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Posts Tagged ‘Shepherd’

Compassion

May 23rd, 2014

“When Jesus saw the people, He was moved with compassion for them.” Matthew 9:36 NAS.

Compassion provokes a personal identification with the plight of another.

My thoughts and comments today are about “compassion.”

Problems loom large; needs are expansive and solutions seem elusive. Marriages and families struggle; politics are divisive; global situations impose locally; poverty and hunger remain undiminished; government partisanship and ineptitude prevent solutions; unsustainable public and personal debt accumulates; clashes of ideologies and cultures increase; crime and violence intrudes our neighborhoods. Life can be a bit numbing. Understandably, a person could feel overwhelmed.

What is an ordinary person to do? It is easy to become so engulfed in one’s own struggles that you have little reserves for anything beyond your daily concerns. Such a life is too small and ultimately unsatisfying. As a young pastor, I learned these helpful words, “I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And what I can do, I ought to do. And what I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do.” God expects nothing more of you than that, but He also expects nothing less. Compassion is evidenced by corresponding action. “Let us . . love with actions and in truth.” Read 1 John 3:16-18 NIV.

As always, Jesus is your example. “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching . .  preaching . .  and healing every sickness and disease among the people. 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 9:35-37 NKJV. Notice what moved the heart of Jesus – “multitudes . . like sheep having no shepherd.”

They were a vast number of people, yet each feeling alone without a shepherd to care and provide their unmet needs. More people feel that way than you might realize. Jesus’ invitation remains, “Come unto Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest . . and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV. Others saw a crowd; Jesus saw people.

Others may have seen an inconvenience to themselves or interruption to their plans; Jesus saw suffering individuals needing both Savior and Shepherd. When Jesus saw the multitudes, their separation and aloneness “moved” Him with compassion. Compassion is a deeply held emotion, yet so much more. Jesus felt what they felt. Their plight became His concern. Pity and sympathy are common; compassion is uncommon. I remember simple lyrics from years earlier, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”

Compassion provokes a personal identification with the plight of another, generating a Godly motivation to provide relief. When you are compassionate, you are most like God. “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:8-9 NKJV. Authentic and Godly compassion is not optional; “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.” 1 Peter 3:8 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you are tender toward things that break God’s heart.

Below, I have added the link to a brief, musical video that references the song I mentioned in this devotional.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2KOluWrjU8

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Still Waters

August 19th, 2010

“He leads me beside the still waters.” Psalm 23:2 NKJV

“God knows what you cannot, does what you could not, and offers love you should not live without.”

My thoughts today are about “still waters.”

Where do you go when life tumbles in on top of you? That’s really important to consider. Think about it for a moment; if your world seemed to be collapsing in ways you never imagined, what trusted name comes to your mind first? When you need to get away from where you are, to see things more clearly the way they are, where do you go?

Some years ago for my 44th birthday, a friend took me white water rafting in Colorado. It was not really something that I had ever wanted to do, but he insisted it “would be fun.” Most of the time, it was – beautiful scenery, cold, crystal-clear mountain water, and shallow, fast moving current.

But occasionally those cold Colorado waters became terrorizing, crashing against huge boulders as the river quickly dropped elevation. Suddenly, our raft would be thrust into minutes of white knuckle, white water experience. Our brief instructions previous to pushing off from shore were to prepare us in the inevitable chaos to listen for the guide’s voice, follow his directions exactly, and paddle fiercely only when instructed to do so. Quite an adrenalin rush!

And then almost as suddenly as it began, we were past that treacherous section and in the calmest of still waters at the river’s edge. Life can be a bit like that. All is well, even routine, and then there’s a severe pain you haven’t felt before; unexpected loss of job with bills and financial obligations you can’t meet, long saved investments worth fractions of what they were days before, a soul-numbing betrayal unanticipated, a cruel and stinging unkindness undeserved, or a doctor’s startling diagnosis unexpected. Suddenly you are in the middle of white knuckle, white-water life. That’s when you need the One who knows what you cannot, who does what you could not, and whose love you should not live without.

The disciples experienced that. Their trip across the lake began simply and safely enough, until a violent storm threatened to turn their world upside down. As the waves stung their cheeks and the wind howled its menacing threats, Jesus stood and “rebuked the winds and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ . . and it was completely calm.” Mark 4:35-41 NIV. Whatever your worries, whatever your fears, whatever the threats and dangers you feel, fear, and face, God knows when and how to lead you to still waters – sometimes far away from the storm and sometimes right in the midst of it! Either way, in His care you are safe, unharmed. See Psalm 46:1-4 TEV/Isaiah 43:2 NIV.

