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I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. John 13:15 (NLT)

“And Jesus had compassion…”

Those words spring up throughout the ministry of Jesus while he was on earth. He had compassion on the woman caught red-handed in bed with a man she wasn’t married to.

He had compassion on the parent whose child had just died or was very sick.

He had compassion on the rich young ruler who, tried as he might, just couldn’t do what was necessary to receive the gift of eternal life. He just couldn’t let go.

He had compassion on the traitor who sold out to the enemy and, as a result, was a social outcast.

He had compassion on the person so steeped in religion that he couldn’t comprehend the simple steps it took to receive eternal life.

He had compassion on those who were his closest friends and yet were more concerned about their own status than they were their brother.

He had compassion on the guard that beat him nearly to death and then pounded huge spikes into his already pain-filled flesh.

“He had compassion….”

Why did Jesus have compassion on so many people that rejected him, either openly, or unintentionally? What drove him so such lengths to give his very life for the very people who thought they took it from him?

Jesus had compassion because he knew the Father and knew that the Father was, in his very essence, compassion. That is what drove Jesus to reach out to the weak, the frail, the sick and the rebellious. And that’s what drives Jesus to reach out to you. Not a single deserved the touch of Jesus compassion. Not a single person can repay him for what he did. Neither can you.

Jesus says to us, “Follow my example”, and when he does so he is asking…commanding us rather, to show compassion in the same way that he did.

Our reaction to those around us is a reflection of our view of God. If we see a god of revenge we will seek justice rather than mercy. If we see a god of anger we will respond to those who have hurt us in anger. If we see an unforgiving god we will refuse to forgive those who have hurt us. But if we see a God of compassion, we will respond to those around us as Jesus did.

PRAYER: Father, once again I am humbled as I approach your throne today. I confess that it is easy to show compassion to those I don’t know, or those who are like me and who are kind to me. It’s hard to show compassion to the ‘bad people’ around me, yet that is what you would do. Fill me today with the power from your Spirit to show compassion to those who need it the most. Thank you for the example you gave us in Jesus. In his name I pray, Amen.

 


When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Mark 6:34

Jesus had just received word that his cousin John had been brutally murdered by an evil King who was motivated by the jealous actions of his wife. We must never forget, when we read Bible passages, that these are real events in the lives of real people. What we read in the Bible are not just stories and fairy tales. The people involved had real feelings, got hungry, were lied to by friends, had financial hardship, got sick and all the other things you and me experience on an emotional plain.

Jesus was just a few months younger than John and I would imagine that even though they lived a distance apart, they saw each other often because Mary, Jesus’ mom, and Elizabeth, John’s mom, were very close.

Because of this you can well imagine the heartache and perhaps anger that Jesus felt when the word came to him. There was nothing fair about what happened to John. There was no justice in the palace. Only greed and power driven lust.

When the disciples returned from a preaching journey, Jesus suggested they get away and rest for awhile. He needed some time to mourn. They needed some time to rest from the rigors of ministry. Just a few days, maybe even a few hours.

We all know the feeling. Life gets so hectic. Things that hurt or disappoint us come and go with such haste that we barely have time to rest, time to think, time to mourn. The old adage ‘when it rains it pours’ is often very true. Calamity always seems to bring company.

They went to a quiet, solitary spot that Jesus and his disciples had visited before. It was on the far side of the lake, far from people, far from the hustle and bustle of life. But by the time they got there, word had spread of their approach. Rather than being met by a quiet spot by the lake, they were greeted by hundreds, maybe even thousands of people in need of Jesus’ touch.

He was tired. He was emotionally spent. He had compassion. Did you notice that? In the midst of Jesus’ despair and fatigue he had compassion on those who need his touch. Couldn’t it wait one day? Was anything so important that he had to be interrupted? Didn’t they realize that he had feelings too?

If you are ever up against the wall. If life seems to have put more on your plate than you can possibly handle. When people fail you (or you fail people). Remember this day in Jesus life. There is never a time when he is too tired or too distracted or too involved in other issues that he doesn’t have time for you.

Jesus will always have time for you regardless of how many times you come to him. Never let the enemy tell you otherwise.

