Tag Archives: compassion

Compassion: A fourteen-day Journey #5


The Stewardship Implications of Bodily Resurrection

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Though He Slay Me, Yet I Will Trust Him!

The story of Job is ancient–most likely one of Scripture’s oldest. Old Testament believers had no clear-cut concept of a bodily resurrection. However, Job appears convinced that a day is coming when he will be defended and restored, not just spiritually but also physically. Most scholars agree that the Redeemer he spoke of refers to God himself and that Job believed that God would offer vindication for Job in the face of his trials.

This appreciation for the physical dimension of salvation is crucial for understanding the Biblical message of generosity. As affirmed in a statement by The Gospel Coalition,

God created both soul and body, and the resurrection of Jesus shows that he is going to redeem both the spiritual and the material. Therefore God is concerned not only for the salvation of souls but also for the relief of poverty, hunger, and injustice. The gospel opens our eyes to the fact that all our wealth (even wealth for which we worked hard) is ultimately an unmerited gift from God. Therefore the person who does not generously give away his or her wealth to others is not merely lacking in compassion, but is unjust. Christ wins our salvation through losing, achieves power through weakness and service and comes to wealth through giving all away. Those who receive his salvation are not the strong and accomplished but those who admit they are weak and lost. We cannot look at the poor and the oppressed and callously call them to pull themselves out of their own difficulty. Jesus did not treat us that away. The gospel replaces superiority toward the poor with mercy and compassion.  I ndifference to the poor and disadvantaged means there has not been a true grasp of our salvation by sheer grace.

As expressed in the following quotation by Pope John Paul II (1920-2005),

In the resurrection the body will return to prefect unity and harmony with the spirit. Man will no longer experience the opposition between what is spiritual and what is physical in him. Spiritualization means not only that the spirit will dominate the body, but, I would say, that it will fully permeate the body, and that the forces of the spirit will permeate the energies of the body.

What does the believer’s ultimate participation in the divine nature say to us about the worth of each person? In Matthew 25:40 Jesus identifies bodily with “the least of these brothers.” True, when he spoke these words he was living in a human body, but we as Christians believe that this passage still carries direct implications for us.

JOB 19:25-26 NKJV

For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I  know, That in my flesh I shall see God,

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Major Themes LXXI – Forgiveness


A Plea for Deliverance and Forgiveness

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Forgiveness is a Great Gift

PSALM 25:1-22 NKJV

To You, O Lord , I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. Show me Your ways, O Lord ; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. Remember, O Lord , Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord . Good and upright is the Lord ; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. All the paths of the Lord  are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies. For Your name’s sake, O Lord , Pardon my iniquity, for it is great. Who is the man that fears the Lord ? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. He himself shall dwell in prosperity, And his descendants shall inherit the earth. The secret of the Lord  is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant. My eyes are ever toward the Lord , For He shall pluck my feet out of the net. Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses! Look on my affliction and my pain, And forgive all my sins. Consider my enemies, for they are many; And they hate me with cruel hatred. Keep my soul, and deliver me; Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You. Redeem Israel, O God, Out of all their troubles!

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Compassion: A Fourteen-Day Journey #2


Compassion for the Disabled     wpid-IMG_20130116_163953.jpg
David’s generosity to Jonathon’s son doesn’t really surprise us. But his action must have been radical in his own time: (1) Any survivor of an earlier regime would have been considered a lifelong threat. (2) The disabled Mephibosheth was a self-proclaimed “dead dog” (2Sa 9:8)–in his own culturally based estimation, he was less than worthless. The status of a live dog in Israelite society is clear from Ecclesiastes 9:4: “Anyone who is among the living has hope–even a live dog is better than a dead lion!”
Before we congratulate ourselves on our own enlightened civility, we do well to acknowledge that modern humans don’t have an enviable track record either. There are, of course, many exceptions, and it may well be true that Christians are leading the way. John Nunes, pastor, theologian and president of a denominational relief agency, points to Psalm 41:1 as a beatitude of brotherly love:

“Blessed is he who has regard for the weak.” In any society, there will be those who are too weak to “make it”–those who aren’t strong or resilient enough, who aren’t skilled or tough-willed, who lack the “right stuff” or the right connections. Such individuals often are marginalized. We see, all too clearly, where they stand. The question is, Where do we stand? Do we stand with them?

