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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Tulips with Scripture

"Lesson From A Sneaky Neighbor"

Message summary: A neighbor unwittingly provides a good lesson and example for all of us from Matthew 6:3!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"But when you give to the poor and do acts of kindness, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing" (Matthew 6:3).

The other day I caught a neighbor "sneaking" around our place. She had intended to leave an arrangement of tulips with an attached Scripture verse at our door as a "bless and run" form of kindness. However just as she was setting the flowers down in front of our door I pulled into the driveway and her generous gesture was fully exposed! We had a good laugh as she quickly explained what she was up to. I stepped into the house and called for Brooksyne to come down to see her surprise gift. After Brooksyne expressed her surprise and appreciation she grabbed her jacket and went for a walk with our kind neighbor as they have been doing for several years.

Our neighbor friend, who would want her name to remain anonymous, felt awkward as she got caught being nice. Her embarrassment at being caught actually led into a humorous dialogue as she tried to explain herself and even apologize for being sneaky. We had a few good laughs as we talked together at a 6' distance, of course. (Brooksyne)

Years ago I read a book by Elton Trueblood titled "The Humor of Christ". There may be a tendency to discount this aspect of Christ's personality but we believe He experienced and demonstrated the full range of human emotions and humor was part of that range.

We had a man in our church many years ago that just couldn't accept such a view of our solemn Lord. He had come out of a very worldly background and commendably took his faith very seriously.
He was quite intense and rather somber about the things of the Lord. However he became so extreme that he bristled at the notion Christ could ever use humor. But the Bible says, "There is a time to laugh" (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Years ago we shared a message titled "The Blessing Of Laughter".

Jesus with childOne of my favorite pictures of our Lord shows Him laughing as He holds up a young child in the air.

Perhaps Christ's humor is demonstrated in the second part of our daily text "Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing". Now just try to envision how you would keep your left hand from knowing what your right hand is doing! Of course, the point of the message is the extreme effort needed to not seek attention for our giving.

Have you ever been in a setting where fundraising is taking place and the leader makes sure he lets others know the amount on his check, then someone tops that figure, etc. It's really an uncomfortable setting when considering the words of Christ about such attention getting or "showy" giving. Brooksyne saw this frequently in her youth camp and church settings as a youth. Thankfully we have not seen this in our adult years.

In the context Christ is teaching how His followers motivation for giving should be in contrast to the motivation of the religious leaders of His time, "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them." He called these people hypocrites. "So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men" (Matthew 6:2).

Over-sized checkWhen we get back to attending regular church services try to picture this when the offering is taken. A rich man stands up with one of those huge, oversized checks like in the Publisher's Clearing House ads. He holds the check up for all to see and announces how much he is giving, while his wife stands beside him with a trumpet playing, "It's All About Me".*

The most touching acts of generosity and kindness are those given from a spirit of selflessness "so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:4). Brooksyne's friend intended to leave the tulips and Scripture verse completely anonymously, receiving of course no credit whatsoever. Unwittingly she provided a good lesson and example for all of us from Matthew 6:3!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we read in Scripture where Jesus called people hypocrites who performed acts of kindness or generosity in an attempt to be seen by others, rather than being motivated by love and concern for the individual or situation. Help us to be properly motivated when doing good works, not seeking our own attention or honor. All glory and honor goes to You who makes it possible for us to do, say, or give generously of ourselves to others, so its never about us, but it is all about You. Keep that motivation ever before us when we reach out to meet a need or extend a kindness. Amen.

Years ago we shared a message titled "The Blessing Of Laughter".

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

* "It's All About Me"  Video  Sermon Spice for a good laugh!!!

Or check this out, "Wrong Worship"  Video

"Ho Ho Ho Hosanna"  Video  Came to mind in consideration of humor! A happy song.

Cherry blossoms
I (Brooksyne) took several walks yesterday spurred on by the beauty all around us in this spring season. I came back with some cherry blossoms and grape hyacinths growing wild along the road.

Hay harvest (Mary Ann Miller)
Our friend Mary Ann Miller took this photo of a team baling hay behind her house.

Sunrise on an Amish farm (Lamar Dourte)
Another friend, Lamar Dourte, snapped a photo of his Amish neighbor's farm at sunrise.

Brooksyne got her first sighting of goslings on her third walk yesterday. There were ten in this cluster trailing after their mother all in a neat line, but there are a number of Canada goose and ducks still nesting so Donegal Creek will soon look like a nursery with all the goslings in tow as they carefully stay close to their mother. Usually the father follows behind the ducklings and goslings and doesn't hesitate to honk his orders, "Stay away from our yung'uns".

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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