Posts Tagged kindness

His Ways

Psalm 145: 17

The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.

I like this Psalm, as many of you do, and I have several passages highlighted. As I read it today, I kept coming back to this verse. I imagine that for most of us there is no revelation in this verse. We expect God to be righteous and at a minimum we want to believe He is kind in all His deeds. Still, I find value in reviewing this verse for two reasons. First, it is good to be reminded of His goodness. Second, when we ponder this verse, it grows in our understanding.

God is good, all His ways are righteous. That means God isn’t out there performing badness. Isn’t that good news? He bring righteousness to everything. That means that everything we invite Him into enjoys that same quality of righteousness. When He comes to our event, He brings with Him everything that is good. The only way He knows how to be is right; doing right, being righteous. All His interactions with each of us are filled with righteousness. God will always do right by you.

Mediation on this verse leads us to examine each word. The word “all” captures my attention. I am especially taken by God’s kindness in “all” His deed. What does that mean if you rephrase it? Every single act of God is kind. Now if you are a person who believes in the Bible, that can have a major impact on your theology. If everything God does, every act, is an act of kindness, then He never does an unkind thing to anyone. That necessarily means that He did not blow out my knee even though some people told me He did. It means He never gave anyone cancer. He never, ever, in all the millennia, did an unkind thing. Everything He has ever done has been kind.

Soak that in. He didn’t allow you to get fired from your job so that you would learn to seek Him. He didn’t break you so He could make you. His way of making you, actually, is to love you into the version of you that He sees when He looks at you. He loves you and only wants the best for you because His kindness extends to the way He thinks of you and the plans He has for you. Every thought He has towards you is kind.

As we expound on the little words in a verse, they expand our understanding and our insight. Thinking our way through these kinds of verses illuminates the very nature of God. Then, as we begin to appreciate His inherent goodness, we grow in our trust in Him. Soon, the entire dynamic of one’s relationship with Him is altered for the good and forever.

Take your time with this little verse and let the Father’s kindness infiltrate your life.

End the Suffering

1 Peter 5: 10         GW

God, who shows you his kindness and who has called you through Christ Jesus to his eternal glory, will restore you, strengthen you, make you strong, and support you as you suffer for a little while.

This verse is so easy to get wrong. Some translations leave you thinking that God is going to let you suffer for a while and then He is going to come to your aid. Not so. Let’s put this verse on its proper footing today.

Sometimes, though we don’t like it, sometimes you just have to go through. Not all unpleasantness is avoidable. It makes me think of daily workouts. Frankly, they are not all comfortable. Some are downright painful, but we go “through” the workouts in order to achieve the results we want. Some days I am tired before I go and I don’t want to go but I do and afterwards, I feel great and I am proud of myself but there is no way to get to that good feeling without going through. Life is like that. The key, in those times, is to start praying for Dad’s help immediately. Don’t even try to do whatever it is in your own strength. Call on the Father and lean on His great strength.

The key words to today’s verse are “who shows you his kindness.” If we first grasp that God is good, loving and kind, then the entire Bible takes on new meaning. You will find much greater understanding of God’s actions when you begin from the premises that God is love and that His loving kindness is renewed every day. He is always available to make your journey easier. Even when there is something you must go through, He is with you to support, restore, and strengthen you. He will also make the suffering last a short time. You may have to suffer a little while but there should be the sound of good news in there that it is only a short while. Some people live years in perpetual suffering because they don’t know how to invite the Father into all their life’s circumstances.

Face it, somethings are a challenge but when you go through you feel good about yourself. God is with you, showering you with His strength and lovingkindness so that the duration of the challenge is short. He will be your strong right arm throughout if you will allow Him. Learn how to lean on Him and become proficient at reaching out to Him at the inception. Pray about your projects before you begin them. Get God on board in the beginning. He will make your path straight and smooth. He is with you always willing to assist. Don’t strike out alone. Don’t bear any burden on your own. Call on the name of the Lord and end the suffering.

Who is Your God?

Ruth 1: 13, 21         GW

My bitterness is much worse than yours because the Lord has sent me so much trouble. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi when the Lord has tormented me and the Almighty has done evil to me?

