When I accepted Jesus into my life, I was invited to a church service by a friend. Arriving there I was awed by something I sensed in the people around me. I said to myself, “I don’t know what they have but, I want it.”
We entered into this over packed room,people ended up sitting in the isles, found a place in one of the pews, sat down. Listened to some band playing contemporary music, which I enjoyed. Not, what I thought was normal church music. After this, a young man came out, dressed in shorts, tee shirt and sandals, again not what I was expecting. I don’t remember what he spoke on, but after he finished, he stated “ if you want what the people around you have, come forward.” I almost leapt out of my seat to receive this “gift”. I learned that it was the Holy Spirit, God Himself, and that sin is what separated me from Him. I asked for forgiveness and that the Lord would come into my life. I’ve never regretted that decision once since that day.
Luke 15 The Prodigal Son
11 ¶ He also said: “A man had two sons. 12 “The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.’ So he distributed the assets to them. 13 “Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living. 14 “After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing. 15 “Then he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 “He longed to eat his fill from the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one would give him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 “I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 “I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired workers.” ’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father told his servants, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 “Then bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let’s celebrate with a feast, 24 “because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found! ’ So they began to celebrate. 25 “Now his older son was in the field; as he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 “So he summoned one of the servants, questioning what these things meant. 27 “‘Your brother is here,’ he told him, ‘and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “Then he became angry and didn’t want to go in. So his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 “But he replied to his father, ‘Look, I have been slaving many years for you, and I have never disobeyed your orders, yet you never gave me a goat so that I could celebrate with my friends. 30 “But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your assets with prostitutes, you slaughtered the fattened calf for him.’ 31 “ ‘Son,’ he said to him, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 “But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”(NASB)
Here we have 4 different relationships; the father, two sons and the servants which is comprised of hired men and slaves.
The servants went about their duties and waiting on their masters orders vs22,3 and 26.
I picture someone like Martha who was distracted with all her preparations Luke 10: 38-42.
38 ¶ While they were traveling, he entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.39 She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what he said.40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand. 41 ¶ The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, 42 “but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.” She was not focusing on what was happening around them.
The older brother was out working in the fields, started to come in to the house. He heard music and dancing. Asking one of the servants what the party was about. Found out that his brother had returned and his father threw him this big party. He became angry and refused to go in. His father went out to him pleading with him to join in the celebration. Still angry, He wined about all the hard work, and not even getting a goat to share with his friends. But in Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents. Yet he could not be happy for his brother.
Then there is the prodigal son, who took his inheritance, blew all of it on every imaginable type of partying. Today that would included alcohol, drugs, porn, fast cars, fast women, gambling, maybe pay for an abortion, homosexual acts and lifestyles and every other selfish act you want to include.
I Cor 6:9,10 Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or males who have sex with males, nor thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. CSB
And then there is the father. He split the inheritance between his sons. Probably watched the younger son leave home. Never giving up hope on him, thinking that he may have died. I can relate to this father, for I have a son like him. He joined the Bandidos, one of the toughest motorcycle gangs in the world.He doesn’t want to have any contact with me. And the last thing he said to me was,” don’t contact me again,have a nice life”. Let’s get back to the story. He sees his son returning home and with compassion, runs to him, hugs and kisses him. I don’t think I would have responded exactly this way. I may have said, “ what were you thinking... going off on him about all the stupid things he had done. How many times, as parents, have we reprimanded our children for the foolish things they have done. As his son is confessing his sins, this father interrupts him. Tells the servants to get the best robe, a ring and sandals to put on him ( gets him the best clean clothes). Set up a huge celebration, for his dead son has returned. As the party is going, the father goes out to the angry older son to convince him to celebrate that his brother has returned.
Four types of people:
Marthas, filling our time with busy work. We get so busy with the maintenance of the church and our lives we lose sight of the great commission
Younger son; unsaved or backslidden. This was us before we were saved or when we let the cares of this world take precedence over the things of God.
Older son, judgmental toward his brother. Condemning non-Christians wanting them to change their ways. Pointing fingers at the “speck in their eye” and not lifting a finger to help them. This would be The Pharisees, priests and scribes.The father, had compassion for the lost and dead son, but also for the condition of the older son.
