Love Kindness

What sort of people should we be in a world full of conflict, poverty and hardship? In a peaceful land, such as our own, perhaps we are a little insulated from such things. However, we do have the poor among us, and many people struggle with illness and unemployment.

As an answer to our question, there’s a great description in Micah 6:8 of what God wants to see in His people. “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” The statement follows an indictment of the paltry efforts of Israel to approach God. They thought He would be happy with them if they offered a great number of animal sacrifices and expensive oils (v6-7). But without the right character and attitudes, this would fail. The world cries out for justice and kindness; so does God.

What about us? We are rightly concerned about proper worship, and obedience to the New Testament directions of what we should be as His church. But like Israel of old, this would amount to little if we neglect humility, kindness and justice.

Look at the way he phrases these things. “Do justice,” not just appreciate it. “Love kindness” (mercy), implying a great interest in being kind to others. “Walk humbly with your God,” which eliminates arrogance and a failure to notice the struggles of other people. God wants us to be obedient to Him, but He also wants us to develop the right character.

The church can’t solve everybody’s problems, nor can we tackle all the world’s hardships. But we can be just, kind and humble. Didn’t Jesus say the same? “But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire compassion and not sacrifice.” (Matt.9:13)

What kindness do you plan to do for someone else today?

– Tim Johnson

Lights in our Community

Jesus said in Matt.5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” With the dawn of 2017 upon us, what should the people in our community – especially those near our church building – see in us? Here’s a few thoughts.

1. A godly people. In our profane, modern society people should see something better in the Lord’s people. Peter said, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (1 Pet.1:14-15).

2. A kind people. There are needs all around us, and our neighbours should view us as people who are concerned for them. We can’t deal with everybody’s problems, but we can be kind. Paul said, “…Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col.3:12). Will people view us as cold and indifferent, or warm and helpful?

3. An engaging people. If we want the community to be interested in our message, we must be open to them. People have questions and wonder about who we are. Peter, who wrote about the church’s relationship to the world, said, “…always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet.3:15).

4. An enthusiastic people. Many religious groups practice rituals with lukewarm habit. The community needs to see us as people who are happy and enthused about the faith. Few are interested in religion that is sleepy and dreary. “Therefore, gird your minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13).

5. A people of the truth. Some think the church should accept everything and stand for nothing. More respect is given to those who know the truth and stand on it firmly. John wrote to “all who know the truth, for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever” (2 Jn.1-2).

Let’s be determined to let our light shine effectively in 2017.

– Tim Johnson

The Man to Whom God Will Look

For thousands of years men have spent huge amounts of time and money building cathedrals, shrines and monuments to God. Notre Dame in Paris took 185 years to construct, a building that has stood complete for over 600 years. And what is the motivation for such expensive structures? Often it is to capture the attention of God.

After Solomon’s temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC, returning captives wanted to build an even grander structure to somehow secure God’s blessings. They were disappointed when the replacement seemed so small (Haggai 2:3). Through prophesy, God stated in Isaiah 66:1-2 that they had it all wrong. “Thus says the Lord, ‘Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,’ declares the Lord. ‘But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”’

Man doesn’t have to build a world monument to get God’s attention. The Lord will listen to people who have humility before Him, who willingly admit their shame and regret for their failures, and who believe His word with all their heart.

This should comfort us, for it is something we can all do. But it should also caution us, to make sure our hearts are healthy. Are you just building monuments with your life, or are you offering God your heart? It’s an important question to ask yourself on this first Sunday of 2016.

-Tim Johnson

Man’s Greatness and God’s Mercy

David was Israel’s greatest king – a man after God’s own heart. He was a prototype of the Messiah, Jesus the Son of God.

In what lay David’s greatness? He was a giant killer, a bold warrior. He united Israel’s twelve tribes and ushered in the nation’s finest age. His greatness, however, lay neither in his military might nor his statesmanship.

David was also a sinner. He enticed Bathsheba, committed adultery with her, then tried to conceal his sin by murdering her husband. But when confronted by God’s prophet he openly acknowledged and confessed his sin. Psalm 51

Therein lay his greatness. Not that he sinned, but that he confessed it and sought the mercy of God. He said, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love…blot out my transgressions…Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from sin. His greatness lay in his humility and admission of his weakness and dependence upon God.

While many things in people’s lives can contribute to greatness, no person is truly great who conceals his sins and refuses to acknowledge his need for divine mercy. David is an example of this need. Someone has said, “Jesus cleanses only sin, not excuses.”

– David Johnson (adapted from an article)