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Archive for the ‘compassion’ Category

Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
– Romans 13:10 (NIV)

Love fulfills the law.  That’s not the local ordinances of your city or municipality.  No magistrates or legislators are looking for you to love your neighbor.  The police and other law enforcement do not expect it out of you.  Otherwise, why would they exist?

We are called to live at a level above the low standards set by many.  We are called to live at a higher level than the low expectations that many people have for their fellow man.

If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? – 1 John 4:20 (NLT)

Love is about doing no harm.  Love is a life-giving force.  Love will make sacrifices of the self for the good of the ones who feel unwanted and unworthy of even being considered for love.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. – 1 John 4:12 (NIV)

If we really love the Lord, let’s start showing our love by loving our neighbors.  We can do better by being better towards one another.  It starts with you and I, then it moves on from there.  Let’s love somebody today and make things better by fulfilling the law.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
– 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

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Bear ye one another’s burdens,
and so fulfil the law of Christ.
-Galatians 6:2 (KJV)

Christians are to bear one another’s burdens.  It is the way of Christ.  That’s what He did, right? Remember WWJD? Was that just a fad? Or, did you really take that to heart?

Bear ye one another’s burdens. . .

Wow! That’s heavy.  Literally, it is heavy due to what it really means.  We are to carry the burdens of our brothers and sisters.  We are to feel their pain.  That means that we should empathize with others.  We are not called to simply stand off to the side and sympathize with them, feeling bad for them and going on. 

God wants us to live with the burdens of others as if they are our own.  If your brother suffers from addiction, you should live with it.  Even if you have never indulged, you are to suffer with your brother and sister as well as seek a remedy as if it were your own life in a shambles.  The same goes for homelessness, adultery, selfishness, greed and other things.  We need to share with our brothers and sisters.

Let’s be Christlike about it.  He went out of His way for us.  He suffered for our sakes.

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Jesus: Up Close & Personal (101 Beginner Bible Study)He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.
Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you
But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
Read the Gospels carefully.  Go beyond the surface.  Don’t just skim it for its finer points and holy highlights.  Read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John thoroughly.  Read them intentionally.  Read with probing eyes.  Search the Scriptures to discover how Jesus truly reached out and touched people as God in the flesh.
Wwjd What Would Jesus Do Designer Rubber Saying Bracelet #50Not long ago, every Christian knew about WWJD.  The letters represented What Would Jesus Do? The question seems a bit rhetorical.  Yet, it caused many of us to rethink our approach to certain situations in daily life’s many interactions and encounters.  We asked WWJD and wore it on t-shirts, Bible covers and bumper sticks.  Did we really want to do things the way Jesus would have done them?
Jesus did not leave Bartimaeus blind by the wayside.
Jesus did not let the woman with the issue of blood go one more step in that condition.
Jesus forbid to leave the invalid laying on a mat beside the pool.
Jesus added a personal touch throughout His ministry that left no one the same.
The House Church Book: Rediscover the Dynamic, Organic, Relational, Viral Community Jesus StartedDo we really want to do things the way Jesus would have done them?
Start by getting personal.  Don’t leave it as drive-thru worship services on Sunday.  You know what I mean.  You moved out of the neighborhood to get away from the drugs, the gangs and all of that other stuff, but you still drive through on Sunday mornings for some old time religion and maybe a taste of some after-church soul food.  That’s “drive-thru” Sunday worship.  You only drive through the ‘hood, never doing any of your good works where you hear from the Good Book
God bless your heart.  You mean well.  Your intentions are good.  You just need to know where to get started.  Start by getting to know some folks on a personal level.  Take that church bulletin out of your Bible.  Yes, the one from Sunday where you did not use it to take notes on the sermon.  Use that and see what fellowship opportunities exist at the church.  Are there small groups that meet during the week on site or in the community? Can you join the men’s monthly fellowship? Do you believe that there is room for you in the women’s ministry circle? See what there is available and make some personal connections with other congregants.
Creating Community: Five Keys to Building a Small Group Culture
Start small.  Volunteer to serve on an outreach team or a service team.  Get trained in sharing the Good News with others, so that you are equipped to say more than what’s on your mind and our heart.  Get equipped, but be sure to get your heart in it more than your hands or your head.  Share with your heart and touch someone’s life.  Add a personal touch to your ministry repertoire.  Be sure to get personal in such a way that people truly get a sense that you truly care.  Care for others the same way that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, looked after His own sheep.  Just start by getting a little more personal when you do it.

 
The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” — Henri J.M. Nouwen 

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“A life has value according to how much love it has.”- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Where is the love?

It is a common question.  It is the type of question that causes the common Christian to ponder whether he or she has truly loved like Christ.  Then, after considering the question further, it is the type of question that causes one to ask whether the love that was shared spread beyond a comfort zone or a social status.

