One of God’s Loving Ways to Deal with Poverty

The set of laws that God gave the ancient nation of Israel included loving provisions to help the poor, afflicted, widowed, foreigners and the less fortunate. One such provision is called gleaning.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the verb glean this way: to gather grain or other produce left by reapers, to pick up after a reaper. Therefore gleaning is, the act or practice of gathering grain or produce left behind after a reaper has picked from the field.

God’s instruction regarding gleaning is found in the Bible book of Leviticus where it reads: When you harvest your land’s produce, you must not harvest all the way to the edge of your field; and don’t gather every remaining bit of your harvest. Leave these items for the poor and the immigrant; I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 23:22 (Common English Bible)

Imagine that! A farmer or anyone who owned acres of land where he planted wheat, barley, rice or any other grain/produce, was told to leave something behind after harvesting. The leftovers were to serve as food for the poor, afflicted, widowed, foreigners and the less fortunate who had to glean or pick the grain/produce for themselves.

The leftovers were not considered a “free handout” because someone had to physically get into the field and work (in some cases for hours) to pick or pick up the grains/produce. The Bible book of Ruth tells of an incident where Ruth was allowed to glean in the field of Boaz. She got up early one day and “…she entered and kept on her feet from that time in the morning…” (Ruth 2:7)  Apparently she spent many hours in the field because it was reported that “she continued to glean in the field until the evening, after which she beat out what she had gleaned, and it came to be about an ephah of barley.” (Ruth 2:17) It is believed Ruth spent at least 4 hours gleaning about 5 gallons or 20 quarts or 22 litres of barley according to today’s dry measurement. That is a lot of hard work.

Our heavenly Father did not want any of his people to suffer undue hardship due to poverty. He showed loving concern for all and instructed his people to do likewise. The apostle Paul was mindful of this when he encouraged all to “…keep the poor in mind.” (Galatians 2:10a)

Anyone who considers him/herself to be a true christian, and claims to live by the words of the Bible should remember these words:

“If you know someone who doesn’t have any clothes or food, you shouldn’t just say, ‘I hope all goes well for you. I hope you will be warm and have plenty to eat.’ What good is it to say this, unless you do something to help?” – James 2:15,16 (Contemporary English Version)

It is very sad that many people today – including politicians who claim to follow the Bible – conveniently forget or ignore this passage in the Bible.

©Jonathan 06/2012

Bible verse: the lord never gives you more than you can handle

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13 (New American Standard Bible)

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13 (English Standard Version)

Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out. – 1 Corinthians 10:13 (Good News Translation)

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13 (The Message)

Prayers of David

Psalm 70 (New International Version)

1 Hasten, O God, to save me;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.

2 May those who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
3 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
turn back because of their shame.
4 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The Lord is great!”

5 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Lord, do not delay.

 

Psalm 54 (New International Version)

1 Save me , O God, by your name;
vindicate me by your might.
2 Hear my prayer, O God;
listen to the words of my mouth.

3 Arrogant foes are attacking me;
ruthless people are trying to kill me —
people without regard for God.[c]

4 Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.

5 Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
in your faithfulness destroy them.

6 I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
I will praise your name, Lord, for it is good.
7 You have delivered me from all my troubles,
and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.

Bible’s view: Why the World Lacks Real Peace

Many people around the world would prefer peace over war. It seems that the only ones who really want war are those who profit from it. However as much as it is desired, this precious “commodity” has been elusive for thousands of years. The Bible gives three basic reasons why the world lacks real peace.

Of humans Jeremiah 10:23 says: “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” Humans were not created to rule or govern without God’s help. Humans who do not seek God’s guidance or apply his principles, will never attain lasting peace. Peace is not simply the absence of war. Genuine peace involves the heart of men or his true motives. Who know this best than the true God above?

The second reason for the lack of world peace is found at 1 John 5:19. The apostle John said: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” The invisible spirit known as Satan is the ruler of this corrupt world. Man’s efforts to gain peace will be frustrated by the actions of that very real demonic force and his followers here on earth. The world will enjoy real peace when these demonic influences are eliminated.

