Archive for the ‘Good Samaritan’ Category


I love this verse from Stuart Townend’s song “How Deep the Father’s Love for us”

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

If you have been a Christian for many years, it is easy to forget what a wretch you were. If you continue to walk close to the Lord, you will be mindful of that wretchedness. It is the walk of a wretched man saved by Jesus that is best suited to being a “Good Samaritan”. If you think you are something for God; if you walk around thinking that God is sure glad He got you, you will not be a Good Samaritan. Oh, sure, you love yourself, but you love yourself too much to ever reach out to the wretches living around you. The love you have for yourself is blinding you from seeing the needs of other wretches around you.

A Good Samaritan has no “walls” when it comes to the needs of his neighbors. A good samaritan is not afraid to get close to other “wretches” to see what their needs are. He sees no color, no race, no status, no religion. He sees the forsaken, the diseased, the impoverished, the disabled, the alone, the abandoned, the damaged. He not only looks close, but he does what he can to meet the needs of the “wretched”. Everything he has is Gods, and he holds nothing back from God or his neighbors.

The Good Samaritan does not go around boasting of what he does. You see, he is simply one wretch helping another wretch.

A person who is a living, walking, Good Samaritan reveals what is in his heart.

The Heart of a Good Samaritan reveals two things:

1. Our love for God and His Son Jesus Christ

2. Our love for people, the people that Jesus died on the cross to redeem the other “wretches”

  • These people were ugly, hateful, sinful, vile, sin-sick, hopeless, rebellious
  • But Jesus loved them, died for them
  • These people were you and me.

In effect, being a Good Samaritan unites us with the heart of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the ultimate Good Samaritan. He gave his all for our sake, the wounded, the captured, the bruised, the broken, the forsaken.

Satan and Sin had us in an eternal death grip, but Jesus Christ came to our side and freed us from the death grip of sin. He was our personal Good Samaritan.

The question I want to answer today: How do we continue our comittment to being Good Samaritans?

Now, I know that you do not normally think of yourself as being selfish, uncaring and unconcerned. Certainly the lawyer who asked Jesus the question “Who is my neighbor?” did not see himself as that way. He thought he was a model Jew, the best of the best. However, Jesus cut to the very depth of his soul by revealing his bias toward the Samaritans. He challenged him to see everyone, regardless of his or her religion or culture as his neighbor, worthy of his love.

Face it; it is easy to overlook certain people. It is easy to judge, condemn, and even isolate ourselves from certain people. However, Jesus challenges us to know that there is not one person on this earth that is not worthy of our love. Jesus wants us to know that He died for everyone, no matter how vile they are, or regardless of their religion or culture. We are not special. We are not better than anyone else is. They are our neighbor and needing our love because such were we! What is more, because of our busy and isolated lives, we lose sight of the needs of people who don’t live by us, or who are in neighborhoods we do not go to.

Practical Advice about Trip Hazards

Before we look at Scripture and see what can trip us up, I want to offer some practical advice for any Good Samaritan.

One problem facing many of us Baby Boomers in the troubled times we are in, is caring for our elderly parents, caring for a son or daughter out of work, caring for a spouse with a debilitating medical condition. Many find themselves in a Caregiver Role. To be a Caregiver is to provide financial, relational, physical, spiritual, or emotional support to someone who is unable to live independently like:

  • newborns or small children
  • those recovering from an injury or illness
  • aging loved ones
  • anyone facing a terminal illness
  • those who are disabled in some way (physically, mentally, emotionally)

This just about covers parents and people from all lifestyles and all ages, so it probably affects you or someone you care about. There are dangers involved in being a Caregiver or a ‘good Samaritan.’ One of those dangers is in the form of overwhelming stress or an overwhelming sense of helplessness.

There are CARETAKERS and there are CAREGIVERS.

A caretaker provides a level of compassionate service for someone in need. It is not usually overwhelming enough to create compassion fatigue or massive distress because there are clear boundaries, defined duties, and reasonable expectations, as well as defined hours of service.

Caregivers do the same work, but often with greater intensity, since they often aren’t compensated in some way and just work out of the goodness of their hearts to show compassion to the person in need. They often give and give expecting nothing in return, yet that is often why they run out of energy and burnout. They do not have defined hours, schedules, or budgets. It can get very stressful, very fast because they cannot do everything for everyone all the time without it leading to caregiver stress.

The Caregiver Stress Checklist

  • Am I easily agitated with those I love?
  • Am I becoming more critical of others?
  • Am I having difficulty laughing or having fun?
  • Am I turning down most invitations to be with others?
  • Am I feeling depressed about my situation?
  • Am I feeling hurt when my efforts go unnoticed?
  • Am I resentful when other family members are not helping?
  • Am I feeling trapped by all the responsibilities?
  • Am I being manipulated?
  • Am I missing sleep and regular exercise?
  • Am I too busy for quiet time with God?
  • Am I feeling guilty when I take time for myself?

Warning Signs of Caregiver Stress:

  • Physically – exhausted and worn out
  • Emotionally – resentful, stressed, bitter
  • Relationally – feeling used or unappreciated
  • Financially – overwhelmed or depleted

It is right to care for people in need. It is healthy to show compassion. Those are good things and make us feel better for having made a difference in the lives of others. You can show care in many ways and should. Caring is important, but there are some hidden dangers if you do not realize a simple truth.

TEAM GOOD SAMARITAN

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a timeless story of being a compassionate caregiver.

We should not miss the truth of how to protect the Good Samaritan from compassion fatigue.

Yes, he jumped in to help a stranger, and, yes, he showed great love for another human being, but he did not do it alone! The Good Samaritan started a healing process in the life of a wounded man and allowed others, like the innkeeper, to be part of the team to make a positive difference in helping a man rebuild and recover. When you are part of a team helping someone going through a crisis, you are less likely to burnout. And that’s a good thing for everyone so you can have a lot more energy to help others for years to come.[1]

If we are to love our neighbors, and not suffer from burnout, or compassion fatigue, we must be part of a team. We must discover that there is help from a higher power!

For the heartsick, bleeding soul out there today who is desperate for a word of encouragement, let me assure you that you can trust this Lord of heaven and earth. There is security and rest in the wisdom of the eternal Scriptures. I believe the Lord can be trusted, even when He cannot be tracked. Of this you can be certain: Jehovah, King of kings and Lord of lords, is not pacing the corridors of heaven in confusion over the problems in your life!  He hung the worlds in space. He can handle the burdens that have weighed you down, and He cares about you deeply. He says to you, “Be still, and know that I am God”. Psalms 46:10   — James Dobson, Ph.D.[2]

GO TO THE THRONE

To be a Good Samaritan means that you memorize and take to heart Hebrews 4:14-16

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

We often think this verse applies to when we are being tempted. And that is a strong part of it, but the truth is that the weaknesses spoken about refers to illness, physical exhaustion, lack of strength, any condition of weakness that could lead us to lose heart, give up, have a breakdown, get hard hearted, get calloused, disillusioned. In other words, Jesus sympathizes with those conditions that could lead us to give up being a Good Samaritan, to give up following Him, to give up loving our neighbor.

