- Strength will build you up
- Love will fill you up
- Arms will lift you.
A Life of Kindness and Compassion
Some people are incredibly kind and compassionate in the way they consistently treat others; however, due to the surface similarity of the two, the depth of difference between kindness and compassion can be overlooked.
While kindness is a spirit of benevolence that reflects our concern for others and the friendly and generous ways we treat people, compassion, is the spirit of mercy that motivated the Good Samaritan. He was moved to lay aside hatred and to cross social barriers to help the badly-beaten man who had been left for dead.
You can be kind without being compassionate, but, I don’t think you can be seen as compassionate without also being kind. In Ephesians, Paul instructs the believer to practice both: You must put away all bitterness, anger, wrath, quarreling, and slanderous talk—indeed all malice. Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you (4:31-32).
Acts of kindness and compassion, should be more than a theoretical discussion over a cup of coffee; these fruits of the Spirit are worthy of more than just lip service.
How can you begin to live a life of kindness and compassion? I suggest you place a bookmark at Philippians 2:3-4, and use it as a reference point. Read it frequently and follow its principles faithfully. To get started ask yourself some questions from this verse:
- What is it that motivates me?
- Am I known more for selfish ambition or humility?
- If I treated myself the way I treat others, would I be pleased with my actions?
- Am I too self-consumed to show concern for the plight of others?
I share the words that follow, as a prayer for today and as a conclusion to this discussion:
Lord, help me to love with both words and deeds,
To reach out to others and meet their needs;
Lord, burden my heart for those lost in sin,
With mercy and love that flows from within. ~Fitzhugh
Leaders: Some Rise and Some Fall
If you take a causal walk down the self-help aisle of most book stores, you find shelves stocked full of books on leadership. A common principle in many of these books is the need to study the lives of leaders.
To accomplish this, you can thumb through the pages of the Bible where you will discover a long list of leaders. Some them are polished and practical; others are hopeless and hapless; but, the stories are fair a fair and balanced account that opens the door that reveals the skeletons in their closets.
Two of the better-known leaders are Saul and David. Saul, the first king of Israel, could whip most anyone, but his ego got the best of him. Samuel, the priest, issued a stern rebuke and no-holds-barred reprimand to King Saul: Now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee (I Samuel 13:14).
The man after God’s own heart was David, and he knew the key of his strength would be a dependence on God. David said: You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me (Psalm 31:3).
Like David, we can and should, look to God for strength and guidance:
- Psalm 5:8: Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before my face.
- Psalm 25:5: Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.
- Psalm 23:2-3: He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
- Psalm 143:10: Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.
When you begin to trust in the goodness of God, you hear the rhythm and cadence of His voice and begin to walk in step with Him—He leads; you follow.
Solomon said, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Are you a King Saul who continually tried to prop himself up with his own wisdom; or, are you a David who found a life of blessings by trusting God and letting Him direct his paths?
Who has your ear? Whose voice are you hearing? Which path in life are you walking? Are you following God’s lead?
There’s Something About Those Eyes
In one of my recent excursions through the pages of the Psalms, I noticed three verses that had a least one word in common. You can read them below, and see the word for yourself:
- Psalm 119:37: Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way
- Psalm 119:18: Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law
- Psalm 19:8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
When I read these verses, I see the first two as prayers to help us reshape our focus and to gain a fresh perspective on life—to turn away from what’s wrong and to open up to what’s right. The third verse is a recognition of what’s right, rejoicing, and radiating or enlightening.
There’s a fourth verse that also has the word eyes in it, and it’s one that’s reassuring:
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry (Ps.34:5).
This verse reminds us that God watches over us and that His ears are open to our prayers. This verse gives confidence that:
- In times of fear, we can still trust God: The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe (Proverbs 29:25).
- When our world is crashing down on us, we can be confident that He is still present: Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us (Psalm 62:8).
