Scripture reading for January 17th: Mark 12, Psalm 12, Proverbs 12
Mark 12: 38-40 “And in His teaching He said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widow’s houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
Jesus taught His disciples to be discerning and watchful. In this world and even among religious folks, pride and love of position often is a trap of the devil to catch men. The Scribes wore religious clothing and symbols of their piety, but stole goods from the widows. They loved seats of honor, and prayed long prayers to show off. But their hearts were far from God and His commandments. God will arise and care for the poor and needy, widows, and orphans. God protects and defends them. He promises safety and deliverance to the righteous. They can count on having joy from their pure hearts and will delight God in their faithfulness. His Word is pure, tried and tested!
Psalm 12:5-6 “”Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.”
Prayer: Father, thank You for reminding me that You care for the poor, needy, widows, and orphans. Your Word is pure and true for all generations. Help me to walk by faith. Forgive me for the times I have been like those scribes, prideful and self-righteous. Use my lips to declare Your pure Word, warning and calling those lost in this world and deceived in Your church to peace and faithfulness, Your delight and my joy!
Proverbs 12:20-22 “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy. No ill befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble. Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are His delight.”
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)
Scripture reading for September 30th: 1st Timothy 5
Pastors must be able to deal with all ages of people and levels of maturity. Paul instructed his young understudy in the proper conduct of an overseer. “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” (1st Timothy 5:1-2) Respect and relationship are key elements to proper conduct. The relationships in a family were a great example of how to conduct yourself in God’s family. Absolute purity must be practiced, especially towards the younger women! Satan’s temptations have brought down many pastors who were not purposeful in purity!
“Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.” (1st Timothy 5:3) Paul wrote more extensively about caring for widows. God’s heart is for the hurting and disadvantaged. Widows have a priority in the church and family. Family members should care for widows, where possible. A widow could come under the church’s provision if “she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality,washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.” (1st Timothy 5:9-10)
“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” (1st Timothy 5:17) Proper respect must be given to church leaders. This included financial rewards as well as protecting from false accusations!
“I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.” (1st Timothy 5:21) God is watching!
Scripture reading for October 20th: 1st Timothy 5:1-25
Pastoral ministry involves working with people. A young pastor has to be taught how to properly work with all the different age groups in the church as well as the maturity levels of the believers. When a preacher is young, older people have a tendency to look down on them. Proper manners were needed for order and godliness.
“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” (1st Timothy 5:1-2) A rebuke is a correction of behavior given verbally. Paul taught Timothy to treat the older men as if they were his father. He still was required to correct them, but the manner was important to unity. Younger men were to be treated as brothers, and this respect would bring about cooperative behavior. The same applied to the women with older ones being treated like a mother and younger like sisters. There must be absolute sexual purity, however. Paul understood the temptations that would come naturally to a young man and young women interacting together! This is needed today as well!
Widows were also to be cared for properly. The church has a responsibility to help these women, especially if they have been godly women and are left alone through the death of a husband. Family members were to be taught to take care of their widows in their own immediate family if possible. “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1st Timothy 5:8, 16) Widows over sixty who had been faithful to their husbands and known for good deeds were to be cared for.
Elders who directed the affairs of the church were also to be financially compensated. Paul taught Timothy that he could expect to be compensated for preaching and teaching God’s word. (1st Timothy 5:17-18) But elders must also be held accountable for their actions. If they needed to be corrected, accusations must be brought by two or three witnesses. If true, the elder was to be rebuked publicly so all would be warned. (1st Timothy 5:19-20) Good pastors would keep these instructions without partiality! What a privilege to lead God’s people!
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)