Were You There?

“While He was going, they were gazing into heaven…”

Acts 1: 10a (HCSB)

 

 

He fixed his eyes upward, stood firmly on the ground, and gazed at what must have been the most spectacular sight his eyes had ever beheld. His mind filled with wonder and his heart filled with joy that Jesus was alive and yet he was sorrowful about His departure. He was also a little bit nervous about the task he was just commissioned to do (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). Peter watched with the other disciples as his friend, teacher, master, and Savior ascended to Heaven in a cloud.

It had not been that long ago that Peter and the other disciples were there with Him in Gethsemane on that dark and dreadful night the soldiers took Him away. He could remember watching from a distance as Jesus stood before the Sanhedrin accused and interrogated in the midst of a taunting crowd. Others who were there spoke about Barabbas, the insurrectionist and murderer who was pardoned while Jesus took his place and the crowd yelled “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” They told about how the soldiers mocked, flogged, and spat on Him.

The women who loved and followed Jesus were there along His journey to Golgotha, mourning at the sight of His thorn-pierced head and brutally beaten body. They even remembered the words He spoke to them. Simon, the Cyrenian was there, forced to carry His cross. And when He arrived at Golgotha, there were the soldiers, mocking Him and casting lots for His clothes. There were criminals there, too, crucified on either side of Him; one condemning Him and the other requesting to be remembered in paradise. John was there at Mary’s side comforting her as she watched her firstborn son hanging on the cross, dying on that terrible hill. Joseph and Nicodemus were there to take Jesus’ lifeless body from the cross, wrap Him in linen cloth, and lay Him in a brand new tomb. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome were there at the tomb early on Sunday morning coming to anoint His body.

You know who was also there? I was there. Not physically, of course; but because of my sin and need for a Savior, I was there! Were you there? Were YOU there when they crucified, my Lord? Beloved, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). My sin was there in the garden at Gethsemane when they arrested Him, when He stood accused before the Sanhedrin, when they beat Him and nailed His mangled body to the cross. My sin was there when He shouted to Heaven and breathed His last breath. My sin was there when the sun refused to shine, the earth shook violently, and the veil of the temple was split in two. My sin was there when He was buried in the tomb. And I would have been among the disheartened, who thought that all hope of restoration was buried in the grave, wondering if all was lost.

But, Praise be to God, that I was also there, when early that Sunday Morning, He rose with all power in His hands and redeemed me! Death and the grave were conquered, my sin and your sin remembered no more and the enemy was defeated. My fellow believers not only were we there in His Death, Burial and Resurrection, but Praise the Lord we will also be there with Him when He returns (1Thessalonians 4:13-18). Praise the Lord!

By Abigail George

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What Will You Give?

“I tell you the truth,” He said. “This poor widow has put in more than all of them.  For all these people have put in gifts out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”
Luke 21:3-4 (HCSB)

It was another day at the temple courts–a familiar place during Jesus’ ministry. You could find Him there at times; preaching, teaching, healing, warning, rebuking. He encountered people from all walks of life. And now that He was approaching the end of His earthly ministry, it was no surprise that He would also encounter increasingly intense opposition in the temple courts. On this day especially, the religious elite bombarded Him with question after question, trying to somehow discredit Him. At the end of every interrogation, they would walk away infuriated, annoyed, silenced, and plotting His demise.

With the temporary retreat of his opponents, Jesus was able to resume instructing His disciples and any others who might be listening. He drew their attention to an ordinary event at the temple–people putting their offering into the treasury boxes. But in the midst of the ordinary, Jesus sees something extraordinary. He sees a poor widow release from the grip of her hand two small coins. What was so significant about this woman and her two almost worthless coins? Unlike the others at the treasury boxes that day, this woman gave the very thing that she needed to survive. And for one single moment in time, Heaven and earth stopped for the Savior to place a spotlight on this dear woman. Perhaps the religious elite that Jesus previously rebuked were there to hear Him commend this widow for giving all she had. But for whoever was there, Jesus’ words were certainly something to ponder. His disciples could certainly relate for they had also given up something to follow Christ and advance His Kingdom.

