Prayer for the Church

 

If my people

The past several weeks have awakened in me the need to pray for our nation.  Yes, I admit I should’ve already been doing this, but the fact of the matter is I hadn’t been.  The Lord really brought this home during our Independence Celebration at my church as our pastor spoke on “A Prayer for the Nation.”  Through that sermon I began to seek God in developing a specific prayer (and have actually used part of that sermon in this prayer).  Since that time there have been several turns of events in our nation, as well as around the world.  I began to read Facebook posts and saw animosity popping up everywhere, even from Christians.  It was really disheartening to see such derogatory remarks being made and pointing fingers and taking sides.  My son-in-law, who is the pastor of a church in our local community, wrote a post that I felt pretty much hit the nail on the head and placed blame where blame was due – the devil.  He is working overtime stealing, killing and destroying.  It’s the principalities, powers and the rulers of darkness we, the church, should be warring against.  As I sat down to start writing a prayer for what I thought was going to be for our nation, it turned out to be primarily a prayer for the church, the body of Christ.  I believe we have failed miserably in seeking God’s face for our nation and the world around us.  I’ll go ahead and make this personal – it’s sad that it’s taken such horrific events to bring me to the point of seeking God on behalf of America.  Below is my prayer – for myself, for the church and for our nation.

Dear Father,

I know our time is short before Jesus comes back for His bride.  You have called us to be holy just as you are holy, so Father, I humble myself before You and repent of any sin in my life.  I ask you to wash me anew and reveal to me any areas in my life that have not brought You glory and honor.  I shift my focus from the things of this world to You.  The enemy has sent distractions, both personally and on a national and global level; however, I realize that he is the enemy that has come to steal, kill and destroy, but You came to give us life.

You have called us to be the salt of the earth.  Just as salt seasons and flavors, help us to enhance and favorably influence the people and society around us.  I will resist moral corruption and decay, and preserve a Godly influence in my life so that I can influence the world around me.  I will be a light not only so they will see my good deeds but will see You through me and praise and glorify You, therefore dispelling and overtaking darkness.  I ask for boldness so that I will not be timid, but be like a city set on a hill.

I pray for those that are in authority, Father, from a local level all the way to our president, as well as those in our upcoming elections.  Lord, convict hearts and bring them to a place of repentance.  Your Word tells us that Your love draws us to repentance, so I ask that You will send people across their paths to show them and minister to them Your love, and that they would realize their need for You.  Lord, for those who are Christians, I ask for a spiritual renewal.  I ask for Godly wisdom and guidance.  Lord, give them boldness to represent You in a way that brings You glory.  I ask that they would find favor among men in order to accomplish Your will.  I ask for protection over those that serve.  Where there is corruption, I ask that truth would come forth and repentance abound.  I ask for divine guidance through Your Holy Spirit.

Lord, I seek Your face for my own life, as well as for my nation.   Father, I know that our fight isn’t against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers and the rulers of the darkness of this age.  Lord, I come before You now and I ask You to move in my life and in Your church, which I know You’re already doing, and in this nation.  I pray that Your strong right arm would be extended and that Your love would so abound through Your church that this world would see You in us in a big and mighty way.   I come against the principalities of darkness.  Your Word tells us You are light and I pray, Father God, that that light would dispel the darkness and reveal what the enemy is doing.

Father God, I pray that Your people would stop pointing fingers, and that we would not play into the devil’s schemes of division, strife, hatred and deception.  I pray that we would submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as He quickens us as to what we should say and do.  As Your church we are Your ambassadors, Your representatives, so I pray that we would strive to represent You well.  Help us to be a people that walk uprightly before You, Lord, that we would see and recognize and use the authority that You have given us on this earth through the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, and that we would realize that the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us.  Lord, help us to boldly take a stand for You and come against these principalities of darkness.  I pray that we would no longer sit idly by and twiddle our thumbs and say there’s nothing we can do when the greatest thing that we can do is come before Your throne on behalf of Your church, our nation and the world around us.

Lord, I submit to You.  I submit to You spirit, soul and body to be the person that You created me to be.  Father God, I am willing to be transformed.  I renew my mind by Your Word and I am willing to be transformed into the person that you created me to be and if there’s anything in my life that doesn’t represent that person, Father God, I put it off right now in the name of Jesus.  I put off timidity.  I put off anxiety.  I put off fear.  Lord, I put off worthlessness and I take up that person that You have created me to be as Your daughter and I walk boldly in who I am in You.  I cast down thoughts and imaginations that the enemy may put into my head that I’m anything less.  Lord, I receive right now and I walk in what You’ve created me to be.

