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Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them. Proverbs 3:27

help1I have a friend who has been a nurse for over 30 years. It’s always been interesting to sit and talk with him about his work. He’s seen a lot of things few of us would hope to see. He has one of the most compassionate hearts I think I’ve even seen. Soft-spoken, understanding, kind and respectful are all words I would use to describe Ben (not his real name).

Although been would rarely talk about individual patients or their situations, he’d tell about general situations that would tug at his heart. One of these was a life-changer. Ben had always considered himself to be non-judgmental towards other people but one shift taught him a valuable lesson about who he really was.

A patient had been brought up from ER and placed in his ward. Two police officers were stationed outside his room. When he inquired about the situation he found out that the patient assigned to him was the drunk driver in a fatal collision that took the lives of a young mom and two children. It was a sad story indeed, and one that is played out hundreds, if not thousands, of times every day. The drunk driver survived, the innocent did not.

As his shift progressed he knew it was time to go in and check on ‘the patient in #302’ but he kept putting it off. Finally, he could put it off no longer. Begrudgingly, he entered the darkened room to check on his patient. He was surprised to see a small dark form in the recliner beside the bed. As his eyes adjusted to the light he could tell it was a young girl. He asked the officer standing guard about her and found out she was the man’s only daughter. She’d been there since he was admitted and refused to leave for even a minute. Her mother had just died of cancer the week before.

My friend Ben removed himself and found an empty room where he could weep for a few minutes and regain his composure. His ‘hatred’ of the ‘drunk’ changed markedly when he realized the loss this man must have felt and the pain the little girl in the recliner felt. Why had he not checked on him sooner? If he had he could have perhaps offered some comfort to the little girl.

Proverbs 3:27 is one of the hard sayings of the Bible. On the surface it looks easy enough. If you have the means to help, help those who deserve it. Then the question comes. Who deserves it? In our humanness we can answer that question. If we look at others the way God looks at us, none of us deserve any help at all. But when we look at others the way God looks at us through the lens of Jesus’ love, then all of us are on equal footing. The man making a stupid decision to drive drunk is no better or worse than the self-righteous nurse refusing to care for him.

Who do you know that needs your help today? Perhaps just a prayer, a smile or a helping hand is all that is needed to show the love of Jesus. The key to this verse is that ‘when it’s in your power’ to help, help is required not optional.

PRAYER: Father God, every day we are surrounded by people in need of our help in various ways. When we encounter them give us the wisdom and strength to help them to the best of our ability regardless of their circumstance. In Jesus name, Amen.


Now take seven bulls and seven male sheep, and go to my servant Job, and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will listen to his prayer. Then I will not punish you for being foolish. You have not said what is right about me, as my servant Job did.” Job 42:8 (NCV)

One of the most powerful things we can do for ourselves is to forgive others.

Forgiveness doesn’t say the other person is deserving of forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t condone their actions. Forgiveness doesn’t mean in any way that the relationship can or will ever be the same.

Forgiveness brings freedom.

Forgiveness allows us to become instruments of grace.

Imagine the pain and agony Job had endured. He had lost his children. Nothing is more devastating to a parent than to lose a child. Job lost ten of them all in one tragic moment. He lost his fortune. While still grieving the loss of his children he was met with financial calamity. While his head was still spinning, his health was taken from him. Then, to add insult to injury he was visited by three friends who continually reminded Job that things like this only happen to sinful people. Job should repent. Job should admit he was nothing but a filthy rag. Job should have faith.

Ironically, that’s all Job did have by this point was his faith. Job didn’t understand why God was allowing all this to happen to him, but he never lost sight of the fact that His God would deliver him. He never lost his trust in this God who’d gone silent.

God humbled Job with a series of questions and Job bowed in worship and admiration of this God who’d been so absent during his struggles. God never explained why he allowed such tragedy, and Job never again asked the question we all ask: “Why?”

Perhaps one of the most stunning parts of the story happens after the dialog between Job and God. God turns to Job’s friends and demands they bring sacrifices for their actions. They had spoken ignorantly of God and sacrifice was required for forgiveness. But not just any sacrifice. The sacrifice had to be administered by Job.