This author pints out elsewhere that “how we live together and how we preserve the inherent holiness of human life is fundamental to our confession of faith. It is also a bottom-line principle of diversity. Treating some people as ostensibly dispensable is contrary to the will of God.”
The following are excerpts from evangelical leader Charles Colson on this issue:

Nearly every young couple having a baby today receives information about the potential health care needs of their unborn child. Ultrasounds, amniocentesis, and other tests are informing parents of a growing list of medical conditions–some 450 at this writing–in their unborn children. Doctors are afraid not to perform such tests lest they face suits for not fully informing parents of an unborn child’s medical problems while the unborn child may still be aborted.

That’s really at the heart of the issue in the raging global debate over embryonic stem cell research. An embryo, after all, is a life. If we can take a life that isn’t worth living, then why shouldn’t we use those embryos to find cures for the most feared diseases Americans experience. But if it’s okay to take the embryo, why should we not use the body parts of a disabled infant who would otherwise be killed? Why waste them? Wouldn’t we be contributing to the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, maximizing human pleasure by helping people to achieve a better quality of life? The logic is precisely the same.

2 Samuel 9:1-13 NKJV

Now David said, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” And there  was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was  Ziba. So when they had called him to David, the king said to him, “ Are you Ziba?” He said, “At your service!” Then the king said, “ Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?” And Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan who  is  lame in his feet.” So the king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “Indeed he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar.” Then King David sent and brought him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar. Now when Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, had come to David, he fell on his face and prostrated himself. Then David said, “Mephibosheth?” And he answered, “Here is your servant!” So David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.” Then he bowed himself, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?” And the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “I have given to your master’s son all that belonged to Saul and to all his house. You therefore, and your sons and your servants, shall work the land for him, and you shall bring in the  harvest, that your master’s son may have food to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s son shall eat bread at my table always.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king has commanded his servant, so will your servant do.” “As for Mephibosheth,” said  the  king, “he shall eat at my table like one of the king’s sons.” Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Micha. And all who dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants of Mephibosheth. So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king’s table. And he was lame in both his feet.

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Compassion: a 14-day Journey #1


“God’s Covenant With Creation

In Genesis 8:21-22 we get to listen in on God’s response to Noah’s sacrifice. After blessing Noah and his family, God repeats in 9:11 his pledge from 8:21. He follows up by establishing a physical sign to remind people forever of his everlasting promise.
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“God responded to Noah’s burn offerings by covenanting with Noah, his descendants, and every living creature in a divine oath to sustain and preserve creation,” comments stewardship theologian Ronald E. Vallet. “God’s covenant with Noah had a universal dimension; it was unconditional, unilateral, and everlastingÉand it included all people. Because it was made apart from or before Israel, it is upheld independent of the community of faith, Israel. God’s covenant with Noah made other covenants possible.”

Veteran Bible expositor J. Alec Motyer reflects on the covenant and its sign:

If in the world as constituted before the Flood, there had been such a thing as a rainbow, the Lord here took the familiar and filled it with new meaning–just as later, he would do, with bread and wine. But the word translated “rainbow” is actually “bow”–the weapon. It is as if the Lord were saying, “See, the war is over; I have hung up my bow.” And ever after, as soon as a threat loomed, Noah saw too the “sign” that no ultimate threat could again touch him: the Lord had promised.

Vallet recalls:

Only twice in my life have I seen a complete double rainbow, unbroken from horizon to horizonÉThe two rainbows have taken on a new meaning for me. The primary rainbow is to remind God of the promise of care and concern. The secondary rainbow, subdued and inevitably related to the primary rainbow, speaks to me of our human responsibility as God’s stewards. TheÉearth needs human care, and humans have a responsibility toward nonhuman recipients of God’s promise of care for the earth and all its inhabitants (see Ge1; 2 and Hos 2:18).

As an addendum to this Genesis account, Motyer notes that in Noah humanity had a new start, a second chance. This is why Genesis 9:1,7 echoes the account of Eden (cf. Ge 1:28). But sadly, Noah, notwithstanding grace, was still a sinner, the founder of a new humanity; and like his father Adam, he was only able to have sons in his own likeness (cf. Ge 5:3). And as Milton writes in Paradise Lost, so it would remain “till one Greater Man Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat” (see Isa 11:1-9; Rev 22:1-5).”