I ask, Father God, that Your church, Your body, would be unified; that we would be unified in standing and coming before Your throne and seeking Your face not as powerless people, but as a people that have power through the blood of Jesus.  Lord, I pray that we would walk in the fullness of what You’ve provided for us, that we would get into Your Word and find out exactly what that is and that we would walk boldly in it.  I pray that we would be the church that You’ve created us to be, and that we would be that member of the body that You’ve created us to be.  Lord, I pray that Your love would so abound in us that it would show through our countenance wherever we go.

Lord, I pray that everywhere we step our foot we would know that You are with us as we dwell in that secret place of the Most High.  I thank You, Father, for the angels that You have given charge over us.  You are our refuge and our fortress, and we lean and rely on You.

Father God, I thank You for Your Holy Spirit that You have imparted to us, that part of You that lives within us, and I pray that He would divinely guide us.  Guide our words, Lord; guide our actions so that we bring glory and honor to You.  I praise You, Father God, for all that You’ve given us; for all of Your grace; Your ability on top of our own ability.  Lord, we can do nothing on our own accord but through You we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  Lord, You have provided us with the means to do whatever You have called us to do.  Lord, I ask that You would continually remind us of that.  I thank You for that, Lord.  I ask for Your continued grace and mercy, and for Your continued guidance, Lord.  You are a mighty God, and it’s in the mighty name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

A Prayer to the Mender

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Lord, I know that You love me more than I’ll ever now.  You love me in the deepest way possible and only You can fill the void.  So here are all the broken pieces of my heart.  Take them ever so gently in Your hands and restore my heart back to wholeness.  Take the hurt and gently caress it, bring it close to Your own heart and send life flowing back into my innermost being.  Take the pieces that have been crushed and put them in the palms of Your hands, and bringing them ever so close to Your lips, speak words of tenderness and love so that they melt and join together to form a heart that begins to take on a resemblances of Your own.  I love you, Lord, and I trust you, and I know you’ll never leave more nor forsake me.  I know I don’t have to prove myself to you anymore, and that You accept me as I am.  I do want to be more like You and be the complete person You created me to be.  I embrace the plans You have for my life and I trust You as we begin this new journey.  Father, I ask this in the precious name of Jesus, Your Son, who valued me enough to spill His own precious blood.  Amen and Amen!

Reflections

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(Walk through doors of church.)

Me:  (Hmmm, there’s a smiling face).  Good morning!  I’m good, how are you?

Me:  (Uh oh, can you say grumpy?  Looks like she just lost her best friend.  Just throw out a fake smile and keep on walking).

Holy Spirit:  You know you could’ve stopped and given a real hug, asked how she’s doing and at least tell her you’ll be praying for her.

Me:  Yeah, but I probably would’ve forgotten by the time I got to my seat.

Holy Spirit:  Well, you could’ve taken the time right then and there to pray for her.

Me:  (No response)  Oh hey, sister.  How are you doing this morning?

Sister:  Hey!  I’m doing good.  So are you okay with us not really having a say so in what goes on around here?  I know – I don’t need to be stirring up stuff but . . .

Me:  (Are you serious right now?  Where did this attitude come from?  Just let me get away from this person.)

Holy Spirit:  You know she’s had a rough past.  She’s probably struggling with bitterness.

Me:  I know, but I thought she was a bigger person than that.  I’m so disappointed right now.  She just needs to get over it.

Holy Spirit:  Have you forgotten where you came from?  Have you forgotten how long it took you to let go of your past, to find you sense of self-worth and “get over it?”

Me:  (Ouch)

Holy Spirit:  Did you think that maybe I allowed your paths to cross this morning so you could be praying for her? It may be that a door will open and you’ll be able to share your story and minister to her.

Me:  I guess not.  I really need to work on my prayer life.  I mean, we converse all the time, but I’ve been kind of slack in praying for others.  I’ll work on that.

Holy Spirit:  You know, if you’re wanting me to use you to help other women, you have to be sensitive to my leading.  You have to show compassion to them instead of turning a cold shoulder and feeling like you don’t have time for them.  They may disappoint you, but then that would be all about you.  You should be moved by compassion just as Jesus was.

Me:  True, but I just get tired of seeing such sad, gloomy Christians with bad attitudes. I know I haven’t walked in her particular situation, or anybody’s situation for that matter, but I’ve been through some tough stuff too, some of which nobody knows about.  I know there’s a way to get past the bitterness and the hurt.  She’s in a good church and preaches the uncompromised word of God, but yet she chooses to carry this bitterness around with her.