PRAYER: Jesus, I thank you today for your love and compassion. I praise you for the truth that no matter what comes my way, you will always be there for me. Always willing to comfort, to guide, to forgive and to show compassion to me. Empower me by your Spirit to be able to rest in the comfort of your arms. In your name I pray, Amen.


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

At every funeral there are two, maybe three groups of people. The similarity of all these groups is sadness, with the most tears usually reserved for those who are closest to the one in the casket. Generally speaking you won’t notice a difference in any of the people on the outside. It’s what is on the inside that counts.

The defining characteristic of each person in the group, as well as the person in the casket isn’t about the things we can see with our senses. The defining characteristic for all of them is what is in the heart.

For those who are Christ-followers, those who have made a personal commitment to follow Him, those who have asked Him to forgive them of their sins, the grief is immense. But if the person who belonged to the body inside the casket is a Christ-follower as well, then they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, as sure as they see the trees in the cemetery, that one day they will be reunited.

There’s a second group of people. Death scares them. Might also say it scares the hell out of them, but it doesn’t. Death, according to the human mind-set is the end. They see no hope beyond the grave, no healing beyond the casket, no life outside this world.

In order to appease their fear they’ve made up all sorts of stories to soothe themselves. Stories like, ‘there’s no hell, a loving God would never send someone to hell’; or ’There is no god. What we see is what we get. Death is the end all of end alls. (no wonder these people feel hopeless); or there is the ‘There are other ways to heaven besides Jesus. I know some good people who are (name your own religion). All sorts of stories. All sorts of excuses and explanations. Yet nothing that fills the void.

The third group of people is much like the second, yet they may struggle with the biggest problem of all, the problem of doubt. Some of these people have gone to church all their lives. They’ve been baptized and confirmed and gone to Bible College. They teach Sunday school and give generously to charities. Some are pastors or church leaders doing marvelous things to help others. Yet deep inside there’s the constant, nagging question of ‘what if?’

Funerals aren’t about the dead. They are a reality check for the living. They are more intense because in them we see the pain we ourselves suffer. The feelings are more intense at a funeral, but on a much lesser scale we feel the same pain when a relationship fails, we see ourselves getting older and our dreams for life growing fainter, we see friends leave us and the things we once held dear fade away with changing society.

Jesus didn’t come to give us comfort and protection from earthly pain; He came to give us peace in the midst of it. The peace the world gives will one day pass away. What lives on will be our faith in Christ, our hope in eternity with Him and those we love, and love. The love of God that nothing can separate us from. Nothing.

If you were sitting at the funeral of a dearly loved Christ-follower today, which group would you be in? Would you weep and cry because you miss this dear friend, but know you will be reunited someday? Would you wonder (or hope) that someday you will see them again? Will you suffer the anguish of your soul because you have no hope?

It’s easy to be in group one. Jesus longs to forgive you of your past and side by side with you along this journey we call life. He’s waiting for you now.

PRAYER: Dear God. I’ve heard about You. I confess I don’t know if I believe in You or not. But death scares me. Not knowing what lies beyond the grave haunts me, but my past haunts me more. I have nothing to offer you. I have no excuse. I only ask that you forgive me of my sin in the name of Jesus. Fill my life with the peace that you promised me so that whether I live or die I know my place is with you for eternity. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

(In honor of my Uncle Al (1928-2010) a man of faith, integrity, love for his family, generosity and a love for his Savior. Someday I will see you again.)


The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. Psalm 145:14

What a marvelous promise from God! In verse 13 the Psalmist reminds us that the Lord is the same from generation to generation. The older I get the more I’m amazed at the amount of change going on around me.

When I was growing up portable phones were the sizes of suitcases and had a range of a few hundred feet. Now we can talk anywhere on little boxes that you can slip into your pocket. Not only that but our ‘phones’ surf the internet, take pictures, do business and most anything else you can imagine.

With all the change going on around us there is one constant. We serve a God that never changes. Technology changes. Political regions change. The environment changes. Relationships change. But God never changes, yet at the same time He remains relevant and in touch with everything that we see around us. He’s the only one that not only keeps up with technology, he’s ahead of the game!

When David wrote this song of praise he was writing to us, to believers and followers of Jesus Christ. He tells us that God ‘upholds all those who fall’. The word picture here is meant for those of us who struggle with life. We are tired. We are weak. We find ourselves doing the same destructive things over and over again.

