Your Neighbor


“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.”—Deuteronomy 10:18 (NIV)

I have a Bible trivia question for you! What did Jesus tell the Pharisee in Matthew 22:37 when he asked Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment?” If you answered to “love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind,” then you are correct!

And what about the second greatest commandment? When Jesus answered the Pharisee, He added that “the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:39). However, something we tend to miss in this story is what Jesus says after this. He asserts that “all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Mathew 22:40).

For a long time, I thought the commands Jesus gave in the New Testament were new for the Hebrew people. However, when I read through the Book of Deuteronomy, which is essentially a repetition of the Law, the same exact values Jesus preached in His ministry are emphasized to the Israelites.

In context, today’s Scripture begins with Moses asking the Israelites, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 10:12 NIV)? He proceeded to expand upon the Lord’s faithful love and power in an attempt to further persuade the Israelites of what he stated above. It’s in the midst of this that we find today’s verse where Moses reminded them of God’s faithfulness to the fatherless, the widow, and the foreigner.

Apart from God, we’re all “fatherless” and “foreigners,” yet Jesus endured death on our behalf so we may be adopted into God’s family (John 1:12). His heart has always been for those without a voice and without worldly hope or purpose, always caring for both their spiritual and physical needs!

Moses knew this well, but he also knew that loving and serving God meant more than just acknowledging His power and faithfulness. Moses knew that loving and serving God meant acting on behalf of the voiceless as well. Out of his desire for Israel to understand this connection between what we know as the first and second greatest commandments, Moses commanded them to provide for the less fortunate.

By looking at these seemingly unrelated passages, we’re reminded of the never-changing heart of God and of His desire for His people to live with the same heart, actively loving the fatherless, the widow, and the foreigner—our neighbors.

DIG: Read Deuteronomy 10:12-22. Why is it so important for Moses to include God’s acts of faithfulness to the less fortunate?

DISCOVER: Where else in Deuteronomy, and the Old Testament in general, does the Lord talk about providing for and helping the less fortunate?

DO: Make it a goal to help a neighbor this week. (Examples: buy someone a meal who cannot afford it, donate to a nonprofit organization that helps the less fortunate worldwide, donate some food to FoodShare at your campus).


  INMay 18, 2020
A Righteous Heart
“And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel.” (1 Kings 11:9)

The Scriptures have an interesting commentary on Solomon’s life: “When Solomon was old…his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God” (1 Kings 11:4). How is it possible to start well and end sadly?

We Must Guard Our Heart: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life,” Solomon admonished in Proverbs 4:23. The Hebrew word for “keep” is natsar and the main verb for “guard” or “set a watch.” Psalm 119 uses natsar 10 times to demand our careful “watch” on our obedience and use of the Word of God. The promise is “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart” (Psalm 119:2).

Store the Good Treasure: In one of his many confrontations with the Pharisees, Jesus gave several illustrations about the impact of the “heart” part of our nature. Jesus spoke of binding the “strong man,” noting that a tree produces the fruit it was grown for and that snakes are always snakes. Then Jesus makes this observation: “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matthew 12:35).

Others Will Try to Turn Your Heart: Jeroboam (1 Kings 11–12) led Israel in rebellion against Judah and against God. He “devised of his own heart” (1 Kings 12:33) liturgical practices that “made Israel to sin” (1 Kings 15:34). Peter warns: “Beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:17).

We must guard our hearts, “for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). HMM III


What gifts and abilities has God given me to serve others?



(Romans 12:4–6)

The term “spiritual gifts” originates from the Greek words pneumatika (spiritual or of the Spirit) and charisma (gift). Spiritual gifts are special abilities or functions given by the Holy Spirit that are meant to be used by God’s people to complete God’s work.

Spiritual gifts are given with a purpose. God wants to redeem this broken world, and he has chosen to use us, the church, to do it. Whereas in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit temporarily came upon followers of God to enable them to fulfill specific tasks, the New Testament clearly indicates that the Holy Spirit indwells all believers and that all believers have spiritual gifts. And since the New Testament refers to specific gifts, it seems safe to assume that God wants us to identify our gifts in order to best use them.

Spiritual gifts are tools that are meant to be used. The divine task of restoring broken people to God has been imparted to us, and we must put these tools to work. In this parable about the bags of gold, Jesus illustrated this principle for his disciples.


For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. (Romans 12:4–6)


I know my spiritual gifts and use them to fulfill God’s purposes.

KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?

If you want to gain a better understanding of your own spiritual gifts, look for a number of excellent resources and tools online or in Christian bookstores. You can also simply ask people to help you discover your gifts. Use the story in this chapter and ask three folks to circle the role they see you playing. Your responsibility is to discover and develop God’s gifts, and then to find how each one fits into the world he wants to reach. You have been given a gift, and God plans to use your gift to change the world.

When we are children, most of us pretend to have, or dream about having, some sort of superpower. The Creator has given you a divine gift. When it is used in and through your unique personality, abilities, and intellect, energized by his Holy Spirit, God will certainly produce supernatural results far above what you could ask for or imagine him to ever do.

Taken from NIV Believe


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The Woman of Endor



Her character: Compassionate to Saul on the eve of his death, she exercised power by acting as a medium.
Her sorrow: To have delivered a hopeless message to Israel’s king.
Key Scriptures: 1 Samuel 28:3-25

Her Story

It was a night for frightening apparitions. Squinting through the open doorway, the woman stiffened, retreating a step. A face loomed before her, floating on its own like a full white moon in the outer darkness. Before she could close the door, she felt fingers gripping her wrist.

“Please,” the voice insisted, “consult a spirit for me, and bring up for me the one I name.”

The large man pushed through the door, followed by two more men. She could smell his fear as he swept past her and sat down on the couch.

“Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?” she replied.

“As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this,” he swore.

“Whom shall I bring up for you?”

“Bring up Samuel,” he said.

So the woman sat down and yielded herself, making her soul a bridge for the dead to walk across.

Suddenly she screamed, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”

The king calmed her, saying, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”

“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.

Saul bowed down and prostrated himself, his face in the dirt.

Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”

“I am in great distress,” Saul replied. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”

Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has turned away from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines.”

The woman shuddered, the message delivered. Little wonder the king had seemed so desolate. Fear had crushed the life out of his once-strong face, hollowing the eyes, etching deep lines across cheeks and forehead.

Taking pity, she spoke to him: “Look, your maidservant has obeyed you. I took my life in my hands and did what you told me to do. Now please listen to your servant and let me give you some food so you may eat and have the strength to go on your way.”

Kindly, she served what may have been Saul’s last meal. The next day he was dead. Wounded in battle, he fell on his own sword, determined to finish the job before his enemies could reach him. True to form, Saul, who had always tried to control his destiny, controlled even the manner of his death. But he could not control what happened next. Discovering his body, the Philistines celebrated by severing his head and hanging it in the temple of their god. Then they tacked his naked corpse to the walls of a nearby town as a trophy. Israel’s first king had become a gruesome spectacle.

The woman of Endor is a strange character, steeped in the occult yet kind and motherly in her attitude toward the tormented king. For some reason, God allowed her to call up the prophet Samuel even though necromancy (conjuring spirits for the purpose of knowing or influencing future events) was strictly forbidden in Israel.

Perhaps she had become a medium because women in those days had so little power. Or perhaps it seemed an outlet for her helpful nature. But by yielding her soul to spirits, she was abusing herself in the deepest possible way, distorting her dignity as a person for the sake of obtaining power. How fitting that Saul, who had always tried to control the future, spent his last moments consulting her, breaking his own law in the process. Step-by-step, his insecurities had taken control of him, reducing his soul and disabling his ability to depend on God rather than on himself.

That night the woman of Endor had looked into the eyes of the most powerful man in Israel and had seen the terror there. Did the vision shake her? Did she recognize herself in him? Did her encounter with a true prophet cause her to forsake her trade as a medium? We have no idea what became of her. Sadly, her meeting with Saul marks one of the lowest moments in the life of Israel’s first king, revealing his disintegration as a man whose future was destroyed by disobedience.

Saul’s tragic ending reminds us that the antidote to fear is always trust. Only faith can cure our worst nightmares, and faith is a gift that is either fed by obedience or starved by disobedience. Forsaking our own desire to manipulate and control people and circumstances, we must trust God to use his power on our behalf.

Her Promise

In a backhanded sort of way, the woman of Endor reveals for us our need to trust God. As human beings, many of us are like Saul, afraid of the future, estranged from our loved ones and God, willing to go anywhere for help. But God is our only true source of help and comfort. He has promised to guide and direct us and plan our steps. He doesn’t promise to reveal the future to us, but he does promise to go with us as we step into it.

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