“Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos with their trip. See that they are given everything they need. Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive.”
Paul is clear in his letter to Titus that the church is called to be the help for people around them. Isn’t it so easy for us to get caught up in what we know and how spiritual we can be without seeing people in need and doing anything we can to help them?
I love in scripture when God is mentioned as our ‘help.’ What a cool picture of how we can be sure we’re following God’s will and call for our lives by meeting people’s needs and showing them Jesus’ love for them. God is our help and we get to be the help for those around us.
Titus was sent by Paul to the island of Crete. Crete was an area that was known for being sinful and let’s just say, not focused on God; a Vegas of sorts. Paul is telling Titus to be the help for those around him; but ultimately Crete needed Jesus. They didn’t just need more money or more meals or clean water. All of those things are great; but they needed Jesus. So, be the help today. Be the help this week. But don’t forget about what our communities really need.
“Saved by Faith”
She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” Mark 5:27-28 ESV
We don’t know the name of this bleeding woman, but we do know that she had suffered for twelve long years. She was not only physically sick but also socially unacceptable. According to Mosaic law, she would have been ceremonially unclean and not allowed to touch anyone. It’s not that she didn’t try to get better. She “had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse” (Mark 5:26). Not only had the illness robbed her of health and relationships, but it had drained her of all her money and possessions. She had nothing left.
It’s amazing that after all those years, and after all the doctor’s failed treatments, she still had faith that she could be healed. She had to see this man who had “healed many who had various diseases” (Mark 1:34). If only she could touch him, she believed she could be healed.
She pushed through and “came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment” (Mark 5:27), and “she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease” (Mark 5:29). Her faith had healed her.
If she hadn’t heard about Jesus she wouldn’t have been healed. We may or may not be suffering with a physical illness, but we all have suffered with spiritual illness. Sin is an illness that keeps us separated from God. Only by our faith in him can we be saved from our sin and be restored and it’s only by his grace that we are saved.
And he [Joab] took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak. And ten young men, Joab’s armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him and killed him – 2 Samuel 18.14b-15
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life – Galatians 6. 7-8
Dr. Henry Cloud refers to Galatians 6.7-10 as the “law of reaping and sowing.” Absalom was not exempt from this rule, and neither are we.
I look at people and circumstances and wonder when justice will be served. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. Like many of the psalms, my soul cries out, “How long, O Lord….”
How long until You make everything fair and set everything right?
How long until justice is the norm and injustice is abolished?
When I find myself drifting up into the seat of judgment, I need a strong reminder of my role in the cosmic courtroom. Mike Baker gave a devotional that delivered one such reminder. He said, “When I find myself trying to become the Judge, I remember that my role is to be a witness.”
Sinfulness appears to be rewarded while righteousness appears to be punished, but stories like Absalom’s correct me. Eleven years of wickedness looked to be rewarded when Absalom took a seat on David’s throne. Then, one day, while riding his mule, Absalom got his head caught in between two trees (2 Sam 18.9) and Joab heard of it. Despite David’s orders, Absalom felt the full effect of the “law of reaping and sowing” that day.
Take comfort today that our “God is not mocked.” We rest in the truth that all righteousness is eternally rewarded and all wickedness will be appropriately punished.
Boulders and backpacks
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ….for each one should carry his own load.” Galatians 6:2&5 (NIV)
These two verses can be perplexing when you first read them together because they seem to be contradicting. But our English version doesn’t capture all of what the Greek words for burden and load actually mean. In verse 2, burden refers to something like a boulder. Think of it like a crisis or circumstances in someone’s life that are simply too heavy to carry by themselves. The audience of the day would have heard this not as a burden to be completely taken away from the one who bears it, but rather as an opportunity to add another hand to help steady or carry it with another person. When people have heavy life circumstances, major change or loss, they certainly need an extra hand from people around them to make it through these seasons. In contrast, load, in verse 5, refers to something like a backpack would be today, or in those times a bag that a soldier would carry as he marched. This would symbolize the responsibilities that God gives each person to do and take care of – things that God has given us individually to carry out.
Problems arise for people when either people carry their burdens all by themselves or when people want others to carry their backpacks for them. Neither one is reasonable or sustainable. As a community of believers we help each other carry burdens together and yet stay responsible for carrying out what God has given us to do.
Is anyone in your circle of influence carrying a burden too hard to carry themselves? If so, how can you lend a hand today?
Read: Matthew 5:1-12
Think: Which one of the “beatitudes” speaks most to you? What part of the American culture is the easiest for you to conform to?
Pray: Use the below prayer as a guide and spend some time using the beatitudes as a prayerful mirror to see if your life is a blessed life.
God, help me to see that your Kingdom is so upside down and different than the culture around me. Humble me to see that you deserve the glory and my utmost attention on a day-to-day basis. Help me to see and believe in my heart that I am most blessed when I give my life fully to you.
Live: Reread and discuss your thoughts about these beatitudes with a friend. Humble yourself and ask someone today to pray for you, that you’d live a blessed life according to God, not this world.
Betrayed by a Friend
It is not an enemy who taunts me- I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me- I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you- my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God. Psalm 55:12-14 NLT
Nothing hurts worse than wounds from a friend. Betrayal by a close friend can be devastating. It produces feelings of worthlessness for having trusted an untrustworthy person. Because of the intimate ways a close friend knows us, such betrayal has great consequences.
This is the moment that had been prophesied for centuries. The Mount of Olives. Can you picture it? (Read Luke 22:39-63) The promised Messiah was approaching the most horrific, brutal death imaginable.
Jesus wanted to get away to pray with His friends- only to find them sleeping.
Judas kissed Jesus with a traditional greeting- to ironically become the symbol of ultimate betrayal.
Peter expressed his great love and devotion for Jesus- and hours later, denied knowing Jesus not once, not twice, but three times.
Once Jesus was arrested, violence broke out. Peter began to fight and cutting off a man’s ear.
Jesus knows the deep pain of betrayal. Imagine: a friend not there in your greatest time of need. Imagine: a friend’s actions hurting you. Imagine: a friend going against what you stand for (violence verses peace). Imagine: a friend ignoring you or not even acknowledging your existence.
Jesus understands and wants to care for you. “Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you.” Psalm 55:22
We too, can betray Jesus. How have your religious practices become empty gestures? In what ways are you betraying Jesus today?
I wanted to do something different for our devotional this week; I am going to type out one of our Jr. High students’ meditations from a couple weeks ago. She was talking about offering and how it really is a way of life for us.
“Hey, my name is Regan and I will be doing your offering meditation for today. The psalm that Caleb talked about today was pretty sad and it sounded like everything that was going on in the guy’s life was totally wrong.
Psalm 88:1 says, “O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out to you by day, I come to you at night.” It said this dude was crying out to God. Just imagine for a second what crying out to God looks like. To me, it looks like a person on their knees with their arms stretched out towards the sky. This is a sign of offering.
Sometimes, it feels like everything in the whole world has gone wrong and you just can’t take another second of it. You feel like you are about to shatter into little pieces and you need someone to take you away from your troubles. Outstretched arms means “take me.” This is a sign that you are offering yourself to God so he will carry you away from your troubles. Today, you may surrender your money to the church and that is really awesome! But tomorrow, you may surrender and offer yourself to God so he will carry you far away from your troubles. Let’s give everything we have to God because when we call upon him, he gives everything he has to us. He will come through and pick you up while leaving your struggles behind.”
This challenges me so much. Regan is in the 7th grade and she believes that God offered everything for us to have life. And she believes that we can live lives that offer everything back to him. So, reach out to him today; he wants to carry you. And give all of yourself… you’ll be in good hands.