February 2022 Craft & Devotional: Love Your Neighbor

By Captain Ryan Boyd
Missoula, MT Corps – Northwest Division

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:25-37

The story of the Good Samaritan is one that, like you, I have heard a million times. In it, we read that we should love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. And no doubt about it, the Good Samaritan showed great love to the man going to Jericho. But as I was reading this passage, it came to me. Often, we (as people) tend to be more like the expert in the law than the Good Samaritan.

As Jesus is telling this story, the people listening were probably feeing challenged by His words. If loving God means obeying his commands and loving our neighbor means loving with compassion, care, and cost, am I really loving? Am I living up to this standard? We probably feel this way as well when we read these words.

And because we are human, we start looking for a loophole. We know we haven’t lived up to these standards and so we try to bend the standards to fit what we can attain. God says, “do this” and we think “well, surely He meant only do this when I feel like it. I’m totally doing that. I’m such a good Christian.” So, when Jesus says to love your neighbor, immediately they think “well, who is my neighbor?” Because if my neighbor means those I am close to, those I agree with, those who hold the same religious and political beliefs that I do, then YES! Done. So maybe it just all depends on how we define who our neighbor is. So, the expert in the law asks that very question.

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Now this question is not really a question to find out who his neighbor is. It says right in the beginning that he wanted to justify himself. He knew he wasn’t living up to the standard. The question he asks, “who is my neighbor?” is really asking who do I not have to love? Who is my neighbor? = Who don’t I have to love?

That is what he really wants to know. Just how far does my love have to extend and where can it end? So Jesus tells the story of the Samaritan and asks the expert in the law “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

We hear the story of the Good Samaritan and think that is terrible that those first 2 people did not help. That Samaritan man was so nice. That is because we have heard this story so many times AND We don’t have the cultural reference points of those who were hearing this story the first time. I’m sure that the people listening to Jesus were appalled that he was using priests and Levites as the poor examples. Jews felt the priests and the Levites were good people, righteous in fact. And a Samaritan was one of the most despised people to the Jews. They were half breeds. They did not keep their race pure or their religion.

Jesus isn’t teaching people to believe like Samaritans. In this story, He is not even teaching that all priests and Levites are bad. Jesus is answering two questions and doing it in a way that is going to offend some and challenge those who have ears to hear. My goal is to be challenged every single time. The questions are: 1. Am I loving the way that God calls me to love? and 2. Am I loving WHO God calls me to love?

Am I loving the way that God calls me to love?

Am I loving WHO God calls me to love?

Sometimes, loving people is so easy it’s like second nature. We have the world’s best Home League Secretary, Norma, at our corps. She is so helpful and selfless and anticipates needs and meets them. When Josh started coughing during his sermon, the next week there was a water bottle. She takes such good care of us. She’s so easy to love that I want to shower her with gifts and words of affirmation. I want her to see what a blessing she is to me and the Kingdom.

I am all about being real and transparent. Sometimes, loving people is so hard I don’t want to do it anymore. There is a lady who comes in for services at our building all the time. We are the only place she can be inside in town and she suffers from trauma and severe mental health issues. She likes to call me names, she uses our lawn as a bathroom, and she yells at and berates us daily. I don’t want to buy her anything. In fact, days where she doesn’t come visit us are so peaceful.

But God calls me to love her just like I love Norma. The difference is Norma’s love costs me nothing. In fact, I gain with Norma. But loving the second woman costs me my patience, my pride, and, some days, my ability to show love. I don’t tell you this because I think I’m amazing – because I don’t think I am. In fact, I think I fail at loving her just as much as I succeed – but I think that she keeps coming back because she feels God’s love coming from our building. She is my neighbor. God calls me to love her as I love myself.

I can see why the religious people of the day were like Jesus, are you sure? And God is saying yes. 100%. I am sure that you need to love them as you love yourself. When I read the question “and who is my neighbor” I always imagine Jesus saying “everyone I died for is your neighbor. The whosoever.”

