“When to Help and When to Get Out of the Way” March 27

 

When to Help & When to Get Out of the Way - It happens to us all. Maybe he's standing on the street corner with a cardboard sign. Maybe it's a friend or a co-worker. Maybe it's a grown son or daughter. They need a loan. Or another loan. Or just a little help. Maybe it doesn't seem right, but there's the guilt. You wonder ... what is the right thing to do?It happens to us all. Maybe he’s standing on the street corner with a cardboard sign. Maybe it’s a friend or a co-worker. Maybe it’s a grown son or daughter. They need a loan. Or another loan. Or just a little help. Maybe it doesn’t seem right, but there’s the guilt. You wonder … what is the right thing to do?

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 15 & Deuteronomy 16
Psalm 37.30-36
Proverbs 12.17-19
Luke 3.1-38

 

When to Help and When to Get Out of the Way

 

Deuteronomy 15 & Deuteronomy 16:

Giving, Lending, Welfare & the Church

 

In today’s reading we see a great picture of God’s attitude toward giving and caring for one another. God commanded the nation of Israel “open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need (v. 15.8). Then every seven years there was to be a release of debts and a release of servants from their bondage.

One definition of biblical love is “a sacrificial action for the benefit of another and the glory of God without expecting anything in return.” That’s the kind of love we’re to have for one another—not a love based on feelings, but a love that is active and rooted in our love for God.

 

Does that Mean Believers Should Always Lend or Give to Anyone Who Asks?

 

I believe one of the greatest tragedies of our nation’s system of welfare and all the other programs we offer is that these things are not in the hands of the church. That’s partly because the church has not done what she should have. By the church, I mean us—you and me. Imagine what churches could do if everyone tithed and gave to the work of God! Instead, only a fraction of God’s people give faithfully.

God intended for us to care for one another in the context of the church family. That requires knowing one another, knowing the issues, knowing the struggles, knowing the circumstances, knowing what is really needed, knowing when to help and when NOT to help.

Because programs are not administered by people who know the one seeking help, our system has left room for fraud and abuse and often does more harm than good.

 

When to Help and When to Get Out of the Way

 

There are times when we can get in the way of what God is doing by constantly bailing others out of their difficulties. This is especially true with our own children!  Continue reading

October 12 “Take the test”

mirror self-examinationTake the test: look into the mirror of God’s Word and ask yourself which of these lists describes you? What does it tell you about your walk with God, your trust in Him, and your level of spiritual maturity?

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 9 & 10
Psalm 118.5-9
Proverbs 27.7
Colossians 3.1-25

 

Jeremiah 9 & 10:

Tongues like arrows

I love the imagery in the Bible. As you read, think about what some of these images portray and ask, “How does this apply to my life? How does it apply to our nation? How should I pray? What does God want me to see and possibly repent of in my life? How can I be a doer of the principles contained here?”

Verse 9.3, “And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies …”

We don’t use a bow and arrow today, but we have all seen one. We understand how the bow is loaded with the arrow and then it is pulled back and fired at the target. God through the prophet is saying that their tongues were bent back and poised to fire lies.

This is a picture of someone whose life is characterized by lies and deceit. Just like the bow is known for shooting arrows (its only purpose), so these people were known for a life of deceit. Jeremiah goes on to say,

“They weary themselves to commit iniquity” (9.5).

I can’t help but think about some of what we call “politics” today.

The emptiness of living for ourselves

Because the people had forsaken the worship of the true God and because they had decided to live according to “the dictates of their own hearts” (9.13), God said He would “feed them … with wormwood and give them water of gall to drink.”

Life would not go well with them. Life would be bitter. They thought they would find satisfaction in living life their own way, but it was bitter and empty instead.

They thought they were so wise. Perhaps like our society today, they thought the religion of their fathers was for the weak, the unenlightened. They preferred some form of “spirituality” that suited them. Verses 23 & 24 say: Continue reading

October 7 “Whine or shine?”

sunshine shineWhen faced with difficulty, do you whine or shine? You have no greater opportunity to “shine” than when you have every reason, by the world’s standards, to grumble, whine and complain!