- When we can’t seem to shake our worries and anxieties, we can find peace in God: You will keep perfectly peaceful the one whose mind remains focused on you, because he remains in you. “Trust in the Lord forever for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.(Isaiah 26:3-4).
- When we seem too weak to persevere, God is our refuge and strength: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore, we will not fear (Psalm 46).
- When life seems full of roadblocks and detours, we can look to God for guidance: Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Let me know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You (Psalm 143:8).
Even though he and his fellow believers were suffering extreme persecution during the reign of the sadistic Nero, Peter said: God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you (I Peter 5:6-7).
Whenever you are tempted to give up, you have two choices: You can either throw-in the towel and quit, or you can toss your cares to God and let Him help carry your load.
A Fact A Day
My post today is a simple list for the complex world in which we live. Instead of hurriedly glancing at the list and moving on with your agenda for the day, I hope you will keep it in mind and take the time to consider each one again on its assigned day for the week ahead.
Fact 1 for Monday: Life is full of obstacles.
You will encounter many detours in your life’s pursuit—be resolute. Don’t allow detours and distractions to become attractions; remain focused on your goals
- Philippians 3:13-14: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Fact 2 for Tuesday: Small sparks can start big fires, so mind your manners and tame your tongue.
- James 1:26; 3:5: If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile . . . though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites
Fact 3 for Wednesday: Whatever grips your attention, grabs you.
- James 1:1:14-15: Each one is tempted when he is lured, enticed, and trapped by his own desires. Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death.
Fact 4 for Thursday: You may not be what you think you are, but what you think you are.
- Colossians 3: 1-2: Seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth
Fact 5 for Friday: The world may think you’re a zero, but God knows you’re a hero.
- Judges 6:12: The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!
Fact 6 for Saturday: God has a plan and a purpose for you.
- Genesis 50:15, 19-20: When Joseph’s brothers saw their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” But Joseph said to them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.”
Fact 7 for Sunday: It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
- There are 86,400 seconds in a day and you can use them or abuse them.
I’ve only just a minute; 0nly sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon me, can’t refuse it; didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it,
But it’s up to me to use it.
I must suffer if I lose it; give an account if I abuse it,
Just a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it.
~Dr. Benjamin E. Mays
I think this quote is a good conclusion to my list, so I’ll end with it: “Let us take things as we find them: let us not attempt to distort them into what they are not. We cannot make facts. All our wishing cannot change them. We must use them.” ~John Henry Cardinal Newman
Number 45: Donald J Trump
The prayers of pastors, are heard at least every four years in Washington D.C., and this was true again this year when Bishop Wayne T. Jackson prayed for President Donald Trump: We ask that you give him the wisdom of Solomon, the vision of Joseph and the meekness of Christ . . . Solomon kept peace among many nations, Joseph dreamt better for the people, and Christ who accepted us all.
Jackson was obeying the mandate of I Timothy 2:1-2: I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
Regardless of our political views and how we voted, Donald J. Trump is now the president of the United States; and, whether we like him or detest him, it is our duty to pray for him.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord ~Psalm 33:12
A Give and Take World
The world in which we live seems to be more take than give. The focus is more on what I can take from you than on what I can contribute; in a conversation, it’s more talk than listen; and in the marketplace, it’s more sabotage than service.
Mark Twain aptly said, “The principle of give and take is the principle of diplomacy— give one and take ten.”
The words of Twain are the motto of many, and they are akin to a concept called reciprocity. While the word may be little spoken, it is more than lightly practiced. Reciprocity is the ledger book of the mind that keeps a tab on indebtedness—Who do I owe and who owes me?
Reciprocity is the tally sheet of guilt and entitlement:
- A person who believes he has received too much and given to little may feel a sense of guilt.
- When a person thinks, he has given too much and received too little he may believe he is entitled to more, i.e. more money, recognition, etc.
If you are dissatisfied with your lot in life, I encourage you to consider three questions before you take any action:
- What is it that I wanted but did not get?
- What is it that I got but did not want?
