Tag Archives: kindness

2 Samuel 8,9; 2 Corinthians 2; Ezekiel 16; Psalms 58,59

My wife and I were watching a sermon on grace a few days ago and halfway through she said, “Isn’t this to simple?”  We dialogued afterwards and realized how glad we were that it was.

Can you imagine Mephibosheth’s reaction to grace?

David said to him, “Do not be afraid, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan; I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you yourself shall eat at my table always.” 2 Samuel 9:7 NRSV

Do I want that kind of grace, that kind of kindness – for sure I do – for I clearly am a fallen sinner in need of this kind of God’s grace – one who does not deserve it, could never earn it and would never be able to repay it.

My wife and I were also challenged in how we communicate grace to others – and we named a few people in our lives where that needed to be our focus.

For I wrote you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. 2 Corinthians 2:4 NRSV

We affirmed that there definitely is a grace that needs to be exhibited in our communication styles for at some point we too have come from a place of joy received from the recovery of grace.

I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, in order that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord God. Ezekiel 16:62-63 NRSV

Yes, my wife and I had the same trouble most of us have – cannot talk about grace without talking about judgement. We both concluded that the all-important work of atonement was not overlooking sin, but our sin being covered by God’s marvellous grace.

O my strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.  Psalm 59:17 NRSV

With a bit of study, I found the Aramaic Bible translates that last part of this verse as, “and the God of my grace!” Yes, there my wife and I have found our joy as followers of Christ.

When I think of grace, I think of Your presence.  Wherever we may be found today and in whatever activity we may be engaged in, may we gather there with Your favour.  Lord, by Your favour, we mean favour us with Your grace, and with the love of God the Father, and with the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

evanlaar

 

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Leviticus 11, 12; Psalm 13, 14; Proverbs 26; 1 Thess. 5

Paul’s Final Advice

Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. (1 Thess. 5:12-22 NLT)

If someone were to ask me if I was patient, my quick response would most likely be “Yes”. But that’s not really true…although I can be patient, I’m usually not.

As I thought about it, I realized that patience is used in some character qualities. Kindness requires patience, because sometimes being kind takes someone away from what they’re doing. Patience is also used in love, because it’s not always easy to show love towards others. And lastly, trust requires patience, because sometimes God takes a while in answering prayers.

Recently, my aunt was moved to a nursing home facility. Before we could go into her room to see her, my dad, sister and I had to wait outside it for a few minutes (my mom was already in there). As I waited, I occupied myself by watching some of the workers as they passed by. I noticed that they showed lots of patience toward the nursing home patients. The workers treated the patients just like they were really special and important: which they are. I want to be able to show patience (and kindness) towards others like that: easily and freely.

Dear God,

Please help me to be patient, with others and with you. It’s not easy, but I know that with you all things are possible. Amen

—Lanie (llilly2017)

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Genesis 31, Esther 7, Mark 2, Romans 2

favor

  1. Something done or granted out of goodwill, rather than from justice or for remuneration; a kind act
  2. The state of being approved or held in regard:
  3. Excessive kindness or unfair partiality; preferential treatment

 

When I read these stories of Jacob’s release from Laban, Queen Esther’s victory over the Jew’s death sentence and the Jesus’ healing of a paralytic and the calling of Levi, only one word comes to mind; favor.

Favor, grace, mercy, love, I knew of these terms much less before I had children. Not to say you could never understand these if you do not have children of your own but there’s something that changed in my life the minute my first child was born. As they grow, I understand these terms to a much greater degree, seeing the Lord through the eyes of a parent. I have always had a difficult time understanding how a perfect God who created everything could find joy in me. How could he know my sin and my failings and still love me. Then came my three….

Just yesterday was a very trying day in our household. Tantrum after tantrum (I thought we were out of the terrible two’s!). Disobedience, disrespect and outright defiance was tossed around our home like it was acceptable. It was the end of a long week with Dad gone for work and a day off school. Tired children and a tired mom did not make for a good combination. With each and every episode, my own anger would increase. What started with a time out, ended up with alone time in their bedrooms and removal of privileges.

As I sat down to read, pray and write, I was convicted of my own sin in the handling of the situation. My natural tendency is to fly off the handle when I am disrespected and move to judgement and punishment. In parenting, it is still important to quickly address and correct bad behavior, teaching and guiding your children in the truth of the Word, but the balance between truth and grace can be difficult to find in the moment. As their mom, my goal in correction should always be heart change.

