Compassion

You do not know God by being compassionate, you become compassionate by knowing God.

How do I know if I am a compassionate person? Well, comparing ourselves among ourselves is not how we determine this. Rather, we should look at what Paul teaches in Colossians about compassion and see how we’re doing.

Jesus Christ is the perfect example of compassion. Mark 6:34 says, “And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.”

Use Discernment

There is so much need in our world that giving should be a part of our everyday lives. We give by serving, teaching, helping, and by sharing God’s love found in His Word with those around us. We should not only give to those who may return something to us, but we are encouraged to give to those who may never know us as their benefactor.

By nature, we are self-centered. In order for us to be truly compassionate we need an infusion of God’s divine nature (2Peter 1:4). Do you remember the parable Jesus spoke in Matthew 18: 23-35? He used an example of a king who was owed money, yet the servant was unable to repay him, so he begged for mercy and the king had compassion upon him and forgave him the debt he owed. But that same servant then turned around and went to someone who owed much less to him, and demanded that his borrower repay him everything he owed. The question the king then posed is: Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? It’s a picture of God’s generous mercy and compassion toward us, yet we often fail to do the same for others.

Self-Check

One way to tell if you are compassionate toward others is seen in your dedication to bringing hope to another soul. This can be done in a variety of ways, it helps to check your audit trail to see how your doing.

Do you carry a lifestyle of debt because of self-consumption? Compare your ongoing spending to how much are you giving out weekly or monthly to others? Following your treasure trail is a good way of determining your compassion level. Money is a primary root that shows what is growing from your tree.

A heart that is free of unforgiveness and bitterness is another. Has God forgiven you, yet you fail to forgive others?

Is your life consumned with your job, your house, your people and your interests? Or do you intentionally care for others with your time, talent and treasure?

God initiates

Our Father had compassion upon us when we weren’t even aware that we needed it. Think about salvation, how long did it take for you to realize that you desperately needed what God was offering you? Once the reality of your need was revealed, how did you respond?

God is the proactive, compassionate one in our world. When we express compassion to another it’s because He has first extended it to us and then puts His virtue into our hearts. Sometimes we express compassion for our own purposes, at other times God uses us for His divine plan.

Do you remember in Exodus 2:6 where it tells of Pharaoh’s daughter extending compassion toward the baby found in the river? “And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, this is one of the Hebrews’ children.” God placed compassion into the daughter of Pharaoh in order to save Moses’ life.

When we look at God’s compassion toward us, His creation, we see that it is His desire to multiply Himself and His character in our world through our lives. He demonstrated His compassion to us in offering salvation. John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Your response will determine your ability to increase in compassion to others.

Our Response

So, how do I know if I am a compassionate person? For the believer, we find in Colossians what Paul indicates our response to God’s compassion to us should be.

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy (compassion), kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:1-17).

Wow! That’s a lot right there. For the Christian, this is our script; here we have the goals for our life. It involves putting off our former, sinful ways and taking on the new way of life patterned after Christ. Look at what it says. It may feel impossible to be transformed as Paul writes here, but slowly you will if you allow the Holy Spirit to work in you.

Use Wisdom

Remember there are two kingdoms that believers are a part of simultaneously: the kingdom of this world and God’s Kingdom. They will never be reconciled prior to Jesus Christ’s coming to judge this world. So, do not become confused as to why there cannot be unity between the two: one is ruled by fallen principalities (Satan and his demons) the other by God (and His angels). We are daily caught in the tension between the two, as Jesus demonstrated and taught us.

We need to exercise wisdom concerning compassion we offer. Even within God’s kingdom, you’ll encounter those who are not in pursuit of what Paul is talking about. So, be careful as you attempt to care for someone as this could become a problem if you are not grounded firmly in scripture. Let me explain.