- Am I thinking in terms that embody the Christian ethic of the Golden Rule?
While turning the other cheek, loving your neighbor as yourself, and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, are laughable to some, they are principles that need to be removed from the shelf, dusted off, and put into practice.
As Paul said, we need to, Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. Tolerate one another in an atmosphere thick with love. Make every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit has already created, with peace binding you together. . . Banish bitterness, rage and anger, shouting and slander, and any and all malicious thoughts—these are poison. Instead, be kind and compassionate. Graciously forgive one another just as God has forgiven you (Ephesians 4).
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heal that has crushed it.
A is for Apple
I was enjoying the sweet taste of apples long before I had ever participated in the homespun, spit-swapping, and germ-spreading, tradition of apple bobbing. Fact is, I almost drowned a time or two while I chased an apple around the inside of a water-filled wood barrel.
Apples are a tasty delight and a welcome addition to most diets, and they are also a definite plus to the pocket books of Washington farmers. The typical orchard will produce 37,100 pounds per acre with a value somewhere between $12,500-$13,000. The fertile ground of Washington contributes $18 billion plus to the state’s economy in apples alone.
When I eat an apple, my preference is Jonathan, Fuji, or Honeycrisp, but I doubt David had a specific variety in mind when he prayed: Keep me as the apple of your eye, and hide me in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 17:8).
As the apple of God’s eye, you are so special to God that:
- He is aware of your sorrows—Psalm 56:8
- He likens your prayers to the sweet smell of incense—Revelation 5:8
- He floods your heart with His love—Romans 5:5
- He blesses you with His mercy—Psalm 57:10
From out of all the orchards in the world, you are the apple that God has picked, and it is, “According to His great mercy, He has given us [you] a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you (I Peter 1:3-4).”
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry ~Psalm 34:15
The Treasure in Measure
I’m certain that I’ve seen and spoken the word “measure” thousands of times in my life, and I’ve read Romans 12:3 many hundreds of times. When I read it again a moment ago I noticed something different. I saw the three words found in measure: me-a-sure.
For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. ~Romans 12:3
While me-a-sure has nothing to do with the meaning of measure or the theological significance of Romans 12:3, me-a-sure motivated me to think of the things that I can be sure of knowing, like:
- Eternal Life: These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (I John 5:13).
- The Truth: You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).
- The Good Shepherd: I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own (John 10:14).
- The Hope: I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints (Ephesians 1:18).
- The Love of Jesus: You may know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19).
In the third chapter of Philippians, Paul said there was one thing he was sure of, and it was the need to forget the things that were behind him and to focus on the “prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (3:14).”
How does your relationship with God measure-up? How have you been reassured in times of trials and heartache? How has your confidence in God been strengthened? I’d like to know, so share a comment or two with me.
Title, Deed, and Ownership
When I woke up this morning, to the rhythm and words of an old gospel hymn. The four-line chorus reminded me of a precious truth:
Now I belong to Jesus,
Jesus belongs to me,
Not for the years of time alone,
But for eternity.
Of the 19 words in that refrain, the word belong stood out more than the rest. It occurred to me that when you belong to Jesus, you should be longing for a relationship with Him.
During a debate with some skeptics, Jesus spoke of the key to this relationship: The one who belongs to God listens and responds to God’s words. You don’t listen and respond, because you don’t belong to God (John 8:47).
When you listen and respond to God’s words it’s evidence that you belong to God, and it’s the first note in a harmonious relationship with Him. Paul spoke of this relationship, and who you are in Jesus:
- Ephesians 1:7—In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
- Ephesians 1:11—In Him also we have obtained an inheritance
- Ephesians 3:12—We have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.
- Colossians 2:9-10—As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving, and you are complete in Him
When the feelings of doubt and despair try to take root in your heart, remember that you belong to Jesus. His desire is to have a relationship with you, and He will watch over you as a shepherd does his flock.
Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and we belong to Him;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.