We need to be a part of His team, we need to come boldly to the throne of grace, not only for help and strength for us, but for the ones we are caring for.

Mother’s, when you don’t think you can take care of an aging mom any more, when you have had your heart broken by a wayward son or daughter, when you are about to give up caring, go to the throne, go to the one who has been there, and realize His strength is yours, His grace and mercy are overflowing for those in need, exactly at the time you need it most!

What Will Trip Us Up?

What Keeps us from the throne? What will cause us to stumble and stop being a Good Samaritan?

There are four major reasons that we may stumble and fall, which will keep us from the throne of Grace.

These are found in verses preceding of Hebrews 4:14

1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’ ” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.” 6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:1-13

FOUR TRIP HAZARDS

  1. Faith Connection (Weak or non-existent)
  2. Disobedience (Idolatry, Iniquity and Immorality)
  3. Bitterness (Hard Heart leading to no ability to sympathize)
  4. Grumbling- (Temporal Focus because of a messed up heart!)

1.  Faith Connection

  • Verse 2: For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.

Even though they had witnessed miraculous acts, God was still invisible to the wandering Jews. Whatever their thinking about who this invisible “I AM” was, it did not settle into their heart.

If you are going to continue to be a Good Samaritan, you have to have a daily faith connection to this awesome God, “the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. 1 Timothy 6:15

For anyone who desires to please God must believe that He is. Not only on Sunday, but you need a faith connection every day of the week.

Faith is a solid, substantiating force that sustains us during good times, bad times, and difficult times. Satan delights in getting you to doubt God, to ignore God, to resent God. Satan tries to sever your faith connection every day!

You faith connection will allow you to see God in the midst of the storm, in the midst of your exhaustion, in the midst of your struggles, in the midst of your frustrations.

This Christian walk is by faith and not sight, and as soon as you lose faith, or weaken in faith, you will stumble from being a Good Samaritan.

Genuine Love for you hurting and weak neighbors comes from your faith in our Loving God!

2.  Disobedience (Idolatry, Iniquity and Immorality)

  • Verse 6: “and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience”
  • 1 Cor 10:7-8 – Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.

The Wilderness Jews had a problem with idolatry. They put other things before God. Their broken faith connection did not allow them to see God in their everyday lives. So when Moses was gone for 40 days, they got nervous and afraid, and made their own god to worship. They disobeyed keeping the law, they disobeyed Moses, they lusted after things rather than desiring God.

Their disobedience grew from having a small god and large appetites for themselves. They put themselves before God.

It is good to do a heart check every so often. What are you desiring, what are you obsessing over?

When we take our eyes and our hearts off the desires of God, and put them on what we want or what we think we need, then we will stumble from being a Good Samaritan. We will take our eyes and our hearts off our neighbors.

Are you having conflicts in your marriage, in your relationships? Do a heart check! Perhaps you are putting your desires ahead of the other person. You may think you are right, but try humbling yourself before God, and then seeking Him until His desires become your desires in that situation.

Too many times conflict is caused and sustained by our selfishness and by putting things before our relationships.

3.  Bitterness (Hard Heart leading to inability to sympathize)

  • Verse 7: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”.
  • 1 Cor 10:9 – We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,

When we lose our faith connection, when we start putting our desires before God, it will not be too long before something happens in your life that causes you great hurt, great resentment, great anger. The Jews were upset over the desert, the food, the leader. They were angry, upset, and bitter. This bitterness led to hearts that were hard and insensitive to God.

You may have experienced this yourself.

You lost something/someone very dear to you, a son, a daughter, a wife. Or it could be an important job, a friendship. Children get bitter when they are forced to move, when divorce splits the home. Sickness, disease, an accident…anything that happens that directly affects our comfort, our life, our control. When life seems out of control, when our heart is broken, when we get angry, when we question what is going on…there is a temptation to lash out, get resentful, and the bitterness grows.

We must not put Christ to the test

Sinners are said to tempt God (Matt. 4:7; Luke 4:12; 10:25; Acts 5:9, peirázō; 1 Cor. 10:9), putting Him to the test, refusing to believe Him or His Word until He has manifested His power (Sept.: Deut. 6:16; 8:16; Ps. 78:18). When God is said to try (peirazō) man (Heb. 11:17 [cf. Gen. 22:1; Ex. 15:25]), in no other sense can He do this (James 1:13) but to train in order to elevate a person as a result of the self-knowledge which may be won through these testings (peirasmoí <G3986>). Thus, man may emerge from his testings holier, humbler, stronger than when he entered in (James 1:2, 12). [3]

I have known people who were so excited about serving God, who were so in love with Jesus, and because of some tragedy or some loss, have lost that love, that enthusiasm. They test Christ by saying, “if you love me, then you will make this right!” They believe that Jesus owes them and they get upset with Him when things don’t work out the way they think they should. What joy it is to know mature saints who have grown sweeter with the years, who have faced sorrows and heartaches yet their heart is still tender to God, still tender to the needs of those around them

We have a great friend of the family in Swann Bates. She is in he eighties now, and I had not seen her since my mom died in 1996. I had always admired her love for Jesus, her love for the word. She was one of those ‘refreshing’ saints that lifted everyone she met. I knew they had had some financial setbacks late in life, and i wondered how she would be when I went over to her place last Christmas. She was exactly as I remembered her, bubbly, in love with Jesus, refreshing, concerned about me and my family. She had grown sweeter with the years. A couple months ago she lost her daughter, Donna, to breast cancer. I called her up and left a message of consolation. She called me later, and instead of being down, expressed to me her praise for the Lord, her praise for the love of Christ. I could sense the tears, but her love for Jesus came through strong and loud.

I want to be a Mrs. Bates if I make it into my eighties! Don’t you? Praise God for the power of Jesus to make us sweeter through all this life brings us!

If you hear of someone’s need, or see someone hurting, and the Holy Spirit can’t tug at your heart, perhaps there is some bitterness that is spoiling your love.

Bitterness can ruin relationships, especially between a husband and wife, can ruin friendships, and can ruin your enthusiasm for worship, for serving in your church. It will harden your heart to the point where your love for your neighbor is gone, and all that is left is a huge fence.

