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The Kindness and Love of God Appeared (Tuesday, June 3, 2014)

Titus 3:3 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 Saviour 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 Saviour;
7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Introductory Thoughts

Our previous study revealed that kindness refers to treating someone as a cherished member of the family. The Bible proclaims that God is great in kindness (Nehemiah 9:17). It also reveals that kindness is marvellous (Psalm 31:21) and full of mercy (Psalm 117:2). Believers should be thrilled to know that God demonstrates this kindness toward His beloved creation. By nature, men are the children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Yet, each person has the opportunity to be treated like a beloved member of God’s family as a result of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (Titus 3:4). Those who have trusted Christ as Saviour have been granted the inestimable privilege of being “heirs” of God (Titus 3:7) and “joint-heirs” with Christ (Romans 8:17). This blessing, generally intended for and limited to family, is extended to those whom God counts as family.

Devotional Thoughts

(For children): Have you ever lied or disobeyed your mom or dad? That is sin and God cannot allow anyone with unforgiven sin to enter into heaven. Yet, He wants us to be with Him there. He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins. Isn’t God kind to us?
(For everyone): Meditate on the kindness of God for a moment. What does it mean to you? What are some benefits of His kindness?
• Have you done anything to merit the kindness of God? Did He see something in you that caused His kindness to fall upon you? How did you receive the Lord’s kindness?

Prayer Thoughts

• Take time to thank the Lord for His kindness toward you.

• Ask the Lord to help you see His kindness on a daily basis.

SONG: The Love of God

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Brotherly Kindness (Monday, June 2, 2014)

2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Introductory Thoughts

God’s choice of the word kindness reveals a compound word clearly defined within scripture. When studying a compound word, it helps to first consider the root word definition. Kindness contains the root word kind. A cursory look might reveal this study as quite simplistic, but a good Bible student exposes the spiritual depths of any particular truth. He first considers other uses of the word kind and then examines the words containing the same root word. For example, the Bible refers to something reproducing “after his kind.” The context of this phrase reveals that it refers to those belonging to the same family. Likewise, the compound word kindred incorporates the same root word kind and means to be within the same family. This truth is further confirmed by our subject passage referring to “brotherly kindness” (2 Peter 1:7). These truths indicate that a man demonstrates kindness as he treats other people as though they are a treasured part of his own family.

Devotional Thoughts

· (For children): Your mom, dad, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are all members of your family. Because you love them very much, you treat them in a special way. God wants you to treat other people just as though they were members of your family.
· (For everyone): If kindness is treating people like family (though they are not family), can you think of anyone who has treated you with kindness?
· Name a few specific instances where the Lord showed a special kindness toward you. What are some ways in which kindness could be showed to others?

Prayer Thoughts

· As we study kindness, ask the Lord to give you a willing heart.
· Ask the Lord to help you exemplify true biblical kindness toward others.
 
SONG: O to Be Like Thee!

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Church Day (Sunday, June 1, 2014)

Sunday, Day 155—Church Day (no devotional)
Monday, Day 156—Brotherly Kindness
Tuesday, Day 157—The Kindness and Love of God Appeared
Wednesday, Day 158—Church Night (no devotional)
Thursday, Day 159—The Kindness of David
Friday, Day 160—Smitten in Kindness
Saturday, Day 161—A Desire Is Kindness
 
Psalm 117:2 For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.

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Two Are Better Than One (Saturday, May 31, 2014)

Ecclesiastes 4:7 Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun.
8 There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.
9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

Introductory Thoughts

Life presents many troubles that at times make it difficult to stand strong in the Christian walk. Standing alone makes it seem nigh impossible. Perhaps this is why God created friendships. The most precious times amongst spiritually-minded friends often take place when one of them finds himself in need. Far too many Christians stumble and fall spiritually because they have no one offering support and encouragement. True Christian friends are a help when those troublesome times arise. A true Christian friend encourages and strengthens his friend before he hits his lowest point and contemplates quitting. The heartbeat of Ecclesiastes 4:7-10 reveals that it is hard to serve the Lord alone. Yet serving Him with Christian friends provides extra strength in times of weakness and despair. A friend may be there to lift his brother up one day only to find the act of kindness reciprocated on another occasion.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): You want to hand someone a tract or speak to someone new at church, but you are afraid to do so. Your friend says, “I’ll go with you and help.” Friends can help us do what the Lord wants us to do.
• (For everyone): What kind of friends do you have? Are they friends that help you in your service for God? Would they help you get back on your feet if you fell during your Christian walk?
• Are you the kind of friend that godly Christians would seek out for a relationship? Are you the kind of person that encourages others who have fallen to rise back to their feet and go forward in their service with the Lord?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask God for friends who have a strong desire to serve Him.
• Ask the Lord to help you to be a godly friend to others.

SONG: Blest Be the Tie That Binds

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Getting Friends the Wrong Way (Friday, May 30, 2014)

Proverbs 19:4 Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.
Proverbs 19:6 Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.