Scripture doesn’t tell us what happened after the widow went home–whether her precious offering was returned to her tenfold or whether her two small coins made a difference in the temple and advanced Kingdom business. What we do know is that Jesus stopped what He was doing, forgot about His opponents, took notice, and commended this woman before others. Knowing the persecution He was about to face and the ultimate sacrifice He was about to make, He still stopped to recognize the sacrifice of a poor widow in the temple court that day.

Most likely, you will not be required to give all your material possessions for the work of a ministry; even so, sometimes giving money for God’s kingdom can be the easiest thing to do. If that is so, then what could be harder? It depends on what you’re holding tightly. You might have to give from an area in your life that is far more poverty stricken than your empty purse. Perhaps you are desperate for encouragement. Discouragement has saturated your thoughts and held your emotions captive. You find yourself isolated from others, hiding in your prayer closet because of the severity of your circumstances, and holding on to that one Scripture you’ve been meditating on all week to help you get by. And rather than keeping God’s encouragement only for yourself, He might compel you to go beyond your circumstances to help someone else who is discouraged; to leave your isolation behind and share the words of encouragement you’ve gripped so tightly for yourself. You might feel you need them more than anyone else at that moment but He might want you to give them away for the advancement of His Kingdom. Just as the widow gave away something she could have held on to tightly.

What do you lack in your life today? In what area of your life do you feel poverty stricken? Whatever it is, give it away. Open your hands and your heart and release it to the Father so He can use it. No one may take notice and I can’t promise that you will experience immediate relief and replenishment. But one thing I do know, the Savior will see you and commend you. The Father will be pleased. Take joy and comfort in His pleasure. Will you give out of your poverty? What will you give?

By Abigail George

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Where Will You Be Found?

Then these men went as a group and found Daniel petitioning and imploring his God.” Daniel 6:11 (HCSB)

 

 

Expected to eat the king’s food, caught up in the midst of the king’s bizarre dreams, threatened with a fiery inferno and thrown into a lair of famished lions, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego found themselves in a new and different world compelling them to make choices between compromise or faithfulness to God, even facing life or death. We’ve read this familiar story time and time again. We know what choices they made. But what about you and me? We too are in a world that’s not our own, faced with situations compelling us to make choices. Where will this world find us in the midst of tough decisions?

When people are looking for answers to the meaning of life and there is no one to provide them with any, where will you be found? Will you be found empty-handed–lacking answers found in God’s Word because you spent too much time filling your heart and mind with worry, doubt, and fear about the circumstances of life? Or will you be empty-handed because you were too busy chasing after the worthless and meaningless things the world has to offer?

When faced with a choice to live according to God’s Word or succumb to political correctness, will you be found compromising the truth for the sake of peace? Will you be found making high-pressured concessions for your loved ones or for the sake of your job?

When those who oppose you, whoever they may be, are hot on your trail, plotting against and trying to silence you because of your stance for Christ, will they find you hiding with a lowered voice? Or will you stop serving God out of fear for what might happen to you? When they try to trap you or find fault with you, where will you be found?

When the world is feeding you a daily portion of its world view full of corruption, subtle lies, and blatant immorality, where will you be found? Will you be found in line with your plate in one hand and fork in the other ready to devour whatever the world offers, growing weaker in your faith with every mouthful?

Because Daniel was found uncompromising at the King’s table, he was also found in the King’s court imparting wisdom from God (Daniel 1:8-16). God blessed him. Because Daniel was found ready with a word from the Lord, He was also found as ruler over the entire province of Babylon. God elevated him. Because Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were found choosing not to bow to an idol, they were also found unharmed by the fiery furnace. God preserved them. Because Daniel was found on his knees before the Lord, he was also found lying peaceably alive and well with the lions in their den. God protected him.

Faithful one, may the world find you uncompromising for His sake, standing boldly with the Lord, seeking and doing the will of God, no matter the cost! For, just as He was with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, He is right there with you.

