I Have Seen 

Exodus 3:7
“And the Lord said: ‘I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.'”

Since the incarnation, this is all the more true. With the eyes of man, God has seen oppression. He watched the brutal way in which men oppressed men. He saw tax collectors steal from men to support their sinful lifestyles, soldiers abuse authority and instill fear in the people, and religious leaders manipulate the people to gain power over their lives and attain a position of prominence.

With His ears, He heard the cries of men. He heard the cry of the widow whose son had died, the leper who pleaded for a healing touch, and the publican who cried out for mercy. He also heard the cries as the mob who exalted Him as Lord one day, only to demand His death a few days later.

He also knows our sorrows. He sat with friends who had lost their brother and wept alongside them. But more than knowing our sorrows as a comforter, He knows them as a victim. He learned first hand the pain of betrayal, rejection and hatred. His back felt the searing pain of the Roman whip, His brow, the thorns, His hands and feet, the nails. He knew the disgust of being spit upon, ridiculed, and falsely accused, yet, remained silent before His accusers, as He endured the cross and despised its shame.

As we face the pain, sorrow and difficulty of life and are tempted to raise accusations against God, thinking He does not care or understand, remember, He not only sees with the watchful eye of heaven, but He Himself bore our sorrows and is acquainted with our grief.

Pastor Jim

Mercy And Compassion 

Proverbs 11:17
“The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”

Mercy is often defined as not getting what we deserve. While that is true, the word carries a greater meaning. It also means to show compassion and kindness to those who are in need or distressed. We see it evidenced in the life of Jesus. When He heard the leper calling out for Him, we read Jesus was moved with compassion, reached out His hand, touched the man, and cleansed him. Mercy stirred the heart of Jesus to touch the untouchable, and restore what leprosy had destroyed (Mark 1:40-41). When He felt a tug on His garment, He turned to see a woman who had been struggling with an illness for 12 years, without any hope of healing. Mercy stirred Him to heal her sickness, and reward her great faith (Luke 8:43). When He arrived on the scene of Lazarus’ funeral, and heard the wailing of his family and friends, mercy stirred the heart of Jesus, to weep with those who wept, and to intervene by raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-17). Over and over, page after page, person after person, we see Jesus expressing His mercy, in compassion and kindness, to those in need. Nowhere, is this seen more clearly than in the cross. Our need was much greater than that of a woman with a blood disease, a man with leprosy, or even a family with a dead brother. Our need was caused by sin, and the only cure was the death of God. Jesus saw our condition, and bore the weight of all our sin, as He hung on Calvary’s cross. Mercy was extended as His blood was shed.

Mercy is something we are to receive and to spread. Solomon stated, it is the merciful man who does good for his own soul. Jesus said we are blessed when we are merciful. Just as Jesus looked for, and aided those in need, we should be looking for ways to express the mercy of God to others. Mercy is expressed in forgiveness. When we choose to forgive someone who has wronged us, and treat them as though they had never acted that way, we are expressing mercy. When we choose to be kind to someone, not because they have been kind to us, or in hopes of being rewarded, we are expressing mercy. When we go out of our way to show the love of Christ to others, whether it be in word or action, we are expressing mercy. This mercy will benefit the receiver and the giver alike. Those who receive mercy are learning something of the nature of God, and those giving it, are doing good to their own soul.

Pastor Jim

 

Mr. Fix It

Job 34:16
“If you have understanding, hear this; listen to the sound of my words.”

Elihu was a young man considering the discussion between Job and his three friends. He listened meticulously to the arguments, and seemed to accurately sum up the problem. Job, while not the man his friends were painting him to be, was guilty of charging God with iniquity. Elihu points out, God is not guilty of unrighteousness for the way He treats man. God’s goal is to awaken men to their need of a Savior. If a temporal affliction will awaken us to our eternal needs, God is certainly justified in His actions. Much of what Elihu shares is both Biblical and true, the problem is, it lacks any semblance of compassion.

Ephesians 4:15 “. . .but, speaking the truth in love. . . ”

Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”

It is common to be judgmental over another’s failures, then to elevate ourselves above them. When this happens, we tend to lose compassion. This is particularly true when someone struggles with a sin that doesn’t trouble us, or which we have had victory over. Looking down on others causes us to be unsympathetic. The first words a wounded soldier hears should not be an accounting of what he did wrong, but rather, you are there to help him up. Once his wounds are attended to, we can instruct him on the way to avoid getting shot again. Paul gives us direction on how to minister to those who are struggling,

Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

Step one: be spiritual. If we are going to offer any aid to others, we must be sure we are abiding in Christ. In Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, the best thing Christian did for his family was to go hard after the Lord.

