Today’s contribution to Street Level Devotions is from Michelle Anderson. Michelle is a registered nurse practicing in Florida, the mother of 2 boys, 17 and 22 and was born again in November of 2005? Just as a reminder, if you have things you would like to contribute for The Virtual Pew's Street Level Devotions, contact me, Mike Furches at firstname.lastname@example.org or through MySpace at www.myspace.com/mikefurches
I am always looking for additional devotions that can be used in the book submission once it is done, and for devotions that speak to real issues, and come from real people, not the religious, but those seeking spiritual truth via real relationship with Jesus Christ. Now on to the devotion given today by Michelle.
Luke 6:20 - Looking at his disciples, he said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God."
Poverty, what do you think about it? What do you think the solution is? Who do you blame for it? I confess that before Christ, I didn't think about poverty except where it concerned me. I'm a single mom of 2 boys. I have a college education and I'm a registered nurse. My boys have different fathers, neither of whom wanted to do his fatherly duty and pay child support. I make a decent living, but I live paycheck to paycheck as do a large majority of people. Back then I considered myself poor because while I had a decent job, I also had a lot of debt. The combination made me "poor" in my mind.
I live in the richest country in the world. Yet the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer. There doesn't really seem to be much of a middle class anymore. And even though the U.S. is rich, we are quite poor due to our spending habits. Yet compared to the third world nations, even the poorest people living here are rich.
So what does God, the Maker of heaven and earth, have to say about poverty? He has plenty to say.
Leviticus 19:10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 25:35 "If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you."
Deuteronomy 15:7 If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother.
Deuteronomy 15:11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.
God doesn't ask us to sit around and contemplate the plight of the poor. He is very specific in commanding we take care of the poor.
Deuteronomy 24:14-15 Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy, whether he is a brother Israelite or an alien living in one of your towns. Pay him his wages each day before sunset, because he is poor and is counting on it. Otherwise he may cry to the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin.
The Lord hears the dries of the poor when we cheat them and treat them wrong and He holds that against us as sin.
1 Samuel 2:8 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. "For the foundations of the earth are the LORD's; upon them he has set the world.
People might be poor here on earth, but they are going to be treated with the highest honor in heaven.
Psalm 35:10 My whole being will exclaim, "Who is like you, O LORD ? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them."
God is ALWAYS on their side. So what should we do about poverty? Maybe you blame God for poverty, arrogantly saying if He is so loving why is He allowing people to starve? Francis Chan said in "Crazy Love", God should be asking us why WE are allowing people to starve! He created this place for US. He gave US charge over all the earth. Who are WE to blame God for poverty?
Maybe you think you are just one person and what difference could you make? Here is what Mother Theresa said -
We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.
We can do no great things, only small things with great love.
We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.
Poverty is more than a financial issue. It is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. When Jesus arrived on the scene, He turned everything this world knows about poverty and wealth upside down. He said the poor will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven and the rich will be so wrapped up in their stuff here they will miss the Kingdom completely.
James 2:5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
Revelation 3:17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
He tells us to sell everything we have and give to the poor and then we will have treasure in heaven!
Luke 18:22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
Jesus is God incarnate. He became poor and homeless so we might be rich through Him.
2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
Since I surrendered my life to the Lord 3 years ago, I've changed my mind about poverty. I no longer consider myself to be poor at all. He showed me how rich I am in Him. I still don't have a lot of money per se, but I have way more than hundreds of thousands of people around the world. He's also showed me that everything really belongs to Him anyway and if I trust Him and give, He will take care of me and my boys.
What is the solution for poverty? It's simple. GIVE! Don't shut your eyes to the poor like I did for most of my life. Your one dollar does make a difference because if everyone who could give a dollar gave it, it would add up to millions of dollars!
Matthew 5:42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Give because it is better to give than to receive. Give because Jesus says to take care of the widows and orphans and poor and homeless.
The Sheep and the Goats
(31) "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. (32) All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (33) He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. (34) "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. (35) For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, (36) I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
(37) "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? (38) When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? (39) When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
(40) "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
(41) "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (42) For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, (43) I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
(44) "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?'
(45) "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
(46) "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
I am not perfect. I am far from perfect. I love Jesus Christ and so I do my best to obey His commandments. He said, "Love your neighbor as yourself." For me that means helping the poor, loving them and befriending them and caring for them. I hope you'll join me. Who knows, it could be a countercultural revolution.
Thought for the Day: Purchase a toy for a child you don't know or donate something to a local organization helping the poor.
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