Help Needed!

They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage. (Isaiah 41:6) 
 
One of the great American authors, Alex Haley, had a picture on a wall in his office that attracted much attention. It always aroused the interest of his visitors because no one could understand the significance of the photograph to the writer.
 
On one occasion, a visitor with a perplexed look on his face asked, “Alex, why do you have a picture of a turtle sitting on the top of a fence post?”
 
Haley replied, “I try to remember how this turtle – me – got on the top of that post.”
 
Sometimes, perhaps most of the time for some of us, it is difficult to admit that if it were not for the help of others, we would not be where we are. From our earliest moments until this present hour, we are encouraged by nearly everyone to believe that “You can do it by yourself!”
 
Not so! We all need the help of others. Consider two words of advice from God. Speaking through the prophet Isaiah He said, “encourage one another with the words, ‘Be strong!’”
 
Each day God brings individuals into our lives who need help, encouragement, inspiration, an act of kindness, words of sympathy, or a look of empathy. He does this so we can help Him do His work in His world. It’s easy to encourage others by simply smiling and saying, “Be strong.”
 
Living life as one of Christ’s disciples, and doing the will of God, is to become a voice through which He speaks words of encouragement and a hand that He uses to help others.
 
Blessed is the Christian who enables others to “be strong!”
 
Father, may we take seriously the fact that You expect us to look to You for guidance and then reach out to others in love and mercy to show Your grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
 
When I read this devotion I was reminded of a quote I once heard that has stuck with me from a very young age and I remind myself of it often. Some people come into our lives and quickly go, some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our heart and we are never ever the same. My prayer is that we can leave footprints wherever we go and enable others to be strong. The very simple gestures are often the ones that have the biggest effect. Just your smile can change hearts and minds. Be kind.

 
Have a beautiful and uplifting day in The Lord!


Unusual Kindness

Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta. And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold. (Acts 28:1-2) 
 
Have you ever read a story on social media about someone who did something over-the-top for a stranger? Like tipping a server not just the standard 20 percent, but maybe 500 percent? I love these stories of excessive thoughtfulness, but Facebook isn’t the only place we find them. 
 
Tucked in the pages of the New Testament is a two-word phrase that leapt off the pages of my Bible one day. It rearranged my thinking and became somewhat of a life mission. A subtle perspective shift that enables me to view each day as an adventure. It’s a straightforward concept that usually costs little but time, but still it seems mighty scarce these days. 

In Acts 28:1-2, we encounter some unnamed natives who dwelt on a remote island where a boatload of people – including the apostle Paul – suddenly found themselves shipwrecked in the middle of a storm.”Once safely on shore, wefound out that the islandwas called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness.”
 
Unusual kindness. Their welcoming behavior toward the group of strangers was so uncommon that Scripture doesn’t just chronicle this encounter with the single word “kindness.” Instead, the adjective “unusual” was intentionally hitched to kindness to give us a glimpse of the godly and counter-culture behavior of these folks.
 
I love the reason given for this above-and-beyond behavior. It doesn’t say this unusual kindness was shown, because “Paul and his companions were important people.” Nope. It doesn’t declare that the welcome and warmth was given (literally with a freshly built fire!), because “the people from the shipwreck had the exact political and theological views as the islanders.” No again. They were treated with this unusual kindness because – wait for it ?
 
“? it was raining and cold.”
 
Today we encounter all sorts of people who are up against the elements, perhaps not physically with rain or cold, but in life somehow nonetheless. We happen upon these people, knowing nothing about their beliefs or backgrounds. And perhaps they’re already in our everyday lives, right under our noses, but we have never stopped to help.
 
So, what can mimicking the Malta natives’ conduct look like for us today? And how do our acts of kindness morph into the unusual category?
 
Kindness holds the door open for an elderly person leaving the grocery store. Unusual kindness willingly carries their groceries all the way to their car, puts them in the trunk and sends them on their way with an “It was my pleasure,” when thanked.
 
Kindness is smiling at the maxed-out mom of two young kids pitching a royal fit in the department store toy aisle, rather than staring with stone-faced silence, judging her for her apparent lack of parenting skills. Unusual kindness recognizes all children misbehave, and this stressed-out mama is woefully outnumbered. So we tell her to hang in there. That she’s doing an important job. And maybe slip her a $10 bill and tell her to buy herself a large latte. She’s gonna need something to keep up her energy.
 
Kindness whispers a prayer for the just-moved-in-from-six-states-away neighbor who’s facing life (outside of work time) all alone. Unusual kindness invites him to your house for a weekend supper, folds him in to your family’s ordinary life and asks him questions to get to know him better.
 
Scatter some unusual kindness today. When you do, you’ll make someone’s day – and yours!
 
Father, as I encounter people today, help me remember the example of the islanders of Malta and show others unusual kindness done in Your name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
 
When I went seeking a devotion for today I couldn’t shake one word, kindness. So when I came upon this devotion it resonated within my spirit and I knew it needed to be shared. Today, choose to scatter some unusual kindness.
 
Have a beautiful and uplifting day in The Lord!