By Abigail George

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For His Name’s Sake

 “Then I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations where they went. Therefore, say to the house of Israel: This is what the Lord God says: It is not for your sake that I will act, house of Israel, but for My holy name, which you profaned among the nations where you went.” Ezekiel 36:21-22 (HCSB)

Torn from the Promised Land, once beautifully flowing with milk and honey and now defiled by their own sin and disobedience, the children of Israel spent their days exiled in the land of the Babylonians. If there were cries of repentance and help to God, they could not be heard over the echoes of the nations’ scorn of the people, disdain for their land, and mockery of God’s Holy name. Loud and clear, over and over, God heard His name profaned among the nations and among His people. God was concerned about His name. Dare the nations say that it was by their own hands they captured Israel, thinking God to be puny and callous; that He had abandoned His own people? Dare His people say that He was forgetful, unrelenting, unjust, and had left them for dead? No! God would not have it!

Don’t be mistaken, God’s concern for His name is not a sign of weakness showing Him to be a petty God who is wounded by the latest gossip about who He is. God wants to protect His name, for in His name is His reputation, His character.
• His name is Holy. He will not let sin prevail in His presence (Ezekiel 36; 43:7-9).
• His name is Yahweh. He is the Covenant God. He has kept and will continue to keep the covenant He made with Abraham (Exodus 3:15).
• His name is Sovereign. He is sovereign over all–even Israel’s enemies (Ezekiel 25-32).
• His name is El Qanna. He is jealous for His people (Ezekiel 8:3; 23:25).
• His name is El Roi. He sees the condition of His beloved (Ezekiel 34:12).
• His name is Jehovah-jireh. He provides for His people even while in exile.
• His name is Jehovah-shalom. He brings peace (Ezekiel 34:25).
• His name is Jehovah-raah. The Good Shepherd (Ezekiel 34).
• His name is Jehovah-shammah. He is always there (Ezekiel 48:35).
• His name is Jehovah-rapha. The One who heals (Ezekiel 34:16)
• In His name is the Hope of Restoration. He will restore to His people what once was Ezekiel 33-48; 36:35).
• His Name is Love. He acts and moves in love–deeply and passionately to restore man back to Himself (John 3:16).

God could not allow His name to be profaned and so for His name’s sake, He responded to the plight of His people. He told them that He would bring them back to their land and restore it. He would cleanse and give them a new heart for His name’s sake. He would give them His Spirit and they would be His people and He would be their God. He would rebuild what was once destroyed and they would no longer be a reproach to the nations. It would not be because of any good and righteous thing they have done, but He would do this for His name’s sake (Ezekiel 36:24-38).

My friend, God loves you. He wants to heal and restore. He wants to rebuild that broken relationship, bring you back to that place of sweet fellowship with Him, soften that hardened heart, cleanse that area of sin in your life, and plant something brand new in you. He wants to destroy those strongholds and provide nourishment for your spiritual famine, for His name’s sake.

If it were for our names’ sake, our tough days would seem endless and filled with sleepless nights like never-ending storms; our difficult circumstances would look hopeless and the thought of joy restored merely a pipedream. If it were for our names’ sake, we would have died in our sin and be eternally cut off from the presence of God–never having the gift of salvation. Praise the Lord that for His Holy name’s sake, in the midst of our sin, He extended grace and mercy to us, through Jesus Christ! (Romans 5:8) For His name’s sake we are set free!

“I will honor the holiness of My great name, which has been profaned among the nations–the name you have profaned among them. The nations will know that I am Yahweh”–the declaration of the Lord God–”when I demonstrate My holiness through you in their sight.” Ezekiel 36:23 (HCSB)

By Abigail George

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He Hears You

The Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘I have heard your prayer to Me about Sennacherib, king of Assyria.‘” – 2 Kings 19:20 (HCSB)

 

 

In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, the Southern Kingdom of Judah is invaded by Sennacherib, king of Assyria. Unlike their brethren in the Northern Kingdom, the attack on Judah comes during a time of national religious reform. The nation is under godly leadership. The high places have been torn down and Yahweh is worshiped once again in the Temple at Jerusalem just as in the days of King David. Judah finally has a king who is committed to leading them according to the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). Judah has returned to God.