There are well-meaning, “compassionate” people who serve as enablers (aka codependents). By that I mean they want to do good for everybody, even to the point of being snared into a trap of the enemy (Jude 21-23). They find their fulfillment by taking on another’s responsibility and are used wrongfully. On both sides this becomes a form of idolatry. A very self-centered person, knowingly or not, will latch onto to an enabler. If you find yourself in relationship with someone like this, slow things down, and ask someone to help you discern the relationship. Your “compassion” may be serving to further feed their “flesh” that really needs to die (Col. 3:5-6).

I remember twenty years ago while living in Romania, I needed a pastor to help me with compassion as it pertained to beggars on the street. He explained scenarios in which the beggars make much more money by their “trade” than doing ligitimate work each day as the scripture teaches. Rather than humbling themselves and asking for help from God through the church, they deceive others. My “compassion” was fueling an unhealthy begging situation for this person and the upcoming generations. We can see this in our country through our social welfare system and how it has rendered many to become beggars.

As we exercise compassion, let us walk in humility and follow the Master’s pattern in scripture. Discern, learn from scripture, use wisdom to bring glory to God, He alone rightly deserves praise for any good that we have done.

Moms

Mother’s hands are used by God to nurture us until we reach His heavenly embrace… and a mother’s prayers are her most effective weapon.

I’m am thinking of a couple of moms that I want to remember today for different reasons. One is a young Mom who I came to know last Spring through an event at our church. Her prayer request during an alone time together was to have another baby; she already had a young son but had lost other babies by miscarriage. This Mother’s Day, a year later, she has another beautiful boy to love, nurture, and enjoy. This young woman’s heart cry and faith are inspiring, I enjoy seeing how she delights in her gifts from God. (Be inspired by reading Hannah’s story I Samuel 1 and 2:1-26.)

The second Mom that I want to commend, is someone whose son I’ve interacted with regularly. He’s a considerate and caring young man, generous and giving, and his employer seems to notice this as well. He is being recognized for these character qualities; the compass within, causes him to work with and manage people well. I observe here a young man with a mother who took the opportunity* to make motherhood her priority in order to fully invest in her children, rather than building her career during his early years. He, in turn, was able to take what she gave and made some good choices for his future. (*I realize many Moms today must work to provide for their family — no shame, no blame, we all have different scenarios to pray through and work with.)

Both of these adult children have mothers who’ve nurtured and invested in them, prayed for them, and now they, in turn, will invest in their children. So, how have they been prepared and equipped to do this well?

When I meet a young person like this, I consider their background and upbringing. I like to look behind the curtain of someone’s life, finding out who it was that nurtured, prayed for, and invested in their life. The values and views, and the good example this child grew up under doesn’t happen by default; diligent effort went into this child. They receive a compass–a guiding tool that is calibrated during these early formative years and it’s what they’ll use later to set their own course in life. I like to call it their compass; the inner sensor that points them in a certain direction.

Nubs & Mary 10-11-38
Norbert & Mary Niehaus Oct 11, 1938

As a child, I had a mother who nurtured me in many ways, while busily running the farm with my Dad. I’m thankful for their prayers and the God-compass they guided me toward. When I consider where I could have ended up compared to where my relationship with my Heavenly Father has taken me, I am grateful.

I’m thanking God for my Mom (and Dad) on this remembrance weekend. Parents are not perfect, and without the help of God none of us would do rightly. God can take all of the wrong and make it right and use it for good; it’s a promise He makes to those who love Him (Romans 8:29). Be thankful, grateful, seek God and see how He will write your story for His glory.

Photo Credit: Google Images, private

Genocide Denied

I recently watched a poignant documentary on genocide, the Armenian genocide that to this day the leaders of Turkey deny happened.

Genocide is sin, darkness, death, cruelty from man upon other human beings who’ve been created by God in His image; demonically inspired leaders of one ethnicity determined to destroy those of another.

