Sowing for the Poor

1“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 COR 9:6-7).

The churches in Macedonia, though very poor and struggling churches themselves (2 COR 8:1-2)—not only GAVE THEMSELVES TO GOD but LOVINGLY SACRIFICED THEIR “STUFF” FOR THE POOR AND NEEDY that were in Jerusalem.

2According to the passage above, God not only loves a “cheerful giver,” especially when they are giving to the poor, the needy, and the helpless, but God blesses the “cheerful giver.”

By the way, keep in mind that the folks in the Macedonian churches had never met and knew very little, if anything, about the poor and needy saints in Jerusalem, but they did know God, and apparently knew and understood God’s heart for the poor. And because of this, they were willing to sow cheerfully!

John Gill, an 18th-century had something to say about our sowing for the poor:

There is a good deal of likeness between sowing the seed in the earth and doing of alms, or3 acts of beneficence. The seed that is sown is what is selected and reserved out of the stock expended or sold off, which if not done, there would be no provision for futurity; so that which a man gives for the relief of the necessitous, is what he lays by him in store of what God has prospered him with; in doing which he may hope for a fruitful harvest, whereas otherwise, he could expect none: as seed is cast from, and scattered about by the sower all over the field; so what is given to the poor, it is parted with unto them, and spread among them, everyone has a portion; and it looks like a diminution of a man’s substance, and as if it would never return with any advantage; though it does, as in a natural, so in a metaphorical sense. The sower casts and scatters his seed with an open hand; was he to grasp it in his fist, or only let go a grain of corn or wheat here and there, he would have but a poor harvest; so the cheerful giver opens his hand wide, and bountifully supplies the wants of the needy; who, as the sower casts his seed on the empty field, so he bestows his bounty on indigent persons, on all men in want, especially the household of faith: and, as when he has done, he harrows the ground, and covers the seed under the earth, where it lies hid, and is very unpromising for a while, and yet he exercises faith, hope, and patience, with respect to a harvest.

God is looking for His people to be cheerful givers and He wants to bless them as they give. He’s looking for a people, like the Macedonian Christians, that are willing to sow for the poor and the needy “around the corner” and “around the world.”

Are we? If not, why?

I believe one author may be on to something when he wrote the following words:

blindWe have insulated and isolated ourselves from the massive material poverty that surrounds us in the world. We have filled our lives and our churches with more comforts for us, all while turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to abject poverty in others. We have a gaping hole in the way we see the world, and we need new sight. We need our eyes opened to the implications of the gospel for how we live.

Another man has written:

“I used to think when I was a child, that Christ might have been exaggerating when he warned about the dangers of wealth. Today I know better. I know how very hard it is to be rich and still keep the milk of human kindness. Money has a dangerous way of putting scales on one’s eyes, a dangerous way of freezing people’s hands, eyes, lips, and hearts.”

The apostle John, probably more than anyone in his time, knew the heart of the Lord Jesus, and because of this, his words are even more powerful and practical:

1 John 3:16-18, Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

Just Reflecting on Sowing for the Poor and the Needy!

“Where have we any command in the Bible laid down in stronger terms, and in a Poormore peremptory urgent manner, than the command of giving to the poor?” – George Whitfield

“Christ’s command (to love our neighbor as ourselves), coupled with the depth of poverty in the world and the reality of wealth in our lives, has huge implications for the way we live. … If the love of God is in our hearts, then it is not possible for us to ignore the poor in the world. The gospel compels Christians in a wealthy culture to action—selfless, sacrificial, costly, countercultural action—on behalf of the poor.” —David Platt

Job and The Least of These

“Because I delivered the POOR that cried, and the FATHERLESS, and HIM THAT HAD NONE HELP HIM. The blessing of him that was READY TO PERISH came upon me: and I caused the WIDOW’S heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the BLIND, and feet was I to the LAME. I was a father to the POOR: and the cause which I knew1 not I searched out” (Job 29:12-16).

