Showing Compassion…

Proverbs 15:1a “A soft answer turns away wrath…”

Prov 14:29 He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly.

Showing Compassion…

Carl was a quiet man. He didn’t talk much. He would always greet
you with a big smile and a firm handshake. Even after living in our
neighborhood for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him
very well.

Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. The
lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us. He had a slight
limp from a bullet wound received in W.W.II. Watching him, we worried
that although he had survived W.W.II, he may not make it through our
changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence,
gangs, and drug activity.

When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers
for caring for the gardens behind the minister’s residence, Carl responded
in his characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up.

He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always
feared finally happened. He was just finishing his watering for the
day when three gang members approached him. Ignoring their attempt to
intimidate him, he simply asked, “Would you like a drink from the
hose?” The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, “Yeah,
sure,” with a malevolent little smile. As Carl offered the hose to
him, the other two grabbed Carl’s arm, throwing him down. As the hose
snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl’s
assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled.

Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his
bad leg. He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came
running to help him. Although the minister had witnessed the attack
from his window, he couldn’t get there fast enough to stop it. “Carl,
are you okay? Are you hurt?” the minister kept asking as he helped
Carl to his feet. Carl just passed a hand over his brow and sighed,
shaking his head.

“Just some kids. I hope they’ll wise-up someday.” His wet
clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted
the nozzle again and started to water. Confused and a little
concerned, the minister asked, “Carl, what are you doing?” “I’ve got
to finish my watering. It’s been very dry lately,” came the calm
reply. Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister
could only marvel. Carl was a man from a different time and place.

A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before their
threat was unchallenged. Carl again offered them a drink from his hose. This time
they didn’t rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched
him head to foot in the icy water. When they had finished their
humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing
catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the
hilarity of what they had just done.

Carl just watched them. Then he turned toward the warmth giving
sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering. The summer was
quickly fading into fall. Carl was doing some tilling when he was
startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him.

He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches. As he
struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer
tormentors reaching down for him. He braced himself for the expected attack.

“Don’t worry old man, I’m not gonna hurt you this time.” The
young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl.

As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket
and handed it to Carl.

“What’s this?” Carl asked. “It’s your stuff,” the man explained.
“It’s your stuff back.  Even the money in your wallet.” “I don’t understand,”
Carl said. “Why would you help me now?”

The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease.
“I learned something from you,” he said. “I ran with that gang and hurt
people like you. We picked you because you were old and we knew we
could do it. But every time we came and did something to you, instead
of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn’t
hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate.” He
stopped for a moment. “I couldn’t sleep after we stole your stuff, so
here it is back.” He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing
what more there was to say. “That bag’s my way of saying thanks for
straightening me out, I guess.” And with that, he walked off down the street.

Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened
it. He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening
his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at
the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago.

He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people
attended his funeral in spite of the weather. In particular the minister
noticed a tall young man that he didn’t know sitting quietly in a
distant corner of the church. The minister spoke of Carl’s garden as a
lesson in life. In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, “Do your

best and make your garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget

Carl and his garden.”

The following spring another flyer went up. It read: “Person
needed to care for Carl’s garden.” The flyer went unnoticed by the busy
parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister’s
office door. Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and
tattooed hands holding the flyer. “I believe this is my job, if you’ll
have me,” the young man said.

The minister recognized him as the same young man who had
returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl. He knew that Carl’s kindness

had turned this man’s life around. As the minister handed him the keys to
the garden shed, he said, “Yes, go take care of Carl’s garden and honor him.”

The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended
the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done. In that time, he went to
college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community.
But he never forgot his promise to Carl’s memory and kept the garden
as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it.

One day he approached the new minister and told him that he
couldn’t care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy
smile, “My wife just had a baby boy last night, and she’s bringing him
home on Saturday.”

“Well, congratulations!” said the minister, as he was handed
the garden shed keys. “That’s wonderful! What’s the baby’s name?”

“Carl,” he replied.

Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”

The Golden Phone that reaches to Heaven…

Truth and humor for your day.

Psalm 66:19,20 “But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the
voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer,
nor His mercy from me.”

The Golden Phone that reaches to Heaven…

A man in Topeka, Kansas, decided to write a book about churches
around the country. He started by flying to San Francisco, and started
working east from there. Going to a very large church, he began taking
photographs and making notes. He spotted a golden telephone on the
vestibule wall and was intrigued with a sign which read “$10,000 a
minute.”

Seeking out the pastor he asked about the phone and the sign. The
Pastor answered that this golden phone is, in fact, a direct line to
Heaven and if he pays the price he can talk directly to God. The man
thanked the pastor and continued on his way.

