My neighbor’s overgrowth of weeds has reached nearly 3 feet. It is a perfect hiding spot for a rabbit, that is, until my Labrador decides he wants to retrieve him. I keep him from having any success; however, this morning he did shock the rabbit he uncovered with his keen abilities. The rabbit, stunned and not really able to evaluate his options, ran right towards a pack of German Shepherds. He rebounded and finally found an escape route.
Watching the frazzled rabbit run from one point to the next haphazardly reminded me of how easy it is to get comfortable and feel safe somewhere only to find yourself under attack. This can happen in a relationship, at a job, in a circle of friends, and even at church. It is usually the people closest to us that hurt us most. We get comfortable. We feel safe. Then something happens. We all have moments, situations, events, etc. in life that shock us, open our eyes, hurt us, change us as people. We have the option to respond in whatever way we see fit. Sometimes we run. Sometimes we fall. Sometimes we deny.
When we run, like the rabbit, we are running from something, and there’s always a place we are running toward. Maybe we attempt to nurse our brokenness with some self-soothing methods that are almost second-hand nature. Remember the Golden Girls moments when the cheesecake came out of the fridge? Perhaps your soothing is going to the gym, taking a shopping trip, having a few (or more) drinks. We all have our vices; some of us have multiple vices.
Whatever your situation may be, spend time with God. Take refuge in Him. People change; God is unchanging. People are unfaithful; God is faithful. People are broken, not-perfect, and many times selfish; God’s love is unfailing, His ways are perfect, and He pours out His blessing in abundance. As you cling to Him, may you realize you were never meant to hide in the safety of the overgrowth—you were made to soar! The people in your life are not to be your safety net, but they are part of your life to love, to encourage, to serve. The financial security of a good job and money in the bank is not for you to sit back and coast through life, but to glorify God. Often, when you are chased from the overgrowth, you are led to right where you are meant to be at this very moment. Let the Spirit guide your steps from the weeds to all that He has awaiting. It might not appear to be better than the pile of weeds, but you can trust that God has a great plan. In faith, in obedience, in love – press onward and soar!
“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.” – Psalm 143:8 [NLT]
“Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” – Psalm 25:5 [NLT]
In Psalm 59, we read about people who wander about for food, growling when they are not satisfied. What imagery we get from the Psalmist. It is easy to picture. The Psalmist continues, “But as for me.” I love it. “But as for me, I will sing about Your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about Your unfailing love.”
Life is difficult. Indeed. Even so, we have the choice to embrace God and the life He’s given us—to move forward as He leads. Or we have a choice to grumble in dissatisfaction and roam around growling.
Today, do you want to be a grumbler like the Israelites? Do you want to growl in dissatisfaction? Or will you be one of the few who say, “But as for me”? You have the choice. Do you look around and thank God for where He has placed you and His many blessings? Do you feel unsatisfied and complain? Will you sing with joy about His power and love?
God calls us to share the Good News with the whole world. Consider how many you reach with your grumbles and growls. Consider how many you reach with songs of praise and thanksgiving. When God gets the glory, eyes are pointed to Him.
“But as for me, I will sing about Your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about Your unfailing love. For You have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.” – Psalm 59:16 [NLT]
We often like to think the best of ourselves. We do not realize how corrupt our heart is, so it difficult to take a good hard look at ourselves and see the truth. In Jeremiah 17:9, we read, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Deceitful. The MOST deceitful of all things. Desperately wicked—so wicked we cannot say how bad.
Today’s verse says that no one does good. That means that even you do not do good. You are part of the “not a single one.” That is hard to handle. We find it hard to come to terms with the fact that we are not good—that we are corrupt. The truth is, no matter how many good things we do, we have bad things that we think and do—things we do not even realize. But God can see through every crack and crevice. He sees the corruption. He sees the deceitfulness. He sees the wickedness from within us.
The awesome good news is that He loves us anyway, and He has made a way for us to be in right relationship with Him. Despite the corruption, despite not doing good—He has made a way for us to come before Him, covered in the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. We are clothed in His righteousness, made right with God through Him. Today, thank God for His great mercy and His unfailing love. Seek His righteousness above all else. Remember, no one does good—not a single one.
“But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one!” – Psalm 53:3 [NLT]
The Psalmist writes in Psalm 23, that God’s goodness and unfailing love will pursue him all the days of his life. The word pursue in Hebrew is “radaph.” This word translates to mean “chase,” “pursue,” or “follow.”
When I think of this verse, I consider the way God constantly pursues us. He loves us so much that He continues to chase after us, reaching for us, desiring to have a relationship with us. Pursing is not simply following, but following with the objective to catch. This kind of love is like nothing we can describe. It is amazing. It is intense. It is unfailing. Because of His unfailing love, He keeps seeking us.
God’s goodness also is said to pursue all of the days too. Why? Because God is good. Along with His unfailing love, He pours out His goodness. This is the favor of God. As we read in the previous verse, his cup overflows.
Today, consider the pursuit of God. Consider how God’s love has been chasing you down, wanting nothing more than to grip you up. Consider the favor of God, the goodness that He pours out. You are being pursued.
“Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.” – Psalm 23:6 [NLT]
The Psalmist asks God how he could know all the sins that were lurking about in his heart. He understood that we cannot see everything. We are blind to some of the things lurking in our heart. We try not to acknowledge some things that are happening. We disregard some of the sins. We turn a blind eye. But God, He sees everything. He sees everything on our heart. He knows us more than we know ourselves. All the hidden faults, all of the bad thoughts, all of the things we deny or turn our eyes from—He sees.
