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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Giant Sunflowers 8/16/13
Ester and Brooksyne standing among our "Mammoth Sunflowers" growing right outside our front door. What a "happy" view we see each morning when we open our door.

"The Riches Of God's Kindness"

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"Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?"
(Romans 2:4). "Yet He has not left Himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy" (Acts 14:17).

Early this morning I took a walk in our yard and around our property. We have had marvelous weather this summer and actually it's been rather seasonally cool the last several days. With adequate rain and cooler temperatures our lawn and gardens look great. The field corn across the street is standing tall and looking healthy as well.

Spider webIn my walk I encountered an abundance of spider webs, not something I especially find delightful but nevertheless I marvel at the spider's diligence and ingenuity. One web that was spun overnight spans all the way from an old glider in our yard to a tree branch about fifteen feet away. A tiny spider sits in the middle of the web, I suppose catching its breath or relaxing its joints! We consider God's kindness to the spider, (and to us) when it's making itself useful outside of our house.

Theologians use the term "common grace" to describe God's goodness demonstrated to the entire human race regardless of their belief in and obedience to God. "Special grace" refers to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ to those who believe.

Expressing thanks to God for the riches of His kindness should easily and abundantly flow from our hearts and to our lips in praise. "Praise God from whom all blessings flow..." However many "
think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience."

The first daily text is a portion of Paul's magnificent gospel presentation to the Romans. He writes of the kindness of God leading to repentance. Today let us consider the topic of God's kindness.

Theologian Leon MorrisTheologian Leon Morris writes, "An important part of the teaching of this epistle is that God is a merciful God; His purposes are always purposes of mercy. He may at times be engaged in activities like judgment that seem to the casual observer to be directed against the sinner. But even God’s judgments must be seen in a context of mercy; they are meant to lead people to repentance and forgiveness. God never punishes for the sake of punishment. And if this is the case with judgment, much more is it so with God’s forbearance. So, before he brings out what is in store for the impenitent sinner, Paul has a short section in which he speaks of God’s kindness as leading people to repentance."

Paul and Barnabas in LystraThe second daily text is from an evangelistic appeal the Apostle Paul made in Lystra and is a great example of how we might connect as we share our faith in Christ. Paul and Barnabas had an interesting experience in the unusual form of receptivity expressed by the people.  A crippled man was healed by the power of God. After the miracle the crowd shouted, "The gods have come down to us in human form!"  The people commenced to express worship to Paul and Barnabas and the local pagan priest brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them (Acts 14:8-13).

Paul and Barnabas wasted absolutely no time in forcefully and unambiguously setting them straight (Acts 14:14-18). It is clear from the text that Paul and Barnabas were adamant about this, unlike some religious leaders and flamboyant preachers today who seem to delight in being fawned over. In contrast "when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you." Their response is a rich example of deflecting any human praise to where it rightly belongs … to God alone. 

They continue and explain their mission of evangelism. "We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. In the past, He let all nations go their own way. Yet He has not left Himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."

God has indeed provided a faithful testimony to all people of His kindness; rain, crops, plenty of food and hearts filled with joy. Even as we have on our hearts today those going through a season of difficulty, sometimes a long and hard one, we nevertheless assert the overwhelming kindness of God.

Tom with grand-daughter Kylee
We often rightly think of joy as a fruit of the Spirit and a characteristic of Christ's life within us and indeed it is.  But there is a sense of joy as common grace as well. Even the unredeemed experience the joys of childhood, romantic love, parenthood, (and grandparenthood such as our friend Tom in the photo with his granddaughter Kylee).

Thank God for those common expressions of joy that rain down from heaven on both the righteous and the unrighteous, the religious and non-religious and even the professed atheist. Today we pray that all over the world men and women, boys and girls will have their eyes opened to this testimony of God's kindness and take that step of faith to believe and receive the special grace leading to salvation!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Webe

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You are faithful to supply all our physical needs even as You replenish the earth with fresh moisture from above and raise up the crops in their proper season. We are showered with Your common grace as You bless us each day with Your abundance of good things. Because we know that all things work together for good and to accomplish Your intended goal for our lives, we can remain joyful in hope even in the difficult things we are experiencing today. How reassuring to know that Your kindness indeed leads people to repentance and faith in you. Amen.

In regard to today's message John MacArthur writes: "Strangely, most people do not perceive of God as being totally good. Instead of recognizing His gracious provision, patience, and His mercy, they accuse Him of being insensitive and unloving for letting certain things happen. “How could God allow that little child to die?” they ask, or, “Why does God allow that good person to suffer pain and poor health and permit a scoundrel to enjoy health and wealth?” Such people judge God from an incomplete and distorted human perspective, failing to acknowledge that, if it were not for God’s gracious goodness and patience, no human being would be alive. It is only His grace that allows any person to take another breath (Job 12:10)." (MacArthur, J: Romans 1-8. Moody)

When I want to dig deeper regarding an attribute of God I tend to go to A.W. Pink, who died two years before I was born. Here's his chapter on "The Goodness of God".

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"It's Your Kindness Lord"  Video  Maranatha Praise Band

"You Are Good"  Video  Kari Jobe/Gateway Worship

"Kindness Of Our God"  Video 
Rebecca St James

"The Steadfast Love Of The Lord Never Ceases"  Video  Maranatha Singers

"If That Isn't Love"  Video  The Isaacs An outstanding example of family harmony with a rich old song with a different arrangement common to the Isaacs style of singing. I recall it being sung at my brother's wedding in 1972 when it was newer. This week we feature a song by the Isaacs since we hope to go to an Isaacs concert this coming Sunday evening in Lebanon PA. See here for info.

"God And God Alone"  Video  Steve Green

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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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