Holy Spirit:  Then you also know things aren’t as simple as you make them out to be.  Things take time.  How many times did you wish someone could look inside and see the hurt you were going through and just be a friend to you?

(Reality hits.)

Me:  I guess sometimes I think I’ve come to a place in life and all of a sudden I realize I’m not where I thought I was.  Something happens or someone says the wrong thing – unintentionally – and I take it personally.  I get easily offended when those certain buttons get pushed and now I see I’m not where I thought I was.  I know I still have those vulnerable spots and the enemy knows where they are and he knows how to push them.  However, that’s not an excuse for me to be uncompassionate towards others.  Instead of being critical or getting disappointed I need to be saying “Okay God, you put this person in front of me and I know that there’s a need here, so I lift them up to you.  I ask, Father God, that You would minister Your peace to them, that You would reveal to them things that You would have them to know and do to get rid of this bitterness,” and then even take it a step further and say “Lord, even if I can even be an instrument in Your hands then let me be that instrument.  I’m willing to do whatever You need me to do for this person.”  I guess this is about more than the external side I see in people.  It’s more about getting past my own self and looking through God’s eyes.  It’s about discerning opportunities You put in front of me and looking beyond the surface and being willing to be used by You.

I guess sometimes the reason we’re easily offended is because it strikes a bad chord.  It reminds of our past, our feelings of insignificance and worthlessness.  It reminds us of our failures.  It’s during these times we find ourselves looking for a friend – not for pity but just a friend to remind us of where we’ve come from and where we are now.  When someone sees past the outside and knows we’re hurting on the inside and the Holy Spirit gives them just the right words we need to hear instead, that’s compassion.  It’s not being thrown a fake smile or given a cold shoulder; it’s saying “What can I do?  Let me pray for you.”

The phrase “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” keeps coming to mind.  If I want God to use me in a ministry for women then I can’t turn a cold shoulder and a hard heart to them.  I can’t say, “You need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”  Sometimes it takes another hand to pull them up because sometimes they can’t even find their bootstraps, and when they can’t find their bootstraps, maybe – just maybe – I need to be that servant that kneels down and helps them up, even if it’s just to hand them their bootstraps.

Lesson learned.  Lord forgive me as I’ve failed miserably this time, but I won’t next time.

Holy Spirit:  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

(End script)

I would encourage you to reflect over the past few weeks and months and see if there were any lost opportunities, and if there are try to make them your last.

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”

Colossians 3:12-14 (The Message)

Green is NOT Your Color

Envy

“Did you see those shoes she had on?”

“Yeah, they’re really cute!”

“Isn’t that the same pair you tried on just the other day?”

“Yeah – yeah they are.  I didn’t have the money to get them.”

And the GPS in our head says “In 200 feet turn left onto Envy Street.”

I have found myself in a very unlikeable place recently.  There are some things I really want to do, things that I truly believe God is leading me into and it’s been taking a while to come to fruition.  I don’t expect things to just fall into place and happen overnight, but a little something here and there to let me know I’m on the right track wouldn’t hurt.  Yes, I’m trusting God and waiting on Him.  Unfortunately, it would appear that this green slime has been seeping in through the cracks and I guess I just turned a blind eye to it.  Have you seen the commercial on TV where the house is flooding and the man just sits in his chair reading his newspaper seemingly oblivious to the fact the water is rising?  Yeah, well that would’ve been me recently, except instead of flood waters it’s been green yucky slime.  But then something happened!!

I went to my daughter and son-in-law’s church last Sunday night (really enjoy hearing him preach); however, his uncle was preaching instead – which is all good because I enjoy hearing him as well, but little did I know that I was there for more than just a visit.  He preached on how Satan knows our weak spots and how he can subtly slide right in and start pushing our buttons, reminding us of our past, or tempting us to go back to our old way of life, or whatever that weakness might be.  He demonstrated his point in a very effective way; as a matter of fact it took me a few seconds to realize what he was doing.  He sat down beside a lady on the front row, kind of like what I would call “buddying up” to her and said in a low voice something to the effect of “You know, we used to go out and . . .” at which point the lady pushed him away.  He jumped up and said “That’s what you’ve got to do when the devil comes at you.”  (These aren’t verbatim quotes, but you get the idea.)  I was thinking wow, that’s a really good illustration.  The service ended, I hung around and talked a little and came home . . . and then I got on Facebook.  If I could insert emoticons here, there would be a whole line of them.  I saw where a lady who had just started coming to my church had listed on her page some of the things she was doing and they all included everything – everything – I wanted to be doing.  Not only that, I saw where another lady in our church was also doing a couple of them.  (Sorry for my vagueness on what the things are, but they need to remain undisclosed right now.)  Unfortunately my reaction to this news wasn’t the best.  I’m telling you I got mad.  (Did you see someone slip in and side down beside me, because I sure didn’t?)  Then one thought led to another and before long I was mad at just about everybody on Facebook that was doing anything even remotely similar to what I wanted to be doing.  Unfortunately this wasn’t short-lived because I let the devil follow me around the whole next day.  I mean I was mad at the whole world.

