Wednesday, July 10, 2024

A Thorn In The Flesh

II Corinthians 12:2-10

We have all had things that we wished would happen, things we have desperately prayed for, and then it never comes to be.  It seems that the Lord wasn’t going to answer that prayer, even though it was not a desire for anything sinful or shameful.  This might leave us puzzled, hurt, and perhaps even a bit angry.  We wonder why God won’t answer this prayer.  After all, we weren’t praying for someone to get sick or die, we weren’t praying to win a huge lottery, or even a little one.  In our Scripture passage today, we read of a time when the Apostle Paul had something very important to him that he prayed about, but did not receive the answer he was looking for.  Let’s look at the circumstances of his prayer request, and what the Lord did answer for Paul.

As the Apostle Paul began this passage, he described a specific event that happened to himself.  Out of humility, though, he described it in the third person, as if he were talking about someone else.  In the event, this person, (which we know is Paul), was caught up into the third heaven where he saw things so wonderful and amazing he couldn’t even begin to describe them (vs. 2-4).  What is the third heaven?  The first heaven would be referring to the earth’s atmosphere, the air we breathe, the clouds, etc.  The second heaven is outer space, where planets, stars, comets, etc. are.  When Paul refers to the third heaven, he is speaking of the realm where God dwells.

Paul was not exactly sure if he actually went to heaven, or whether this was just a vision that he had.  Also, Bible scholars today are not exactly sure when this happened.  Some say that it might have occurred when Paul was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19-20).  The reason that Paul brought this up in his letter to the Corinthians was that there was a faction of people there, and in other churches, who felt that he was too unassuming, unassertive, and meek, that he was basically a nobody.  They wanted somebody who seemed to be somebody.  Paul didn’t want to boast about himself, bragging about his resume and experiences, but if he had to he would share some things (vs. 5-6).  Paul wanted the Corinthians to judge him based on their observations of his ministry, not on his visions.

He continues on by sharing about an affliction that he had, and what the Lord taught him through that.  Paul knew the reason for his adversity was to keep him humble (vs. 7).  Due to his many revelations he could not afford to become prideful.  Paul’s affliction would remind him of how dependent he was on God.  Again, the apostle does not give us too many details, and we do not know exactly what this “thorn in the flesh” was.  People have pondered whether it was some specific temptation sent from Satan, or the severe opposition from his adversaries.  Many people have felt it was some recurring physical affliction or intense bodily pain, either brought on from all he had been through.  Whatever this was, Paul had spent three very specific times in earnest prayer to the Lord that He would remove or relieve him from this “thorn” (vs. 8).  However, this prayer was not granted.

Although God did not remove Paul’s affliction, He promised to demonstrate His power in and through Paul (vs. 9-10).  God allows us to have “thorns in the flesh” for us to use them as inspiration to look to Him.  We can’t beat them with our own strength.  The only thing we can do is turn to God and ask Him for help.  He may not remove them, but God will strengthen our relationship with Him while we deal with them.

Being a Christian does not mean that we will have no problems in life.  It does not mean that we will never have sickness, accidents, face indifference, injustices, or death.  The difference is that we will not be alone when hardships come on us. God will see us through the challenges we face.  It is not always God’s will that we be healed.  It is not always His plan to relieve the pressure.  Our happiness is not God’s chief aim.  God’s answer to our prayers is based on His long-range plan, not our immediate relief.  Even in the most trying circumstances, we can give thanks to God because in these situations we discover how close God really is to help us through them.

When it seems God is saying “no” to something, He may be saying “yes” to something else.  Sometimes we do not receive what we pray for because we are not ready for it.  God’s answer might be “yes, but not now.”  Other times God says “no” because what we are praying for is not in line with His will and what is best for us. Lastly, what seems like a “no” answer may be because God may have something else in mind for us.

Brokenness is God’s requirement for maximum usefulness.  That is when we must count on God’s provisions.  Grace is constantly available for the believer.  The Lord’s loving-kindness is more than sufficient to help us when we are at our weakest.

Monday, July 8, 2024

Eyes On The Right Influencer

Psalm 123

The world is filled with “influencers”.   Being a social media influencer is a very big thing today, especially among the younger generation.  However, there are all sorts of different influencers.  Anyone in advertising.  People we look up to and admire, like a sports hero, a favorite singer or band, or an actor are types of influencers.  We hang on every word they say, and watch how they live their lives.  Certain famous people are always being called on to do advertisements for products because of how much influence they have.  These folks are either a good or a bad influence for people, and people have our eyes on them.  So who are we keeping our eyes on?  Our very short psalm for this week gives us the answer of who our influencer should be.

