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Day 1: Missions of Compassion
Read Luke 4:14-21 and James 1:27.
The pioneer missionary to Africa, David Livingstone, said, “God had one Son, he was a missionary.” The Messiah is a Missionary Messiah. What did Jesus do as a Missionary Messiah?
- He spent a vast amount of time training 12 more missionaries (the disciples) to continue and advance the mission.
- He preached the good news of the Kingdom of God to the crowds. This was the evangelism side of his missional work.
- He did a wide variety of work that involved compassion and mercy for the poor and oppressed.
In Luke 4:14-21, Jesus launches his public ministry. Look carefully at what Jesus says he has come to do. Then read James 1:27, where the half-brother of Jesus describes the kind of faith we are to have. There are two things included in this short statement. The second is a description of holiness. The first is the command to take care of orphans and widows (the ministry of compassion and mercy). In the years ahead, Living Word is committed to doing even more work like this locally and globally. Many of our missionaries are involved in ministries of compassion and mercy for those in need.
STUDY: The Luke passage is supremely important. What are the five things Jesus said he came to do? If these things are important to the missional work of Jesus, how important should they be to the life and ministry of the church of Christ?
THINK ABOUT IT: When God the Father observes your life, does he see the kind of religious faith that he wants to see? Does he see in your life a heart like his Son?
PRAY IT THROUGH: Pray for those who need compassion, mercy, and justice. Pray for our local work in this. Pray for our global missions team and short-term trips where this kind of ministry is done.
Day 2: Doing What Jesus Did & What the Father Requires
Read Matthew 25:31-46.
John 20:21 is a paradigm passage. A paradigm is a model, a method, and a way. What is this paradigm-way? As the Father sent the Son, now Jesus the Son sends us. Let’s build on yesterday’s devotional lesson by reading the very strong words in Matthew 25:31-46.
STUDY: First look at what God requires of his people in verses 34-40. These are supremely important matters. Then, look at verses 41-46. I won’t try to explain these verses here. Let’s at least agree on this: It is a serious thing to ignore those who are hurting, suffering, poor, oppressed, and unable to help themselves. Why? Because the core of the Gospel is grace and mercy. Freely we have received grace and mercy from God, so freely and generously we are to give the same to others. Not doing this or not wanting to do it reveals a heart that is cold and hard about what God loves.
THINK ABOUT IT: You cannot be involved in everything. In fact, not even most things. You can possibly do a few things. But you should start with one thing. What is the one thing/one ministry of compassion and mercy to those in need that you would most like to do? Why that particular one thing?
PUT IT INTO PRACTICE: We act locally AND we support in prayer and Faith Promise those who are doing these things internationally. When you support Faith Promise, you are saying to God, “The people you care about around the world – I care about them, too. I can’t go, but I can support those who do go.”
Day 3: An Age-Old Problem in New Proportions
Read Exodus 2:23-25.
To be a refugee simply means to be displaced from your home because you are driven away. You may be driven away from home due to natural disasters or man-made ones. Famine, tribal-ethnic-racial conflicts, and persecution are all reasons why people flee their home land and seek refuge somewhere else. A refugee is one who seeks refuge (safety) away from their home.
Today, the refugee crisis is vast and daunting. In the past decade, countries like Ethiopia and Somalia had vast refugee populations that were on the move looking for refuge. Today, it is the Muslim peoples from parts of the troubled Middle East who are far from home and who suffer.
Jesus was a refugee when his family had to flee to Egypt to escape Herod (Matthew 2:13-23). The Jewish people were refugees when they left their homeland (due to famine) and went to Egypt (Exodus 1:1-2:10). For a time they were guests, then they became slaves. Being a refugee is always hard, even dangerously hard. Life becomes very bad when you are a refugee. When you are a refugee you need refuge and you need help.
Do you know that in European history, churches were sanctuaries or havens of safety for refugees? They were sacred places where political enemies could not follow you. Wow – what an image! Refugees need love. They need protection. They need help. God, who is concerned for those who are poor and suffering, is concerned about refugees. He wants his people to be concerned as well.
THINK ABOUT IT: Does God care about the current refugee problem? What do you think God wants the church to think and do about this problem?
Day 4: The Christian Way of Radical Love
Read Leviticus 19:18, 33-34 and Romans 5:6-10.
Christianity is not the only religion and philosophy to talk about love, but Christianity provided the most radical and transformative understanding (and practice) of love ever seen. In Jesus’ time, everyone believed and taught that you should love your family and love your tribe, but that is as far as it went. You did not have to love outside of that. In fact, you should be suspicious, cautious, wary, and ready to fight or flee from the stranger and the enemy. If you didn’t know the person, you should assume they were an enemy.
Jesus came and loved his enemies. He came and preached an ethic of love for strangers and for enemies. This was already evident in the Old Testament. The words in Leviticus 19 were radical words. Be sure to note the motivational reason God gives his people about why they should love—even the alien and stranger—even though their religion was not that of the Jewish faith! Love for the stranger and love for the enemy is the way of the Christian faith.
PRAY IT THROUGH: Pray for the greatly suffering refugee peoples of the world and for our missional workers who are seeking to serve the refugees with the Gospel of hope and the ministry of compassion.
Day 5: Good Samaritans in Our Times
Read Luke 10:25-37.
The two most well-known stories in the New Testament are the story of the Prodigal Son and the story of the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan story is a story of love and the failure to love. It is simple. God’s people, those who presented themselves as being the most righteous in their religion (Pharisees), failed to love someone in need. Then, a Samaritan (an outsider, someone who practiced the “wrong religion”) was the one who showed compassion.
Here is my challenging word. Please hear it with as much openness as you can. Today, when it comes to the Muslim refugee crisis, the evangelical church is acting just like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. We who present ourselves as the most spiritually in tune with the Bible are the ones who seem to have the hardest hearts and the least inclination to help these suffering refugees. Instead, the Good Samaritans are coming from the secular, liberal groups!
THINK ABOUT IT: God’s Word is always relevant. It pierces and penetrates. It goes to the core of our sinful humanity to expose, cut away, and cleanse (Hebrews 4:12). May God’s Word pierce our hearts and bring with it the compassion and mercy that should be the hallmark of our Christian faith – a love for the stranger and love for the enemy.
Songs We Sing
- Song Artist Watch
- Salvation's TidePassion
- One Thing RemainsJesus Culture
- King Of My HeartSarah McMillan
- Forever (We Sing Hallelujah)Kari Jobe
- All Hail The Power Of Jesus Name - Life CenterPaul Baloche
- Endless Light - Life CenterHillsong Live
- Mighty To Save - Life CenterHillsong Worship
- Your Name - Life CenterPaul Baloche
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