Girlfriends in God - Oct. 9, 2012

October 9, 2012
God’s Circle of Encouragement Part 1
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is the Father who is full of mercy and all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV).

Friend to Friend
Allan Emery, who served for many years with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, shared an experience that made a deep impression on him. His father received a call saying a well-known Christian had been found drunk on the sidewalk in front of a local bar. Emery’s father immediately sent his chauffeured limousine to pick up the man while his mother prepared the best guest room. Emery watched wide-eyed, as the beautiful coverlets were turned down on the exquisite, old, four poster bed, revealing the monogrammed sheets.

"But, mother," Emery protested, "he's drunk. He might even get sick."

"I know," his mother replied kindly, "but this man has slipped and fallen. When he comes to, he will be so ashamed. He will need all the compassion and loving encouragement we can give him."

We all stumble and fall and, at one time or another, need someone who is willing to show us the love and compassion of God. The apostle Paul had certainly experienced the love and forgiveness of God and wrote a letter to the church at Corinth, encouraging them to share that same compassion with those in need. One of the key words in this letter is “comfort” or “encouragement.” In the Greek, it means “called to one’s side to help” and is used 29 times in this letter alone. When trouble comes, we tend to look in all the wrong places for comfort when what we should do is run straight into the arms of the source of all comfort – God. The world sees only a hopeless end, but the Christian rejoices in an endless hope. When a child of God is in the furnace, make no mistake, girlfriend. God keeps His hand on the thermostat and His eyes on His child. He monitors the heat and offers the comfort that is needed – just like He did in the life of Elijah.

Elijah is a great example of a man in need of comfort. One day he was the conquering hero, the next we find him sitting under a Juniper tree, wallowing in self-pity – and begging God to let him die. The poor man was exhausted. True, it was an exhaustion produced by victory, but it was still exhaustion.

Elijah called down fire from heaven, proving the existence of the only true God, destroying idols and idol worshippers. Big stuff! In fact, it is my personal opinion that he should have been celebrating. So why was he so discouraged? It was a woman, Jezebel, who was largely responsible for his discouragement.

Jezebel was the evil and influential wife of Ahab, King of Israel, and widely known as the real power behind her husband’s throne. Jezebel did not worship the one true God of Israel. Instead, she was fanatical in her worship of the pagan god, Baal, and tried to impose her beliefs on the people of Israel. One man stood in her way – Elijah. When Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a showdown on Mount Carmel, God answered Elijah's prayer with a stream of fire from heaven. You would think that a miracle like that would have convinced Ahab and Jezebel to believe in God. It didn’t. In fact, Jezebel was furious. When she learned what had happened on Mt. Carmel with the fire and idols, she put a contract out on Elijah. Now stop and think about that for a moment.

Elijah had been in the presence of God. God had heard and answered Elijah's prayer, putting on an impressive fiery display for all to see. Idols had fallen. The prophets of Baal had either fled or been destroyed. And Elijah is worried about one angry woman? Elijah was tired and needed to rest – big time. He desperately needed the comfort of God. He found that rest and comfort while sitting under a Juniper tree, waiting in silence for God to show up. I know. God had already shown up in big ways for Elijah, but this time, Elijah needed a personal, one-on-one encounter with his Father.

I’ve been there, haven’t you? You may be there today – at the point of desperation, wondering if God will show up in your life. You may be exhausted and weary of life itself. Girlfriend, I have great news for you. God knows exactly how you feel, and He is with you. Cry out to Him and ask for His encouragement and peace to fill your heart.

Let’s Pray
Father, I am so tired and really don’t know if I can go on. I come to You with a heavy heart filled with fear and uncertainty. I am desperate for You, Lord. Right now, I surrender every burden to You and choose to believe that You are with me and will lift me out of this slimy pit I am in. I don’t know how, but I choose Your plan over all others and will listen for Your voice above the rest. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Read Hebrews 12:12 (The Message) “So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs.” What does it mean in your life to “take a new grip” and “stand firm” even on shaky legs?

Do you really believe we can experience joy – even in the midst of the fiercest storm?  Explain.

Looking back at the storms in your life, how would you rate your response to those storms? What changes do you need to make in order to experience victory?

Memorize Proverbs 3:5-6 and record it in your journal. Share your decision to become a woman of faith with other women who have the same desire. 

More from the Girlfriends
Need help? Check out Mary’s E-Book Bible Study, How to Find Your Missing Peace, and experience the compassion and comfort only God can give.     

Looking for a Bible Study? Check out Mary’s weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey and learn how to discover and live out God’s plan and purpose for your life. (Join now and have access to all topics covered in 2012.) Be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

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Originally published Tuesday, 09 October 2012.