Compassion is born!

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Because God gave us freedom to choose righteousness does not mean He does not care.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalm 103:13-14

“Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”

Luke 7:12-16

“As He approached the town gate, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother (who was a widow), and a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the LORD saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’  14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and those who carried it stood still.  He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’ 15 So the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.  16 Fear seized them all, and they began to glorify God, saying, “A great prophet has appeared among us!” and “God has come to help his people!’”

Jesus came to demonstrate the compassion God has on all He has made.  Often people can associate God as being far off and uncompassionate.  Why is sin in the world?  We chose it.  Why does God allow man to hurt other men?  Free will.  Because God gave us freedom to choose righteousness does not mean He does not care.  He demonstrated this lavishly by coming all the way from Heaven.

He counts every tear and knows every hair on our head.  He weeps when we weep.  Surely no one has the kind of compassion our LORD has, Who seeing us choosing willfully to disregard His ways and bearing the consequences, He chose to suffer for our iniquity and have compassion on us, even while we were still cloaked in our sin.

Just as our Savior embodied compassion, He has placed that same seed of kindness in us.  It overwhelms us when we see someone in need.  We must not shut that impulse down.  Maybe it is prayer for another soul, provision or care that another human being made in the image of God needs.  It might not be comfortable, which Christ certainly understands, but we were made to demonstrate compassion just like our Creator.  This Christmas season, who can we demonstrate compassion toward, just as Christ did for us?

Jesus, thank You for having compassion on us and for Your faithful longsuffering toward us.

A Gift of Joy

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in our worship of Him that we find our joy is complete.

Scripture of the Day:

John 15:11

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

Christmas is almost here and parents all over are wondering if what they have done, what they have given, is enough. While it is easy to get caught up in the busyness of preparations, in the stillness of the night we can still hear a baby’s cry if we listen.

The cry of our Savior pierced the night as He entered this world to give all that He had. A cry that spoke volumes to the reality of our dire need and His extravagant gift. God in the flesh, the only answer for our bankrupt souls, came to bring us the gift of salvation for all of eternity – a gift that never fades – and He came to give us JOY.

Our culture can distract us from this original message of Christmas, but deep within if we will pause and consider the point of all our purchases and planning, it is ultimately to remember our God’s sacrificial gift with great joy.

This contemplation is medicine for my soul today. I confess to a meltdown yesterday. The combination of the busyness of the season, demands of my schedule, shepherding my precious ones through their college finals and school sometimes is more than I can bear.

As a parent, you want to give everything to your children, but you realize that is not what they need. They need us – and sometimes what they need is not what we want to give – instruction that is not well received.

It is in these moments that I think on what my Savior gave. His people did not understand their need, nor realize the gravity of such a gift. Still God came and He gave. He did not look to see if we were appreciative of the gift, but it is in our worship of Him that we find our joy is complete.

Come and worship our Savior with me. No matter what is stressing you out, grieving or burdening your soul, He is enough and we find our joy when we do what we were made to do – worship and know our Savior.

Oh God! Forgive me when I get caught up in all that is around me and forget to look to You in all things. You are enough and You are my joy, no matter what – at all times!

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 5: Root Repair – Jealousy

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

For real gratitude to take root, sometimes we need to purify the soil of our hearts first.

Scripture of the Day:

James 3:14-16

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfishness in your hearts, do not boast and tell lies against the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16For where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is disorder and every evil practice.

Proverbs 27:4

“Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?”

One more “cleaning house” principle in the caretaking of our roots before we get on to cultivating gratitude the remainder of this month. For real gratitude to take root, sometimes we need to purify the soil of our hearts first.

If you have ever been the recipient of jealousy, you will never want to be the one guilty of it yourself. Jealousy is essentially saying that we are not content with what God has provided. It is coveting what someone else has and sometimes takes on a brutal fashion of trying to take down the other person in an effort to get what we want. Yuck.

So how does jealousy prevent thankfulness? When we are absorbed in wanting something we cannot get or focusing on our lack of having something that someone else has, there is no place for gratitude. Jealousy is the antithesis of thankfulness; it is actually thanklessness and discontent with our status or situation in life.

We root out jealousy by endeavoring to create an atmosphere of humility. God has different plans for us all and we would never want to step outside of His sovereign will to strive to get what someone else has – He won’t bless it.

Examining the attitude of our Savior Who was King over all but chose to serve humanity with the laying down of His own life inspires us to do the same. Victory comes as we lay down our agendas, pride, striving – all at the feet of Jesus – and pick up gratitude that He died for our sins, instead.

