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Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus

Jill Labbe, editorial director of the Star-Telegram writes, "If you want to put Christ back into Christmas, then instead of battling the mall crowd to spend outrageous amounts of money on presents that will be forgotten by Easter, use that time and money to feed the hungry, clothe the poor and visit the infirm."

 

"They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’" (Mth. 25:44-45)

 

Question: Will Jesus' disciples be judged by their treatment of those who are hungry, homeless, diseased, and imprisoned?

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If you want to help - and aren't sure what to do besides volunteer at a homeless shelter, here is an ebook I created to help. It's called 101 Gifts for the Homeless. It's free. Please read and share. Thank you! Click on the file below the picture to download the PDF to your computer.

 

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Isn't that what your scripture just said? -- that if we don't care for others, we're not caring for Jesus.

Another time Jesus said "For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done."  (Matt 16:27)   Some people think that it's their faith that saves them but it's ALSO these good things they DO; after all, "... faith without deeds is useless." (James 2:20)

Isn't it these caring works that fulfill the law of Christ? (Gal 6:2) " Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."
Isn't it these caring works that show who has the love of God (1 John 3:17) "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?"
Isn't it these caring works the pure religion that God accepts? (James 1:27) "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." 
Isn't it these caring works that show who are true disciples of Jesus?  "By this all men will know that you are my  disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35)   These actions also show who are true children of God and who are not. (1 John 3:10)



Spot on!

Linda Camp Wooster said:

Isn't that what your scripture just said? -- that if we don't care for others, we're not caring for Jesus.

Another time Jesus said "For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done."  (Matt 16:27)   Some people think that it's their faith that saves them but it's ALSO these good things they DO; after all, "... faith without deeds is useless." (James 2:20)

Isn't it these caring works that fulfill the law of Christ? (Gal 6:2) " Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."
Isn't it these caring works that show who has the love of God (1 John 3:17) "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?"
Isn't it these caring works the pure religion that God accepts? (James 1:27) "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." 
Isn't it these caring works that show who are true disciples of Jesus?  "By this all men will know that you are my  disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35)   These actions also show who are true children of God and who are not. (1 John 3:10)



I'd say that covers it! A lot of people aren't sure HOW to care for others - oddly enough. I have spoken to people who were frightened, embarrassed or afraid of helping the homeless. I try to explain that 80% of the homeless are families, children, people who are working and often living with friends, family, in hotels or in their cars. Not everyone who is standing on a street corner and homeless is mentally ill, an addict or a pedophile. I encourage them to learn about homeless people and poverty so they do understand. I also encourage them to do as Christ admonished His disciples,  "I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as serpents and harmless as doves."—Matthew 10:16.

 

I don't think He intended we put ourselves in harm's way to care for people. I worked in law enforcement for a couple of years in college (police officer and aide to the county prosecutor). I have also been a journalist - 23+ years and selected to attend a state execution. I often wonder at this verse. I don't think we're called to put ourselves at risk to care for the homeless, the poor or the mentally ill, yet at times I have as I have known others who have. And there are times I have not stopped because that part of me that is "wary as a serpent" told me not to because the person was dangerous.

 

What do you think - we are temples of God, called to care, but are we testing God if we put ourselves in situations where the risk of harm is high?

My wife and I have been blessed to be a part of many wonderful community missional outreaches. One was the Center of Hope (http://www.centerofhopetx.com) where instead of every local church having a benevolence outreach, each church simply contributed 1 week each year at the Center working everything from registration and counseling to food prep and serving. All but one church in the city became involved. Another was a work outreach we created in a secular company called Pay It Forward (http://sourcecorptax.com/about/pay_it_forward.htm). Another we're about to get involved with is Union Gospel Mission (http://www.ugm-tc.org).

 

These type organizations are in nearly every city. As a pastor I've often heard people say that they want to help but are afraid. We learned that if we gather folks together as a group, called and volunteered at some mission effort like those mentioned above, people felt safer and would agree to commit. Wow! People's eyes were opened and their lives were more changed than those they ministered to!

 

Another instance is this past summer when my wife and youngest daughter went to Guatemala to serve in a mission outreach. Everyone said stay at home until things were safer. We sensed God's prompting and they went ahead (http://www.hisappointedtime.com). What a blessing!

 

Perhaps the real question is: "What is the meaning of the Parable of the Good Samaritan?"