I think there’s another side of this story that I never considered until I saw it on a meme. I don’t usually get my theology from a meme, but this one spoke to me. It said: “The Good Samaritan story is not just an example of compassionate spirituality. It is a critique against religious passivity. If “church people” won’t work for justice and mercy, God will find some other people who will.”

OUCH! God uses us to do his work on earth, but we are not the end-all-be-all for him. If we don’t follow his commands, he will find someone who will. His will is going to be accomplished. The question is do we want to be a part of it? And if the Samaritan man – if people who don’t know the Lord as their savior – are just as compassionate as those who do, what does that say about the church?

We need to do better. Who is our neighbor? It’s the whosoever.

Check out this easy craft that goes with this devotion: https://www.craftymorning.com/puzzle-piece-valentine-craft/

February 2022 Korean Devotional: Blessing is Channel of Love

By Captain Eunha Kim
Eastside, WA Corps – Northwest Division

하나님은 우리에게 성경을 통하여 사랑을 말씀하신다.
성경책은 사랑의 책이라고 하여도 맞을 것이다.
요한복음에서만해도 사랑이라는 단어는 50번을 넘게 우리에게 말씀하셨다.
주님은 왜 우리에게 사랑이라는 말씀을 계속하셨을까?
그것은 아마도 사랑한다는 것이 쉬운 것 같아도 어렵기때문일것이다.
왜냐면 원수도 사랑하기 힘들고 나를 괴롭히는 사람, 나를 싫어하는 사람, 내가 미워하는 사람도 사랑하기 힘들기 때문이다
그런데 하나님은 우리에게 말씀하신다. 원수도 사랑하라고 하시고 구약에서는 내 이웃을 네 몸처럼 사랑하라 말씀하시고 요한복음 13장 34절에서는 더 넓게 모든 사람과 더불어 서로 사랑하라고 말씀하신다
즉, 구약에서는 내 이웃에서 신약에서는 내 이웃 뿐만 이 아니라 내 지역 사회 그리고 더 나아가서 다른 민족까지도 서로 사랑하라고 새 계명을 주셨다
나는 요한복음 13장을 묵상하면서 오늘은 13장 1절 말씀 중에 ‘끝까지 ‘라는 단어가 유난히 눈에 띄었다.
우리는 사랑하기는 쉬어도 끝까지 사랑하는 것이 힘들지 않은가?
믿음 생활도 하기는 쉬운데 우리의 믿음도 끝까지 지키는 것이 힘들지 않은가?
주님께 순종 하겠다 하면서도 끝까지 순종하지 못하는 때가 많다
그러나 예수님은 우리를 끝까지 사랑하셨다 그리고 하나님의 말씀대로 끝까지 순종하셨다
우리는 너무 쉽게 사랑하고 너무 쉽게 사랑하는 마음을 잃어버리지 않는가?
그렇다면 어떻게 주님이 우리를 끝까지 사랑하신것처럼 우리도 끝까지 서로 사랑할 수 있을까?
주님께서 사랑하라 하셨으니 무조건 사랑하는 마음을 갖으면 사랑할 수 있을까?
너무나도 풍족 해지고 있는 이세상은 주님이 말씀하신것처럼 더 많은 사람과 함께 서로 사랑하기가 힘들어지고 있지 않은가?
삶이 풍요로워 지면 우리는 서로 나누면서 서로 사랑할 수 있을 것 같지만 지금의 세상은 점점 개인주의로 나를 중심으로 살며 나만 잘 살면 되고 내 가정만 잘 살면 되는 그런 사회로 변해가고 있다.
35절에는 우리가 서로 사랑하면 이로써 모든 사람이 주님의 제자인 줄 알 것 이라고 말씀하고 계신다.
주님의 제자가 된다는 것은 주님의 말씀대로 살아가는 것이 제자가 되는 것이다.
예수님의 제자로 살겠다고 주님께 날마다 기도하지만 끝까지 주님의 제자로 사는 것도 어려울 때가 많다.
왜냐면 우리의 삶은 항상 똑같지 않기 때문이다.
어떤 때는 평지를 걷다가 어떤 때는 오르막길이 나오고 산도 만나게 된다.그것이 우리의 인생이 아닐까?
오늘의 말씀처럼 어떻게 주님께서 주신 새 계명처럼 내가 너희를 사랑한것처럼 너희도 서로 사랑하라는 말씀대로 살수 있을까?
나는 그 대답을 룻기에서 찾을 수 가 있었다.
나오미에게는 룻과 오르바 두명의 며느리가 있었는데 사랑하는 남편과 두명의 아들을 잃어버리는 아픔을 겪고 두며느리들에게 떠나라고 권고한다.
그러나 두명 중에 한명 오르바는 비전이 보이지않자 자신이 자랐던 곳으로 다시 돌아가고 룻은 어려운 환경에 있지만 나오미와 함께 베들레햄으로 가서 보아스를 만나 결혼을 하게 된다.
나는 보아스를 만나게 되는 그 과정에서 사랑할 수 있는 답을 찾았다.
바로 축복 이였다.
보아스는 만나는 모든 이들에게 주님의 축복을 항상 원했다.
자신보다 낮은 자리에 있는 자들에게도 축복을 하고 힘이 없고 약한 여인들 에게도 축복을 전했다.
그리고 보아스로부터 받은 모든 은혜를 룻에게로 부터 들은 나오미도 보아스 를 축복해 주었다.
축복은 우리가 서로 사랑할 수 있는 축복의 통로가 되는 것이 아닐까?
하나님이 우리에게 원하시는 사랑은 낮은 자를 돌아보며 약한 자와 가난 한자를 축복 할 때 우리는 서로 사랑할 수 있을 것이다.
신앙생활을 하면서 상처를 많이 받는 곳은 의외로 가정과 교회라고 한다
배우자와 자녀를 서로 사랑하지 못하고 신앙생활을 같이하는 성도도 서로 사랑하기 힘들 때가 많다.