My conviction came from Romans, a timely assignment!

“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you the Judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man- you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself-that you will escape the judgment of God?

My sinful reaction in anger does not get to the heart of my children and it’s not how God reacts to my sin. Like Romans 2:4 says, “It’s the riches of God’s kindness and patience that leads us to repentance”.

By evening, after all the conversations, scriptures and apologies, my heart found favor in my children. Even after a long day, my heart STILL wanted to give my children good things and bestow on them grace and mercy. That is simply a reminder, a tiny glimpse of the incredible love the Lord has for his children and his desire for heart change over better behavior. His favor is not because of our good works and behavior but in spite of them, praise the Lord!

 Dear Heavenly Father, there are not enough words to thank you for your undeserved love and favor for me and my children. You are a good, good Father. Thank you for gently and lovingly pointing out my sin and leading me to repentance and back to you. Amen.

kateredding

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Jeremiah 47-49; Psalm 80; 2 Peter 2

17Help the man you have chosen.

Make this human being strong for your service.

18Then we will not turn away from you.

Give us life again, and we will call to you for help.

19Lord God of heaven’s armies, take us back.

Show us your kindness so we can be saved. Psalm 80:17-19

God desires me to serve Him. His command to me, above all else, is to love Him with all my heart and soul and mind. But, as hard as I try, I still fail miserably at times.

I believe that God offers second (and third, and fourth…) chances. Because He knows that I am not even close to being perfect, because He can see into my heart and understand everything that is there, He knows the intentions of my heart are to serve Him always.

9And so the Lord knows how to save those who serve him. He will save them when troubles come…2 Peter 2:9

Noah and Lot are examples of men in the Bible who were not perfect (I mean Lot offered his daughters to be raped by lustful men – yikes), but because of their desire to serve God and follow Him, He rescued them from devastation.

The Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites and other tribes were not so lucky. They had no love for God in their heart and served idols who called for death and destruction. Though they were given warnings, they did not turn away from their sin and they reaped what they sowed.

16But a donkey told Balaam that he was sinning. And the donkey is an animal that cannot talk. But the donkey spoke with a man’s voice and stopped the prophet’s crazy thinking. 2 Peter 2:16 

God won’t give up hope for those who turn away. He will constantly pursue anyone whose heart is blackened by sin by any means possible, from the natural consequences of a life lived with bad choices to words straight from a donkey’s mouth.

Just as I pursue my children in the midst of their bad choices, calling them back to obedience and cultivating a repentant heart, my Father in Heaven does the same for me. He gives me life and gives me strength. He shows me kindness that I don’t deserve and saves me from the enemy.

Yesappa, Thank You for being the God of many chances. Thank You for showing me kindness, grace, and mercy in the midst of my bad choices. Give me life where the enemy only wants death. Help me draw nearer to You in each moment to find strength to stand against sin; and give me life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie

 

International Children’s Bible, Copyright © 2015 by Tommy Nelson™, a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Ezekiel 41-42; 2 Peter 1

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:3-11

Since becoming a follower of Christ, I have often thought about what that means, what it ‘should’ look like. Christianity began with me completely believing in and putting my confidence in God my Father, in His Son who came to earth as a man, laid His life down to restore my relationship with Him, and rose again to life on the third day, and in Holy Spirit my helper. It began with faith; faith to trust even though I don’t always have tangible evidence, faith to step out and take a leap into the unknown.

Peter shares that while the foundation of the Christian walk is simple faith, it isn’t the only facet. He shares that, because I partake of the divine nature of God, I am able to develop my simple faith with additional character qualities that will keep me from being unfruitful in my life and help to prevent me from falling:

So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. 2 Peter 1:5-7 MSG

Virtue – as I practice moral excellence, as I make good choices in the day-to-day of life, my life begins to better reflect Christ in me. Determination, integrity, and discretion help me walk a straight path; and even when I stumble, I have a plum line to help me get up and walk again.

Knowledge – as I continue to delve deeper in my relationship with God, His divine nature is reveled to me in greater and greater ways. Each day, as I spend more time with Him, my understanding of Him, my intimacy with Him is increased. Though I will ever be in awe of His goodness, my experiences of who God is gives me a new sense of familiarity. He is my Daddy and no longer a formidable, unapproachable being.

Self-Control – as I train myself in restraint, I become more level-headed and my willpower for self-discipline becomes stronger. I am better able to regulate my actions, my emotions, my fleshly desires and appetites. When I have control over myself, the truth about who I really am in Christ is able to shine above my weaknesses as a human being.

