Isaiah 41:13-16 (NIV)

13 For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. 14 Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. 15 “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff.16 You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the LORD and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

Matthew 22:39 (KJV)

Love your neighbor as yourself.

DEVOTION – Neri R. Gattinoni (Chubut, Argentina)

My life was difficult.  My husband made me feel worthless.  He told me not to go to church because I was not worthy of Jesus’ love.  I began to believe him, and I stopped going to church.

A lovely woman from the church came to visit me.  During our conversation, she advised me to talk to the pastor about my situation.  In her sweet manner, she asked: “Neri, what was the first Bible verse you memorized?”

I responded, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  It became clear to me that I was not loving myself.”  I knew that changes had to be made in my life and in my children’s lives.

Later I read the passage from Isaiah that is our reading today and found the courage to put an end to a marriage that had entrapped me.  My children and I relocated to another city.  I began to breathe the fresh air of new life.

Today, one of my sons is studying for the ministry and the other son is a member of a musical group that leads worship in our church services.  I took a lay pastor’s course and have had many opportunities to put into practice what I have learned.  I give thanks to God for transforming my life, and I know I have God’s blessing.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God offers us freedom from all that limits and oppresses us.

PRAYER:  Dear God, thank you for your transforming love that brings us out of the despair of weakness and gives us strength to overcome adversity. Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: People In Abusive Marriages