우리 모두는 하나님이 사랑하시는 똑같은 자녀이다
많고 적게 가진 자도 아니요 높은 자와 낮은 자도 아닌 우리 모두를 주님께서는 사랑하신다.
주님의 사랑은 나보다 다른 사람을 더 귀하게 생각할 때 축복하고 사랑할 수 있을 것이다.
오늘 하루를 나에게 만남을 허락하신 모든 사람을 더 귀하게 섬기며 축복할 때 우리는 서로 사랑하는 주님의 제자가 될 것이다.
“새 계명을 너희에게 주노니 서로 사랑하라 내가 너희를 사랑한 것 같이 너희도 서로 사랑하라” 요한복음 13장 34절

Download the English Translation of this devotional.

February 2022 Devotional: Choose Love

By Lt. Isabella Green
Bellingham, WA Corps – Northwest Division

Twenty-four years into my life and I’ll finally admit it, I was an angry kid. I had a short fuse that my sister especially was great at lighting. She would say something, push just the right button, and I would go off on her. Then, in true sister fashion she would run to my parents crying about how mean and awful I was, and I would be the one to get in trouble. Typical right? It sure was in my household.

After every spat and fight, my dad would sit me down, and I would say through my tears, “but Papa! She made me do it! She made me mad!” and he, in all his fatherly wisdom and patience would once again remind me that she can’t make me do anything. I chose to get mad. I chose to react. I chose to do something I knew would get me in trouble.
Choices. We all make them. We make good choices, we make bad choices, we make choices with unknown outcomes. Choices.

1 Corinthians 16:14 tells us to “do everything in love.” As believers in Christ, we are called to make choices that reflect that belief and relationship. We are called to make choices guided by love. When we read through Scripture we see time and time again God choosing love. The promise that the rainbow stands for is a promise of love. Gods continuous patience with Israel was a continuous choice He made with love. The birth and death of His son, and all the things Jesus did during His time on earth, is an incredible example of God choosing love, even if it was hard. God loves us, to the point of sending His son to die for all of us. We don’t always make it easy for Him either, but, He always chooses love.