GEN 8:21-22 NKJV

And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”

GEN 9:1-17 NKJV

So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that  is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a  reckoning;  from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man. And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; Bring forth abundantly in the earth And multiply in it.” Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: “And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

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Debt: A Biblical Perspective #4


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Not only does the Bible warn us of debt but it provides us of examples. These examples are meant to teach us about issues surrounding debt. Each example is unique and helps us see different aspects of indebtedness. Use this opportunity to reflect on these passage and explore how you would handle each situation these examples present.

Matthew 18:32-33 NKJV – Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.  Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’

Luke 7:42 NKJV – And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

Colossians 2:13-14 NKJV – And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

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Compassion III


How to UNCOVER God’s Word:

ASK – God to connect with you here. In prayer, start by slowing down, inviting God to be present. Begin with focus and openness to see what God has for you.

READ – the selected section of Scripture slowly. Take note of the words and phrases that intrigue you, reading them a second time if necessary.

REFLECT – on what grabs you. What connections do you see at this point in your life? How might God be speaking to you through these words? Stop long enough to let this take root and thank God for engaging you.

RESPOND – to the Scripture. Speak directly to God about what’s on your mind and heart. Look for ways to live out what you’ve uncovered – individually and with your church. And look for ways to bring what you have discovered to others.

2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-4 NIV

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Compassion II


How to UNCOVER God’s Word:

ASK – God to connect with you here. In prayer, start by slowing down, inviting God to be present. Begin with focus and openness to see what God has for you.

READ – the selected section of Scripture slowly. Take note of the words and phrases that intrigue you, reading them a second time if necessary.

REFLECT – on what grabs you. What connections do you see at this point in your life? How might God be speaking to you through these words? Stop long enough to let this take root and thank God for engaging you.

RESPOND – to the Scripture. Speak directly to God about what’s on your mind and heart. Look for ways to live out what you’ve uncovered – individually and with your church. And look for ways to bring what you have discovered to others.

PSALM 103:2-4 NIV – Praise the Lord , my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,

Compassion – Introduction


Compassion

7 Days

The Bible says that love is a more important action than any other–and that it can make up for a lot of our shortcomings. How can we learn to better love those around us?

We would like to thank American Bible Society for their generosity in providing this Uncover the Word reading plan. To learn more about Uncover the Word, please visit: http://www.AmericanBible.org

Teaching Tolerance III


SEEING NEEDS AND SHOWING COMPASSION

TALKING TO GOD
Ask God to help you see others as He sees them and to give you a heart of compassion for those who do not have a relationship with Him.

DIVING IN
Clear a space in your home where you can walk around blindfolded and not hurt yourself. Turn up the volume on a radio so that it drowns out your normal speaking voice. On one side of the family room, blindfold a family member. From across the room, have another family member whisper directions that guide the blindfolded person to him or her. Ask the whisperer to gradually speak up until the blindfolded person can hear the directions and safely make it to the other side of the room.

GOING DEEPER
One of the reasons that Jesus came into the world was to help the blind see. In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus says, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” People who do not know God are like people who are blind or blindfolded. They cannot find their way to God and to His forgiveness and love. They are “spiritually blind” and need the guidance of God’s truth to lead them in the right direction. To make matters worse, the noises of the world—such as people’s differing opinions about God—often drown out the truth that would guide them. They may listen to and agree with many wrong opinions and follow what seems best or easiest to them.

Clear directions helped your blindfolded family member cross the floor amid the blaring sounds of a radio. In much the same way, Jesus wants to help those who do not have a relationship with God find their way to Him. He is the way through the distracting noises of the world, and He has compassion on them because they are blind and confused. As followers of Christ, we should have the same attitude toward those who are spiritually blind.

TALKING TO EACH OTHER
– How did it feel to try and listen for or give the directions with the distracting noise?
– What “noises” might keep nonbelievers from hearing God’s love for them?
– How might thinking of nonbelievers as being spiritually blind help you show them compassion?

MATTHEW 9:36 NIV – When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Introduction to Teaching Tolerance


Teaching Tolerance

4 Days

Our world is becoming increasingly complex, and it’s difficult to discern opinion from truth. This four-day plan is designed to remind you and your children that what we believe—especially about God —is important. You’ll also engage with Scripture to help you develop both compassion and courage in conversations with people who have different beliefs. Each day includes a prayer prompt, brief Scripture reading and explanation, hands-on activity, and discussion questions.

We would like to thank Focus on the Family for providing this plan. For more information, please visit: http://www.FocusontheFamily.com