Scripture reading for October 2nd: Jonah 3-4, Micah 1-2
Key Scriptures: Jonah 4:4-5, 10 “On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. . . . When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened.”
Jonah had vowed to preach whatever message God gave him for the wicked city of Nineveh. He began a walk across the huge city that would take three full days announcing God’s plan to judge them in just 40 days. This brought holy fear and faith to the whole wicked city and they repented! When God saw their faith and deeds of repentance, He had compassion on them! He would much rather save people than bring judgment. What an awesome God of compassion we serve!
God’s great compassion: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9)
Scripture reading for June 8th: Psalm 39-42
Key Scriptures: Psalm 41:1-3 “Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. The Lord will protect him and preserve his life; He will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.”
David knew that God cared for the weak and needy. All who know God will have concern for the hurting. God rewards those who share His heart by promising them protection and deliverance in their own times of sickness, trouble and weakness! We reap what we sow from a God who is faithful and caring!
Thankful for a caring God: “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 have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (2nd Corinthians 1:3-5)
Scripture reading for February 10th: Mark 1
Key Scriptures: Mark 1:40-42 “A man with leprosy came to Him and begged Him on his knees, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy was cured.”
Leprosy is a disease of the skin that causes the skin to crust with sores and ooze body fluids. It was contagious and people with the disease had to separate themselves to keep from infecting others. Any Israelite who touched a leper would be considered “unclean.”
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus was humbly approached by a man with leprosy. This man fell to his knees and begged the Master to be willing to heal him. Mark records that Jesus was filled with compassion for this hurting man who was suffering from the disease and its lonely consequences. Compassion is love that deeply touches the heart and moves a person to take action to minister to the one that is hurting. You might call it love on steroids! Jesus reached out His hand, and touched the man. He told him that it was His will to heal and at Jesus’ command, the leprosy left immediately!
Observation for over-comers: As believers, through empowerment by the Holy Spirit, we have a river of Christ’s love and compassion flowing in our hearts. God is willing and we have authority and compassion waiting to be released for hurting people! “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, . . ..” (Proverbs 15:4)
Scripture reading for February 2nd: Matthew 23
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Matthew 23:37-38 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.'”
Over the ages of time, the Bible records many times where God tried to warn and protect His people from coming disaster and judgment. Many times they were stubborn and unwilling to listen, wanting to go their own way. They sometimes killed or mistreated the messengers that God sent to them. In New Testament times, they would kill the Son of God, Jesus Christ and similarly mistreat His disciples.
Over-comers must always welcome Jesus’ direction and protection. They must welcome the messengers of God and be a willing bearer of the good news themselves! They must walk in awareness that not all will receive the good news and that persecution may come.
Observations for over-comers: Jesus longs to gather and protect His people! He would rather show mercy than judge! “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” (Psalm 34:7-8)
Scripture reading for March 24th: Luke 15
Jesus loved to tell stories that had practical basis in everyday life but spoke to the spiritual life of individuals as well. We call these ‘parables’. Luke 15 contains three ‘lost and found’ parables that Jesus used to respond to the religious leaders who mocked Him for spending time eating with ‘sinners’.
The first story Jesus told was about a shepherd with 100 sheep. One sheep was lost, so the shepherd left the 99 and searched until he found the lost sheep. He carried the sheep back and called his friends for a celebration! “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who don’t need to repent.” (Luke 15:7)
The next story involved a woman who had ten silver coins and lost one in her house. She searches for the lost coin until it is located and calls her neighbors for a celebration! “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)
The last story involved a man with two sons. The younger son asked his father for his share of the inheritance and left home to end up wasting the money. The older son stayed home and worked. When all was lost, the younger son repented and decided to return to his father and ask for mercy. The father saw the boy coming, and was filled with compassion and ran to meet him. His son confessed his sin and asked for mercy. The father restored the boy and called for a feast. “For this son of mine was dead and is now alive again; he was lost and now is found.” (Luke 15:24)
Scripture reading for January 23rd: Matthew 15:29-39, Psalm 17:8-15, Proverbs 4:10-17
Compassion ministries are making a comeback in many evangelical churches. Many churches are visiting the sick and helpless, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and clothing those who are needy. These ministries have their source in the heart of Jesus Christ, Himself. Jesus was known for His compassion on hurting and hungry people. Compassion might be defined as love in action. We demonstrate true love by acting in faith to meet needs as God directs!
“Great crowds came to Him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at His feet: and He healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, and the lame walking and blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.” (Matthew 15:30-31) Jesus showed compassion and great love by healing all who came to Him. The miracles were drawing crowds of people that all needed the message of repentance! His heart’s desire was to see them made whole so He also preached the good news of the kingdom, calling them to repent. The result was worship of God!
“Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people: they have already been with Me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.’ “ (Matthew 15:32) The heart of Jesus is clear here in His words and following actions. He was concerned about their need for food to sustain them on their journey. He cared for them enough to do something. He asked what was available: 7 loaves of bread and a few fish. He took this and blessed it and broke it, giving it to the disciples to distribute. When all the people had eaten, seven baskets full of bread were collected! This crowd was numbered at 4000 men plus the women and children!
Compassion for the hungry and hurting is the heart of God! His greater compassion is for the souls of the lost and their eternal salvation. Compassion ministries must always be coupled with preaching the gospel of faith in Jesus Christ and repentance from sins. It’s the reason Jesus came and the mission that He gave His disciples and us! (Luke 19:10) (Matthew 28:18-20)
Scripture reading for December 2nd: Philippians 1-4
I can wake up on the wrong side of the bed! Sometimes my attitude stinks! I am occasionally withdrawn, grumpy, and irritable. I can be centered on myself and what I want that day. I am in need of an “attitude adjustment”! The Word of God provides that for us. As we take it into our minds and hearts, it can do surgery on us. (Hebrews 4:12) It is Spirit and life to us from the heart of God. (John 6:63) Jesus Christ, Himself, modeled for us the kind of attitude that would please God. We read about it today in Paul’s letter to the Philippians!
Paul prayed a lot for those in Philippi. There was a church there with saints, overseers, and deacons that he had helped to set in place. He was confident that God would complete the work He had begun in each of them that had believed. He prayed that the love of these believers would abound more and more. (Philippians 1:6-11) He wanted them to be filled with the fruits of righteousness so that the Lord would receive glory!
These saints and leaders were encouraged by Paul to be united in love and purpose. (Philippians 2:2-3) Unity comes from fellowship with the Holy Spirit and a humble spirit towards God and each other. We must learn to bear with one another and try and look out for others rather than focusing on ourselves. The best example of this is Jesus Christ.
Jesus had a perfect attitude. He was God and owner and ruler of the universe, but He humbled Himself and took on human likeness through the incarnation. He willingly laid down all the power and privilege of royalty to be obedient to the Father. He even obeyed the Father by laying down His life on the cross, enduring the death of the lowest criminal. Because of His obedience, God exalted Him to the highest place of all after the resurrection. His Name, Jesus Christ, is the highest name in the universe! Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord! Those who bow their knees now and confess now will enjoy eternity with Him!
We are working out our salvation while God is at work in us. We humbly obey Him and do all we do without grumbling or complaining. We know that God has given us the task of sharing the Word of life in Christ. Our reward is sure! We rejoice always! (Philippians 4:4) We pray about everything and enjoy the peace of Christ! (Philippians 4:6-7) We can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us! (Philippians 4:13) We know that our God will supply all of our needs according to His riches in Glory in Christ Jesus! (Philippians 4:19) What an attitude of victory and joy when we imitate Christ!
Scripture reading for July 31st: Isaiah 49-51
“This is what the Lord says: “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’ “(Isaiah 49:8-9)
These next chapters of Isaiah tell of the “servant” of the Lord that will come to bring the promised comfort, salvation, and deliverance to God’s people. God’s Word is very clear about the plans of the Lord to bring a deliverer. Isaiah has already said that “Immanuel” would be born of a virgin. (Isaiah 7:14) In Isaiah 9:5-6 He would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and Prince of peace! His government would be without end! In Isaiah 49:5-6 God tells how He will form this servant in the womb. This servant will bring Jacob back to Him and gather Israel. Then God says that He will also make this servant a light for the Gentiles and bring His salvation to the ends of the earth! The story is so plain now in light of the life of Jesus Christ and all the prophecies that He fulfilled and the mission of His church!
God has a “time of favor” when His salvation is available to all who will avail themselves of it! This time began when Jesus Christ announced His mission with a quote from Isaiah in Luke 4:18: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Isaiah 61:1-2) Notice how similar this quote is to our text for today’s devotion! Jesus Christ announced His ministry of preaching, healing and deliverance to those in His home town of Nazareth. They did not receive the message with the joy that was expected, however. Those in the synagogue became furious and tried to throw Jesus off the brow of a steep cliff! Not everyone responds to a “time of favor”.
In fact, the “time of favor” referred to the year of Jubilee during which every Israelite would have his inheritance restored! If they had lost property through neglect or illness or bad business dealings, the property was to be restored and the inheritance was to be put back together. It would be a joyous time of healing and restoration on the 50th years! (Leviticus 25:8-13) Jesus Christ was stating that He was their ‘Jubilee’!
Today we live in the “time of His favor” with promise of healing and restoration! Be sure to thank the Lord for what He has done in Jesus Christ! Share this good news with someone who needs favor today!