In Proverbs 3, we read that we are not to send our neighbor away when they are in need and we have the means to fulfill the need. The word neighbor actually is “rea,” which means friend or companion. When we have with us the solution, we should not tell the person to leave and return the following day. It seems like a very easy thing to do; however, it is not always seamless.
Why do we postpone helping when we can help? Many times it is because of greed, laziness, or disregard. We don’t like to admit it, but these reasons often are at the root of the denial. We don’t want to let go of something we worked hard to earn. We really do not feel like using the extra effort to lend a hand. At times we feel disregard for the person, and helping out is the last thing on the mind.
We always have to use good discernment when helping, so that our assistance is not enabling a person. However, we usually find ourselves in a situation when we can be the hands and feet of Christ, and it is a true need we can handle. We are blessed to be a blessing. Keep praying. Keep your hands and heart open. Don’t tell your friend to go away for a day when it is quite possible that you crossed paths this very moment to bless them and point them to Christ.
“Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it’—when you have it with you.” – Proverbs 3:28 [ESV]
When I was a young girl I had a favorite Barbie doll. It was a Barbie and the Rockers doll. I was so upset when we moved and it was lost. I had tried hard to find it but never could relocate my favorite doll. This morning as I walked Max we passed a house for sale with a toy baby bottle in the grass. We actually pass by that home each morning and saw the owners moving out so my mind wandered and I thought what if a poor child lost the baby bottle for her doll
It’s frustrating when we lose things. Even as we get older and dolls and toys are not are favorite things, we get irritated when things are misplaced or even lost. But there are some things we cannot lose—there is One who we cannot lose. When you receive the Holy Spirit, when you accept Jesus Christ into your life and are baptized and receive God in you, He is always with you. Always.
There’s no, God “come down on us.” He’s in us. You do not have to ask for His presence. You have His presence. You may need to ask for Him to help you to feel His presence, to listen, to know He’s there. It is also not a situation where we can ask God to give us more of Him. He has already given us ALL of Him. The problem is we are often so full of ourselves that we are not focused on Him. Dying to self involves more of Him and less of you. It doesn’t mean you lose yourself—you gain your true self, who you were meant to be in life. Today remember that you cannot lose Him. You can only lose the opportunity to know and have a relationship with Him if you are too full of yourself.
“But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.” – John 16:7 [NLT]
Everyone needs a friend. A few good friends can make a huge difference in your life. But are your friends loyal? That’s always something we only find out when we are knee deep in trouble. There are those friends who say they are friends when the going is good. When everything is going well, they are your friends. But you see your true friends when the times get tough.
When you have to move and it’s raining, your true friends are out there helping you as their sneakers are getting soggy. When you lost your job and won’t get your next check for a few weeks, the true friend is there with some food to help you along, not pretending you don’t exist till you are back to work. The true friend gives you a ride from the inspection place when you drop off your car, rather than let you walk in the dark at the wee hours of the morning, because they are concerned for your safety.
You might have a lot of friends. But when times are tough, the number may be fewer than you thought. I have found that to be very true in my own life. People are very quick to turn their backs and pretend nothing is happening. But a “brother is born to help in the time of need.” There are those God has placed in your life who are true friends—like family. Thank God for those true friends and ask Him to help you be one of those true friends, “a friend (who) is always loyal.”
“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” – Proverbs 17:17 [NLT]
Every one of us makes mistakes; every one of us is flawed. I know I can fill pages and pages of paper listing mistakes I’ve made if I took the time. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that God can use us no matter how flawed we are or how long the mistake list. God made us out of dirt—there’s no doubt He can work with whatever mess we’ve made to be used for His glory.
Look at Abraham. He was called a friend because of his great faith. He was promised blessing, land, and to be a great nation because of his great faith. But he was flawed. He lied about his wife being his sister twice. He did not wait for God’s plan for Isaac to unfold either. Yet, God used him and he became a father of many nations.
Stop looking at what you did wrong, the missteps you took, the mistakes you have made. Walk forward in faith and allow God to turn your mess into something beautiful for His glory. We all have flaws. It’s our faith that matters.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6 [NIV]
How many people does it take to change a light bulb? Many people have heard this question asked as part of a joke. This morning I entered the kitchen and realized that it was a bit darker than usual. I looked to where the light usually comes from and noticed that there was a bulb in some cylindrical thing and it was out. I had no clue how to change this bulb or even where I could purchase a replacement bulb. Two months ago, I did not even know that under-the-cabinet lights existed.
It took me quite some time to remove the old bulb. Then I went over to my laptop and started to search for the numbers I found on the bulb. I got a lot of information, but I had to sift through things to make sure it was the correct information. Then it was off to the store and I was so confused when I found all of the different types of bulbs in the lighting supply aisle. There were so many bulbs that looked like the exact same bulb. I had to take the old bulb out and make comparisons. I had to read paperwork. I had to take my time to make the right choice. When I got to the cash register, I told the cashier that I was so nervous to install the bulbs. She could tell that I was in need of a confidence boost and she let me know that I would get the job done, and she even gave me some pointers. She was right!
We are often faced with situations that are new, things that are more grueling and more important than a simple light bulb. We are called to do things that are challenging. We are given work that seems nearly impossible. Some situations overwhelm us if we let them.
What do you do when you have your own light bulb to change? Your light bulb could be anything. You do the same thing you do with anything that comes your way in life.
Things to remember:
* Do not hide from the situation. Hiding from the situation will not make it go away. Remember that you are a child of God (Galatians 3:26). God can do more than you ever could imagine (Ephesians 3:20). If God is for you, what can be against you? (Romans 8:31). Many times, you will find that the situation is a great test of faith which can result in spiritual growth that will help you to one day be complete (James 1:2-4).