Today’s very brief psalm is one of the Psalms or Songs of Ascent, which are fifteen psalms, Psalms 120 - 134.  They are all very short psalms (except Psalm 132, which is basically the average psalm length).  These psalms or songs were frequently sung by pilgrims coming to Jerusalem on the Holy Days, as they climbed the hills that surround the city.

Our psalmist knew who he needed to keep his eyes on.  It wasn’t the local influencer of his day, or the famous sports or military leader.  It wasn’t even the king, like David or Solomon, or one of the prominent prophets.  The psalmist knew to keep his eyes on the Lord God.  He knew who to pattern his life after, who to follow.  He knew that he needed to listen to and to obey the Lord, not someone else who may lead him down the wrong path.  How many people started smoking or using drugs because their favorite rock musician used this or that drug?  How many were lured into gangs or other criminal activity because they listened to some friends or acquaintances in the neighborhood?  Movie and TV stars are always giving their opinions about politics and who everyone should be voting for.  If we keep our eyes on the Lord, and are following and obeying what He says in His Word, the Bible, then we won’t be led down the wrong path, and His guidance and principles from the Bible would also instruct us in voting.

In the ancient Middle East, masters would often direct their servants with their hands, rather than their voices (vs. 2).  Servants would thus watch the hand of their master.  God’s hand directs, supplies, protects, comforts, corrects, and rewards us, His servants.  This psalm reminds us of our proper standing before God.  We do not look down on God, or view Him as an equal.  We lift our eyes to Him.  Yahweh is enthroned over the universe.  We are dependent upon Him for all things.

In some of the New Testament epistles our Christian life is compared to that of running a race.  With the Olympics starting in just a few weeks, the athletes are training.  They know the importance of keeping focused.  Those in games, like volleyball, know to keep their eyes on the ball.  A runner keeps his eye at the finish line.  They aren’t to be distracted by looking in the stands to see if someone they know is watching them.  We are told to be “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).  We are to keep our eyes on the Lord.

The author in Psalm 123 lifted his eyes to God, waiting and watching for Him to send His mercy.  The more he waited, the more he cried out to the Lord, because he knew that the evil and proud offered no help.  They only had contempt for God (vs. 3-4).  All too often, the influencers in the world today are not believers, and their message is anything but godly.  If one listens to the news media today in any form, whether online, on the TV or radio, or in publications, you will quickly see that they all have nothing but contempt for Christians, the Lord Jesus, and the Bible.  Believers receive nothing but scorn from them.

In closing, let’s follow the lead of our psalmist.  In every area of his life, he kept his eyes on the Lord.  Our eyes, too, should be on Jesus to mercifully meet our needs, and lead us through each and every day.

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Faithfully And Fearlessly Bringing God's Message

Ezekiel 2:1-7

There are some people whose job it is to give others warnings of dangerous conditions ahead or that are coming.  Meteorologists are one such group of people.  Part of their job is to warn the public when a storm is approaching, such as a hurricane, a tornado, or a blizzard.  Where I live our community tornado siren will go off at least once a year, warning that a tornado has been sighted.  If we don’t take cover there could be serious danger.  Police put up warning signs when something dangerous is up ahead on the road, perhaps a bridge being out.  Officials put out warnings if it’s dangerous to swim in the ocean due to rip currents or perhaps even a shark.  To disobey that could cost one their life.  It is important to heed the warnings, and it is equally important for those in charge to faithfully give the needed warnings.  If they fail in their responsibilities, it could cost many people their lives.  In our Scripture today, we read of the charge that the Lord gave the prophet Ezekiel to give His message to the people of Israel, and to not be afraid or hesitate, because the message was important.

As our Scripture opens, the Lord told Ezekiel to get up, to stand on his feet (vs. 1).  The prophet had fallen upon his face in reverence, awe, and worship when he was blessed to see a vision of, not only a heavenly being (Ezekiel 1:4-25), but also of the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus (vs. 26-28).  Naturally, such a vision would bring one to prostrate themselves.  The Lord had a very important message to give the prophet for him to deliver to the people, so He told him to get up.  This vision had so affected Ezekiel that the Holy Spirit had to give him the power to arise (vs. 2).  God never gives us a command that He doesn’t also give us the ability to fulfill.  He never calls us to a task without also enabling us to complete it.

