Posts Tagged ‘Compassion

10
Jan
17

The Heart Of The Matter

We get so caught up in the outward appearances of things that we forget that God’s primary concern is the condition of our hearts.  We’ll dress up on the outside, but never clean up the inside.  We’re not much different than the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.  Over and over He chastised them for their outward shows of religion and strict adherence to the Law without any concern for people and their predicaments.  Their hearts, though, were far from God.  On two occasions in the book of Matthew, Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6, which reads:

I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know Me
more than I want burnt offerings. (NLT)

We can bring sacrifices of praise and tithes and offerings to the Lord’s storehouse, but never understand what being a Christian is really all about.  Does it please God if we can sing peppy worship songs and timeless hymns, but despise our brothers and sisters in Christ?  Is God happy when we strictly tithe our salaries and income yet hate our neighbors and enemies?  Will God notice perfect worship attendance and daily Bible readings and prayers if we are not compassionate towards those who are suffering and those who are far from Him?  There is a difference between knowing God and going to church.  I believe that we need to worship corporately and be edified by teaching from God’s Word.  But if we are merely trying to earn perfect attendance certificates for our worship attendance and the message never hits home or goes to our hearts, then we have big problems.  God wants a relationship with you more than He wants your money.  He wants a compassionate heart that beats for others more than He wants your sacrifices of praise and worship.  Our giving and our praises please Him more when they flow from a grateful heart for what He has done for us through His Son.  May our gratitude overflow into our hearts and change the way we see others and give us a desire to truly know God.

PRAYER: Lord God Almighty, I want to know You today. I don’t want to merely know about You. I want to know You as my Father, my Savior, my King and my Friend. Help me to know You more each day starting today. I ask this in Jesus’ name, amen.

29
Dec
16

The Church Needs To Look More Like Jesus

John 7:14-24 (NIV)

Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”
16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”
20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”
21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

Jesus’ words here go back to John 5. Jesus healed a paralyzed man on the Sabbath. Verse 16 of John 5 said that the Jews persecuted Jesus because He healed the man on the Sabbath. Verse 18 said that they were trying even harder to kill Him. It wasn’t just because He healed the man on the Sabbath, but because He was calling God His Father, which according to John 5:18 meant that He was making Himself equal with God. In other words, in their minds, Jesus was guilty of blasphemy.
I believe that Jesus teaches us a vital principle of the Kingdom of God here in chapter 7. People matter more than rules. He was calling the Jewish leaders who were trying to kill Him hypocrites because they would work on the Sabbath in order to not break the law of Moses regarding circumcision, but were trying to kill Him because He compassionately healed a man on the Sabbath. Their hypocrisy ran deep and their compassion was shallow. They loved rules more than people.
I think that God loves people more than our self-imposed rules. The 21st century church has to get back to the heart of Jesus’ ministry and that means loving people more than our man-made rules. We have to care about people more than our by-laws. I’m not talking about watering down or disobeying the Word of God. The Bible is God’s Word and it is the authority for our lives and how we do church. But when we elevate our man-made rules to the level of Scripture, we’re on very thin ice. I am convinced that God doesn’t care about our membership rolls as much as He does about lost people. He doesn’t care about who gets to use our buildings as much as He does about who we exclude from our fellowship because they don’t quite look like “us.” God only cares about our budgets when they don’t reflect His heart that beats for the broken. If we will not love like Jesus loved and care like He cared, then God wants nothing to do with us. When we are more worried about being “right” than we are about helping people get right with God by His grace, then we are wrong.
PRAYER: Father, forgive us when we don’t love like Jesus. Forgive us when we don’t reflect His compassion to a lost and dying world. Forgive us for our callous attitudes toward those who don’t know You yet. Have mercy on us, O God. We have wandered so far away from what Jesus wanted His church to look like. May we look more like Him in 2017. Amen.
13
Sep
16

Loving The Doubters

Be merciful to those who doubt — Jude 1:22 (NIV)

As Christians, we are going to meet people in life who do not believe in Christ.  They, like so many, doubt the existence of a loving, personal God.  They doubt that Jesus was who He said He was.  They doubt that the Resurrection ever took place.  They doubt that they could be forgiven from their sins and transgressions.  They doubt that Jesus is returning.  They doubt the existence of heaven and hell.  Oftentimes our first inclination is to debate the doubters.  Jude tells us something different — love them.  Have mercy on them.  Be compassionate towards them.

The Greek word translated as “be merciful” means to have compassion on those who doubt.  To remember our own doubts before we came to faith.  To remember the doubts that we’ve had since coming to faith in Christ.  To empathize with those who have not yet come to faith in Jesus.  Let’s face it, we’ve all had moments of doubt.  Even those with the strongest faith can feel their knees buckle from time to time when the storms of life blow hard against us.  Rather than punishing those who doubt and whose faith may waver, we should deal gently with them.  We should extend grace and mercy to those who are dealing with doubt.  To mercifully help bring or restore someone to faith is far better than debating or shaming them into hell.

PRAYER: Help me to remember, O Lord, that I need mercy when I doubt. Help me to be merciful to those who are struggling with doubts. Thank You for saving me and forgiving me through Jesus. Amen.