Bonhoeffer said that the living has value according to the amount of loving that stems from that living.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote an entire book that encapsulated a series of his sermons called Strength to Love.  Francis Chan wrote a famous and sensational book on Christianity called Crazy Love. 

Love is a major topic in the realm of Christianity.  The Christian must ask if he or she has really loved like Christ.  When called upon, was the Christian’s answer full of love? Did the Christian act out of love? Did the Christian speak with love in his or her tone? Could someone else sense his or her genuine love? It’s the question of the day.

Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. – Romans 13:5 (KJV)

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6 With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,  with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  Dual Citizens: Worship and Life Between the Already and the Not YetAnd what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy The Book of the Twelve Prophets Commonly Called the Minor: Amos, Hosen and Micah. with an Introd. and a Sketch of Prophecy in Early Israel. 1896and to walk humbly with your God. –Micah 6:6-8– (NIV)

Doing Good: A Grace-Filled Approach to HolinessWhat does God want you to do?

Have you ever pondered the question? Has your mind ever wondered about it? Have you ever had to search for such an answer?

Look at the prophecy of Micah.  He offers the believer insights into pleasing and honoring God.  We are dual citizens, living both on earth and prepared for heaven.  Our bodies dwell here, but our hearts desire heaven.

Preachers and Misfits, Prophets and Thieves: The Minister in Southern FictionThe Prophets as Preachers: An Introduction to the Hebrew ProphetsMicah’s prophecy sheds light on social responsibility in combination with brotherly love.   It shows us how we can offer social justice and equity in the light of oppressive conditions.  We,as believers in Christ, owe the Lord a lifestyle dedicated and devoted to following His ways as well as His Word.  We need to follow His example and offer ourselves entirely over to Him in submission.  He is our King.  He is our Lord.  We need to see Him as the supreme authority over our lives.

The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good (Sproul, R. C. R.C. Sproul Library.) (Sproul, R. C. R.C. Sproul Library.) (Sproul, R. C. R.C. Sproul Library.)Do good for God by doing some good.  Get in some good works.  Share a good word with someone. 

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Genesis Record, The: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings
For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it. – Genesis 19:13 (NKJV)

Sodom was bound for destruction. Gomorrah was bound for destruction.  The men who visited the city appeared to Lot, the relative of Abraham, and warned him to depart from the city because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord.  Imagine that.  You live in the midst of mayhem and in a den of debauchery, but it seems normal to you until someone says that it will be destroyed.  Take a long hard look at Lot’s situation and think about where you are today.  Do your surroundings grieve the Lord? Is the sin that has settled in and taken root around you impairing your vision of what the Lord despises in His own sight?

There was a plan in the works long before these men even arrived at the city gates of Sodom that evening.  It is obvious from the previous chapter of Genesis:

20 Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

God had His mind set on wiping out the entire inhabitants.  Yet, in the previous verses, He acknowledges Abraham as “right and just,” seeking not to hide His intentions from the man whom He had chosen (verses 17-19). 

In His dialogue with Abraham, God hears Abraham’s rationale as the man asks: Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  It then becomes a narrowing down from fifty righteous souls to forty, all the way down to ten, in order that the righteous not be wiped out with the wicked.

Are you the one, like Lot, caught up in the bright lights of the city and immune to the pungent odor that offends the very nostrils of the Lord? You live among those who do evil and seem to get away with it at every turn.  Yet, your voice is silenced somehow.  You fear speaking out against it.  You take the position of one who is in the vicinity but not involved.  Is that you?

Or, could you be like Abraham? Could your relationship with God be so strong that He shares with you and speaks intimately with you? Does He lay burdens upon your heart of atrocities that seem to linger without an outspoken word? Does He show you how people are caught up, chewed up and spit out by the system with any systems of support? Does that sound like you?

Be sure to take note of Abraham’s response to God’s words.  He did not breathe a sigh of relief and say that it was not his place or his concern.  He did not thank God for bypassing his domain.  He asked about those who might be righteous within those cities.  He showed compassion. 

We all should be concerned when we hear of a Katrina, wild fires, earthquakes and other so-called natural disasters.  People die in such times.  Our hearts should still ache for those families who lost loved ones in the Oklahoma City bombings, 9-11, and other terrorist attacks.  It should pain us when lives are lost needlessly in our midst or in our times.

Will you be Lot or Abraham?

Lot?

Abraham?

A Voice in the Wilderness: A Pastor's Journal of Ground ZeroThe choice is yours today.