And yet, in the midst of this seemingly perfect life of the nation, Sennacherib attacks. King Hezekiah realizes that his allies are in no position to help and Judah is alone before a powerful enemy. In an effort to appease his formidable opponent, Hezekiah sends a messenger requesting King Sennacherib’s terms of surrender for Judah. Sennacherib arrogantly responds by demanding a large amount of money. Hezekiah attempts to oblige him and strips the Temple of all the silver and gold he can find.

Sennacherib is not appeased by Hezekiah’s compliance and advances his attack on Judah by laying siege to Jerusalem. Unlike Hezekiah’s previous maneuver to make peace with the enemy, this time he instructs the people of Judah to keep silent. He sends messengers to the prophet Isaiah who responds with a word of victory and encouragement from the Lord. But with a few sweeping strokes of a letter mocking and spewing lies against Almighty God, Sennacherib is able to rekindle a spark of fear in Hezekiah’s heart. So with letter in hand, Hezekiah goes humbly and broken to the temple of the Lord. He falls to his knees and prays that God will hear his desperate cry for Jerusalem’s deliverance from Sennacherib. His thoughts are fixed on the hope of the Lord’s deliverance, yet they are captured, in part, by the taunting reality of Assyria’s devastating blow to Judah’s allies and many surrounding nations. He could still hear the echoing threats of defeat by Sennacherib and his shrieking words mocking the living God.

God answers Hezekiah’s prayer with the most reassuring words a child of God could ever hear: “I have heard your prayer to Me” (2 Kings 19:20). God proceeds to give him a beautiful word picture of His victory over Sennacherib. He then closes with a promise, “I will defend this city and rescue it for My sake and for the sake of My servant David.” (2 Kings 19:34). God reminded Hezekiah that He is still a covenant-keeping God. He kept His promise by defeating the Assyrian army and assuring Sennacherib’s murder by the hands of his own sons.

You might be on your knees before the Lord because the enemy is laying siege to an area of your life – your thoughts, your peace of mind, your family, your children, your marriage, your job. You might be walking uprightly before the Lord, meditating on His Word, sharing the gospel with others and constantly in prayer, yet the problems in your life seem insurmountable and the fear of what might happen grips your heart. Your problems demand your time and resources so you offer both, subtracting from your day the very thing you need the most, precious time with the Father. Now all that is left are a few moments with Him – maybe only enough time for an already memorized verse and a quick prayer.

O precious one! Don’t let the enemy of your soul threaten you with defeat. Do as Hezekiah did. Spread out your concerns before the Lord (2 Kings 19: 14-15). Take your burdens to the One who inclines His ear to you; the One who hears you (2 Kings 19:16). Whatever is burdening your heart, I encourage you today to fall on your knees before the Lord once again for He has an answer for you. He has heard your prayer. He will defend and rescue you for His sake and the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Battle is won! The enemy of your soul is already defeated! Walk in your victory!

By Abigail George

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Our Sin, Our Woes, Our Hope

 

“And I will wait on the Lord, Who hides His face from the house of Jacob; And I will hope in Him.” Isaiah 8:17 NKJV

 

 

After Solomon’s glorious reign and tragic decline, we began to see the depth of the rejection of God in the hearts of His people with the division of Israel into Northern and Southern Kingdoms and the crowning of each new king. As I read about the reigns of these kings, I can’t help but reflect upon the day the elders came to the prophet Samuel demanding a king to lead them (1 Samuel 5:8). That moment appears to signify the climax of Israel’s repeated rejection of God and yet, it is just the beginning.

With the exception of a few kings in the Southern Kingdom who followed the Lord, the sin of the people seemed to amplify with the rise of each new reign. As God sought to find justice among His people, instead He found injustice and bloodshed. When listening for words of righteousness, He heard cries of distress and wretchedness (Isaiah 5:7). When looking inside the places of worship, all that was seen were carved images and idols, male and female prostitutes, and altars to worthless gods – but no presence of God. The people furiously rejected the preaching of God’s Word (Micah 2:6). They called evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). Sin was rampant in epidemic proportions.

