The Have and The Have-Nots

Date: January 18, 2010

Sharing a Piece a Candy

Scripture Readings:Gen 37-38:30, Matt 12:22-45, Psalm 16:1-11, Proverbs 3:27-32

S – Scripture:

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them. If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”  – Proverbs 3:27-28 – NLT

O – Observation & Interpretation:

How many times have you seen someone holding a cardboard sign that said, “homeless” or “need work” or “hungry” – interestingly since moving to this city, I noticed mainly homeless men, will go person to person in parking lots asking for “change”.  In today’s society there’s a large concern for safety. Just watch the news and you wouldn’t want to step outside of your home. I go by instinct, if I feel led I give, if I don’t I move on.  There have been times the Holy Spirit tells you, by the urging of your spirit, go back, don’t turn your back, buy a meal or share whatever you have.

If I’m in my car and someone approaches me I try to give food if I have it, or carry McDonald gift certificates with a few dollars so they can buy a meal. I’ve learned never to give cash, if possible, and I don’t have much anyway, so if they are truly in need they would appreciate the food. All that aside, if I have something or someway to help then the bible says I should help, not send them away.

A – Application:

We have started to gather clothing to donate and I’ve found a local agency that gives donations directly to the homeless so there’s no “sales” of donations and then helping others with the money from the sales. http://www.ourm.org/ – I was listening to the radio and found the Orlando Union Rescue Mission.  When we have extra funds, I try to have a few gift cards on hand in the car to hand out. When we drive long distances we often have snacks and packaged items with us – which we can hand out. In addition, we all know times are challenging for many of us, but we usually have a little more than someone else. I’ve tried to give of my time when I don’t have money to spare and that’s been a blessing.

I wrote about the homeless child in India that had two pieces of candy and offered me one, just because he wanted to say thank you for visiting him. I think about him often and God knows that little boy has made such an impact on my life.

P – Prayer:

Father thank you for providing and blessing us with our daily needs. Thank you for the abundance that we have where we can share with others. Thank you for the internet that can teach others how to give and share your love. Amen

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When Will God Provide?

Today’s Date: Jan 8, 2010

Reading: Gen 18:16-19:38, Matthew 6:25-7:14, Psalm 8:1-9, Proverbs 2:6-15

When Will God Provide?

S – Scripture:

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.”  Matt 6: 31-32

O – Observation:

Matt 6:25-34 Talks about not worrying about your daily needs to survive. God will provide. He describes the needs of the birds of the air, and that we, His children – are we not more valuable then they are? V26 – Believing that I as a child of God will have my basic needs met, I need to take steps not to worry as v 34 says, tomorrow will bring its own worries.

A – Application:

Based on these scriptures, God promises to care for us, by meeting our basic needs – food, clothing, water, shelter. It doesn’t say anything about our mortgages, debts we incur, etc.  What happens when we see people who don’t have the basics of food, clothing, and shelter? What happens in today’s economy when both spouses lose their jobs, their home, their belongings, where is God in providing for their needs?  I believe my duty as a Christian is to share that which I have, even if it’s less than what others may have.

My best example of God’s grace and provision is when I went to India and observed a ministry for homeless children, who lived along the railroad tracks.  The people who worked with them would try to get the children into orphanages and childrens homes, but the kids didn’t want to leave their other “family” (the other kids) who choose to stay behind. These children never knew where their next meal was coming from, they truly only had the clothes on their backs. They either ran away or parents abandoned them. They slept along the sides of the tracks and would catch the train (without paying of course) and go from one station to another. The police would occasional come and chase them away. We saw them drinking a strange looking liquid from a soda pop bottle, which we were told often times consisted of a mixture that would make them high. They also were known to “huff” glue or paint.

The outreach workers would visit the kids several times a week to befriend them in hopes that they would accept their help to go to school and enter a shelter. Sometimes the workers would bring the kids blankets or candy when they played with them, as they wanted them to get off of the streets and they didn’t think they would if they continued to provide them food & clothing – so they would visit without any handouts and the children embraced them because they knew the workers cared for them.

