Friday, June 15, 2018

The Father’s Willing Compassion

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And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. Luke 15:20 (ESV)

In the story of the prodigal son, we have three people: The son who left home, the father who allowed him to leave, and the brother who stayed. The errant son chose to return home. The father waited for that son.
He saw the shadow of his returning son off at a distance. He ran to greet him. I picture that father shouting the son’s name as he ran. As my southern-bred grandmother would say, the father “hugged his neck” and greeted him very warmly.

The father also showed compassion to the older son when he took the time to explain that he, the elder son, had been with him but the younger son had been lost and was found. I envision the father putting his arm around the older son’s shoulders, leaning in close to him as he talked.

This is a picture of how God greets someone who has sinned or backslid and repented. God shows compassion to us when we sin and then ask for His forgiveness.

As believers in Christ, we are to display his compassion to others: to those who hurt us, to those who might forget something important to us.

I had a text conversation with a dear friend recently. She was afraid that she and I had something to do that day and that she had forgotten. This friend and I were acquainted in high school. She babysat our son about four decades ago. We have gone to the same churches for over three decades. I reassured her that in the event she ‘spaced’ something, I would not hold it against her. Because we are friends, almost like sisters. In fact, sometimes people ask us if we are sisters.

When we go to the grocery store, I try to tell the cashier and the sack person to “Be blessed.” This is my way of showing compassion to those who work hard. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

God Shows His Compassion

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They remembered that God was their rock,
    the Most High God their redeemer.
But they flattered him with their mouths;
    they lied to him with their tongues.
Their heart was not steadfast toward him;
    they were not faithful to his covenant.
Yet he, being compassionate,
    atoned for their iniquity
    and did not destroy them;
he restrained his anger often
    and did not stir up all his wrath.
Psalm 78-35-38 (ESV)

Our focus passage was written by Asaph. It paints a picture of the way God reacted to His people in spite of their behavior toward Him.

They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer.

I can visualize the Israelites flocking to the Temple on the sacred feast days. They are kneeling or lying prostrate as they pray and seek forgiveness for their sin.

 In today’s world, we see children try to get on the good side of their parents when they know they have done something wrong. And we hear children tell falsehoods in order to not get into trouble.

But they flattered Him with their mouths; they lied to Him with their tongues.

I can hear them tell God what they believe He wants to hear from them. The Israelites tell God they will always honor Him and keep His commandments. We hear this same flattery going on between generations and from those who want to exploit innocent people.

Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant.

How many times did the kings do “what was right in their sight”? Each time the ruler used this mode of carrying out his role, the nation Israel went through difficult times.  My Sunday teacher of many years compared it to a roller coaster ride. When the leaders followed God, the nation flourished (were on top of the hill.) When leaders did “what was right in their sight,” the nation saw times of great hardships.

Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. 

In spite of how the Israelites behaved, God always forgave them. In the instance of their exile to Babylon, God patiently explained why it was going to happen and told them how to conduct themselves and that he knew what He had in store for them. (Jeremiah 29.)

We live in perilous times. We witness events that appear to be lifted right out of the Bible.

*Wars and rumors of war, earthquakes in many places, (Matthew 24)
*people being lovers of themselves, lovers of money, proud, arrogant,
(2 Timothy 3:2)
 * disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy. (2 Timothy 3:20)
* having the appearance of godliness but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:5)

These are just a few of the examples of behavior we can see in our present world. We should be thankful that God has been compassionate with us. And yet, we should be aware that He is coming back soon.

Monday, June 11, 2018

God’s Compassion

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

The people of Judah had been exiled to Babylon. The entire book of Lamentations has been described as a collection of funeral dirges. Most people believe that the prophet Jeremiah wrote it.

Our focus passage speaks to me of God’s kindness toward us. His love is steadfast, always the same, never wavering or ceasing. His mercies (kindnesses) never stop. In fact, each day brings new mercies from God.

God manifests His love for us in innumerable ways. He gives us each day. He provides us with our food. He graces our lives with His presence. When we pray we are to give

The Lord waits for us to come to Him. Once we ask Him into our hearts, His door is always open, waiting for us, His children. He always listens to our concerns and needs. He pours out His love to us every time we ask.

As we returned home from a recent trip. I had a digestive accident. After I got the situation taken care of, I sat silently and prayed about my need. God listened and told me what I needed to do to discover what had caused the issue to come back into my life. He answered my prayer before we arrived home. He is so good to answer if we will just be patient and quiet and listen. He is merciful to me and to all of you.

Fear, Courage: God Is With Us  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD ...