Kindness…it can save your soul and your marriage

Kindness…it can save your soul and your marriage
There is a great deal of power in kindness. Doesn’t the idea of kindness sound simple? It should be easy to give kindness to others, but it often isn’t, especially to those who we should love the most, like our spouse and our children. You may be surprised at how much the Bible has to say about kindness. If you pay attention, you will see that kindness has the ability to save your soul as well as your marriage!

Kindness in Marriage
To my shame, Sadie sometimes reminds me that I was much more sweet and kind to her while we were dating. Things change when you get married, don’t they? It shouldn’t, but for most of us, we treat our spouse different after we say, “I do.”

Marriage is hard. I think one reason why marriage is more demanding than dating is because the Bible teaches that one of the goals of marriage is for two people to become one. That’s not as easy as it sounds. You’re taking two different people, with two different backgrounds, two different wills and two different personalities and trying to make them become one! Not to mention that opposites attract, right? That makes it even more difficult!

So becoming one is no easy task. If you want to glorify God with your marriage, build a happy life together and see your children grow up in a secure home, you’re going to need more than just love! You’re going to need some tools to build the life you envision and desire.

The Bible offers these tools. It tells us how to build our lives on a sure, solid foundation so that when the storms of life come, you won’t get swept away (Matthew 7).

One advice the Bible offers to our marriage is to show kindness. Doesn’t that sound simple enough? Well, it’s not! You know how difficult it is to show your spouse kindness when life’s pressures are mounting. If you’re normal, you know exactly what I’m talking about…big stuff breaks that costs big money, one spouse loses a job putting huge stress on the family…you’re juggling groceries, kids, school, sports and other responsibilities and if there is one more thing that can go wrong…well, it does. You know what I’m talking about, right? You’ve had these experiences in your home life.

These are times your marriage needs kindness the most. There are many reasons to argue and many reasons to disagree, but there should never, ever be a reason to be unkind to one another. Kindness should be a priority in the life a Christ follower. Allow me to give you a few Biblical reasons why kindness should be valued in your life and home…

The Bible’s definition of Kindness may be different than yours
When I think of kindness I think of being pleasant or thoughtful, but do you know how the Bible defines kindness? The New Testament portion of the Bible was written in Greek, but the Old Testament portion was written in Hebrew. The Hebrew word for kindness is fascinating. It is Hesed. It’s such a deep and meaningful word that takes two English words to describe it, Loving Kindness, and it is mentioned over and over throughout the Old Testament, usually referring to God’s loving kindness over His people.

Ravi Zacharias breaks down this word in his wonderful book, I, Isaac, take thee, Rebekah. He says, “It is an attribute that puts the other (person) first and is defined by action rather than by emotion.” (I, Isaac, take thee, Rebekah, pg. 51).

So when we think of God’s kindness, Hesed, we know that it is not in just word or emotion. Instead, His kindness is in action! So how was God’s kindness shown in action?

The Sending of His Son
This week, we are celebrating Holy Week or Passion Week. We mark the events leading to the death of Christ on the cross and His triumphant resurrection. Listen to how the Bible describes God’s loving kindness in sending Christ, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8. This is God demonstrating His love for us. You and I justly deserve God’s wrath and instead, Christ absorbed the wrath of God on our behalf by suffering the death of the cross. This is God’s loving kindness in action toward us.

God’s Kindness led you to salvation
Most people have the wrong view of God. They see Him as angry all the time. Now don’t misunderstand, the Bible does teach that God gets angry at sin. And it does teach that, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:31. But the Bible doesn’t teach that God is always angry like so many think. God is joyful. He is love. He is kind! Romans 2:4 tells us, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”

Think of the magnitude of this verse. His loving kindness is what led us to repentance. Not guilt or anger or belittling. His loving kindness. If God has been so kind to me as to lead me to repentance, should I not be kind to every person I come in contact with?

Through His kindness, He saved us
Read carefully Titus 3:4-6, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

Now that we have Biblically linked our salvation to the kindness of God, aren’t the words of this particular verse even sweeter? So if your view of God is that He is angry, take note that it is the “goodness and loving kindness of God” that “saved us.” Those are truths we should glorify God for!

