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What Shall We Do

We have a little sister,
And she has no breasts;
What shall we do for our sister
On the day when she is spoken for?

Song of Songs 8:8 NASB

Compassion

Have you ever been in a time of worship, basking in the presence of the Lord, enjoying His embrace and found yourself interceding for the body?

The Lord has been telling His bride of His love for her in verses six and seven. As she soaks in His love, something stirs in her heart.

Her heart goes to her little sister, her immature sister.

She is not impatient with this immature believer. She knows, from her own walk, the time before love for the Shepherd King had captivated her. She remembers the days past when  she knew not the sweet kisses of His word. She looks back at her life before she had the twin beauties of love and faith in operation, before her Lover had marked her with by His own twin virtures of grace and truth.

The maturity of her faith draws her into compassion for those who are too young for meat, those who need the milk of the word.

We

Do you remember her first prayer—her two part request of the Lord at the beginning of the song?

Draw me after you and let us run together! ~ Song of Songs 1:4 NASB

It’s striking to me that her prayer now is not just removed intersession. She is not saying, “Lord, help our sister grow; Teach her to walk in your ways; Lead her to the life you have given me.”

Her prayer includes her own involvement.

It reminds me of a principal from the book Rees Howells, Intercessor. He taught we should never expect God to answer our prayers unless we were willing to take part of the answer.

And so it is with our Bride. She prays, “What shall we do?

This is perhaps one of the most striking things about growing in Christ. Our God in all His Omni-ness (ok - I made that word up) is not content to save us and lead us, though He obviously is capable of such activity. His desire is to partner with us, to collaborate with us. He cares about our heart’s desires (once it's conformed to His character) and let’s us plan with Him. He gives us a huge measure of influence in the use of His powerful hand in our world.

I recommend you add this phrase to your prayer life today. “What shall we do?”

It’s not “What am I going to do about this?” where we wallow in self-pity or fretting. It’s not “What are You going to do about this?” where we shrug our shoulders and feel helpless and useless.

You see, Christ in us, the hope of glory is so much more than our hope of getting to heaven. It’s His hope that we will be christ (with a small 'c') to our generation, we will be that letter written by the hand of God on the new heart He placed in your soul.

What shall we do?

benheadshot1Thanks for stopping in today.

See you again soon.

Ben

PS - I’d love it if you would pray with me for the placement of my new book Encounters With Jesus in Lifeway Stores across the country. I've applied to their new product placement department, and it would be a huge answer to prayer if they would carry Encounters in their 180 locations.

PPS - Have you read Encounters With Jesus? It would be a huge help and blessing to me if you would rate it on Amazon.com.

If you haven’t read it yet, you can get it in paperback or kindle.

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I heard a reading of Psalm 51 on Sunday. That is David’s wonderful penitent Psalm. You know the one … Create in me a clean heart… Wash me with hyssop…

But the first verse grabbed my attention.

According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. - Psalms 51:1

Did you know that the compassion of God trumps the transgression of man? [Tweet This]

Do you know what can wash away my sin?

Do you know

God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. - John 3:16

God’s been doing some blotting!

Would you be clean from your burden of sin?

Well let me tell you.. There’s power in the blood [I repeat] power in the blood.

Ben NelsonThanks for popping by today.

Come back soon.

Ben

I have to tell you, it’s another Red Letter Day today and I want to talk with you about some pretty serious Red letters. Jesus said:

But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’

He was at a reception at the house of His new friend and follower Matthew. The place was crawling with the lowest of the low in the day’s Jewish economy.

When the Pharisees begin complaining about this He gives them this quote from the prophet Hosea to think about. Here is His full comment:

It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." ~ Matthew 9:12-13

To tell a Pharisee “go and learn” is quite a slap in the face. These are the men who have spent their life learning. These are the scholars of the day. As I understand it they were required to memorize most, if not all of what we call the Old Testament, certainly all of the books of Moses.

These men knew the law, and kept it. When God demanded 1 tenth of their increase, they would apply it right down to mint leaves, and cumin seeds, one for God and nine for me.

But they did not have compassion.

You see righteousness man’s way leads to a rigid and judgmental heart. When we define a relationship with God in terms of the keeping of the Law, we end up with a system that is always comparing.

A system based on who makes the biggest sacrifice leave everyone a loser. The one who has the least to give feels worthless, the one in the middle falls short, and the one on the top gets puffed up with pride.

A system based on compassion on the other hand makes everyone a winner. If you dare to open your heart to those around you, you will find that your offering of love may take empower the recipient and the giver.

When I say offering, I am not necessarily talking about a money offering.

What does compassion give?

Friendship
Shelter
Protection
Equipping
Resources

What would you add to the list?

Let’s get free of this stinking sacrificial system. The sacrifice has been made – Jesus – once and for all. Our job is to LOVE, to have Compassion and Mercy, to offer Grace.

Ben NelsonLearn what that means!

See you again soon

Ben

Jesus just made His stunning announcement in the synagogue that He was the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, He was the Messiah and He was here to:

...PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE DOWNTRODDEN,  TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD. ~ Luke 4:18-19

And believe me the place was astir. Here are the three accounts of what happened next from Matthew, Mark and Luke.