This is classic Old Testament confession. The people of those times didn’t have the years of history we now have, nor did they have the written Word. They are the history we read. They didn’t know about Satan. They actually knew very little about the Holy Spirit. Of course, they didn’t know Jesus. How different their experience is than ours. When something happened, either for good or for ill, the only cause had to be God.

It chagrins me more than I can express to tell you the whole truth in this regard for I have found that we are not that far removed from our ancestral roots. Despite the years of experience of the saints, the coming of Jesus, the sending of the Holy Spirit, page upon page of revelatory writing by the prophets, disciples and apostles, we still hold very close to Naomi’s confession.

Recently, I attended a prayer breakfast for the National Day of Prayer. It was a great event. One of my friends, though, said something that bothers me. He told me about a gentleman with cancer then followed up by saying that He thought God used disease to help us grow. After all, he told me, we don’t grow in the mountain top experiences but in times of trouble.

Well, first of all, I don’t believe that is true for me. I find my greatest extensions on the mountain top communing with Jesus. Under intense stress, I withdraw and that is not where I find growth. His statement really hurt my heart and I pointedly did not agree with him. I told him that I believe God is good and that He is good all the time. Moreover, God doesn’t have cancer in heaven to give us. To which he remarked, “Yeah, there are no tears in heaven.” There is a revelation in there. We agreed that regardless of the cause, we know he who is the answer.

I am still bothered by this dynamic though because I hear it more frequently than I hear statements of faith and belief in a loving God. Or are people saying that God loves them so much that He gave them cancer so they would grow? That seems ludicrous to me. After thousands of years, the Messiah and the Holy Spirit, we still sound like Old Testament people who knew no better. We are Old Testament believers when we should be thinkers who have been renewed by the gracious good news gospel of Jesus Christ. Will someone give me an Amen!?

There is death and doubt in our churches and if that doesn’t pain you perhaps we should be asking why. Why are we claiming calamity in the name of God Almighty, the merciful? We are no longer ignorant. Are we? We know there is a devil out there and that his full intent is to rob, kill and destroy (John 10: 10). How is it, then, that when we see destruction, death and robbery we attribute it to God?

Somewhere along the line, each of us needs to decide; do we believe in a good God, one who is merciful and full of lovingkindness or do we believe in a cruel task master? Who is your God? That is the question. Let me introduce you to mine. He is love – all the time. He wants to protect and keep you. He said He has good plans for you, plans for your well-being rather than calamity, a plan for hope and for a future (Jeremiah 29: 10). That verse cannot be reconciled with a God who gives you cancer. So decide. Who is your God?

Unfair

Romans 12: 17 – 18

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

There are some verses in the Bible that, frankly, it would be more comfortable and convenient if God would remove them. And that is the problem with being a Bible person, you must deal with the uncomfortable one’s and you must do so honestly. This verse is one of those unpleasant scriptures.

Face it, there are times in life when someone just does you wrong. It is bewildering. Perhaps you have always been nice to that person. Maybe you are the only one who does treat them well but then they act out to you. You deserve better but this is what you get, a rude, ugly person who seems intent on making your life miserable. Well, join the club and be in good company because we have all had to deal with these unlovely folks.

When you encounter one of these people, just look to Jesus. He certainly had to deal with persecution. All he wanted to do was to love people and help them. He said that he came to earth to give us a good life (see John 10: 10 Amp.). Look how people hated him and how they treated him. Even his own family called him crazy and wanted to have him put away as a lunatic. And yet, in the midst of being hated, in the midst of being ill-treated he gave up his life for those people. When we didn’t love him, when we loved our sin rather than him, he laid down his life for us. Can you hear that truth at a deeper level today? While you hated God and didn’t love Jesus, they gave all they had for you.

So how are we to treat the ugly people in our lives? Now you understand why I don’t like this verse. God has called me to love them in an active (rather than passive) way even when they are being mean and ugly to me. It’s not fair God!!! No, it isn’t fair but it wasn’t fair when He put His son on a cross for us either. We must do our best to love these folks into the kingdom of God.

