A COMPASSIONATE HEART

When your children were young, did they ever have an accident that resulted in a broken bone, or perhaps a burn or a sprain?  Often the injury is the result of some foolishness on the child’s part.  Perhaps the child is doing something that he/she knows they should not do, or perhaps he/she is taking a shortcut through an area that is dangerous, or perhaps he/she decides to try flying! 

But, the cause is not relevant to the pain in the parent’s heart!  When your child is injured, that hurt, while not physical, brings such pain to your heart that it is as if you had sustained the injury too.

Child's cast
Child’s cast for his broken leg.

When dealing with the immediate aftermath of the injury, the focus is necessarily on getting help, treating the wound, stemming the tears and insuring no further harm is experienced.  And, while this is going on, compassion is enabling us to handle things that we never dreamed we could.

Compassion – sympathy, empathy, commiseration, feeling, pity, tenderness.  This is just one of the emotions we feel when someone we love is injured.  Compassion frequently expresses itself in an anguished cry on behalf of the one who is, or will be, experiencing pain.

Jesus is known for His compassion as is evidenced in the Gospels, for example, when He fed the 5,000 people who came to remote locations to hear Him teach. 

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”

Mark 6:34 NIV

Jesus’ compassion expressed itself by an anguished cry in the book of Luke, when He was on His way to Jerusalem, the city in which He would stand trial and be crucified.  As He was on the road to the city, Jesus said:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

Luke 13:34

The compassion of our God is evidenced throughout Scripture, both Old and New Testaments.  Consider Moses’ discourse to the Israelites as he recounted what happened during the wilderness years.  In Deuteronomy 5:27 Moses reminds the people of their promise to do all that God said, and then he tells them what God said to him in response to the people’s promise:

“’Go near and hear all that the LORD our God will say and speak to us all that the LORD our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.’ And the LORD heard your words, when you spoke to me. And the LORD said to me, ‘I have heard the words of this people, which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken.  Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever!  Go and say to them, “Return to your tents.” But you, stand here by me, and I will tell you the whole commandment and the statutes and the rules that you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land that I am giving them to possess.'”

Deuteronomy 5:27-31

God chose His people and loves them as a Father.  In verse 29, you can almost hear the anguish when God said, “Oh that they had such a heart as this always”.  God’s compassionate heart screamed the desire that His people would be loyal and devoted to His worship and that they would obey His commands.   He wanted it to “go well with them and with their descendants forever” and such would be the case if they were obedient, if they would make good on their promise of that day!  But He also knew that this would not happen!

Punishment is forgotten when the injury occurs.  Fix the injury, then consider  the punishment.  In Israel’s case, their punishment was wandering in the wilderness for 40 years and, later in their history, captivity and removal to Babylon, all because of disobedience.

How like the Old Testament folk we are.  We read Scripture and say that we will do what it says.  But, like our New Year’s Resolutions, slowly but surely, we forget about the words of Scripture as the things of everyday life push it out of our minds and schedules.  We want to do what God says, but we just can’t seem to pull it off.

It is for this reason that Jesus Christ was born, lived a perfect life of obedience to God’s commands, had no sin in Himself, but took our sin on Himself, that we might have life through belief in His Name.

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” – John 20:30-31

When we commit our hearts to Jesus, when we fall at the cross and acknowledge Him as our Lord and Master, then we will receive forgiveness of our sin and the Spirit can infuse us with the nature that Jesus Christ had.  We will still sin, surely, because we are a sinful people.  But there is forgiveness and restoration through the cross of Christ upon our confession and repentance. 

Then we can express compassion that is not self-centered or self-aggrandizing.  Rather, our compassion will be a characteristic of our loving Father, of our Savior Jesus Christ, and from the Holy Spirit Who will give it to us as we seek to do the Father’s will in our world.

Blessings to you today as you serve our God and Savior.

Father, I pray that I would exhibit Your compassion to those that I meet.  May my heart break for the things that break Your heart, Lord Jesus, and may I express my compassion through the power of the Holy Spirit in words, thoughts and deeds that glorify Your Name.

