Tag Archives: compassion

Prayer of the Day – 10-12-2014


Deitrich Bonhoffer used to say that the Psalms were the prayerbook of the Bible.  In Psalm 150, we see the Spirit of prayerful praise, uttered with every word.

Try repeating this passage back to God several times today and see if it doesn’t lift you up…

stories of faith

1Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.#

Praise ye…: Heb. Hallelujah
2Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
3Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.#

trumpet: or, cornet
4Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.#

dance: or, pipe
5Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
6Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.
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Who Do You Love ?


I John 4:7-8 (KJV)

7     Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

8     He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

In the First General Epistle of John, we are told of the nature of love and challenged to love some who might seem to you to be “unlovable.”  If we don’t have love, John asserts, we do not have God in us!  This is why I have a hard time accepting the so-called Christian-based hate groups.  I am confident that John would agree, if you “hate” or persecute those who worship differently than you, you do not know God!  If you go out of your way to make it difficult for others, you do not know God!  Love is not like that, hatred is.

We need to reexamine our motives in all areas of our life, to see if it is love-based or some other agenda.  Compare the scriptures to see if your brand of “love” shows God shining out from the center.

I am writing this blog after suffering several medical setbacks, and I feel like I am approaching my former condition.  I intend to resume regular blogging soon.  Therefore, all comments, pro or con will be appreciated.  Please feel free to open up…

Thank you and special thanks to our Father.

Compassion: A Fourteen-day Journey- Finalé


1John 5:13-18 NKJV

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These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue  to believe in the name of the Son of God. Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which  does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death. We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.

Graceful Correction
John tells his readers that out of the confidence we have in Jesus, out of the knowledge we have of eternal life in him, we also have the certainty that he will answer the prayer that is prayed in accordance with his will. And we know that he is not willing that “any should be lost” (Mt 18:14). John tells us then, according to 1 John 5:16, that those who are in Christ have been entrusted the responsibility to pray for their brothers and sisters. Sometimes we see a person who has departed from the truth; we are told to pray for that person. This needs to be a matter not of self-righteous judgment or smug superiority but of sacrificial love for one another. Sin is not trivial; it hurts and destroys. Just as we long for prayer support when we are tempted, so we ought to pray for others who are in trouble. We extend grace to them, while also expecting accountability.
Pastor and author Timothy J. Keller talks about the necessity of modeling God’s grace in the context of extending aid to the needy. While the situation is different, the concept of non judgmentalh stewardship is the same.

Grace is not unconditional acceptance, but it is undeserved. That is a very difficult balance to strike! God’s grace comes to us without perquisites, finding us as we are. God’s grace does not come to the “deserving” (there is no such person), and it does not discriminate. Rather, initially, it comes to us freely. But once it enters into our lives, God’s grace demands change; it holds us accountable. Why? Grace demands our holiness and growth for our sake as well as for God’s glory. Grace intercepts destructive behavior, protects us from the ravages of sin, sanctifies us so we can be “holy and happy,” two inseparable qualities.

In summary, grace is undeserved caring that intercepts destructive behavior. It is not unconditional acceptance, nor is it legalism that says, “Shape up or I will stop loving you.” Rather it says, “Your sin cannot separate you from me,” and then, in addition, says, “I won’t let your sin destroy you.” Grace comes to the unlovely person, but refuses to let him remain ugly. Grace begins as “justification,” a free act of God alone, but it becomes “sanctification,” a process by which the person cooperates with God in spiritual growth.

The concept can be applied to many areas. In childrearing books there is much talk about “striking a balance between love and discipline,” as if the two were opposed. But this false tension is resolved with an understanding grace. Grace means getting involved, protecting the child from destructive behavior, continuing to do that despite the child’s lack of “deserving,” and doing so consistently, not sloppily or haltingly.

Compassion: A Fourteen-Day Journey #12


The Love of Jesus

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Daryl G Stewart

All the Gospel accounts relate the stories of Jesus feeding the thousands, exhibiting the profound love and compassion he had for all people. Stewardship writer Luther E. Lovejoy (1864-1936) expands that thought.