Look, Christianity isn’t easy, who said it was? And it is not a religion. It is a lifestyle, a way of being but that doesn’t even begin to say it all. It really is like our DNA gets changed when we give our lives over to God. We are aliens in this world. This is not our home. We are different and we are supposed to behave differently than the world. We are called to love those who revile us rather than fight them or have our revenge. We are supposed to perform acts of love to those who maltreat us. Does that make sense? Not if you think as the world thinks but if you will turn your face to God and let Him minister to you and through you, you will find that He will give you the strength to love the unlovely. He will even give you joy in the doing. I don’t know how He does it, but it is true. Once you quit fighting with Him about the fairness of the thing and complaining about how they treated you, then He can begin to show you His way of thinking. And He will reward you for your obedience. I think obedience is its own reward, but that is not His way. He likes to pour out a blessing on you. It is just His nature.

I know that what I am proposing to you today is difficult and I know all of the arguments about why it’s not fair and doesn’t feel right. I have felt all of the emotions, made all the claims, but now I know the truth. The only way these unlovely people are going to change is through the love of God. It is the most powerful force in the universe and you have been given the right to wield this power. So when you feel like calling down fire from heaven on someone remember what Jesus said to James and John in the same circumstance. “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of” (Luke 9: 55). In other words, you are of the spirit of love, so we move by and through love. Jesus could have French fried those soldiers that drove nails through his hands and feet but instead he prayed for them. He asked God to forgive them. So, pray for those people who are mistreating you. Bake them a cake. Go out of your way to love on them. Speak to them in kindness and forgiveness. I know they don’t deserve it but do something nice for them in Jesus’ name. Make it a gift to him for his kindness. Just pour your love for him onto them. You are going to be amazed at the results. Then write me and let me and let me hear your praise report.

Encourage, Stimulate, Motivate

Hebrews 10: 24

Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.

The key word in this verse is “stimulate.” Other versions use the word “encourage.” We have a role in the body of Christ which is to encourage. I take special note that the verse isn’t giving me permission or license to boss others, or harangue them. We are to be encouragers. Usually judgment and criticism do not make the best encouragement. How, then, can we stimulate others to demonstrate the love of God and to express that love in kind deeds?

I suppose the first step in leadership is to be a good follower so we might look at our leaders, those who encourage us in the faith, for clues. The second step might be to lead by example. I doubt we will be able to stimulate others into any course of action which we do not first model.

This passage is not intended to stimulate ourselves or others into empty, dead works. Works which are not motivated by love will eventually smell like so much rotten fruit. The good deeds come out of love. They are an expression of the love of God. That is why the author mentioned love first. When love comes, a natural by-product is kind, good deeds.

One thing we can all do is to remark on people’s kind gestures of the goodness of God. We can acknowledge them. You know people who ooze kindness. A word of appreciation to them certainly would not go amiss. Perhaps you are a business owner or a supervisor. You have opportunities to praise people and even reward their acts of kindness. Doing so conveys a clear message that love inspired kindness is something you value. Of course, do not overlook what you can teach your children. However, if there is anyone in your circle of friends, family and co-workers who demands a model, it is your children. They will do what they see you do and they will most certainly notice if you are all talk.

In all ways, be an encourager. People need to be lifted up daily. Give them honest praise and recognition. Plant your seeds of kindness in them and you will see the harvest in the fruit of their actions.

Good Treasure

Luke 6: 45

The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good: and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

I didn’t know what to write on today so as I looked through my Bible, this verse jumped out at me. We’ve all read it before and heard the sermons. Still, we are often fooled by people so maybe it is worth looking at again.

I noticed that the way we can often tell what is in a person’s heart is by what comes out of their mouths. If they are sold out to God and trying to be like Him, then they will speak kindness and their speech will be gentle for those are the characteristics of God.

What about the silver-tongued devil – you know the one, he talks a good game. When you first meet him he is charismatic and charming. He even talks about God and the Bible as if is heart is with God. Do you know that the anti-Christ will be the same way? He will say soothing things that will lead many people astray. Keep listening though and these people always reveal themselves. As you get to know them better, you begin to see harshness in their character. They aren’t kind and generous. In fact, my experience is that they are completely self-serving. If you have something they need or want they will ooze charm. The minute the advantage wanes, however, they begin to show you another side. You have been used. Their hearts are not filled with the love of God no matter how pretty a yarn they weave. Godly thoughts are not self-absorbed. Godly thoughts are always focused on other people.

