April 24, 2016Text: Acts 11:1-18Psalm 148Revelation 21:1-6John 13:31-35CompassionMay I ask you a question? What motivates you to do what you do? What gets you moving andinto action? Tradition? Responsibilities? Obedience? Those are all good and responsible thingsin themselves- but if we are to follow Jesus- and as we become more and more like him- we willbe moved by what moves him. And so we need to ask ourselves- what is it that motivates God?Pray.Think of Peter and try and put yourself in his place. He had spent the last three years following,listening, learning, living close to Jesus 24/7, His whole life and future lay in the hands of Jesus.And then one day his whole world as he knew it began to crumble before him as he watched hisfuture dying on a cross. He was there when they laid the life-less body of Jesus in a tomb-andthen three days later he saw with his own eyes-Jesus risen from the dead!For the next 40 days he saw Jesus off and on- and then one day, Jesus stood before him and theother disciples and heard him say the words- go make disciples- and then he watched Jesusascend into heaven until he was gone from sight.His life had been changed forever in ways he hadn’t imagined. Jesus words lingered on his mindand he was stirred by the words of Jesus to make disciples of all nations. The question was- how?Having been brought up in the Jewish faith and tradition, Peter had no reason to think that themessage of salvation was to be for the Jews only.After all, God had chosen Abraham many generations ago to be the father of a great nation- anation that God would make a covenant with and show his faithfulness-a genealogy throughwhich God promised to send a Messiah to release them from their poverty. And then one dayPeter had a vision from God that would change all that- a vision that seemed at first to contradictsome basic Jewish laws that he had grown up with. What was he supposed to do?No sooner was the vision over when three men knocked at the door. They were Gentiles, but theSpirit told him to lay aside that difference and go with them. When he arrived at their house, hewas told that an angel had appeared to them and were told that Peter had a message to share withthem a message of salvation that would change their lives. So Peter began to speak and thepower of the Holy Spirit fell on them- of all people- not Jews- but Gentiles.What was going on? Had God changed His mind? Had God’s plan change? The bible tells us thatGod is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow – and if God does not change- then his willdoes not change- and his will is that all people might be saved- all people- for Christ died for all.
What is it that would motivate God to send his only son into a hostile world to die for a sinfuland corrupt people? Jesus always spoke the truth-and lived the truth. He confronted those whowere living for the law without loving God and others. But for the masses- his message was oneof healing and compassion.Webster defines compassion as: “sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another or others-accompanied by an urge to help.” Compassion is for sure an emotion- but it is much more thanthat- it urges us to action.Compassion is always what moves God to action. When Jesus call for repentance, it is aboutcompassion for our souls- and when Jesus humble himself on the cross and died for the wholeworld, it was about compassion for our salvation – wanting all to be savedThe Psalmist wrote: “The lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” When Jesussaw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.And he began to heal them, feed them and teach them.In the gospel lessen this morning, Jesus gave us a new commandment- one that cannot be keptwithout first knowing God- and that is: “that you love one another- just as I have loved you. Bythis you will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another- all people-not justa few.”When Jesus tells us to love as we have been loved by him- He is calling us to live lives ofcompassion, seeing others as Jesus sees us. God may be angry with our sins, but He is movedwith compassion to save us.Today is Compassion Sunday. I have already told you a little bit about the history of CompassionInternational, but now I want to tell you why it was started. In 1952, a pastor from Chicago bythe name of Everet Swenson-went to Korea during the Korean war to be a chaplain to the troops.One morning while there, he saw men loading what appeared to be piles of rags onto a truck. Butwhen he got closer, to his horror- he realized it was the frozen bodies of orphaned children whohad died during the night. At that moment-he was moved with compassion- and knew he had todo something.He started an organization called, “the Everett Swanson Evangelistic Association and developedthe first sponsorship program. In 1963, the name was changed to “Compassion” inspired by thewords of Jesus that said: “I have compassion on the crowd, and am unwilling to send them awayhungry.Today, Compassion’s mission statement simply says this: “releasing children from poverty inJesus name.” It is a simple statement but profound in meaning and powerful in action. But withso many needs in the world, and limited resources, where does one start- and how? The answer isone child at a time-releasing them not only from physical, but spiritual poverty as well. It givespeople hope-who had no hope by not only providing food and clothing and medical needs, but
the love of God and the message of God’s saving grace. As a result, many have given their livesto the Lord.We have all been given the call to go and make disciples of all nations. With all the needs of theworld, we are to begin by focusing on those around us. And so the question is, what moves ourhearts in Fertile? Or maybe we should first ask, what moves God’s heart here in Fertile? Maybeyou haven’t had an experience like pastor Swenson did in Korea that changed the direction of hislife forever. But I believe God wants to make us aware of what he sees- things that will move ourhearts to action.The apostle Paul wrote this: “therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy ad dearly loved, clotheyourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”This morning we have the opportunity to sponsor a child. It is an awesome opportunity to make adifference in a child’s life. But whether you chose to sponsor a Compassion child this morning ornot, you can make a difference in a person’s life right now, right here. Just look around- just askGod to show you someone- someone you may already know- to be a friend to come along side ofand love them like Jesus has loved you.Where do we begin” It all begins with one word, one act of kindness, one moment to listen- oneperson at a time. May we do it in Jesus name. Amen.