The motive that most deeply touched the people of his day, the one that keeps his memory green in a troubled world, was his compassion. He was full of pity; sensitive with sympathy for the vague soul hunger and the physical suffering all about him. The miracles that drew the curious multitudes had, no doubt, their evidential value; but their strange variation from other miracles of legend or Scripture is the fact that they are performed for the relief of suffering Pity for the blind eyes, the deaf ears, the paralyzed limbs, the epileptic nerves, the leprosy-polluted bodies, the fevered children.

Behind this motive of compassion was the deeper motive of love. As no other man had ever been able to do, he saw the actual potential worth in men and loved them for what they were How much more, those who reciprocated his affection and gave up all for him! To such he declared: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” The depth of this love he demonstrated when he laid down “his life for his friends” The Christian steward who does not share it is not a steward; he is a servant.

Lovejoy goes on to cite some of the missionaries and social reformers who have imitated the love of Christ.
David Livingstone, from the hour when his youthful imagination beheld Robert Moffatt’s “smoke from a thousand villages whose inhabitants had never heard of Jesus” to the somber twilight in his premature old age when, fever-consumed and death-smitten, he staggered into Chitambo’s village in Ilala, there to breathe out his dying prayer for Africa, is an illustration. Francis Xavier, on his face before God, crying: “More Lord, more; only save thy pagan children”; George Whitfield’s “Lord, give me souls or take my soul,” tell us how, in multiplied instances, God’s faithful stewards have held their lives “not dear unto themselves”ÉAnd time would have us to recall the yearning of Wilberforce and of Lincoln for the bondsmen of their day, of Shaftsbury for the child toilers of England, of Pitkin for the savage Boxers who murdered him, of Bashford for the millions of China, of Carey and Judson, and Thoburn and Fish for the sorrowing masses of India. Suffice it to remember that, in tune with the measureless love of Jesus for men, they offered the stewardship of time and talents and energies, that they might render to men the highest good.

LUKE 9:10-17 NKJV

And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing. When the day began to wear away, the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding towns and country, and lodge and get provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.” But He said to them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. Then He said to His disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of fifty.”  And they did so, and made them all sit down. Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them.

Compassion: A Fourteen Day Journey – Day 12


LUKE 9:10-17 NKJV – And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing. When the day began to wear away, the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding towns and country, and lodge and get provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.” But He said to them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. Then He said to His disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of fifty.”  And they did so, and made them all sit down. Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them.

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The Love of Jesus

All the Gospel accounts relate the stories of Jesus feeding the thousands, exhibiting the profound love and compassion he had for all people. Stewardship writer Luther E. Lovejoy (1864-1936) expands that thought.

The motive that most deeply touched the people of his day, the one that keeps his memory green in a troubled world, was his compassion. He was full of pity; sensitive with sympathy for the vague soul hunger and the physical suffering all about him. The miracles that drew the curious multitudes had, no doubt, their evidential value; but their strange variation from other miracles of legend or Scripture is the fact that they are performed for the relief of sufferingÉPity for the blind eyes, the deaf ears, the paralyzed limbs, the epileptic nerves, the leprosy-polluted bodies, the fevered childrenÉ

Behind this motive of compassion was the deeper motive of love. As no other man had ever been able to do, he saw the actual potential worth in men and loved them for what they wereÉHow much more, those who reciprocated his affection and gave up all for him! To such he declared: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” The depth of this love he demonstrated when he laid down “his life for his friends”ÉThe Christian steward who does not share it is not a steward; he is a servant.