Interestingly enough, when we think about the man Job, we tend to think about what the Bible has to say about Job’s PERFECTNESS, his PURITY, his immense PROSPERITY, the many PROBLEMS that he was forced to endure, the unbelievable PATIENCE he demonstrated in the midst of the pain and the problems, and yet, how often do we consider what God says about Job’s PASSION for the POOR, the NEEDY, and the HELPLESS, or what Jesus would refer to as THE LEAST OF THESE?  I like 18th century Bible Commentator, John Gill, had to say about the passage above:

This honor and esteem he had not because of his grandeur and riches, because of his worldly wealth and substance, but because of the goodness of his disposition, and because of the good he did to men, his acts of pity and compassion to the poor, and of the justice he did to all men; the poor and the afflicted, when they cried to him for help, he delivered them out of the hands of their oppressors. … [they] had none to help him; as the poor and fatherless seldom have; there is power on the side of the oppressors of them, but they have few or none to take their parts, and to be their comforters; in these instances Job imitated God, and was a follower of him, as a dear child of his; who, when this and the other poor man cries unto him, he hears, saves, and delivers out of all their troubles; he is the helper, yea, the father of the fatherless, and the judge of the widow; and, when there is no help from men, he is a present help in times of need. … he was the patron of the poor; he was an advocate for them, he took their part, he pleaded their cause, defended their persons, and secured the little property they had; he had the pity and compassion of a father for them, and supplied their wants; he fed them and clothed them; he did not eat his morsel alone, but gave them part of it, and warmed them with the fleece of his flock:

orphans 2So, this morning, just a small encouragement for all of us, the next time we consider Job, we might want to not simply consider his immense prosperity, the many problems he had to endure, or the unbelievable patience he exhibited, but let’s also consider his passion to help the poor, the needy, and the helpless, or THE LEAST OF THESE!

Just Reflecting on Job’s Compassion for the Least of These!

 

 

 

Listening Ears and Burning Hearts

BH 1Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened up to us the scriptures?” (LK 24:32). 

Much like with the downcast disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus is always speaking to us on our journey with him, even in the midst of our disappointments, discouragement, and despair. And even if we might be heading in the wrong direction, away from his purpose and place for our lives!

The real questions that we need to ask ourselves, are simple: “Are we listening?,” “Do we even recognize that it’s Jesus speaking to us?” And, of course, “Are we willing to heed what we hear?”

Listening ears result in burning hearts!

Oh, by the way, that’s even true if you are discouraged, sitting in a prison cell, and contemplating throwing in the towel, like the prophet Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 20:9, Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.

The Bible and church history are replete with examples of men and women who had listening ears, burning hearts, and obedient wills. And, as we all know, these are the men and women who eventually changed their world for good and for God!

BH -2Our hearts often become cold, calloused, and carnal. They are prone to wander from the God we love, and the God who loves us.

When they do, it’s time to take a little walk with Jesus, open our ears, open our hearts, and, yes, open our Bibles!

O Lord, give me a listening ear and an obedient heart!

Just Reflecting on a Burning Heart!!!

Thinking Straight, Loving Right

Thinking-StraightReading the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), once again this morning, reminded me of Paul’s words that I read in Romans 12 just yesterday, ”Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (12:19-21). I like Warren Weirsbe’s comments on Romans 12:19-21. Here’s a small excerpt:

The admonition in Romans 12:20 reminds us of Christ’s words in Matthew 5:44-48. These words are easy to read but difficult to practice. Surely we need to pray and ask God for love as we try to show kindness to our enemies. Will they take advantage of us? Will they hate us more? Only the Lord knows. Our task is not to protect ourselves but to obey the Lord and leave the results with Him. Paul referred to Proverbs 25:21-22 as he urged us to return good for evil in the name of the Lord. The “coals of fire” refer perhaps to the feeling of shame our enemies will experience when we return good for evil.

As children of God, we must live on the highest level—returning good for evil. Anyone can return good for good and evil for evil. The only way to overcome evil is with good. If we return evil for evil, we only add fuel to the fire. And even if our enemy is not converted, we have still experienced the love of God in our own hearts and have grown in grace.

Of course, these words (Romans 12:19-21) are found in the same chapter as Paul’s admonition to NOT be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (12:1-2), which we wrote about in our last post.

Romans 12:1-2, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

GSWorldly thinking, or being conformed to the world, emphasizes STANDING UP FOR OUR RIGHTS and SEEKING REVENGE for wrong doing against us, while biblical thinking does not. Biblical thinking emphasizes SUBMITTING TO GOD’S WORD AND OUR RESPONSIBILITY to love and help ALL men in need as Christ has loved us! 

And yes, this would even include our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48).

Just Reflecting on the Good Samaritan!

