Inward Parts

“I have compassion for the crowd…”  Matthew 15:29-39  Remembering the year I spent as a chaplain in the MICU of a Hospital, always by the third visit to this “mountain” in which the patient was holding to the hope of healing, I yearned to give more. I wanted them to be physically healed. Yet knowing that my presence and prayer was all I had, I was grateful that the relationship went beyond the physical. In this reading a crowd on the mountain is amazed at the healing that is taking place, but that wasn’t the end of it. Something more was about to happen. They’d followed Jesus up that mountain and he tended to their every need for three days. It seems clear that there was a deeper relationship in Christ which the disciples had yet to conceive. The root of the Greek word used for compassion is translated as “inward parts,” figuratively meaning that what Christ is feeling is coming from deep within. Jesus knew what he needed to do. Perhaps his compassion for the crowds on the mountain that day went beyond the lack of food, and directly towards his yearning to feed this hungry crowd the Glory of God. Today, like the disciples we are often overwhelmed asking ourselves, where, why, and how long. Yet we’ve been in this relationship with Christ long enough to know what to do. Always giving thanks, we feed on God’s Glory. For in the fullness of Christ, the righteous are not forsaken nor his seed begging bread.

Featured Image Credit:Grade Level: K-5
Content Area: Creative Arts, Language Arts
Created By: Christine Kolstoe and Kelly Kerani, Lynnwood Elementary, Lynnwood, WA, USA (Edmonds School District, north of Seattle)

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Crumbs Will Do!

“Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”  Then he said to her, “… you may go– the demon has left your daughter.”Mark 7:24-37  I remember my mother as someone who always seemed to have the answers. Once when I was a child, we were on one of our many day trips and apparently I had asked one too many questions. Finally my mother turns to me and says “You ask too many questions!” For a while I tried to contain myself but the silence was more than I could bare and I quietly responded, “If I don’t ask questions, how will I know the answers?” Another brief moment of silence and she thoughtfully said; “You’re absolutely right.” Although I felt somewhat vindicated, I decided that whatever else I needed to know could wait another day. The woman in this story needed healing for her daughter. She knew Jesus could give her daughter that healing. Although Jesus wanted to stay focused on his ministry to the people of Israel her humbling faithful response caused him to rethink. She knew that any residual from Christ’s presence among his people was far more effective than anything else for which she could possibly wait. Thus, the crumbs would do just fine! She didn’t have to wait any longer, the woman’s daughter was healed and I kept asking questions.

Five Loaves Two Fish

Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves… and all ate and were filled. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men – Mark 6:30-46.  Clearly feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fish is a miracle of miracles. At my son’s pre-school no child ever went without lunch, even when someone forgot and there were many days when one or more children forgot their lunch. The teacher would orchestrate a table of sharing. Every child would put their sandwich for the day in the middle of the table and they would all sit around the table and eat one half sandwich at a time. Whatever snacks they had in their lunch they were allowed to keep or add to the buffet. There was always a few half sandwiches and some snacks left over. Perhaps not a miracle of miracles, but one of my most favored explanations of a Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Who Provides) for our needs today as well as a demonstration of faith and compassion. Christ is always at work through God’s people.

Neighbors

“Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” ...‘Go and do likewise.’ Luke 10:25-37  The lawyer in this passage of Luke thought he was being rather smart by asking Jesus “Who is my neighbor?” However, his question reveals that what he was asking, is about who is to be the neighbor that he should love. It’s one of those kinds of questions that has the potential to separate and divide the haves and have-nots, the righteous and sinners; if we allow our sense of who we are, to be defined by the world’s standards rather than by God.  I like the way Jesus addresses the question with a question after first telling a parable about four men. Jesus challenges the lawyer to identify himself in the parable. Of course the lawyer would not see himself beaten at the side of the road. How many of us would? He could however see himself as the Priest or the Levite. That is until he realizes that both in the story show more folly than compassion as would be expected from a Priest or Levite. At the very least, Jesus’ question briefly forces the lawyer to identify with the Samaritan (considered to be “unclean”). The parable helps the lawyer and us to understand simply, that the one who acts is the neighbor. At all times, each of us is to be the neighbor because in Christ it’s who we are. A scripture from Ecclesiastes 10:1-18  …folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place, really begins to take shape in times of need. We don’t always have the luxury of determining who will help us. Perhaps one day we may find our selves “fallen at the hands of robbers.” Which of the three would we want to pass by? Is it not the one who acts on our behalf?

Matthew 7:1-2  “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”

God’s Authority Reigns

I believe God’s authority reigns over all. All other authority has no power except that which we give it. However it is not okay to break the laws put in place for a civilized society. By doing so we can expect a consequence. When the scribes and the Pharisees, approached Jesus concerning a woman caught in adultery, Jesus does not question their application of the law, but rather their desire to judge her character and condemn her to death. He reaches the heart of the matter in that they seem to forget in their own history, God’s desire to show compassion and mercy. Jesus never said that what the woman did was not unlawful; he merely helped the authorities to see that they too were not without sin, effectively separating legal authority from human authority. We have the authority to show compassion and mercy where the law does not. Since all have sinned, the mercy and compassion we show one another will be the mercy and compassion God shows with us.