It was during these tumultuous times, that God delivered a message of destruction and desolation through His prophets, Isaiah and Micah. “Woe to those…” were common words from the Lord as He expressed His deep hurt and grief for His people as well as the surrounding nations. Who could hear His Word and turn? Who could bear it? Sin was wedged quite deep and all hope seemed to be lost. But wait, in the midst of “Woe to those…”, God shouts proclamations of hope – reminding His people that He is a covenant-keeping God. He reveals Himself as their Refuge. We see Him as their Sanctuary (Isaiah 8:11-14), the promise of the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:1-7), the Ruler and Shepherd of His People (Micah 5:1-6), and the Branch of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1-16). He assures them of the preservation of the Remnant (Isaiah 10:20-26; Micah 5:7-15). He offers Hope.

When we look around and see the condition of the world today, it seems like sin has taken over. We see the telling signs of the judgment of God. We can almost hear the words He spoke in Scripture, “Woe to those…” As believers, what should be our response to all of this? The prophet Isaiah’s encounter with God gives us a perfect picture. In the year King Uzziah of Judah died, Isaiah encountered the Lord (Isaiah 6:1). He certainly had woes in his life, for he recognized his own sin amid the sinful world (vs.5). But, praise the Lord! In the midst of what Isaiah thought was impending doom for himself, he discovered everlasting Hope. His guilt was taken away and his sin atoned for (vs.7).

Who is our everlasting Hope? Jesus. He is the Remedy for our sin, the Substitute for our woes, and the Fulfilled Promise of our Hope. He is our only Refuge. He is our Sanctuary, Prince of Peace, Ruler, and Shepherd. He is the Branch of Jesse and the Preserver of the Remnant. Praise the Lord, He is our Hope! He is the Hope of the world! May we proclaim Him to the world!

By Abigail George

Passages for further reading: Isaiah 5-17, Micah 1-7

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In the Heart of God

“How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I surrender you, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? I have had a change of heart; My compassion is stirred!”  Hosea 11:8 (HCSB)

 

 

He was called by God to wed and love deeply a promiscuous woman, father children of his public shame, suffer repeatedly from a broken heart, and preach God’s message of judgment, repentance, and hope to a rebellious people.  Such was the life of the prophet Hosea. For years he stood up to proclaim the hard and compelling word of God to the people knowing that the last word of the day’s sermon meant a dreadful walk home to face the extreme dysfunction of his own household. He not only had to deliver the message, but God took him a little further and called Hosea to live the message. His call was a journey into the very heart of God.

What if, like Hosea, God chose your life to demonstrate His truth and His purpose to those around you? What if God allowed or dare I say, even orchestrated your difficult situation so that it can be on display for others to get a glimpse into His heart?

It’s true, much of the difficulties we go through in life are consequences of our own sinfulness and sheer rebellion against God. But what if…? What if God calls you to a set of circumstances – earth shattering, mind boggling circumstances that demonstrate His truth and love to those around? Not just a calling to proclaim His message, but one that adjoins you to that message in such a way that it catapults you directly into the heart of God – totally immersed in its depths. Causing you to journey to places you’ve never been, feel your deepest pain, shed your longest tears, pray your most agonizing prayers, trust God like you never have, and know a kind of humility you’ve never known. What if you were called to experience the heart of God?

Inside the heart of God may look a little different than you may expect. What if you may have to set up camp in a dark place for a while to serve as the only light for others to see their way out? You may even have to walk a lonely road at night after dreadful night because that’s the only place and time you can be face to face with that person, family, or community where God wants to show Himself, His love. Engulfed in the seeking heart of God.

What if you were called to be that parent of prodigal children who are relentlessly squandering their godly inheritance, living like enemies of God, and heading fast to destruction? He’s calling you to demonstrate truth in (tough) love – leaving the warm light of His holiness and love in the window so they can find their way back home. Immersed in the restoring heart of God.

What if you are that person called to demonstrate to your wandering spouse what God’s tenacious, unconditional love looks like – speaking peaceful words of encouragement to them while raging anger and discouragement looms in the shadows of your mind. Your knees are sore from countless hours of excruciating prayer to the Father – eyes swollen from the flowing tears pouring like a flood. Deeply plunged into the forgiving heart of God.

