MONTHLY ARCHIVES: May 2014

Active Compassion

Posted on May 28, 2014 by Karah

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Start your time alone with God by considering this quote:

People may excite in themselves a glow of compassion, not by toasting their feet at the fire, and saying: ‘Lord, teach me compassion,’ but by going and seeking an object that requires compassion.”

—Henry Ward Beecher

Read Mark 6:30-43 in its entirety in your Bible.

“So as He stepped ashore, He saw a huge crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then He began to teach them many things.”

—Mark 6:34

The Greek word used for compassion here, splanchnizomai, is only used of Jesus in the New Testament (Matt. 18:27; Luke 20:33;15:20). It suggests more than pity and involves action. How did Jesus show compassion to the people? How has He shown it to you?

Re-read verses 34-35,42. Jesus saw the peoples’ spiritual need and met it, then recognized their physical need—hunger—and met it. What does that tell you about how you should reach out to others?

Consider Jesus’ response when He saw the people and their needs and contrast it with the disciples’ response. Which better describes how you view others? Why?

Respond

It is impossible for us to minister effectively in the world if we ignore physical or spiritual needs. We must work to meet both. Think about the needs in your church, community, or world. Which ones do you feel led to meet? Jot down two ways you’ll take action to meet those needs this week.

Is there someone in your life to whom it is hard to show compassion? Pray for that person this week, asking God to help you see them through Jesus’ eyes.

Behind the Story

Of the miracles of Jesus, the Feeding of the 5,000 is the only one recorded in all four gospels. The disciples approached the peoples’ hunger with human wisdom and concluded they could do nothing to help. The lack of resources allowed Jesus the opportunity to display His power and show the disciples that God is not limited by what we can see and supply.

The Point

We must show compassion to those around us, reaching out to meet physical and spiritual needs.


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A Happy Father

Posted on May 20, 2014 by Karah

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Put away anything that might distract you. Thank God for the day He has given you and ask Him to use this time in His Word to transform your life, desires, and actions.

Read the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. What’s your favorite part of the story? Why? Sketch your favorite scene or jot down a few ideas about why this scene captures your heart.

“So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.”

—Luke 15:20

Think through these questions:

• What does this parable teach you about God’s compassion for you?

• The rebellious son left home with his inheritance and squandered it. Later, he “came to his senses” and went home, admitting his sin to his father (v. 21). What does this passage teach you about true repentance and God’s response to it?

Respond

God isn’t passive when it comes to His children. He seeks us out, provides opportunities for us to respond to the gospel, and—like the father in the parable—is actively waiting for us to return to Him.

• If you are a Christian, take some time to thank God for the way He drew you to Himself and continues to work in your life.

• If you are not a believer, know that God will not force you to follow Him. But He longs for you to admit your sin and come to Him, something He celebrates with great joy. Don’t let this opportunity to respond to His gospel pass you by.

Behind the Story

In the culture of Jesus’ day, it was considered degrading for an elderly man to run. But in Jesus’ story, the father ran to his son and threw his arms around him. This is a picture of how God responds to us when we come to Him for salvation. God is eager to receive sinners. When we come in repentance, He responds with love, joy, and acceptance.

The Point

Because He is compassionate, God meets repentant sinners where they are. He celebrates when we return to Him.


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Broken Hearts

Posted on May 13, 2014 by Karah

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Think about a time when you were overwhelmed by grief. How did God show you His compassion during that time? Thank Him for His compassion toward you.

Think about that time when you were overwhelmed with grief again. How did you feel? How did you express your grief? Circle any words or feelings that apply:

scared                                                  confused                                                                     

overwhelmed                                       remorseful                                                                  

upset                                                    sorrowful

wanted to be alone                              wanted to ignore it

You’ve probably grieved after the death of someone you love or the loss of a dream or relationship. But have you ever grieved or wept over your sin? Think about that as you read Joel 2:12-13.

“Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the Lord your God. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and He relents from sending disaster.”

—Joel 2:13

• In the Old Testament, tearing your clothing was a symbol of grief and repentance. What have you had to mourn over in your life in order to make a change and live differently? Explain.

• Joel said outward expressions of grief meant nothing if the person’s heart wasn’t changed. Think about this in relation to sin and repentance. How do you know this to be true?

Respond

• Mull over this thought: Real repentance is more than saying you’re sorry. It involves a change in the way you live, think, or act.

• Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and your life and reveal any sin that needs to confessed. Truly mourn over it and repent.

• For further study on repentance, read 2 Corinthians 7:5-11 and listen to “Why You Brought Me Here” by Andy Gullahorn.

Behind the Story

While the Old Testament often calls people to circumcise their hearts, this is the only instance it mentions tearing their hearts. This suggests deep grief over sin and a commitment to change. Living according to God’s standard isn’t about following rules, but rather submitting your life to His control.

The Point

Genuine repentance is more than just words. When we truly repent, God forgives because He is compassionate.


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Open Arms

Posted on May 6, 2014 by Karah

06.14.13_Skills39Pause

Of all the things on your “to-do” list today, nothing is more important than hearing a word from God. Ask God to reorder your priorities and help you read and apply His Word to your life.

Read Micah 7:18-19. The prophet lists several things that make God unique in these verses. Underline them as you read them.

“Who is a God like You, removing iniquity and passing over rebellion for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not hold on to His anger forever, because He delights in faithful love. He will again have compassion on us; He will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

—Micah 7:18-19

God is incomparable; no one and no other god can do what He can. Do you live like you believe this? Why or why not?

The Hebrew word for “compassion,” rāham, denotes a tender love, like the love of a mother for a child. What would it be like if this wasn’t part of His character?

“Vanquish our iniquities” and the idea of casting our sin into the depths of the sea points to God’s forgiveness. In Christ, He has defeated the enemy of sin and taken away our guilt. It isn’t just out of sight, but out of reach, out of mind, and out of existence.

Respond

• Take a few minutes to ask the same rhetorical question Micah posed: “Who is a God like You?” Spend some time praising Him simply for who He is. Thank Him for your salvation.

• If you have never trusted Jesus for salvation, the astounding truth that God has defeated sin may not mean much to you. Respond to God’s invitation today.

• For further study on God’s forgiveness of sin, read Isaiah 43:25; Jeremiah 31:34; Matthew 26:28; Acts 10:43; Colossians 2:13; and Hebrews 8:12.

Behind the Story

On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, present-day Jews fast and pray, spending most of day in the synagogue. It is the holiest day of the year, during which the people confess their sins and seek God’s forgiveness. Toward the end of the day, Micah 7:18-20 is read. While we clearly see the gospel in these verses, Jews do not. Yom Kippur will be observed in September. Spend some time praying that many peoples’ eyes will be opened to God’s forgiveness in Christ this year.

The Point

There is no one like our compassionate God. Only He can defeat our sin and completely forgive us.


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