As he continued to visit churches in Seattle, Austin, Greensboro,
Chicago, Milwaukee, and all around the United States, he found more
phones, with the same sign, and the same answer from each pastor.

Finally, he arrived in Iowa. Upon entering a church in Marshalltown,
Iowa, behold, he saw the usual golden telephone. But THIS time, the sign
read, “calls: 35 cents.” Fascinated, he asked to talk to the pastor.
“Reverend, I have been in cities all across the country and in each
church I have found this golden telephone and have been told it is a
direct line to Heaven and that I could talk to God, but, in the other
churches the cost was $10,000 a minute. Your sign reads 35 cents a call.
Why?”

The pastor, smiling benignly, replied,
“Son, you’re in Iowa now………………it’s a local call.”

If you are reading this and live outside of Iowa please do not be offended and miss what the real message is……

Change Iowa to your state and all is well. The key is that our Lord
loves to communicate with us!!!!!!!!! How fortunate we are.

And most importantly we are saved by grace through faith with no additives required!

I Peter 5:7 “Casting all of your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Waiting on God…

Acts 9:6 “Get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do”

Where is your life right now? Are you content? Where do you see
yourself in five years? It is interesting to note that God awaits our stepping into the water before …

Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that

cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them

that diligently seek him.”

Waiting on God

How do you find God’s will? Is it something you just stumble
across one day, like a one-dollar bill in the parking lot? Does it come
in the middle of the night, awakening you the next morning with a fresh
sense of purpose and direction? Is it something that God forces into our being?

Or is it something deeper-a process of ongoing “baby steps” that lead to ultimate fulfillment?

In our fast-paced society, answers can’t seem to come fast
enough. Too often, however, we forget that God operates on a different
timetable than we do. When it comes to seeking God’s will, we want to
know everything at once. We expect His entire plan for our lives to be
brought to us on a silver platter. Yet God sees far beyond our need for
immediate resolution.

If God began by showing us where we would end up, we would
likely do our best to get there as quickly as possible, with little
consideration of His timing. Think about it this way: if you were given
instruction to travel from Miami to Seattle, from one corner of the
United States to the other, how would you go about doing it? Some might
take the scenic drive through the mountains, others might stick to the
coast and the waterways, and some might opt for the quick flight over
everything. The point is-we all would go about traveling from Miami to
Seattle in different ways.

Never aware of what lies ahead, we may fly right into a
turbulent storm, suffer from car trouble on a deserted highway, or lose
our way altogether. But God sees the storms ahead of us; He can steer us
in the right direction and away from the pitfalls of self-effort. Often,
He may simply ask us to take two small steps and wait on further
instructions. And often He may direct us into the storm. It’s that principle of storms building character and spiritual maturity. Discovering God’s will doesn’t happen overnight.

Following Saul’s Damascus Road experience in Acts 9, God did not
say, “Saul, I am going to make you the greatest missionary for the
Christian faith in the history of mankind.” Instead, He simply told Saul
to travel to Damascus and “it will be told you what you must do” (Acts
9:6). From there, the Lord led Paul from city to city and country to
country, using him every step of the way to spread the gospel through
the world. Day by day, God will guide us and direct us on the path we
must take.

Now we may ask, “What if I mess up? What if I get off track?”
Fortunately, God is a God of second chances. Moses ran from God; David
strayed away from the Lord on many occasions; Peter denied Christ. God
is fully aware of our human nature-He knows we will make mistakes. His
will for our lives is not a one-shot opportunity. But if we do get off
track, we must simply re-focus our attention on Him, rather than our
circumstances.

Ultimately, if we are in tune with God, we can trust that He
will reveal His plan for our lives. Not only does this involve praying
and asking God for direction, but, also, listening to Him and meditating
on His Word. “Be still,” the Lord tells us, “and know that I am God”
Psalm 46:10 (NIV). It’s hard to listen to God and know His will if we
are constantly doing the talking. That is why it is so important to
listen to Him and meditate on Scripture.

Where is your life right now? Are you content? Where do you see
yourself in five years? Today, begin asking God what He would have you
do next. Listen to Him, understanding that answers may not come at once.
Ask for patience and wait quietly. Through His grace, you can
confidently walk in the will of God.

* * * *

From In Touch Ministries

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah.”

Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,
that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto
God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this
world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may
prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

God knows ALL…

Mat 11:28, 29 “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and
I will give you rest.

Who knows All

When you are tired and discouraged from fruitless efforts…                                                       God knows how hard you have tried.