There can be no jealousy that remains when we compare our perceived lack with Christ’s chosen path of sacrifice. Whatever we hoped to gain is now all loss as we bow at the cross in utter gratitude that He gave it all for us.

 

Mundane Monday: Mission Possible

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is when I praise God in the fire that gratitude fills my heart and displaces all the other attitudes that were threatening to steal my joy.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Peter 4:12

“Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

A sterile doctor’s office and an unexpected diagnosis. A sudden tragic circumstance. Broken hearts and hopes crushed. What do all these have in common? An opportunity to go on mission with God.

I know, I know. A little skeptical on such an optimistic perspective, right? But sometimes it is in the moments of the unexpected when we are stretched far outside of our comfort zone and are able to see our circumstances are not just about getting to the other side, but about choosing to be on mission in the midst.

Fear, pain, anguish, despair, anxiety and discouragement are all valid feelings and to feel them is part of being human. We do not have to stay there, though. These feelings can be a catalyst to draw us nearer to God and help us to see what we are blind to in the land of comfort.

Somehow in the suffering we see our Savior and are no longer repulsed at having to walk the same path, but instead are grateful that He is in the valley with us, asking us if we will accept the mission at hand.

Each bump in the road is a challenge. The main question to consider is whether we believe God is Who He says He is. If we trust His character, then we can resist the urge to complain and accuse God or others for the hardship we are in and choose an alternate route instead that makes the enemy flee – praise.

As a worship leader, it is when I praise God in the fire that gratitude fills my heart and displaces all the other attitudes that were threatening to steal my joy.

Seeing unpleasant or harsh burdens as an opportunity to serve God has rocked my world and changed my viewpoint radically. It does not mean I do not feel or long to be delivered by my great God, but it means I choose to accept what He has allowed into this life He has given and choose to let Him use me in every situation.

Instead of the default pity party, God gives grace to us so we can ask what He wants us to do in our new assignment. Instead of fear, there is an astonishment that God will somehow supply sufficient grace for anything we face.

To walk in His steps means to embrace every part of life that comes our way. Truly living is to feel pain and joy in life and be grateful for it all, and God uses it all for greater purposes. But more than that, when we walk through the deep waters, Jesus longs to be our Comforter and to use that thorn in our flesh for a greater goal – death to self and alive in Christ.

Lord, You are sovereign and good all the time. Help us to trust You when things seem uncertain, and to rely on You in every situation.

Denise Pass Promo PicDenise Pass | Worship Leader |Author |Speaker|Artist

http://www.seeingdeep.com | www.denisepass.com

Holy Week: Palm Sunday Irony

Palm Sunday

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Sometimes salvation comes in a way we least expect.

Scriptures:

Zechariah 9:9, 11

“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.”

Hebrews 13:20-21

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep. 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Isaiah 46:16

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

Exodus 24:8

“Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Happy Palm Sunday!  I confess I have missed blogging and look forward to blogging each day this week after taking an unannounced spring break.  🙂

I brought a liturgical element into our worship service this morning, palm branches for Palm Sunday.  Ok, let’s be real.  The palm branches ended up being limpy leaves, not branches.  But burdening my heart was a desire to help the worshipers at my church get a sense of the awe the people must have felt, waving palm branches as Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey.  500 flimsy leaves did not quite capture that emotion for me.

Nonetheless, I pressed on in Scripture and chose songs that would hopefully evoke the rich symbolism of these leaves representing victory.  What victory were these people hailing?  Though they thought He was coming to conquer world governments, instead He captured our hearts and ultimately achieved victory over death.

Christ’s entrance was a fulfillment of the prophesy spoken 500 years earlier by Zechariah. How amazing that God would communicate to His people how He would come into the world.  He did not want them to miss it.  Even though they could not understand fully God’s purpose in coming to them at the time, the groundwork of God’s covenant promises laid a path toward this salvation.

The blood covenant could not be paid by an animal or an ordinary person.  God had to bear the transgression of His people, Himself.  This Savior, their King – came humbly – riding on a donkey.  This manner of salvation appears so foolish to man – that a King would come riding in on a borrowed donkey – to die – rather than in a majestic array of splendor as a hero riding in to demonstrate incredible power.

He owns everything, yet He borrowed a donkey.  He lacks for nothing, yet He chose to lack. He is All Powerful, yet God chose to come in weakness.  This does not make sense until we see that He became weakness, infirmity and sin and chose the place of suffering to bear it all in our place.  He did not save us while He himself sat in a lap of luxury.  He spared no expense or detail, but simply rode in humbly.