It is hard putting your heart out there for anyone to step on it. It is hard serving people who are not grateful, who don’t seem to do anything for themselves, or who just seem to be milking the system. It is easy to say it does not do any good, but remember, Jesus Christ died for that person. Jesus Christ died for you. He put His heart out there for everyone to spit upon to beat to mock, and yet He still loved us, still suffered that horrible experience of the wrath of God being poured out on Him.

How is your heart? Is it as tender as when you were in school? Do you still care about the needs of those around you? Or is your heart crusted over, hardened by bitterness and unfulfilled expectations, hurts and losses. Any hurt, any loss pales in comparison with what Jesus Christ experienced for you.

4.  Grumbling- (Temporal Focus because of a messed up heart!)

  • Verse 13: And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account
  • 1 Cor 10: 10 “nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer”.
  • And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Numbers 11:1
  • Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.   John 6:43

When we lose our faith connection, when we lose our desire for God, when our heart becomes hard, it isn’t long before our attitude is affected. You can always tell when someone has a problem with God when they start grumbling.

It can be a little thing, but in my experience, grumblers never stop with little things (like the weather). Grumbling reveals that some things are not right in your heart. In addition, if your heart is not right, the grumbling will come out louder and with greater intensity.

I am not saying that all grumbling is bad. However, I am saying that God hates grumblers, because grumblers are not being thankful for Him!

“How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. Numbers 14:27

DOES THIS SONG DESCRIBE ANYONE YOU KNOW?

The Grumble Song by Thoro Harris

In country, town, or city
Some people can be found
Who spend their lives in grumbling
At everything around
Oh yes, they always grumble
No matter what we say
For these are chronic grumblers
And they grumble night and day.
Chorus:
Oh, they grumble on Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday,
Grumble on Thursday, too
Grumble on Friday, Saturday, Sunday,
Grumble the whole week through.
They grumble in the city
They grumble on the farm
They grumble at their neighbors
They think it is no harm;
They grumble at their husbands,
They grumble at their wives
They grumble at their children
But the grumbler never thrives.
They grumble when it’s raining
They grumble when it’s dry
And if the crops are failing
They grumble and they sigh
They grumble at low prices
And grumble when they’re high
They grumble all the year round
And they grumble till they die.
They grumble at the preacher
They grumble at his prayer
They grumble at his preaching
They grumble everywhere;
They grumble at God’s people
And say ’tis all display
But holy folks don’t grumble
They have only time to pray.
If you don’t quit your grumbling
And stop it now and here
You’ll never get to heaven
No grumblers enter there;
Repent and be converted
Be saved from all your sin
You know that grumbling Christians
Find it hard a crown to win.

Being a Good Samaritan can be difficult. Never do it on your own. Realize it is TEAM GOOD SAMARITAN THAT WILL ENDURE.

Come daily to the throne of grace, there you will find a loving Savior who sympathizes with everything you are trying to do, with everything you are going through. He wants to join His heart and strength with yours in meeting the needs of your neighbors. He offers His grace and strength at just the right time.

  • We need to give Him our hearts daily
  • We need to follow Him daily
  • We need to rejoice and be thankful daily

JESUS is our example. He is our Good Samaritan.

If we lose our faith connection, if we start going our own way, if our hearts get hard through bitterness, if we start to grumble because we have taken our eyes off Jesus and started looking at circumstances instead of Him, then we will give up being a good Samaritan, we will lose our love for our neighbors, we will build walls around our lives, and we will become a grumbler.

And like the Jews in the wilderness, we will lose our way and be overcome in the wilderness.

Do you love Jesus?

Do you love Jesus?

Do you Love Jesus?

Then feed HIS lambs! Jesus says, “Feed My lambs.” Jesus wants us to take care of HIS lambs. And for us to do that, we must be connected to Him by love. His heart must be our heart!

The Lord would answer, “Ah, Peter, and I love you”; but He did not say so, and yet He did say so. Perhaps Peter did not see His meaning; but we can see it, for our minds are not confused as Peter’s was on that memorable morning. Jesus did in effect say, “I love you so that I trust you with that which I purchased with My heart’s blood. The dearest thing I have in all the world is My flock: see, Simon, I have such confidence in you, I so wholly rely on your integrity as being a sincere lover of Me, that I make you a shepherd to My sheep. These are all I have on earth, I gave everything for them, even My life; and now, Simon, son of Jonas, take care of them for Me.” Oh, it was “kindly spoken.” It was the great heart of Christ saying, “Poor Peter, come right in and share My dearest cares.”[4]


[2] Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group, http://www.LifeWorksGroup.org eNews (Copyright, 2004-2008, by the LifeWorks Group in Florida. 407-647-7005).

[3] Complete Word Study Dictionary, The New Testament.

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Jesus Christ is our Good Samaritan-He was forsaken that we might be loved

One of the hardest verses to understand is in Matthew 27…

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” Matthew 27:46-47

Martin Luther could not understand. He said “How can God forsake God?”

We can see more insight into this as we peer into its Old Testament source:

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. 3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. 6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” 9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. 10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. 11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. Psalms 22:1-11

Jesus Christ became the most God-Forsaken Man ever born.

I suggest we will never grasp the full meaning of what Christ experienced when he cried out “Eli Eli lama sabacthani.” To fully understand would be so horrible, so frightening, it would make anything you’ve seen in the movies seem tame. That moment was the blackest of the black, the most terrifying of the terrifying, the most awful of the awful, the most horrible of the horrible.

Jesus was forsaken of God, His father, the one whom He had depended upon all His earthly life, the one He had communed with all eternity.

In that black moment on the cross, God the Father turned his back on God the Son.

The word “forsaken” is very strong. It means to abandon, to desert, to disown, to turn away from, to utterly forsake.

Please understand. When Jesus said, “Why have you forsaken me?” it was not simply because he felt forsaken; he said it because he was forsaken.

Literally, truly and actually God the Father abandoned his own Son.

In English the phrase “God-forsaken” usually refers to some deserted, barren locale. We mean that such a place seems unfit for human habitation. But we do not literally mean “God-forsaken” even though that’s what we say. But it was true of Jesus. He was the first and only God-forsaken person in all history.

What about people in Hell? Of course, God abandoned them, but it is not the same as what happened to Jesus,

“because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened”. Romans 1:19-21

God did not abandon them first, it was their choice to ignore God.

No one can ever know what Jesus experienced in that moment, for no one was ever so united with God as Jesus.

Jesus was wailing the fact that He had been abandoned by the one whom He so depended upon. He had even proclaimed that “I and the Father am one”

People condemned to Hell will curse God for all eternity. They rejected Him all their life, and they will reject Him for all eternity!

