A compassionate volunteer was called a “guardian angel” for his heroic efforts. Jake Manna was installing solar panels at a job site when he joined an urgent search to find a missing five-year-old girl. While neighbors searched their garages and yards, Manna took a path that led him into a nearby wooded area where he spotted the girl waist-deep in a marsh. He waded into the sticky mud to pull her out of her predicament and return her, damp but unharmed, to her grateful mother.
Like that little girl, David also experienced deliverance. The singer “waited patiently” for God to respond to his heartfelt cries for mercy (Psalm 40:1). And He did. God leaned in, paid close attention to his cry for help, and responded by rescuing him from the “mud and mire” of his circumstances (v. 2)—providing sure footing for David’s life. The past rescues from the muddy marsh of life reinforced his desire to sing songs of praise, to make God his trust in future circumstances, and to share his story with others (vv. 3–4).
When we find ourselves in life challenges such as financial difficulties, marital turmoil, and feelings of inadequacy, let’s cry out to God and patiently wait for Him to respond (v. 1). He’s there, ready to help us in our time of need and give us a firm place to stand.
God doesn’t help those who help themselves; He helps those who trust in and rely on Him. Jonathan Roumie—the actor who plays Jesus in the successful TV series The Chosen, which is based on the four Gospels—realized this in May of 2018. Roumie had been living in Los Angeles for eight years, was nearly broke, had enough food just for the day, and had no work in sight. Not knowing how he would make it, the actor poured out his heart and surrendered his career to God. “I literally [prayed] the words, ‘I surrender. I surrender.’ ” Later that day, he found four checks in the mail and three months later, he was cast for the role of Jesus in The Chosen. Roumie found that God will help those who trust in Him.
Rather than being envious of and fretting over of those “who are evil” (Psalm 37:1–2), the psalmist invites us to surrender everything to God. When we center our lives on Him, “trust in [Him] and do good,” “take delight in [Him],” and surrender to Him all our desires, problems, anxieties, and the daily events of our lives, God will direct our lives and give us peace. As believers in Jesus, it’s vital for us to let Him determine what our lives should be.
Let’s surrender and trust God. As we do, He will take action and do what’s necessary and best.
Ever heard of The Sewing Hall of Fame? Established in 2001, it recognizes people that have made “a lasting impact on the home sewing industry with unique and innovative contributions through sewing education and product development.” It includes individuals like Martha Pullen, inducted into the hall in 2005, who is described as “a Proverbs 31 woman who . . . never failed to publicly acknowledge the source of her strength, inspiration, and blessings.”
The Sewing Hall of Fame is a twenty-first-century invention, but had it been around during the first century in Israel, a woman named Tabitha might have been a lock for induction. Tabitha was a believer in Jesus and a seamstress who spent time sewing for poor widows in her community (Acts 9:36, 39). After she became ill and died, disciples sent for Peter to see if God would work a miracle through him. When he arrived, weeping widows showed him robes and other clothing that Tabitha had made for them (v. 39). These clothes were evidence of her “always doing good” in her city. She used her skills to help “the poor” and others (v. 36). By God’s power, Tabitha was restored to life.
God calls and equips us to use our skills to meet needs that are present in our community and world. Let’s release our skills into the service of Jesus and see how He will use our acts of love to stitch hearts and lives together (Ephesians 4:16).
When a baby cries, it’s a signal that she’s tired and hungry, right? Well, according to doctors at Brown University, subtle differences in a newborn’s cries can also provide important clues for other problems. Doctors have devised a computer program that measures cry factors like pitch, volume, and how clear the cry sound is to determine if something’s wrong with the baby’s central nervous system.
Isaiah prophesied that God would hear the distinct cries of His people, determine their hearts’ condition, and respond with grace. Judah, rather than consulting God, had ignored His prophet and sought help in an alliance with Egypt (30:1–7). God told them that if they chose to continue in their rebellion, He would bring about their defeat and humiliation. However, He also longed “to be gracious to [them]; . . . to show [them] compassion” (v. 18). Rescue would come, but only through their cries of repentance and faith. If God’s people did cry out to Him, He would forgive their sins and renew their spiritual strength and vitality (vv. 8–26).
The same holds true for believers in Jesus today. When our distinct cries of repentance and trust reach the ears of our heavenly Father, He hears them, forgives us, and renews our joy and hope in Him.
One day, a sixth-grade student noticed a classmate cutting his arm with a small razor. Trying to do the right thing, she took it from him and threw it away. Surprisingly, instead of being commended for her act, she received a ten-day school suspension. Why? She briefly had the razor in her possession—something not allowed at school. Asked if she would do it again, she replied: “Even if I got in trouble, . . . I would do it again.” Just as this girl’s act of trying to do good got her into trouble at her school (her suspension was later reversed), Jesus’ act of kingdom intervention got Him into good trouble with religious leaders.
