A Cup of Cold Water

October begins the cooling of the Northern hemisphere. I stumbled upon the temperature in Fairbanks, Alaska this afternoon online. It is 34 degrees! That sounds like winter to me. For most of us fall can bring a welcome relief in the form of very comfortable temperatures. When I created the list of ordinary things to look at in a fresh way this summer I was inspired by a memory.

One year we had a flood that destroyed our hot water heater and furnace. Thousands of people were similarly situated and so it was over a month before we were able to have them replaced. It was late October when we received our new hot water heater and furnace. I was very appreciative of the fact that I doubt there is a month that was better for going without hot water, heat or air-conditioning.

I will always remember how the  cold water running from the spigots cooled over the month of October. Early in October a shower with only cold water was hardly noticeable. By the middle of the month everyone in my family had switched to baths augmented by a couple large pots of hot water heated on the stove.

Each fall since I have been reminded of what a luxury hot, running water truly is.

It is easy to take such things for granted in life. In many places clean, running water is an unheard of luxury.

Even cold, fresh, running water is a blessing. Jesus talks about rewards to his followers in Matthew’s Gospel. Sometimes when He talks about drink rewards they are much more than something to drink.

Here He talks about a simple cup of cold water. Matthew records this in 10:40-42.
“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me. And anyone who welcomes me welcomes the One who sent me. Suppose someone welcomes a prophet as a prophet. That one will receive a prophet’s reward. And suppose someone welcomes a godly person as a godly person. That one will receive a godly person’s reward. Suppose someone gives even a cup of cold water to a little one who follows me. What I’m about to tell you is true. That one will certainly be rewarded.”

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Rather than tell us that we need pass out Starbuck’s cards to the homeless, Jesus tells us that even if we just hand out cold water to those who are thirsty, God sees our kindness and rewards us. No we don’t earn points toward heaven. None of us could ever earn heaven. Jesus earned that for us on the cross. The reward is God noticing and appreciating our efforts.

One thing that I have done in the past is prepare “Manna Bags” to pass out to beggars. They are gallon-size plastic bags containing a bottle of water, and single-serving size crackers, fruit cup, plastic spoon and fork, easy-open meat (like tuna), hand wipe, paper napkin and a note telling the person of God’s love. We made them at my church. I kept them in my car ready to pass out in traffic when waiting for a light. We had a local man who always had his dog with him, so I kept individual-serving dry dog food also.

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Even bottled water to hand out would be wonderful. Try adding a label to the bottles with a word of grace like, “God loves you.”

It is easy for me to become distracted by the “great things” that should be done. Jesus points out in this passage that even the small things are important. A cup of cold water can be important enough for the maker of the universe to stop, perhaps say something like, “That’s my girl!” It isn’t only the grand gestures that matter. Hot water tanks or heaters are wonderful but even a simple cup of cold water is significant.

Every kindness we show to others is valuable. Isn’t life really made up of the small, everyday kindness that we give and receive.

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A Soft Word

Proverbs 15:1-4
​A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise dispenses knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
keeping watch on the evil and the good.
A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

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In days of old Kings had retainers who were supposed to act as a filter since most of the government resided in the King himself.

He was the head of the highest court, head-of-state, the treasurer worked directly for him and the coffers were his to use as he saw fit.

He made wars, levied taxes, made laws and lead his armies into battle.

One man cannot accomplish this alone, so they developed loyal men who worked with them to make the government function.
They had no internet, blogs, post office, newspapers or telephones. The only way news travelled was by word of mouth or passed hand to hand in a letter that could only be read by a few since most people, even most Kings were illiterate.

The dependability of a persons’ word was of paramount importance.

That is one of the reasons kings depended upon their retainers being incorruptible. When the men a king relied upon could be bought or were foolish the king could die.
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Today we suffer from “information overload.” Cynics start to expect dishonesty. We no longer recognize a person’s word as worth a life.

Human beings are still the same, however. How many lives have been destroyed by lying words?

Marriages die from falsehoods. Livelihoods are lost from gossip. Bullying words relentlessly hounding young people driving them to wish for death.
Unkind words are still wrong.

We all fail. Foolish talk escapes us all at times. Sincere apologies are the appropriate response. Let us honestly reflect upon and seek to use only words that build one another up. Encourage each other.

Gentle words matter.

Now is still the time to speak love, friends.