Well, Monday evening it hit me.  Not only had I not pushed the devil away, but I’d let him tag along all day long.  And what’s even worse, my eyes were open to the real source of the problem here – jealousy and envy – and it wasn’t a pretty sight.  I couldn’t believe how my feelings were based on such selfishness.  Instead of thinking “Hey, that’s pretty cool.  I need to connect with them.  They may be able to give me some pointers,” I was envious.  I should’ve been glad that God was using them and be supportive of their ministries, but instead all I could see was what they were doing and what I wasn’t doing.  Then the thought hit me that just about knocked my feet out from underneath me – How can God use me in the ministry He has for me if I can’t be supportive and happy for others and their success and the work they’re doing for the Lord.  And yet another thought came – I’d been in a “mopey” kind of mood for a few weeks and was trying to figure out where my joy had gone, and I thought no wonder; there’s no joy in having such a self-centered attitude.  It was right then and there I said no, this is not the person I want to be.  I don’t want my world to revolve around little ole me.  I don’t want to be wallowing around in self-pity and throwing pity parties every time I see how someone else is succeeding, no matter in what area of their life it may be in.

I was reading some scriptures on jealous and envy, and they keep company with some pretty bad dudes.  Galatians 5:19-20 says “Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear (obvious): they are immorality, impurity, indecency, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies), envy, drunkeness, carousing, and the like. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Amplified) (Italics mine).  Yes, I know that this is a flesh thing too, but I think there are times when the enemy and our flesh join hands and come in like a flood.

The last part of this chapter in Galatians talks about being led by either the Holy Spirit or by our own desires.  Verses 22 through 23 tell us what the work of the Holy Spirit within us accomplishes:  “But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].”  (Amplified)

To take it a step further, verse 24 says “And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.”  (Amplified)  Many times our flesh will rear its old ugly head and resist the leading of the Holy Spirit, but if we stay attuned to the Spirit and follow His lead, we can very quickly put our flesh in its place – and the devil.  Verses 25 and 26 put it very plainly – “If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.]  Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another.” (Amplified)

Let me tell you what else jealousy does.  It shows an ungrateful attitude towards God.  Often times while we’re having our pity party we turn our focus on God and start questioning – “Well, so-and-so has this or they’ve done that and I’m sitting here with nothing!”  Friend, shaking your finger in the face of God is a dangerous place to be.  When we have envy and jealousy in our heart, we have a tendency to look everywhere but inward – focusing on others and questioning God.  It may be that God is preparing you for what He has for you to do.  We may need to do some housecleaning and some mind-cleaning.  We may need to get rid of the muck that has us stuck so we can move forward.  If you can look around you or look back in your life and see one thing God has blessed you with, you should be grateful.  My guess is you’re going to find a whole lot more than one – a roof over your head, clothes on your back, food on the table – and that’s just a start.  Our focus needs to change from what we don’t have to what we do have.  We also need to look inward and see if a transformation needs to take place.

So if you seem to have lost your joy and can’t seem to get out of the muck, look behind you and see who might be tagging along.  Look inward and see who’s in control – the Holy Spirit or your flesh. I encourage you to kick your “pity-party buddies” out the door and shut that thing down.  Get before the Lord and repent.  He’s ready to forgive and help get you moving in the right direction.