When you’ve cried so long and your heart is in anguish…God has counted your tears.

If you feel that your life is on hold and time has passed you by…God is waiting with you.

When you’re lonely and your friends are too busy even for a phone call…God is by your side.

When you think you’ve tried everything and don’t know where to turn…God has a solution.

When nothing makes sense and you are confused or frustrated…God has the answer.

If suddenly your outlook is brighter and you find traces of hope…God has sustained you.

When things are going well and you have much to be thankful for…God has blessed you.

When something joyful happens and you are filled with awe…God has smiled upon you.

When you have a purpose to fulfill and a dream to follow…God has opened your eyes and called you by name.

When you realize life is for eternity and only Jesus can save you…God awaits your calling upon His Son to save you.

Remember that wherever you are or whatever you are facing…GOD KNOWS ALL!

Mat 11:28, 29 “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and
I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am
gently and lowly of heart, and you will find rest unto your soul.”

Be NOT Conformed to this World

2 Cor. 5:21 “For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Be Not Conformed to This World

Our culture is riddled with a poisonous spirit of entitlement. We always think we deserve more. We’re disappointed with our family, neighbors, church, the waitress, the sales clerk, the government and the department of motor vehicles. Ultimately we’re disappointed with God. He hasn’t given us everything we want and think we deserve.

What madness! If only we could see our situation clearly–even for a moment. We deserved expulsion; He gives us a diploma. We deserved the electric chair; He gives us eternal life with Him if we will accept it by grace through faith. Anything less than overwhelming gratitude should be unthinkable. He owes us nothing. We owe Him everything. When you realize you deserve nothing better than hell, it puts a “bad day” in perspective, doesn’t it?

Christians in the Sudan and many other countries around the world–who’ve suffered unspeakably for their faith–are deeply grateful for God’s daily blessings. But us? We whine and pout with the “I deserve more” and “Why me” mentalities.

Thankfulness should draw a clear line between us and a Christless world. If the same spirit of entitlement and ingratitude that characterizes our culture characterizes us, what do we have to offer? We have become the salt that has lost its seasoning power and may be good for nothing. Ouch! God is sovereign in the affairs of mankind which must be our attitude toward all issues. The results of sin are the only ones that God did not design and even those results God can use to teach and train us if we allow Him to.

To know if you have it you need but check out your attitude of gratitude. Are you thankful for even the things that appear to be catastrophic in your life? If they are not a result of sin then I brought them on by myself. God can never tempt or author sin. Don’t get captured by the attitude of the world or the opinion page of the local newspaper. Scripture teaches that we are to count ALL things or situations in our lives as joy and that God is sovereign in the affairs of mankind.

If I grasp that I deserve hell, I’ll be filled with gratitude not only for God’s huge blessings–including my redemption and home in heaven–but also for His smaller blessings: sun, rain, a beating heart, eyes that see, legs that walk, a mind that thinks and the unspeakable joy of the trials that bring spiritual growth. And my whole focus would change. Because Christ allowed Himself to be crushed under the weight of my sin, I’ll enjoy forever a clear mind and perfect body. Never believe anything about yourself or God that makes His grace to you seem anything less than astonishing. Because that’s exactly what it is.

Portions from; Randy Alcorn, “The Grace and Truth Paradox,” Multnomah Publishers 2003, pp. 33-35

The rest of the story….

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah.”

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Romans 12:1-2 ” I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

The Importance of Israel…

The Importance of Israel….

Is our nation’s support of Israel important? As with all of the important questions in our lives the word of God holds the answers. You do not have to depend on the feelings and emotions of our world. So, listen carefully. Much depends on it.

Zechariah 14:12 “Now this will be the plaque with which the Lord will
strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their
flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their sockets, and
their tongue will rot in their mouth.”

God has a special place in His heart for the Jewish people.

Exodus 6:7 “Then I will take you (Jewish Nation) for My people, and I
will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who
brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will
bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the Lord.”

Some say, well yes but that was in the Old Testament. How about today?
The scriptures proclaim that because of sin the Jewish people lost their
promised land and were scattered throughout the nations. They also
proclaim that God will restore them to their land in New Testament times.

In 1948 Israel once again became a nation recognized as such and the
struggle to survive continues.

Jeremiah 3:3 “For, behold, days are coming, ‘declares the Lord, when I
will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah (OT Northern &
Southern Kingdoms)’. The Lord says, ‘I will also bring them back to the
land that I gave to their forefathers, and they shall possess it.'”

The caution for us……..

Gen 12:3 “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses
you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

But how about the Gentiles? Does that mean we cannot be a part of God’s family?