Amazing. The very people who had accused Job wrongfully would now humble themselves before him (and God). Their forgiveness was dependent on Job’s offering up of the sacrifice. Can you imagine how hard it was for the victim and the aggressor to approach the altar together?

That’s the power of forgiveness. We may not be able to physically approach the altar of forgiveness with those who have wronged us, but we can do so in the spiritual sense. To experience the freedom Christ gave us through his death and resurrection we must forgive those who have willfully or ignorantly wronged us. This is impossible to do through human will. This kind of forgiveness can only happen through the power of the Holy Spirit of the Living God. This kind of forgiveness allows us to become instruments of grace.

PRAYER: Father God. I confess to you that there is a need for forgiveness in my life. I harbor hurts, grudges and bitterness. I nurse feelings of judgmentalism. I gossip. Like Job, I need your power to bring my enemy to the altar of your forgiveness so that I can be free. Amen


Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir. Galatians 4:7 (NLT)

A slave has no decisions to make about daily schedules, what food to eat or where they will live. A child is given new choices every day.

A slave has no future other than that decided by the master. A child is groomed every day to believe that they can be anything they want to be.

A slave lives every day with the fear that they may be ripped up from where they are and taken from their family. A child is secure in the knowledge that they are loved and that they can always come home. 

A slave lives knowing that all relationships are temporary, that those closest to him may be gone tomorrow. A child lives with the assurance that those who love him will always be at their side.

A slave lives with the presupposition that love is based on performance, that he is loved for what he does. A child lives with the foundational truth that he is loved for who he is, not for what he does.

A slave lives for today because tomorrow there is no hope for tomorrow. A child endures the struggles of growing up because he knows that his future is full of hope because someday he will receive the inheritance.

A slave knows that if he leaves, death is certain. A child knows that if he wanders he can always come home. Always.

A slave, even if he were to become ‘legally free’ still holds the DNA of slavery. A child will always bear the genetic marks of son-ship.

A slave sees a master. A child sees a loving father.

Brothers and sisters, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a child of the living God. You no longer need to live as slaves. You are a child of the King. Regardless of where you are, or where you have been. You have hope based on the person of Jesus Christ, not of yourself.

PRAYER: Father God. Daddy. I’m in awe as I’m reminded once again of who I am. It’s so easy with life circumstances to be deceived into seeing myself as a failure rather than your child. Forgive me for my doubt. Empower me with your spirit to live as your child. Thank you again for Jesus. Amen.


Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. Daniel 12:2 (NLT)

On a lonely hill just outside of town stand three crosses. As the sky grew dark a crowd gathered. Some gathered in disgust. The Roman form of execution was too painful, too degrading, to harsh.

Others gathered in mockery. They threw profanity at the trio. It was about time they got what they deserved. The world would be a better place if more criminals were treated this way. Great deterrent, that death penalty.

Some gathered in curiosity-A sort of Bible time gawkers. They had no opinion either way on crucifixion or the trio hanging naked as the darkness descended.

A few gathered in somber silence. Right or wrong, good or bad, these were their friends, their siblings, their children. The crowd gathered at the middle cross seemed somewhat larger, more emotional. In fact, it seems the form hanging in the middle was drawing most of the attention that day. Rumor has it that he was completely innocent of the trumped up charges the Jews leveled against him.

One of the trio began to mock this counterpart in the middle. Even in his dying moments he remained arrogant, loud and angry. Ignoring his own guilt he yelled obscenities at this stranger in the middle.

The other person hung silent for a moment. Watching. Listening. Replaying the episodes of his life that brought him to this point. Finally, he spoke. “Jesus, have mercy on me.” The figure in the middle raised his head and looked with compassion at him. Painstakingly he spoke, “Today you will be with me…” and grace was born.