My prayer is that no one here will smugly say, “I still have time. I’m not done living my life my way. I know Jesus died on the cross for me, but I’m not ready to turn away from my way and give my life to HIm. I have plenty of time for that later.

You are playing with Hellfire-you are rejecting God even as I speak, and you do not know what will happen in the next hour. If you continue to reject God, and he should take your life on the way home, you will spend all eternity cursing God, because you forsook Him. You rejected that still small voice. You rejected His grace. You rejected the Savior’s love.

Jesus said, “My God,” because the Father-Son relationship was broken at that moment.

That is what God did when Jesus died on the cross. He abandoned his own Son. He turned his back, he disowned him, he rejected the One who was called his “only begotten Son.”

Jesus Became Cursed

Why would God do such a thing? Something happened that day that caused a fundamental change in the Father’s relationship with the Son. Something happened when Jesus hung on the cross which had never happened before.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” Galatians 3:13

Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten son, at that moment became cursed for us.

Why did God turn away?

Imagine that somewhere in the universe there is a cesspool containing all the sins that have ever been commit-ted. The cesspool is deep, dark and indescribably foul. All the evil deeds that men and women have ever done are floating there. Imagine that a river of filth constantly flows into that cesspool, replenishing the vile mixture with all the evil done every day.

Now imagine that while Jesus was on the cross, that cesspool is emptied onto him. See the flow of filth as it settles upon him. The flow never seems to stop. It is vile, toxic, deadly, filled with disease, pain and suffering.

When God looked down at his Son, he saw the cesspool of sin emptied on his head. No wonder he turned away from the sight. Who could bear to watch it?

Think of it. All the lust in the world was there. All the broken promises were there. All the murder, all the killing, all the hatred between people. All the theft was there, all the adultery, all the pornography, all the drunkenness, all the bitterness, all the greed, all the gluttony, all the drug abuse, all the crime, all the cursing. Every vile deed, every wicked thought, every vain imagination—all of it was laid upon Jesus when he hung on the cross.

When God looked down and saw his Son bearing the sin of the world, he didn’t see his Son, he saw instead the sin that he was bearing. And in that awful moment, the Father turned away. Not in anger at his Son. No, he loved his Son as much at that moment as he ever had. He turned away in anger over all the sin of the world that sent his Son to the cross. He turned away in sorrow and deepest pain when he saw what sin had done. He turned away in complete revulsion at the ugliness of sin.

When he did that, Jesus was alone. Completely forsaken. God-forsaken. Abandoned. Deserted. Disowned.

There’s an old Southern gospel song called “Ten Thousand Angels.”

He could have called ten thousand angels
To destroy the world and set Him free.
He could have called ten thousand angels,
But He died alone, for you and me.

Jesus, as the Son of God, could have called 10,000 angels to rescue him from the cross. He didn’t do that, and the chorus ends with these words, “But he died alone for you and me.”

Jesus was Altogether Alone

When Jesus bore the sins of the world, he bore them all alone. Christ is now abandoned, the Trinity disjointed, the Godhead broken. The fact that we do not know what those words mean does not stop them from being true. When Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” he was really and truly forsaken by God.

Have you been redeemed?

By your faith in Jeus Christ, and by turning from your sin to Him, all that vileness, all that stench, all that putrefication of sin is removed. The curse of God’s Law is taken away by Him who became cursed for you.

If you have been redeemed, you have a Blessed Gift that is too Huge to Keep all to yourself.

This is what Jesus read when He began His public ministry:

“THE SPIRIT OF THE Lord IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE Lord.” Luke 4:18-19

Jesus has given us the gift of

  1. The greatest “Good News” anyone could ever receive
  2. Total Freedom and Release from those who have been captured
  3. New Sight to those who have been blinded
  4. Total freedom and release from those held under a oppressing, bruising weight.

Jesus came to touch the abandoned, the forsaken, the captured, the imprisoned, the broken hearted, the beaten, the abused, the blind.  Jesus was willing to be forsaken and cursed so that we could enjoy forever the comfort and presence of God our Fther.

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. Isaiah 41:17

Jesus is our ultimate Good Samaritan.

Jesus not only became cursed so that we could be freed from being forsaken and abandoned, crushed and bruised under a weight of sin, He came alongside us, and proclaimed His constant sympathy and support in any and all of our trials.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

“There,” says he, “see this hand! I am not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of your infirmities. I have suffered, too. I was tempted in all ways like as you are. Look here! these are the scars that prove my commitment to you. They are not only tokens of my love, they are not only sweet forget-me-nots that bind me to love you for ever.

  • They are the evidence of my sympathy. I can feel for you.
  • Look-I have suffered. Has your heart been broken? Has your heart suffered betratal?
  • These scars show that my heart too was broken. I was betrayed. You have my sympathy.

The Sympathy of Christ sustained the martyrs

One of them declared that while he was suffering he fixed his eyes on Christ; and when they were pinching his flesh dragging it off with the hot irons, when they were putting him to agonies so severe that I can not even mention them lest some of you would faint,

“My soul is not insensible but it loves.” “For my eyes are fixed on him that suffered for me, and I can suffer for him; for my soul is in his body; I have sent my heart up to him. He is my brother, and there my heart is. Plough my flesh, and break my bones; smash them with irons, I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and he suffers in me now; but he sympathises with me, and this makes me strong.”

The martyr St. Procopius thus spoke to the tyrant who tortured him: “Torment me as you like; but know at the same time, that nothing is sweeter to the lover of Jesus Christ than to suffer for his sake.”7

St. Gordius, Martyr, replied in the same way to the tyrant who threatened him death: “Thou threatenest me with death; but I am only sorry that I cannot die more than once for my own beloved Jesus.”8

In your suffering beloved, think of Jesus

  • When you are sweating, think of his bloody sweat.
  • When you are bruised, think of the whips that tore his flesh.
  • When you are hampered by aches and pains, think of Him falling under the weight of the cross.
  • When you are suffering from some life-threatening disease, think of Him on the cross, gasping for each breath as he feels the agony of the nails against his bones and flesh.
  • When it seems that God has hidden His face from you for a little while, think of Jesus crying out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!”

This is why he wears his wounds in his hands, that he may show that he sympathises with everything that you go through. If by faith you have been born again, you will never ever face this life alone. You will never ever be forsaken. The risen Son of God dwells in you. He is your Elder Brother. He is your comforter. He is your King. He is your High Priest!

Jesus Christ wears His wounds to show us that suffering is an honorable thing.

  • To suffer for Christ is glory. Men will say, “It is glorious to make others suffer.”
  • It is glorious to be trodden on, glorious to be crushed, glorious to suffer.