Each and every day, we need to choose love, just as God does. When your sister pushes your buttons, you need to choose love. When your boss tests your patience, you need to choose love. When that car in front of you cuts you off and makes you late for an important event, you need to choose love. When it seems impossible to choose anything else, choose love.

Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14

January 2022 Devotional: Awakening to God’s Call – Devotional Life!

By Tawyna Stumpf
Coos Bay, OR Corps – Cascade Division

Imagine, if you will, a woman about to enter a journey of love – a journey not only with her heart but also with her soul, mind, and strength. A journey into a wonderous relationship so great that she will experience an “Awakening to God’s Call – Devotional Life.”

As ministers of God’s Word, as women, we understand and believe that “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man/woman of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2Timothy 3:16). These scriptures are life to us. So, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman/woman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). My question to you is simple, “how do you handle the Word of Truth?” What do you do with the Scriptures you read?

How do you handle the Word of Truth?
What do you do with the Scriptures you read?

We all have offices. In our offices are the normal office equipment such as desks, phones, computers, and file cabinets. Now imagine you have a 4-drawer file cabinet for the Scripture you read. The drawers start out as letter-size, and each drawer is labeled. The top is for all the Scriptures that relate to your heart (emotions). The second is for Scripture related to your mind (thoughts). The third drawer is labeled for the soul (moral compass), and the bottom drawer is appropriately labeled strength (ambition). This file cabinet can/could/will grow to have 4-drawers that are legal size … eventually, it can become a drafting size file cabinet! But, only with use.

Each and every time you read and/or study your Bible, the Scripture is placed in the appropriate file drawer. Your subconscious does this with the help of the Holy Spirit. When you want to apply it to your life, it can be quickly accessed. If you want to share it with someone who needs to hear supporting scripture, you can share it. The more you read and devote your life to the Word of God, the more your files fill up, gain size and strength. Remember, Philippians 4:8 says: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” Just think, you might even get good at pulling out Scripture without giving it too much thought as to what drawer it was correctly filled in.

When was the last time you used Scripture to pray over your congregation, soldiers, volunteers, and yourself? Let’s face it; sometimes, we don’t know how to pray or what we ought to pray. I realize that Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit “groans” for us when we’re at a loss for words. Fortunately, we don’t have to think up words or how to present them. Scripture has already done that for us. Taking a Psalm and personalizing it is incredible. Another scripture that transforms our relationship with God and can be used daily is Colossians 1:9-14. I will personalize this for you from the NIV translation:

“… God, please fill me with the knowledge of your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And I pray this in order that I may live a life worthy of you Lord, and may please you in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of you, God, and being strengthened with all power according to your glorious might so that I may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified me to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For you have rescued me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of the Son you love, in whom I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

To build upon the foundation of Christ, use Scripture. Just get it in there. The Holy Spirit will help you learn God’s promises. Then, He will help you use God’s promises. This, then, supports the storing of God’s promises, building upon God’s promises.

The Truth will move you beyond imagining a journey of love – a journey not only with your heart but with your soul, your mind, and your strength. A journey in a wonderous relationship so great that you will experience an “Awakening to God’s Call – Devotional Life.”

December 2021 Devotional: A Gift of Significance

By Captain Betzy Hanson
Colorado Springs, CO Corps – Intermountain Division

Read Matthew 2:1-12

What the Wise Men Brought to Jesus
If you ever watched the movie, The Nativity Story, when it was released in 2006, then you would have witnessed the scene when the wise men brought their gifts to Jesus. As the wise men lay their gifts before Jesus they explain the significance of each gift. Here is the quote from the movie. “Gold for the King of kings, Frankincense for the Priest of priests, a gift of myrrh to honor thy sacrifice.” As I watched this scene I was overwhelmed with tears. The writer who developed this scene did a great job of explaining what each gift represents.