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Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”-Genesis 4:9 (NASB)
Am I my brother’s keeper?
New Jack City (Two-Disc Special Edition) 
It is an age-old question.  Ever since this early sibling rivalry, the question has loomed among mankind. Some have only asked it.  Others have crafted sermons based upon it.  Many have built ministries based on it, too.  It has at least crossed our minds at one time or another, possibly pricking our hearts in some cases.
We ask it without truly seeking out the revealed answer that occurs in the very same verse where it initially appears.  We ask it without recognizing that the question that prompts us asking such a question provides the very rationale that we need to truly understand the Lord’s desire for us.
“Where is Abel your brother?” 
Blood In, Blood Out 
It is the Lord who asks this of Cain.   It is not Adam or Eve seeking to find out what has happened to Abel.  It is the Lord who asks about Cain’s brother.  The Lord’s question about Abel, Cain’s brother, supersedes and precedes Cain asking if he is his brother’s keeper.  The question that comes from the Most High is over greater importance.
Let us seek to uphold our Christian responsibility by answering the Lord’s inquiry about our brother or sister.  Let it never be the case that we are resistant or reluctant to help our brother or sister in need when we have the means to help him or her.  How pleasing are we to the Lord when we cannot even answer about our care and concern for our own brother or sister? May we never shame the very name of Christ by our negligence for the calling to live up to His name as Christians.

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12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Outreach Magazine May/June 2008 Issue (5th Annual Outreach Resources of the Year, Volume 7, Number 3)
There is an open opportunity for out-of-the-ordinary outreach today.  People can reach out in all sorts of ways through various multimedia mediums such as social networking and viral marketing platforms.  You can make difference through community-based programs such as CDF Freedom Schools or AmeriCorps.  You can use traditional VBS or Christian youth camp.  You just need to put your trust in the Lord to lead you into the endeavor that He has for you to undertake.
Think through your next move.  Pray over your outreach opportunities.  Make the most of everything that will expand your demographic diversity.  Partner with other organizations to streamline your outreach resources for a singular focus.  You don’t gain any ground by remaining in the same place and not making any changes.
Visit National Outreach Convention for a special resource information.

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I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.- John 10:11 (NASB)

Jesus is the ultimate shepherd.  He states in John 10 that he is the Good Shepherd.  Those who pastor and lead Christian churches are to lead them under the leadership of Christ, the Good Shepherd, for He is the head of the body of Christ which is the church.

Peter shared with his fellow elders that he understood their undertaking in leading the Lord’s flock.  After all, in John 21, Peter is challenged by the Lord Himself to feed His sheep and His lambs.  In essence, He said for Peter to care for His flock.  Peter shared with his fellow elders how they were to care for the Lord’s flock, not ruling over them as lords but leading them towards perfection in Christ to be eventually presented to the Lord.

Look at how His flock is:

  • Loved by you and your fellow leaders
  • Linked together in unity and love
  • Led by the Spirit and Christian leaders

Leading His flock takes care.  it is rooted in stewardship.  It is a major undertaking to say the least.  As you lead the flock of the Lord under your care, take into careful consideration what you do and how you do it in the name of the Lord.

Additional readings:
John 21:15-17; 1 Peter 5:1-11; Ephesians 4:11-16

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There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.- Galatians 3:28 (NLT)
There are some who consider their congregations “open,” but their reality is something entirely different.  However, some of the churches that come out of a background of putting the protest in Protestant find it difficult to include all others when those others support gay marriage, abortion or legalized marijuana.  These churches are open in the name of Jesus, but they must remain mindful to stick to the way of Jesus.

I used to live near a Methodist church that prominently posted this slogan on its marquee and advertisements.   Open Hearts… Open Minds… Open Doors… Open what? I keep wondering just how “open” they are.  Are there doors more open than their hearts and minds? I should hope not, seeing as how I know some well-meaning Methodists and Wesleyans.

Our churches need to intensify their inclusion.  America has its first African-American president in Barak Obama.  Now, as we go forward in faith, let us open up and crank up our inclusion of others. 

Let us become:

  • More Intense with Inclusion
  • More Intentional with Inclusion
  • More Inclusive with Inclusion

Does your church invest in supporting underserved community members with necessary programs? Is your church campus a safe haven for at-risk youth and abused women and their families? Can those in recovery walk into your church without the shadow of shame? Can those returning from prison and jail enter your congregation without being judged and condemned all over again?

I love the story of Rick Warren and Saddleback Church’s origin as told in the Purpose Driven Church.  Warren shares that the ministries at Saddleback were developed based upon the needs of the people who came to the church.  He developed ministries that helped meeting the needs of people who came to them and who lived around them. 

As you help others get better and to live differently, they become the spokespeople for what is possible within your church.  Ex-addicts go back and share the Word with other addicts who struggle with addiction.  Former gang members and drug dealers spread the word on the streets of what your church has done for them since they met Jesus at your church’s altar.  Your job? Keep intensifying your inclusion.  Touch lives like never before.  Make a difference in the lives of people who attend your worship services and who live around and near your church.  Remain open to innovative and inventive ways to invite and include people to be part of the family since we are all one in Christ Jesus.

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