The Lord gave Ezekiel a message he was supposed to bring to the children of Israel.  His ministry was to the people during the Babylonian captivity, and though one might think that now their hearts would be tender to the Lord, that was not the case for many of them.  The Lord called them a rebellious nation, calling them impudent and stubborn (vs. 3-4).  Ezekiel was to give them God’s message, and whether they accepted it or not, they would know that a prophet, God’s messenger, had been among them (vs. 5).

The words that Ezekiel then spoke to the people were not his words, but were actually God’s words.  If the people rejected him, they, in truth, were rejecting the Lord God.  The measure of Ezekiel’s success would not be on how well the people responded to him, but was on how well he, himself, obeyed God.  God's truth does not depend on how people respond.  God’s truth, His Word, stands true whether people believe it and obey or they do not.  God will not judge us for how well others respond to our mission, but for how faithful we have been.

The unsaved, those who are rebellious and whose hearts have been hardened against the Lord are not pleased when someone comes, bringing God’s Word.  God’s messengers are very often not welcome, and their reception can often be outright hostile.  Ezekiel must have felt some fear in being sent to deliver the message, as he knew how they would likely receive him.  They were like briers, thorns, and scorpions (vs. 6).  No one wants to walk through a brier patch, nor to be among poisonous scorpions!  These were the descriptions that the Lord gave for the people whose obstinate rejection of His Word were like the barbs of thorns and the stings of scorpions.  However, God sent Ezekiel to speak to the nation.  It would not be an easy job, but God was with him.  He did not need to fear.

The great 19th century British preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, “Never, for fear of feeble man, restrain your witness.”  We should never be so afraid of getting a negative response from someone, or a group of people, that we hold back and not bring the Word of God, the Gospel to them.  God wants us to bring His message whether they listen or not (vs. 7).  Wherever the Lord has placed us today, faithfully be His witness.  People today are like those who are just idly going about their lives while a huge storm is heading their way and they ought to be seeking shelter.  People today are unprepared, both those inside and outside of the Church, for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We need to share His message with someone today!

Friday, July 5, 2024

It Is Never Too Late With Jesus

Mark 5:22-24, 35-43

Picture yourself in a really desperate situation, some life or death health crisis, or some very desperate, critical financial situation.  You think that you have found a good solution, some real life-line that can help you, but then the bottom drops out and the life-line is not there. You have nowhere to turn.  You get the worst possible news.  There is no more hope.  What do you do?  The difficulties are just too great, so do you just admit defeat?  This is the type of situation the gentleman in our Gospel passage today found himself.  Let’s take a look at this event in this man’s life.

As our Scripture from the Gospel of Mark opens, we read how a gentleman by the name of Jairus came to Jesus.  He had a young daughter who was quite sick, actually at the point of death, and he came to Jesus pleading with Him to come and heal her.  She was obviously too sick for him to actually bring her to Jesus, so Jairus asked if Jesus would come with him to his house (vs. 22-24).

Jairus was a “ruler of the synagogue”.  They presided over the local synagogues and were lay officials in charge of arranging the services and overseeing other synagogue affairs, such as running the weekly school for young Jewish boys, and caring for the building.  They might be similar to deacons or elders in some Christian churches today.  Rulers of the synagogues were frequently Pharisees, or at the least, associated with them.  Considering that this was very likely the case with Jairus, it took a lot of faith and courage for him to come to Jesus.  He could have lost his position for turning to Jesus on behalf of his daughter.  However, the situation was desperate.  Where else could he turn?  Jesus was his only life-line.  Jairus must have believed that Jesus could heal his daughter, which he obviously loved very much.

Fortunately, Jesus was willing to go with Jairus to his home.  While enroute, something happened that put a whole different twist to the situation.  Jesus got delayed, He was sidetracked by someone else and their concerns.  The Savior was stopped by a woman who had her own health issue that she needed healing for, and He stopped to attend to her.  Now what?  Jairus’ daughter was near death, any delay would only make matters worse!  I can only imagine what might have been going through his mind right then.  I might be pulling on His sleeve, telling Jesus to hurry up, to leave that woman, that I had been first in line, so attend to my needs!  I don’t see Jairus doing any of that.  However frantic he was inside, he seems to have waited, at least outwardly patient, for Jesus to finish.

