Tag: orphans

Thankful for a God who Cares!

Scripture reading for February 23rd:  Deuteronomy 21-24

Key Scriptures:  Deuteronomy 24:19-20  “When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it.  Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.  When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time.  Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow.”  

In giving His law to His people, God took pains to instruct them in His plan to care for the alien, the fatherless and the widow.  God cared for them and asked His people to leave the gleanings of their fields, orchards, and vineyards for the poor and needy.  He promised to bless His people for doing this!

Rejoice in God’s loving care:  God uses His people to help the weak, poor and needy because He is their provider and protector!  “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  (James 1:27)

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Preaching at the church door!

Scripture reading for August 6th: Jeremiah 7-10

Jeremiah is one of my favorite characters in the Bible.  His call and ministry are unique.  He is told to go and preach to his people and told up front that they will not listen!  (Jeremiah 7:27)   He is told on several occasions not to pray for his people because their sins have removed them from God’s grace, but he weeps rivers of tears for them anyway!  (Jeremiah 7:16) (Jeremiah 9:22-23)  He ministers for just over 40 years and is mistreated and threatened by his own people and their leaders.  His preaching is straight and he uses some interesting object lessons to try to get the people’s attention!  In today’s reading, he is told by God to go right to the gate of the temple of the Lord and preach to the people as they arrive for worship and sacrifice.

“Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord.  This is what the Lord Almighty, The God of Israel, says:  Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place.  Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!”  If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, and in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever.  But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.” Jeremiah 7:2-7

These people were going through the motions of religion and were deceived!  Jeremiah’s words struck to the heart of the matter without beating around the bush.  We can use our religious activities to justify our own selfish lifestyles.  God is not interested in religious activities unless they come from a heart that is humble, repentant and willing to listen to Him.  Their trust was in their attendance at the temple.  God called for a change in ways and actions that affected their daily relationships and walk with God.  He cares about orphans and widows.  He cares about the alien and the poor.  His heart is broken when innocent blood is shed and people deal unjustly with one another.  He hates adultery and lying because it is not loving and He is love.  God wants His people to reflect His heart of love.

God is watching over His word and His people’s response to His word!  He sees hypocrisy and desires repentance and faith.  Jesus Christ went into the temple of the Lord and saw the same things with the money changers and traders.  He quoted from Jeremiah:  “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a ‘den of robbers’.”   (Mark 11:17)  (Jeremiah 7:11)  He then cleansed the temple!  We need more preaching at the church door!

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What about the poor?

Scripture reading for February 25: Deuteronomy 12-16

In many cultures, the poor and needy are viewed as under the judgment of the gods.  These people are despised and live in the worst conditions on the fringes of society.  Children born in the families are destined to live in poverty, sickness, and usually have an early death. India has millions living in the caste system and viewed as nearly untouchable by their peers. The Hindu religion and the teaching of reincarnation and this caste system keeps the bondage in place.

The God of the Bible, creator of heaven and earth, is compassionate and merciful.  When He formed the nation of Israel and delivered them from slavery, He instructed them in the care of those society had looked down upon.  The orphans and widows were singled out for care by the Lord.   (Deuteronomy 14:28-29)  God promised to bless the Israelites for caring for them.  The alien was also to be cared for, because the Israelites were also aliens and strangers in Egypt and could identify with what it felts like to be in a strange culture and on the outside of the economic and political power system.

God said that there should be no poor among His people, however. (Deuteronomy 15:4)  The reason given was that if they fully obeyed the Lord in keeping all His commands, God would so bless them that they would have an abundance to help others.  They would lend only and not borrow. (Deuteronomy 15:6)  They would also rule and not be in servitude. “The rich rule over the poor, the borrower becomes the slave of the lender.” (Proverbs: 22:7)  This is God’s heart desire for His people. (3 John 2)

God seems to contradict Himself later in Deuteronomy 15:11.  He only seems to because here God is telling the Israelites not all will fully obey.  Some will be poor and they will need help.  Those who are fully obeying the Lord are to be generous with the poor.  They are not to be “tight-fisted” or “hard-hearted” towards their poor brothers, but are to be “open-handed” and “freely lend”.  (Deuteronomy 15:7-10)  God even goes so far as to say it is sin to be stingy toward the poor brother!  He is indicating His care for those who are truly needy. God always pays well when we help the poor.  We can’t outgive God!

“A generous man will prosper and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25)

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker, but he who is kind to the needy honors God.” (Proverbs 14:31)

“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done.” (Proverbs 19:17)

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