These same fickle people who praised Him passionately as He entered Jerusalem, begging Him to save them now (Hosanna), would kill their Savior by week’s end.  Christ’s mission might have seemed like a failure, but the very people He came to save brought about their salvation unknowingly, by condemning Christ to His death.  The wordplay is hard to miss in the Scriptures above.  God inscribed His people on His palms and His people waved palm branches to their Savior.  Ultimately it would be nails driven into his palms (wrists) that would forever set His people free.

Lord, thank You for Your salvation, offered freely to sinners.  Thank you for showing us how to live and for providing for a debt we could never pay.

 

Truthful Tuesday: Judging Judgment

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Romans 14:12

“Therefore, each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore we must not pass judgment on one another, but rather determine never to place an obstacle or a trap before a brother or sister.”

1 Peter 4:17

“For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God?”

Judgment.  No one wants to be the recipient, but all have been participants in either judging others or being judged themselves.

In His perfect wisdom, God designed a system of justice in place to judge our actions.  Man sets up his own system of judgment, too, to condemn one another.

At the root of judgment from any human being is pride.  Pride in our own sinful, myopic condition that we would think we could ever be in a place to pass judgment on another creation, made in God’s image.

There are so many more motivations in the act of judgment, though. Sometimes we want to make ourselves feel better about our decisions, or we manipulate others with judgment to try to get them to do something we want.

Sounds pretty ugly.  That’s because judgment from man is going to be man-centered, but judgment that Christ gives is perfect and redemptive.

God judges our hearts to bring us to repentance and show us our sinful condition.  Man judges to prove a position, inflict pain, manipulate or inflate self.

Man cannot judge other’s motivations, for we cannot see the heart – only God can.  Still, the default sinful condition of man is to presume and judge brothers or sisters in Christ.

Despite out corrupt nature, we do not have to give in to judgment.  The heart of man is deceitful, but God.  He is gracious and able to help us lay down our judgments and put on forgiveness.  Sometimes people can hurt us and boundaries have to be put up so they cannot hurt or condemn us further.  Sometimes we have to lay down our desire to please man in his faulty judgments, too.

Maybe some of us feel we deserve judgment – we all do.  But Christ bore that judgment for us all.  In this world we have relationships that are broken from sin and ensuing consequences, and people will judge us until the day we die, but all of those judgments fall off our shoulders and are laid at the feet of our Savior – the One, perfect, Righteous Judge.

Lord, thank You for the sweet victory You give to walk in freedom and forgiveness.  Thank You for bearing our judgment.  Help us to consider others better than ourselves and to discern others in the light of the grace that we have been given.

All Part of One Dysfunctional Family

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John 1:12

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

Ephesians 2:19-22 

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” 

I confess that I used to dread reading through geneologies, but now I cherish reading them, one name at a time.  I know, it must not take much to entertain me, right?  But behind each name is a story, and often one of dysfunction.  Why does this comfort me, you may ask?  Because these names that are a part of the line that lead to our Emmanuel were not perfect families which were a part of God’s background.  The Son of God chose sinful man to be a part of His lineage.

A prostitute, adulterers, murderers, foreigners, deceivers, in-laws, non-biological parents, idol worshipers, and the list goes on and on.  I love when I see families who leave a godly heritage, generation after generation, with no divorce.  I wish that could have been my story, and yet I don’t.  We can still leave a godly heritage to our children when our story has not been perfect.  It is in the scars, in the hurt, in the reality of not being perfect that I was able to be embraced by my Savior, my Kinsman Redeemer, Who makes all things new.  This fallen world and any labels people want to affix to people who are broken by sin’s stain, has no hold on me.  I am a part of God’s family, too.

As a little girl I recall feeling strange as a child of divorce.  Moving multiple times between homes was my newly accepted norm.  When I came to know Jesus in college, I was excited about being in a Christian marriage one day and teaching my children about Jesus’ loving salvation.  I married a Christian man and raised my children in the LORD.  Little did I know the secret my now former husband had, which would break up my “perfect” family.  How could this happen?  How could God receive glory from such sin?  And yet the hand of God guided me and led me to remarry a man who also had his heart broken.  The Brady Bunch, indeed.  So now, where did our family fit in?  With God.

