“Filled with Wrath”

1Luke 4:24-30, And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; 26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. 27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. 28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. 30 But he passing through the midst of them went his way,

While doing my daily reading in the Gospels, and coming to the passage above, especially these words,  “And ALL they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust (Jesus) out of the city …” (LK 4:28-29),

I couldn’t help but think about how often, we as God’s people struggle with anger. Of course, thinking about the crisis on the southern border of the United States, I couldn’t help to ponder upon the “wrath” or anger in so much of the rhetoric – sadly, much of it beginning with our politicians – concerning this “hot button” issue.

The Immigration and Refugee issues are complex, to say the least. There are no easy answers that’s for sure! And, the government definitely has to do something about the problem. Yet, at the same time, as the people of God, we shouldn’t be getting angry at these people who are seeking refugee, we should be expressing God’s love and compassion towards them. I like what Warren Wiersbe has to say about the passage above:

At first, they admired the way He taught, but it didn’t take long for their admiration to turn into antagonism. Why? Because Jesus began to remind them of God’s goodness to the Gentiles! The Prophet Elijah bypassed all the Jewish widows and helped a Gentile widow in Sidon (1 Kings 17:8-16), and his successor Elisha healed a Gentile leper from Syria (2 Kings 5:1-15). Our Lord’s message of grace was a blow to the proud Jewish exclusivism of the congregation, and they would not repent. Imagine this hometown Boy saying that Jews had to be saved by grace just like the pagan Gentiles!

After reading this passage, I was also reminded of some very sad and sobering words that I read recently from Daniel Darling’s book, The Dignity Revolution: Reclaiming God’s Rich Vision for Humanity:

2Stereotyping people in ways that diminish them is, of course, nothing new; it has happened throughout history, resulting in the Holocaust, the enslavement of Africans, the internment of Japanese Americans, racial segregation, the Rwandan genocide, the systematic oppression of women… I could go on. In all of these injustices, the church was often either complicit or perhaps just looked the other way. And what about today? In a recent survey by Barna Research, when Americans were asked if people from other countries enriched our culture, EVANGELICALS WERE THE LEAST LIKELY of the demographic groups to agree. 🤔 On the question of whether America should accept refugees in their time of crisis, EVANGELICALS WERE THE LEAST WELCOMING of all groups, with just 16 percent saying yes. CLEARLY THIS CALLS FOR SOME SOUL-SEARCHING.

3Regrettably, for thousands of years, so-called God-fearing, Bible-believing, faithfully serving, “religious” people (Jew and Christian alike), have not exactly always been “happy campers” when God expressed compassion towards the poor, the needy, and the helpless, especially if they were not of the same country, the same “tribe,” or if they were “different,” and, in some cases, if they were considered an enemy. I have seen this over and over again the past few years. And for God’s people, this should not be so!

Just wondering if we are asking the right question, “Do these people have a need that we can, with God’s help meet?” Or are we asking, “Are they one of us?”

Just Reflecting on our anger issues!!!4

Why Are They Coming?

1A question was posed on-line recently, “Why Do Muslims Always Go to ‘Christian’ Countries?”

Great question!

I would like to change it up just a little bit and give my feeble opinion. 🙂 How about we change it up to, “Why Do Immigrants and/or Refugees from Poor and/or Oppressive Countries Almost Always Go to ‘Christian’ Countries?”

No doubt, there are many reasons. I will list only a few:

(1) More often than not, ‘Christian’ countries offer freedom, which the immigrants and refugee’s home countries do not. And everyone longs to be free!

(2) More often than not, ‘Christian’ countries offer the opportunity for immigrants and refugees to provide for their families, which their home countries do not. And everyone longs to provide for their families!

4(3) More often than not, ‘Christian’ countries offer a place of safety and refuge for immigrants and refugees, and their loved ones, which their home countries do not. And everyone longs to provide a place of safety and security for their families!

(4) More often than not, ‘Christian’ countries offer educational opportunities, which the immigrants and refugees home countries do not. And everyone wants their children to have the opportunity to get a good education! 