Fortunately no, it does not mean that. When Jesus came the first time He died, was buriedand rose again so that all of mankind has the opportunity to be a part of His Church and family by placing their faith in His sacrifice for our sins. The following verse is just one of many in the scriptures talking about the gospel going to both Gentiles and Jews.

Acts 9:15 “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel:

God can use everyone, if…

Heb 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.”

God can use everyone, if…..

Have you ever felt like you were too small in the Christian community for God to do His mighty works through you? You feel that your level of scriptural knowledge is inadequate or that your looks or speaking abilities are such that God could never work out His will using you as His messenger.  I have felt that way many times and it is comforting and challenging to see that so many others who have portions of their lives recorded in scripture have felt the same. The question this morning is this; Can I be used by God regardless of my spiritual level of training and regardless of my abilities.

I have recently been moved by God through His word to see that God uses the weak to accomplish much. I find that if I make myself available to Him and depend on His wisdom instead of my own that I can be used by God to perform His will and it does not get any better than that.

The following are just a very few of those mentioned in the Bible with the same issue. Many did not question that God could use them but many did. And regardless of their level of faith our God was able to mold, change and use them.

  • Joseph was the youngest of 11 sons prior to Benjamin being born (Gen 34-37). God used him to save His people from the slavery that Israel would later in history be subjected to. He went through many terrible experiences from being sold by his brothers as a slave to lies him from Potifers wife causing him prison time as a result of God’s plan for the restoration of Israel. He accepted those trials (James 1:2,3) and stayed faithful to God.
  • Moses said when told by God that He was going to use him to lead the rescue of Israel from Egypt;

o   Ex 4:10 “And Moses said unto Jehovah, Oh, Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant; for I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue”

o   In spite of his early level of faith God used him mightily and he is one of the major names in scripture of those who served our God.

  • Ruth was not even an Israelite but God used her as a part of the family line to send His Son to a lost world through. (Mat 1) And all of us Gentiles say; Thank you Jesus…….!
  • Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho and not an Israelite but was used by God as a part of the family line to send His Son to a lost world through. (Mat 1) And all of us Gentiles again say; Thank you Jesus…….! Rahab is mentioned in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews chapter 11. Wow!
  • Gideon felt based on his families’ standing in Israel he could not be used by God to lead them. God showed him that if he depended on God it was possible. He was used by God to lead Israel in conquering the Philistines while being outnumbered 300 to 135,000. That’s a ratio of 450 to 1. It leaves no question about Who defeated them.  Listen to Gideon’s first reaction to the call of God;

o   Judges 6:15 “And he said unto him, Oh, Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is the poorest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”

  • King Saul of the OT is a name we typically relate to a troubled man but did you know that he started off on the right foot in serving God but quickly fell into the sin of pride. But yes, he was one showing us a servant coming from a family with that type of high standing in Israel. God truly chooses His servants from all levels of society and not just the philosophers or those with very minimal spiritual knowledge.

o   I Sam 9:2 “And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a young man and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.”

  • Mary a young woman who loved God was not from any family of high spiritual importance within Israel but was blessed by God her Savior and used as part of the family line that introduced God the Son to a lost world.

o   Luke 1:47 “and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,”

  • Saul of the NT soon to be renamed Paul was a Pharisee or a Spiritual Leader in Israel who as a Pharisee did not believe Jesus to be God. God changed all that and he became one of the mightiest servants of Jesus found in scripture.
  • The 12 Apostles included 7 Fishermen, 1 Tax Collector and 4 with unknown occupations but probably tradesmen with limited to no spiritual training.

o   Acts 4:13 “Now when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John, and had perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”

o   Isn’t it awesome our Savior can use folks such as us fishermen…………..!?

o   Mat 4:19 “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.”

  • Elijah a mighty prophet of God was only one of two people to ever be taken from this earth without dying physically. Much can be learned from his service for our God when we commit to the same. (1 and 2 Kings)
  • Solomon was the son of King David who had wisdom according to God that no man could match or ever will be able to. The Holy Spirit using Solomon’s life left for us (II Pet 1:20, 21) the following truth for us to follow;

o   Eccl 12:13, 14 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.”

From those mentioned above you can see that God can use people from every level of society to accomplish His will. So, we should never say never to being able to used by God. There is one very important ingredient in each of the above being used by God and it applies to our lives as well. You must 1st;

  • John 3:3 “ Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

And then you must;

  • Rom 12:1, 2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

You must then recognize Who will be the source of strength to accomplish God’s will.

  • Phil 4:13 “I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.”
  • II Cor 12:9 “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me”

Where do I and you stand on these requirements this morning?