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 65 & 66
Psalm 116.1-4
Proverbs 26.28
Philippians 2.1-30

 

Isaiah 65 & 66:

He found me!

Verse 1, “I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ to a nation that was not called by My name.”

We often say, “I found God,” but the truth is, it’s always Him who “finds” us!

 

Psalm 116.1-4:

He has heard my voice

“I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the LORD. ‘O LORD, I implore You, deliver my soul!’”

This is the kind of faith we should all desire, faith that will not only allow us to run the race, but to complete it, as well!

 

lies lying fingers crossedProverbs 26.28:

Light, lying and darkness

“A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”

Lies hurt people! But an outright lie is not the only way to “lie.”

When we deceive or when we twist the truth to suit our purposes or to justify our behavior or to make ourselves look good or to gain sympathy, it’s lying just as surely as if we make up a tale out of whole cloth.

And isn’t that what the devil does, he takes the truth and puts his spin on it? Just as he did with Eve, he mixes his lies with just enough truth, to make them plausible: “Did God really say, ‘don’t eat the fruit of any of the trees?’” Continue reading

June 21 “Hypocrisy & little white lies”

Ananias and Sapphira died instantly for lying to the Holy Spirit. If God dealt with lying and hypocrisy in the same way in our churches this Sunday, I wonder how many of us would walk out?

fingers-crossed[1]

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 5 & 6
Psalm 77.1-3
Proverbs 19.10-12
Acts 5.1-21

1 Chronicles 5 & 6:

The tribe of Levi

As we continue through the genealogical record, the tribe of Levi, as the priestly tribe, is given special prominence. Not only do we have the genealogy, but their responsibilities are delineated, as well. In 6.33-47 we see those assigned the responsibilities for singing and praising God in the house of the Lord. Heman seems to be over all the singing with Asaph and Ethan on his right and on his left. Besides singing they also penned a number of the psalms. Asaph is given credit for the one in our reading today.

Psalm 77.1-3:

I will remember

Notice the title, “A Psalm of Asaph.” This psalm, like many others, starts out with deep sorrow, but ends with the psalmist encouraging himself and us, with accounts of God’s faithfulness in the past. This is one reason why the psalms are a good place to go when we are struggling with hurts and discouragements. The psalmists were often very honest with God about their disappointments, grievances, fears and worries, but there comes a turning point where they begin to say, “… but God …” We will see that in this psalm as we proceed through it over the next couple of days.

In these three verses we see words and phrases like. “I cried out,” “in the day of my trouble,” “my soul refused to be comforted,” “I … was troubled,” “I complained,” and “my spirit was overwhelmed.” But later we’ll see such phrases as. “But I will remember” and “I will meditate … and talk of Your deeds.” Continue reading

April 13 “The lens of Scripture”

How do you view the events of your life? What is your filter? Are you seeing through the lens of Scripture or the world’s perspective?

lens of Scripture

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 15 & 16
Psalm 45.1-5
Proverbs 14.4-5
Luke 11.29-54

Joshua 15 & 16:

Driving out our enemy

In these chapters and the next few, the boundaries for each tribe’s territory are being delineated. But notice verse 16.10, “And they did not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites to this day and have become forced laborers.”

Another reminder to us that we can have things in our lives which God has told us to remove, but we believe “we have it under control” so we don’t completely “drive them out.” Just as the inhabitants of the land would later pull them down and lead them into sin and idolatry, so can those things that remain in our hearts and lives. Continue reading

March 28 “God & government”

Has God ordained a certain form of government? In a republic like ours where we choose our leaders, what part should our faith play in our voting decisions?

God & government

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 17 & 18
Psalm 37.37-40
Proverbs 12.20-22
Luke 4.1-30

Deuteronomy 17 & 18:

God & government

Chapter 17.14-20:

14 “When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ 17 Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.

18 “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.

God’s Word does not ordain a certain kind of government, but God’s people are to pray, seek His wisdom, and obey His commands in whatever circumstances and under whatever form of government they find themselves.

Leaders should be those “whom the LORD your God chooses.” In a nation like ours where we choose our leaders, they should not be chosen on the basis of political expediency or personal gain. Instead, we should pray, seek godly counsel, and search God’s Word for the characteristics of godly men. Continue reading