Your life may be the life of one who suffers loss after loss, brokenness of heart, disappointment many times over, so others who’ve suffered the same can see and know the comfort of God. Thrust into the soothing heart of God.

Beloved, this kind of life carries a message of hope just as Hosea carried. Hope for restoration – a hope that says you can never go too far that His love can’t reach you. This hope assures that there is no sin too deep that the depth of His love can’t lift you. This hope says there is no place too dark that His light can’t see you. There is no road too remote that His love can’t find you.  There is no heart too scarred that His love can’t heal you. Your life may be that life through which He chooses to demonstrate in a radical way His heart for His people. Are you willing to live it? Are you willing to live your life deep in the Heart of God?

By Abigail George

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A Few Words of Wisdom From Solomon

Wise words are hard to find these days, but there is no shortage of advice. It’s  hard sometimes to weed through the foolishness to get to the nuggets of wisdom. So, if wisdom is what you seek, you can always find it in God’s Word. Today, here are a few words from the wisest man that ever lived. No weeding or sifting through, just simply wisdom. Words you can live by.

“Don’t boast about tomorrow, for you don’t know what a day might bring. Let another praise you, and not your own mouth- a stranger, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:1-2

“Better an open reprimand than concealed love. The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.” Proverbs 27:5-6

“The sensible see danger and take cover; the foolish keep going and are punished.” Proverbs 27:12

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

“As the water reflects the face, so the heart reflects the person.” Proverbs 27:19

“Those who reject the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law battle against them.” Proverbs 28:4

“Better a poor man who lives with integrity than a rich man who distorts right and wrong.” Proverbs 28:6

“The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

“The one who lives with integrity will be helped, but one who distorts right and wrong will suddenly fall.” Proverbs 28:18

“The one who trusts in himself is a fool, but one who walks in wisdom will be safe.” Proverbs 28:26

“Do you see a man who speaks too soon? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 29:20

“A person’s pride will humble him, but a humble spirit will gain honor.” Proverbs 29:23

“The fear of man is a snare, but the one who trusts in the Lord is protected. Many seek a ruler’s favor, but a man receives justice from the Lord.” Proverbs 29:25-26

May you discover some wise words to live by in the Word of God!

*All scripture references are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

 

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True Compassion

The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. Psalm 116:5 (NIV)

We live in a time when there is common misuse of the word compassion. It is often referred to as a feeling and rarely requires any effort. We solicit it much like a salesman peddling his product and promising guaranteed benefits to his customers. It is presented as warm and fuzzy for both the giver and the receiver.

When David spoke of God’s compassion, he saw it from a much different view. For David, compassion was not just a feeling but a deep sorrow for the suffering and helplessness of others that leads one to take action and offer help. David’s own helpless and hopeless condition moved God with compassion toward him. Time and time again God rescued him from death, despair, his enemies, friends, family and himself. God’s compassion toward David required God’s tenacious and unconditional love. Regardless of how undeserving David might have been, God extended compassion to him.

For the giver, compassion can be hard to offer; sometimes even painful to give. It is rarely ever warm and fuzzy. Sometimes in an effort to bring others relief from suffering, the compassionate one may have to endure the same. Compassion is sacrificial. It always costs something – maybe time, resources, pride, prejudices, hopes and dreams. It is impelling. It compels the compassionate one to move to action.

Compassion does not compromise in an effort to alleviate the pain and suffering of others. It does not seek to circumvent the truth about the condition of the receiver, but offers to provide a remedy. With God, the truth of our condition causes His compassion to flow. The truth? We are all sinners separated from God, deep in our sinful state and lost without hope (Romans 3:23). We are all spiritually dead and separated from Him (Ephesians 2:12). But God, moved with compassion toward us, wrapped Himself in flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus endured the harsh realities of humanity, suffered the pain of dying, took the sting of death and accepted the wrath of God. Praise the Lord that His compassion did not stop there! For, it continued on to conquer sin and death, rescuing us from eternal despair to everlasting life with Him.