I was fortunate to visit the children with the outreach workers, along with a team of people from the US and other parts of India – we played games with the kids and gave them candy. The children seemed to enjoy our company and liked taking pictures with us. They didn’t speak English so we were given information by the workers.  One little boy came up to me and had two pieces of candy in his hand – he offered me one piece. I looked at him, shook my head and said no. He again insisted that I take it from him. The worker that took us to visit the children said I should take the candy, as that’s all the boy could do to show his appreciation for us coming to visit them. I was near tears. I could not see how a child who had literally nothing of material value, and didn’t know when he would eat again, would share his candy and not hoard it – like so many of us today. (I took the candy and when the young boy wasn’t looking I shared it with another child)  That boy wasn’t selfish, he was appreciative and showed love and care by sharing the only thing he had, an extra piece of candy.  Often, we want more and more – whether we have an abundance or barely enough we have trouble sharing, because we don’t trust that God will provide for us.

How do I apply this scripture verse in my life? I have been fortunate. When I look back on my childhood I never thought we were poor, we had a house, clothes, food. We were never homeless and I attended school and played sports.  We didn’t have a lot, but compared to much of our world, we were rich.  I have not only been fortunate, I have been blessed beyond what God promised to provide for my basic needs.  Even during the hard times of unemployment, illness, burn out, and the poor economy – I continue to see God provide for my basic needs. I have to trust that all the other bills, unexpected and expected expenses – God will provide and see us through. I have his Word on that. These are difficult times, however our country has gone through this in the past and has become stronger, and we pray that we will do it again. It won’t be easy, but He will provide.

Mt 6:33   “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

P – Prayer:

Lord thank you for meeting our basic needs. Thank you for the abundance of gifts and blessings beyond our basic needs through the years, even in difficult times. I pray that I will and am a good steward of your provisions and that we can help others in their time of need. Amen

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Giving Privately to Those in Need

Date: January 07, 2010

Title: Giving to Those in Need – Privately

Scripture Readings: Genesis 16 – 18:15, Matthew 6:1-24, Psalm 7:1-17, Proverbs 2:1-5

S – Scripture:

Mt 6:4 “Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”

O – Observation:

The verses from Mt 6:1-4 talk about giving to the needy and how we should do it. Most often people want to be recognized for their good deeds. We want to get “credit” so we make sure people know what we are doing so that we can benefit by a pat on the back. I say most, because if you look at our society, it’s what politicians do, it’s what businesses do – they give to others and take “photo opportunities” or call press conferences, so everyone can see what they “did” so others can say what a good deed they did and get votes or more business because they did what was right for others. But it wasn’t an unselfish move, because they gained from the act of giving. The bible says in vs 2, that’s all the reward they will get.  However, as Christians we should give unselfishly, with no expectation of earthly reward, no parade, no acknowledgment. We shouldn’t give so that we can get more (business or accolades), we should give because we can and are called to do so.

A – Application:

Give as I would give unto the Lord, give to others in need in private as my heavenly Father will reward me.  When I moved from HI to FL I gave away pretty much everything I had. I brought my car, clothes, laptop, and a few little things. I just asked around if anyone had a need and had them haul it all away. People asked me why I didn’t have a garage sale or sell stuff on Craigslist. I just wanted to get rid of it all as God was calling me elsewhere and I knew that He would meet my future needs. I feel a little weird telling you this now, but this is about lessons learned and what I did learn is that I don’t need all the “stuff” I had. I can even get by with less than what I brought with me. I think in actuality, I could live with whatever I could fit in my car and if I didn’t have a car, I could get by without that too – it’s just a blessing I still have something – God knows our needs.

How appropriate this scripture comes at this time. This morning I read an article about several public schools in our district who are seeking warm clothing for kids who are coming to school in tee shirts, shorts, wrapped in blankets, or other thin clothing. Some just don’t go to school because they couldn’t walk in the unusual cold that has swept our state and many of the student populations in the schools noted are homeless and/or in poor economic neighborhoods where parents are not able to buy warm weather clothing. This is a call to action for what excess we may have – jackets, sweatshirts, gloves.

Sometimes we need to go through the process of having little, in order to appreciate the abundance, and then go back to the bare minimum.  As the old saying goes, we can’t take it with us.

P – Prayer:

Father thank you for the blessings and provisions in my life. I have more than enough. I thank you that I can share your blessings with others. I pray that you show me those who I may help and even if it seems like a stretch, that person may need it more than I, and it’s not for me to question you, but for me to be obedient to your direction by the Holy Spirit that dwells in me.

Lord help me to know and do your will. Guide me, teach me, mold me and make me into the person that you need to continue to further your kingdom. Amen ###