Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Compassionate God

I've been thinking about God's compassion this week. He loves us, this we know. But included in that love is the very special quality of compassion.

Webster’s dictionary defines compassion like this:
“sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”

For a simple definition, that’s quite profound and beautiful.

God is aware of our distress. He is sympathetic toward our pain. He has a desire to meet our needs and bring us through the trials.

God doesn’t always take away the pain or immediately stop the trial. But that’s only because He has a greater plan in mind for us than our temporary ease.

I think it was Joni Eareckson Tada who said that sometimes God allows what He hates in order to accomplish what He loves.

I’ve seen this to be true in so many people’s lives, including my own. God sometimes allows pain, suffering, heartache, and trials in our lives…so that He can accomplish good things in us, like developing deeper intimacy with Him, delivering us from fears, self-centeredness, pride, etc., and transforming us from who we are to who He destined us to be.  

It’s not always easy to keep sight of the bigger picture in the midst of our pain. I think that’s why the truth that God is compassionate toward me comforts me so much.

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”
-Psalm 86:15

“Praise the LORD, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—...
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
...As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.”
-Psalm 103:2, 4, 13

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
-Lamentations 3:21-23

“Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.”
-Isaiah 49:13

“I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us— yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.”
-Isaiah 63:7

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd....”
-Mark 6:34

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
-2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Heavenly Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit - thank you for your compassion, continually expressed to us in so many ways! We are needy, and we are grateful. You are faithful, and you are worthy. Amen. 

P.S. Thank you for praying for my friend Martha! She's been doing a little better and is stable enough to be transported now, praise God! I’m so thankful for God’s compassion that has been expressed to her through many people. It’s going to be a long recovery from the stroke however. Thank you so much for your continued prayers for her. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

This Is Love...

On Valentine's Day there's a lot of talking about love.

What is love? Is it romance, flowers, and chocolate? Is it happiness when you're with someone or something that makes you feel good?

Today God reminded me of something that was written almost two thousand years ago. Perhaps people asked similar questions then. Here is the answer that John, one of Jesus' disciples, wrote:

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us..." (1 John 4:10).

Love didn't originate with man.

" comes from God (1 John 4:7b).

As human beings, we didn't invent love, develop it, or define it. 

"God is love... (1 John 4:16b).

God is the one who defines love, and God is the one who initiates love.

Love is an eternal reality. Love is who God is. And love is what God demonstrated to human beings.

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

God the Father sent His Son Jesus, who died for us, as the ultimate expression of God's love.

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." -1 John 4:10

This is love - God loving us.

Any love that we have for God, is but an echo of His love for us.
Any love we demonstrate to others, is but an outflow of the love God has poured into us.
Any love we receive from others, is but an expression of God's love to us through them.

These truths about God fill me with awe! And they give me a different perspective on love.

Love isn't something I "fall into" or "fall out of."
Love isn't something I have to somehow muster up from within myself for others.
Love isn't something that comes and goes based on various factors.

Love is real and it is powerful, because love comes from God who is eternal, all-powerful, and good.

God's love is infinite - it has no limit. How do we fathom that? I can't. But I rejoice that God's love for me and for you will never end! Not only that, but God can express His love through me and through you, to me and to you, in infinite ways. Hallelujah!

Yes, love is certainly worth talking about, not just on Valentine's Day but every day.

Our awesome God, thank you that you first loved us! Please help us to consider and talk about your love more and more. Jesus, please fill us with your love, and empower us to give and receive your love by faith.  

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us" (1 John 4:16a).