The message is clear. When we fall, when we can’t seem to get the ‘Christian life’ right, He is there to hold us up. Our past can’t keep us down. Our human weakness can’t hold us back from following after Christ. We have a God that supports us.

The second message of this verse is that God ‘lifts up those who are bowed down’. He lifts those who are struggling under the burdens placed on us by others. He picks up the weary, the abused, the battered, the homeless and the grief stricken.

We serve and awesome, loving, compassionate God. The enemy would have you to believe you can’t go on. He’ll remind you of your mistakes. He’ll throw temptation and worry in your way. He’ll constantly try to keep you bound by guilt, shame and remorse. Don’t listen to the enemy’s lies about you. You are a child of the King! Adversity and failure will come, but God will always be there to lift you up.

Lean on your Heavenly Father. Feel His strong, loving arms lift you up. Rest in the promise that because of Him you are free. Truly free!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. I think of what this verse really means and I’m humbled, yet at the same time so encouraged. You know my weaknesses. You know the pain I’m under. You alone know the feelings I have of failure, guilt, and shame. I ask that you would help me to lean on you during the hard times. Help me feel your arms of love lifting me up when I can no longer stand alone. Thank you for Jesus love and forgiveness. Amen.


David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God. 1 Samuel 30:6

Imagine what it would be like to come home to find your home nothing more than a pile of smoldering rubble. Upon questioning neighbors you learn that your family has been kidnapped as well! In those few short moments you have lost everything that was once near and dear to you. Then, as though part of a horrible nightmare, people around you accuse you of being at fault for all of this tragedy!

This was the situation that King David faced in 1 Samuel 30:6. This was a time in David’s career when he was very popular among the people. He was just returning with his men from helping a neighboring King fight a battle. As the warriors came over the final hill they saw what was left of their city. It was nothing more than a pile of smoldering rubble.

The good news, if you can call it that, is that no one was killed. But where were the wives, the sons, the daughters? How many enemies had taken them? Then there was the sheer fatigue and anguish. The Bible says that the men cried until they could cry no more. In the midst of their anguish the men started to murmur against their leader. IF he hadn’t taken all of them off to battle this wouldn’t have happened. IF he’d left some men behind to guard the city they’d be sitting down to supper with their little boys and girls and getting a good night sleep in their own beds with the women they loved.

Their murmuring grew into threats and David soon heard that they were about to stone him! It’s hard to imagine what made David feel worse. Was it the fact that his own two wives were among the missing? Was it the fact that his own life was still in danger from Saul? Was it seeing these men, whom he loved in such anguish? Was it the ruins of his city? Perhaps it was the fact that these men, whom he loved dearly and whom he’d done so much for had now turned on him. All his training and protection and provision for them didn’t matter. In this time of crisis they turned their backs on the one that had done so much for them.

There are times in each of our lives when we may feel like David. We pour ourselves into the lives of others. We try to help them through times of need and struggle. It could be a friend, a child, a parent, or even a total stranger. But then something goes wrong and all of the sudden we are the ones to be blamed.

In the midst of his personal despair, at a time when he’d lost everything of physical value and now his closest friends had turned against him, David did what each of us must do when we are attacked. David turned to God. He got alone in a quiet place and asked God what he should do. He didn’t lash out at his attackers. He didn’t defend himself. He didn’t try to place the blame on God, the men themselves, or even the enemy. He met with God and formulated a plan to rescue the women, children and material possessions that had been taken.

When things go horribly wrong in your life, follow David’s example. First of all, don’t give up. Don’t let yourself get sucked into the ‘poor little old me’ mindset. Then, like David, pick yourself up and go to the one that will never leave you, never forsake you and always be a loyal, trusted friend. God allows adversity and tragedy in our lives in order to teach us to trust him and not men. He alone can bring you through whatever you are facing today. You may be betrayed by your closest friends, but God will never ever forsake you.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I thank you for the story of David. Thank you for the reminder that when those I thought were my closest allies fail me; I can always turn to you. Show me how I can trust you to resolve conflicts. Give me strength to pick myself up and move on. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to trust you in all things. Amen.

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