Thursday, November 30, 2017

Do you see what I see?

Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?  We saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.  Matthew 2:2

Do you see what I see?  A Star, a star, dancing in the night, with a tail as big as a kite….
Light changes everything.  It transforms our world every year at Christmas time into a wonderland of thousands of beautiful, twinkling points. It reveals darkness, overcomes darkness, exposes, and brings clarity.  In the absence of light men stumble and fall, darkness abides.  Every year we sing the songs and tell the story over and over again.  We hear or repeat the verse above many times each year.  It was a light – in the sky – that led the wise men to Jesus.  But when you step back and really think about the star and all it stands for, it means a lot.  
What was the star?  It was a sign.  It was a guide.  The star got the wise men’s attention.  It appeared at a specific time.  It proclaimed the good news – the Messiah had come!  It heralded the birth of a King.  It told all who saw it and recognized it that something had changed.  Something big had happened and they knew they needed to pay attention to it.  The star beckoned them and called them out on their journey to find Christ, to worship Him.  The wise men obeyed this calling to find the new born King of the Jews.  They made a pit stop at the palace of Herod to ask for directions.  They left and behold, the star they had seen in the East went before them and led them to the exact spot where Jesus was, with its long shiny tail pointing to exactly where Jesus was.
And having heard the king, they went their way; and lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh (Matt. 2:9-11, NASB
The star performed a major part in the first Christmas and it still is a big part of Christmas today, even though people hardly give it a thought.  It is a permanent fixture showing up on Christmas cards and most depictions of the Nativity, and in songs we sing.  But that star was much more important than a pop of color in a Christmas painting.  The star provided the light that guided the wise men to the savior of the world.  
The prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” (Isaiah 9:2)  Such was the light that came to guide these seekers to Jesus.  Some people try to present a logical explanation for the star, making it out to be a comet or planets or some natural, astronomical event.  People will believe what they want to believe when they can’t accept the possibility of a miracle of God.  Whatever it was, God orchestrated that celestial display for His purpose and plan. 
An old gospel song by Hank Williams says, “I Saw the Light” and many have related to it regarding their salvation.    
I wandered so aimless life filled with sin
I wouldn't let my dear Savior in.
Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

I saw the light I saw the light
No more darkness no more night
Now I'm so happy no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

We, like the wise men, should pay attention to the Light of the World, obey its calling and strike out on the journey, where we will find the Savior of the World.    
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life." 
John 8:12 NASB



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Compassion

Submitted by David Miller
The term compassion has its linguistic roots in the Latin terms com (with) and pati (suffering). In essence, compassion means suffering with or sharing in the suffering of someone else.  Practically speaking, we have compassion when we set aside indifference and connect with those who are in pain. In a unique way, this seems to be a first step toward healing.  When Jesus saw the blind men, for example, He “had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him” (Matthew 20:34).  In addition, when Jesus saw groups yearning for His teaching, “He had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14). Christ noted the confusion of the people in the crowd following him, and “had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34).

All these examples of Christ’s compassion have two things in common. First, Jesus notices the people around him. This tells us that compassion is only possible when we are attuned to others. If we’re absorbed in our own feelings, problems, worries and desires, we will overlook the needs of those God puts in our path and ignore the opportunity to help them.

Second, Jesus responds to people, instead of reacting to them. He listens to the ten lepers rather than being irritated that they’re interrupting His conversation (Luke 17:12-19). We see in Matthew 9:20. He takes time to speak with the woman who touches the hem of His garment, instead of simply chastising her for lacking appropriate boundaries.  Jesus practiced compassion with everyone He had contact with.

Like anything else, we get better at compassion when we practice. Here are three basic steps:

1. Build up your empathy.
Spend five minutes a day practicing putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Choose a news report, a neighbor or a member of your own family and really contemplate what it feels like to be that person. Don’t shy away as soon as you think, “That must be awful!” Delve deep into what it’s like to suffer in that way. This exercise can help you learn to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).

2. Learn to pause before speaking.
Scripture tells us, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). To be compassionate toward others, we need to allow time for the Holy Spirit to override our tendency to judge. A simple prayer like, “Holy Spirit, guide my heart,” often provides enough space (and guidance!) to help us see why people are behaving the way they are.

3. Recognize the barriers to compassion.
It’s impossible to be annoyed and compassionate at the same time. Frustration, suspicion, irritation, bitterness, dislike and anger are all signs that we may be looking at others without compassion. We can pray to the Father to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” that rules in our hearts (Ephesians 4:31).


Ask God to help you “be kind and tenderhearted” (Ephesians 4:32). Begin this holiday season to cultivate a spirit of compassion.  Allow yourself to “live” Christ-like through your compassion.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Compassion

Submitted by David Miller
But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Matthew 9:36
Motivation is one of the most important things about the person whom God will use. If you don't are not motivated, you are not going to do anything.

When it comes to sharing our faith and reaching out to others with the gospel, we offer up a plethora of excuses as to why we cannot do it. But in all honesty, the reason Christians are not sharing their faith is we don't want to be bothered with it. We lack a simple, basic burden and concern.

Let's see what motivated Jesus when He saw the needs of the people:

But when Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." (Matthew 9:36–37)

You can see this pattern of compassion throughout the ministry of Jesus. He saw the people's deepest need. He saw where they were hurting the most. He saw behind the fa├žade. He saw the real cry of the heart. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd, and He had compassion on them.

So many times, we tend to get caught up in the “rush” of life.  Soccer games, select softball, work, and ministry (yes, I said ministry) that we fail to exercise true compassion to those who are around us.  We become angry at those who annoy us, bitter towards those who have wronged us, and distance to those who do not necessarily share on own views.  Outreach becomes more of hassle than a drive.  Church attendance becomes routine rather than “entering His courts with praise”.  The reality is that Christ called us to be compassionate towards others just as He so perfectly laid an example out for us to follow.  Our ability to reach others and to make a “kingdom impression” in our families and our communities is directly related to the amount of Christ-centered compassion that we have for others.  After all, love is of God and we that know Him, know love.  From this love, true compassion is born. 

If God is going to use you in any capacity, you will have to develop compassion for the lost. After all, isn't it God's objective to conform us into the image of His own Son?
 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:35 (NIV)

Remember that the Bible says, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). We should seek to imitate the Lord and have that compassion, too.

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