The Pharisees interpreted Jesus’ healing a man with a deformed hand as a violation of their rules. Christ told them if God’s people were allowed to care for animals in dire situations on the Sabbath, “how much more valuable is a person than a sheep!” (Matthew 12:12). Because He’s Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus could regulate what is and isn’t permitted on it (vv. 6–8). Knowing that it would offend the religious leaders, He restored the man’s hand to wholeness anyway (vv. 13–14).
Sometimes believers in Christ can get into “good trouble”—doing what’s honors Him but what might not make certain people happy—as they help others in need. When we do, as God guides us, we imitate Jesus and reveal that people are more important than rules and rituals.
Years ago, a train carrying 218 people derailed in northwestern Spain, killing 79 people, and hospitalizing 66 more. The driver couldn’t explain the accident, but the video footage could and did. The train was going far too fast before it hit a deadly curve. The limit of allowable speed limit had been created to protect everyone on board the train. Despite being a thirty-year veteran of Spain’s national rail company, however, the driver had for whatever reason ignored the speed boundary and many people lost their lives.
In Deuteronomy 5, Moses reviewed God’s original covenant boundaries for His people. Moses encouraged a new generation to regard God’s instruction as their own covenant with Him (v. 3), and then he restated the Ten Commandments (vv. 7–21). By repeating the commandments and drawing lessons from the previous generation’s disobedience, Moses invited the Israelites to be reverent, humble, and mindful of God’s faithfulness. God had made a way for His people so they wouldn’t wreck their lives or the lives of others. If they ignored His wisdom, they would do so at their own peril.
Today, as God leads us, let’s make all of Scripture our delight, counselor, and the guardrail for our lives. And as the Spirit guides us, we can keep on track within His wise protection and devote our lives wholeheartedly to Him.
David Willis had been upstairs in Waterstones Bookshop when he came downstairs and found the lights were turned off and the doors locked. He was trapped inside the store! Not knowing what else to do, he turned to Twitter and tweeted: “Hi @Waterstones. I’ve been locked inside of your Trafalgar Square bookstore for 2 hours now. Please let me out.” Not too long after his tweet, he was rescued.
It’s good to have a way to get help when we’re in trouble. Isaiah said there’s Someone who will answer our cries when we’re trapped in a problem of our own making. The prophet wrote that God had charged his people with practicing their religious devotion irresponsibly. They were going through the motions of religion but masking their oppression of the poor with empty and self-serving rituals (Isaiah 58:1–7). This didn’t win divine favor. God hid His eyes from them and didn’t answer their prayers (1:15). He told them to repent and display outward acts of caring for others (58:6–7). If they did that, He told them, “you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I ‘If you do away with the yoke of oppression with the pointing finger and malicious talk’ ” (v. 9).
Let’s get close to the poor, saying to them: “I am here.” For God hears our cries for help and says to us, “I am here.”
In 2010, a tsunami struck the Indonesian island of Sumatra, killing more than four hundred people. But the deaths could have been prevented or minimized had the tsunami warning system been working properly. The tsunami detection networks (buoys) had become detached and drifted away.
Jesus said His disciples had a responsibility to warn fellow disciples to things that could harm them spiritually—including unrepentant sin. He outlined a process in which a believer who’s been sinned against by another can humbly, privately, and prayerfully “point out” the sin to the offending believer (Matthew 18:15). If the person repents, then the conflict can be resolved and relationship restored. If the believer refuses to repent, then “one or two others” can help resolve the conflict (v. 16). If the sinning person still doesn’t repent, then the issue is to be brought before “the church” (v. 17). If the offender still won’t repent, the individual is to be removed from assembly fellowship, but he or she can certainly still be prayed for and shown Christ’s love.
As believers in Jesus, let’s pray for the wisdom and courage we need to care for one another enough to lovingly warn others of the dangers of unrepentant sin and of the joys of restoration to our heavenly Father and other believers. Jesus will be “there . . . with [us]” as we do (v. 20).
Running a marathon is about pushing yourself, physically and mentally. For one high school runner, however, competing in a cross-country race is all about pushing someone else. In every practice and meet, fourteen-year-old Susan Bergeman pushes older brother, Jeffrey, in his wheelchair. When Jeffrey was twenty-two months old, he went into cardiac arrest—leaving him with severe brain damage and cerebral palsy. Today, Susan sacrifices personal running goals so Jeffrey might compete with her. What love and sacrifice!
The apostle Paul had love and sacrifice in mind when he encouraged his readers to be “devoted to one another” (Romans 12:10). He knew that the believers in Rome were struggling with jealousy, anger, and sharp disagreements (v. 18). So, he encouraged them to let divine love rule their hearts. This kind of love, rooted in Christ’s love, would fight for the highest possible good of others. It would be sincere, and it would lead to generous sharing (v. 13). Those who love this way are eager to consider others more worthy of honor than themselves (v. 16).
As believers in Jesus, we’re running a race of love while helping others finish the race too. Though it can be difficult, it brings honor to Jesus. So, for love’s sake, let’s rely on Him to empower us to love and serve others.