As a Christian pastor for several decades now, (that alone is nearly impossible to comprehend); I am more and more drawn to Mark’s description of Jesus’ thoughts about the young rich man who asked the Savior, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Mark describes it with this phrase; “And looking upon him with love, Jesus said…”
Jesus was about to show this man that his own good works and religiosity were not sufficient to “inherit” eternal life. After all, an inheritance is not something earned, it is something given. Before Jesus answered the man. Before our Savior corrected the error of the young man’s thinking. Before that man lowered his head and walked away to reflect on his self-righteousness attitude; before all of that … Mark tells us how Jesus felt. Jesus loved him.
I feel Jesus’ compassion deeply in my bones. As I pastor to God’s people, I am drawn to those statements in the Bible that reveal our Father’s underlying and heartfelt compassion for wayward people (like me). Psalm 103 is the same. “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”
But still Jesus spoke truth to the man that day. God won’t spare us the truth because that is not true love. He loved that man too much to overlook the destructive nature of his misguided piety, but it hurt Jesus to call it out.
I’m about to conduct Christmas Eve services as people gather to celebrate Christmas again. I know based on experience that many will be in attendance who treat regular worship as an optional activity. I care too much to compromise the truth; but, I love them, too. From the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them for their ignorance.” Even in His death Jesus asked his father to go gentle. Paul once said, “… for if they had understood who He was, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
This compassionate spirit of God is on display throughout the life of Jesus.
- “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37
- “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Mathew 9:36
- Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” Luke 11:46
It is not my intent to burden anyone with guilt over their superficial faith and unfaithful worship practice. Guilt should never be the means Christians use to goad people to faithfulness. I love you. I want more for you. I want you to discover all the riches God has prepared for those who draw close to Him. He has incredible gifts for you. He is waiting for you to come unwrap them!
- The peace that surpasses understanding.
- Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.
- The secret Paul discovered and wrote about which enabled him to endure all things through the Lord who gave His strength.
- The assurance that the sufferings of this present age are not worthy to compare to the glory that will one day be revealed to you.
- The ability to turn the cheek, to love your enemy, to rise above insult and gossip, the affirmation of unconditional love.
Jesus looked upon that man with love… and then He said, “One thing you still lack. Go and sell all you possess and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then follow me.”
The Lord is not asking you to sell everything you have, BUT (for your own sake) He is asking you to keep it in proper perspective. Only ONE thing is necessary, everything else is optional. Jesus asked the rhetorical question,
“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? What would anyone (in their right mind) give in exchange for their soul?” Matthew 16:26
Nothing compares to the gifts God has prepared for those who love Him. My Facebook status includes my annual encouragement to worship. “Don’t celebrate Jesus’ birth without coming to His house. That would just be rude.” ☺ God is pleading for you to receive His blessing, not only at Christmas, but every day of your life. For heaven’s sake and for your own sake, come to His house and gather up your gifts. Don’t let them go unclaimed.
Merry Christmas! See you at our Dad’s House later. It’s gonna be awesome, so don’t miss it and don’t be late!
“Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” Mark 10:21–23
- Who’s rich? Are you rich?
- This man was a good guy. How do good guys like him get turned-around?
- How do you think this story ends? (In the near-term? In the long-term?)
What’s your Christmas worship practice?
A. We choose a worship time that fits around our family plans.
B. We make our family plans based on our worship priority.
C. I can worship anytime, so I’m not inclined to attend Christmas services.
Click here to take the survey, and take a moment and leave a comment that God can use to encourage someone to greater trust in the Lord.
If you were unable to attend services last weekend and would like to listen to or watch the message, it is available on our website. Growing Deeper, a Bible study written to accompany the message series, is also available to download.
St. John Church live streams Sunday services at 9:00am and 10:45am. Join us!
The Prayer of Simeon after He beheld the baby Jesus
“Sovereign Lord, as You have promised; You may now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” Amen.
Christmas Eve and Day Services
Check out the times and find your family's fit.
I Love My Church
Help us finish strong this year and share your story of why you love your church with us. #ilovemychurch
Children's Ministry on Break
Our Children's Ministry programming will be on break on Saturday, December 27 and Sunday, December 28 for children from PS3-5th grade. Our Nursery room(s) will be available for our infants and toddlers from birth through 3 years old on Saturday, December 27 at 5:00pm and Sunday, December 28 at the 9:00am and 10:45am services.
High School Students: Join a Small Group in 2015
These groups are for students who want to develop their relationship with Jesus and connect with a community of Christian teenagers.
If you’re interested in JOINING a group: contact Pua at
If you’re an adult and you’re interested in LEADING a group: contact Pua at
School of the Arts
Is there a guitar or drum set arriving under the tree this year? Don't let it gather dust, but learn how to make music on it. Lessons begin in January through School of the Arts on the campus of St. John.
School Auction Wish List
You can help ensure the future of Christian education in West County through donating to the School’s Annual Auction. Do you own a time share that you could donate a week or weekend of time? Sporting event tickets? Can your business donate gift certificates for goods or services? We’d love to talk to you about how you can support the school behind the scenes with your donation! Click here for more ideas and contact information.
Stephen Hower, Pastor
Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14 (and to lower my golf score)
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