Where we go from here
If God has given me kindness that has led to my repentance, allowed me to experience Christ’s sacrifice and has ultimately saved my soul, then I should be conscience and aware of the kindness I’m showing to others in my life. If I want to give the hesed type of kindness, then I’m going to understand that my kindness will not be in word or emotion only, it’s going to be in my actions.

Action #1: Producing this fruit in my life
Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit in our lives that the Holy Spirit should be producing (Galatians 5:22-23). I should have to struggle to be kind. It should be a part of the working God is doing in my life. I just need to be aware of it and make sure that I’m looking for opportunities to show kindness.

Action #2: I’m going to start with my spouse
1 Corinthians 13:4 is a tough verse…well, it’s a tough chapter. It tells us that “love is kind.”Am I treating my wife in a way that I’m loving her through my actions, not just words or emotions? If my loving kindness is going to mirror God’s, then I’m going to up my game in the way I treat her and my children.

Action #3: It’s going to carry over to others
Part of this loving kindness is being tenderhearted. Ephesians 4:32 instructs us, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, giving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Wow! Doesn’t that verse sum up everything we just discovered about kindness?

If God has shown me His kindness by sending His Son to forgive my sins, should the results of that action in my life be that I’m willing to be kind to others, forgiving them and being a tenderhearted person? Let kindness work in you and see the difference it will make in your life, your relationships and testimony.

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The Happiness You’re Searching For…

The Happiness You’re Searching For…
It’s a frustrating feeling when you know you should be thankful for all that God has done for you, but you don’t feel satisfied. You recognize God has given you a family, an income and even health. While you have all of these to enjoy, there still seems to be something missing…something lacking in your life.

I am acquainted with those feelings. I know well the guilt they can bring to a heart, even a heart that loves the Lord. There was a season of my life where I knew I was doing what God wanted me to do, but I felt so empty. Sure, I loved God. I was serving God to the best of ability, but I couldn’t shake the dissatisfaction I felt deep in my heart.

For me, it all culminated on an airplane across the Pacific Ocean in 2005. I had went to Vietnam to smuggle Bibles to believers with a friend. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Coming home, I should have felt satisfied by such an exciting opportunity from the Lord, but I didn’t. I felt that I had to begin planning my next thing.

My heart was flooding with emotions. I would feel a wave of dissatisfaction and then a wave of guilt. I could feel Satan saying, “God is angry with you. He gave you an opportunity of a life time and you’re still not happy. You’re still longing for something more. You have made God so mad at you because YOU WILL NEVER BE SATISFIED.” It’s as if he was screaming this at my soul. Isn’t he the “accuser of the brethren”? (Rev. 12:10) and the “Father of lies”? (John 8:44).

But in that moment I believed his lie. I was vulnerable and he attacked. When I got home, I felt depressed and defeated.

Not long after this experience the Lord began to take me on a wonderful journey. It took a while for me to learn the beautiful truths of Psalms 16:11. It didn’t come overnight, but through this process, the Lord began to teach me why I felt empty. He led me on a path of discovering joy like I had never known.

I want to share some of the truths the Lord taught me from Psalms 16 in hopes that it may encourage you and help you discover the path of life, the joy of His presence and the deep pleasures God has planned for you.

The path of life (You make known to me the path of life) v. 16a
What an important phrase, “you make known to me the path of life.” I find it interesting that it is God who “makes known” to us His path. This is not something you can discover on your own. So how does God show us the path of life? The answer is by seeking the Lord. Isn’t that easier said than done? I don’t think that seeking the Lord means attending church or saying a prayer that God will bless you and help you. I think “seeking the Lord” means to spend quality time in prayer communicating with the Lord about your life and His plans for you.

How we seek the Lord
Do feel the Lord is too busy for you? Are you afraid that your efforts will be in vain because God isn’t concerned about your life? Scripture will change your perspective. Listen to the promise of Proverbs 8:17, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” What a promise!

“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” Lamentations 3:25. How often do you set aside time just to be with the Lord? Do you turn everything off, get away and worship and fellowship with the God? If not, it may be that the Lord is waiting for you to begin to seek Him.

Jeremiah 33:3 encourages us to call upon the Lord. “Call to me and I will answer you…” Do you think you can call just anyone and speak with them? Probably not. Try calling the White House and see if you can speak with the President. Try calling a famous athlete or even the CEO of a big corporation. You most likely will not get past their assistant. However, you and I can pray to the King of kings, the Creator of Heaven and earth, the Lord of lords at any moment. Isn’t that incredible?

Jeremiah 33:3 goes on to say, “Call to me and I will answer you, and show you great and hidden things that you have not known.” I know you have been in situations where you didn’t know what to do. Maybe you’re facing one of those now. There is a promise here for you! Call to the Lord and He will show you the “hidden things.” He will guide you and direct you! “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalms 37:23. This is how we “seek the Lord” in our lives.

Ponder the Path you’re on
If you continued walking the path you’re on right now for the next 5 years, will it lead to where you want to be in life? Will your health be better by the decisions you’re making today? Will you be more secure financially? Will your children or grandchildren mature in a way that they become the person you would like them to be?

Proverbs 4:22 tells us, “Ponder the path of your feet, then all your ways will be sure.” A great question to ask ourselves is this, are we following the Lord or following our own agenda and ambitions in life? Take some time to sit and ponder the path of your feet and see if they are walking on the “Path of life.”

The Pleasures of God (In your presence there is fullness of Joy) v. 16b
Some people have the wrong view of God. They think God is mad at everyone and everything. Yet the Bible teaches us a great deal about God and Joy! Psalms 16:11 is quick to remind us that in God’s presence there is “fullness of joy.”

John Piper said it best, “Pleasure is not God’s competitor, idols are.” It’s when we try to find our pleasure and deepest satisfaction in things other than God. Have you ever experienced the power of water to quench your thirst? I know for me, when I am extremely thirsty I cannot drink anything other than water. Anything else just makes me thirstier. But water has the power to quench our thirsts!

Is it any wonder the Bible describes God as “Living Water”? It is because He alone can quench the thirsting’s of our lives. Listen to John 7:37, “On the last day of the feast, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.’”

 I know there have been times in my life I have been so thirsty. I tried drinking from the cup of ambition and all it did was make me thirstier. I tried finding satisfaction in relationships or in success, but all it did was leave me wanting more. It wasn’t until I began to drink from the cup of Christ that I found the satisfaction my soul was craving.

Apart from Christ, we cannot hold water. Read carefully Jeremiah 2:13, “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and hewed out cisterns themselves, broken cistern that can hold no water.” Our hearts are not designed for anything more than Jesus Christ. God certainly gives us pleasures in life to enjoy, but there isn’t anything that quench the thirsting’s of your life a part from Christ!

However, once God has worked in our lives, then we can enjoy the thirst quenching power of the water of life. John 7:38 declared, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” And one day, in that Heavenly city, we will never thirst again! “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”Revelation 7:17.

 The Presence of God (at your right hand are pleasures forevermore) v. 16c
You cannot experience His promises unless you are living in His presence.

So what does it mean to live in the presence of God? I think it means you are aware and conscience of God in your daily life. When you think of God’s presence, maybe you just think of church or maybe you think of a worship set or a concert. Do you ever think of God’s presence in your daily routine? Do you spend time with the Lord in the average, repetitive moments of life, like driving to work or eating lunch or while sending emails? Those are perfect opportunities to communicate with the Lord.

Fill my cup, Lord
At the lowest point of the season of life I described earlier after returning from Vietnam, the Lord used a simple song to break through my confusion. The words say, “Fill my cup, Lord. I lift it up Lord. Come and quench the thirsting’s of my soul. Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more. Here’s my cup, fill it up and make me whole.”

The Lord began to fill my heart. He quenched my thirsting’s! He fed me till I was satisfied. What an incredible work the Lord did in my life. He began to show me that I cannot find my true joy or happiness in my successes or in ambition. The Lord rescued me from trying to find satisfaction in a relationship or in accomplishments. I learned that God alone can satisfy my heart. I hope you will take the time to discover the depths of Psalms 16:11 in your own life. Drink deeply from the wells of God’s grace and enjoy the thirst quenching power of Jesus Christ in your soul.