Introductory Thoughts

Many people have so-called friends, but oftentimes these friendships are built upon weak support structures. Yet, testing the true depths of one’s friendships can be quite challenging. The previous lesson pointed to the ease of making friends by showing yourself friendly. Yet, too many people focus on using material means to gain friendships. Money can buy friends but there remains that doubt concerning the true foundation of those relationships. The Bible teaches that “wealth maketh many friends” (Proverbs 19:4). This truth is further emphasized in Proverbs 14:20 where the Bible says, “the rich hath many friends.” This fact remains ever more prevalent as the days go on. Those who are rich will have many “friends,” while those who are poor have far fewer close associations. Unfortunately, “Every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts” (Proverbs 19:6). As long as there is money or gifts to be given, people will have “friends”; but as soon as the money runs out, the “friends” will be gone too. True friendships, however, may be gained by showing yourself friendly and will be cultivated through righteousness.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): You want to play with some children, but they don’t want you to play with them. You leave and come back with some candy. They decide to let you play if you will share your candy. These children are not acting as your true friends.
• (For everyone): Take a moment and think about those you call friends. Why are they your friends? What made them like you in the first place? Would they still be your friends if you did not have any money or nice things to give them?
• Why are you friends with the people with whom you are friends? Do they feel obligated to buy things in order to keep your friendship? If so, this is an unrighteous relationship and one that rarely lasts.

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask the Lord to help you examine the nature of your friendships.
• Ask God to give you godly friends and show you how to be a godly friend toward others.

SONG: I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

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Shew Yourself Friendly (Thursday, May 29, 2014)

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Introductory Thoughts

Very few people understand the simplicity involved in cultivating true friendships. In fact, far too many people emphasize the wrong factors when considering how to make friends. They look at one’s appearance or charisma and attribute it as the key to making friends. Yet, the Bible points out a simple process as the key for gaining true friends. The one who makes friends simply must first “shew himself friendly.” Unapproachable people remain lonely and tend to miss out on much of what life has to offer. Those who struggle making friends should examine themselves to see whether or not they truly display themselves as friendly or more standoffish. People generally refuse to put forth the extra effort to get to know those who come across unwelcoming. People want to make friends with those who are approachable and there is no better way to make yourself approachable than to show yourself friendly. If a man does not appear to be friendly, others will pass him in their quest to cultivate lasting relationships.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): If you see someone with whom you would like to be friends, you may have to be the first one to say, “Hello”; to extend your hand for a handshake; to sit by him or her in church or Sunday School. Don’t wait for that person to come to you. Be the first to be friendly!
• (For everyone): Do you generally try to make friends with people who seem unfriendly? Do you think others feel the same way about making friends? Are there some people you would like to get to know better? Have you presented yourself friendly toward them?
• Are you easy to get along with? Do you treat others nicely? Are you kind and considerate in their presence? Do you make yourself available as a friend?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask God to show you the way in which you conduct yourself with others.
• Ask the Lord to help you to be friendly to those who need a friend.

SONG: Our Best

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A Friend Loveth at All Times (Tuesday, May 27, 2014)

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Introductory Thoughts

Unfortunately, true lasting friendships seem increasingly difficult to cultivate and nurture in today’s fast paced world. Yet, the interactions associated to true friendships remain important and healthy. There are many traits that define true friendships. Today’s passage points out one of the primary features that constitute a true friend: “A friend loveth at all times.” This love is not to be confused with being dishonest in hopes of protecting the feelings of a friend. In fact, a true friend will offer a needed rebuke. This is why the Bible says, “faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6). True friends never allow current circumstances to determine the level of commitment to a relationship. A true friend will remain faithful when all others have betrayed or departed. This test of friendship has been the proving ground for many friends throughout the history of mankind. One need look no further than the prodigal son for evidence of such (Luke 15:11-24).

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): Imagine that you are playing with a puzzle and another child wants to help finish it with you. You say, “No, it’s mine!” Your teacher tells you to be kind and share. That teacher is acting like a true friend. She cares enough about you to show you the way the Lord would want you to play.
• (For everyone): Do you know a friend that “loveth at all times”? Is there someone in your life that loves you unconditionally? If you are saved, the Lord is that kind of friend to you.
• While thinking on friendship, examine the friendship you offer to others. Are you the kind of friend that loves at all times? Do you love others enough to offer a faithful rebuke when it is necessary? Are you a true friend?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask the Lord to give you some true friends in this life.
• Ask God to help you to be the kind of friend He would want you to be.

SONG: I’ve Found a Friend

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A Friend That Sticketh Closer (Monday, May 26, 2014)

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Introductory Thoughts

Some people seem unable to function without daily interaction with friends. Yet, others think such attachments overbearing and far too demanding. Unfortunately, the world frequently misconstrues what constitutes true friendship. Additionally, far too many times, friends abuse this important relationship. Social media sites even refer to one’s mere acquaintances as “friends.” No wonder the world remains so confused concerning the essence of true biblical friendship. Regardless of one’s perspective on these matters, the Bible points out that there is One friend that man cannot do without and He is “a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). This could simply refer to people who have friends more loyal than those in one’s own family, but likely references the Lord. His level of commitment causes Him to be a friend to those deemed unlovable by the world. Simply consider what the Bible says about His sacrifice. Christ died on the cross for His enemies (Romans 5:10) so that they could become His friends (John 15:13-15). Truly, He is that “friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): Name some of your closest friends. God loves you more than they do. Jesus died on the cross for us even though He knew we would be disobedient. Our friends would not and could not have done that for us.
 (For everyone): What comes to mind when you think of the Lord’s faithfulness as a friend to mankind? Can you name some of His traits as a friend that He exemplifies best?
• There is no other friend like the Lord Jesus. He stays by your side regardless of your faithfulness to Him. Have you thanked Him today for being such a friend to you? Have you rejoiced in the blessings of knowing Him personally?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask God to show you ways in which He has been a friend to you.
• Thank the Lord for being a faithful friend.

SONG: No, Not One!

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