This is hard to learn. But we see it in our glorified Lord. His wounds are his glory, and his sufferings are part of the drapery of his regal robe. The only degree that God gives to his people is the degree of “Masters in tribulation.” If you would be one of God’s nobles you must be knighted. Men are knighted with a blow of the sword. The Lord knights us with the sword of affliction; and when we fight hard in many a battle, he makes us princes of the kingdom of heaven. We are dukes and lords in the kingdom of God, not through honor of man, but through dishonor of man, not through joy, but through suffering, and grief, and agony, and death. (with thanks to Spurgeon)

The Jewels of a Christian are our afflictions!

  • Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 2 Thessalonians 1:4
  • that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 1 Thessalonians 3:3

The Crown of a Christian is to share in love the afflictions of those around you. The challenge before us has been to Love our Neighbor. And to Love our Neighbors, we must be willing to take up their afflictions and sufferings as our own!

We do not close our eyes and pass them by!

We get close enough to look them in the eye and say Jesus Loves You! I will help you in the name of Jesus Christ, the one who gave His life for me when I was afflicted!

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, Colossians 1:24

Becoming a Good Samaritan simply involves getting close enough to people to see their hurts, their pains, their afflictions, their struggles. Then you make those struggles your own in the name of Jesus Christ!

Jesus was afflicted on my behalf. When I abandoned God, He was there for me!

There are thousands of people in our neighborhood who are struggling under the weight of their sin, that are blinded, that are bruised and broken, that are imprisoned by their own selfishness and rebellion from God.

Do we forsake them. Do we abandon them? Do we say a prayer for them and walk on?

Did Jesus do that for you? Did He simply say God bless you and walk on by?

No! No! He looked into the deepest blackest crevices of your sinful heart and said “I Love you!” I willingly gave my back to the Roman soldiers on your behalf. I willingly laid my hands and feet upon the cross for you! I gave my life for you!

Who will you pass by today that inwardly is bruises, inwardly held captive, inwardly is lost and feeling abandoned?

Will you get close enough to se their needs? Will you get close enough to share their afflictions? Will you get close enough to show them the scars of Jesus Christ!

Please remember that the Good Samaritan did not view the man by the side of the road as a project; he viewed him as a son of God in need of help. The relationship was key in that situation, and I pray that it remains key for us today.

I read the story of a father whose young son was killed in a tragic accident. In grief and enormous anger, he visited his pastor and poured out his heart. He said, “Where was God when my son died?” The pastor paused for a moment, and with great wisdom replied, “The same place he was when his Son died.”

This cry from the cross is for all the lonely people of the world. It is for the abandoned child … the widow… the divorcee struggling to make ends meet … the mother standing over the bed of her suffering daughter … the father out of work … the parents left alone … the prisoner in his cell … the aged who languish in convalescent homes … wives abandoned by their husbands … singles who celebrate their birthdays alone.

This is the word from the cross for you. No one has ever been as alone as Jesus was. You will never be forsaken as he was. No cry of your pain can exceed the cry of his pain when God turned his back and looked the other way.

  • He was forsaken that you might never be forsaken.
  • He was abandoned that you might never be abandoned.
  • He was deserted that you might never be deserted.
  • He was forgotten that you might never be forgotten.

Are you determined to continue to be a Good Samaritan? Then allow the crown of Christ’s sufferings to puncture the bubble wrap which insulates your life from the forsaken people all around you. Jesus himself became forsaken that they could hear the Good News! Jesus Saves!

Then seek out the forsaken, the captive, the downtrodden. The message of Jesus is for them. That is the message that brought you to new life, for you once were forsaken!

Now, go and walk as the Son of God!


This past weekend was LOOP Sunday for the folks of Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church. Pastor Jim Tompkins has been leading the church through a study of the Good Samaritan, asking “Who is my neighbor?” The church discovered that we must get close enough to people to discover their needs, and then do what is needed to meet those needs, sacrificing our time and resources. To serve our neighbors, Sunday church services were cancelled on Oct 24th, and the Pleasant Prairie family went to work.

Service projects took place the entire weekend, and included tree felling, tree trimming, fence line clearing, brushhogging, painting, ramp building, wall and flooring repairs, food baskets to the needy, and even a ladies tea to several homebound ladies. We also had the opportunity to serve the Missouri Baptist Children’s home on J Highway with trimming, painting, fence screening and storage organization.

Services were conducted at Raymore Rehabilitation Center as well as at Beautiful Savior Nursing Home. First Responders (Police, Sheriffs, Firefighters, EMT’s and Life Flight) from Belton, Raymore, Cleveland, Peculiar, Harrisonville and Freeman were honored with large bushel baskets chock full of homemade breads and other goodies prepared by the ladies of the church.

LOOP stands for Love on on Purpose, and represents intentional acts of service and love for our neighbors in the name of Jesus Christ. The Loop in our logo represents the infinity symbol. When we ask “Are you are in the LOOP”, we want to know if you will be spending eternity with Jesus Christ.

The weekend was exhausting, and as Pastor Jim remarked, “It is easier just to go to church!” However, many commented this was the most rewarding weekend they had experienced in their Christian walk. Several firefighters mentioned they had already had a rough morning, and the Baskets of Appreciation were just what they needed. One veteran policeman mentioned this was the first time he had ever received any appreciation from a church or other organization.

Without exception the people of Pleasant Prairie commented that we need to do this every year. How do we show our neighbor’s the reality of Jesus Christ? By getting close enough to them to discover their needs, and then doing whatever it costs to meet those needs.

Some of the pictures:

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Coming alongside those who suffer.

The Good Samaritan gave us an example of caring for the Weak and the Powerless, even when they are strangers. We need to look at our responsibilities when it comes to those in the world who are hurting because of disease and sickness.

Jesus twice sent out his disciples with very clear and concise instructions. Those same instructions apply to us as His servants:

  • Matthew 10:8 – Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
  • Luke 10:8-9 -“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’

Heal: Therapeúō – attendant, servant. To voluntarily wait upon, minister to, render service, heal. Pictures the physician’s watchful attendance of the sick and man’s service to God. Therapeuo means to serve as therápōn.

Therápōn-denotes a faithful friend to a superior, who solicitously regards the superior’s interest or looks after his affairs, not a common or domestic servant.

Therápōn approaches more closely the position of oikonómos, manager, in God’s house.[1]

One who heals the sick is a friend who closely watches over one he considers his superior. One who heals the sick is actually functioning as a manager in God’s house!

The reason this is so important is the actual meaning of the sick that Christ sent them out to minister to.

