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Friday, November 14, 2008

Photo of Amish clothesline
The plain people have an innovative clothes drying system. They attach one end of the clothesline to the house and the other to a distant pole and use a pully system to dry several loads at a time!

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"Strengthening Encouragement"
"And Saul's son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God" (1 Samuel 23:16).
Among the various forms of ministry we are involved in is a creative expression of care by Transport For Christ, a ministry to truck drivers and their families. I staff a 24 hour crisis prayer line where drivers can call if they desire prayer (the 800# is set to forward to our home phone.) This number is then published in various TFC literature materials and lately we have been getting quite a few calls from needy truck drivers.

The other day I got a call from a man who really just seemed lonely and wanted to talk. He didn't have a specific request but shared several burdens and I offered to pray with him over the phone. He was not at all familiar with this type of prayer and nervously told me he didn't know what he was supposed to do. I told him he just had to listen as I would be the one praying. I offered a brief prayer for him concerning several of the burdens he had shared and thanked God for him. 

When we finished he told me how blessed he was and how he had never experienced anything like this in his life.  (He expained that he came from a more formal religious tradition where he was not accustomed to a personalized and spontaneous prayer like the one I prayed.) I was in turn blessed at having the opportunity to share an uplifting, encouraging conversation and prayer with this lonely driver.

Thank God for friends, for people who care. I hope you have a lot of them and that you have several friends like David had with Jonathan. Their friendship is surely one of the greatest found in Scripture.

Today's text is a remarkable statement.  At this point Saul was insanely jealous of David and was in hot pursuit of him.  The previous verse states, "While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life."

However Saul's son Jonathan apparently saw his father's error and remained faithful to his friend David.  David had just learned that Saul was determined to kill him.  Surely Jonathan knew this as well and he was risking his own life and the resulting fallout from his father's wrath in order to help David. 

Notice that Jonathan "went to David."  He took the initiative and made the effort to help a friend in trouble. David had fled to Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, which was a very desolate and remote region south of the Dead Sea.

The purpose of Jonathan's visit was to "help him find strength in God."  The NASV states, "encouraged him in God." This is surely one of the most powerful examples and images of strengthening encouragement found in the entire Bible.

You may know of people like David who are besieged by difficult circumstances.  They need a friend like Jonathan.  They need someone to help them find strength.  But notice the very clear source of strength, "in God".   This verse expresses the highest purpose of a truly godly friendship. 

Although God is the source of strength He uses people to be channels of that strength.  Aren't you thankful for people who come to you when you need a helping hand, a listening ear and a compassionate heart!  Those who do so have generally developed a spiritual sensitivity that helps them see beyond surface conversation to sense the deeper needs that one might be hesitant to bring out in the open. 

The most practical way we help strengthen them is to pray with them. Notice I say "pray with" rather than just telling them, "I’ll pray for you" and walking away.  Right then and there lift them before the Father in prayer as you're gathered in His presence. "Where two or more are gathered in My name there am I in the midst of them."

One of the blessings Brooksyne and I especially appreciate about our workplace chaplaincy is being able to pray with a troubled employee.  Many are often burdened down with personal cares and experiencing a very difficult day at work.  We stop and pray, as long as the employee is comfortable with this practice, and we've often receive feedback of how much this helped to lift their load while at work.

Praying for others is important, but I also experience a great deal of spiritual strength when a brother or sister thoughtfully considers a verse that matches my need and shares it with me.  We all know of weary, discouraged and fearful people like David. Let us help them find strength in God through prayer and Scripture!

Is there someone you need to seek out today?  It might be a walk down the hall, a brief trip, a phone call or maybe just a short, "I'm praying for you" email, forwarding a message like this.  Will you be that channel of strengthening encouragement today? 

Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, I pray for a sensitive heart that I might be a representative of Your indwelling Spirit to those who have distressing needs.  Develop in me a discerning heart that I might seek out those in need just as Jonathan did with David.  While I don't have all the answers I do know that Your Word brings light, direction, and confidence as we must navigate through the frequent twists and turns in our sojourn here below.  We offer ourselves to You to be a blessing to others.  We do this in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Photo of Jabar
I am 6 feet 2 inches tall and thus most folks I see are my size or shorter. I have recently befriended Jabar, nicknamed Six-ten, who is 8 inches taller than I. When I talk to him I get an idea of what it's like for someone who is 5 feet six inches talking to me!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
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"My Life Is An Offering" Audio

"Offering"  Audio

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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