As we continue in our Scripture we read that the worst possible message came to Jairus from his household, which was that his daughter had died.  The messenger told him that there was no more need for him to bother Jesus any more (vs. 35).  His daughter was dead.  What’s the use now?  She is dead.  Should he just give up and walk away?  That’s what his messenger told him to do.  Dead was dead, at least that is what they thought.  Jesus had overheard what the messenger had told Jairus, and He told him to not be afraid, but instead to believe (vs. 36).  Jairus was urged to maintain the faith that he had initially demonstrated in coming to Jesus.  God always urges us on to faith and away from fear.

They continued on to the house, and when they got there, they found people already grieving and mourning (vs. 38).  In that hot climate burial would follow as soon as possible after death, so public mourning and grieving was done immediately.  Jesus then said something that brought immediate ridicule.  He told them to stop mourning, that she was not dead (vs. 39-40).  To say that she was “not dead, but sleeping” was a figure of speech.  Jesus knew she was dead, but her death was only temporary.  Though disrespectful, and meant to humiliate Jesus, their comments show that the girl was really dead, not just unconscious.

Seeing all the mourners and their ridicule of Jesus must have been difficult for Jairus’ emotions, but he still clung to his faith.  Jesus always wants to operate in a climate of faith, not of unbelief, so He had everyone sent from the room except the girl’s parents, along with Peter, James, and John.  He then took the girl’s hand and, speaking Aramaic, told her to arise, to get up (vs. 41).  This was the second of three people that Jesus raised from the dead during His ministry, the first being the widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11-17), and then later His good friend Lazarus (John 11:1-44).  Jesus told the parents to give her something to eat, and not to go spreading the word about this resurrection (vs. 43).  Word would soon get around when people saw her.  Jesus wanted time to leave the area to avoid ostentatious acclaim, and avoid scornful unbelievers.  Jesus’ custom all along was to make Himself known to earnest seekers, but to conceal His true identity from the skeptics and unbelievers.

Are you facing some very desperate and critical situation, that perhaps has now gotten even worse, where there doesn’t seem to be any hope?  Maybe time just seems to have run out in the situation, and there is seemingly nothing more that can be done.  Jesus showed that with Him, it can never be too late!  Time cannot limit what Jesus can do, and when He chooses to do it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Faithful And Generous Giving

II Corinthians 8:1-9, 13-15

The world is often divided into two groups of people.  Some of these are the rich and the poor, the old and the young, the thin and the not very thin.  And there are the generous and the not very generous, or the stingy.  The generous will give to help others, sometimes even when they don’t have much to begin with.  The less generous, or stingy folks want to hang on to what they have, even if they have more than enough.  Our New Testament Scripture this week comes from a portion of St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.  Here we read how Paul encouraged this congregation to be generous, and help other believers in need.  Let’s see what the Lord can teach us today.

During the years that Paul was a missionary throughout Greece, one thing that he wanted to do was to take up an offering in the churches that he established to help the Christians in Judea.  The Christians in Judea, in and around Jerusalem, were the first believers to come to faith in the Lord Jesus.  Why were they so particularly poor, more so than churches in other areas, like north in Damascus or Antioch, or the churches in Asia Minor or in Greece?  For one thing, practically all of the believers in Judea came from a Jewish background, a lot whose families were Orthodox or were Pharisees.  When they accepted Jesus as the Messiah many of them were then disowned by their families (many of these families being Pharisees), and expelled from their homes.  Their employers often fired them, so they lost their ability to support themselves.  Also, not that long before this letter, there had been a severe famine in the area (Acts 11:27-30).  In addition, there had been two earthquakes in the area.  One occurred during the reign of Emperor Caligula (AD 37-41).  The other was during the reign of Emperor Claudius (AD 41-54).  Due to all of these circumstances the Christians in Judea were in desperate need.

As Paul traveled throughout Greece establishing churches, he urged each congregation to remember the poor, not only among their own community, but also in other churches, particularly in Judea.  When Paul first came to Corinth and established the church, he challenged them to start a collection, as the churches in Macedonia, including those in Philippi and Thessalonica, were also taking collections.  Macedonia was a poorer area than that of Corinth, due to political and military problems there, but they were giving generously.  In contrast, Corinth was quite prosperous due to the thriving port and being a major commercial area.  Paul commended the churches in Macedonia for giving to the impoverished believers in Judea, even though they were poor, as well.  He encouraged Corinth to do equally as well.

