July 29, 2013

Meeting Needs

Devotion for the Week...

A couple of years ago I met a woman who was staying in our town for a month while her husband did a work term here. We met up again a few days later at the library, where she had a stack of quilting books. Since she was a fellow quilter, I invited her to join our weekly quilting group.

"Do you guys take sewing machines and everything?" she asked.

I laughed. "We take our machines and cutting mats and bags full of fabric. We look like we're going on a long trip, but we're only going for 2 hours!"

I remembered that conversation when I read Luke 9:3. Jesus sent out the 12 disciples to drive out demons, heal diseases and tell everyone about the kingdom of God. We don't know how long they would be gone, but Jesus had very specific packing instructions. " He told them: "Take nothing for the journey - no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic."

What faith that must have taken. For me, a two hour quilting session requires as much equipment as I can carry. A weekend away with my husband and three boys takes four suitcases, plus another bag of books and toys. Even just a day trip means books and snacks, not to mention my hand stitching kit and Paul's coffee.

Unlike for quilting, the Twelve didn't need special equipment. Jesus "gave them power and authority" (Luke 9:1) so they didn't need to carry anything to accomplish their mission. But Jesus told them not to take money, food or clothes. They left Jesus not knowing where their next meal would come from or who would welcome them into their home. Perhaps they were accustomed to that uncertainty. After all, they traveled with Jesus from town to town already. They were probably already familiar with how people welcomed and cared for visiting teachers. They had faith God would meet their needs.

Fortunately, God still uses people to meet the needs of others. While I have never traveled empty-handed, bags of second hand clothes for our boys have been offered several times, usually just days after I realized most of their clothes were getting too small.

It's not only our physical needs that God meets through other people. Paul wrote, "Praise be to the God 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 have received from God." (2 Corinthians 1:3,4) How many times has a friend's word of encouragement lifted my spirits just when I needed it?

Generally speaking, we don't like needing help. Many of us find it hard to ask for help, even after others have offered. We'd much rather be the ones doing the helping. Regardless of our preference, we can be sure that, over the course of our lives, we will have times when we need help and times when we can offer help.

Which are you today? The one with needs or the one able to meet needs? If others are offering you help today, whether it be comfort, encouragement or material things, you can praise God for His provision. If you are helping others, praise Him for the extra He has given you so that you can give to others.

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