Forty Days of Love & Light: Care Pt 1

Pastor Terry Inman

03-23-14

 

We are praying for our friends, and neighbors. We are praying for people in our workplace and in the marketplace that have not yet come to faith in Christ. They are not totally lost, they have always been on God’s radar but now we are picking up the signals. Next we go to the rescue!    

Today we will take the next step in the Prayer-Care-Share lifestyle. Let me relieve you of some unnecessary guilt, stress or fear. We are not unaided and powerless! 

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1.8 

We are His witnesses, under His power!  

Power to be a credible and caring witness increases as the result of prayer. We are given God’s perception and passion for the lost. So, this not about our performance, it’s about our participation.       

When we are filled with God’s love we naturally shine his light.

The Holy Spirit in us--leads us to show Christ’s love. He shows us how to care, and he tells us what and when to share. We just keep in step! 

The bible says, The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Gal. 5.22-25 (NIV) 

These are very attractive qualities.  We need both the fruit of the Spirit and the power of the Spirit to really shine the light of Christ! 

I have been contemplating the story of the first healing miracle after the ascent of Jesus into heaven and the decent of the Holy Spirit on earth. Peter and John were on their way to prayer when the Holy Spirit led them to care. A disabled man on public assistance was healed right in front of the great Temple gate. 

They were arrested and questioned by the religious authorities. They defended the healing as a simple “act of kindness”.  The bible says, the authorities could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 

This, loving and powerful “act of kindness” was irrefutable evidence to the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were credible witnesses. A fully restored man was the evidence that Jesus is Lord! 

So we are not just talking about being nicer to people. Peter and John didn’t wake up thinking let’s do some random acts of kindness today—no they were just keeping pace with the Holy Spirit. They were led to care! 

Peter and John didn’t respond out of guilt or sympathy. They didn’t even have any money. The bible says they “looked straight at him”--then they said, look at us! The Spirit led them to “see him” and then “meet his real need”. He didn’t need any more small change--he needed a life-change! God has called us to life changing care!   Acts 3.1-10 (NIV) 

Now that we are praying for friends and family ask the Lord for opportunities to connect with them and demonstrate His care for them. 

The bible says, Spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.  Isaiah 58.10 (NIV)  

There are a lot of people that are not holding up signs that could use a little care.  Prayer opens our eyes and our hearts--it also opens doors of opportunity to genuinely care. 

We have been practicing the BLESS acronym for prayer now let me suggest one for care. You don’t have to memorize this one it’s just to keep my thoughts organized.   

   Compassion:

   Acts of Kindness

   Relationship

   Effects (supernatural results) 

Compassion is that gut feeling from God that someone needs our care. Compassion is to be “moved” or motivated by a deep feeling from within. This word actually comes from the Greek word for spleen. 

The bible says, When (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassionon them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Matt. 9.36-38 (NIV) 

First Jesus saw, then he felt, then he moved! Compassion is about movement. He didn’t just see the lost, sinful people, he saw broken, bruised, brutalized, and beaten down sheep. He was moved to action.    

Acts of kindness are simply ways of responding to people’s felt needs in the name of Jesus. let our people learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, that they may not be unfruitful. Titus 3.14 

At the temple gate Peter and John were out of cash but not out of care.

They gave what they had. God turns our acts of kindness into miracles! 

Care for hungry people led to a supernatural multiplication of resources.  Jesus called his disciples to him and said, I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way. Matt. 15.32 (NIV) 

It was an act of kindness to feed a lot of hungry people. All they had was seven pita pockets with a few sardines but it fed 4000 plus the women and children! It took some teamwork. The disciples passed it out, can you imagine what a blast that was. What could your group do together? 

Care is best demonstrated by building genuine “relationships”. Relationships are friendships built over time and trust that are mutually fulfilling. It’s easier to do drive-by acts of generosity. We should respond to legitimate needs. For one thing it makes us less selfish. 

But “Prayer Care Share” is not a quick marketing scheme for salvations. Care, led by the spirit and motivated by authentic love shows people who Jesus really is. It takes time and trust to develop real relationships. 