Becky said:

I'd say that covers it! A lot of people aren't sure HOW to care for others - oddly enough. I have spoken to people who were frightened, embarrassed or afraid of helping the homeless. I try to explain that 80% of the homeless are families, children, people who are working and often living with friends, family, in hotels or in their cars. Not everyone who is standing on a street corner and homeless is mentally ill, an addict or a pedophile. I encourage them to learn about homeless people and poverty so they do understand. I also encourage them to do as Christ admonished His disciples,  "I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as serpents and harmless as doves."—Matthew 10:16.

 

I don't think He intended we put ourselves in harm's way to care for people. I worked in law enforcement for a couple of years in college (police officer and aide to the county prosecutor). I have also been a journalist - 23+ years and selected to attend a state execution. I often wonder at this verse. I don't think we're called to put ourselves at risk to care for the homeless, the poor or the mentally ill, yet at times I have as I have known others who have. And there are times I have not stopped because that part of me that is "wary as a serpent" told me not to because the person was dangerous.

 

What do you think - we are temples of God, called to care, but are we testing God if we put ourselves in situations where the risk of harm is high?

Good question Doug. I think about that a LOT! Very happy to see a discussion about it. I'm open to any other insights for sure.

Luke 10:30-37 Jesus answered, "A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’ Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?" He said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

THE CONTEXT:

 

Jesus was making a point to the priests and "religious" people and a lawyer trying to be legalistic about just  "who is my neighbor?" Christ's point was, I think, that mercy has no neighbor - that everyone is our neighbor. But He also leaves it up to us to decide what is dangerous for us and when to proceed and when to leave.

 

He wants us to show mercy, but He's not telling us to risk our lives no matter what. God is not opposed to our fleeing or avoiding a situation that puts us at risk. He knows that timing is everything! We can take heart in the same truth!

 

The first thing the angel told Mary and Joseph to do was to flee to Egypt after the Magi visited.

Matthew 2:13-23 (King James Version)

13And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

14When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

 

The Old Testament has many words of wisdom along the lines of Proverbs 22:3, "A prudent man foreseeth the evil and hideth himself, but the simple pass on and are punished. "

 

I went looking for other examples and found this great list:

 

Let me take you to several Bible stories and show you a number of great and godly people who found themselves in life-threatening circumstance, and see what they did. We should be able to learn from their examples. I will only make a brief reference to some because they are very familiar stories.

1. NOAH – Hebrews 11:7 - "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith."

Noah was MOVED WITH FEAR, and consequently spent 100 years building one of the largest ships in all ancient history, at the age of over 500 years old. God forewarned him of a coming calamity (the great flood) and Noah spent the following CENTURY making preparations to "flee" the flood.

2. ABRAHAM was WARNED of God that Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed. Abraham wanted to save the lives of his relatives, so he interceded with God. Consequently, God sent angels who COMPELLED Lot and his family to FLEE for their lives – all by the will of God!

3. JACOB FLED from Esau. After prevailing over his brother in the pursuit of the coveted blessing of God, Jacob was urged by his mother to FLEE for his life. Jacob's flight from Esau is one of the great stories of the Bible. His life was spared and he became a great nation. (Genesis 35:7)

4. JOSEPH FLED from Potiphar's wife to avoid being entrapped by her seduction, (Genesis 39:12).

5. The CHILDREN OF ISRAEL fled the famine in Canaan to go to Egypt where they found food. God ordained their flight many years before, when he foretold young Joseph of those days which were to come.

6. JOSEPH was forewarned by God that there would be seven years of worldwide famine, so for SEVEN YEARS, Joseph PREPARED FOR FAMINE by laying up in store. His tactics not only saved HIS life, but the lives of all his family and all of Egypt.

7. MOSES mother, Jochabed, HID baby Moses from Pharaoh, (Exodus 2:3). She wanted him to ESCAPE execution, and because of her efforts, Moses was saved.

8. Young MOSES learned that Pharaoh had sworn to kill him, so MOSES FLED for his life, (Exodus 2:15).

9. The CHILDREN OF ISRAEL FLED from Pharaoh and Egypt across the Red Sea, (Exodus 14:5).

10. God provided CITIES OF REFUGE for accused murderers to FLEE to for safety until their case could be heard, (Numbers 25:35).

11. DAVID FLED from King Saul many times (I Samuel 19:10), and was a fugitive for 15 years. Jonathan urged David to HIDE from his father. David's prayer was "HIDE me under the shadow of thy wings," (Psalm 17:8).