And immediately after they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick in bed with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Him about her, they made request of Him on her behalf. And He came to her and He touched her hand and raised her up, taking her by the hand, He rebuked the fever and the fever left her, and she immediately arose, and she waited on them. ~ Mash up of Matthew, Mark and Luke's telling of this event - for original NASB text see below.

I love how Jesus deals with both Peter's mother-in-law and the fever. You will notice he treats both the person and the sickness. Matthew and Mark speak of His touch, which, I am convinced, is the touch of compassion for Mom. Then Luke tells us, He rebukes the fever.

I have seen people attack sickness with such anger and aggression that the person inside feels abused. This can happen when we offer to pray for someone and start shouting out the sickness, with no regard for the sick. In the end they go away feeling like the sickness is somehow their fault.

Right on the other hand, I have seen folks coddle sickness like it is a favorite pet. We do this with our words - I can't run because of my asthma, my arthritis is acting up - like that.

We must find a way to get more like Jesus. He expresses love for the woman, and simply took command over the disease.

Another small observation here. He speaks directly to the disease, in this case to the symptom. How often do we complain about our plight, rather than address it. He rebuked the fever and it left. [Tweet This] He did not pray for her. He did not call a special meeting. He just loved her and rebuked the sickness.

Lord, I so want to be like you. Give me eyes to see what the Father is doing, ears to hear what the Spirit is saying, hands that touch with compassion, and a mouth to say what I hear you saying.

BenThanks for stopping in.

See you again soon.

Ben

Here are the full texts that make up the mash up above.

And when Jesus had come to Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. And He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose, and waited on Him. ~ Matthew 8:14-15

And immediately after they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Him about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them. ~ Mark 1:29-31

And He arose and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever; and they made request of Him on her behalf.  And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately arose and waited on them. ~ Luke 4:38-39

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Jesus just made His stunning announcement in the synagogue that He was the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, He was the Messiah and He was here to:

...PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE DOWNTRODDEN,  TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD. ~ Luke 4:18-19

And believe me the place was astir. Here are the three accounts of what happened next from Matthew, Mark and Luke.

And immediately after they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick in bed with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Him about her, they made request of Him on her behalf. And He came to her and He touched her hand and raised her up, taking her by the hand, He rebuked the fever and the fever left her, and she immediately arose, and she waited on them. ~ Mash up of Matthew, Mark and Luke's telling of this event - for original NASB text see below.

I love how Jesus deals with both Peter's mother-in-law and the fever. You will notice he treats both the person and the sickness. Matthew and Mark speak of His touch, which, I am convinced, is the touch of compassion for Mom. Then Luke tells us, He rebukes the fever.

I have seen people attack sickness with such anger and aggression that the person inside feels abused. This can happen when we offer to pray for someone and start shouting out the sickness, with no regard for the sick. In the end they go away feeling like the sickness is somehow their fault.

Right on the other hand, I have seen folks coddle sickness like it is a favorite pet. We do this with our words - I can't run because of my asthma, my arthritis is acting up - like that.

We must find a way to get more like Jesus. He expresses love for the woman, and simply took command over the disease.

Another small observation here. He speaks directly to the disease, in this case to the symptom. How often do we complain about our plight, rather than address it. He rebuked the fever and it left. [Tweet This] He did not pray for her. He did not call a special meeting. He just loved her and rebuked the sickness.

Lord, I so want to be like you. Give me eyes to see what the Father is doing, ears to hear what the Spirit is saying, hands that touch with compassion, and a mouth to say what I hear you saying.

BenThanks for stopping in.

See you again soon.

Ben

Here are the full texts that make up the mash up above.

And when Jesus had come to Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. And He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose, and waited on Him. ~ Matthew 8:14-15

And immediately after they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Him about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them. ~ Mark 1:29-31

And He arose and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever; and they made request of Him on her behalf.  And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately arose and waited on them. ~ Luke 4:38-39

Jesus Heals a Leper

Occasionally I like to look at the varied accounts of the same story from the diverse perspectives of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and sometimes John. I find when I read the description of an event in Jesus’ life from these three or four angles, I get a richer, fuller, feel for the day at hand.

I have taken this approach with our first encounter after the Sermon on the Mount. It can get a little choppy when I do this, because I try not to change the phrasing to stay as close to the original as possible, but it is still readable. Here is what they saw.

And when He had come down from the mountain, while He was in one of the cities great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper, a man full of leprosy;and when he saw Jesus, came to Him, beseeching Him, implored Him,and bowed down to Him, falling on his knees, his face, before Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

And moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him, his leprosy was cleansed.

And Jesus ordered him to tell no one, said to him, “See that you tell no one, say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, make an offering for your cleansing, and present the offering that Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.”

But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the news about, the news about Him was spreading even farther, and great multitudes were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere. ~ Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45, Luke 5:12-15

I intend to putter around with this story for a couple days, and talk about a few different aspects of it, but today let’s look at this leper’s approach to Jesus.

