• Tony Birkhead

#thechallenge Week - 4

Healing begins when I can see people’s struggles through the lens of compassion.


In your own life or in the lives of others, how have you noticed that people don’t care as much?

If someone followed you around, what evidence might they see that you’re obsessed with yourself? (Bonus for admitting you’d love it if someone watched your every move.


Matthew 9:35-10:1

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” 10:1 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

Matthew 20:34

Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

Matthew 14:13-21

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” 16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. 18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Matthew 15:32

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

Mark 1:40-41

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” 41 Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”

Luke 15:20

So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.



The opening paragraph of this section describes Jesus’ ministry approach. Jesus did not limit His mission and thus demonstrated His message is intended for all people. His great love and concern for people became the driving force for His prayer that God would call and send others to extend the work.

What does verse 35 reveal are the key components of mission work?

Why does Jesus want us to be concerned about people with spiritual and physical needs?

Jesus’ mode of ministry teaches us an important truth about God and the urgency of our shared mission. When Jesus walked the earth as God’s Son, He was not a hermit or one hidden away in a monastery-like residence. He went where the people were.

What motivated Jesus to minister to the people in the ways that He did (v. 36)?

What steps can we take to bring Jesus’ compassion to people who are weary and worn out?

Why did Matthew describe the crowds as helpless, like sheep without a shepherd?

In what ways can you relate to feeling like a sheep without a shepherd? Read John 10:14. What does it mean that Jesus is the good shepherd? Why is this important?

Because of Jesus’ loving heart for the people, He looked on them as sheep abandoned by their shepherd. God had directed the leaders of Israel to care for the people. But instead of caring for them, the religious leaders neglected and abused them. They imposed heavy religious obligations on the people who already carried heavy spiritual and physical burdens. Israel’s shepherds neglected God’s people (Ezek. 34); nobody seemed to care for them. But Jesus, the Shepherd of the sheep, had come. He cared and even gave His life on the cross for the sheep. Today He sends out Christians to join in and to continue His work.

What implications or promises are inherent in Jesus’ description of the harvest (v. 37)?

Do you believe the harvest is truly plentiful? What implications should that reality have on your life?

Why do you think workers in the Lord’s harvest are so few?

Jesus’ love for the needy Galileans fostered a sense of urgency. He wanted to meet their needs as soon as possible. Jesus saw the opportunity for a rich spiritual harvest, and He knew that He should waste no time in gathering it. The same opportunity exists today. A tremendous harvest awaits Christians who join God in His work. Although the harvest has the potential for being abundant, as in Jesus’ day, relatively few believers help in reaching people for Christ.


· What can you do this week to help you slow down and look for opportunities to show compassion? (fast from social media, be intentional about talking to people, pray for God to open your eyes)

· Name one person in your life right now that is struggling and needs to be shown compassion?

· Identify one thing that you do that helps you avoid having to deal with other people’s struggles? (food, binge social media, alcohol, spend money…)

· What do you think will happen when you are intentional about showing compassion to your family and friends?


Ask God to give you eyes full of compassion for others around you.


Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus’ extensive ministry took Him throughout Galilee where He went to synagogues and taught God’s Word, but He didn’t stop there. He also served needs by preaching and healing. By preaching the good news of the kingdom, Jesus met the most pressing spiritual needs among the people who listened to Him. By healing every disease and every sickness, He also attended to their most pressing physical needs.

As a result of Jesus’ teaching, preaching, and healing ministry, crowds gathered around Him. As Jesus saw them, His heart broke. He was stirred deep down in His heart. The Greek word for compassion refers to emotions that are felt in the deepest sense. The word refers to the inner parts of a person, or the bowels where emotions were thought to originate. It conjures images of extreme pity and mercy. Having compassion for the sea of humanity meant aching for them, feeling in His “gut” the depth of their spiritual and physical needs.

Because of Jesus’ loving heart for the people, He looked on them as sheep abandoned by their shepherd. God had directed the leaders of Israel to care for the people. But instead of caring for them, the religious leaders neglected and abused them. They imposed heavy religious obligations on the people who already carried heavy spiritual and physical burdens. Israel’s shepherds neglected God’s people (Ezek. 34); nobody seemed to care for them. But Jesus, the Shepherd of the sheep, had come. He cared and even gave His life on the cross for the sheep. Today He sends out Christians to join in and to continue His work. As the crowds made their way to Jesus, He could see they were weary because of the oppression they endured. Also, He saw how their needs had worn them out, leaving them pillaged and plundered but not helped. No wonder Jesus’ heart broke for the people of Galilee.

Jesus’ love for the needy Galileans fostered a sense of urgency. He wanted to meet their needs as soon as possible. In addition to seeing the people as sheep, He spoke of them in terms of a great harvest. A farmer knows when grain needs harvesting, and he wastes no time gathering it. He realizes the window of opportunity soon will be gone, and the grain not gathered in time will be lost in the field. Jesus saw the opportunity for a rich spiritual harvest and that He should waste no time in gathering it. Otherwise, the window of opportunity would pass.

Seeing the needs of people, Jesus called on His disciples to pray that God would send out workers into His harvest. The harvest is great; opportunity is there for us. Believers today should pray for God to call workers to missions, for we know God works through the prayers of His people.

Jesus instructed His disciples to direct their prayers to the Lord of the harvest. A reference to God, the phrase implies His sovereignty to direct people into fields to reap the abundant harvest. What a comfort and an encouragement this is for believers. God is the Lord of the harvest, not us. We are not responsible for the kingdom’s growth; God is. Yet God calls us to cooperate with Him both in praying and in going. As we pray, we ask Him to send out workers. In other words, we ask the Father to give His people a push.