Lovejoy goes on to cite some of the missionaries and social reformers who have imitated the love of Christ.
David Livingstone, from the hour when his youthful imagination beheld Robert Moffatt’s “smoke from a thousand villages whose inhabitants had never heard of Jesus” to the somber twilight in his premature old age when, fever-consumed and death-smitten, he staggered into Chitambo’s village in Ilala, there to breathe out his dying prayer for Africa, is an illustration. Francis Xavier, on his face before God, crying: “More Lord, more; only save thy pagan children”; George Whitfield’s “Lord, give me souls or take my soul,” tell us how, in multiplied instances, God’s faithful stewards have held their lives “not dear unto themselves”ÉAnd time would have us to recall the yearning of Wilberforce and of Lincoln for the bondsmen of their day, of Shaftsbury for the child toilers of England, of Pitkin for the savage Boxers who murdered him, of Bashford for the millions of China, of Carey and Judson, and Thoburn and Fish for the sorrowing masses of India. Suffice it to remember that, in tune with the measureless love of Jesus for men, they offered the stewardship of time and talents and energies, that they might render to men the highest good.

Hearing God Speak #7 – “Finalé”


2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

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All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

That is a remarkable phrase: “every good work”! Everything good that God expects us to do, the Scriptures equip us to do. That is an amazing claim. How does it work? How does the Bible equip us for “every good work”?

It’s not by supplying specific lists that cover all possible situations. Thinking that way would be a mistake in two ways. It would be a mistake because there are hundreds of specific situations we are in that the Bible does not specifically address. There were no TVs, computers, cars, phones, birth control pills, Prozac, genetic engineering, respirators, bullets, bombs in Jesus’;s day. The Bible does not equip us for every good deed by telling us the specific choice to make for every new situation.

The other reason it would be a mistake to think that way is that it leads straight to legalism — doing things because of outward conformity to a demand in the hope that performance will win approval. That is not Christian morality. Good works are done from a heart that treasures God and his help, and from a heart that loves to display the glory of Christ, else the good works are not good, no matter how they conform to external expectations.

The Scripture, day after day, reveals to us the greatness and the beauty and the power and the wisdom and the mercy of all that God is for us in Christ so that by the power of the Spirit we find our joy in him, and the ways of sin become distasteful —indeed ugly and repugnant. Yes the Bible gives us many specifics as pointers how to live. But most deeply the way the Bible equips us for every good work is by changing what we find satisfaction in so that our obedience comes from within freely, not by coercion from without. It does this when we read it and meditate on it and memorize it and meditate over it every day.

©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Find many other free resources by John Piper at desiringGod.org

Compassion: A Fourteen-Day Journey #9


The Socioeconomics of Justice and Righteousness

This is only one of many Old Testament passages calling for the combination of justice and righteousness. Justice makes sense to us, but the concept of righteousness has become so spiritualized that we sometimes find it difficult to grasp. This passage helps clarify for us the connection between these Biblical terms and, more explicitly, economic social issues.
Jeremiah 21:11-12 connects faith and finances; justice and righteousness equate to the rescuing the poor and oppressed who have been robbed and exploited (cf. Jer 22:3). In contrast, injustice and unrighteousness describe the king’s extravagant lifestyle–to reach what he wants, he can’t avoid stepping on others (see Jer 22:13).
But there is also a clear social significance to this pairing of justice and righteousness. The passage draws an interesting connection between the way we deal with the poor and the way God deals with us. We tend to assess ourselves according to the quality of our connections with the rich and powerful, but God judges us specifically by how we relate to the poor and oppressed (see Jer 22:3-5).
The following paragraphs from economist Philip Booth introduce a discussion of Catholic social teaching in the light of economic reasoning. Booth points out the complexities of the issues, cautioning Christians not to oversimplify the dynamic interplay of religion/faith and economic/social policy.

It might be thought that economic considerations should feature only in a minor way in a Christian analysis of policy. Moral, philosophical, or theological considerations may be regarded as paramount. To think this way would be a serious mistake. Some Christians seem to wish to assume away certain economic laws when developing policies in areas such as the minimum wage or the provision of foreign aid. This is as sensible as assuming away the laws of gravity when considering the moral case for punishment by hanging.

We should also be careful before casually using words like “moral” and “just” to describe our favoured political policies. Those words have a powerful meaning and they should not be used without care. This is particularly so in the analysis of economic and political polices requiring compulsory redistribution of income or wealth through taxation. The issues are much more subtle than we think We should also be cautious before we proceed to implement such polices lest we undermine the love and charity present when assistance is provided to those in need through an act of free will, uncoerced by the state.