And behold, a leper, a man full of leprosy;and when he saw Jesus, came to Him, beseeching Him, implored Him,and bowed down to Him, falling on his knees, his face, before Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Can’t you just feel his desperation?

Apart from Jesus he had no hope.

Doesn’t he seem a little shameless?

Hasn’t he gone over the top, throwing himself at Jesus?

But of course he has nothing to lose.

He has come to the point where it really does not matter to him what other people think.

I love all these snippets of description. Lets break it down:

  • He saw Jesus
  • He came to Jesus
  • Beseeching Him
  • Imploring Him
  • Bowing before Him
  • Falling to his knees
  • Face to the ground

We are going to see a lot of people approaching Jesus. I don’t want you to think that the only way to get Jesus’ attention is to take a certain posture. Is there a right or wrong way to come to Jesus?

I can tell you this – Jesus said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 5:3

That is what I see in this man’s desperation – a poor spirit. He knows that there is nothing he brings to the table that can solve his life situation.

Are you running things on your own? I know, you probably don’t have leprosy right, but you are in fact terminal. There is a day coming when every knee will bow before Jesus. You can “bow down, fall on your knees, your face” before Him today.

I promise this. When you get up, you will be clean!

Thanks for stopping in today.

BenTomorrow we will look at this conversation a bit.

Until then, Live for Jesus!

Ben

Oh yeah, don't forget to leave your questions about the Bible or Christian life here:

Another Red Letter Day Q&A

So all week we have been looking at what moves the Lord.

The widow whose son was lost

The multitudes of lost in the world He walked through

The plight of those with sickness and disease

The hunger of those giving up their comfort to be in His presence

What about you – what moves you?

Are you moved with what moves Jesus?

I just love our compassionate Lord.

Would that we would treat one another with this kind of compassion.

Here is the ultimate show of Jesus’ compassion to close the week

And we can see that it was while we were powerless to help ourselves that Christ died for sinful men. In human experience it is a rare thing for one man to give his life for another, even if the latter be a good man, though there have been a few who have had the courage to do it. Yet the proof of God’s amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us.

Moreover, if he did that for us while we were sinners, now that we are men justified by the shedding of his blood, what reason have we to fear the wrath of God? If, while we were his enemies, Christ reconciled us to God by dying for us, surely now that we are reconciled we may be perfectly certain of our salvation through his living in us. Nor, I am sure, is this a matter of bare salvation—we may hold our heads high in the light of God’s love because of the reconciliation which Christ has made.

Romans 5:6-11 J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

BenDirector3CroppedSee you next week

Ben

"I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat.” (Mark 8:2 NASB)

Here we see crowds who have been following him around and listening to His teaching for 3 days. Hunger is setting in.

I have always wondered if this was the first stop for a meal, or if everybody came with 2 days food. Were they so amazed by Jesus and His teaching that they had not noticed until 3 days had passed that they were hungry?

In any case, Jesus feels compassion for these who have physical limitations, walking in flesh and living with natural needs.

Sometimes I think we expect of ourselves more than is humanly possible.

Have you ever tried to – oh – I don’t know – pray all night long and find yourself nodding off.

Or perhaps you have set out to fast only to find yourself nibbling on munchkins before noon.

You’re like – I can do this – but Jesus is thinking  - let’s bring lunch in before they all faint.

He has compassion on our humanity. Like is says in Psalm 103, He knows our frame – that we are dust, like the grass we wither and fade.

BenThank you Jesus that you have compassion on our frailties.

Thanks for stopping in today.

Ben

And a leper came to Him, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” And moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand, and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” (Mark 1:40-41 NASB)

I know we looked at this story last week, but today I just want to ponder something with you.

What is Jesus moved by here?

Is He moved by the wretched state of this leper – the pain and suffering evident in his life of misery?

Is He moved by the plea for healing?

Is He moved by the measure of faith that declares a faith in God’s ability?

Is He moved by the question – is it actually Your will to heal, and a need to demonstrate that will?

What is it that moves Jesus here?

I say it is all of the above. Jesus is not an immovable object – He is moved by the infirmity of our flesh, He is moved by faith in any measure, and He is moved by our prayers, and declarations!

What a wonderful Savior!

BenDirector3CroppedCome back tomorrow for yet another look at the compassion of our Lord.

See you then.

Ben

And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:36-38 NASB)

We are looking at some of the things that move the Lord Jesus.

Today we find Him looking at the world He was moving through. The world He created. The world that would reject Him, accuse Him, condemn Him, and crucify Him.

When He looks at them, He feels compassion.

He sees their state – they are:

  • Distressed
  • Downcast
  • Sheep without a shepherd

And it breaks His heart.

He wants to share His heart with you today.

When you look at the lost around you, do you see the enemy? Do you see the opposition?

I remember a missionary friend of mine once saying to me that he landed at the airport in a foreign land, and as he stepped off the plane his heart broke because he saw masses of people lost and in need of a Savior.

If you will see through the eyes of your Savior today, you will see need rather than hate. You will feel compassion, rather than opposition. They are not the problem, they are the reason you are there with the solution.

BenDirector3CroppedStop in tomorrow and see what else moves Jesus.

Love you!

Ben