Bible In One Year 2017

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Day 157 of 365 • This day’s reading

Devotional

Kindness


Steve Sjogren wrote a book called Conspiracy of Kindness. He started a church in Cincinnati, Ohio, that grew rapidly to an average attendance of 7,500. Their motto is, ‘Small things done with great love are changing the world.’ They carry out random acts of kindness like paying for a stranger’s coffee or writing a ‘thank you’ note to a shop assistant.



Showing God’s love in practical ways, they have discovered the power of kindness to effect positive change, both in their lives and in the lives of people around them. When kindness is expressed, healthy relationships are created, community connections are nourished and people are inspired to pass kindness on.




Psalm 70:1-5



1. Trust in the kindness of God



God is kind. He loves you. Whatever your needs are today, you can cry out to him and he will be your help and deliverer.



David prays, ‘God! Please hurry to my rescue! God, come quickly to my side!’ (v.1, MSG). He goes on, ‘Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay’ (v.5). As he cries out, he remembers God’s kindness to him in the past.



As I look back at this passage in my Bible and see cries for help that I have written down beside it over several years, I pray:




Thank you so much, Lord, for your kindness and love. Today, I cry out for…





Acts 3:1-26



2. Act kindly to those in need



One act of kindness can transform a person’s day, or even their life. As the saying goes, ‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.’ Kindness is one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Just after they had been filled with the Holy Spirit, we see in this passage what is later described as an ‘act of kindness’ (Acts 4:9) performed by Peter and John (3:1–10).



This ‘act of kindness’ led to a remarkable chain of events, which can perhaps best be described as ‘power evangelism’. It led to astonishing church growth. It was part of the beginning of an explosion that eventually was to change the whole world.



If we were asked to start a new church, I doubt we would have done it the way they did. They had no building, no money and no resources. It began with a bunch of fisherman and tax collectors and, among other things, a whole load of people speaking in tongues! Yet the church exploded into life with astonishing growth.



People from outside were attracted because of what they saw happening on the inside. They were attracted by the sheer undiluted power of God released through this ‘act of kindness’.



These two guys were on their way to an evening service. When they got there they saw a person in desperate need, begging for help. This is the sort of person that we might expect to find in one of the few places they could hope to receive any kindness.



The man ‘was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts’ (v.2). The gate was called Beautiful; yet, what they saw was not what the world sees as beautiful – a man disabled from birth, begging.



Their hearts did not sink when they saw the contrast. Rather, their faith rose. They did something. They healed him. They saw someone in need. They recognised the inner beauty of every human being. They didn’t have any money but Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk’ (v.6).



There is great power in the name of Jesus. To the Hebrew mind a person’s name revealed their character. This was not a magic formula or a tag-on at the end of a prayer. This was the difference between the ministry of Jesus and that of his disciples. Jesus healed on his own authority, while the disciples did it in his name. In the same way, we are dependent on him. In our weakness, you and I can continue to exercise his ministry, in his power and in his name.   



Not only was this man healed (he jumped to his feet and began to walk and praise God, v.8), but many people were also converted. This one act of kindness had an astonishing effect. The people ‘were filled with wonder and amazement at what happened to him… all the people were astonished and came running to them’ (vv.10–11). The demonstration of the power of God was accompanied by the proclamation of the gospel. They had the opportunity to speak about Jesus: his death and resurrection, and the need for faith (vv.14–16).



Our preaching should always be Jesus-centred. Peter’s second sermon, like his first, is totally focused on Jesus. He starts by saying, ‘People of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” (v.12). Peter does not want the people to be focused on himself, but rather on Jesus.



The whole talk is about Jesus. Jesus is God’s ‘servant’ (v.13), ‘the Holy and Righteous One’ (v.14), ‘the author of life’ (v.15) and the ‘prophet’ foretold by Moses (v.22). He says, ‘By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him’ (v.16).



Peter gives the good news about Jesus. He speaks about sin, the cross, the resurrection and the need to repent and turn to God. He assures them of God’s promise to forgive their sins and restore their relationship with God. He says, ‘Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord’ (v.19).



‘Times of refreshing’ come when you spend time in God’s presence. When you are weary or worn out, you can be refreshed by spending time with God. Sometimes, you need to learn to separate yourself from the busyness of life and spend time with God in the way that Jesus did. The Holy Spirit, in his kindness, wants to bring ‘times of refreshing’ to you.




Lord, thank you that there is such power in the name of Jesus. I pray for an opportunity today to show kindness to someone and help them, in Jesus’ name.





2 Samuel 9:1-10:19



3. Give and receive kindness



God has an endless supply of kindness. David speaks of ‘God’s kindness’ (9:3). When you show kindness, it is a way of expressing God’s kindness to you.



David asks, ‘Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’ (v.1). He then asks Ziba, ‘Is there not still someone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the unfailing, unsought, unlimited mercy and kindness of God?’ (v.3, AMP).



Mephibosheth was only five years old at the time of his father’s death (4:4) and now had a young son (9:12). David had been reigning in Jerusalem for at least seven years and Mephibosheth was probably about twenty years of age. The kindness that David shows Mephibosheth is like the kindness of God to us – unfailing, unsought and unlimited.



As in our New Testament passage, it is someone who is disabled (v.3) to whom special kindness is shown. David says to Mephibosheth, ‘Don’t be afraid… for I will surely show you kindness… I will restore to you all the land… and you will always eat at my table’ (v.7).



Then, David looks for further opportunities to show kindness. ‘I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me’ (10:2). Sadly, as sometimes happens, this kindness was misunderstood (v.3f.). However, this should not put us off. It is natural and right to want to show kindness to the children whose parents have been particularly kind to us.



Mephibosheth said, ‘Who am I that you pay attention to a stray dog like me?’ (v.8, MSG). He had a poor self-image. Like many of us, he was focussed on his imperfections. But God blesses us in spite of our imperfections. He wants us to know and experience his unlimited kindness. Don’t focus on what is wrong – your sins, faults, weaknesses and failures. In Christ, God has given you his righteousness and wants to pour out on you the riches of his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7).




Lord, thank you for the riches of your kindness to me. Help me to always be on the lookout for opportunities to show kindness to those in need.





Pippa Adds


2 Samuel 10:1ff



Here, the Ammonites were suspicious and offensive to David’s men who brought the messages of sympathy. They had lived together happily up to this moment. However, as a result of their actions, a war was fought and lives were lost.



Of course it is important to be wise and discerning. However, we must never become cynical. It is important to believe the best about other people’s motives.