SICK: asthenés: “Without strength, powerless, weak, without physical ability. By implication, meaning afflicted, distressed by oppression, calamity. In a moral sense, wretched, diseased, i.e., in a state of sin and wretchedness[2].

Our attitude toward sickness and disease reveals the state of our heart-whether we are fit to be managers in God’s House!

The Role of the “Watchman”

Ezekiel explains the Code of the Watchman. God sets some people up as Watchmen over His people. They are to warn the people of impending danger.

1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, 3 and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand. “So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. Ezekiel 33:1-7

Now at this time both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and Judah had already been taken into captivity. Both nations had gone on a massive sinning spree – worshiping false gods and graven images and turning their back on their one true God time and time again.

Isaiah had prophesied over 100 years earlier, to the Nation of Judah who had witnessed their brothers to the North taken by the Assyrians. They thought they wouldn’t be captured because THEY were so religious, beloved by Jehovah. They were proud of their “RELIGIOUSNESS” and wondered why they were having trouble with the Assyrians too! They were trying everything to win God’s favor and support. They were even fasting. But here is what Isaiah said:

Isaiah 58:3-12

3 “Why have we fasted, but You have not seen? We have denied ourselves, but You haven’t noticed!” “Look, you do as you please on the day of your fast, and oppress all your workers. 4 You fast ⌊with⌋ contention and strife to strike viciously with ⌊your⌋ fist. You cannot fast as ⌊you do⌋ today, ⌊hoping⌋ to make your voice heard on high. 5 Will the fast I choose be like this: A day for a person to deny himself, to bow his head like a reed, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast and a day acceptable to the Lord? 6 Isn’t the fast I choose: To break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to ignore your own flesh ⌊and blood⌋? 8 Then your light will appear like the dawn, and your recovery will come quickly. Your righteousness will go before you, and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard. 9 At that time, when you call, the Lord will answer; when you cry out, He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you get rid of the yoke among you, the finger-pointing and malicious speaking, 10 and if you offer yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted one, then your light will shine in the darkness, and your night will be like noonday. 11 The Lord will always lead you, satisfy you in a parched land, and strengthen your bones. You will be like a watered garden and like a spring whose waters never run dry. 12 Some of you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will restore the foundations laid long ago; you will be called the repairer of broken walls, the restorer of streets where people live.

The people of the Southern Kingdom thought they were being religious, thought they were being “Good God-fearing Jews”, yet God through Isaiah revealed their selfishness. He revealed how they were neglecting the poor, the hungry, the afflicted. Their hearts and their purse strings were closed to the needs of those around them.

But God said that if they would share their bread, bring the poor and homeless into their home, see to the needs of the afflicted, then recovery would appear quickly. The Lord’s Glory would be their rear guard. When they satisfied the afflicted ones, their light would shine in darkness, the Lord would lead them, satisfy them and strengthen them. They would be called the repairer of the broken walls.

Obviously, as God promised, Israel was judged for its sin. The people did not heed the warnings of Isaiah and others. The watchmen failed to turn the people to the Lord, and to doing what pleased the Lord.

In a way, Israel had “died,” when she went into captivity, and now she would need to be reborn and restored to her rightful place as a healthy and whole nation before God. Ezekiel said if that was to happen, the watchmen would have to assume their proper place. The people would have to heed the calls of the watchmen.

The church age has come along now, and we are to prepare a bride for our Savior. This world is dying, the people are ignoring the sound of God’s trumpet, and instead of being WATCHMEN, many of us have closed our eyes and said there is nothing I can do. Is that the excuse you want to give Jesus?

Jesus warned His disciples:

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36

The way that we can stand before Jesus is by heeding His commands to manage God’s house. Note what Jesus warns:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46

Many parts of our world—including, much of the bottom half of the continent of Africa—have been decimated and “put to death” by serious but treatable diseases.

1.  Respiratory infections

  • Death toll: More than 4 million people each year.
  • Mostly pneumonia and other diseases of the lungs, windpipe or bronchial tubes,
  • Most victims are under five.
  • Often associated with AIDS.

2.  HIV/AIDS

  • Annual Death toll: More than 3 million deaths
  • Infection rate: Some 39.4 million people in the world live with HIV.
  • Africa has over 14 million AIDS orphans.
  • Child Impact
    • Currently, less than 10 percent of HIV-positive children in need of treatment are being treated.
    • Each day, 1,500 children worldwide become infected with HIV, the vast majority of them newborns.
    • Less than 10 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women receive drug therapies to prevent the transmission of HIV to their infants.
    • Every 14 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS.

3.  Malaria

  • Death toll: Between 1 million and 5 million each year.
  • Facts: In Africa, 3,000 children die every day from the preventable disease.
  • Ninety per cent of deaths are in Africa, home to the most deadly form of the virus.
  • Less than five percent of people at greatest malaria risk have insecticide-treated mosquito nets to sleep under.

4.  Diarrhea

  • Death toll: Kills around 2.2 million people each year.
  • Caused by dysentery, cholera and a host of lesser-known scourges – is a symptom of infection from bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms like microscopic worms. Most diarrhea-related deaths, particularly in children, are due to dehydration.
  • How is it spread? Contaminated water and food.
    • Each year more than five million people die from water-related disease.
    • Every 15 Seconds a child dies from a water related disease.
    • 84% of water-related deaths are in children ages 0-14.
    • 98% of water-related deaths occur in the developing world.
    • Poor peoplel living in the slums often pay 5-10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people lving in the same city.
    • At any one time, more than half the poor of the developing world are ill from causes related to hygiene, sanitation, and water supply.
    • Eighty-eight percent of causes of diarrhea worldwide are attributed to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygien.
    • Only 62% of the world’s population has access to improved sanitation–one that ensures hygenic separation of human exreta from human contact.

5.  Tuberculosis

  • Death toll: Two million people die every year.
  • Infection rate: About 2 billion people are infected with TB and over 8 million new cases develop each year.
  • TB is a frequent killer for people with AIDS. African states suffering from the HIV pandemic have experienced an annual 10 percent rise in TB cases.

Jesus called the hurting “His Brother’s”. When we look after the sick, we are looking after Jesus. It is time to see those villages, cities, nations, continents … entire people groups … brought back to life.

This is where you and I come in.

It’s time we open our eyes and look after them like watchmen of the Lord!

Much like Ezekiel, we, as followers of Jesus Christ, bear the responsibility for sounding the horn and alerting all who have ears to hear that the only way rebirth and restoration can occur is if we help to stop the hurting that is taking lives even as I talk. What does it take to be a Watchman for the Hurting and Sick?

Choose to look.
Choose to see.
Refuse to look the other way.