Thinking Straight​, Living Right​

Thinking-Straight“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not CONFORMED to this world: but be ye TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). 

For the first eleven chapters in the Book of Romans, the apostle Paul deals with the great doctrines of our faith such as justification, sanctification, glorification. He deals with God’s love and goodness towards His people. In chapters 12-16, Paul deals with our great duties as the people of God. And, it all starts with the familiar Romans 12:1-2.

Basically, in this passage, Paul is saying, because God has been so good to us, it is reasonable for us to lay down our lives as a living sacrifice, surrender our all to Him, and serve Him for the rest of our days!!!

Yet, Paul makes it clear in these verses, if this is going to happen, we must understand that EVERYONE CHANGES, and whether we are being CHANGED BY THE WORLD or we are being CHANGED BY THE WORD is determined by who or what is influencing us!

images 3In other words, have to win the battle for the mind. As Christians, we must understand that the battle is (and always has been) for the mind. Whoever or whatever has the GREATEST INFLUENCE over the way we think—concerning every issue of life—will, in due time, also have the GREATEST IMPACT on how we live in every area of our lives.

Therefore, we are either CONFORMING TO A GODLESS WORLD (in our thoughts, attitudes, words, and deeds) or we are being TRANSFORMED BY GOD’S WORD (in our thought, attitudes, words, and deeds). Regardless of how we might try to justify it, there’s not a whole lot of “wiggle room” there!

Therefore, we are going to have to be very decisive, diligent, and determined about who and what we are going to allow to influence our way of thinking.  Of course, above all else, we must be men and women of the Book. We must read it, study it, memorize and meditate upon it, and not simply be hearers of the word, but doers of the word.

images- 22 Corinthians 10:3-5, For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

At the same time, we must guard our hearts against other influences, outside of the Bible, that would conform us to a way of thinking that would not cause of to love God, love others, and live humble and Christlike lives in a dark and dying world!

Proverbs 4:23, Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Just Reflecting on Thinking Straight!

Rekindling the Vision

Vision 1Pro 29:18, Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. 

Neh 1:1-4, The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, 2 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. 4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

I absolutely love the Book of Nehemiah. It’s a book that reminds us what God can do with one man (or woman) who has a vision, or a burden from God. Nehemiah accomplished a GREAT WORK because he had a GREAT VISION that began with a burden for Jerusalem.

In the midst of his comfort as a cupbearer for the king, his heart was broken over that which broke the heart of his heavenly King. Far too many of us have become comfortable, complacent, and in some cases, carnal.

If that’s the case in your life, it’s time for a change. A radical change! 

In our last post we mentioned how important it was to have a vision birthed in heaven and found in God’s word, and how easy it is for the people of God to lose the vision or the burden they once had. As one author noted:

“Vision leaks, even out of the best of our people. The demands of everyday life gradually cause their minds to grow fuzzy, their commitment to wane, and their hearts to grow cold.”

When you think about it, there are very few things that are affecting our personal lives, our Christian homes and our churches, our communities and our country, as is a LACK OF VISION from above, and from God’s holy word. And sadly, because we are lacking a vision birthed from above, many are perishing. As William Booth once said:

“For far too long the Body of Christ has been asleep on the job while the harvest rots in the fields. The enemy has blinded our eyes to the desperate needs around us and caused us to focus on temporal things rather than the eternal values we have been called to live by.”

Far too many of God’s people are sleeping and have been blinded by our enemy and have lost their vision of the Person of God and the purpose of God for their lives, and thus, become unfaithful in their walk with and work for Christ. As one author noted:

“Find me a believer who is no longer faithful to the cause of Christ, and I will show you a man or woman who has no vision from God, no sense of divine destiny. Such people have either lost it or never had it. Visionary believers are marked by their intense faithfulness to their vision and to their Savior.”

Speaking of vision, I love the following definitions:

“Visions are born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between what is and what could be. … Visions form in the hearts of those who are dissatisfied with the status quo. Vision often begins with the inability to accept things the way they are. … Vision carries with it a sense of conviction. Anyone with a vision will tell you this is not merely something that could be done. This is something that should be done. This is something that must happen.”

“Vision is a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction that it should be. Vision is a preferred future. A destination. Vision always stands in contrast to the world as it is. Vision demands change. It implies movement. But a vision requires someone to champion the cause. For a vision to become a reality, someone must put his or her neck on the line. Vision requires visionaries, people who have allowed their minds and hearts to wander outside the artificial boundaries imposed by the world as it is. A vision requires an individual who has the courage to act on an idea.”

