November 3, 2006

 

Encouragement for Today

 

Principle 7

 

“Lost in a Crowd”

Susanne Scheppmann, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member, Co-editor Online Devotions

 

Key Verse:

Matthew 9:36-38, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (NIV)

                         

Devotion:

Leslie sprawled across my family room floor in the midst of our small group for high school girls. Her waist-length blonde hair wrapped across her bare midriff. Her pose struck me as seductive and I wondered where she would land in life.

 

Although not a regular member of the youth group, Leslie visited occasionally. I knew she drank vast amounts of alcohol and flirted with drugs. She told us that she had been sexually active since she was fourteen. She continually attempted to shock us. However, the girls chose to accept her into the group.

 

One evening she knocked at the door. We all gasped in surprise. Her beautiful Repunzel hair was chopped off and dyed jet black. Her eyes were red and swollen from crying. She told us her father became enraged at her. For punishment, he had cut her hair. In teenage retaliation, she dyed it black. 

 

We tried to comfort her to the best of our ability, but a new bitter hardness peered from her blue eyes. Once again, she felt lost even in the crowded room of girls. She came to   our meetings sporadically over the next several weeks and, as the adult leader, I counseled with her personally. Still, I could feel her withdrawing.  

 

I told Leslie that Jesus loved her. Unlike her father, He had compassion. Unlike her father, He could love her unconditionally. She wouldn’t or couldn’t believe these biblical truths. Her home life continued to worsen as did her destructive behaviors. 

 

The last time I saw Leslie, she had run away from home. She was living on the streets, lost in the crowd of runaway teens who were looking for unconditional love. She called to see if I could bring her some food. I gathered some sandwiches, chips, and cookies. She met me on a corner. As her thin arm reached eagerly for the sack lunch, my heart ached for Leslie. I tried to coax her to come home with me, but she vowed she could live on her own. Sadly, I left her to cope with life as a runaway. 

 

In our Key Verse today we saw that Jesus had compassion on the crowds. It didn’t matter to Him that they were dirty, uncouth, and sinful. His heart longed to be the Shepherd who would guide and care for them. Today let’s ask Jesus to give us love and compassion for those who do not fit into the image of our favorite people. Let’s step out of our Christian bubble into the crowds of lost people who filter through our day-to-day lives.

 

And if you happened to meet a young woman named Leslie from Las Vegas, would you tell her Jesus loves her and offer her something to eat?

 

My Prayer for Today:

Dear Lord, give me the ability to love those who are helpless and harassed. Grant me a heart of compassion so that I can point the lost to You, the Good Shepherd. Teach me to step out of my comfort zone to those lost in the crowd. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Application Steps:  

Read Matthew 9. Make a list of all the different types of people Jesus helped that day. Make a second list of people who you know that could use your compassion and love to help point them to the Good Shepherd. Then make an effort to contact them with a measure of Christ’s love.

 

Reflection Points: 

Do I stay in a Christian bubble each day?

 

Do I think harsh thoughts about people like Leslie?

 

Do I know someone lost in the crowd that I have ignored?

 

Power Verses:

James 2:13, “. . . Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (NIV) 

 

Matthew 14:14, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (NIV)

 

Mark 1:40-41, “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" (NIV) 

 

Micah 6:8, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV) 

 

Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (NIV) 

 

Additional Resources: 

Sandpaper People by Mary Southerland

 

The P31 Woman Magazine

 

The Gift of Prayer, ETC Corner