2(5) More often than not, ‘Christian’ countries offer health care that might even save the lives of their family members, which the immigrants and refugees home countries did not offer. And everyone wants to do what they can to save the lives of their family members!

(6) More often than not, ‘Christian’ countries tend to be more accepting and loving of all people groups regardless of who they are or where they are from (or at least we should be 😎) than their home countries. And everyone longs to be loved and accepted!

Of course, there are no doubt, many other reasons that these folks are fleeing their countries, and do whatever they can to find refuge in our ‘Christian’ country!

Most importantly though, for those of us who bear the name of “Christian,” for those of us who are following in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus, and for those of us who claim to be Bible-believing, Gospel-minded Christians, it is good for us to keep in mind:

3When Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Chinese communists, and our Catholic neighbors from south of the border, leave their family and their friends, their religious or non-religious structures, and the peer pressure from back home–at great risk might I add–come, they are far more open to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have a far better chance of trusting Christ, rearing their children in Christian homes, etc…

This is what we call the GOOD NEWS OF THE GOSPEL. And, to think that we, as God’s people have the blessed opportunity to be an extension of Christ’s love and compassion to the poor, the needy, and the helpless that He is bringing to our shores! ☝️

Just Reflecting on Why They Are Coming!

Compassion​ Makes a Difference

2Matthew 9:35-38, And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 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. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Matthew 14:14, And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

 Jude 1:22, And of some have compassion, making a difference:

Even the most casual study of the four Gospels will clearly reveal that the Lord Jesus was filled with compassion, not only for the spiritual needs of those around him but the physical needs as well. In fact, an argument could be made, by reading the Gospels, that Jesus spent as much time, if not more time, loving, serving, and meeting the physical needs of those around him as He did the spiritual needs.

Now, don’t get me wrong the spiritual needs of man are far more important than the physical needs of man. Yet, it at least it appears that Jesus thought they were both important. In fact, very important!

I am guessing that they both should be important to those of us who claim to be His followers.  I have a missionary friend and fellow-laborer who occasionally posts these following words as a reminder for us all:

3One of the things that differentiated Jesus from the Pharisees was His LOVE and COMPASSION for others. The first thing the world must see in us, as Christians, is not our “standards” or our “position” on the issues of the day. The first thing they must see is the LOVE and COMPASSION of Christ that flows through us to those around us.  

So much truth in that one paragraph!

I’m just wondering, is this LOVE and COMPASSION the first thing much of the world sees when they look upon our lives? Is this the first thing they think about when they hear our words? Is this the first thing that comes to their mind when they read our posts?

Just thinking out loud!

I have another friend, an Evangelist in the States, who told me a few years ago, “We see very little, if any, compassion in our independent Baptist churches today!” Keep in mind, this is a good and godly man, a faithful servant of the Lord, who is in one or two different Baptist churches every week. He’s been doing this for about 15 years now!

LITTLE, IF ANY, COMPASSION?

I’m just wondering if our hearts have become cold, calloused, and carnal. Have we closed our eyes to the hurt around us?

Helping 1Not sure about you, but when I think about the many great men and women of the past, the ones who really made a difference, in almost every case, it wasn’t what they believed that we remember, it’s how they lived, loved, and served. And, as we have mentioned in recent posts, especially how they loved and served “the least of these.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to make a lasting difference in the lives of others. I want to make an eternal investment in the lives of others. I want to love like Jesus loved. I want to serve like Jesus served and those whom Jesus served. I so desperately want to have my heart filled with the compassion of Christ!

Just Reflecting on the Compassion of Christ!

 

Sowing for the Poor

1“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 COR 9:6-7).

The churches in Macedonia, though very poor and struggling churches themselves (2 COR 8:1-2)—not only GAVE THEMSELVES TO GOD but LOVINGLY SACRIFICED THEIR “STUFF” FOR THE POOR AND NEEDY that were in Jerusalem.

2According to the passage above, God not only loves a “cheerful giver,” especially when they are giving to the poor, the needy, and the helpless, but God blesses the “cheerful giver.”