Here is a brief explanation of each gift that was given: First, Gold is a precious metal, but it is also a sign of wealth and royalty. Frankincense is an incense that was sprinkled on sacrifices offered to the Lord and was also used in the tabernacle (Leviticus 24:7). The last gift was Myrrh which was used for embalming and has some healing properties as well.

Now, let’s look at the significance of each gift. When we look at Solomon’s Temple in the Bible, we read that his goblets and household items were made of gold. This is because if it was anything less than gold it was considered unworthy for a king (2 Chronicles 9:20). Gold was given to Jesus because He is greater than Solomon. Gold is not a typical gift for a child unless he is a king. So, the wise men knew the child they were visiting was going to rule and shepherd Israel. They knew he was King.

Frankincense is a priestly fragrant oil used throughout the Old Testament for sacrifices. When Jesus was born, he became the High Priest. Hebrews 4:14 says, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Frankincense was not given by coincidence; it had a significant reason of why it was given to Jesus. Jesus was going to give His life as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Which brings me to the last gift . . .

Myrrh. Through this gift we see the humanity of Jesus. It is shown in this gift because we know that Jesus died on the cross. In the book of John, we read that a mixture of myrrh and aloe was put on him and then his body was wrapped in cloth (John 19:38-40). According to scripture these gifts were chosen through prophecy. “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel” (Micah 5:2-4). The wise men knew that Jesus’ birth was fulfilling prophecy so they prepared their gifts for the Ruler who was born to save the world. These wise men knew that hope was not lost for God’s people. They knew that Jesus’ birth was going to bring change. These three gifts were of great significance, because they show Jesus as King, High Priest, and man.

My Gift of Significance
My life completely changed when I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter, Adaline. Because of secondary infertility, and the loss of two babies, my husband and I were not able to grow our family like we wanted, but God had other plans. Adaline came to us as an unexpected but pleasant surprise. This pregnancy was truly a miracle from the Lord. Eden (my first born) was born in October 12, 2004 and Adaline was born on June 20, 2019. Yes, my girls are almost 15 years apart. When time came to get ready for the new baby, I realized I had nothing. I was starting all over.

Thank God my family and friends gathered to throw me an amazing baby shower. Some gifts were typical gifts like clothes, a stroller, a car seat, diapers, and burp cloths. But as the party came to an end, I received a very significant gift. My grandmother slowly walked up to me near the end of the party, hugged me and then handed me a very small pair of pink shoes. As she handed them to me, I immediately recognized them. They were my fist born Eden’s, baby shoes. As I held these little baby shoes, I cried. I cried because I thought all hope of conceiving another child was gone. I cried because the significance of this gift meant that I was going to have a little baby to fill these shoes. I cried tears of joy, rejoicing over what God had done in my life.

Your Significant Gift
God doesn’t want only the gifts of time, money, or your service to others. God wants all that we are. He wants the hidden, the seen, the bad, the sad and the hurt. He wants it all. This may sound cliché, but this is what God wants, our complete life. What significant gift will you bring to Jesus today. Will you surrender all your life? He wants us to bow down and present our lives before him. Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

Have you taken the time to prostrate yourself before God to give all your life to him? Sometimes in our busy life we see service to others as more valuable than laying all we are before God. We may not say it, but by our actions, and the way we spend our time to get the job done, we show it. God wants us to know him deeper, and the way we do this, is by spending time with Him. So today I encourage you to lay your gift of significance before Jesus. Take at least five minutes of your day, put some worship music on, and just soak in God’s presence. The wise men bowed down and worshiped Jesus. “Then they opened their treasures and presented him with their gift.” (Matthew 2:11). Let’s bow down and worship the King of kings, the Priest of priests and the hope of all the world that was born to save us so that we can have freedom and eternal life in Him.

Note: Check out this month’s craft, Wise Men Seashell Ornament, and this month’s Bible study, Seeking the King that coordinates with this devotional.

