If the Lord gave you what you really deserved, would you be ready for it? Would you look forward to it with joy or does the thought frighten you? What we fail to recognize is that it is not just a hypothetical question.
The Lord render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: (1 Samuel 26:23)
These were words spoken by David when he interacted with King Saul who sought to kill him. He knew that God was sovereign and would return upon men that which they have rendered to others. The same still holds true today. The New Testament describes the principle as sowing and reaping. What you sow, you will also reap. It may take some time before it arrives, but it is coming. Just like it takes all summer for apples to grow and ripen on a tree, it may take most of a person’s life before they reap what they sow, but be sure, they will reap.
Much of this principle concerning sowing and reaping is in relation to how we treat other people. If we sow righteousness towards others, then we will get righteous treatment back, but if we sow wickedness then wickedness awaits us.
Some may ask, “What guideline could I follow that would aid me in sowing righteousness?” The answer would be to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39). If you allow your actions to be motivated by what is best for another person or make decisions that enable you to meet the needs of someone else instead of focusing on yourself, you will most consistently sow righteousness. This doesn’t require you to give all of your money to the poor or even to live a dejected life. It only requires you to start focusing on others instead of yourself. Give somebody recognition. Show patience and mercy, try looking at situations from the other person’s perspective or even take time to listen to people and their problems are opportunities that each of us have to sow righteousness. It will not cost you one penny, but it will be an investment worth millions of dollars.
For you, the world of people is a field ready for planting. What kind of seeds will you sow?
It is not difficult for anyone to see that the lives of so many people today are just a mess. How did they get this way? Why don’t they just get it together and do whatever needs to be done?
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
From this passage, it appears that people become weak in life’s struggle and instead of continuing to fight on, they relax their resistance and faint. When this occurs, the person’s life then becomes subject to the problems and trials of life. Their lives get tossed about from side to side being cast about and cast down. This does not occur as a result of the weakness of the individual, because none of us have the ability to stand against the enemy. This occurs because of the absence of a shepherd in the person’s life. Sometimes there is not a shepherd because salvation has not yet been experienced, but other times it is because the person becomes estranged from their shepherd savior. Whether it be by confusion of doctrine, ill treatment from those in the body of Christ, person hurts and losses or sin: the separation occurs.
Today there are countless believers tossed about. They are away from their shepherd and the way to bring them back into the fold is to love them back. Bearing their burdens (Galatians 6:2) is the act of you bringing your strength to those who are weak until they can once again gain the strength for living that can only come from their shepherd.
Many times, there are behaviors that people do that are overlooked by most. Some people wring their hands as they think about something that disturbs them. Others may brush their hair from their face when they are nervous. The behavior isn’t really important, but what is important is the motivation behind the behavior.
And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, … Matthew 8:3
As I consider the passage recording Jesus healing the leper, I cannot help but ask my self questions in regard to Jesus’ behavior. One question is why did Jesus touch the leper? He didn’t need to touch him in order to heal because the next few verses record Jesus healing the centurion’s servant who was some distance away.
Consider this. When do you think was the last time the leper was touched. I don’t mean being pushed as he fought for food or random interaction among lepers, but when was the last time the leper experienced a tender affectionate hand rest upon the side of his face? When did he last feel a grasp on his should like that of a loving father who rests his hand upon the shoulder of his son? It had probably been an extremely long time. I believe that after years of rejection from society and solitude living, the touch was God’s display of affection to the leper. It seems that as Jesus’s hand gently rested on the leper, a part of the leper revived and his heart filled with the experience of God’s love.
Did you know that God wants you to have that same experience of his love. Regardless of whatever is in your past, God wants to have a relationship with you. He loves you dearly and has done–through Jesus’ work on the cross–everything that is necessary for that relationship to occur. Come before and ask as the leper did and ask. The relationship is greater than you can imagine.
Each of us make an unnumbered amount of choices each day. Some of the choices are big while others are somewhat insignificant. When it comes to major decisions, we greatly desire to make the right decision, because if we don’t, the consequences are unpleasant and usually long lasting. Some decisions are easily made and others may be very difficult.
The scriptures record two major decisions that Jesus made: one being when he faced Satan and was tempted. We love the account of how he refused to bow down to Satan in exchange for all of the kingdoms and the glory associated with them. For us, we know that his decision was a major one, but most people do not know that it was not the first recorded time that he made the decision to deny granting pleasure to himself.
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
This passage records that at some time, Jesus had the option of granting himself joy or redeeming man. It is my opinion that the decision occurred in Heaven. Can you imagine Jesus experiencing the joy of a heaven and all that he was entitled to as God and then being offered a choice of having that joy which was was set before him or going to earth and redeeming mankind? And what does he choose? He chooses you. Think about it. You were more desirable and important to him than the joy that he was having in heaven. You the struggling sinner away from God or you the person who would trust Christ and still struggle with sin. You the person that would continually fall short or fail God. He chose you. This definitely would not be the right choice if he focused on self love, but with his love focused on others, it would be a different story. For God, it is the right choice. It is the best choice. For a God who is love, it is the only choice.
Rejoice is the decision that Christ made. Praise him for his unending love for you. Live a life of thanksgiving. It is the least that you could do for him choosing you.
Trauma is a terrible thing. It reaches deep into the resources of the soul and damages everything that it touches. Only now are we beginning to understand the effects of trauma as we help soldiers returning from war, but trauma isn’t something new. We have been battling trauma on the domestic front for years. Even though many lives have been destroyed by it, there is hope.
Hope for those traumatized can be provided by those whom they can trust. Please let me illustrate. This morning I woke up to the sound of rain. I looked next to the bed and sure enough, the Shepherd was under the chair. Our rescue had been traumatized by gun shots, being hit by a car and taunted by passers by as he remained tied to a fence with a broken hip. It doesn’t take much to trigger fears and even reenactments. So while he was terrified to go outside and do his morning business because of rain and the potential for thunder, I went out into the yard and called him to me. As he approached, I gave him the repeated rhythmic shsh, shsh, shsh, shsh, shshshshshshsh that I give to soothe him when he is overcome with anxiety. He recognized my call of caring and came next to me. He practically knocked me over to get close enough to feel safe.
Jesus provides the same type of care. He recognizes our fears and calls us to him. As we hear his voice and get close to him, he provides comfort and security. The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1b). In this verse, the Psalmist declares that the Lord is his defense or fortified place. He was that for him and he wants to be the same for you. Will you hear his call? Will you run to him for comfort and security? He is waiting and ready to aid you in your trauma.
One of the attributes of God is that he is omniscient, which means that he is all knowing. He knows all that has occurred in the past, he knows what is in the heart of man and what is taking place currently, and he knows what will happen in the future.
When God became man, he cloaked his diety: that is to say that as God, Jesus functioned as a man and only accessed his divine powers and abilities as directed by the father.
In this passage when Jesus came face to face with the widow, he, as God, saw her and her condition for the first time. What occurred revealed the nature of God towards man. The scriptures state that when he saw her, he had compassion on her. From this, we can know that as God looks upon us, he will be moved with compassion towards us. Although his plan may require that we endure particular hardships in life, but nonetheless his heart is moved with compassion.
We too should have compassion on others. What is needed for this to occur is to see individuals in their state. This may come from visual sight or Holy Spirit illumination. It is difficult to have compassion on someone if you cannot see them. So in order for us to have compassion, we must see them.
If we knew how others viewed us, how many would say that we are self centered or all we think about is ourselves? The number may surprise us. In defense, we may point out the many times that we have reached out with aid to others. We may speak of how we support others in need or simply how we act kindly towards others. The question is, “Is that enough?”
Is it enough to perform actions of kindness and charity? I think not. Actions can be just that: simply actions. We can perform acts of kindness without the true motive for our actions being known. Guilt, fear of rejection and pride can each be a motivation for kind acts and if they are, the works performed will not be acts of kindness.
In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul best describes this virtue. Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; (2 Timothy 1:4). True kindness occurs as a result of empathy. Paul describes this emotion as “being mindful of thy tears”. The word mindful comes from two words meaning “to stay” and “to chew”. We are mindful about something when we continue to roll the idea over in our minds. For those being kind, they are rolling over in their minds the hurts and pains of others which causes them tears.
They may continually think of their friend’s hurt from losing a loved one. They focus on the pain and sickness of others and carry those burdens with them. When friends are absent from church or just out of touch, they wonder how they are doing and if they are abounding through their circumstances. These are the thoughts of a person who cares.
So let me ask you, do you really care about others? To find out, let your thoughts be your judge.