“But who has stood in the council of the LORD, That he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to His word and listened?
“He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”
‘Perhaps they will listen and everyone will turn from his evil way, that I may repent of the calamity which I am planning to do to them because of the evil of their deeds.’
“If they hear and serve Him, They will end their days in prosperity And their years in pleasures.
From: Our Daily Bread
Blessed is he who considers the poor. Psalm 41:1 nkjv
John Newton wrote, “If, as I go home, a child has dropped a halfpenny, and if, by giving it another, I can wipe away its tears, I feel I have done something. I should be glad to do greater things; but I will not neglect this.”
These days, it’s not hard to find someone in need of comfort: A care-worn cashier in a grocery store working a second job to make ends meet; a refugee longing for home; a single mother whose flood of worries has washed away her hope; a lonely old man who fears he has outlived his usefulness.
But what are we to do? “Blessed is he who considers the poor,” wrote David (Ps. 41:1 nkjv). Even if we can’t alleviate the poverty of those we meet along the way we can consider them—a verb that means “to pay attention.”
We can let people know we care. We can treat them with courtesy and respect, though they may be testy or tiresome. We can listen with interest to their stories. And we can pray for them or with them—the most helpful and healing act of all.
Remember the old paradox Jesus gave us when He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Paying attention pays off, for we’re happiest when we give ourselves away. Consider the poor.
Father, as we go through our day, show us the everyday folks who need our attention. Grant us the love and the patience to truly consider them, as You have so patiently loved us.
Only a life given away for love’s sake is worth living. Frederick Buechner
From: Our Daily Journey
I know of a man who passionately desires to be a pastor. He’s worked in youth ministry, camp ministry, and even alongside pastors in the church. He’s well-regarded by those with whom he interacts, having willingly volunteered his time while faithfully loving his wife and children. And yet, he’s been unable to find the right place to serve fulltime. Several churches “nearly” called on him. But he’s yet to receive a ministry role in any official capacity.
In such circumstances, it can be hard to accept God’s assignment for our lives. We have our ideas about how our vocations should proceed. And we have good desires—we want to use our gifts and serve Christ to the best of our abilities (see 1 Corinthians 12). But then something happens to prevent us from using our gifts in the way we believeGod wants us to use them, in ways that seem perfect to us. Such experiences can be both discouraging and disorienting.
In Mark 5:1-20, we read the story of a man healed from demon possession—a man perhaps confused by the assignment Jesus gave him. After Jesus healed him, he “begged” to go with the Savior and follow Him (Mark 5:18). But Jesus told him, “No” (Mark 5:19).
I imagine that, initially, the man must have been disappointed. But Jesus thought it best that he return to his family to tell them how merciful God had been and how much He had done for him.
For us as well, it can be hard to surrender our ministry assignments to God, to wholeheartedly say, “I want your will to be done” (Luke 22:42). During those times, it helps to lean on Him and other believers in Jesus to remind us that God is indeed good and that He’s using us for His kingdom right where we are.
The Purpose of Prayer
Prayer is not a normal part of the life of the natural man. We hear it said that a person’s life will suffer if he doesn’t pray, but I question that. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer. When a person is born again from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve or nourish that life. Prayer is the way that the life of God in us is nourished. Our common ideas regarding prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.
“Ask, and you will receive…” (John 16:24). We complain before God, and sometimes we are apologetic or indifferent to Him, but we actually ask Him for very few things. Yet a child exhibits a magnificent boldness to ask! Our Lord said, “…unless you…become as little children…” (Matthew 18:3). Ask and God will do. Give Jesus Christ the opportunity and the room to work. The problem is that no one will ever do this until he is at his wits’ end. When a person is at his wits’ end, it no longer seems to be a cowardly thing to pray; in fact, it is the only way he can get in touch with the truth and the reality of God Himself. Be yourself before God and present Him with your problems— the very things that have brought you to your wits’ end. But as long as you think you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.
To say that “prayer changes things” is not as close to the truth as saying, “Prayer changes me and then I change things.” God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature.