Boldly Sharing the Amazing Love of Christ

In addition to our monthly ministry outreach to the homeless at the men and women’s shelters downtown, I occasionally have the privilege of speaking at the Thursday morning devotional time at the Union Gospel Mission Dallas. The audience is a mix of staff, disciples, prospects, and clients. The time is always rewarding and a time of great blessing to me. It is always good to see God at work in and through the lives of the last, least, lost and lonely homeless population here in Dallas. The Union Gospel Mission began as a street ministry in 1949 when a group of Christian businessmen took to the streets of Dallas, telling the poor about God’s love for them. The Mission has continued to grow and prosper in the years since, reaching countless men and women for Christ, transforming thousands upon thousands of lives, and continuously shining the light of the Gospel downtown.

After lifting our voices in song and hearing a number of testimonies about how God is impacting the lives of all those present this morning, we opened God’s Word, examining and exploring the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 5.

2 Corinthians 5:1-21 (ESV)

5 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil

11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We are born with a longing, a God-sized hole in our soul that only the Lord himself can satisfy. Paul assures us that the Lord is faithful, and that He has prepared for us an eternal home, free of the burdens of this world. Even though life is difficult, Paul exhorts us not to be dismayed, but to remain steadfast in our courage. Yes, we long to be with God. But until then, He has given us His Spirit to make the journey with us. We are not alone. He has not forgotten us. God has not forsaken us. To the contrary, He supplies us with everything we need to overcome the trials and tribulations we face. Through Jesus Christ, God has already won the victory for us. God gave His son, Jesus Christ, so that we might live in Christ, and Christ alone.

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Because of what God has done, we have a mission and a purpose. We proclaim the Gospel–the Good News—-and demonstrate the love of Christ, through our words and our deeds. Love, after all, is a verb. Love is an action. Often times, the only Good Book people will read is in how they see us live out the grace God has bestowed upon us. We are Christ’s, no doubt. He has bought us with His blood. He controls us. We cannot keep quiet about the grace and mercy he has showered down on us. We have to shout it from the tallest building. We must proclaim it from the highest mountain. The Good News of what Christ has done for us must travel as far as the East is from the West.

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We live for the one who died for us. We are new creations. Behold the old has passed away and the new has come. We are ambassadors for Christ Jesus and the Good News His crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection secured. In this generation, you and I may be the only Gospel anyone sees and hears. Shine brightly, speak boldly.

Continue to walk by faith, not by sight.

Amen.

 

Photos courtesy of the fine artists at Pixabay.com

Being More Compassionate

Being a caregiver requires compassion. The home health nurses that have come in throughout the week to check on my Mom have each clearly demonstrated their empathy, care and concern for my Mom as she recovers from her fall.

Me and Mom the Challenger

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

Compassion is something I see firsthand every time our 4th Friday outreach group travels down to the Union Gospel Mission Dallas to sing, share the Gospel, and pray with the men. It’s the oldest ministry of our home church (Trinity Bible Church Richardson) and thus sets the tone for what our church is all about. Our leadership believes in equipping the saints for the purpose of doing ministry in the world we inhabit. Our church body strives to see people grow closer to God and grow closer to others. Why? Compassion

You see, as a believer, I want you to know what I know. I want you to experience what I have experienced.  What is that? The compassion of God. Compassion is part of God’s nature and character. It forms the essence of who God is. I am led to be compassionate because God first showed compassion to me. The same is true for you.

Compassion is Shared.

Compassion is a human quality as well as a divine quality. Compassion refers to the tender mercies we show one another and that God pours out on us. Because of the mercy God shows us, we are fueled to demonstrate compassion.  Think of it—when you were your worst self, did the Lord not shower you with His tender mercies?  What greater demonstration of love exists than the compassion our heavenly Father showed us through providing atonement for our sins through His son, Jesus Christ? Jesus, in emptying himself of all that is rightly his all to die a sinner’s death on a Cross although He himself had no sin, is the greatest of all tender mercies. The Holy Spirit, groaning and praying on our behalf provides us with daily mercies. In response, we must share the compassion shown to us with those in our lives who need it, freely giving what is given freely to us.

Rice Laying Next to Danny's Ashes

The Scriptures make it abundantly clear in Deuteronomy that God expects His people—the Hebrews— to demonstrate compassion to each other and to the foreigners living among them. This concept was clear to the prophets and the men of God. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus teaches His disciples to show compassion towards anyone needing help. The lesson of compassion taught by Christ to his disciples is something that we as 21st century believers are expected to practice as well. After all, we are imitators of Christ.

Colossians 3:12-17The Message (MSG)

12-14 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.

15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

How can I help you?

Back when I worked at Babe’s Chicken Dinner House, I had the privilege of working with a guy named Rick Sanders. Rick would always ask people “How can I help you?” People loved that about Rick and loved Rick because of his show of concern for them. The world didn’t begin and end with him, but with them. His care for others is what made him a great leader.

Having compassion is not a difficult concept to grasp. It simply means that we have a sympathetic empathy and concern regarding the sufferings and misfortunes of others. It requires we live prayerful lives and nurture hearts of gratitude. To be compassionate, we must take our eyes off ourselves and try to see others for who they are and be prepared to meet them where they are—not where we think they should be. Bad things happen to people. The causes vary. But in their moment of need, we must be less concerned with what got them there and more invested in how we can help them where they are in the moment of their greatest need. Talk is cheap. Compassion endears us to others because how we treat others is what they will remember about us the most, long after our words have grown silent.

com·pas·sion

[kəmˈpaSHən]

NOUN

sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others:

synonyms: pity · sympathy · empathy · fellow feeling · care · concern · solicitude · sensitivity · warmth · love · tenderness · mercy · leniency · tolerance · kindness · humanity · charity

Compassion can change lives in a heartbeat

When it comes to homeless folks, I have compassion for these men, women, and children who struggle to have the basic necessitates of life that I tend to take for granted every day. My heart fills with compassion when I have the privilege of praying with a man possibly breathing his last breath or a child who has lost all hope.

It is that same compassion that drives Sweet T and I’s love for the ministry of Operation Christmas Child. You see, tonight, there are children who don’t know love at all. They don’t know that God loves them. They don’t know that you or anyone loves them. Their existence is hard. Their life expectancy is low. Their expected contribution to society is questionable. But it doesn’t have to be so. Compassion changes lives.

Me and T at the Ball Game

Our compassion can grow.

We can learn to be more compassionate by doing acts of kindness, by caring for others, by expressing our concern for one another. Acts of compassion fuel more acts of compassion. This is something that I have witnessed these past few weeks, taking care of Mom. Being a caregiver is not easy. The nurses that do this work for a living have shown me the definition of tender mercy through their loving kindness and acts of compassion in helping my Mom as she recovers. My wife, Sweet T, has demonstrated this as she has stayed strong and stood tall during this difficult time in our lives.

Their compassion makes me grateful. Their example makes me desire to practice greater compassion and be more caring. Tender mercies are something we could all use a little more of in this world we live in. I pray my compassion for others grows.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

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