Helping the Poor, Lending to God

Daily Devotion|Day 244

“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again” (Proverbs 19:17, KJV).

Compassion is the character of God. It is the character that He expects from all people, especially we who are the redeemed of the Lord. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus taught, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Then in Luke 6:36, Jesus had this to say to His disciples, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”

You will understand the Christian life better when you understand that your whole purpose in life is to be like your Father in heaven. This is your fundamental witness to the world. Once you get this, God’s commandments and instructions will make sense to you. Speaking to his children, the Father said, “Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). What the Father is, the children must be also.

What we’ve said so far is in relation to today’s opening passage from Proverbs 19:17. God cares for all people, but He reserves special care for the vulnerable and marginalized. Such people are dear to God. In Scripture, you will notice that God has strong words for those who oppress or ignore the poor. Likewise, He has high praise and great reward for those who take care of the poor (see, for example, Proverbs 14:31; 1 Corinthians 11:22; James 2:5-6).

Today’s Scripture says that those who have pity upon the poor lend to God. Yes, if you show compassion to the poor, God takes is personal. He takes it that He ‘owes’ you for doing that. And the Bible adds that whatever you give to the poor, the Lord shall pay you back. When you show compassion to the poor, you are behaving like your Father in heaven. It makes Him proud to have a child like you. God is pleased when His children manifest His character.

Therefore, when you get an opportunity to reach out to the poor, rejoice, because great is your reward in the Father’s presence. Every chance you get to show the Father’s character is a golden opportunity. Seize it, and make the most of it. Your good deeds do not go unnoticed. God will be in your debt. And, blessed are you if God is in your debt.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you in abundance. Amen.

For further study: Psalm 41:1-3

Designated Provider

DAILY DEVOTIONAL: DAY 211

“For the poor shall never cease out of thy land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land” (Deuteronomy 15:11, KJV).

God is a provider, and he has designated you as a provider, too. How is that? Every good and perfect gift comes from Him (cf. James 1:17). He can do all things by Himself. He doesn’t need our help to function as God and Provider. However, being a God of fellowship, He calls us to work with Him so that He can work through us. It is in this sense that He has made us providers like Himself, so that we can be there for one another – in His name – when a need arises. 

Living as a Christian is about manifesting in our lives the good and holy character of our Father in heaven. One major way we do this, is by providing for the poor and needy. If you claim, therefore, to love God, but you neglect the poor and needy, your ‘Christianity’ is vain. The Apostle John put it best, “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17, NKJV).

In Deuteronomy, chapter 15, the Lord instructed His people that after every seven years, they should manifest generous love for the poor and needy. Today’s opening Scripture is taken from this context. God says that there shall always be poor people among us. That’s interesting. Jesus said the same thing (cf. John 12:8). Immediately after stating that the poor shall never cease from the land, God says, “therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thy hand wide unto thy brotherto thy poor, and to thy needyin thy land.” This is as clear as it can be.

Just as He commanded the Israelites, He commands us today to open our hand unto the poor and the needy in our land. For God, it is not enough to open your hand. He wants you to open it wide. Why is this important? It’s important, because God wants you to be like him – generous. Some people don’t have a problem opening their hand; they just have difficulty opening their hand wide. All poor people are needy, but not all needy people are necessarily poor. Anyone can experience need at any time. Either way, God’s instruction remains.

Where there are poor or needy people, God has designated other people to provide for them. Don’t think this message is exclusively for your rich neighbor. The message is for us all. At one point in the life of the prophet Elijah, he was in need, because there was famine in Israel. Listen to what God told Elijah, “Arise, get thee to Zarephath . . . behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee” (1 Kings 17:9). God commanded, not a rich woman, but a poor widow, to provide for Elijah. As you follow the story, you’ll discover that Elijah, too, had been sent into the widow’s life to be meet a need in her life. Everyone qualifies to be God’s designated provider.

From today, accept that you, too, are God’s designated provider, appointed to provide the answer to a need in someone’s life. Don’t neglect this sacred duty. It’s your opportunity to show that the good God indeed is your Father, and that you are like Him. Don’t talk about love. Show love.

May God richly bless you and use you to richly bless others. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: 1 Kings 17:1-24

Quenching the Fire of Revenge

Daily Devotional: Day 114

“But He [Jesus] turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them . . .” (Luke 9:55-56, NKJV).

 One day, Jesus had to pass through a Samaritan village on His way to Jerusalem. But when the people realized that He was headed toward Jerusalem, the people wouldn’t receive Him. This upset two Jesus’ disciples, James and John. So, they asked Jesus if He wanted them command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did (see the Scripture for further study below). Recall that at the time of Jesus, the Jews despised the Samaritans and would have no associations with them. Likewise, the Samaritans wouldn’t associate with Jews (cf. John 4:4-9). Jesus was not pleased with His disciples’ request. His response to James and John is what we see in today’s Scripture.

The Bible says that Jesus rebuked James and John and wasted no time in reminding them of His mission in the world. Jesus reminded James and John of two things. First, He told them that they didn’t know what manner of spirit were of. What ‘spirit’ was Jesus referring to? The answer is in the next verse. Jesus said that He had not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. Notice the contrast between what the disciples wanted and what Jesus wanted. In this incident, we realize that James and John were not on the same page as their Master. They wanted to destroy the Samaritans who refused to welcome Jesus. But Jesus’ desire was to save, not destroy.

From today’s story we learn the importance of having the same mind as the Savior. Jesus’s mind is to save. And He wants us to have the same mind. The ‘spirit’ we are of is not a spirit of destruction, but a spirit of mercy, compassion and salvation. When we meet people or minister to them, at times impatience and bias can get in the way, and this attitude can make us deviate from the ministry of mercy and compassion Jesus has entrusted to us. God has blessed us with the power of His Holy Spirit. This power is not for cursing or commanding fire to consume our enemies. Let’s have the same mind as the Savior and focus on saving, not destroying.

Pray to the Father about what you’ve heard today.

For further study:  2 Kings 1:1-15