Archive for December, 2017

Compassion

JESUS SPEAKING

          And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.”  As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him.  Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him. Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”  Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.  And He said, “Where have you laid him?”  They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”  Jesus wept.  Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”  And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?” (John 11: 28-37.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

         Upon arriving, Jesus observed Mary and Martha weeping over the loss of their brother.  He was therefore filled with compassion and empathy; his heart was grieved, and he began weeping with them.  His tears however, weren’t shed for Lazarus (whom he would soon raise him from the dead); instead, Jesus cried because he shared in the pain of those who were mourning.  Concerning compassion, God has no equal; He’s filled with it.  Compassion is defined as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate their suffering.”

          One day I happened by a man named Eric.  He was sitting outside of a coffee shop, slouching in a chair; he looked more dead than alive.  His skin was pale and clammy, and he was sweating profusely.  His clothes were ragged, and he badly needed to shower.  Having witnessed his pain, my heart was moved with compassion.  I sat down and began talking with him.  He informed me that he was withdrawing from heroine and was very sick.  I took him out to eat and gave him some clean clothes.  I also spent some time ministering to him.  As his condition worsened, I drove him to the hospital.  I sat with him in the emergency room for hours; and even accompanied him in to see the doctor.  He was treated and released.  Before dropping Eric off, I bought him his prescription, and made sure he had enough food for the evening.  Nearly a year later, Eric showed up at the coffee shop to say hello.  He told me that after our interaction, he had nearly died of a heart infection and was hospitalized for an extended period of time.  He thanked me for my efforts, and said that without my assistance, he might not be alive.  He was grateful that (‘even when his friends had abandoned him’) someone had cared enough to help.  Despite thanking me, I reminded Eric that it was God who deserved the credit; for it was God who had filled my heart with compassion; and in turn, it was the Lord who had moved me to act.  Without God’s mercy and love, I would have kept walking, just like everyone else.

          Because Jesus Christ is filled with compassion, his followers share his emotions, cares, and concerns.  In turn, He moves human beings to accomplish great acts of mercy and love.  The closer we grow toward God, the more compassion we will feel for those who are hurting.  God carries the wounds of the world around with Him every day.   When a person is beaten, the creator feels every strike.  When someone is sick, our Father feels their pain.  When an individual is hurting, God inspires others to comfort them.  Wherever mercy and love abound, the Spirit of God is at work.  Where there is indifference and a lack of compassion, there is an absence of God.  There are so many broken people in this world who need to be loved.  May God’s compassion lead you to act; may you feel what God feels; may you see with His eyes; may you be filled with mercy, and may God use you to relieve the suffering of others.

          “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to know You and to be filled with compassion.  Inspire us; that our hearts may be sensitive to those who are hurting.  Give us the strength to be kind to those who are in need.  May we love our families, our friends, and even those considered to be complete strangers.  May we be used to express Your merciful benevolence.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Loving God’s Messengers

JESUS SPEAKING

  “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives Him who sent me.  He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward.  And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man’s reward.  And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward” (Mathew 10: 40 – 42.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

In the first century there were no computers or telephones; nor was there any formal postal service.  Therefore, long distance communication was carried out by personal messenger.  Generally, when the individual carrying a message had arrived, they were received warmly and treated with great love and respect (most were provided with food, water, and lodging.)  To disrespect and neglect a messenger was to disrespect and neglect the one who had sent him.

Many centuries before Jesus Christ arrived, there live a very powerful old testament prophet named Elijah.  Due to the wickedness of King Ahab, Elijah was forced to pronounce a drought upon the nation of Israel.  Eventually, the land became so dry that many began to starve.  During this time, God instructed the prophet to travel to a foreign land (where he was to lodge with a widow and her son.)  Upon arriving he asked the unfortunate woman for some bread.  She replied, saying, “I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son; that we may eat it, and die.”  Elijah replied saying, “Do not fear […] but make a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son for thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’”  The widow woman did as she was told and God continually filled the bin with flour and the jar with oil (because she had shown love toward God’s messenger, she also received his reward: as others died, the widow and her son remained unharmed.)

Each member of the body of Christ is a prophet; every priest, pastor, teacher, evangelist, and elder carries an important message from the Lord.  Those who love and care for God’s messengers, love and care for God Himself.  When we support a missionary we receive their blessings.  When we give to the church, we share in their labors, and reap their rewards.  When we serve those who serve God, we serve Jesus Christ.  Get involved at a church and ask how you can be of service; look for opportunities to love those who carry God’s message, and you will know the true riches of His mercy and grace.

“Lord Heavenly Father we desire to love those whom You have sent.  Provide us with opportunities to receive Your disciples, Your teachers, and Your prophets.  May we draw near to Your messengers, and give to those who faithfully serve You; that we might obtain the blessings You have so graciously bestowed upon them.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.”  God bless all of you.

