Kindly

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Let’s not leave this kindness topic just yet. In fact, for those of you who do word studies, look this one up on BibleGateway.com (There is also a link to Bible Gateway on my website). You will be impressed at how many times God brings this up.

Today’s verse gives us a little better insight into what kindness looks like in application. The first is so obvious that we sometimes miss it. Kindness is Christ. As we read the scriptures and watch his interactions with the world we begin to see what a sanctified life really looks like. Jesus was moved by compassion. That means that he did something. He was moved to do something. Also, though, let us not lose sight of the fact that he felt compassionately. What does that mean but that he allowed his heart to feel something for someone else’s situation. Of course, we know that love is not selfish but when I think of Jesus experiencing emotions based on a life not his own it makes me think how I should be less absorbed with how I feel about my world. It also highlights for me that Jesus was a person of emotion rather than one of a stoic stiff upper lip. We should feel and those emotions should not be spent only on our own stuff.

Secondly, God wants us to be tender-hearted. What? Does He not realize we are western, rugged individualists? What is He thinking? I remember a commercial from many years ago were the announcer declared that something was “rough and tough like alligator bags.” I was young and was influenced by that slogan. I thought we were all supposed to be rough and tough. I have worked on it for many years now and believe I have developed proficiency in this only to find that Abba, Father wants me to be tender-hearted! What a kick in the teeth. Don’t you feel like you open yourself up to being hurt if you go through life tender-hearted? Well, I certainly did but I am learning a new reality, a reality born of the Kingdom of God rather than of the world. It turns out that when we live in the Spirit, walking hand in hand with him, he cares for our hearts. We can be tender because he has our hearts in his hands. Who knew?

Kindness is important to God. If it is important to Him then it stands to reason that it should be important to us as well. Is it? Have we ever prayed asking Him to teach us and lead us in kindness? Most of us need that kind of help. There are some of you who are just nice but the rest of us need direction. We can no longer be self-centered and achieve a kind heart because kindness requires us to think of other people’s needs and comfort. This is an area that we really must proactively pursue with God. It may not always be easy but it is the way of God’s heart.

God is . . . kind

1 Corinthians 13: 4

Love is patient, love is kind.

Kindness is a consistent theme all through the Bible. God has continually shown His kindness to mankind. In the 25th Psalm David wrote, “Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses, For they have been from of old” (v. 6). David recognized and proclaimed that the kindness of God has been ever present. He has a heart of compassion towards us in all of life’s situations. There is never a moment in our lives, has never been a minute in all of history when the Lord’s thoughts towards us have not been thoughts of kind compassion.

What does the word “kind” bring to your mind? One observation from my dictionary is that it takes many words to describe kindness: 1. Of a friendly nature; generous or hospitable; warmhearted; good. 2. Charitable; helpful; showing sympathy or understanding. 3. Humane; considerate. 4. Forbearing; tolerant; charitable. 5. Courteous; thoughtful. It goes on but one other description included is that kindness shows a desire to promote others’ welfare.

Our Father is all of these things. I especially like the idea that His intent is to promote our welfare. If you really want to get the big picture of God’s kindness, run a thesaurus on each of the words from the dictionary. Already we see that kindness involves being aware of other people and their needs. God didn’t call us to Himself so that we could meet His needs. He calls us to Him so that He can care and provide for us. He is gentle and generous. He is tolerant rather than critical. Psalm 25: 10 reads, “All the paths of the lord are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.” All that He thinks, all that He does is bathed in kindness.

Knowing God’s essential traits will help you to relate to Him better. I hope it will also cause you to trust Him at a deeper level. He is safe. He is kind.

Good God!

Isaiah 63: 7

I shall make mention of the lovingkindness of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has granted them according to His compassion and according to the multitude of His lovingkindness.