Step two: we need to recognize the need in others. This requires that we keep our eyes open, come along side the wounded Christian, and help get him back on track.

Step three: we need to be compassionate. Paul uses the word gentle. We need to be gentle with things that are fragile. When Christians have stumbled, they are delicate. It is possible they may return to effectively walking with the Lord. We want to do all we can to help them get up, and keep on going.

Step four: consider yourself. There are some areas of sin to which we are personally prone. We cannot allow ourselves to be drawn down that path. If going after another will put you in a situation which guarantees personal failure, you need to protect yourself. Perhaps a good solution is to follow the pattern of Jesus, who sent His disciples out in pairs. Before going after the fallen, grab a Christian friend, pray, and head out in gentleness.

Pastor Jim

 

Compassion 

2 Chronicles 36:15
“And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place.”

Compassion is a necessary ingredient in order to bring about change. It is more than an emotion, it is a sense of pity that stirs one to action. The compassion of God flows from His love for humanity. He looks at our condition because of sin, and His heart breaks. Rather than simply feeling bad for us, His compassion stirs Him to action. In the days of Jeremiah, we read, God’s action was to send men to declare the truths of His Word.

Even the best of believers, tend to drift from the Lord. Rather than leaving us to this course, God moves to bring us back to Himself. He will no doubt use circumstances to grab our attention, but His compassion also stirs Him to send others to remind us of the ways of God. It is sad how often a person involved in prohibitive actions, will respond with an accusation of being “judged,” instead of being thankful for the compassion of God, Who loves them so much He rises early  to send a messenger.

Those in Jeremiah’s day reacted to these warning with anger, hate, and persecution. We need to be careful to react with repentance and change.

Pastor Jim

 

Lost And Found

Luke 15:2
“This Man receives sinners . . .”

20140227-074349.jpgMan lives as though God and eternity are a mystery. Even before I became a Christian, I had heard the pseudo–verse, “God works in mysterious ways.” Here, in Luke 15, the mysterious ways of God are revealed. We see clearly how he feels about the lost, as well as what He does about it.

Jesus tells three stories, and in each one, He is played by a different character. In the first, He is the man who has a lost sheep and leaves all He has to find it. In the second, He is played by the woman who searches diligently to find the one lost coin. Finally, in the third, He is played by the father who patiently waits, while his son wastes his life. We see clearly the heart of God toward the lost and wayward. He willingly gave up all, clothed Himself in humanity, to seek and save the lost.

The message is clear. If you are wayward, come back to Him. He loves you and wants to forgive you. If someone you love is wayward, express to them the same loving grace that the father showed his son, as you pray and await their return.

Pastor Jim

 

Mercy And Compassion

Proverbs 11:17
“The merciful man does good for his own soul,
But he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”

Mercy is often defined as not getting what we deserve. While that is true, the word carries a greater meaning. It also means to show compassion and kindness to those who are in need or distressed. We see it evidenced in the life of Jesus. When He heard the leper calling out for Him, we read Jesus was moved with compassion, reached out His hand, touched the man, and cleansed him. Mercy stirred the heart of Jesus to touch the untouchable, and restore what leprosy had destroyed (Mark 1:40-41). When He felt a tug on His garment, He turned to see a woman who had been struggling with an illness for 12 years, without any hope of healing. Mercy stirred Him to heal her sickness, and reward her great faith (Luke 8:43). When He arrived on the scene of Lazarus’ funeral, and heard the wailing of his family and friends, mercy stirred the heart of Jesus, to weep with those who wept, and to intervene by raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-17). Over and over, page after page, person after person, we see Jesus expressing His mercy, in compassion and kindness, to those in need. Nowhere, is this seen more clearly than in the cross. Our need was much greater than that of a woman with a blood disease, a man with leprosy, or even a family with a dead brother. Our need was caused by sin, and the only cure was the death of God. Jesus saw our condition, and bore the weight of all our sin, as He hung on Calvary’s cross. Mercy was extended as His blood was shed.

Mercy is something we are to receive and to spread. Solomon stated, it is the merciful man who does good for his own soul. Jesus said we are blessed when we are merciful. Just as Jesus looked for, and aided those in need, we should be looking for ways to express the mercy of God to others. Mercy is expressed in forgiveness. When we choose to forgive someone who has wronged us, and treat them as though they had never acted that way, we are expressing mercy. When we choose to be kind to someone, not because they have been kind to us, or in hopes of being rewarded, we are expressing mercy. When we go out of our way to show the love of Christ to others, whether it be in word or action, we are expressing mercy. This mercy will benefit the receiver and the giver alike. Those who receive mercy are learning something of the nature of God, and those giving it, are doing good to their own soul.

Pastor Jim

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