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Friday, May 4
, 2012

Deer and turkey in Tioga County, PA

John Kurtz, a friend from work shared this photo with me. His wife Doris took it from inside their cabin in Tioga County, Pennsylvania.

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"The Blessing Of A Kind Word"

"When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him" (Genesis 37:4). "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up" (Proverbs 12:25).

Sad man
In the course of my chaplain work I stopped by to visit a man who's undergoing some severe testings in life. In respect to his privacy I won't disclose the details, but the burdens he bears are common to all, but his is rather intense at the present time. He's normally cheerful but during this visit he was weighed down by anxiety. I had little specific counsel to offer him as I carefully listened. In the end I shared a kind word with the goal of lifting his spirit. He's been on my heart and in my prayers since then.

Today's first verse rather graphically describes the severely strained relationship of Joseph and his older brothers who were extremely jealous. "They hated him
and could not speak a kind word to him." What a heartbreaking description of a very dysfunctional family! Can you imagine such seething resentment that would leave the brothers unable to merely say a kind word to their own bloodline? Have you ever seen or experienced anything like it? Sadly I have.

Many of you have experienced the first part of today's second verse. 
"An anxious heart weighs a man down." What a powerful description of the burden of anxiety. Someone once defined anxiety as "a small trickle of fear that meanders through the mind, cutting a channel into which all other thoughts flow."

The perspective of trust is at the very heart of being a child of God. My sins are forgiven and the God of the universe beckons me to call Him "Father."  I have an assurance that He cares for me and His promise is that He will never leave me nor forsake me. Wow, if I just keep that perspective the "things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace", including the painful things people do or say, or don't do or say.

But I still really identify with the first phrase.  An inner battle rages between trust and worry. Trust dispels worry. But much like the popup figures in an arcade shooting gallery, the worry just tends to keep popping back up!

The anxieties of this life really do weigh one down.  Sometimes it seems they really press on the heart and you can actually feel it (the KJV says it "maketh it stoop"). I'm sure most of you know what I mean. And I wouldn't be surprised if some of you reading this are experiencing an heavy anxious heart as you read this.

Thank God for the blessing of a kind word!  I have so often been the recipient of such words. An earnest "I'm praying for you", a caring "how's your health?", or a sincere "I really appreciate you." Kind words like these really cheer the heart and in each of the above examples I can recall a specific instance that I continue to draw energy from. In the second daily text the word for "cheer" is literally derived from a Hebrew word meaning to "brighten up."

I hope you receive some kind words today.  If you're like me you like to surround yourself with people who are kind; that's understandable and normal. But on the other hand let's try to spread some kindness to those whose kind words are an exception rather than the rule.

I challenge you to target one (or more) who doesn't exercise the fruit of kindness in his or her life. Purposely, hard as it may be, speak a kind word to her or him. Write it down if you don't have courage to speak it. Don't base it on whether or not the recipient deserves it; d
o it as an exercise of obedience to God. Is there one of us who deserves God's kindness? As you fulfill the Biblical principle of sowing what you desire to reap, you may be surprised at the result. Or maybe you won't, but You will be growing, stretching, and exercising the fifth fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22,23. After all, it's easy to show kindness in response to kindness, but the real fruit of people's character is seen when they respond in kindness to an unkind word or act.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man
Daily prayer: Father, the cares of this world often press in on us and weigh our hearts down. It's not your desire that we carry this heavy load because You are the Burden Bearer. You use the difficult circumstances of our lives to bring glory to Yourself as You bring spiritual maturity into our relationship with You. There are many situations where we've been dealt with unjustly, with unkind words thrown our way. Our typical response; "NOT FAIR!" But Your pattern of returning kindness to those who were hostile toward You serves as a sterling example to us when we're hurt by other's words or actions. Our faith is strengthened and our character is sharpened in the torrent of such hurtful circumstances. We must commit them to You and respond in Christian virtue. We invite You to take the evil that Satan hurls at us and turn it into glorious occasion for Your power to be released and healing to take place. It is in the name of Jesus that we pray and believe.  Amen.

Brooksyne's Note:  I really like to read the exciting and very intense life of Joseph from Genesis 37-50. Though I've known this story since childhood I never tire of re-reading it and being reminded of the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation. If anyone could be filled with worry and fear, certainly Joseph was a perfect candidate. But God had a plan for his life that could not be changed though he was abandoned, enslaved, framed, falsely imprisoned, and forgotten. God's plan was not thwarted in the midst of all that would seem to indicate God had forgotten Joseph. But the scene was only setting up in slow motion for great drama and uncontrollable emotion as Joseph rose to second in command in his adopted country of Egypt. I'm so blessed in reading of Joseph's perspective to the extremely difficult circumstances of his life over the previous twenty years when he said to his estranged brothers, "God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives….so then, it was not you who sent me here, but God" (Gen. 45:7,8). We, like Joseph, need to recognize that God is working behind the scenes in every circumstance of our life – whether it is the workplace, home, the church or any other uncomfortable matter that we are dealing with. If we want the spiritual maturity of Joseph we also must undergo the testings that brought him to such mature perspective. Ouch!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Try A Little Kindness"  Video  Glen Campbell  Brooksyne's note:  This is not a typical artist featured in our suggested music but the song just seems to fit.  Back in my teen years this song was very popular and I was a big fan of Glen Campbell (had to play his album when Daddy wasn't home cause Glen Campbell was not country enough for my die- hard classic country dad - Porter Wagoner, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, country fans will know the names.) There's a good message in this song along with some nice imagery.

"Trust His Heart"  Video  

"Perfect Peace"  Video  Laura Story

Regarding photo of deer and turkey: Doris writes, "We were so blessed  to watch this deer follow 4 turkeys through the woods!  The deer seemed to enjoy hanging out with this long-bearded gobbler!  Was he as impressed with the turkey's beard as we were?  My husband kept warning me to stay hidden and don't let the turkeys see me.  They didn't seem to be bothered by me pulling the blinds aside and banging my camera against the window!  We certainly enjoyed this "show" that God blessed us with and we never get tired of enjoying His nature and creatures."

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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