What should you do? First, you must penetrate the veil. You may have been fooled for a while but once you look at the fruit of their life and the words of their mouth you will see the truth. Look at their relationships. Are they always in confrontation with someone? Do they constantly have new stories about some jerk at the store or at work? It is always someone else’s fault, they will tell you, but this is a good indication that the source of the problem is really them. Look at their relationships with their spouse and children. What do you see? Go beyond the immediate family. Are they kind to their parents and siblings. Do they do nice things for their nieces and nephews? As you check the fruit on their tree, look for generosity. Our Father is foremost a giver. God is extremely generous, even with people who don’t deserve it. Do they give easily and frequently? Are they good tippers. Do they give gifts to their pastor or do they just suck off other that person’s fruit and never restore them?

And here is a big thing – do they tell the truth even if it will cost them something. Do they do what they say they are going to do. If they say they will call you back, do they? If they say they will meet you, do they continually find excuses to change the schedule? If a person can’t even return your phone call or do what they have told you they are going to do then I can tell you without meeting them that the fruit on their tree is bad.

One thing I have noticed is that people usually tell on themselves. Eventually they let you know where they are. Your job is to go get a new friend. There is a reason Jesus told us to check the fruit on people’s trees. We are supposed to exercise wisdom and seek better and more edifying relationships. We are not to be found in the company of fools. Some people are hard to get away from, I understand that. Bosses, co-workers and family are examples of people we are forced into relationship with. My advice is to limit your exposure, and to tell these people the truth in kindness if they confront you. Don’t let them drag you down and learn to say “No” to them. Take control of your life and don’t let them bully you. Just say, “No.” I know it is hard but we must grow up in wisdom and stop letting these people suck the life out of us. Their heart is not where it needs to be so pray for them but don’t hang out with them. Pray daily but do not continue to be a victim to their manipulations. That is your responsibility and God has better for you than people with evil in their hearts.  Look again at the series on love from First Corinthians and let that be your guide in relationships.

Compassionate Grace

Exodus 34: 6 – 7

Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.

How often have you heard about the angry, vengeful God of the Old Testament? Well, here He is full of compassion, grace, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. You know, we’ve got to be careful about what we listen to. Show me the scriptures! Give me evidence! When we actually look at the Old Testament, especially in its entirety, we find a God who was long on patience and whose actions were characterized by lovingkindness.

God is love and He so loved all of us that He sent His only begotten son to the cross for us. No one sends there only son to suffer and die for people He doesn’t love. He gave everything precious to Him so that we could be saved. Is that evidence of a vengeful God. And think about it this way . . . didn’t Jesus come to earth, suffer and die in the Old Testament? The new dispensation and the new covenant could not be ushered in until Jesus went to the cross, died and arose so all that we celebrate in the Christian faith about resurrection, salvation and the new birth is based on the Old Covenant love of God.

Yahweh has always been a full of compassion and lovingkindness. When Moses hid himself so that God could pass before him, what he saw and reported was that this God was full of graciousness, truth and compassion. We learn that God was and is slow to anger. How can we justifiably describe Him as angry when He is slow to anger? Does that make any sense at all?

The truth is that God is as He always was. He has not changed. His love for us has always motivated His actions. The fact that He did not send a lightning storm and strike down the grumbling, complaining Israelites in the desert is proof enough of His long suffering. Not one among us is as patient or as slow to anger as our Divine Father and yet we accuse Him of being impatient and merciless. It is just not true. We’ve been lied to but now we know.

Never be afraid of your heavenly Father. Never fear seeking counsel and communion with Him. He is gentle and kind. In fact, He is the most gentle being that has ever inhabited this universe. His compassion knows no boundaries. I love Jesus and I know you do too but we must remember that Jesus came to reconcile us to the Father. Jesus is the way. The way to what? To the Father. Jesus’ mission was to bring us back into relationship with the Father when we, like the prodigal son, sinned against Him and went astray. All the while, the Father was awaiting us, His eyes searching the horizon, a gold ring and new robe in Hands readied to drape us in the family colors and crest. He is the one who was deprived yet He longingly awaited our return, every day searching the road in the anticipation of our appearance. He never lost faith. He put the sacrificial lamb on the alter so that we would be able to approach Him with a clean conscience. This is the act of love, not anger.

The God of the Old Testament is a loving God, full of grace and mercy, abounding in compassionate concern.

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