* Take it one step at a time. There is usually no need to rush a situation. When Jesus was ministering on earth, notice that He wasn’t rushing around healing and feeding. He took steps. He took time. He left us an example of great patience and self-control. If we practice this behaviors, we are more likely to be successful. Remember that “the steps of a man are established by the LORD, and He delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23 NASB).
* Prepare yourself. Do the research. Read. Learn. Grow. Even when I was changing the light bulb, God’s Word was in my head and heart. Spending time in His Word helps to provide us with what we need when we are facing tough situations. Seek Him for guidance. His Word provides instruction and encouragement (Romans 15:4).
* Do not be afraid to ask for help. Don’t let your pride get in the way. God wants us to be part of a community. We each have our own part to play. We each have different talents, different specialties. We are all given the command to love one another. Sometimes we do the giving, sometimes we do the receiving. We should always seek help from Him. But remember, there are times that we need to ask others for some assistance. People do not always know what is going on in your life and they cannot read your mind. Luke 11 gives us instruction on how to pray as it also tells us of a friend who helps another. The friend is knocking on the door and announcing the need. Sometimes we are the helping friend, sometimes we are the knocking friend.
* Surround yourself with positive people. Positive people will be encouraging. Positive people share, love, and can see the good in things. Proverbs 11:9 states, “With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor.” Words are powerful and if you are surrounded by negative people, in time it will start to become your way of life. Proverbs 17:22 says that “a joyful heart is good medicine” (NASB). When you are facing tough situations, it is wonderful to have some “good medicine” from some positive people.
Finally, show yourself some grace. God thinks you are worth it!
I have told so many people that I have an inability to relax. I always try to keep myself busy, partly because I like to be productive, and partly because I really never learned how to relax. Even so, I see relaxation as a sleeping child or a cute, little puppy curled up in a ball. In my eyes, relaxation is peace.
In John 12, Mary anoints Jesus. But if we look only at the anointing, we can miss something that barely sticks out in the text. Verse 2 states, “So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him” (NASB). Reclining is something one does when relaxing. Some of us sit in a reclining chair and put our feet up. I imagine sitting by the ocean reclining or reclining in a hammock. How peaceful?
At this point in Lazarus’ life, why was he reclining? Yes he was dead not so long ago, and yet brought back to life. But now he had people seeking his life. The chief priests were planning how to have him killed (verse 10). Would you be reclining? I would probably be trying to figure out how to make a fast getaway via whatever mode of transportation was fastest.
Perhaps Lazarus was reclining because he was at peace. He saw first hand the power of God. He was as low as death, and then as high as resurrected. He also knew he had a friend in Jesus. As believers of Christ, we have a friend in Jesus. Although our situation and pressures may be different, we have the ability to recline at the table with Christ. Don’t forget to recline with Christ.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7 [NASB]
When I was a little girl, I can remember sneaking over to my parent’s secret stash of records (yes records). I would pull the record out of the cover, and delicately place it on the spindle. As I got older, I was given a radio and tape player combo. It was one of my prized possessions, and every moment I had, I would sit and listen to the radio and record clips to playback later. My favorite artist at that time was Amy Grant. “Father’s Eyes” was my all-time favorite.
I never lost this passion for music. Though I am not blessed with a voice that moves people to tears (unless tears of pain), I simply cannot get enough of music. It is the same way with God’s Word. I can read the Bible over and over again, and it’s never enough. I have this undying thirst to quench.
I always tell people that faith and music was what I had going for me as a child. Oddly enough, I can look back on the past year and see that most of this year was focused on God, His Word, and music. I have dabbled in music and video editing, participated in music promotions, and even written some music. But as I messed around in the world of music, my heart was still with my Best Friend.
The great thing is that although my singing is not appealing to many, God loves to hear me sing; He loves to hear us all sing. This might be a bit surprising to some people who feel that we must walk before God in a conservative manner, pretending to be something we are not. I’m sorry, but who wears a tie that is that straight? Who stands so perfectly? No one.
God doesn’t want a show; He wants our heart. You can give Him that wearing flip-flops and a stained shirt. Our best isn’t the most expensive outfit we have in our closet, nor is it what society has labeled at the top of the list. Our best is all of us, our whole being. And before you ask, no, you cannot haggle to get a different deal with a more fair percentage. This percentage is perfectly fair.
Yesterday was a tough day for me. I started to get the sense of being overwhelmed. This feeling didn’t last very long. I could feel it coming, and I acted quickly. When storms come your way, when things seem to pile up, or when you just need a moment to breathe, where do you go? What do you do? Do you take a walk? I do at times. Do you call a friend? I do at times. Do you take a nap? There are times I only wish I could. Yesterday, I wanted to scream. I wanted to stomp on the floor like a little child who did not get her way; however, I didn’t.
When we don’t get what we want, when things are not what we planned, we can’t act like a 2-year-old and think it will get better. We need to understand that God has better things planned that our human minds cannot even fathom. We also need to keep ourselves in check. Even when things seem so bad, I just turn my head to the left or the right, and I see someone who has it worse. We all have something we are going through– it is how we react to the situation(s) that show our true colors. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all very blessed.
So when I felt myself getting overwhelmed, I put on my own private jam session. I don’t have the records to sneak, nor do I have my old radio and tape player combo. Today we have iTunes. Click, click, and there it is with no skipping and no stopping. And as the music began, I looked upward and sang. I sang loud. Yes, God doesn’t need us to sing loud, but I wanted to let Him know that I wanted nothing more than to sing to Him at that very moment. I wanted to thank Him for everything. I have so much to be thankful for, so much that I could sing praises 24 hours a day and it wouldn’t be enough.
Psalm 150, the Psalm of Praise, comes to mind. Verse 6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” [NASB].