How about our giving today in the 21st century?  Are we hanging on to whatever we have as we worry about the dismal economy in so many parts of the world?  Are we afraid to give, thinking things will get worse, and we won’t have enough for ourselves and our families?  Or are we just selfish, thinking we have rightfully earned our money, and want to spend it on things we would enjoy?  That shouldn’t be the case for followers of the Lord Jesus. When we are wholeheartedly committed to the Lord, His priorities become ours.

Some might say that they barely have enough for their own needs, how can they give to others.  The members of the Macedonian churches could have said that, but they knew that with the Lord, there is always enough to share.  The point of giving is not so much the amount we give, but why and how we give.  God does not want gifts given grudgingly.  He wants us to give out of dedication to Jesus, love for fellow believers, the joy of helping those in need, and that it is the good and right thing to do.

As children of the Most High, our finances do not depend on the world’s economy, but on the economy of God.  The unsaved world panics when the economy is bad, when the prices of food, gasoline, and healthcare go up and up and the bank accounts get thinner and thinner.  That should not be us, though.  We must show the world that we are people of faith, not of fear.  If we are faithful givers to those in need we will find out that God is a faithful provider.  No one excels more in giving than the Lord!

Monday, July 1, 2024

Living A Blessed Life

Psalm 112

When one sets out in life, most people hope that they will be successful, that they will be blessed.  This usually includes hopes that they will be prosperous with a good bank account, that they will be successful in their job and in their marriage, have plenty of good friends, and go through life healthy.  What does the Bible say about the man or woman who is blessed by the Lord, and how can one be in such a desirable position?  Our psalm for today speaks of the person that the Lord blesses.  Let’s take a look into our Scripture.

Psalm 112 opens with a word of praise to Yahweh, and then immediately declares what one must do if they desire to be blessed by Him (vs. 1).  To be one that is blessed by the Lord one must delight in His commandments.  As the psalmist continues, he states that there are many blessings available to us such as honor, prosperity, security, and freedom from fear (vs. 2-9) if we fear the Lord and delight in obeying His commands.  If one continually disobeys what the Bible says, if one tries to say that a command of God really means something different, or that it doesn’t apply for today, or if they just choose to ignore God’s Word, then they can’t really expect to be blessed by Him.  Mankind’s desire for prosperity and blessings can only come through obedience to the commands of God.

As we continue in our psalm we read that a good person, one who enjoys the Lord’s blessing, will be a generous person (vs. 5).  They freely lend to help those in need, and do so graciously, not begrudgingly, or making the other one feel bad about their need.  Sometimes wealthier people abuse others in their desire to accumulate wealth.  Developing a habit of generosity can help in eliminating that.  The fear of losing all of one’s money can be a snare.  If we are generous with what we have we show that we are putting our trust in the Lord and not in our bank and financial accounts.  The blessings the Lord bestows on His obedient children make it possible for us to give to others.  Though the unsaved may prosper, their prosperity is fleeting and will not last forever.  The blessings that obedient believers receive from the Lord will last forever because they are anchored in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Another blessing that the Lord bestows upon believers who are living their life closely aligned to His Word is that we can live our lives without fear, panic, and apprehension (vs. 7-8).  There are so many fearful things happening in the world today, that we see people all over in a state of worry and fear.  They fear the bad economy and the security of their jobs.  They are afraid of wars and conflicts in various parts of the world and whether they will escalate even worse.  People fear about their health and that of their loved ones, about how their children are doing.  They also fear the deteriorating social and political climate.  However, those who fear the Lord, and who trust in Him do not need to be afraid of evil tidings.  The fear of God can lead to a fearless life.  To “fear God” means to respect and revere Him as the Almighty Lord.  When we trust God to take care of us, our other fears will subside.  A believer should not be afraid when bad news comes.  If we are, how are we any different from the unsaved?  They become filled with alarm and fear.  We have proven God’s faithfulness and we have a living hope.  Evil tidings should not put us in fear.  We know the Lord will undertake for us.

