Dear Heritage Family,
Tucked away in the short book of Nehemiah is a verse that stands out to me for many reasons. It is something, which is inspirational and comforting at the same time. It is found in Nehemiah 9:17:
“BUT YOU ARE GOD READY TO PARDON, GRACIOUS, AND MERCIFUL, SLOW TO ANGER AND GREAT IN KINDNESS.”
It is actually found in the longest prayer in the Bible, so it could be easily overlooked but wanted to remind you of the, KINDNESS OF GOD THIS WEEK. If you would take time to read Nehemiah chapter 8 and 9 this week you would find that it is a prayer of repentance and revival. It is interesting that Nehemiah in spite of all Israel’s shortcomings reminds them of God’s kindness. As I was thinking about this my mind ran to God’s instruction to us in the New Testament for instance in Romans chapter 12 verse 10:
“Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another…” KJV
“Be devoted to tenderly loving your fellow believers as members of one family. Try to outdo yourselves in respect and honor of one another.” TM
Paul wrote to the Ephesian Church along these lines. It is better if you read a text in context to get the full benefit of what is being said, but let me share this much with you to help you to see that when we are born again our nature should change as an example of God’s work on the inside of us. Ephesians 2:5-9
“He is so rich in compassion and mercy. 5 Even when we were dead and doomed in our many sins, he united us into the very life of Christ and saved us by his wonderful grace! 6 He raised us up with Christ the exalted One, and we ascended with him into the glorious perfection and authority of the heavenly kindness with Christ! 7 Throughout the coming ages (We will be the visible display of the infinite riches of his grace and kindness), which was showered upon us in Jesus Christ. 8 For by grace you have been saved by faith. Nothing you did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the love gift from God that brought us to Christ! 9 So no one will ever be able to boast, for salvation is never a reward for good works or human striving.”
That word KINDNESS, has grabbed hold of my heart this morning.
The question is what is emerging out of our lives today as we walk with the lord? In this context we can consider it the unfolding of faith. 2nd peter chapter 1,
Out of goodness emerges faith
Out of faith emerges self-control/inner strength
Out of self-control emerges an understanding of God/Godliness
Out of Godliness will emerge brotherly, kindness.
Our world has become increasingly hard and hard, callous and cold, vulgar and brutal. It has become a world lost and un-franchised. Paul did a complete 180 in his regard to the church, when you remember he was breathing our threats and harm to the early believers. Have you ever thought of how kind God is toward us? God was kind to Paul even when the some did not think he had actually become one of them. Acts 9:26 His own testimony before Agrippa in Acts 26:11 was that he “punished those of that way, often in synagogues and compelled them to blaspheme, being exceedingly mad against them. I persecuted them unto strange cities.”
He did about face when he wrote these words to the Ephesian Church in chapter 4:32: Be ye kind one to another, forgiving one another even as God for Christ sake, has forgiven you.
In closing Paul’s letter to Titus comes to mind:
“Speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.
3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared,
5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
Kindness is hard to resist. The other day at the 127 Yard Sale, I had a teaching moment with some of our youth. I told them as the collected money for parking to say something nice to the people as they stopped and paid their dollar. The kids got it and begin to compliment the people when they drove in. It was extremely hot and uncomfortable but they endured and as people were shocked by their kindness and smiles. What red neck is not proud of his truck? I heard one of them say, “Nice Truck” and another “Thank you for coming, today.” Still another says to a lady, “You look nice today.” I told them they represented all the people of the church and the church would be proud of them. I also told them if they would continue to do that in life, opportunities would open to them because of their kindness.
Lesson learned when, one of the girls got a big tip for being kind.
I believe in you, thank you for believing in us.
Pastor Cleddie and GayNell Keith