I have read that sheep will not drink from turbulent, fast moving waters. Innately, they are fearful, and rightly so. So a shepherd would find suitable, free flowing waters to refresh the flock and then gather enough stones to redirect the current, forming a shallow pool at water’s edge where the sheep could quench their thirst without need of fear. A good shepherd – and Jesus is a Great Shepherd! (See Hebrews 13:20-21 NLT) – would find a place, or with his own hands create a place, of safety and satisfaction. “The Lord is my Shepherd . . He leads me beside still waters.”

My prayer for you today is that you know the safety of God’s amazing love.

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Missing Anything?

August 17th, 2010

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need.” Psalm 23:1 NLT

“Sufficiency is not the quantity of what you have; it is the quality of what’s essential.”

My thoughts today ask, “missing anything?”

When you look at everyday life, what do you see first – what you have or what you don’t? Funny how many people will be more readily aware of what they want and lack than all that they have. Things you think would make you happier and more content are still just things, and as hard as it is to believe, things can make you neither happy nor content, except momentarily. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is well said, “Joy doesn’t come from what you drive, deposit, or dwell in.”

Such things always seem to require just a little more to be enough. If what you have is not enough to be joyful and thankful now, why would a little more of the same suddenly be enough? Life is really never about the quantity of what you have; it is about the quality of what you consider essential.

The Bible teaches this as possible for you: “I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need” Philippians 4:11-13 NLT. Having or not having is irrelevant; Christ helping you by giving you all you need, now that’s significant!

If you were asked to list your reasons for praise and your requests for prayer, which list would be easier for you to make and take longer for others to read? When you think about it honestly, you should have more reasons to give thanks to God than needs for God to fill. The Bible teaches that thankfulness should be at the center of every request, “In everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God . . and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9 NIV.

“God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJV. What is God’s desire for you? His intention for you is clear, “always having all sufficiency in all things!” What more should it take for you to be full and overflowing? God does not want you to be without; He wants you to have sufficiency that is satisfying. When the Lord is your Shepherd, there is nothing you need that you will lack. When you truly rest your fullest satisfaction in God, you will trust His sufficiency for all else.

My prayer for you today is that you know beyond doubt that God is enough at all times.

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Who’s In Charge Here?

August 16th, 2010

“The Lord is my Shepherd.” Psalm 23:1

“God is your shepherd, who directs, protects, and provides for those who are His.”

My thoughts today ask, “who’s in charge here?”

After a minor conflict of authority with her preschool teacher, on her way home our oldest granddaughter was sorting out a very important question with her grandmother, Nanna Gayle, about the very practical life question, “Who’s your boss?” She reasoned this way: if her Mom was her boss, and her Dad was her Mom’s boss, and as his mother, Nanna was his boss, and I was Nanna’s boss (though life and relationships are never that clear and linear, as every husband and father knows), then who was my boss? There, she was stumped. I often wish it were that simple, but life does not allow anyone to be the final authority of all things – that’s God’s job! Any person who thinks they can do that better will be very surprised.

The most basic, important issue in life may be the simple matter of where and from whom you will accept leadership – direction and correction. I think most of us are willing to accept direction; it’s that authority to correct that we resist or ignore when we prefer our own direction. However capable you believe yourself to be, everyone needs correction more than you will enjoy. When life gets confusing, where do you look for direction? When life is off track, from whom do you welcome correction? You need a Shepherd – “a boss,” in my granddaughter’s reasoning.

Several years ago, I had a few sheep, just six or seven I think it was. I kept them only a few months because they became more trouble than I expected. I didn’t learn much about them, except for the fact that they needed a lot of attention and showed very little appreciation. I did learn this about being a shepherd; it’s not that easy and not much fun. Whatever time of day, when my car pulled into the driveway, they immediately began bellowing to be fed, insistent on my prompt attention.

Sheep are not very good if left on their own; they don’t fare well. They are pretty much defenseless; they cannot fend for themselves very well; left on their own, they will destroy a pasture by overgrazing; they wander off and get lost easily when separated from the others. Like us, they need a shepherd to protect them, to direct them, and to provide for them.

Life will not work when you insist on being your own shepherd, final authority in all things relating to yourself or others. Have you ever tried that? Of course, you have. Go ahead and admit it; you would always prefer to “be your own boss!” In doing so, you assume the responsibility of a task beyond your experience, wisdom, or abilities. When you are playing God’s role, God cannot be what you most need – a shepherd in your life! Life is too complicated without Him.

Life only works when you finally accept that truth, and welcome the only One who is truly qualified to be that in your life. You cannot even imagine the joy and relief you will find in His care. I want you to personally know the unequalled sufficiency of the One who wants and waits to be your Shepherd. See John 10:1-18 NIV. Life is unlike anything you have ever known when you can truly say from your heart, “The Lord is my Shepherd!” Yes, life really is that simple.

My prayer for you today is that you settle the issue and trust in God’s care.

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