In Luke 15 the Pharisees were upset with Jesus for socializing with sinners.  So Jesus tells the familiar story of the prodigal son. He was lost but never off his father’s radar.

He spent his inheritance on wild living came to himself and returned home hoping to at least be a slave in his father’s house. But, Jesus says,  while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassionfor him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15.20 (NIV) See-Feel-Move! 

He gave him the family ring, a robe and a new pair of shoes. He fully restored his lost son to the family. This story is about a relationship of love, acceptance and forgiveness. This kind of relationship reconciles people to God.  

Finally “E” stands for Effects. I’m talking about special effects--supernatural interventions that promote spiritual transformations. Jesus told the 72 that he sent ahead into the villages to stay in the house, eat their food and heal their sick, then tell them the kingdom of God is near.    

Jesus always cared before he cured. Two blind outsiders were begging Jesus for mercy on the outskirts of a village. Blindness was considered a curse, a judgment for some sin. Touching or looking into the eyes of the blind may even cause blindness. Matt. 20.34 says, Jesus had compassionon them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.  Unconventional compassion is an act of justice!  

Another untouchable, a leper, quarantined from any social or religious engagement was healed as an act of mercy. Mark 1.41 says, Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. I am willing, he said. “Be clean!”  Jesus was willing to touch an untouchable. 

Who do we find it unconventional or uncomfortable to touch? Most of Jesus healings were miracles of mercy. But some miracles can be messy. Some people are untouchable and some people are unlovable.  

When Jesus said, “love your neighbor as yourself”, the religious professor attempting to impress him asked, “who is my neighbor?” Jesus illustrated the answer with another unpopular story. Luke 10:25-37 

A Priest and the Levite passed up a brutally beaten Jewish victim. A despised Samaritan cared for the man. It was a guy of a different race and religion that loved his neighbor. The Samaritan was the first responder.

He stopped, gave the victim first aid, and a lift to a local inn. Then he returned to pay the medical bill. That even beats the Affordable care act!

At one point the disciples wanted Jesus to call fire down on some unsocial Samaritans. But Jesus empowered them to be “witnesses” in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria all over the earth!  It’s much easier to reach out to our Jerusalem, “our people” most like us. We will even volunteer to reach out to the under-served in developing nations. They don’t live with us we get to come back home in a few days.   

But who’s my Samaritan? Who makes me a little or a lot uncomfortable? Whose lifestyle really gets under my skin? Are there any Samaritans on my prayer list of five? Prayer is good but care let me think out care? 

When we ask God to make us more observant and more responsive to people he will change our perception. Maybe the homeless guy didn’t really need a burger maybe the Lord just needed my attention. 

Speaking of getting my attention. God has been revealing his presence and power in some very unusual ways in our Prayer Team meetings. As team leaders met a few days ago, we experienced an extensive prophetic message. The main themes were repeated several times.      

No eye has seen, no ear has heard what I am about to do. Great and mighty things, I am to do. Be prepared for I am coming! 

   Do you not hear the sound of the trumpet?

   Do you not hear the sound of the latter rain?

   Do you not hear the sound of the gushing wind? 

Do not doubt! The river is flowing. It will fill all the channels. Nothing will be forgotten. No man can do what I am about to do. I the Almighty God will do it, for I know the beginning from the end. 

Do you not see the harvest is ripe? Ask the Lord of Hosts for laborers. Awake church awake! I am coming, be prepared. Enemy, you can no longer kill, steal or destroy my children, for they are awake.  The time has come. "Prepare a mighty army for me”. 

A couple days later I woke up very early in the morning with a question on my mind. How do we prepare for what is coming. I was given two prophetic passages. One is a promise of restoration and refreshing. 

Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him.  As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth. Hos. 6.1-3 (NIV) 

The second passage talks about returning to the Lord… 

Return to the LORD your God, he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing--grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God.  

Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the temple porch and the altar. Joel 2.14-16 (NIV)   

Mark your calendars for Sunday April 6th. We will begin a three-day fast on Friday then conclude with a Solemn Assembly on Sunday night at 6 PM. This is an all church gathering for prayer and preparation. 

Water Baptism Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Acts 2.38 (NIV)