“Truth be told, the most inspired, motivated, and driven people I know are the ones who live their lives from the energy of their holy discontent. They have a constant awareness that what is wrecking them is wrecking the heart of God. Refusing to stay fed up, though, they instead get fueled by their restless longing for the better-day realities God says are coming soon. … This energy causes you to act on the dissatisfaction that’s been brewing deep within your soul and compels you to say yes to joining forces with God so that the darkness and depravity around you get pushed back. This supernatural supply of energy allows you to move forward past all the natural human-nature responses and enter instead into a life viewed from God’s point of view. In other words, your perspective shifts from that which your eyes can see to that which God tells you is true.”

Surely one of the greatest needs in our homes and churches today is for those who have never had a vision from above to beg God for one, and for those who once had a vision that burned deeply within their hearts, but something has quenched it, to beg God to rekindle the vision once again!

In other words, if we never had a vision, or if we had one, and have lost it, it might be time for us to get serious with God, get in our prayer closet, get on our knees, get in the Book, and beg God to rekindle the vision!

O Lord, rekindle the fire. Rekindle the vision!!!

Rekindling 2“Thou Christ of burning, cleansing flame, Send the fire! Thy blood-bought gift today we claim, Send the fire! Look down and see this waiting host, Give us the promised Holy Ghost, We want another Pentecost, Send the fire! God of Elijah, hear our cry: Send the fire!  To make us fit to live or die, Send the fire!  To burn up every trace of sin, To bring the light and glory in, The revolution now begin, Send the fire!”

Just reflecting on vision!

No Vision?

Vision 1Pro 29:18, Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. 

Neh 1:1-4, The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, 2 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. 4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

As the song writer once penned, “Our hearts are prone to wander.” Not only are our hearts prone to wander from the God we love, but often from the cause that He has called us to. When we do, we begin to drift aimlessly through life. We get stuck in a rut. And, the result is that people perish, and that includes us!

As one author noted:

“Vision leaks, even out of the best of our people. The demands of everyday life gradually cause their minds to grow fuzzy, their commitment to wane, and their hearts to grow cold.”

Been there. Done that!

When you think about it, there are very few things that are affecting our personal lives, our Christian homes and our churches, our communities and our country, as is a LACK OF VISION from above, and from God’s holy word. And sadly, because we are lacking a vision birthed from above, many are perishing. As William Booth once said:

“For far too long the Body of Christ has been asleep on the job while the harvest rots in the fields. The enemy has blinded our eyes to the desperate needs around us and caused us to focus on temporal things rather than the eternal values we have been called to live by.”

Last week, while reading the Book of Nehemiah, I was once again reminded of the power of a vision birthed in the heart of a man from above. I wrote these following words in my journal and then posted them online:

The Book of Nehemiah reminds us that if there’s a work that God wants accomplished, there must be a man that God has burdened! This book is also a good reminder, if there’s a man that God has burdened, there must also be a work somewhere and somehow that God wants accomplished. This is what is often referred to as destiny!!!

Who or what are you burdened about today? What are you doing about it?

God used Nehemiah in a mighty way, in a short amount of time, for His glory and for the good of others, but it all started with a vision, or a burden that was birthed in his heart from above.

In the same way God used Nehemiah, God wants to use you and me today! Yet, it all starts with a vision, or a burden birthed in our hearts from above.

Vison 2When a man or woman lacks a vision or loses the vision they once had, the final result is wandering in a spiritual wilderness or perishing.

While some of us may have never had a clear vision, many of us once had a vision of a work to do, ministries to start, people to reach, lives to change, but for whatever reason the vision has leaked.

Do you have a vision? Have you lost the vision you once had? If so, what are you doing about it?

O Lord, rekindle the vision!!!

“Thou Christ of burning, cleansing flame, Send the fire! Thy blood-bought gift today we claim, Send the fire! Look down and see this waiting host, Give us the promised Holy Ghost, We want another Pentecost, Send the fire! God of Elijah, hear our cry: Send the fire!  To make us fit to live or die, Send the fire!  To burn up every trace of sin, To bring the light and glory in, The revolution now begin, Send the fire!”

Just reflecting on vision!