Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Jesus Moved with COMPASSION

Jesus Moved with COMPASSION

Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him” (Matt 20:34 KJV).

In the last Truth for the Journey we discussed how the Church must learn how to operate in bold and godly love and compassion, a characteristic of the Prophetic Church.

Today lets expand on this and focus more on the “compassion” that Jesus moved in as we see directly in Luke 7:13 KJV “When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.” What was it that Jesus saw that moved Him or triggered the compassion? And what is it that WE see?

It’s a genuine question: what do we see when we look at people? Do we see what God sees or do we only see their faults? Because only seeing their faults causes us to judge them - yet seeing their genuine need - helps us to have genuine compassion! There is a BIG difference between judgment and compassion! Therefore we must see what Jesus sees in people, so that we can operate in the same compassion that He did.

A well-known evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman once said, “You can never get rid of your own troubles unless you take upon yourself the troubles of others.” Some would call this “empathy” by the Spirit of God. Empathy means: stepping into the shoes of others to feel what they feel, identify with others in a deeper way than sympathy.

This could create a major imbalance of course – if taken to the extreme - but like Joyce Myer often encourages those in her audiences who might be habitually complaining about life, to go to their local hospitals, old people’s homes or even spend a day with folks in wheel chairs. As Joyce points out, this quickly corrects the habit of complaining simply by creating a better perspective.

“Seeing” what others go through in their lives, can quickly inspire right perspective in our own lives! And in this context “empathy” is a good thing to pursue. But taken to its unhealthy extreme, empathy can depress and oppress you if you live in other people’s shoes all the time! Depression never achieved anything for God or for anyone else and God cannot use us when we are depressed all the time. It is a deception to make us miserable and ineffective.

Intercession however does involve burdens from the Lord, but is something entirely different from depression! In fact if we are left feeling depressed after an intercession time – it was not a time with God but with our FLESH! Because if genuine the burden will “lift” only to come back when the Holy Spirit inspires prayer again. We will be able to function in our ordinary day lives and continue to be a good witness to our family and friends in between!

The moral of the story is this: without the Holy Spirit even our best attempts at being compassionate are useless! Only He can trigger the right emotions or responses in us. To summarize: true compassion is like the anointing; it will come for a purpose and then lift off us again (everything has a purpose in the Kingdom of God). It’s a divine trigger and works closely with intercession.

Intercession is not cold and feeling-less, but neither is it emotionally driven. The emotion that comes via the Spirit comes and then lifts. It does not linger to depress! In fact when steered by the Holy Spirit, intercession is “white-hot” and totally “on target.” Remembering that there is “joy” in the breakthrough, which is also an emotion. So emotions are defiantly involved in intercession but they do not control the process. The Holy Spirit uses and inspires our emotions – AS WE PRAY!

Paul tells us in Colossians 3:12-15 (AMP) to clothe ourselves with compassion:

Clothe yourselves therefore, as God's own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper]. Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]. And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony].

And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ's] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].

As Jesus Himself moved with this kind of compassion we too must have love and compassion for those people that God brings our way for ministry (help). For instance when I am ministering I am totally aware of the fact that I need to have love and compassion if I am ever going to be used by God to help bring about the kind of “break-through” that people need in their lives. I can NEVER afford to have a judgmental attitude – in the pulpit or out of it - love must be consistent to be real.

Another example is counseling: the stories that people have shared with me regarding their “sordid-pasts” no longer shock me and I have had to learn not to judge, “for all have sunned and fallen short of the glory of God” as Romans 3:23 tells us. Jesus in His earthly ministry walked in this kind of divine love and compassion and we must also take on this very nature and yoke of Christ (Matt 11:29).

Sympathy is NOT compassion.
On the other hand, there is always the counterfeit. Now there is place for sympathy but for the sake of this article lets call sympathy - “perverted or false-love.” Because often times when we have been tempted to sympathize with people, it has worked “crosswise” with the Spirit of God (been in direct conflict with His purposes) and has usually sided-with the flesh!

For example sympathy has gotten most of us into the conditions that we find ourselves in today! We have been patted on the back and been told, “There, there… things will get better.” But were never shown how to get out of our distress! Basically, sympathy helps us STAY bound while love helps us get OUT!

Agape love on the other hand does not come from the soul, it comes from God and only born-again believers can operate in this kind of love. Therefore agape is the most important ingredient for the intercessor. “This is My commandment: that you love one another [just] as I have loved you. No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends” (John 15:12-13 AMP).

As intercessors we are to lay down our lives. Lack of intercession is a lack of love for others. We must learn to lay down our lives; we need to develop agape love. This is operated by our “willingness” and not our “feelings.” For instance if we were required to wait until we “felt” love before praying for people, perhaps we’d have to wait a long time!

Love is the key for prayer; in fact scripture commands us to love. Matt 5; 43-48 tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Paul in Col 3:14 tells us above all else to put on love. But what is love? 1 Corinthians 13:4 (GW) spells it out for us: “Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn't jealous. It doesn't sing its own praises. It isn't arrogant.”

Father I want to intercede well. I want the right motives and the right inspiration. Help me do what you have called me to do, by your Spirit in Jesus name.

I am filled with the Love of God. I pray the love of God. I manifest the love and compassion of God. His love ministers through me to others. My prayers are answered according to His will and to His divine nature: GOD IS LOVE.

Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’
Copyright 2011 © Alan Pateman Ministries

Friday, 1 July 2011

Unselfish & Unconditional LOVE

Unselfish & Unconditional LOVE

“Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily” (1 Corinthians 13: 4 AMP).

Lets jump straight in. We are back again with “Truth for the Journey” in this series focusing on intercession. Today we are going to be looking at one ingredient that can never be faltered upon, which of course is LOVE! What other motive is there for prayer? In fact there are many other motives but in reality “love” really ought to be the beginning and end of all our best praying!

Love (agape) in the Greek means: unconditional, pure love. Then compassion (eusplagchnos) in the Greek means: well compassioned, sympathetic, pitiful and tenderhearted. However in the next article we will focus more on the compassion of God. Today we will look mainly at LOVE.

“Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly.

Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]” (1 Cor 13:4-7 AMP).

The above scripture is pretty conclusive, where we see the character of “apape” in action (representing God’s love for us). It is an unselfish love without condition. Ultimately God demonstrated this agape love by sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross for us. The result of God’s perfection towards us was this: He had “love” as His chief motive & Jesus as His choicest Gift!

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NLT - emphasis added).

We in turn can love God. To love God fully means to lay down ones life and live completely for Him. In the same way that He completely gave Jesus, we must completely give ourselves to Him. Although this does NOT involve us going to the cross again to dye a physical death – it does involve some significant and spiritual death to self! BUT in comparison with what Christ gave up for us, there no significant loss - only gain - in every aspect of life. He did indeed “become poor that we might become rich!”

However there is an extra clause here: as God “so loves us,” we in turn are obligated to “love others.” Allowing His agape love to overflow out from us, to all the people of the world (1John 4:21).

This type of love that we are discussing here is not a soppy, mushy kind of love. Rather it is direct, forceful at times and demonstrates the very power of God. In other words we too must love with power – HIS POWER. Not waiting for people to come to us, but reaching out to them and meeting them with this dynamic love of Christ; a love that waits NOT, but ACTS ALWAYS “…Here am I; send me” (Isa 6:8).

There are millions of people crying out for God, it is our commission and responsibility to reach them. We must say to people “Jesus loves you,” not in a religious way but in a way that people can see that we mean what we are saying. NOTE: people will never want what we KNOW, until they see (with evidence) how much we CARE! We must “act” out our love and not just “mouth” it! Just as God demonstrated His love through Christ, we too must “demonstrate” His love through us. Actions always speak louder than words!

In fact Scripture teaches us to give ourselves to one another in love, meeting each other’s needs. Not a demanding love, but one that is freely given and received, no conditions or strings attached! We must not be afraid to love “forcefully;” we must fearlessly demonstrate our love and God’s love for people.

The following parable of “The Good Samaritan,” fully exhibits this kind of DEMONSTRATED-LOVE that is not by “choice” but “command.”

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10: 25-37 NIV)

Mercy is an ACT not just a sympathetic emotion (just watch a sad movie!) And this “neighborly-kind-of-love” spoken of in scripture is not emotional either! It is a STRONG-ACTION-TAKING-LOVE.

The Samaritan for instance, did not become EMOTIONAL instead he became RESPONSIBLE. There is a BIG difference! He demonstrated and did not just sympathize with love.

To continue, the needs of others around the world can be touched in numerous different ways. “Intercession” is only one way to ACT and therefore must be coupled with other acts of love and not just the stained walls of our prayer closets! We certainly can’t afford to be so spiritual that we are no earthly good, (even Jesus was not guilty of that!)

Ultimately intercession is a merciful ACT but is also our priestly duty that MUST be fulfilled. Yet by itself, intercession is never enough. If it had been sufficient, Christ would not have died on the cross for us. He would have attended the throne of God instead! However Christ, who still intercedes for us today, put His own hands and feet to His prayers and we must do the same. Providing not just a spiritual but also a physical solution, wherever possible.

It would have been “an-act-of-love-undone” had the Good Samaritan failed the troubled traveler by offering his prayers only. Nevertheless intercession holds a place that is undeniably significant; able to reach places and touch lives like nothing else can.

However the context we are discussing here is that loving our neighbor is the most basic of all motivations for praying. The will to pray - transforms into the will to ACT. Usually when we pray for people, our love for them grows. Then we can step out and ACT out that love on their behalf - as God directs and empowers.

In closing, while there is always room for discretion, there is also room for powerful and confrontational love (militant). When we dare to love people forcefully (with strength minus the sentiment). The world needs this kind of love. NOT a compromising and religious kind of love, but a strong love that ACTS (in order to solve, fix and to remedy). In addition, strong Godly love is always willing to confront and expose sin, ONLY so that change can take place (via conviction and not condemnation). God loves us too much to leave us the way that we are! This bold, active and Godly type of love - is particularly characteristic of the Prophetic Church.

Father I want to be active in the Body of Christ. I want to take up my priestly role and do what You have called me to do. You have positioned me to be effective in Your Kingdom. Continually teach me the ropes of intercession. I want to affirm Your Word with BOLDNESS and to obey Your Holy Spirit as I pray. Amen.

Isaiah 54:17 (YLT) says, “No weapon formed against thee prospereth, And every tongue rising against thee, In judgment thou condemnest. This [is] the inheritance of the servants of Jehovah, And their righteousness from me, an affirmation of Jehovah!”(Young’s Literal Translation)

Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’
Copyright 2011 © Alan Pateman Ministries