12. DAVID also FLED from Absalom his son, (II Samuel 15:14).

13. ELIJAH FLED from Queen Jezebel, (I Kings 19:3). God also warned ELIJAH to HIDE from King Ahab, (I Kings 17:3).

14. JEROBOAM FLED from King Solomon, (I Kings 11:40).

15. JOSEPH AND MARY FLED to Egypt with baby Jesus from the terror of King Herod at the warning of God in a dream, (Matthew 2:13).

16. JESUS FLED from the men of Nazareth when they ran him out of the city, (Luke 4:30). He HID Himself from the unbelieving crowds in Bethsaida, (John 12:36).

17. JESUS FLED to Ephraim, some say for two months, immediately before going to Calvary, (John 11:54).

18. The DISCIPLES FLED the Garden of Gethsemane when evil men took Jesus away, (Matthew 26:56).

19. PAUL AND BARNABAS FLED from Iconium to Lystra because of adversaries of the gospel, (Acts 14:6).

20. JESUS WARNED the inhabitants of JUDEA to FLEE when they see the Abomination of Desolations committed by the Antichrist in the Temple, (Matthew 24:16).

21. JESUS WARNED THE DISCIPLES TO FLEE when their preaching was resisted. Matthew 10:23 - "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another."

Solomon said, "When the wicked rise, men HIDE themselves," Proverbs 28:28.

"A PRUDENT MAN foreseeth the evil, and HIDETH himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished," Proverbs 22:3.

 

So, I don't think avoiding a situation out of fear, or fleeing for our safety is a sin unless you use the fear or profess it simply because you don't want to serve. Each of us has to make those decisions for ourselves. I think the example you give of going in a group is a great idea! From personal experience (and in my ebook) I warn about the dangers of some of the homeless. I've worked with them and while many are simply poor, there are also many situations that would be dangerous - particularly for women.

 

The homeless do need God. I have a friend who is a former homeless man who goes into very dangerous situations to interview and videotape and tell the stories of the homeless. He is a Christian and feels compelled to do this. God has kept him safe, although he has had his moments. We talked about it and I do not think it is what I am called to do. I think if God wants me to minister to someone He will let me know, or as He did with the Good Samaritan, He will put the person in my path. I have put up strangers and trusted people in dangerous situations. But I was a trained police officer and listen to both my instincts and to God. "Wary as serpents, innocent as doves."

 

Throughout the Old and New Testament God calls people into danger, and also tells them to flee as well. There is no black and white, you must do this every time commandment. God wants mercy, not sacrifice. Christ quotes Hosea twice in the New Testament and says in Matthew that He desires mercy, not sacrifice. We tend to get caught up in legalism (should we, shouldn't we? Are we commanded to do this?) I think Christ calls us each to our own abilities. Some can eat meat, some can not. He makes it very clear that not all of us are capable nor called to do what our brothers and sisters do.

 

Our relationship with Him is wonderfully unique and personal and that's what makes it a relationship, not a religion. God will use situations of danger to test, refine and teach some of us. But He calls us to that. Throughout the Old Testament, and in the New, God both warns Christ's disciples away from danger, and sends them into it - telling them to expect to be harmed and even killed. He does not promise 100% safety, but I believe He directs us according to His will and if we are walking with Him, then whether He saves us or we die, it works out to His glory and plan.

 

I do believe that He wants us to be merciful, to care, to act, to give. The fact is, few of us will be called to wade into danger and if we are, then if He is calling us, we answer. Good discussion Doug. Thank you!

 

Doug Morrell said:


Perhaps the real question is: "What is the meaning of the Parable of the Good Samaritan?"

Becky said:

I'd say that covers it! A lot of people aren't sure HOW to care for others - oddly enough. I have spoken to people who were frightened, embarrassed or afraid of helping the homeless. I try to explain that 80% of the homeless are families, children, people who are working and often living with friends, family, in hotels or in their cars. Not everyone who is standing on a street corner and homeless is mentally ill, an addict or a pedophile. I encourage them to learn about homeless people and poverty so they do understand. I also encourage them to do as Christ admonished His disciples,  "I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as serpents and harmless as doves."—Matthew 10:16.

 

I don't think He intended we put ourselves in harm's way to care for people. I worked in law enforcement for a couple of years in college (police officer and aide to the county prosecutor). I have also been a journalist - 23+ years and selected to attend a state execution. I often wonder at this verse. I don't think we're called to put ourselves at risk to care for the homeless, the poor or the mentally ill, yet at times I have as I have known others who have. And there are times I have not stopped because that part of me that is "wary as a serpent" told me not to because the person was dangerous.

 

What do you think - we are temples of God, called to care, but are we testing God if we put ourselves in situations where the risk of harm is high?

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