How could a God of love allow Jesus, the man in the middle to die such a horrific death for crimes he didn’t commit? Rewind the story a few thousand years. A man and woman listen to the deceptive words of Satan. Their decision to disobey God destroyed the balance of divine nature as well as a relationship with the Creator God.

Hell was never created for men and women. Hell was never created for innocent children of abuse, catastrophe or illness. Hell was created as the home for Satan and all his demonic followers. But the sin of Adam and Eve made it impossible for mankind to enter heaven. A sacrifice had to be made and that sacrifice was made complete when Jesus died and rose again.

Our Heavenly Father has no choice when it comes to dealing with sin. He can’t, by his own nature overlook anything that isn’t perfect. God is fair and just. Grace is neither.

What can be fair about a prisoner going to heaven because his last words were begging forgiveness? What can be fair about someone struggling with addictions and constantly receiving forgiveness for the same sin, over and over again? Nothing. It’s not fair. But it wasn’t fair that Jesus died for me either. There was nothing I could do to deserve forgiveness, yet he forgave me anyway. That’s grace.

God would give everything he has to keep you from living eternity in the shame and disgrace of hell. In fact, he already did that day on the cross.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father I thank and praise you for the reminder that I am completely and freely forgiven of my sin because of Jesus. I deserve nothing that you’ve given me and yet you did it all so lovingly. Empower me to live for you and to show others the way to life in eternity with you. In Jesus name, Amen.


On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:12-13

A friend is has been a nurse on the east coast for over 18 years. I have always admired her determination to serve mankind the way she does, but never more than after I heard her tell me her story of grace.

She had just come on duty and was looking over her case load. She noticed a new patient in room 406 (she still remembers the number). He was dying of aids and was openly gay. She, a believer, was opposed to and repulsed by that lifestyle. She finished checking her paper work and got up to make rounds. That’s when she noticed the light on for 406. She decided to go the other way.

For 45 minutes she played the game, ignoring the light, hoping someone else may see it and cover for her. It didn’t happen. Finally, she went in. The man had soiled himself and for nearly an hour was forced to sit in his own excrement. When she realized what she had done she was mortified. How could she do this to him? What kind of animal had she become? She helped clean him up and in the process found a new friend. A friend who turned out to be much more graceful and merciful than she.

That day changed her life. It didn’t change her theology or her sexual orientation. What it changed was her view of Jesus. In the days that followed it was as though Jesus was saying to her, every time she entered 406, this is me. I’m the one sitting in the bed. I’m the one you are ministering to. Six days later she wept as she held the hand of her new friend as he died. She wept at his passing harder than she’d wept for the hundreds who’d died on her watch before.

Jesus didn’t come to comfort the comfortable or encourage the successful. He didn’t come to cheer on the champion or strengthen the strong. Rather, he came for those who, for the third time this week ended up in a drunken stupor even though they promised themselves and their families they’d quit once and for all. He came for the adulteress who can’t leave a relationship they know is wrong and harmful. He came for the addict who promises he’ll quit after this ‘last high’.

It may be hard for some of us to accept, but if Jesus were to come back to earth today he would most likely NOT come to our churches on Sunday morning. He wouldn’t avoid them because they were/are ineffective. It’s just that he’d have other things to do. While we sit in our comfortable pews he’d be in a coffee shop sipping a latte’ with someone going through divorce. He’d be in a hospice somewhere holding a victim of aids, or comforting the parents of a fallen solder.

It’s not that he’d be opposed to the church-goer. He just has better things to do with his time. More pressing needs on his agenda. More sick people and sinners to bring back into relationship with his Father. If you are hurting today and have give up on this thing called Christianity, he’d seek you out and sit with you.

What about you? Who do you need to touch with your forgiveness today? Who needs to experience, first hand, the touch of grace and mercy from your hand? What body of pain is Jesus calling to you from? He didn’t come to comfort the comfortable.

PRAYER: My Jesus and lord. Forgive me for the callous attitude that I have towards those in pain. I’m mortified with the revelation of my own judgmental attitude. Empower me with the strength and compassion to reach out to those who need to experience your comfort through my touch. In your name, Amen.

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