The Case for Kindness

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32) 

 

A story I heard in the news a few years ago caught my attention. It was about an 85-year-old man who used to eat breakfast in a Kroger supermarket every morning. He was bossy, very particular, and even remarked that the female employees could stand to lose weight. A few weeks after the old man died of cancer, several of the shocked clerks received checks for $10,000 from his estate. Why? Even when the old man had been cranky and insulting, the staff waiting on him had treated him pleasantly and tried to cheer him up with a little tender care! They even went beyond the call of duty by taking turns to visit him in the hospital! Clearly, none of them expected anything in return. 

 

There’s a word for what the Kroger staff extended to him—kindness. What a refreshing story in a world where kindness has become a lost commodity. But if you are a follower of Jesus, then kindness has to be what you dish out on a regular basis. After all, Paul wrote, “Be kind to one to another, tenderhearted” (Ephesians 4:32). And, it needs to be noted, kindness makes the list as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. Kindness is about thinking of others and extending our love and resources to meet their needs and concerns. 

 

But, in case you’re thinking, Right, but what about me? Proverbs 11:17 offers a fascinating twist on kindness. It says, “The merciful man doeth good to his own soul”—which means that there is something in kindness for you! 

 

Treating people with kindness keeps our hearts and attitudes running in the right direction. If we’re not careful, we can easily fall prey to selfishness and indifference in our dealings with people. Planning to be kind gets you out of the what will they do for me world and gets your heart in tune with what can I do for them? Intentional acts of kindness train our hearts to be loving and helpful, which is really a big benefit! 

 

Acts of kindness to friends, spouses, and our children bless us with the privilege of better friendships and more fulfilling relationships. And, most importantly, kindness will make you a lot like Jesus, who was kind to you all the way to His death! Believe me, becoming like Jesus is a huge return on the investment. 

 

Before you get concerned that you don’t have time to be kind, remember that kindness doesn’t always have to be a major event. It doesn’t take a lot of time to hold the door open for the mom with her arms full, or to smile at a senior citizen as you pass by on the sidewalk. Even if you only see the donut guy for 60 seconds each morning, if it’s your intention to bless him with an encouraging word or two or even a tip in the jar, he’ll remember you as friendly and generous. Maybe he’ll sense that you are different from his other customers and may even want to know what it is that makes you different—a wide open door to let him know that Jesus taught you to be kind! 

 

And if you object because no one is ever kind to you, keep in mind that it may just be that they have never been blessed by you being kind to them! When you are kind, people usually look for ways to return the favor. It’s the boomerang effect. As Jesus taught, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12). 

 

Be kind, and watch the blessings flow! 

 

I love this devotion. When I read it I was reminded of the many times in my life where I have encountered some pretty rude and mean people and I struggled to understand why they were so mean and rude but The Lord would always nudge me to show them kindness and forgiveness and every single time I ended up with a dear friend. I even had others around me who would avoid the individual at all cost because of how they treated people but God always gave me favor with them and even in times when they would say some pretty rude things to me I would respond with kindness and in time there hearts were softened. I know first hand that God can use you to break there hardness and who knows, you may find yourself a dear friend. I’ve never received something from someone’s estate, like today’s devotion mentions but I’ve been blessed to make some lasting friendships where many would have walked away and just given up on that individual. I would encourage you today to stay kind and show love, despite some people’s attitude. James 1:19 says, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. I think we would all make this world a much better place if we would apply this scripture to our daily lives. Pray and ask the Lord to show you a person in your life who needs your kindness. Follow up by reaching out to that person. 

 

Have a beautiful and uplifting day in The Lord! 

 

Today’s Reading is Proverbs 11:3 



A Kind Critique

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (John 1:17) 
 
During a landscape painting class, the teacher, a highly experienced professional artist, assessed my first assignment. He stood silently in front of my painting, one hand cupping his chin. Here we go, I thought. He’s going to say it’s terrible. 
 
But he didn’t. 
 
He said he liked the color scheme and the feeling of openness. Then he mentioned that the trees in the distance could be lightened. A cluster of weeds needed softer edges. He had the authority to criticize my work based on the rules of perspective and color, yet his critique was truthful and kind. 
 
Jesus, who was perfectly qualified to condemn people for their sin, didn’t use the Ten Commandments to crush a Samaritan woman He met at an ancient watering hole. He gently critiqued her life with just a handful of statements. The result was that she saw how her search for satisfaction had led her into sin. Building on this awareness, Jesus revealed Himself as the only source of eternal satisfaction (John 4:10–13). 
 
The combination of grace and truth that Jesus used in this situation is what we experience in our relationship with Him (1:17). His grace prevents us from being overwhelmed by our sin, and His truth prevents us from thinking it isn’t a serious matter. 
 
Will we invite Jesus to show us areas of our lives where we need to grow so we can become more like Him? 
 
How is Jesus using grace and truth to point out issues in your life? Where might He want you to make changes to honor Him more fully? 
 
Jesus, thank You for freeing me from the consequences of sin. Help me to embrace Your correction and Your encouragement. Amen. 
 
When I read this devotion it blessed me and I knew it was meant to be shared over and over again. I pray it blesses you today and is a constant reminder of His love for you and I. 
 
Have a beautiful and uplifting day in The Lord! 
 
Today’s Reading is Psalm 139:13-14