GOD’S ARTISTRY – A TESTIMONY TO HIS CHARACTER

 

Throughout the Southeast United States we have been experiencing record-breaking heat at a time where the calendar would suggest that we should be having much cooler temperatures.  And we need rain!  

fall-colors-in-east-tennessee
Fall colors in the mountains of East Tennessee.

However, while the need for rain is certainly significant, there is a blessing side of the situation.  The leaf-bearing shrubs, trees and vegetation are so colorful that they create a scene that exceeds any picture that an artist’s pallet would create.  Because we have not had rain or wind, the leaves have remained on the trees and the colors have retained their brilliance much longer than in recent years.

east-tennessee-vista-with-colorful-leaves
Fall colors along the roadway.

East Tennessee is always beautiful with the mountains and the gentle rolling hills … the majority of which are covered in a wide variety of trees.  Now, however, God’s pallet of colors is on vivid display in the hills and valleys of the area.

neighborhood-fall-leaves
Neighborhood trees on colorful display.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Romans 1:20

Paul in Romans is noting that the human race has no excuse for denying God’s power because it is so clearly on display in His creation.  Simply put, creation evidences God’s attributes that are invisible to us, His eternal power and His divine nature, His goodness and His beauty. 

In fact, Scripture has much to say about the beauty of God and we find that beauty is one of His attributes, an attribute that is evidenced not only by His creation but also by His directives regarding worship due to Him.

When God’s people were in the wilderness, we read that God directed the design of the tabernacle, the place where He was going to be with His people.  It was to be made with gold, with purple cloth, with all assortments of gems, jewels and craftsmanship.  It would be dazzling in the sun and would reflect God’s beauty and glory to all who looked at it.  In fact, God directed that this beauty extended even to the clothing that the priests were to wear:

And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. …  “For Aaron’s sons you shall make coats and sashes and caps. You shall make them for glory and beauty.

Exodus 28:2, 40.

David, in the Psalms, speaks of the “beauty of the Lord” in a number of places, but here are two examples:

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

Psalm 27:4

Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Psalm 96:6

But there is beauty in God’s creation not only on a panoramic scale but on a small scale as well, and not just when the leaves turn colors.  Think about the the beauty and variety of apples.

carvers-orchard-10-2016-apple-basked
A bushel of apples from the orchard.

Consider too the variety of winged gourds.

carvers-orchard-10-2016-winged-gourds
Winged gourds directly from the farm!

We won’t even begin to think about the variety of flowers, trees, animals, fish … people!

 For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!

Zechariah 9:17a.

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love [goodness] endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble … Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love [goodness], for his wondrous works to the children of man!

Psalm 107:1-2, 8

“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!”   Tell others of your relationship with this wonderful, loving, God of creation Who is the very definition of goodness and Who has extended His unspeakable grace and love in sending Jesus Christ, His only Son, to be our Savior and Lord. 

When you look at the beauty of creation this autumn, let it remind you of the glory of our God and of our Lord Jesus. 

Let it remind you of the beauty of our omniscient and omnipresent God who love you and who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the atoning sacrificial Lamb so we could have life eternal through His name.  John 20:31.

Let it speak to your heart and soul and mind, and let your mouth sing praise to Him for His goodness to the children of men.  

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!

Here is John Rutter’s beautiful arrangement of the hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth” as sung by The Cambridge Singers.  

 

 

 

Father, forgive me when I get so focused on the issues in the news, the distress of others, the materialistic culture around me … that I forget that You are my Father and I have no reason to quake.  Forgive me when I look at the beautiful colors in your creation and only see dead leaves on the walkway.  Forgive me when I see only sinful people when I should be looking at people with your eyes of love and compassion.  Forgive me when I fail to tell others of your steadfast love and wondrous works to the children of men.  Give me strength, dear Father, to following your commands through my Lord and Savior, your Son, Jesus Christ.