JER 21:11-14 NKJV

“And concerning the house of the king of Judah, say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord , O house of David! Thus says the Lord : “Execute judgment in the morning; And deliver him who is plundered Out of the hand of the oppressor, Lest My fury go forth like fire And burn so that no one can quench it, Because of the evil of your doings. “Behold, I am against you, O inhabitant of the valley, And rock of the plain,” says the Lord , “Who say, ‘Who shall come down against us? Or who shall enter our dwellings?’ But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings,” says the Lord ; “I will kindle a fire in its forest, And it shall devour all things around it.” ’ ”

JER 22:1-30 NKJV

Thus says the Lord : “Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and there speak this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord , O king of Judah, you who sit on the throne of David, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates! Thus says the Lord : “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you indeed do this thing, then shall enter the gates of this house, riding on horses and in chariots, accompanied by servants and people, kings who sit on the throne of David. But if you will not hear these words, I swear by Myself,” says the Lord , “that this house shall become a desolation.” ’ ” For thus says the Lord to the house of the king of Judah: “You are Gilead to Me, The head of Lebanon; Yet I surely will make you a wilderness, Cities which are not inhabited. I will prepare destroyers against you, Everyone with his weapons; They shall cut down your choice cedars And cast them into the fire. And many nations will pass by this city; and everyone will say to his neighbor, ‘Why has the Lord done so to this great city?’ Then they will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshiped other gods and served them.’ ” Weep not for the dead, nor bemoan him; Weep bitterly for him who goes away, For he shall return no more, Nor see his native country. For thus says the Lord concerning Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned instead of Josiah his father, who went from this place: “He shall not return here anymore, but he shall die in the place where they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more. “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness And his chambers by injustice, Who uses his neighbor’s service without wages And gives him nothing for his work, Who says, ‘I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers, And cut out windows for it, Paneling it with cedar And painting it with vermilion.’ “Shall you reign because you enclose yourself in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink, And do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy; Then it was well. Was not this knowing Me?” says the Lord . “Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness, For shedding innocent blood, And practicing oppression and violence.” Therefore thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: “They shall not lament for him, Saying, ‘Alas, my brother!’ or ‘Alas, my sister!’ They shall not lament for him, Saying, ‘Alas, master!’ or ‘Alas, his glory!’ He shall be buried with the burial of a donkey, Dragged and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem. “Go up to Lebanon, and cry out, And lift up your voice in Bashan; Cry from Abarim, For all your lovers are destroyed. I spoke to you in your prosperity, But you said, ‘I will not hear.’ This has been your manner from your youth, That you did not obey My voice. The wind shall eat up all your rulers, And your lovers shall go into captivity; Surely then you will be ashamed and humiliated For all your wickedness. O inhabitant of Lebanon, Making your nest in the cedars, How gracious will you be when pangs come upon you, Like the pain of a woman in labor? “ As I live,” says the Lord , “though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off; and I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life, and into the hand of those whose face you fear—the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of the Chaldeans. So I will cast you out, and your mother who bore you, into another country where you were not born; and there you shall die. But to the land to which they desire to return, there they shall not return. “Is this man Coniah a despised, broken idol— A vessel in which is no pleasure? Why are they cast out, he and his descendants, And cast into a land which they do not know? O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the Lord ! Thus says the Lord : ‘Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.’ ”

JER 23:1-8 NKJV

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the Lord . Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the Lord . “But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,” says the Lord . “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord , “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE Lord OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. “Therefore, behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord , “that they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the north country and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ And they shall dwell in their own land.”

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Compassion: A 14-day Journey #8


True Religion

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This beautiful piece of prophetic poetry speaks against religious practices that are not grounded in love for God and care for the needy (cf. Mt 22:34-40). The test of any church program or religious activity is whether it effectively reflects personal transformation; in other words, do social justice, generosity and personal holiness proceed from this program or practice (see Mt 23:23; Jas 1:27)? If our engagement with “church” fails to produce compassionate communities and holy individuals, we won’t be trusted when we claim God’s love or Christ’s name (see 1Co 11:17-22; Jas 2:1-4, 14-19; 1Jn 3:16-18). In the words of veteran Bible expositor J. Alec Motyer, we must rid ourselves of the false assumption that we can be “truly religious and socially indifferent” at the same time.
In his preface to a text on Catholic social teaching, law professor Leonard P. Liggio reflects on the reality that the budgetary crises of the developed countries require the withdrawal of the state from many activities undertaken in the confusions of boundless expectations. The new realities mean a return to self-involvement of citizens in the affairs that their health, retirement, and so on. Of the many areas education may be the most important. It is the education of our children upon which the future of the economy and of the resources for the health and pensions of older generations will depend. Yet the recognized shortcomings of the state education system, especially for the disadvantaged for whom it was especially introduced, seem the most difficult to resolve owing to entrenched structures.

Among the private initiatives in the 21st century will be the increased attention charity by the better off. In the USA there continues to be an expansion of charity. Those with middle class as well as higher incomes and wealth observe the private institutions that are offering assistance and make their charitable judgments on the basis of their attention to these instructions. Many people are participating as volunteers in the assistance programmes. Some are dedicated to moving the disadvantaged from static welfare to the dynamic of self-help. The Christian is motivated by compassion to assist the disadvantaged to achieve the dignity of labour Where the state withdraws it gives room for voluntary, Christian initiative to “breathe.” This is not so just in the spheres of welfare and charity, but in the cultural sphere too.

Christian financial stewardship leader Howard Dayton leaves us with some food for thought about the issue: “In some mysterious way that we cannot fully comprehend, Jesus personally identifies with the poor. Do you want to minister to Christ? You do so when you give to the poor. If that truth is staggering, then the reciprocal is terrifying. When we do not give to the poor, we leave Christ Himself hungry and thirsty.”

ISAIAH 58:1-914 NKJV

“Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek Me daily, And delight to know My ways, As a nation that did righteousness, And did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; They take delight in approaching God. ‘Why have we fasted,’ they  say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’ “In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, And exploit all your laborers. Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you  do this day, To make your voice heard on high. Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is  it to bow down his head like a bulrush, And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, And an acceptable day to the Lord ? “ Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is  it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am. ’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your  own words, Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord ; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

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Compassion: A Fourteen-Day Journey # 7


Stewardship of Relationship – Love

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First Corinthians 13, the memorable “love chapter,” is the obvious New Testament analogue of this passage in Song of Songs. Although feelings of love tend to be strong in the beginning of a romance, it takes work to nurture and mature the love relationship. Consider the beautiful manifestation of unselfishness at the end of the following illustration, which editors and movie analysts Craig Brian Larson and Andrew Zahn describe as follows:

In the movie Family Man, Jack Campbell (played by Nicholas Cage) is the successful president of an investment house in New York City–and he’s happily single. He has everything, or so he thinks, including a sports car and a radiant girlfriend. But on Christmas morning the world turns upside down. He wakes up in a “what if?” scenario, finding himself twelve years into marriage with his college sweetheart and two small children. He desperately tries to rediscover his old life but in the process begins to find out what he’s really been missing all these years. In particular, he finds that living life for yourself alone is not as fulfilling as living your life for others.

Toward the end of the movie Jack discusses with his wife a job opportunity that would revive some of his former glory. Taking the job would mean a big move for the family, but Kate (played by Te‡ Leoni) says she’s willing to make a sacrifice for the sake of the family–a defining moment that helps Jack see what marriage is all about. Kate makes this declaration: “Maybe I was being na.ve, but I believed that we would grow old together in this house. That we’d spend holidays here and have our grandchildren come visit us here. I had this image of us all gray and wrinkly and me working in the garden and you repainting the deck. Things change. If you need this, Jack, if you really need this–I’ll take these kids from the life they love, and I’ll take myself from the only home we’ve ever known together, and I’ll move wherever you need to go. I’ll do that because I love you. I love you. And that’s more important to me than our address. I choose us.”

