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The Care of God, Part 2

January 29, 2006

This sermon was presented before the Load, Kentucky, Church of Christ, on January 29, 2006. God cares for His people, and has set forth the means to provide that care. I pray that we shall all learn His methods in caring for His children.  Bernie Parsons

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The Care of God, Part II

A sermon by Bernie Parsons

Part 2 of a series of five, presented at the Load, Kentucky, church of Christ on Sunday, 01/29/2006

In Part I of The Care of God, we saw the ways in which God provided for the Israelite priests and their families, the poor Israelites who had fallen upon hard times, and the widows, fatherless, and the poor strangers among their people. We now examine the provisions that God has made for Christians in these same circumstances, keeping in mind that the apostles and first-century Christians were well taught in the Law of Moses.

We saw how that it was said that the poor would always be amongst the Israelites. This is a given. Some people are poor resource managers; some fall ill, grow feeble, are injured, or otherwise lose their livelihoods; still others are denied proper opportunities. Because of such circumstances, the poor will always be among us. What, then, are our obligations toward those in need? How are Christians to deal with one another when it comes to finances? We find, through a proper examination of the scriptures, that there is little difference between how it the Israelites did it, and how the Christians did it.

Jesus and His disciples maintained a fund from which their own needs were met, and from which they distributed to the poor that they encountered along the way.

John 13:28: “Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.
29: For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.”

Jesus did not make it His life’s mission to seek the poor, in order to assist them. He mounted no project, solicited no funding, and trumpeted no such cause. The Jewish model was a local one—they helped the poor in their communities. Jesus also acknowledged that there were other proper uses for resources than for relief of the needy.

John 12:1: “Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
2: There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
3: Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
4: Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
5: Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
6: This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
7: Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
8: For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.”

In this case, Jesus was being honored by being anointed in a costly perfume. Judas Iscariot objected, arguing that it could have been sold, and the proceeds given to the poor. Jesus disagreed, quoting from the Old Testament, “The poor always you have with you.”

There will always be ample opportunity to help the poor. Poverty is not going away. On the other hand, He is saying, there are other acceptable uses of resources. That being said, it is still the obligation of the wealthy to assist the poor.

Luke 19:8: “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
9: And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.”

This is also borne out in the story of the rich ruler who did not wish to part with his wealth.

Luke 18:18: “And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
19: And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.
20: Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.
21: And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.
22: Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
23: And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
24: And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
25: For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
26: And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved?
27: And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

This man’s sin was not in the possession of riches, but in his love for them, which caused him to turn a blind eye to the suffering poor. It is this love for riches that causes a man to sin against God. Even so, Jesus said that it is possible for a rich man to enter heaven—difficult, yet possible.

Paul addressed this love for riches when he wrote to the younger preacher, Timothy.

1 Timothy 6:9: “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10: For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

He warned Timothy not to be caught up in the insane race for riches. He also gave him instructions about how to deal with those who were rich.

1 Timothy 6:17: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
18: That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
19: Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

If we have wealth, God has given it. Why does He give it to certain people? He gives it to them that they might help those who are in need.

Hebrews 6:9: “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.
10: For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
11: And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
12: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

We are not to be lazy, or slothful. We are to work to provide for our own needs, those of our families, and the needy that we encounter.

Proverbs 18:9: “He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.”

Proverbs 19: 14: “House and riches are the inheritance of fathers and a prudent wife is from the LORD.
15: Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.”

Proverbs 24:30: “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;
31: And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.
32: Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.
33: Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
34: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.”

2 Thessalonians 3:6: “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
7: For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;
8: Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:
9: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.
10: For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
11: For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
12: Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
13: But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
14: And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
15: Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”

Romans 12:9: “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10: Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
11: Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12: Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
13: Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.”

At the same time, we must acknowledge that the blessings flow from God, not us.

James 4:13: “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
14: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
15: For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
16: But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.”

Deuteronomy 8:11: “Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:
12: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;
13: And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;
14: Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
15: Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint;
16: Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;
17: And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.”

The rich often attribute their riches to their own labors, and not as a gift from God. God blesses some with plenty so that they can help those who are trying to help themselves, yet find themselves in need. Assisting the needy is oft mentioned in the scriptures.

Hebrews 13:16: “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

James 1:27: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

James 2:14: “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15: If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16: And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17: Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”

Galatians 6:10: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

God’s model for the Israelites is the same for us Christians--we are to assist our brothers in Christ, our families, and our neighbors and others about us who are in need. This is the Law of God—it is the love of God manifested toward our fellow man.

Matthew 25:34: “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37: Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38: When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39: Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40: And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

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