November Devotional: Thankfulness

Thankfulness By Anna Stone Pathway of Hope Director, Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 When my granddaughter was born, my daughter Sarah asked what it is that […]

November 2021 Devotional: The PERFECT Thanksgiving

Southwest Division

For most Americans, Thanksgiving is a joyous time of celebration. It is a time when we gather around a table that is overflowing with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, pies, and all sorts of delicious foods. It is a time for football, parades, and all-around mirth. As Christians, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and give thanks to God for abounding love and faithfulness to us.

For many, however, Thanksgiving brings about vastly different emotions. It is a time of stress, anxiety, and depression. It reminds them of their failure and imperfections. Thanksgiving is not a thankful holiday for these people. Why is that? What is it about this holiday or this time of year that causes these emotions?

I often think about these questions as I mentally prepare myself for the stress of Thanksgiving, and the main answer I come back to is societal expectations. When I consider the holidays and what society has told me they look like, it is overwhelming. The perfectly set tables brimming with food. The lavish decorations, and perfectly cleaned house. The children with perfect manners, and the husband who is watching the perfect game in his perfect recliner. The expectations are crushing.

These expectations are not anything new either. I often look back at the story of Mary and Martha. Read Luke 10:38-42.

Two sisters seeking to enjoy being in the presence of Jesus. Enter the expectations. Mary casts aside the expectations of a host and simply sits at Jesus feet. Martha, however, seeks to be a good host while also wanting to be a part of the festivities. In most teaching and sermons, Martha is portrayed as a busybody and complainer. However, I believe that what she is experiencing is very real. She wants to live up to what society has said is a good host. She wants that PERFECT Thanksgiving.

I think that when Jesus tells her that Mary has chosen what is better, he is inviting her to forget the expectations and simply be with him. HE isn’t telling her that she is wrong or that she is worse than Mary. He is telling her that it is okay if the dishes wait, it is okay if the turkey is dry.

Thanksgiving is a time to simply be reminded that Jesus loves us. We give thanks to God, not because of the food, decorations, or visiting guests, but simply because he loves us.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What are some of the stresses that you experience during Thanksgiving?
  • How do you deal with your stress during the holidays?

Challenge:

Starting on Thanksgiving Day, try to keep a gratitude journal. Each day write anywhere between a sentence and a paragraph of the things that you are thankful for that day. Don’t overthink it, you are the only one looking in this journal.

Note: Check out this month’s Bible Study, 10 Reasons to Praise the Lord, and this month’s craft, Edible Thanksgiving Turkeys, that coordinates with this devotional.

March 2022 Devotional: Compassion…Pass it On

By Captain Joanna Wang
San Gabriel, CA Corps – California South Division

A few months ago, I was walking in my neighborhood with my two-year-old son. I decided to pick up the pace a little and started to jog. Things were going great until, all of a sudden, I found myself falling. I couldn’t stop myself and fell on the ground, scraping my hands and knees. For a split-second, I was in shock, unable to move, feeling like it was almost a dream. Then I remembered where I was and who I was with. I looked over at my son, getting ready to tell him to come and hold my hand, realizing the possible danger of the situation, and wanting to make sure that he didn’t run into the road. And then I realized that he was lying beside me on the sidewalk. He was copying my movements. Then, as I sat up, groaning and near tears from the pain, my son sat beside me and took my injured hand in his little hands. He then kissed my hand while looking up at me and saying, “Aw!” Not only did he not run into the road or down the sidewalk where I might not have been able to catch him, but he just stayed with me until I got up and hobbled home. For the next few days, when he looked at my scraped-up knee or injured hand, he would say, “Aw!” with sweet compassion and would proceed to try to kiss the pain away. Such sweet compassion I experienced from the actions of a two-year-old!