Father God, I repent of jealousy and envy.  I ask You to forgive me and wash me anew.  Open my eyes to the work You’re doing in me.  I submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and crucify my flesh.  I do thank You for all that You have blessed me with – from the smallest to the greatest.  Thank you for loving me and leading me.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Living the lie???

not good enough

Have you ever wondered what Eve looked like?  We know she was created in the image of God, but that doesn’t really help us to create an image of her in our minds.  Maybe she was a brunette with beautiful brown eyes with a nose that turned up just a tiny bit and dimples that appeared ever so slightly when she smiled.  Or maybe her hair fell in blonde curls around her shoulders and her eyes were as blue as the sea that lit up when she laughed and the most beautiful complexion you’ve ever seen.  I’m sure in God’s eyes she was absolutely beautiful – and probably Adam’s too – no matter the color of her hair or her eyes, or the shape of her nose.  I’m also pretty sure there were no insecurities to be found in her.  I’m sure she didn’t think her hair was too straight or too curly, or her nose was too long or her mouth not the right shape.  I don’t imagine she ever thought of herself as not quite good enough, that is until that subtle, crafty serpent came on the scene.  We all know the story, but let’s look at it in a slightly different view.

When Satan showed up, doubt showed up.  He started out with the question “Did God really say you couldn’t eat from every tree in the garden?”  He twisted what God had told Adam and Eve just enough to get her thoughts going.  Eve knew exactly what God had said, as she repeated back to Satan what God had told them.  However, he had planted what I’m going to call a “thought seed” that started the ball rolling in her head and caused her to ultimately doubt what God had told them.  With that seed planted, he brought out the watering can – “Surely you won’t die.  What does that mean anyway?  You know, the truth of the matter is God knows if you eat of that tree your eyes will be open and you’ll be just like Him.”

Now we don’t know from scripture the whole thought process that was going on in Eve’s head, but what if it went something like this:  “Hmmm, I could be just like God.  You know, I’ve never noticed it before but there are some areas I could improve on that could make me better than what I am now.”  Then she looks at the tree and her senses kick in.  The Amplified puts it this way – “She saw that the tree was good – suitable and pleasant – for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise.” (Genesis 3:6)  It was as that moment she bought into the lie of the enemy, and her eyes were surely opened, and we as women have been buying into the lie ever since – not good enough.

We want to be delightful to look at.  We want to be desired, and yes, as women we do.  I believe God created us that way.  However, when we start doubting God’s creation because we don’t measure up according to the world’s standards then we’ve bought into the lie that we’re not “good enough”.  Our head is filled with all of our shortcomings and we begin grasping for all the things the world offers.  We check out all the fad diets, change our hair color and even the color of our eyes, but to what end?  Please don’t get me wrong here, I have nothing against makeup or coloring your hair and taking care of yourself, but not to the extent of trying to change who you are or in an effort to “measure up.”  We need to accept the person that God created us to be.

I’ve read some really good blogs this week that pertain to this same matter and according to the comments that have been posted, this is an all too common issue with women, and I find myself wishing I had the one right word or the one right phrase that would go right the heart of every woman reading this.  With that said, I think if we go back to the garden and look at how Satan planted that one “thought seed” that caused Eve to doubt not only God’s instructions but also herself, we’ll see the root of the problem.  Very simply put, a thought.  Often the enemy will very subtly slip a thought in our mind that we’re not good enough, and he’ll do in such a way that will catch our attention in a very personal way.  He might bring to our remembrance something someone said to us, and like he did with Eve, ever so slightly twist it just enough that it begins to consume our minds to the point that everything we’ve heard and learned about who we are in Christ gets pushed back in left field somewhere.  It may be memories from the past that come in out of the blue and flood our mind.  Sadly, for some of us we’ve harbored these thoughts and believed these lies for years.

Something as simple as a thought; a thought that should have been checked at the door.  So what do we do with these thoughts?  Second Corinthians 10:5 says “We demolish arguments and every arrogance that raises itself up against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey the Messiah.” (Complete Jewish Bible).  I’ll share with you an analogy I heard a few weeks ago.  We put a bouncer at the door of our mind and every time a thought comes that’s contrary to the Word it gets kicked out, and then we replace it with the Word.  Here are a few you can start with:  Ephesians 1:4, Psalm 139:13-14, 2 Corinthians 5:21.  Get in the Word and find scriptures to replace the lies of the enemy, write them down on note cards and put them where you can see them throughout the day.  This may be a constant battle for a while, but Romans 12:2 says “And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].”  (Just as a side note here, the Greek word for transformed means “metamorphosis” – like from caterpillar to butterfly!)

I encourage you to take a stand against the enemy, refuse to entertain the thoughts and lies he brings to the door of your mind.  Kick them out!!  Never doubt God and the person He created you to be.  God very intricately created every part of your being, so embrace that woman and dare to see yourself in the Father’s eyes!