It still amazes me.  Why did God choose us?  To show His great mercy.  To lavish His love upon His children.  To heal.  Whenever we begin to look at ourselves and compare to someone else, we need to remember that we cannot always see someone else’s struggle, and ultimately we are all the same in God’s eyes – all a part of His cherished family.  Whatever you have been through, You belong to Him, and that is all that matters.  The church is the family of God and is full of dysfunctional people, too.  That is why we need a Savior.  If you are a new believer, welcome to the family – love you!  We are not perfect, but we are being made into His image, day by day.

Lord, heal hearts and families today that need to know they are accepted in Your sight.  May You be glorified in our families and our churches.

Christmas Countdown Day 9: The Miracle of Christmas

Photo Credits ministry127.com

Photo Credits
ministry127.com

John 1:1-5

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. 2 The Word was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5 And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.

Hebrews 2:14

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil–

Movies abound today about the “magic” of Christmas.  Somewhere a child inside hopes it really is true that someone esoterically posing as Santa is the real deal.  Not so much.  But there is One Who really does know when we are sleeping and awake – One Who truly does provide for our needs and watches over us.  He certainly knows whether we have been good or bad and keeps a thorough record of it in His Book of Life.  Even more amazing, when we truly do deserve a boatload of lumps of coal, He gives us eternal life – freely.

But sometimes the miracles of Christmas can get lost in the simple fact that it is a well known story that has been told and retold and we forget just how amazing a reality the miracle of Christ’s birth is.  In fact, there are so many miracles in what Christ accomplished in His birth.  Mankind was condemned to a fallen world, no thanks to Adam and Eve (well, we all would have done the same thing).  But right there in that moment, God knew we needed a Savior.  In His sovereignty He planned to come and Himself crush the head of our mortal enemy.  He did it as a baby.  Talk about the enemy being whipped.  But the most amazing thing is that this baby was born miraculously, fulfilling prophecies, fulfilling perfectly the genealogy of Christ, born of a virgin.  A miracle indeed.  Holy.  Righteous.  Fully God and fully man.  How amazing.  Much more amazing to me than reindeer flying through the air – just sayin’.

So if we are struggling to get that Christmas “spirit”, perhaps what we need is a healthy dose of the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes it is in the simplicity of stepping out of our ordinary routine to give that we have that “Christmas feeling”.  I felt it yesterday at a nursing home, but realized in that moment that we can have that feeling all year through.  The miracle of Jesus is not confined to a day and needs to be heard and lived out daily.  When we operate in a manner just like our Father did – giving of Himself, we have the greatest joy.  We can search for opportunities to give and serve others not just when we feel celebratory or the calendar dictates the moment.  Merry Christmas, all.  Jesus loves you so very much more than you could ever imagine!

Lord, thank you for the miracle of Your birth.  I stand in awe of You.  Fill us with the wonder of what You did and Who You are.  Love you!

Christmas Countdown Day 6: Knowing the gift

Luke 4:34

“Ha!  Leave us alone, Jesus the Nazarene!  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are – the Holy One of God.”

Such a small statement, and yet so profound.  Even the demons knew who Jesus was and shuddered – but that knowledge did not equate to salvation for them.  When confronted with the God of this universe this evil spirit did not want to be in His presence.  Evil cannot be in the presence of God without being consumed or having atonement for sin.  Fear and rejection of God was the only choice for this demon.  How do we respond to seeing this gift of God?

When my kids were little, they would try and sneak a look at the gifts before I wrapped them.  As they got older, they might resort to peeling back the tape just enough to catch a glimpse, or to shaking the item to gauge what it was.  They could not wait to see what gifts were given to them.  It is that yearning that I want to keep fervent in my heart, when I think of seeing Jesus when He returns and when I meditate on what it must have been like to gaze at the King of kings as a baby.  A precious gift, bundled in swaddling clothes was the redemption of all mankind – if we accepted the gift.

Now all these years later we know what the gift that first Christmas was.  We can know that Jesus is God, but that is not the same as knowing Him.  Sin brings fear of sure condemnation, but perfect love casts out all fear.  When confronted with our sin by a Holy God, we have a choice – to bow down and worship Him, confessing our sins and receiving mercy, or to pridefully pretend we do not need His salvation.  God does not make us choose Him, but He is Holy – sinless – and the One Who came to forgive sinful man.  He established His law that we might see our need of Him, and He set the expectations for how we were to live for His glory. He wanted us to know Him and that He loves us.  This Christmas, even though the story has been heard so many times, we can still with anticipation come to learn more of our living Savior and know Him more.  He truly is the gift that keeps on giving, long after other gifts have faded.

Lord, help us to understand what You accomplished when You came to this earth.  May we know You and not just know about you.