Jesus Creates Division

JESUS SPEAKING

          “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!  But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!  Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth?  I tell you, not at all, but rather division.  For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three.  Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Luke 12: 49-53.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          Jesus corrected the commonly held belief that he came to bring peace to the earth; his real purpose was to give everyone the opportunity to choose their eternal destinations for themselves.  The baptism Jesus underwent on the cross divided the world in two; some have accepted his sacrifice and followed his teachings; still others believe he was just a man, and the cross has no meaning in their lives.  On this earth the strongest of all bonds exists within the family unit.  Loyalty among siblings is paramount; as is the fidelity between children and their parents; yet not even these sacred relationships can withstand the new order Christ’s sacrifice has produced; the believer’s new supreme allegiance belongs to the Son of God, and those who share this allegiance make-up, ‘The Body of Christ.’

          In the book of Luke, Jesus presented a man with the gospel, saying, “Follow me!”  The man responded, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  Jesus then replied, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you, go and preach the kingdom.”  Then another man came to him and said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”  Jesus responded saying, “No one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.”  In both cases Jesus caused turmoil and division; separating those who believe from those who do not.

          Jesus Christ is the prince of peace; however, he is also a sword that cuts the world in two.  He came to create unity amongst followers and division between those followers and everyone else.  Often, if we are at peace with the world, then we are in opposition to God.  Persecution is a very real part of genuine faith.  We will be divided from others and suffer many afflictions, but we will never be alone.  We must be strong for each other; as one body we can endure and overcome the world through the power of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

          “Lord Heavenly Father we ask that You give us the strength to step out in faith.  We desire to be Your followers; may we be filled with love, and may we never be ashamed of the truth.  May our allegiance to You and to Your Son be supreme; may we never put anyone ahead of You Lord.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name we pray.  Amen.”  God bless all of you!

Pride and Humility

JESUS SPEAKING

            “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank you that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.  ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18: 10-14.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            The Pharisees were the rigid religious leaders of the day.  They loathed sinners, and they loathed the impure.  They became angry when they heard that Jesus was eating with sinners (those who didn’t behave in Godly ways.)  The tax-collectors earned a living by cheating the people.  A tax-collector survived off of whatever amount of money they charged above the normal taxes.  So they were seen as traitors and thieves.  This was an illustration about humility.  The Pharisee believed that because he had done so many good things, he was righteous.  The tax collector however, feared God, and held God in high esteem; he couldn’t even lift his eyes up toward God, and was angry with himself for not having measured up to God’s standards.  In his reverence he asked God to show him mercy.  The one who was a screw-up was more acceptable to God than was the person who had been doing all of the right things, because the screw-up honored God and not himself.  One man exalted God, the other man exalted himself.  Jesus said the one who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

            In high school, I never liked to run in track; I pole-vaulted, but I never liked to run.  I avoided it like the plague.  I knew I wasn’t that fast of a sprinter, and I didn’t want anyone to see my weakness.  One time my coach told me I had to run or I would get kicked off of the team.  Everyone had to run, and it became common knowledge that I was disobeying the coach.  When I eventually ran, I lost horribly; someone later told me, “I heard Triganowen beat you,” some sophomore kid who wasn’t a starter on the football team.  Man did I feel less than low.  I was prideful, just like the Pharisee in this scripture.  Interestingly enough, on that same track team there was a boy named ‘Billy.’  He was mentally disabled.  He could run, but he couldn’t run fast.  His parents would drop him off for practice.  He wore coke-bottle glasses and had buck teeth.  He couldn’t carry on a conversation very well either.  He was an oddity to most people, because he showed up every day, and he worked hard to run faster.  He practiced to improve his speed even though it was at a snail’s pace; we knew he would never place in any race, but he would run for a different reason.  One day, the word went out, Billy was running in an event.  He ran, and as he did, people began to gather, and run beside him, and cheer him on.  The other teams were looking over at all of the excitement, but they didn’t understand what was happening.  This one little kid had an effect on my heart and on everyone on our team in a way that none of us had had on each other.  I now know that it was the humility in Billy that we were honoring.  Because he was weak but tried his best, we honored him.

            We as well as Christians should show similar humility.  We should never be focused on our own righteousness or on how good we are compared with others because in the end we are all nothing next to the righteousness of God.  We can’t honor God and honor ourselves at the same time.  God honors those who are humble, and he humbles those who are full of pride and self-righteousness.  Be the humble person.  Remember how merciful God has been to you, a ‘lowly sinner.’  Think of how Great God’s love for you is, in that, while you were still a sinner he died for you, and you will know the love and the joy of an all powerful God living within your heart.

            “Father, if there are areas of self-righteousness in us, we ask that You please reveal them and remove them from us.  Help us to lift you up, and to honor You and put You in the place of honor in our lives.  Help us also Lord, to not look down on the others, but to reach out to them in love.  We thank You Father, we love You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.


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