God’s authorityMan’s authority; The law; Compassion & Mercy;

Living Stones

Wednesday:

On the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, when so many of us are making plans to be with family and friends including myself, I wonder perhaps if I haven’t taken enough time to be thankful simply because I can and make the choice to do so. Certainly there were many days when anger, frustration, disappointment etc. superseded any thought of being thankful. But it always helps to be in the presence of others to realize how very blessed we are to simply breathe. Imagine the breath of a multitude of living stones when formed for the purpose of building a spiritual home for all who seek comfort, pardon and love. For those who believe today, could you consider yourself a living stone? Perhaps we can begin with letting the gift of Thanksgiving support the head cornerstone chosen by God to connect every household of praise, in the hope that anyone may experience the Kingdom not only on the one day the world sets aside for the physical, but also for everyday that God gives to his creation.

Let us also remember and give thanks for the saints who have gone before us as they build with us as spiritual stones, and we continue to build on the love they have left within our hearts. If you have someone you would like to add to the list, please comment and I will add them to my morning prayers on our Day of Thanksgiving. Join me at 6:00am if you wish. God bless!

Betty Richburg, Timothy Richburg, Joenell Richburg, Sarah Richburg, Ozzie Rouse, Esther Rouse, Evelyn Payne, Mary Davis, Bernard Davis, Lucille Anderson, Vivian Smart, Gail Fowler.

1Peter 2:1-10 Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house.

Heaven on Earth

Sunday:

Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven is a statement of faith living. It is a Kingdom consciousness, which assumes that everyone is a part of the kingdom. It doesn’t matter what we know or see, but rather what we experience from one another. God’s purpose is to be fulfilled and we each play a role in fulfilling that purpose. What many of us don’t realize is that the roles change. Life is very much about hungering, thirsting, feeling exposed, lost or held captive in varying situations. There are times when we are the “least of these.” The question before us is who will be there in this journey as we move in and out of these states physically, emotionally, and spiritually? Jesus says we are to be there for one another because to serve one another today is to serve God. It is earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 25:31-46 …for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.

Not Special Just Blessed

Saturday:

God forgives anyone who asks to be forgiven. When God has forgiven us we are blessed. It doesn’t make us special! If we are truly living in Christ, holding others answerable, or “in-check” over something we believe was done against us, only leaves us hostage to our disappointment, frustration, and anger. The Holy Spirit within cannot coexist peacefully with evil and negative thoughts. Don’t allow yourself to be tortured. Let it go, let God deal with their behavior, and live!

Matthew 18:21-35 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Speak No Evil

Wednesday

That which is on the heart comes to mind and that which is on the mind is spoken from the mouth. It is often said think before you speak, but perhaps we should remember to pause before we speak. Many thoughts travel through our minds constantly throughout the day. If we spoke every thing that came to mind we might find that we are not as knowledgeable, compassionate or in tune with our own environment, as we think we are. It doesn’t take much to display social inadequacy. Accept to agree or disagree, Jesus barely spoke a word in his defense before the Council or Pilate. While it didn’t save him from the cup he was about to drink (crucifixion), it did not prevent the manifestation of God’s glory. In the end, allow your wisdom to reflect the Word of God and the time we take to pause will allow the Holy Spirit to speak on our behalf and God’s glory will manifest in our lives also.

Mark 15:1-11 But Jesus made no further reply…

James 3:1-12 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.

1 Kings 9:24-10:13 Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her.

God’s Will

Sunday

…all receive mercy

Whether self-inflicted or caused by someone else, more important than our own judgment of guilt or feeling of shame is God’s purpose in our lives. Having once been well fed and in need of nothing, the sons of Jacob, standing before their younger brother whom they threw into a pit and allowed to be sold into slavery, are now begging bread. Joseph’s heart however is not on the “injustice” but rather on God’s hand in his life. It is by God’s grace that he is now able to provide for his family at a time of famine. And what about the Canaanite woman who has lived on the edge of society all her life who by God’s grace leans on the gumption (impression of the Holy Spirit) to boldly approach this Jesus of Nazareth and ask for help not for herself but for her child? Who among us has not walked in the brother’s footsteps, or the Canaanite woman’s path? Is it not true that some of us treat our pets better than we treat one another? Jesus himself could not argue against her request. There is no doubt in my mind that regardless of where we are or how we got there, God wants to bless us. Both of these events help us to understand that God desires to reconcile us back to him and to one another and that in the Kingdom of God all receive mercy.

Matthew 15:10-28 “Yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table

Genesis 45:1-15 And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, …it was not you who sent me here, but God.

Psalm 133 Oh, how good and pleasant it is, when brethren live together in unity.