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds rest in thee.” – St. Augustine


Hope for those who Doubt

Hope for those who Doubt…
Doubt plagues many people…even Christians. For some, they seem to doubt God’s love and goodness because they have faced circumstances where the Lord could have intervened and He could have given them a different outcome, but He didn’t. As a result, they now find it difficult to pray or to trust Him. For others, it’s not that they doubt God or even His goodness, but they doubt themselves. Can they be good enough or do they measure up to what they think God accepts?

John 20:24-31 tells of a man history calls, “Doubting Thomas.” I want to show you a few reasons why I appreciate this story in the Bible and how relevant it can be to our lives…especially to those of us who have genuine doubts and questions.

The Disciples were genuinely afraid
Verse 26 tells us that eight days after Christ’s resurrection the disciples were gathered together in a room with the doors locked! I don’t’ know about you, but it gives me a great deal of comfort to know how human the disciples were. They were not super men with unlimited courage. These were the men Christ had hand chosen to be His followers. Jesus had invested the last three years of His ministry pouring into them. They saw each of His miracles and experienced the supernatural power of God time and time again…yet here they were, cowering behind a locked door in fear..

The Disciples were not gullible
We often scorn Thomas for doubting, but Jesus didn’t. Verse 25 records that Thomas told the other disciples, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

I bet Thomas was the analytically and rational one of the group. He wasn’t gullible and was not going to take other people’s word. Notice the other disciples had already had a conversation with Jesus. They had already experienced the risen Savior in the verses above. Then eight days later, they gathered again but this time Thomas was with them…that must have been a long, agonizing week for Thomas. While the other disciples had joy in knowing Christ had risen, Thomas continued on with his doubts and unbelief.

You may be that analytically type and while you believe there is a God, you don’t know if you go for all the Bible stuff. “I’m not going to take other people’s word for it”, or “I’m not going to believe a book written thousands of years ago and who knows how many times it’s been changed…”Sure, it’s for some people and some of the Bible has merit, but you would never consider yourself a “believer’ or “follower of Jesus.”

I wonder how much joy you’re missing in life because of your unbelief? You may have all kinds of arguments as to why you think the way you do. I’m sure Thomas had his reasoning’s. But Christianity is not meant to be argued, it is meant to be experienced. You may have all kinds of angels you see Christ through, but until you experience Christ for yourself, you’ll never have the joy and peace of salvation.

The Bible says that eight days later they gathered together again. This time Thomas is with everyone. Then the unthinkable happens, Christ appears through the wall with the doors being locked! Now, in our day that doesn’t sound so strange. If this happened with you and I standing in a room, we would be amazed but then say, “WOW, how did you do that? What special effects did you use?” There were no special effects in this day. It must have stunned the disciples!

In verse 27 Christ says to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Can you image the look on Thomas’ face?

Jesus isn’t offended by our doubts and questions

Do you know what really amazes me about this experience? Remember what we said earlier, Jesus had invested the most important three years of his life pouring into these men. It surprises me that He didn’t sneer or rebuke them for their fear and unbelief!

He actually did the exact opposite. Read the end of verse 26, “…Peace be with you.” He didn’t look around the room and say, “Are you kidding me? You’ve seen each one of my miracles. You witnessed my power. I told you I was going to die and I told you I would rise again. Why didn’t you believe me?” No! He didn’t reprimand them. Rather, He calmed their fears and said, “Peace be with you.”

How are you doubting God in your life at the moment? Are you afraid to be the person God is calling you to be? Are you scared of actually going through with what you know He is leading you to do? Do you feel that the Lord is angry with you? I don’t think the God is angry with you. He wasn’t angry with His disciples. He instead reinforced His confidence in them.

Look carefully at verse 21, “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”

Isn’t that remarkable? Instead of saying, “You’re all cowards! Have you learned nothing from me in the last three years? Did I choose the wrong men?” He didn’t say anything like that! Rather He said the most audacious thing you could say to a group of men cowering in a locked room. “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

I bet Jesus is saying the same thing to your doubting heart today! You may think He’s angry with you. You may think you’re unfit to serve Him. You may think you don’t have what it takes, but Jesus says the exact opposite! He says, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”