Architects of Denial is the account of Turkey’s leaders ordering the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians beginning in 1915; and it has continued in various ways for the past 100 years. www.architectsofdenial.com

My husband traveled to Armenia in 1998. It was in the midst of our decision to adopt children abroad. He was there for another purpose, but had asked the woman who served as interpreter, “Would it be possible to adopt children from Armenia?” She replied, “Never! The Turks have slaughtered 1.5 million of our people; we will never let our children go to anyone.

Bible or the AxeHitler ordered his leadership to do the same, repeating this wicked genocide against Jewish people, and other groups, beginning in 1939. This is being repeated again in our world. Some Muslims of North Sudan have done the same to the beautiful Sudanese people of the South (read my friend’s account of his family’s suffering in the book The Bible or the Axe by William Levi). Sin continues and evil men will become even worse the Bible tells us.

Tortured: A Tribute to the Wumbrands

romania-653162__480I want to take opportunity to recognize a couple who paid a tremendous price for the gospel in Romania. They shared Christ’s love with the Russian soldiers who occupied their country during 1944, this event has been referred to as the “liberation of Romania by the glorious Soviet Army”.  But soon after liberation, many suffered under the communists as they infiltrated the country and took power. In December, 1989, the longtime Communist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena, were executed and this ended the 42 years of Communist rule in Romania. (credit: Wikipedia)

On Dec 1st, Romania celebrated their National Day which celebrates the unification of Transylvania into Greater Romania in 1918, as well as Bessarabia and Bukovina. I love the Romanian people, they are my family (literally and spiritually).

thThe Wumbrands, along with many others, suffered terribly undercommunism. Richard was imprisioned for 14 years, 3 years in solitary confinement. Sabina was arrested and confined to a labor camp. Here I want to share some video links that will give honor and tribute to this wonderful couple who have now gone on to heaven. They were pioneers to the persecuted church, for those suffering then and now.

Please watch the incredble story of their overcoming faith.

For Children: The Story of Richard Wurmbrand (36 minute video)

Upcoming 2018 Movie: Tortured for Christ (Trailer #1-Richard, Trailer #2-Sabina)

Richard’s Testimony: Tortured for Christ (5 min) Solitary Confinement (10 min)

(Video availiblity via Youtube)

Note: King Michael died on Tuesday, Dec 5, the last ruling monarch of Romania.

Thanksgiving Thoughts

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV
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I had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration.  This year it was very easy for me to BE thankful. We have the choice to be thankful, yet this can be difficult when we feel overwhelmed by the circumstances of our life.  There are times when it seems all we can see is the problem that is facing us.  I’ve been there.  As I look back upon those seasons of my life, I realize that God gave me opportunities and godly people to help me humbly walk through them — it took trusting Him, even though I felt like sitting and giving up.  Have you been there?

The good thoughts I can share for those who are in a difficult season now would be to read what I call my theme chapter of the Bible: Psalm 1 (Amp). It is a promise to God’s children that if we will continue walking according to His Counsel (advice and example) and meditating  upon His Law (precepts and teachings) we will not only make it through the difficulty, but shall prosper (come to maturity). Dwelling in God’s Word is what changes our mind about the circumstances we face. Once we THINK right, we can then DO right, and then we will FEEL right. It is truly like being a tree planted in living water.  The Zoe (Spiritual: eternal, divine) life of God is where we receive His abundance.  And this life, referred to by Jesus in John 10:10, can then influenece our Bios (Biological: physical) and Psuche (Psychological/Soul: mind, will, emotions) life.

Start by thanking God for His great love for you. Take in His Word and renew your mind so that you will be able to comprehend the riches He offers you in Christ.  Soon you will find your mind lining up with the Word of God and thankfulness will come.  Encourage yourself in the Lord daily.

May God’s love and peace be yours this Christmas season.  Remember, God is looking for you be someone He may extend His love and mercy through — there are souls around us in need of a Saviour.

(Photo credit: Mine–View of Lake Champlain from our daughters’ apartment where I shared a nice Thanksgiving breakfast with them before heading south to enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with our son and his immediate and extended family.)