The Psalmist asks that God cleanse him from these hidden faults. He does not want to have this sin in his heart. He knows he cannot see it, but he knows there’s something there. God sees it. God alone can cleanse him from it. This is a great prayer we can lift to Him. Those sins that are hiding deep within—He can purify us from them.
It’s amazing to consider how awesome our God is, isn’t it? He has unfailing love for us. He pours out grace upon grace. His mercy is unending. Even though we have these sins, even these ones we deny or cannot see, He loves us. He forgives us. He calls us His own. Today, rejoice in His love. Rejoice in the freedom from sin that He alone provides. Rejoice, rejoice that He makes all things new!
“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.” – Psalm 19:12 [NLT]
[The Good Samaritan: Luke 10:25-37]
Compassion – Deep awareness of the sufferings or misfortunes of another with a desire to relieve it.
Verse 37 – And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” [NASB]
Mercy – eleos (el’-eh-os) – pity, mercy, compassion, tender mercy, kindness
Same – homoiós (hom-oy’-oce) – In like manner, similarly, in the same way, equally
Psalm 86:15 – “But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” [NLT]
Compassion – Rachum – (rakh-oom’) – compassionate, full of compassion
Jesus expressed compassion to:
- Weary (Matthew 11)
- Tempted (Hebrews 2)
- Helpless (Mark 9)
- Sorrowful (Luke 7)
- Multitudes (Matthew 15)
Zechariah 7:9 – “Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another.” [ESV]
Colossians 3:12 – “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” [HCSB]
“Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.” – Albert Schweitzer
Bible Study Questions:
1) Before the Parable was told, Jesus was tested by a lawyer. The lawyer answered correctly about the Law (v. 27). He knew what God’s Word said. Jesus said, “Do this, and you will live.” What was the “do this”?
2) The lawyer intended to justify himself and asked, “Who is my neighbor”? In the last verse of the passage, Jesus asks him who was his neighbor. Which fellow from the Parable was the neighbor? What did he do for the man?
3) What did the compassionate fellow do for the man that can remind us of the unfailing, unending compassion of our God? (See verse 35)
4) What do you think it means to be compassionate toward someone? Was there a time in your life when you did this to another? Was there a time when someone showed compassion to you?
5) Jesus showed compassion to all people, and these people each lived in various circumstances. How can we show compassion to the
- Weary –
- Tempted –
- Helpless –
- Sorrowful –
- Multitudes –
More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.
I will admit I am forgetful. As a crutch, I use my Google calendar to remind me of everything both at work and at home. I make a grocery list to remember what food to buy, and then cannot even remember the list. I kept losing my prayer lists; my prayer list is now on my phone. If I don’t write something down, it is likely it will be lost in my memory bank. I would not call it a memory bank – it’s more like a black hole.
This morning while I was on the usual walk with my dogs, I soon realized as we changed directions that I forgot my sunglasses. The whole way home I was squinting because my oversensitive eyes could not face the beautiful morning light. I even grumbled a bit considering the headache that might follow as a result. All because I forgot my sunglasses.
What a surprise when I got home only to realize my sunglasses were in my pocket. I had my sunglasses the entire time!! The sunglasses I own are magnetic and when I grabbed for my keys, they unbeknownst to me followed along. I spent all that time wishing for the solution, when it was right with me. Sadly, that is how many of us are in life from time to time. God has the answer but we look elsewhere. God has provided what is needed but we are too blind to see (2 Corinthians 9:8, Philippians 4:19). God has a perfect plan but we only see the struggles, the pain, the heartache. God is with us through it all but we so often feel alone (Deuteronomy 31:8, Hebrews 13:5). My friends, let us open our eyes. Let us look at what He has blessed us with and embrace what He has for us. Let us remind ourselves of what He has done, what He has said He will do, Who He is, and His promise to never leave. We each have all we need to accomplish what God has called us to do in life!
“For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love.” – Psalm 33:4-5 [NIV]
There were two sons who were very different. The one son wanted the inheritance so the father split up the estate and the son ran off with the amount he was given. The other remained. Most people remember this story. Finally after the son spends all of his money, he realizes what he did. He returns to his father and repents. What was lost was now found.
What was the father doing while the son was away? Can you remember that part of the story? When the son was returning, he wasn’t even at home when his father saw that he was returning. He was “still a long way off.” Why? Because the father was watching and waiting for the lost son.
God watches and waits for us too. He does not want to lose any of us. He is filled with unfailing love and overflowing compassion. He wants to run to each of us. He wants to embrace you. We simply need to head home. No matter what you have done, no matter how far you have traveled, you always can return to him. He’s waiting. Come home.
“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” – Luke 15:20 [NLT]
While walking Jesus saw a dead son being carried along with the mother of the son and a group who gathered with her. She was a widow. He was her only son. I couldn’t imagine what she was going through suffering yet another loss. As one would expect, she was crying.
Jesus saw her and the Bible says “his heart overflowed with compassion.” He told the widow not to cry. He raised her son. The passage said that Jesus gave him back to his mother. What once was lost she had again.
The Lord’s heart overflows with compassion for each of us. He loves each of us that much. There are moments when I am crying and I can feel this sudden peace. “Don’t cry.” I’m not alone. You’re not alone. His compassion overflows with such a great outpouring to each one of us, so much so that He, the only Son, died and rose again so that we too could rise again, that we can have new life.
“When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. ‘Don’t cry!’ he said.” – Luke 7:13 [NLT]