I was deeply touched by the compassion that my little boy showed me during that time. In fact, as I experienced my son’s compassionate response to my pain, I was also reminded of how our Heavenly Father shows us compassion as well. Psalm 103:8 says, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” Our God is full of compassion and He demonstrates it to us time and time again. In fact, this was one of the characteristics of Jesus that stood out the most during His time on earth as He interacted with and ministered to people. We see His compassion when He raised the widow’s son from the dead in Luke 7. Verse 13 says, “When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, ‘Do not weep.” Even though He was going to bring the boy back from the dead, He knew that her heart was broken, and He showed compassion to her in the midst of her grief. Again, we see Jesus’ compassion in Matthew 15 when He feeds the four thousand because they had been with Him for three days without food and He knew that they were in need. In verse 32 it says, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.’” Also, in Matthew 9:36, we see Jesus compassion yet again. This verse says, “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

Psalm 103:8

Jesus cared deeply for people and showed compassion to them over and over again. Today, He continues to show us compassion because of His immeasurable love for us. He knows that we too are in need. We too are heartbroken at times. We too are in need of things. We too need the Lord to guide us in our lives as we navigate the challenges that we face in this world. And the wonderful thing is that God meets us right where we are, filled with love and compassion, and He shows us that He is with us. And because He is with us, we know that we are not alone, and we will never be alone. Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you are.”

This promise of God’s presence with us is a beautiful demonstration of His compassion for us. And as we experience His compassion, we can also show compassion to others. Second Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Is your heart hurting today? Do you need our God of all compassion to minister to you? Cry out to Him. He is there! Have you experienced God’s compassion? Ask the Lord to help you to pass that compassion on to others, helping them when they are in need, encouraging them, ministering to them as He leads you. As we experience God’s compassion, may we then pass it on to others so that they too can see Jesus and experience His compassion for themselves.

Prayer:
God, thank you for the compassion that you show us because of your amazing love for us. Thank you for meeting us right where we are and ministering to us. Please help us to show your compassion to others too so that they can see you and so that they too can know your love and compassion for them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

October 2021 Devotional: I See You. God Sees You. You Matter

By Lt. Mony Oregel
Stockton, CA Corps – Del Oro Division

One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. Acts 16:14 (NIV)

Ten years ago, my life was a hot mess.

I attempted to numb my childhood hurt, pain, and rejection with anything and everything —alcohol, drugs, food, men. You name it, I tried it. But nothing worked.

My wounds screamed you are nothing: I wasn’t good enough or pretty enough. Life was dark. Soon the police were involved, threatening to take my kids away. My life was a disaster, and chaotic and I didn’t know what to do.

During my mess and crazy life, I called a friend (I call her my angel), a friend who walked the same road I did. I didn’t know her well, but there was something different about her. She wore this polyester blue uniform every day and, on her name, tag it said, “Welcoming Sargent.” She would invite me to church every week. I said to myself. What kind of church is that? I don’t want any part of it. I laughed and brushed it off over and over. I would tell her “next time!” Something in her eyes and her smile said: I see you. God sees you.  You matter. You are not alone.

That evening, my angel listened to my story and then spoke four simple words: “Mony, you need Jesus.”

Since I’d tried everything the world had to offer and still felt empty inside, I figured I didn’t have anything to lose. In 2013 I walked in to the Oakland Garden street Salvation Army. Those officers and soldiers welcomed me with open arms. I felt safe and at home. I invited Jesus Christ into my heart and to take control of my life.

Everything changed for me at that moment, starting with my angel. She noticed this lost girl and introduced me to the One who opens His arms wide — no matter the size of the mess I was in.

Today, my life gives hope to others and a testament to the fact that no one is too far gone from God’s amazing grace.

This former drug addict now leads a beautiful Corps in Stockton and an amazing community is focused on telling men, women, boys, and girls about God’s amazing love.

But what if my angel had been too busy or distracted? What if she’d looked away?

The Apostle Paul also knew the power of seeing others — not just as who they were, but who they could be. Paul understood the transforming power of Jesus, which made him the perfect ambassador to share God’s love and light everywhere he went.

