Acts of Kindness (1 Chronicles 19:2)
Most of us remember where we were on September 11, 2001, when four commercial airliners became missiles in the hands of terrorists. We were at work, home or school when we got the urgent call, “Turn on the television!” We watched replays of the plane hitting Tower One of the World Trade Center in New York City. Time stood still as we watched another plane strike Tower Two. We willed the towers to stand . . . but they crumbled before our eyes. Even the seemingly impregnable Pentagon was a target. The horrifying marks of the crash site in a lonely Pennsylvania field pay homage to the passengers who bravely fought back. The death toll of this atrocity rose to almost 3,000 people.
America was stunned at this attack on its own soil. Some were amazed that people immediately responded with kindness and compassion. USA Today reported, “In New York, people literally took the shirts off their backs and bandaged the injured.” Furthermore, tens of thousands of people lined up to donate blood at hospitals and blood banks. Solemn candlelight vigils were held throughout the world. “Miss Manners,” Judith Martin, reported a shocking return to civility. “Please, please, let’s make it last,” she exhorted. But shouldn’t acts of kindness be our ordinary response, not an extraordinary reaction to a catastrophic event?
Nahash, the Ammonite king, had rendered some memorable service to King David. When he died, David responded by acting kindly toward Hanun, Nahash’s son. However, David’s kindness was misinterpreted. The men sent by David to express sympathy over Nahash’s death were humiliated and accused of spying. War ensued, though it was certainly not the intended outcome of David’s gesture.
Just as God unreservedly extends kindness to us, we are called to “clothe [ourselves] with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). We are to reflect God’s kindness to others, regardless of how they choose to respond.
Don’t wait for a crisis to extend loving-kindness. Take the time to ponder who is suffering from a recent heartbreak. Maybe they could use a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. Who feels discouraged in your circle of friends? Maybe they need to hear an encouraging word. Who might feel alone? Perhaps you could pick up the phone to tell them that you care . . . and then leave the outcome to God.
Taken from NIV Women’s Devotional Bible
Go on to the Meal
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! (Psalm 34:8)
To you who say you have never tasted the glory of God, I say, you have tasted many of its appetizers.
Have you ever looked up? Have you ever been hugged? Have you ever sat in front of a warm fire? Have you ever walked in the woods, sat by a lake, lain in a summer hammock? Have you ever drunk your favorite drink on a hot day or eaten anything good?
Every desire is either a devout or a distorted enticement to the glory of heaven.
You say you haven’t tasted God’s glory. I say, you have tasted the appetizers. Go on to the meal.
You have seen the shadows; look at the substance. You have walked in the warm rays of the day; turn and look at the sun itself. You have heard echoes of God’s glory everywhere; tune your heart to the original music.
The best place to get your heart tuned is at the cross of Jesus Christ. “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
If you want the most concentrated display of the glory of God, look at Jesus in the Gospels, and look especially at the cross. This will focus your eyes and tune your heart and waken your taste buds so that you will see and hear and taste the glory of the true God everywhere.
That is what you were made for. I plead with you: don’t throw your life away. God made you to know his glory. Pursue that with all your heart and above all else.
God tells Jacob to return to his homeland. But when Laban finds the idols missing from his home, he chases down Jacob and his wives.
Get Out of Town
So Jacob put his wives and children on camels, and he drove all his livestock in front of him. He packed all the belongings he had acquired in Paddan-aram and set out for the land of Canaan, where his father, Isaac, lived. At the time they left, Laban was some distance away, shearing his sheep. Rachel stole her father’s household idols and took them with her.
While Jacob was living with his father-in-law, he always did more than was expected of him. When his flocks were attacked, he took the losses rather than splitting them with Laban. He worked hard even after several pay cuts. His diligence eventually paid off; his flocks began to multiply.
Leaving home was not difficult for Rachel and Leah because their father had treated them as poorly as he had treated Jacob. According to custom, they were supposed to receive the benefits of the dowry Jacob paid for them, which was fourteen years of hard work. When Laban did not give them what was rightfully theirs, they knew they would never inherit anything from their father. Thus, they wholeheartedly approved of Jacob’s plan to take the wealth he had gained and leave.
Jacob certainly had a complicated relationship with his in-laws. Even though Jacob manipulated the breeding of the flocks (Genesis 30:37-43) and snuck away with his family while Laban was gone (Genesis 31:17-19), Jacob was nevertheless a hard worker who brought wealth to his dishonest father-in-law. More importantly, Jacob was beginning to realize that whatever blessings he received were the gift of God, who was watching over him in the midst of his family turmoil.
Some of life’s most challenging relationships can be with family members. What relative do you have a complicated relationship with? Ask God to show you what you can do to honor him and that person.
Streams in the Desert – May 12
All things are possible to him that believes (Mark 9:23).
The “all things” do not always come simply for the asking, for the reason that God is ever seeking to teach us the way of faith, and in our training in the faith life there must be room for the trial of faith, the discipline of faith, the patience of faith, the courage of faith, and often many stages are passed before we really realize what is the end of faith, namely, the victory of faith.
Real moral fiber is developed through discipline of faith. You have made your request of God, but the answer does not come. What are you to do?
Keep on believing God’s Word; never be moved away from it by what you see or feel, and thus as you stand steady, enlarged power and experience is being developed. The fact of looking at the apparent contradiction as to God’s Word and being unmoved from your position of faith make you stronger on every other line.
Often God delays purposely, and the delay is just as much an answer to your prayer as is the fulfillment when it comes.
In the lives of all the great Bible characters, God worked thus. Abraham, Moses and Elijah were not great in the beginning, but were made great through the discipline of their faith, and only thus were they fitted for the positions to which God had called them.
For example, in the case of Joseph whom the Lord was training for the throne of Egypt, we read in the Psalms:
“The word of the Lord tried him.” It was not the prison life with its hard beds or poor food that tried him, but it was the word God had spoken into his heart in the early years concerning elevation and honor which were greater than his brethren were to receive; it was this which was ever before him, when every step in his career made it seem more and more impossible of fulfillment, until he was there imprisoned, and all in innocence, while others who were perhaps justly incarcerated, were released, and he was left to languish alone.
These were hours that tried his soul, but hours of spiritual growth and development, that, “when his word came” (the word of release), found him fitted for the delicate task of dealing with his wayward brethren, with a love and patience only surpassed by God Himself.
No amount of persecution tries like such experiences as these. When God has spoken of His purpose to do, and yet the days go on and He does not do it, that is truly hard; but it is a discipline of faith that will bring us into a knowledge of God which would otherwise be impossible.