25
Jun
16

The Father’s Heart

The Father’s Day (June 19, 2016) message from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.  The accompanying video is found here –>  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2G8KVzTwfw

29
Jan
16

Plenty

It’s hard to trust God, isn’t it?  We have a head knowledge that He has said He will provide for our needs.  We want to believe it.  We try so hard to trust Him when He says, “I will provide.”  But connecting the head with the heart is difficult.  There is a story in the book of Matthew where Jesus provides for the needs of people.

Then Jesus called his disciples and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way.”  The disciples replied, “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?”  Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”  They replied, “Seven loaves, and a few small fish.”
So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground.  Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd.  They all ate as much as they wanted. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food.  There were 4,000 men who were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children.

– Matthew 15:32-38 (NLT)

Jesus had compassion on the people.  He felt sorry for them.  He saw them in their helpless, hungry state and felt for them.  So Jesus did what Jesus does.  He was moved to action.  He did something about their situation and lovingly provided for their needs.

He still does the same thing for us today.  When we are in a helpless situation, He helps.  When we are hopeless, He gives hope.  When we are hungry, He provides.  He loves us and has compassion for us.  He knows that we are weak and frail.  It is in our weakness that He demonstrates His incalculable strength.  He not only provides, but He abundantly provides!  He gives us so much more than we could ever ask or hope for!

Oh that we would learn to trust Him to provide!  Oh that we would know His compassion and love!  Oh that we would sense His strength and power in our lives!  May His loving presence in your life give you peace today.

PRAYER: Father, help me to trust You today.  Amen.

When is it hardest for you to trust God?

How does this story of Jesus’ compassion for people give you hope and comfort today?

What is one area of your life that you need to trust God with today (family, finances, relationships)?

21
Oct
15

The Compassionate Love Of God

1 Kings 17:17-24 (NIV)

Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. 18 She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”

19 “Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. 20 Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” 21 Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!”

22 The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived.23 Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!”

24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.”

 

God is compassionate toward people.  In 1 Kings 17:17-24, Elijah is still staying with the Phoenician widow and her son.  He becomes quite ill and eventually dies.  This is after God has spared their lives through the miraculous supply of oil and flour in a time of severe drought.  Why would her son die now?  Was it for the purpose of another miracle?  Was it to inspire faith in this widow and her son and even Elijah?  We’re not told the reason why, but even Elijah was confused and questioned the reasoning behind the death of her son.

God, though, was not done.  Elijah, in a moment of great faith, lays down on top of her son three times and asks the Lord to restore life to the boy (he was young enough that she had been carrying him according to verse 19).  God has compassion on them all and raises the boy back to life.  God had demonstrated his power over disease, death and most importantly, Baal.  God’s power was not limited to the physical land of Israel.  His compassionate love was not limited to those who were His chosen people.  God poured out His love on this widow and her son by taking pity on them and giving life to the dead.

God’s compassionate love is still evident today through the cross of Christ.  His power to give life to those spiritually dead in their sins and transgressions happens every time someone is washed in the blood of the Lamb.  His compassion on those who cry out to Him in prayer is evident with every answer.  His love is evident as He works all things together for good for those who love Him and who seek to do His will.  How have you seen the compassionate love of the Lord in your own life?  How has His love inspired faith in you to believe that He is God and that Jesus is His Son?  May you rise up from the dead as this widow’s son arose that day and know that the Lord is God and that He loves you with a deep, compassionate love.

PRAYER: Help me to know You and to experience Your love in my life, O God.  Remind me of Your compassionate love toward me throughout this day.  Help me to believe, for my faith is sometimes weak.  Help me to love You and others.  In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.

07
Oct
15

What God Hates

In Proverbs 6, we see that there are seven things that God hates and finds detestable:

haughty eyes – this has to do with pride
a lying tongue – God hates lying, hence the command, “Thou shall not bear false witness.”
hands that shed innocent blood – God hates murder, hence the command, “Thou shall not kill.”
a heart that devises wicked schemes – a wicked heart that plots and plans evil
feet that are quick to rush into evil – feet that carry out those wicked plans
a false witness who pours out lies – a second reference to lying (He must really hate lies)
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers – those who cause division among people – side note: the only time in the New Testament that Christians are told to remove someone from their fellowship is when that person causes division in the church and only after warning them twice – Titus 3:10-11, NIV).

I think that it is clear that God hates sin.  Whether it is lies, pride, murder or division, God hates all sin.  He hates it enough that He sent Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice that could bring about our salvation.  What amazing grace and love God must have for us!  God could have left us to die in our sins.  He could have said, “They are too rebellious.  They are too wicked.  They are too evil!”  He could have said, “They can die in their sin.  I will punish them for all eternity.”  What God said was, “I love them too much!  I can’t just let them die in their sin.  I will save them for all eternity.”  That’s what He did.  He hates sin with holy passion, but He loves sinners with amazing compassion.  Know that God hates our sin, but that He loves us even more.
PRAYER: God, I know that You hate sin, but that You love me.  Help me to love You more and to love my neighbor as myself that the sin in me might be done away with.  Thank You for saving me by Your grace through Your Son, Jesus.  In His name I pray, amen.



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