In his newest book, The Hole in Our Gospel, World Vision U.S. President Rich Stearns tells this compelling story of a trip he made to Uganda just over a decade ago:

His name was Richard, the same as mine. I sat inside his meager thatch hut, listening to his story, told through the tears of an orphan whose parents had died of AIDS. At thirteen, Richard was trying to raise his two younger brothers by himself in this small shack with no running water, electricity, or even beds to sleep in. There were no adults in their lives—no one to care for them, feed them, love them, or teach them how to become men. There was no one to hug them either, or to tuck them in at night. Other than his siblings, Richard was alone, as no child should be. I try to picture my own children abandoned in this kind of deprivation, fending for themselves without parents to protect them, and I cannot. I didn’t want to be there. I wasn’t supposed to be there, so far out of my comfort zone—not in that place where orphaned children live by themselves in their agony. There, poverty, disease, and squalor had eyes and faces that stared back, and I had to see and smell and touch the pain of the poor. That particular district, Rakai, is believed to be ground zero for the Ugandan AIDS pandemic. There, the deadly virus has stalked its victims in the dark for decades.

Sweat trickled down my face as I sat awkwardly with Richard and his brothers while a film crew captured every tear—mine and theirs. I much preferred living in my bubble, the one that, until that moment, had safely contained my life, family, and career. It kept difficult things like this out, insulating me from anything too raw or upsetting. When such things intruded, as they rarely did, a channel could be changed, a newspaper page turned, or a check written to keep the poor at a safe distance. But not in Rakai. There, “such things” had faces and names—even my name, Richard.

[Back in Uganda,] two crude piles of stones just outside the door mark the graves of Richard’s parents. It disturbs me that he must walk past them every day. He and his brothers must have watched first their father and then their mother die slow and horrible deaths. I wondered if the boys were the ones who fed them and bathed them in their last days. Whatever the case, Richard, a child himself, is now the head of household. Child-headed household, words never meant to be strung together. I tried to wrap my mind around this new phrase, one that describes not only Richard’s plight but that of tens of thousands, even millions, more. I’m told that there are sixty thousand orphans just in Rakai; twelve million orphans due to AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. How can this be true? Awkwardly I asked Richard what he hopes to be when he grows up, a ridiculous question to ask a child who has lost his childhood. “A doctor,” he said, “so I can help people who have the disease.”

“Do you have a Bible?” I asked. He ran to the other room and returned with his treasured book with gold-gilt pages. “Can you read it?”  “I love to read the book of John, because it says that Jesus loves the children.”

This overwhelmed me, and my tears started to flow. Forgive me, Lord, forgive me. I didn’t know. But I did know. I knew about poverty and suffering in the world. I was aware that children die daily from starvation and lack of clean water. I also knew about AIDS and the orphans it leaves behind, but I kept these things outside of my insulating bubble and looked the other way.[3]

Under Rich’s leadership World Vision now serves more than 100 million people in nearly 100 countries, demonstrating God’s unconditional love for all people all around the world. Indeed, God did have a job for Rich to do, and he has a job for you and for me as well. But first we must be willing to look at the tough issues. We must be willing to see—really see—the effects on people’s lives. And we must refuse to look the other way.

The Church Fulfilling the Watchman Role

We, as Christ’s followers, have the opportunity to be known as “the people who came alongside,” the people who patiently suffered with those in need. This is our call, friends. This is our mission—to love people in practical ways so that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father, who is in heaven.

I want to mention three truths about who we are as the church of Jesus Christ before we move into this week’s personal application.

1. The church is the greatest dispenser of hope that the world could ever know; it has the hope of heaven, where no one will be afflicted by disease.

Let these words of life wash over you today:

Romans 8:22-25 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. innisbrook For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Colossians 1:5: “The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope.”

Hebrews 6:17-20 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

It is because of faith in Christ that we have this hope. It is a hope that our government cannot provide, our academic institutions cannot provide, our corporations cannot provide, and even our families cannot provide. Rock-solid hope is only found in Jesus Christ, the One who overcomes all trials and all tribulations, including death. And including, certainly, sickness and disease. Don’t keep the hope of glory to yourself. Dispense your hope! This is why you are alive today.

2. The Church Is The Greatest Dispenser Of Healing That The World Will Ever Know.

Someday there will be no disease.  That will be the same day that there is no more sin. Disease is a manifestation of the effects of sin. First Peter 2:24 assures us that Christ carried our sins to the cross so that we could be freed to live the right way. In this sense, his wounds became our healing. As a result of Christ’s work on the cross, we have direct access to the Great Physician, the One who alone by his own power can heal.

23 Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 24 News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon-possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all. Matthew 4:23-24

Are there people in our world today who need that same type of assurance? It is our job to dispense this divine access to healing to those who are sick. Pray for those who are sick. Pray for their salvation. Pray for their healing. Pray for their lives to be freed from the bonds of disease and used for God’s glory. We possess what no medicine can provide: the ever-ready power of believing prayer.

3. The church is the most credible watchman for the World.

The church must blow the trumpet of warning alert all people that we’re officially at war with these diseases.

We have enough information about HIV and AIDS—as well as other pandemics like malaria, cholera, and others—to speak up. And because of our knowledge and our role as the church of Jesus Christ, we have the responsibility to act on behalf of those who are suffering with no voice.

PERSONAL APPLICATION

Consider whether you are using your resources and influence for the eternal good of others or for the temporal good of yourselves.

Brian Carlson is a youth leader at a large church in Colorado Springs who decided to get off the sidelines and take action on behalf of those suffering with HIV and AIDS in Africa. Here is how it happened, in his words:

God began drawing me to a defining moment in 2003. I was unexpectedly broken as I attended a Promise Keepers event for pastors in Phoenix. I arrived there expecting to be challenged and refreshed as I connected with others attending the event.

However, when speaker Bruce Wilkinson took the stage, my view of God and of the world was turned upside down. Through his teaching my heart grasped the horrific fact that 33 million people were dying worldwide from HIV and AIDS; 22.5 million were infected in sub-Saharan Africa alone. But what grabbed my heart most of all were the millions of children left vulnerable and in utter poverty due to the death of one or both parents.

Dr. Wilkinson then began to share his dream for Africa and how God had done surgery on his own heart. He said that God had “ripped open his chest, pulled out his heart, dug a hole in Africa, threw his heart into the hole, and filled in the hole with dirt.” In other words, his heart was no longer his own, and he must follow wherever God took it.

As the weeks went by, I returned to my safe, comfortable view of God. I was no longer ignorant of the AIDS pandemic and the millions affected, but its importance and relevance returned to the lowest rung on the priority ladder of my heart.