I am involved with a group of believers who are exploring God’s goodness through the revelations of Bill Johnson as shared in his book, God is Good. This prompted a conversation with a minister friend. Together we agree that if our ministries can lead people to the understanding that God is good, then we will have been successful. As you attempt to communicate God’s goodness, you find that words fail. Just look at Isaiah’s paragraph above. How many ways and how many times does he have to say God is good for us to get it? It seems like Isaiah just can’t say it well enough or big enough to suit himself. He uses the words: lovingkindness, great goodness, compassion and the multitude of His lovingkindness. Can you see how he struggles to convey the great kindness and love of God? Why is this so difficult to convey and to receive?

I remember as a small child we used to say a very simple prayer and believe it, “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for this food.” God is great! God is good! You know, some adult had to teach us that prayer. Do you think the adult believed the words? Why do so few adults, particularly Christian adults believe these words now? Weren’t we taught that God is good? How is there even space in the Christian world for Bill Johnson to write a book on God’s goodness? Shouldn’t we all be so steeped in this very basic principle as to make his book unnecessary? I wish! By the way, it is a good book and I am enjoying it. I just don’t like that there is any revelation here for any of us.

How is this hard? God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son . . . (John 3: 16). We sure can quote this verse and make signs and placards bearing its words but miss its message. If your personal theology has no other linchpin that this one, let it be that God loves you. Grasp with your heart, mind and soul that He is all good all of the time. He only has good plans in mind for you. Well, now I sound like Isaiah. There are not words enough to satisfy the communication of His great goodness. Maybe it’s best if I defer to the Apostle John who said it best, “God is love” (1 John 4: 8)

Compassion

Isaiah 54: 9 – 10

“For this is like the days of Noah to Me; when I swore that the waters of Noah should not flood the earth again, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, nor will I rebuke you. For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” says the Lord who has compassion on you.

Jesus was often moved by compassion. Often we think of this as simply and emotion that Jesus experienced but in truth it was so much more. You may hear people talk of the angry God of the Old Testament. Well, here is irrefutable evidence that God is not angry with you. He loves you and is compassionate.  And this is from the Old Testament.

This is the compassion that moved Jesus to heal and bless people. He was moved by the compassion of his father. Through the prophet Isaiah God delivered a promise of compassion and lovingkindness. By the time Jesus graced the earth God’s heart of compassion was well established. God, the Father, gave us a covenant of peace, not of anger. This is why Jesus is the Prince of peace. He is an extension and expression of his father.

God certainly had every reason to be angry with His people. He would be completely justified in being angry with us as well but He chose love, compassion and peace instead. It wasn’t an angry God that sent His only son here to die for us. Love nailed Jesus to that cross.

You are encapsulated in a covenant of peace with the creator. Let this be your revelation. Peace surrounds you and even if the mountains shake still God’s lovingkindness will remain with you. His love will never forsake you.

Putting on the Ritz

Colossians 3: 12 – 13

And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

We are the chosen of God. We have been adopted into the family of God by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus and we are now joint heirs with Abraham. We are holy and beloved. Therefore, God wants us to walk in a manner worthy of our high calling. We are to put on the character of Jesus and walk in Him and in the manner of his calling on us. Our lives should be typified by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness. For these are the characteristics of Christ himself and the life we now live we live in Him. If anyone is lacking in any of these attributes, he should ask of the Lord Jesus and he who gives all freely will anoint you with all you need so that you might also walk in all the grace which he has poured out on mankind. It is a high calling to walk in this kind of grace and fellowship. It is the high calling of Jesus on our lives. So put on Christ and be transformed.

Call to Duty

Job 26: 2

How have you helped him who is without power? How have you saved the arm that has no strength?

“These are the times that try men’s souls” (Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, 1776). Undoubtedly those revolutionary times challenged the would-be Americans down to their souls. Truly, though most of us live in much more stable environments than pre-revolution America, each person usually must endure a season of great challenge. It is in these times that we find the strength of God rising to meet us in our times of great need.