We all have been all 4 of these people at some point in our lives. Yet, we strive to be like the Father or Christ. Showing a sympathetic awareness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it , which is compassion defined. Compassion Is used 41 times in the Bible. Let me repeat that. A sympathetic awareness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. More than pity or sympathy But with a desire to alleviate their distress.
Too many times we find ourselves condemning the world, which is not our job. John 3:17. Not that there isn’t a lot of evil out in the world. Sexual immorality, homosexuality, stealing, alcoholics, drug abuse, abortions, murders, selfishness, Catholics, Mormons, Buddhists, Muslims, gangs, and even the homeless. How do you feel about these groups? Or, how do you react around these groups? When you first saw me this morning, what was your first thought. As someone who rides a motorcycle, I get stereotyped by people all the time. Once we enter a nice restaurant, it was late in the evening, they seated us in the section they had closed, in the back corner. It was obvious that we made them very uncomfortable. We need to stand against the lies and misguided things they do. As Christians we have to separate the individuals from the groups having compassion for the individuals.
When I got my first pair of glasses, I saw for the first time the leaves on the trees and the trees on the mountains. I knew that the trees had leaves and the mountains had trees. But, without corrective lenses I never saw them clearly. There’s a saying, “you can’t see the forest for the trees” meaning that you are too close to something to see the big picture. I say that we can’t see the trees for the forest. We look at the big picture and lose-sight of the trees, or individuals in the midst of these groups. Everyone comes to Christ individually. We want to reach large groups of people, and we can do this through media. But, we must reach out and touch them as individuals having compassion for them by seeing them through the eyesight of Jesus. (Seeing their individual distresses and desiring to alleviate them.)
How do we equip ourselves to alleviate these “distresses” that we encounter in the people we meet. I like to think of tools we need to get a job done. Some of the types of tools we use are kitchen tools, helps us cook. Hand tools, for small quick jobs. Power tools, to make quick work on large jobs and spiritual tools help us to be prepared to answer “every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you...”
1. The Word of God, the Bible: God has given us a great gift, the Bible. It is sharper than a two-edged sword Hebrews 4:12. Ephesians 6:1. Billy graham said, The Bible is God’s love letter to us. If we truly love Him we should be reading his “love letter” to us daily. Just like we would with our loved ones. We need it for strength, our daily bread. To maintain our health we need to consume about 2,000 calories a day. Some of us more and some of us less. It can’t be empty calories though, it must be a well balanced diet. There are 783,137 words in the Bible. If we divide that by 365.25 days (1 year) we get 2,145 words per day. If we divide those words by 1,189 chapters we get 659 words averaged out per chapter. Finally, we take 2, 145 words divided by659 words we average 3.26 chapters a day to read through the Bible in one year. If you round this up to 4 chapters a day, you can actually miss a few days and still finish in a year. Now back to our calorie intake. Most of us eat two or more time a day. The average person spends 65 minutes a day eating. Couldn’t we spend at least that time in the Bible?
For me, I’ve only been doing this for a few years now. I’d fallen into the myth that quality is more important than quantity. I need both. But, it has increased my compassion for those who are dead and lost. It has made me more aware of my weaknesses and His strength. And, being consistent, I now miss it when I don’t get into the Word.
2. Prayer, communion with the Father. I Thess. 5:17 Pray without ceasing. How can we discern what the will of God is if we are not communing with Him Matt. 6:9-13. The Lord’s prayer. Seeking Him first and last. Jesus himself prayed Not as I will, but as you will. Matt. 26:39. Jesus as an example would separate himself and sometimes pray all night. Oh, that I would pray and listen for God’s still small voice. To know His will, just for myself, let alone others.
3. Putting on the full armor of God; Ephesians 6:13-17 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
In Luke 4:18-21 Jesus stated “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord...This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
I started this teaching with a short version of my conversion. I wasn’t converted through fear of hell. It was God’s love and His presence that attracted me. To me the good news is not just fear and punishment. It is about healing and freedom and truth. It is about a compassionate God who sees our distresses and gave us a way to alleviate them. We need to show the world, compassion for our every man.