Theologian Kenneth Boa, in a discussion of the stewardship of relationships, refers to an illustration of a poignant, real-life boyhood experience:

In The Effective Father, Gordon McDonald relates a story about James Boswell, the famous biographer of Samuel Johnson. Boswell often referred to a childhood memory of a day he spent fishing with his father. On that special day, his father taught him many insights that Boswell treasured for life. Many years later, someone looked up this particular day in the journal that Boswell’s father kept to see what his father recorded about this significant experience in the life of his son. The journal for that day had only one sentence: “Gone fishing today with my son; a day wasted.”

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 NKJV

Set me as a seal upon your heart, As a seal upon your arm; For love is  as strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised.

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Compassion: A Fourteen-day Journey #6


In Response to God’s Generosity

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Several psalms, like this one, praise God for his past generosity. Such psalms reminded the listeners of how lavishly God has blessed his people in spite of their historic disobedience. They remind us of how patient and persistent God has been, while assuring us of his future goodness. Beyond this, these psalms tell us how to practice generosity. How can we refuse to share with others when God has been so kind to his people–and to us? Even when other people are ungrateful and irresponsible, we are to look for opportunities to help them–just as we have been helped.

The reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) addresses this issue in “Concerning Christian Liberty,” his classic statement on the freedom the believer enjoys from the burden of the law and the anxiety of self reliance. He says:

Although the Christian is thus free from all works, he ought in this liberty to empty himself, take upon himself the form of a servant, be made in the likeness of men, be found in human form, and to serve, help, and in every way deal with his neighbor as he sees that God through Christ has dealt and still deals with him. This he should do freely, having regard for nothing but divine approval.

He ought to think: “Although I am an unworthy and condemned man, my God has given me in Christ all the riches of righteousness and salvation without any merit on my part, out of pure, free mercy, so that from now on I need nothing except faith which believes that this is true. Why should I not therefore freely, joyfully, with all my heart, and with an eager will do all things which I know are pleasing and acceptable to such a Father who has overwhelmed me with his inestimable riches? I will therefore give myself as a Christ to my neighbor, just as Christ offered himself to me; I will do nothing in this life except what I see is necessary, profitable, and salutary to my neighbor, since through faith I have an abundance of all good things in Christ.”

Behold, from faith thus flow forth love and joy in the Lord, and from love a joyful, willing, and free mind that serves one’s neighbor willingly and takes no account of gratitude or ingratitude, of praise or blame, of gain or loss. For a man does not serve that he may put men under obligations. He does not distinguish between friends and enemies or anticipate their thankfulness or unthankfulness, but he most freely and most willingly spends himself and all that he has, whether he wastes all on the thankless or whether he gains a reward.

We conclude, therefore, that a Christian lives not in himself, but in Christ and in his neighbor. Otherwise he is not a Christian. He lives in Christ through faith, in his neighbor through love. By faith he is caught up beyond himself into God. By love he descends beneath himself into he neighbor. Yet he always remains in God and in his love, as Christ says in John 1, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heavens open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Psalm 135:1-21 NKJV

Praise the Lord ! Praise the name of the Lord ; Praise Him, O you servants of the Lord ! You who stand in the house of the Lord , In the courts of the house of our God, Praise the Lord , for the Lord  is good; Sing praises to His name, for it  is pleasant. For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure. For I know that the Lord  is great, And our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places. He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries. He destroyed the firstborn of Egypt, Both of man and beast. He sent signs and wonders into the midst of you, O Egypt, Upon Pharaoh and all his servants. He defeated many nations And slew mighty kings— Sihon king of the Amorites, Og king of Bashan, And all the kingdoms of Canaan— And gave their land as a heritage, A heritage to Israel His people. Your name, O Lord , endures forever, Your fame, O Lord , throughout all generations. For the Lord will judge His people, And He will have compassion on His servants. The idols of the nations are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; Nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them are like them; So  is everyone who trusts in them. Bless the Lord , O house of Israel! Bless the Lord , O house of Aaron! Bless the Lord , O house of Levi! You who fear the Lord , bless the Lord ! Blessed be the Lord  out of Zion, Who dwells in Jerusalem! Praise the Lord !

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