Father, I pray for a renewing of the mind for those who have taken in and believed the lies of the enemy, and that there would be a true transformation that will take place.  I pray that they would be aware of any thought that tries to come in that is not from You and they would immediately kick it out and think on Your Word.  Lord, bring to their remembrance scriptures that would defy every lie that comes from the pits of hell.  I thank you Lord that our strength is in You and You cause us to triumph in all things.  In Jesus name, Amen and Amen!

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].” (Philippians 4:8, Amplified)

Compassion or Passion – What moves you?

Senior and young holding hands

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
― Aesop

We live in a day and time where, to the visible eye, there is little compassion.  We’re very seldom moved by another person’s misfortunes to the extent of wanting to help.  You see compassion isn’t just about being conscious of someone else’s troubles, but it moves us to action in trying to help them in whatever way we can.  However, when we think about what “moves” us, we tend to think more along the lines of “passion.”  Let’s say your little boy comes home from school with a black eye.  Your first feeling as a parent is one of compassion (simply put, that feeling of sympathy for your child that has encountered some type of misfortune with a desire to alleviate their pain); however, after a minute or two this strong feeling of anger kicks in that could possibly cause us to act in a somewhat harmful way – otherwise known as passion.  As I looked up the definition of these two words, there were two words that immediately stuck out – “someone” and “something.”  Compassion is directed towards “someone”; passion is directed towards “something”.

There are several instances in the Bible where Jesus was moved with compassion.  Matthew 14:14 tells us that “Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.”  If you’ll read on to verse 15, you’ll see that the disciples came to Jesus and told Him to send the people away to the villages to buy food for themselves; however, Jesus’ reply was “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat.” (Amplified)  Of course we know the rest of the story – Jesus fed the multitude with just two fish and five loaves.  You see Jesus was very aware that the people had to be hungry, but instead of sending them away he was moved by compassion to meet their needs.  Compassion moved Jesus to heal the two blind men (Matthew 20:30-34) and the leper (Mark 1:40-42).  Compassion moved Him to raise the widow’s son from the dead (Luke 7:12-15).  It was the “someones” that moved Jesus.  It was for them that He came to “preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; . . . to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity]” (Luke 4:18 – Amplified).

Unfortunately, we seem to be moved more by passion these days.  It’s all the “stuff” going on in the world that causes us to jump on our soap box and rant for a few minutes, but yet we can drive by a homeless person and maybe, just maybe, for a brief moment we might feel just a little bit of compassion, but then we wonder if they’re for real or just out begging for money.  We walk by a young pregnant girl on the street with tears streaming down her face, but we turn our head the other way because we “don’t want to get involved.”  Let’s bring it a little closer to home – we walk in church and see someone who’s obviously distressed about something, but we walk on by as if they’re not even there – “If they need to talk to somebody they’ll find someone to go to.”  All too often we have the attitude “Well they’ve made their bed, now they can lie in it,” but do we know firsthand the circumstances surrounding how that bed really got made.  We even use the Bible to back us up – “Well, you know what the Bible says, you reap what you sow.”  (Let me just say here if that’s your attitude you may want to stop and consider what seeds you’re sowing right now.)  Then there’s the all too familiar “They had it coming to them.  They got exactly what they deserved.”

Do you remember the adulteress that was brought to Jesus who was caught in the very act of adultery?  Although this was a test by the scribes and Pharisees to try to find a charge they could accuse Jesus of, the tables were quickly turned.  I believe pretty much all of the above quotes could be applied to this woman.  Yes, she was sewing some pretty bad seeds, and she might have deserved what was coming to her, but Jesus thought otherwise.  While Jesus’ words were for the accusers (John 8:7), the words to the woman, I believe, were words of compassion “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”  This is what Luke 4:18 is all about.

I dare say being moved by compassion to the point of taking action might be way out of our comfort zone, and I’ll be the first to raise my hand and confess that, yes, it would definitely be out of my comfort zone.  However, if we’re truly part of the body of Christ, then it’s our arms that should be reaching, and our hands that should be helping and our feet that should be going.  It’s our heart that should be moved with compassion, because as His body, we should have the heart of Christ.  What breaks the heart of God should break ours as well, so I’m going to put a challenge out there for me as well as you.  Be willing to move out of your comfort zone and be moved by compassion to the point of action.  It could be something as simple as just listening or offering a shoulder to cry on, or it might entail something a little bit bigger – or a lot bigger.  Just allow yourself to be led by the Holy Spirit and minister to those in need that you may come in contact with in the coming weeks.  Allow God to use you to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Are you willing to be moved by compassion?