Three years later, while attending the 2006 Willow Creek Association Leadership Summit, God rekindled the fire in my heart and led me to a second defining moment. Bono, the lead singer of the band U2, became the conduit of God’s calling. In an interview with Bill Hybels [senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church], Bono challenged the church to rise up and truly become the body of Christ. Bono questioned: “Why isn’t the church responding to the greatest social crisis of our day … why has the church been slow to the dance? The church has always been behind—racism, apartheid. Why is it that way? … The church has been very judgmental about the AIDS virus. [They say that] these people have been living sexually irresponsible lives. If there’s a car crash with a drunk driver, do you drive on? Christ won’t let the church walk away from the AIDS emergency. It’s the leprosy of our age.[4]

Brian found himself at another crossroads that day: would he continue living a safe, comfortable life, or would he use his resources and his influence to engage?

It’s the same question I have for us today.

Each of us has been gifted by a very gracious God with resources, capabilities, capacities, talents, ideas, and influence. Will we use those things for eternal good? Or will we waste them on toys and trinkets that certainly will not last?

Brian introduced The Third Project. This was a challenge the middle school students attending Woodmen Valley Chapel to practically respond to the AIDS Pandemic in Africa. We challenged students to live with “God first, others second, and me third.” This taught students to see that just because a child is born in Africa to a mother dying of AIDS in a hut, she is no less important than I am. In fact, biblicaly speaking, she’s more important. “God’s first, this girl is second, I am third.” As a result students raised over $44,000 for AIDS orphans in Africa in six months. They truly caught what living third is all about.

Realizing that he now needed a place to invest those funds, under the guidance of church leadership, Brian partnered with a local organization that was doing work in Africa. He also went on a trip to Swaziland to visit a ministry leader named Pastor Themba and a local community of Christ-followers who needed help supporting the more than 150 orphans in their immediate area. Brian’s middle-schoolers had just the funds Pastor Themba’s congregation needed.

“Changing the lives of 150 orphans may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the millions of people around the world affected by HIV and AIDS,” Brian says. “It would be easy to become discouraged or disillusioned in the face of such a crisis … but Jesus Christ came to serve, rather than to be served … Then he told us to go and do the same.”[5]

Probing Questions

1. “When you hear the terrible statistics associated with HIV and AIDS, do you consider that part of that number is you?” – that part of that number is brothers and sisters in Christ half a world away and even in our own backyard? Do I?

2. “What might need to shift in your life so that your initial reaction to global pandemics is the realization that those statistics include your brothers and sisters in Christ, people for whom we as believers are accountable?”

  • Perhaps it’s a shift in perspective—HIV and AIDS are not reserved for those who have been sexually irresponsible.
  • Maybe it’s a shift in priorities—God does have a role for you and me to play, but he won’t force his agenda onto our lives.
  • Or it could be that what’s needed is a simple shift in pace—some of us are so busy doing good work that we are missing the great works God wishes to accomplish through our lives.

What shifts in your mind and heart might allow you to become an advocate, an activist, for one person who is suffering from a terrible disease? I hope you’ll carry that question with you this week.

Determine a Place to Start

The point I want to make is that the institutional church can do nothing to solve the disease problem in the developing world. This world is under the curse of sin and we need King Jesus. But Christ-followers who rally together and choose to invest their resources and influence wisely can make all the difference in the world. We are the greatest dispenser of hope and healing the world will ever know. All we must do is choose to start.

I want to invite you to do just that this week. I want to invite you to start. Here’s how I’m going to issue that invitation: I’d like for you to take some time after this service—this afternoon, or sometime this week—to think of someone in your sphere of influence who is struggling with a physical illness. Maybe it’s as severe and life-threatening as the diseases we’ve talked about today, or maybe it’s a chronic condition that compromises their quality of life in more subtle ways. Write down that person’s name, and then consider these three questions, before God:

  • What needs do I see in this person’s life?
  • What can I pray on his/her behalf?
  • What action can I take to help?

I hope you’ll accept that invitation. And I hope that many of you will share with me what God did as a result of your willingness to serve!

Becoming a Good Samaritan journey began last week, and for the next four weeks we will continue to discuss ways that we as a Christ-following community can become Watchmen for the hurting, the weak, the forgotten and the oppressed of the world.

The St-Hilaire train disaster

The St-Hilaire train disaster was a railroad disaster that occurred on June 29, 1864 near the present day town of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec. The train, which had been carrying many German and Polish immigrants, failed to acknowledge a stop light and fell through an open swing bridge into the Richelieu River. The widely accepted death toll is 99 persons. The disaster remains the worst railway accident in Canadian history.[1]

The Grand Trunk train carrying between 354 and 475 passengers, many of them German and Polish immigrants, was travelling from Quebec City to Montreal.

At around 1:20 a.m. the train was approaching a swing bridge known as the Belœil Bridge over the Richelieu River.[4] The swing bridge had been opened to allow the passage of five barges and a steamer ship. A red light a mile ahead of the bridge signalled to the train that the crossing was open and it needed to slow down. However the light was not acknowledged by the conductor, Thomas Finn, or the engineer, William Burnie, and the train continued towards the bridge.

At 1:20 a.m. the train came onto the bridge and fell through an open gap. The engine and eleven coaches fell through the gap one after another on top of each other crushing a passing barge. The train sank into an area of the river with a depth of 10 feet. 99 people aboard the train were killed and 100 more were injured.

The engineer, who had only recently been hired, claimed that he was not familiar with the route and that he did not see the signal.

This world is on an express train headed straight to Hell. On this train are the weak, the sickly, the powerless. How is that train going to stop if we don’t signal them. How is that train going to stop if we are not swinging the Light of the Gospel.

4 You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty. 5 So my sheep have been scattered without a shepherd, and they are easy prey for any wild animal. 6 They have wandered through all the mountains and all the hills, across the face of the earth, yet no one has gone to search for them. 7 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, you abandoned my flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal. And though you were my shepherds, you didn’t search for my sheep when they were lost. You took care of yourselves and left the sheep to starve. 9 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. 10 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I now consider these shepherds my enemies, and I will hold them responsible for what has happened to my flock. Ezekiel 34:4-10

Are you management material? Are you willing to be a Watchman in God’s House?


[1] Complete Word Study Dictionary, The – New Testament.

[2] Complete Word Study Dictionary, The – New Testament.

[3] Rich Stearns, The Hole in Our Gospel. Thomas Nelson 2009.

[4] Brian Carlson, “I am Third,” as published in The Woodmen Journal, Volume 1, Issue 4, June 2009, pp.17-18. http://www.woodmenjournal.com.

[5] Ibid, p. 19.