In Acts 16, as Paul passed through Macedonia, he took time to see Lydia and her friends sitting by the river. Lydia was a successful business owner. But selling purple cloth didn’t fill the void as she searched for spiritual purpose and potential. All the money and connections couldn’t satisfy her deepest need for love and belonging. That day on the riverbank, though, everything changed.

Three ambassadors of God sought His lost children. I bet that day Paul, Luke and Silas were gentle in their demeanor. I bet they smiled and made eye contact that said: I see you. God sees you. You matter. You are not alone.

The Bible tells us the three men did not ignore the women sharing the riverbank with them. (Acts 16:13) Paul stopped. Sat. Shared. Unintimidated by the fact that not one single person for miles around believed in Jesus Christ. Not one. Then there was a miracle on the fishy-smelling, shore. One of God’s lost girls was found! …The Lord opened (Lydia’s) heart to respond to Paul’s message” (Acts 16:14). She listened, and her heart was opened to God’s love his promises and the Good News of Jesus. Because Paul and his friends looked up from their lives and really saw Lydia, she was saved.

What about you, friend? How often do you look up and really notice people God places in your life? How might you break out of your comfort zone and engage with someone?

Let’s remember: We might be the difference between someone being lost and being found. We might be the light in someone’s dark chaotic world. Let’s be that light – the light God calls us to be.

Dear God, I acknowledge You as the God who sees me. You know me and understand me when no one else does. Forgive me for the times I’ve missed the Men, women, boys and girls here, near and far who need Jesus. Give me Your eyes and heart to seek the lost and be that light and show them Jesus and His love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Check out this month’s Bible Study, Seeds of Potential and this month’s craft, Sand Jar Craft, which coordinates with this devotional.

September Devotional: Prayer Flag Project

By Major Ronda Gilger
Coeur d’Alene Kroc Center, ID – Northwest Division

Note: This is a devotional that incorporates a time of prayer and a craft.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit speaks on our behalf with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your prayer requests before God. Philippians 4:6

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

I want men (and women) everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. I Timothy 2:8

Believing that the world can be changed with prayer, and understanding that our prayers carry the full intent of our hearts and minds to the throne of God… we choose to pray. We choose to move in close – to our Father….to sit in his presence and practice the spiritual discipline of prayer through an “activity” that will unite and focus us.

There are two options for the Prayer Flag Project:
1) The prayer flag banner can be made individually as a “take home” which may become a part of each person’s ongoing prayer life.

2) The prayer flag banner can be made to hang as a larger banner- in your chapel or entryway, a worship center or group room.   As each person comes in they are invited to take part and the project is ongoing for a month or several weeks until the banner is filled with “prayers. You may have a journal there where people can write their prayer requests if they want others to join them.

The simplest directions are included on the handout which can be printed to give to all those participating.

Setting the Scene: Play worship music to create an atmosphere conducive to prayer.

Set up a “materials” table. Twine can be precut and placed at each participant’s seat. Strips of fabric can be precut or torn and placed in a few baskets where the women can choose the fabric they choose to add to their Prayer Flag.

Read each verse about prayer. Ask your women to share a time in their lives when God answered prayer. They may share as a group or as a united group. Encourage your women to keep a Prayer Journal- so they can see the ways in which God is working in their lives. “How He is answering their prayers!” You might even give each woman a small journal or moleskin and ask her to write down some of the prayers that she had as she created her Prayer Flag.

Close your time together in prayer for one another.

Directions:

1. Measure & mark 1-1.5” inch sections along edge of fabric using ruler.
Snip the edge at the marking” cutting 1/2” in from edge.
2. Tear fabric strips to get a rough, straight edge.
Cut strips to 15 “ (1”x 15”) or (1.5 x 15”)
3. Tie your fabric strip around the twine and Knot with a simple half knot in the center of the strip.  *Use a fairly Sturdy Hemp twine measuring 36-40”( or longer if a group project)
4. Tie a small slip knot at each end so that it can be hung. 


5. With each “knotted fabric strip” a “prayer has been added.