Steadfastness – as I exercise patience, my ability to continue fruitfully throughout my journey, through the ups and downs, despite the fatigue and stress, without complaint or loss of temper, increases. I am better able to bear the trials of life without being derailed from my purposes and goals. I am able to stay hopeful in the waiting.

Godliness – as I endeavor to be more like Jesus, I naturally begin to submit to His will, obeying the wishes of God as I understand them. As I hold tightly to God, as I become more reliant on Him, He enhances my wisdom, my gratitude, and teaches me how to be honoring to Him and to others.

Brotherly Affection – as I get into the habit of being kind to the people around me, I put into practice God’s call for me to love my enemies and to love my neighbors as myself. My compassion and generosity grow, and I am better able to empathize with others in the midst of their personal trials.

Love – as brotherly affection becomes more and more routine, my love increases. Agape love is enkindled by Holy Spirit; it is a love which embraces the truth and demonstrated the nature of God through me. It is a pure, unconditional love that flows with His grace and mercy.

Each one of these qualities adds to my faith, makes it well-rounded, and strengthens me as a believer. As I practice and build on each element, my character continues to grow as I rely on Christ within me.

Yesappa, Thank You for being my Daddy whom I can put my full confidence in. I know that you will never leave me nor forsake me, and that you are the source for all of the growth in my life. Help me always look to You as I walk my path; help me continue to fortify the qualities that demonstrate Your work in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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1Chronicles 15; James 2; Amos 9; Luke 4

I was on the phone with a friend yesterday when the question I’ve been struggling with arose:

How can I have a higher expectation of my children over similar issues I fail to overcome in my own life?

My friend and I had a similar issue of a strained relationship. It’s too soon to say how things are going for her with how she’s decided to handle it, but my results are more like banging my head against a wall: frustration, pain, getting nowhere, questioning why I’m still (doing this).

13 Because you Levites did not carry the Ark the first time, the anger of the Lord our God burst out against us. We failed to ask God how to move it properly.” 1 Chronicles 15:13 NLT.

I have asked God for signs to continue with the relationship, and each time he has told me to do so. Soon after, another issue arises and I find myself wondering if I heard him right. These doors are closed tight. Why do I set myself up for failure again? Perhaps I have failed to ask God how to.

Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness … Luke 4:1 NLT

Spirit, lead me.

When Jesus was hungry and tempted in the wilderness, he quoted scripture.

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’” Luke 4:4 NLT

Next week, we’ll be breaking bread–a room of generations. Perhaps the lesson isn’t about the success in overcoming relational difficulties. The lesson could be about a lot of things–perseverance, surrender, seeking the Lord, obedience, faith in action, loving God, blessing an enemy. Maybe the result isn’t so much about getting what I want, but in teaching my kids (and learning for myself) how to live life with a heart for God in a broken world with broken relationships.

And maybe through the learning and doing of the other things, I might also get what I want too–healing.

But he replied, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.” Luke 4:43 NLT

Lord, you are my how-to and my hope. Please, lead me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ex. 18; Luke 21; Job 36; 2 Cor. 6

Job’s friend wants to paint a rosy picture for God followers–if you aren’t prosperous and your life isn’t pleasant, you must be doing it wrong. But today’s readings all point out that following God is no cake walk. Moses had a long, hard journey leading people out of slavery. Job, who was titled as God fearing and blameless, experienced heartache and loss magnified. Paul lists his hardships one after the other. And Jesus tells this,

“But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. 13 But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 14 So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, 15 for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! 16 Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you. 17 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers.” Luke 21:12-17 NLT, emphasis mine.

Job’s friend credits himself as knowledgeable. His observations reach for truth, but fall short. And this is something everyone is capable of. Well-meaning friends, however smart and sincere, can mix the truth into false concoctions. Who hasn’t thought their own advice sounded good and true?

I turn to the Bible.

I sit around the table with Moses’ father-in-law, Paul and Jesus. I write down what they say.

  • Lead by example: teach God’s decrees, give His instructions, show (them) how to conduct (their) lives.
  • We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us,and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 NLT, emphasis mine.
  • 28 So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” … 34 “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, 35 like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. 36 Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:28, 34-36 NLT, emphasis mine.

Thank you, God, for words I can trust. I pray for grace and strength “to live in such a way”, “in everything (I) do”, to serve you.

Courtney (66books365)

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