The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?


When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 9:36

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with self centered people. You know, the people that just seem to only think about themselves. Working with them is the worst. You probably have someone like this in your life, who just really gets you angry every time you think about all the self centered things they have done. We know the only way they will change is with Jesus, but we still have a difficult time interacting with them.

Today’s verse struck a chord with me because it showed how Jesus viewed people who were not followers of him. He said they were harassed and helpless. Those are two things we don’t want to have in our lives, harassment and helplessness. There is nothing worse than feeling helpless, like you don’t have control of a situation. Jesus says that this is what these self centered people are feeling. What a horrible way to live life! No wonder they care about themselves more than others. They are just trying to bring some stability to their lives.

Not only do we learn how Jesus viewed them, but also how he felt for them. Jesus had compassion for them and tells us to pray for them in the next verse. How convicting! Often times there is not a drop of compassion in me as I interact with these people, but Jesus did have compassion.

When we have the heart of Jesus we will begin to see those around us with the eyes of Jesus. Stop right now and ask Jesus to give you His heart and His view for the challenging people around you.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him.

Luke 6:6-7

It was the Sabbath, a day to be kept holy (Exodus 20:8). The people had gathered faithfully, sitting around a pulpit where they would be lead in prayer, in reading, and the teaching of Scripture. Here, Jesus was standing in the midst of such an assembly not simply teaching the Bible but living its truth and shining its light. That Sabbath day, there was a man with a deformed or withered hand. Jesus would go on to heal the man’s hand, literally healing his body on a day intended for bodily rest and man’s good (Mark 2:27).

The Lord had compassion on that man, had mercy on him and lovingly healed him. This healing was beautiful, right, holy and just, as everything Jesus did in his lifetime was. But in that same Synagogue there was also an ugliness, and that ugliness was displayed by the “believers”, the scribes and Pharisees. Ugly religion doesn’t seek to love and heal those around them, ugly religion seeks to accuse others and show how they are wrong and inferior.

Follow in the Master’s footsteps today by being merciful and compassionate instead of trying to display your own glory through your ugly religion. Rather, display Jesus’ glory by walking as he walked.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.

Proverbs 20:11

I was reading an article on a “child centered home” and a major problem is that people refuse to see their children as they really are. For example, a rebellious and stubborn child is referred to as “strong willed” and a manipulative and sneaky child is referred to as “creative.” I’m not saying to speak these things over your child, but rather to recognize that nature and pray against it. We do this in our own lives, don’t we?

We deceive ourselves when we will not examine our heart honestly before the Lord. About 7 years ago I had a realization. I was suffering through something for about 4 years and wasn’t getting any relief or deliverance. I cried out to God, “What’s going on?” He spoke very gently and very clearly, “Crystal, you are not compassionate. I want you to learn compassion.” And I broke down because it was true. I have always been a “just get over it” person, and God wanted me to realize others are not like me. They need more time and patience from me. It was a tough lesson, but that is how you grow and develop godly character.

Your fruit will find you out. If you are bitter, jealous, unforgiving, everyone around you can see it. Stop deluding yourself! The human nature, apart from Jesus, is rebellious. Do the hard work! Examine yourself. Don’t be the person who looks in the mirror, walks away and forgets what you look like. Be honest with yourself and with God. He is trying to produce godly fruit and character in you. Let Him teach you, mold you, shape you. I know it hurts, but it’s good for you!

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:4-8

The horizon is the farthest point of land or water that a person can see, where earth and sky meet. Yet the universe extends far beyond what the eye can behold. Similarly, the church’s vision can be limited. God said to bring the gospel to every nation, but we often confine our outreach to what we think is manageable.

Sometimes what holds us back from fulfilling God’s command is our limited experiences and understanding. We may act according to logic, but God calls us to obey in faith. For example, rational thought might lead people to avoid missions in a foreign country because it isn’t safe. Or perhaps there’s a language barrier. But Jesus said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God” (Luke 18:27). He is fully aware of our human limitations, so He provides guidance, wisdom, and strength to accomplish His will.

The church is to share the gospel, and God will call individuals to fulfill this commission in different ways. We’re all to participate through prayer and giving, and some are also called to action. Pray for direction and wisdom in communicating the good news of salvation to the world. The Holy Spirit will lead and empower you.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.

Mark 6:34

Sometimes I think Christians regard nonbelievers as the enemy. Preachers will rant and rave about certain sins people are committing. But let’s remember something: behind that sin is an empty, searching, lost person whom God loves.

We are not called to condemn. We are called to appeal to nonbelievers with the message of the gospel. We need compassion. Jesus had it overflowing from His life. He was moved by the needs of others.

When He saw Mary and Martha weeping over the death of their brother, Lazarus, He “groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (John 11:33). That phrase carries the idea of physical, emotional, and spiritual anguish. Jesus is the only one who can accurately say, “I feel your pain.” As He watched Mary and Martha weeping, His heart went out to them. He was in anguish, too. He hurt for them. He hurt with them. And He wept. That’s our Savior.

Jesus knew the same crowds in Jerusalem who cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9) would soon shout, “Crucify Him!”

Yet He felt compassion, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23: 37).

Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (2:5). We should seek to imitate the Lord and have compassion.

If we want to be used by God in any capacity, this must be foremost in our minds and hearts—not obligation, not mere duty, not guilt, but a God-given burden for people.

Adapted From: http://harvest.org


One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 9:36

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