By the way, keep in mind that the folks in the Macedonian churches had never met and knew very little, if anything, about the poor and needy saints in Jerusalem, but they did know God, and apparently knew and understood God’s heart for the poor. And because of this, they were willing to sow cheerfully!

John Gill, an 18th-century had something to say about our sowing for the poor:

There is a good deal of likeness between sowing the seed in the earth and doing of alms, or3 acts of beneficence. The seed that is sown is what is selected and reserved out of the stock expended or sold off, which if not done, there would be no provision for futurity; so that which a man gives for the relief of the necessitous, is what he lays by him in store of what God has prospered him with; in doing which he may hope for a fruitful harvest, whereas otherwise, he could expect none: as seed is cast from, and scattered about by the sower all over the field; so what is given to the poor, it is parted with unto them, and spread among them, everyone has a portion; and it looks like a diminution of a man’s substance, and as if it would never return with any advantage; though it does, as in a natural, so in a metaphorical sense. The sower casts and scatters his seed with an open hand; was he to grasp it in his fist, or only let go a grain of corn or wheat here and there, he would have but a poor harvest; so the cheerful giver opens his hand wide, and bountifully supplies the wants of the needy; who, as the sower casts his seed on the empty field, so he bestows his bounty on indigent persons, on all men in want, especially the household of faith: and, as when he has done, he harrows the ground, and covers the seed under the earth, where it lies hid, and is very unpromising for a while, and yet he exercises faith, hope, and patience, with respect to a harvest.

God is looking for His people to be cheerful givers and He wants to bless them as they give. He’s looking for a people, like the Macedonian Christians, that are willing to sow for the poor and the needy “around the corner” and “around the world.”

Are we? If not, why?

I believe one author may be on to something when he wrote the following words:

blindWe have insulated and isolated ourselves from the massive material poverty that surrounds us in the world. We have filled our lives and our churches with more comforts for us, all while turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to abject poverty in others. We have a gaping hole in the way we see the world, and we need new sight. We need our eyes opened to the implications of the gospel for how we live.

Another man has written:

“I used to think when I was a child, that Christ might have been exaggerating when he warned about the dangers of wealth. Today I know better. I know how very hard it is to be rich and still keep the milk of human kindness. Money has a dangerous way of putting scales on one’s eyes, a dangerous way of freezing people’s hands, eyes, lips, and hearts.”

The apostle John, probably more than anyone in his time, knew the heart of the Lord Jesus, and because of this, his words are even more powerful and practical:

1 John 3:16-18, Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

Just Reflecting on Sowing for the Poor and the Needy!

“Where have we any command in the Bible laid down in stronger terms, and in a Poormore peremptory urgent manner, than the command of giving to the poor?” – George Whitfield

“Christ’s command (to love our neighbor as ourselves), coupled with the depth of poverty in the world and the reality of wealth in our lives, has huge implications for the way we live. … If the love of God is in our hearts, then it is not possible for us to ignore the poor in the world. The gospel compels Christians in a wealthy culture to action—selfless, sacrificial, costly, countercultural action—on behalf of the poor.” —David Platt

Job and The Least of These

“Because I delivered the POOR that cried, and the FATHERLESS, and HIM THAT HAD NONE HELP HIM. The blessing of him that was READY TO PERISH came upon me: and I caused the WIDOW’S heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the BLIND, and feet was I to the LAME. I was a father to the POOR: and the cause which I knew1 not I searched out” (Job 29:12-16).

Interestingly enough, when we think about the man Job, we tend to think about what the Bible has to say about Job’s PERFECTNESS, his PURITY, his immense PROSPERITY, the many PROBLEMS that he was forced to endure, the unbelievable PATIENCE he demonstrated in the midst of the pain and the problems, and yet, how often do we consider what God says about Job’s PASSION for the POOR, the NEEDY, and the HELPLESS, or what Jesus would refer to as THE LEAST OF THESE?  I like 18th century Bible Commentator, John Gill, had to say about the passage above:

This honor and esteem he had not because of his grandeur and riches, because of his worldly wealth and substance, but because of the goodness of his disposition, and because of the good he did to men, his acts of pity and compassion to the poor, and of the justice he did to all men; the poor and the afflicted, when they cried to him for help, he delivered them out of the hands of their oppressors. … [they] had none to help him; as the poor and fatherless seldom have; there is power on the side of the oppressors of them, but they have few or none to take their parts, and to be their comforters; in these instances Job imitated God, and was a follower of him, as a dear child of his; who, when this and the other poor man cries unto him, he hears, saves, and delivers out of all their troubles; he is the helper, yea, the father of the fatherless, and the judge of the widow; and, when there is no help from men, he is a present help in times of need. … he was the patron of the poor; he was an advocate for them, he took their part, he pleaded their cause, defended their persons, and secured the little property they had; he had the pity and compassion of a father for them, and supplied their wants; he fed them and clothed them; he did not eat his morsel alone, but gave them part of it, and warmed them with the fleece of his flock:

orphans 2So, this morning, just a small encouragement for all of us, the next time we consider Job, we might want to not simply consider his immense prosperity, the many problems he had to endure, or the unbelievable patience he exhibited, but let’s also consider his passion to help the poor, the needy, and the helpless, or THE LEAST OF THESE!

Just Reflecting on Job’s Compassion for the Least of These!

 

 

 

Listening Ears and Burning Hearts

BH 1Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened up to us the scriptures?” (LK 24:32). 

Much like with the downcast disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus is always speaking to us on our journey with him, even in the midst of our disappointments, discouragement, and despair. And even if we might be heading in the wrong direction, away from his purpose and place for our lives!

The real questions that we need to ask ourselves, are simple: “Are we listening?,” “Do we even recognize that it’s Jesus speaking to us?” And, of course, “Are we willing to heed what we hear?”

Listening ears result in burning hearts!

Oh, by the way, that’s even true if you are discouraged, sitting in a prison cell, and contemplating throwing in the towel, like the prophet Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 20:9, Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.

The Bible and church history are replete with examples of men and women who had listening ears, burning hearts, and obedient wills. And, as we all know, these are the men and women who eventually changed their world for good and for God!

BH -2Our hearts often become cold, calloused, and carnal. They are prone to wander from the God we love, and the God who loves us.

When they do, it’s time to take a little walk with Jesus, open our ears, open our hearts, and, yes, open our Bibles!

O Lord, give me a listening ear and an obedient heart!

Just Reflecting on a Burning Heart!!!

Thinking Straight, Loving Right

Thinking-StraightReading the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), once again this morning, reminded me of Paul’s words that I read in Romans 12 just yesterday, ”Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (12:19-21). I like Warren Weirsbe’s comments on Romans 12:19-21. Here’s a small excerpt:

The admonition in Romans 12:20 reminds us of Christ’s words in Matthew 5:44-48. These words are easy to read but difficult to practice. Surely we need to pray and ask God for love as we try to show kindness to our enemies. Will they take advantage of us? Will they hate us more? Only the Lord knows. Our task is not to protect ourselves but to obey the Lord and leave the results with Him. Paul referred to Proverbs 25:21-22 as he urged us to return good for evil in the name of the Lord. The “coals of fire” refer perhaps to the feeling of shame our enemies will experience when we return good for evil.

As children of God, we must live on the highest level—returning good for evil. Anyone can return good for good and evil for evil. The only way to overcome evil is with good. If we return evil for evil, we only add fuel to the fire. And even if our enemy is not converted, we have still experienced the love of God in our own hearts and have grown in grace.

Of course, these words (Romans 12:19-21) are found in the same chapter as Paul’s admonition to NOT be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (12:1-2), which we wrote about in our last post.

Romans 12:1-2, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

GSWorldly thinking, or being conformed to the world, emphasizes STANDING UP FOR OUR RIGHTS and SEEKING REVENGE for wrong doing against us, while biblical thinking does not. Biblical thinking emphasizes SUBMITTING TO GOD’S WORD AND OUR RESPONSIBILITY to love and help ALL men in need as Christ has loved us! 

And yes, this would even include our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48).

Just Reflecting on the Good Samaritan!