Encouragement 07-13-04


July 13, 2004
Encouragement for Today
A Gift to Others
Mary Nash
Key Verse:                              
"I want us to help each other with the faith we have.  Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you."  Romans 1:5
One of the best gifts you can give your friends is the gift of a caring person.  Everyone experiences pain and loss in their life.  Quite often, these problems and pain produce patience.  As a Christian, God has called us to love others, to care about others and to be a comforter.  In Isaiah 40:1, he said, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people."
When someone close to us suffers, we don't often take the time to find out how we can help.  We say, "I'll pray for you" or "Let's go do lunch or shopping".  Now shopping or having a wonderful lunch in a beautiful Victorian restaurant can do wonders for the soul but the good feelings you get from these activities disappear almost as soon and the event is over.
If you are suffering or a victim of unhappy circumstances, there is always hope.  If you are not - there is definitely opportunity.  I challenge you to reach out to someone you can help.  There are things you can do to help others handle pain and suffering.  You can give them hope in the truth that their lives can mend.  Start with the very problems you have experienced yourself.  Just by thinking about your own life and problems and how God was faithful in those difficult times, you can encourage others that they can muddle through the mess in their life as well.
Start by being informed.  Gather knowledge about special problems so you can fight fire with fire.   Then make yourself available and God will use you. Helping others requires a willingness to invest time and effort.  The best investment - the first investment in others begins in the Bible, seeking God's direction.  If we depend on God's guidance, and stay so close to Him that we radiate the warmth of his love, He will take our knowledge, our experiences and blend them with His word in such a way that those who listen to us will feel His touch.
We need to be involved.  A messy business! Whatever your knowledge, experience, or spirituality, you won't be used in mending lives of others until you are willing to take the first step.  Being involved isn't always easy and it requires taking risks, but being used to change one life is worth it all.
Helping others demands time.  You can't go from the pits to the peaks overnight.
Spend time in God's Word seeking his answers.
Be willing to put your heart where your efforts lie.
Choose to be vulnerable.
Sharpen your skills.
Share your life becoming a messenger with a ministry.
What about you?  Is there something in your life that you should be sharing with others?  Do you have a victory that could give someone hope?  Have you kept quiet long enough?
Eccl. 3:7 says - There is a time to reap, and a time to sew, a time to keep silence and a time to speak.
Perhaps your time is now - just being you may qualify you for reaching out to someone who desperately needs you.  However, if you decide to try you need to commit to be what God expects you to be.
1.  Be sure that your faith is adequate.  Faith is loving God through commitment to His leading.
2.  Be sensitive to the need of those who hurt.
3.  Be generous.  God calls us to be generous with our time, money and material possessions.  Somehow, God's grace always seems to abound in my life when I am meeting the need of others.
4.  Be an encourager.  Don't you just love an encourager - someone cheering you on?  Paul said, "Let us encourage one another".  When I receive a note of encouragement from someone I have helped I some way, it spurs me on to help others.
5.  Be willing to take action.  God wants us to be willing to open our homes and hearts to those in need.  I Peter 4:8-9 says, "Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling".  Hospitality doesn't always come  natural, so we must pray that God will give us the strength to  reach out to those in need.
6.   Be willing to accept our limits. God has been working in my own life by demonstrating my own  limits.  This can be painful but is always good. I know I cannot be God in anyone's life.  I cannot bring about healing or change or force a person to perceive truth.  Only God can.  But I can be faithful and humbly wait for God to work.  I don't have to be like Jonah and run from the job God has for me.  I can, however, be like Moses and even though I stutter and fall short of the mark, pursue the task he has given me.  I can care for others.  I can make myself available.  I can pray for wisdom and not take on more that I can do but be ready to do what God has planned for me.
If you know someone that is imprisoned by a painful problem of the past, you can share with them that God is greater than any prison we can make for ourselves.  Not only can he set us free but in the freeing, can help us to see purpose for our pain.
You can help someone walk out of their darkness.  He reached down into my darkness and called me out of it - out into the light.  Maybe you can help someone change - help them to see a world of light. Maybe you can help them learn to walk into the springtime of God's unconditional love.
I challenge you to decide - right now - to help someone by being a caring, comforting person.  Just do it.  I promise it will give you one of the richest, most fulfilling times of your life and give those around you the most precious thing you have to give - yourself.

My prayer for today
Lord, please make me into someone who cares, loves and then puts that love into action.  Thank you for your love that allows me to love others.  Amen.

Application steps
Pray that God will open your eyes to one person in need.
Reach out to that person today.
Meet one need in that person's life.

Reflection points
Think of a time when someone reached out to you.
How did it make you feel?
Did it meet a need in your life?
Did it make you want to help someone else?

Power verses:
1 Corinthians 13:3     I may speak in different languages of people or even angels. But if I do not have love, I am only a noisy bell or a crashing cymbal.  I may have the gift of prophecy. I may understand all the secret things of God and have all knowledge, and I may have faith so great I can move mountains. But even with all these things, if I do not have love, then I am nothing.  I may give away everything I have, and I may even give my body as an offering to be burned. But I gain nothing if I do not have love. (NLT)

Additional Resources:
How to Improve Your Love Life - a study of 1 Corinthians 13 - by Mary Southerland
Dreams of a Woman by Sharon Jaynes
Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst

Originally published Tuesday, 13 July 2004.