"Leave Them for the Needy" (2/19)

Thought from today’s Bible reading from Leviticus 19-21.

Sadly, helping the poor is a contentious issue in our society. It is not so much that people do not want to help the poor – most good, moral people want help to be provided. The issue is over how to best help the poor and whether this help should come from individuals, churches, charities, or government agencies.

The Law of Moses contains a way to help the poor and the stranger among the people. While we do not live under the same Law or with the same circumstances, there are principles that should help us determine how we can best help those in need.
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By the Grace of God

Paul

In presenting evidence to support the resurrection of Christ, Paul told the brethren in Corinth of several eyewitnesses who could verify that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead. The last of these eyewitnesses that Paul mentioned was himself: “And last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also” (1 Corinthians 15:8).

At this point, Paul took a short break from his discussion about the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection to make a point about the grace of God:

For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove in vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed” (1 Corinthians 15:9-11).

Paul made four points in these three verses about the grace of God. Let us consider these briefly.
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"During Plowing Time and Harvest You Shall Rest" (2/10)

Thought from today’s Bible reading from Exodus 33-35.

Though the Sabbath law had already been given to the Israelites, the Lord provided further instructions regarding the application of the command:

You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest you shall rest” (Exodus 34:21).

From the beginning, God has expected man to work hard (Genesis 3:19). The wise man gives this admonition: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Paul tells Christians: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Colossians 3:23). So this instruction to the Israelites was not advocating slothfulness but that they strictly obey the commandment of God.
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Is Taking Time to Worship God a Sign of Laziness? (1/31)

Thought from today’s Bible reading from Exodus 4-6.

There are many people today who cannot seem to take time away from their busy schedules to worship God or assemble with the saints. If there is work to be done, that takes priority in the minds of many. Pharaoh exhibited a similar attitude when he was first told to let the Israelites leave Egypt to go out into the wilderness to sacrifice to the Lord (Exodus 5:1). He gave the following instructions to their taskmasters:

But the quota of bricks which they were making previously, you shall impose on them; you are not to reduce any of it. Because they are lazy, therefore they cry out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ Let the labor be heavier on the men, and let them work at it so that they will pay no attention to false words” (Exodus 5:8-9).

God’s people are certainly to be hard workers (Ecclesiastes 9:10; Colossians 3:23). But serving the Lord must always come first (Matthew 6:33).
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Benjamin Franklin’s Beginning in Preaching

Not long after being converted out of Methodism, the young Benjamin Franklin (1812-1878) began preaching, taking advantage of every opportunity he could find.

Benjamin FranklinAnd, as already mentioned in the preceding chapter, he at once began to preach, and he never stopped for anything but serious sickness of himself or family. At first it was only an effort to ‘exhort’ a little at the regular meetings of the church, or after someone else had preached. Then an appointment to preach somewhere at night, in some school-house, or in some private dwelling, was ventured upon. To these appointments he would often walk, three, four, or five miles, after a hard day’s work. Two or three of the young preachers generally met together and united in the exercises of the meeting. And thus, gradually, he directed the forces of his mind and body to the work, until he lost his interest in all other employments. Four years after his obedience to the Gospel he sold out the mill property, and was never afterward engaged in any regular secular business.” (The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin, p. 59-60)

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Pray for Those in Authority

Prayer

One of our specific obligations in prayer is to pray for those in positions of civil authority. Paul made this clear in his first letter to the young evangelist Timothy:

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Not only did Paul teach that Christians are to pray for their leaders, he explained why we are to pray for them. There is a specific desire for which we should pray that is according to the will of God. Before we consider this, we should first be reminded of the purpose for which God ordained civil authorities.
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"God Saw That It Was Good" (1/1)

Thought from today’s Bible reading from Genesis 1-3.

God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10).

Six times, the record of Creation tells us that God saw His work as good. These came after God created or ordered something – the creation of light (v. 3-4), separation of the dry land from the seas (v. 9-10), creation and growth of plants (v. 11-12), ordering of the sun, moon, and stars (v. 14-18), creation of sea life and birds (v. 20-21), and the creation of land animals (v. 24-25). At each point, the text indicates that God saw His progress and that it was good.
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