As our psalmist closes this psalm, we read that the Lord will exalt the horn of those who He has blessed, those who obey Him and give generously to the poor (vs. 9).   When the Scriptures talk about exalting someone’s “horn” they are using a figure of speech.  The horns on an animal, such as a rhinoceros, a ram, or a bull can be a symbol of their strength and power.  One does not want to be on the receiving end of any of their horns!  Typically we steer clear of them.  When God “exalts our horn”, it indicates that He is blessing us, giving us strength and prosperity.  In contrast to the righteous man, the wicked man leads a worthless existence without the blessings of the Lord (vs. 10).

After reading through this psalm, seeing the blessings the Lord will give those who obey and follow Him, or the final end of those who have turned away from God and are going their own way, which do you want for your life?  I would certainly choose a life of blessings and honor, a life without fear.  That is the reward for those who have Jesus as their Savior, and who delight in His commandments.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

How Do We Treat The Poor?

Deuteronomy 15:7-11

I see them nearly every single day.  They are all over the big cities, and the suburbs.  They are out in rural areas, too, only probably not as noticeable.  What am I talking about?  I am referring to the poor and homeless asking for help.  We see them on the busier streets by the traffic lights.  When the lights are red, they will walk down between the lanes, often holding a sign saying they are homeless and hungry.  There are always one or two at a busy intersection several blocks from where I live.  I have lived here over twenty-five years, and there haven’t always been people on the street corners begging for help.  It’s only been in the last few years.  How do you feel when you see the poor and homeless in your area, as this is a world-wide concern?  Our Scripture today lets us know what the Lord God has to say about this.

This week’s Old Testament Scripture comes from the Book of Deuteronomy, the last book that Moses wrote.  Deuteronomy contains his final message to the people of Israel, right before they would cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land.  In these small handful of verses, Moses tells us the Lord’s instructions for how He wishes us to treat the poor.

The Lord wishes that His children have an attitude towards the poor that is one of warmth and generosity, giving what is necessary to meet their needs, whether they pay us back or not (vs. 8).  Right prior to our passage in this chapter of Deuteronomy Moses laid out the regulations for the “year of release”, where all debts were to be canceled every seven years (Deuteronomy 15:1-6).  That way people would not be weighed down with unending debt, especially if the lender tacked on heavy interest rates.  In today’s passage, the Lord added more about the “year of release” because He knew how hard-hearted some people might be to those who needed a helping hand.  He knew that a potential creditor might be unwilling to make a loan to a poor person because of the proximity of the year of release.  If it was the sixth year, and the next year was the year of release, that would essentially make the loan instead a gift, as little would be paid back.  So some hard-hearted and selfish people would refuse to make loans to the poor then.  The Lord explicitly condemned having such an attitude (vs. 9-10).

Why do people so often have a hard heart against the poor?  Many people conclude that people are poor through some fault of their own.  They feel that they are poor and/or homeless because they are alcoholics or drug addicts, or because they are lazy and don’t work hard enough.  This makes it easy in their minds to close their hearts and hands to the needy.  However, we are not to invent reasons for ignoring the poor.  The Lord tells us to respond to their needs, no matter who or what was responsible for their condition.  Plus, with the economy as bad as it is in the U.S. and in many other countries, we can no longer just assume that the poor and homeless are lazy drunks and drug addicts.  Unfortunate job lay-offs, ill health with sky-rocketing medical bills, an abusive spouse who takes off and leaves you with children to care for, any of these and more could be the reason that one needs to beg for a hand-out and help.

We also find some people who are so hard-hearted against the poor that they do not want them in their community because they think them unsightly, and that it gives the community a bad image.  They petition the police and city council to run them out of town.  They remove park benches so they won’t have a place to sit and rest, or put armrests in the middle of those park benches so they can’t lie down at night.  Then they turn around and go to church on Sunday and think they are a good, upstanding Christian.  Do we not remember what the Lord said He would do when He returns, how He will divide the people according to how they treat the poor?  (Matthew 25:31-46).  Jesus said that whatever we do to the least of our brothers, we do unto Him.  If we help them to the best of our ability, we are helping Him.  If we cast them off and ignore them, we are doing the same to Jesus.

Have we been blessed by the Lord with a roof over our head, enough food for each meal, and enough to pay our bills?  Most of us have that, and many have even much more.  The Lord does not want us to hoard what He has blessed us with.  He blesses us so that we might bless others.  If we want the blessings of the Lord to continue on us, we must obey Him, and work diligently to carry out His Word (vs. 10).  We are told here by Moses in our Scripture (vs. 11), and later with Jesus in Matthew 26:11, that the poor will always be among us.  Therefore we are always to remain generous.