We now know the true meaning of compassion because we have received it from our gracious and righteous Lord. Our kind words, warm thoughts, sad feelings, and the occasional benevolent act toward the desperate and hurting may make us feel good about ourselves from time to time but it is a far cry from what compassion demands. Compassion demands action, fueled by the unconditional love of God – seeking no benefit of its own.

There are helpless and desperate people all around us, dying without hope just as we once were. Are we moved to true compassion? Or are we content to remain on a quest for the warm and fuzzy. My prayer is that we offer true compassion and share with those around us the good news of Jesus Christ, the True Compassionate One.

By Abigail George

 

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No Cost, No Sacrifice

“King David answered Ornan, “No, I insist on paying the full price, for I will not take for the Lord what belongs to you or offer burnt offerings that cost [me] nothing.”                                   1 Chronicles 21:24 (HCSB)

David must have been carrying a heavy mental burden as he climbed the hill to Ornan’s threshing floor. He probably recounted Joab’s words urging him not to conduct the military census. Yet, despite the warning, he gave his executive order with no regard to his commander’s foresight and, most especially, to God’s explicit instructions to him (Exodus 30:12). He remembered all of it well.

He probably remembered coming to his senses not long after the deed was done – the overwhelming feeling of regret, the cry of confession, the admission of foolishness, the final plea for God to remove his guilt. He probably remembered the deep anguish he felt while contemplating the three choices included in God’s response to his plea for mercy.

He probably remembered falling before God as His judgment on Jerusalem seemed imminent – face to the ground in sackcloth, pleading on behalf of his people and speaking only of his own guilt. It was as if David was declaring the people innocent – as if ignorant of that the Lord’s anger burned against Israel once again (2 Samuel 24:1).

And now, at the Lord’s command, David is on his way to set up an altar on Ornan’s threshing floor. Recognizing who David was, Ornan offers to give him the plot of land and everything he needed for the offerings on the altar. David insists on paying full price and says to Ornan: “I will not take for the Lord what belongs to you or offer burnt offerings that cost [me] nothing.”

David knew that a sacrifice without cost was no sacrifice at all. He bought the entire plot and offered sacrifices to the Lord there. Scripture says “He called on the Lord, and He [the Lord] answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering. Then the LORD spoke to the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath (1 Chronicles 21:26-27). The fatal blow was withheld from Jerusalem. In hindsight, David must have been thankful that he left the decision in God’s hands. For although there was punishment, it didn’t last long and God’s mercy prevailed.

What a beautiful depiction of what Christ Jesus did for us. Jesus also climbed a hill and made a costly sacrifice to save his people from the imminent judgment of God. Unlike David, however, Jesus had no sin of his own. He became sin for us – declaring us innocent before God. The full price was not made with gold or silver, for that was not enough to cover our sin and escape the wrath of God. He paid with His life. For, He also knew that a sacrifice without a cost was no sacrifice at all.

As believers, we must also make sacrifices to God, not for the covering of our sin, but in humble response to what Christ did once and for all on the Cross. Roman 12:1 says; “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.”(NIV) We may be surprised to find out that much of what we offer to God as a sacrifice is no sacrifice at all.

When you offer yourself to God, does it cost you anything? I sometimes tend to offer God my convenience rather than a sacrifice of my time. Do you do that, too? Do you present someone else’s offering to the Lord – giving money to support missions or a ministry when you know in your heart that God has called YOU to go or to serve? Have you taken the cheapest route to worship – that five minute devotional with a verse and a prayer that has replaced your deep and intimate time with God through His Word? What about your attitude? Do you offer your sacrifice out of brokenness before God and the desire to truly please Him? David went before the altar of sacrifice broken, obedient, and willing to pay whatever it cost.

My prayer is this: as we come to God offering our sacrifice to Him, may we like David say, “I insist on paying the full price, for I will not take for the Lord what belongs to you or offer burnt offerings that cost [me] nothing.” For, if there is no cost, there is no sacrifice.

By Abigail George

Passages for further Study: 2 Samuel 24 and I Chronicles 21

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