of relief.

She doesn’t have a personal agenda to fulfill when she faces refinement. In fact, she longs for the grace of refinement, rather than the grace of relief, because she trusts how God will use this season of growth. She accepts the perspective godly people offer her in difficult situations. And she embraces the process of becoming better through her mistakes. “Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.” (NLT)

4. She chooses to invest in the world with joy.

Though life may turn on her, she chooses not to reciprocate. Instead, she strives to be emotionally generous towards others by investing in them with joy. As a result, when darkness threatens to loom over her she can easily chase it away by giving joy. “A joyful heart is good medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22a ESV)

5. She has a spirit of unbreakable determination.

Though she may feel a little [or a lot] bent many days, she never lets the bending break her perseverance toward the things God has assigned her. In the midst of rejection, she thrives by standing firm on this verse, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 NIV)

Though I don’t have all these down quite yet, I’m working on them. And each day I can see progress … in my perseverance, hope, and manuscript.

What about you? What has God called you to do? Start by adopting one habit today and commit your work to the Lord.

Lord, thank You for filling me with purpose, faith and determination. Help me continue to do the work You’ve given me. Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you long to write words that are memorable and moving but don’t know where to start? We are thrilled to announce the launch of COMPEL: Words That Move People.

This new training for writers by Lysa TerKeurst and Proverbs 31 Ministries will be a perpetual tutor that creatively delivers both information and inspiration to take your writing to a whole new level! Click here for more information and to sign up.

Visit Nicki Koziarz’s blog for a “no quitting” giveaway.

Reflect and Respond:
Have you given up on a calling God has given you? Why?

What habit can you choose to begin today and what steps will you take to begin working for the Lord?

Power Verses:
Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might . . . .” (NIV)

© 2013 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org