When we are powerless, when our arms lack strength, when we are weary down to our bones, our Father fills all the voids and strengthens us. He sustains us and restores our souls. We see this miracle of grace throughout the psalms but it is when you see it manifesting in your own life that your own life takes on new depth and new meaning. And when you approach these trying times looking to the Lord our God, you find that his fulfilling grace is palpable. You can almost touch it, almost see it. It is real.

I am going through one of these challenging times of life and I truly want to learn and grow through it. One of my loved ones is dying of cancer and there is nothing the doctors can do. We must all face these times but they can be easier in the grace of God. So far I have learned two important lessons. First of all, allow people to help you. Allow people to be a blessing to you. Superman is a fictional character so don’t try to be a superhero. Let those who love you express their love and concern for you. It is part of their grieving and healing for you both. My friend Carol, encouraged me to share this difficult time with you. She is teaching me to let people express their love for me. Lin, our graphics genius has inspired me with such wisdom. One of the statements she made to me was, “Ivey, you give to us every day, let us give to you.” This is such a hard thing to do but I recognize that their wisdom is flowing right from the heart of God.

Secondly, I have learned that God fills us up through His power flowing right through the atmosphere and the Holy Spirit to anoint your home, hospital room and your heart. That was not unexpected but what I have learned is that He greatly uses other people and their prayers to minister His anointing, His grace, His love and His mercy in the time of need. As I make my heart tender and vulnerable, as I simply open my eyes I see the anointing of God on total strangers. People come to you in your time of need. People you don’t know will reach out to you in that Spirit which is from God. You will connect at a level which is beyond this physical realm and it will bring comfort to your soul.

Some people will not be able to rise to the challenge. Don’t judge them. They just haven’t grown in that area yet. Some of the people you think will jump to your side won’t. It’s okay. Pray for them. No, really. Pray for them, it will do your heart good and the Blessed Father will show you their own hurts and limitations. It will give your heart peace. 

In conclusion, I want my challenge to help me grow, learn and to empower me to help others. Many of you have known deep sorrow. Some of you have undergone exactly what I am going through now. We are all learning and growing and part of that growth is to learn to be vulnerable. Another important sign of spiritual growth is showing an active compassion; that is compassion which isn’t passive but which instead moves into action.

I am calling you each into active duty today. This is a request for you to pray for me and my loved ones. We have been borne up by the prayers of our friends and family. It really does make a difference. So, pray for me.

There is a second part of this call to action though. We are a body, a family. Everyone who reads this daily devotional is important to me personally as well to others. We should stand for one another. I want you to write to us when you need prayer and I want us to be able to rely on each other for prayer and prayer support. We will be using the upcoming website as a medium for us all to connect with one another. I envision a person posting a prayer request and every one of us who reads the Word of the Day saying an immediate even if brief prayer for that person.

There are people reading this devotional all over the world. We need to join hands and become a people of prayer and of support for one another. Our faith was never meant to be passive but active and living and fully expressing the power and love of our Lord Jesus and our Father who sent the Holy Spirit into the earth to give us strength and miracle working power. Join hands with me as I join hands with believers all over the world. Let us reach out and make a difference in people’s lives through the love of God. Give God’s love wings through prayer. Together we are very powerful. Alone we are weak. Be the leader and lover you have been anointed to be. In Jesus’ name.

Paid Return Ticket

Joel 2: 13

Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, and relenting of evil.

Are you as close to the Lord as you want to be? Are you as close to him as you once were? Do not worry. He is a God of great compassion and graciousness. This is a great time to draw nearer to him. He does not hold grudges or count passed time. He just wants to be your closest friend. He forgives all even when we don’t deserve it. He sent Jesus to this earth to be the sacrifice for us so that nothing would ever stand in the way of our close, personal relationship with him. Do not let anything in your past prevent you from drawing nearer to him today. There is no hardship and suffering in him, only love and compassion.