Father of Compassion

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV

My dad died when I was quite young and I didn’t have any “father figures” in my life. My mom was the one who modeled compassion. I spent a bit of time wondering what my dad would have been like had he lived longer. Would I like him as a person? Was he a “father of compassion”?

In the end, while it would have been nice to know my father better — and for longer — if I am looking for compassion, it is better to go to the Source. Regular humans do all this stuff so imperfectly. Basing any notion of God on how people behave is a wee bit dangerous, especially if you are basing it on a person who is in the midst of sorting out their own junk. Or, even worse, those wolves in sheep’s clothing. Sadly, there are a few of those around.

Have you noticed? Sometimes our earthly relationships can interrupt or throw roadblocks in our relationship with God. If you have someone harsh in your life it can be a big roadblock until you settle in on this phrase:

… The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort

That is what I am looking for when I need to be fathered. I may have had a number of “adults” in my early years who clearly were not living out life in a healthy way, I am so blessed to have understood, from an early age, that God is the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. Only He is the standard.

Praising the Creator

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
    with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
    through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
    that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
    I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
    and make your throne firm through all generations.’”

The heavens praise your wonders, Lord,
    your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
    Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
    he is more awesome than all who surround him.
Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
    You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you. [Psalm 89: 1-8, NIV]

It is not difficult for me to look around at creation and know there is a Creator. From the seasons to the incredible variety of flora, fauna, animals, and the vastness of the animal kingdom. And then the solar system and the amazing sunrises and sunsets and, well, you get the picture. The beauty and intricacies we get to see and understand while we are here on Earth are simply amazing.

As we close the books on another year, I am so very thankful for the beauty I saw, for the people in my life, and for the grace extended to me, each and every day, by the God of the Universe. He know my name. He knows your name!

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Thomas Ken (1637-1711)

Zion

Zion refers to both a hill in the city of Jerusalem and to the city itself — but it’s also used in a general way to mean “holy place” or “kingdom of heaven.”  

I have been thinking about holy places and holy spaces. Where are they? When are they? Can we see the holy in the ordinary? In the regular ritual? In the place where we can steal a moment away?

God made a stable in Bethlehem a holy place. Only God can take the dark, smelly, and dirty and turn it into a holy space. God is in the business of transforming hearts and lives from messes to messages of love and grace.

Yielding

I have a tendency to yield in many areas because while I might have preferences, they aren’t worth a kerfuffle. I don’t love a good fight. And while I care about a lot of things, I am not passionate enough to fight about any of them. When does a “fight” every change a mind anyway? When I have a conflict of ideas with another person, my yielding isn’t as much about yielding to another’s point of view as it is about yielding to the Holy Spirit and letting the work of changing a heart or mind rest where the change can truly happen, and that clearly isn’t with me.  It is important that I step out of the way and let the Holy Spirit do their work – and there are definitely times where that work is done on me!

Xenial

Xenial means hospitable, especially to visiting strangers or foreigners. Of the relation between a host and guest; friendly. I will confess that I have to very intentionally remember where I am and who is around me when I am out and have a mask on. I have to be intentional about making eye contact and smiling. It is hard to be hospitable when I am tired – and I am tired on many fronts. Bone tired. And it is ok to be that way, but also important to find the ways to be xenial. Others are surely also very tired and being hospitable during these uncertain times is important. What does hospitality look like to in your day? Are there new ways you can extend hospitality?

Righteousness and Justice

You rule over the surging sea;
    when its waves mount up, you still them.
10 You crushed Rahab like one of the slain;
    with your strong arm you scattered your enemies.
11 The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth;
    you founded the world and all that is in it.
12 You created the north and the south;
    Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name.
13 Your arm is endowed with power;
    your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.

14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
    love and faithfulness go before you.
15 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
    who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.
16 They rejoice in your name all day long;
    they celebrate your righteousness.
17 For you are their glory and strength,
    and by your favor you exalt our horn.[d]
18 Indeed, our shield[e] belongs to the Lord,
    our king to the Holy One of Israel.

19 Once you spoke in a vision,
    to your faithful people you said:
“I have bestowed strength on a warrior;
    I have raised up a young man from among the people.
20 I have found David my servant;
    with my sacred oil I have anointed him.
21 My hand will sustain him;
    surely my arm will strengthen him.
22 The enemy will not get the better of him;
    the wicked will not oppress him.
23 I will crush his foes before him
    and strike down his adversaries.
24 My faithful love will be with him,
    and through my name his horn[f] will be exalted.
25 I will set his hand over the sea,
    his right hand over the rivers.
26 He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father,
    my God, the Rock my Savior.’
27 And I will appoint him to be my firstborn,
    the most exalted of the kings of the earth.
28 I will maintain my love to him forever,
    and my covenant with him will never fail.
29 I will establish his line forever,
    his throne as long as the heavens endure. [Psalm 89:9-29, NIV]

We don’t see what God sees. And we surely don’t define things the same way God does. Unless we are rooted in Scripture ourselves and are regularly connected to a healthy, Biblical perspective, we only see what we see or what others tell us they see. And all of those things we know come from a flawed perspective. Ever listen to two or more people describe an incident and everyone is compelling but each story is so different? It would do us all good to start out with, “From my point of view…” or “The way I see it at this moment…” because a slightly different angle almost always gives us new information to consider.

But when we go back to the source, or the author of the concepts, and seriously consider the words, that is where we really see the intentions.

Are you hearing some words and phrases these days that don’t seem to add up to God’s definition or perspective? I would like to encourage you to not take the world’s word on what is what. Even when, and especially when, the world is loud and disruptive, consider the source of the definitions.

We are in the midst of difficult days for a number of reasons. But God is with us in every step.

 “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”
2 Chronicles 20:12

May we fix our eyes on our Creator and follow His lead!

God’s Peace!
Liz

Victory

How do you define victory? Recently, I have been thinking about this word that represents a few things. It seems to indicate there is a winner and a loser. And that there is a struggle. And while it is often used to describe physical things, I am currently caught up in the spiritual perspective. These days, I view most struggles and victories in the spiritual realm. And knowing the ultimate victory has been won for me by the blood of Jesus is a blessed assurance.

Come Lord Jesus!

Understanding

Where are you coming from? How are you looking at things? What “experience filter” are you using as you look at things? It is important in our human relationships to consider the other person’s point of view. And it is also very important to consider God’s point of view. Perspective makes a huge difference and seeking to understand goes a long way in relationships, even if it isn’t achieved 100%.

Trust

A relationship built on grace and love often also involves trust. I trust that you are doing the best you can in the moment you are in. It might not be the way I would do it. It might not be the absolute best way to handle it, but, because we are in a relationship, I trust your intention. I will give you the benefit of the doubt.