The United States of America spent trillions of dollars over the last decade to fight 2 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet there are merchant of war who are pushing the U.S. government to go to war with a third country in the Middle East. Quite fittingly the Bible at 2 Timothy 3:2 reads “People will love only themselves and money.” Selfishness and greed is a third reason why the world lack real peace.

In all walks of life, in rich and poor nations, family problems, racial and national strife, tribal and ethnic hatreds, oppression, injustice, sickness, and other unfortunate circumstances, rob people of their peace of mind.

The only true hope for real peace is God’s Kingdom in the hands of Christ Jesus. While on earth he demonstrated on a small scale what he is capable of doing. He fed the poor, healed the sick and brought the dead back to life. He will do all these and much more on a far grander scale when Satan and his evil empire are removed and God’s Kingdom is in full control.

©Jonathan 06/2012

Bible’s view: The role of Fathers

On this Father’s Day let us commend the many fathers around the world who are doing an admirable job of shouldering their responsibilities. These men have realized that being a father is more than simply “making babies” and putting food on the table. They have given their time, their love and their support in helping to raise children in this stressful world.

However there is still a troubling reality that needs to be addressed. Many homes have caring mothers shouldering most of the burdens of raising children while the fathers are absent. In some cases the father is in the family – he lives home – but he is not involved in the lives of his children. He is mentally and emotionally detached from his family and simply plays the role of a “bread winner.”

Other fathers have simply decided that the role of fatherhood is too much for them and have disappeared. While they may re-appear periodically and give a token contribution towards child rearing, their children demand and deserve much more.

To be a better father a man must realize that children need much more than monetary support. They need and deserve a father’s love, time and attention. When children miss out on these essential things, they often times exhibit behavioral problems such as uncontrolled aggression, defiance, apathy, and poor performance at school. At times, these children become restless and find it hard to sleep.

Fathers (and mothers) should share the view of the Bible at Psalms 127:3 where it reads, “No doubt about it: children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a divine reward.” Have we ever considered that the Lord will hold us personally responsible for the care of this precious “gift”?

Parents and especially fathers do well to remember these words: “Whoever does not care for his own relatives, especially his own family members, has turned against the faith and is worse than someone who does not believe in God.” 1 Timothy 5:8 (New Century Version)

The greatest father we know – our Heavenly Father – can teach us a few things about fathering. Consider the time when God’s voice was heard from heaven and directed at his son. Matthew 3:17 tells us that at the baptism of his son Jesus, God was heard saying, “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” What lessons can fathers take from this account?

1. Can you imagine the effect on a child if his/her father said proudly “This is my son” or “This is my daughter”? Positive acknowledgments such as this do wonders for a child and help build his/her self-esteem. Fathers do not hold back from expressing your acknowledgement and acceptance of your children.

2. God expressed how he felt about his son Jesus, when he referred to him as “the beloved.” How reassuring are those words of endearment! Jesus must have been very pleased to hear those words. Fathers, your children too will be encouraged if you show by your words – as well as by your time, attention, and concern – that you dearly love them.

3. The latter part of Matthew 3:17 tells us that God approved of his son and what he was doing. After fully accepting the role for which he was sent to earth Jesus symbolized his willingness to do God’s will by baptism. Fathers are admonished to follow the command laid out at Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.” A father will very likely approve of the path his children take if he spent time training his children and laying the groundwork for their future lives.

Being a father is a challenging job but it can be very rewarding. View children as they rightly are: miraculous gifts from God. Treasure and care for these gifts.

© Jonathan 6/2012

Bible verses for when everything is falling apart

Many families are struggling. Some families are losing their homes due to financial hardships and others due to banks’ illegal practices. The financial hardships are breaking up families. Young children suffer as a result. Domestic violence has increased in some cities. Many college graduates have high credit card debts. About 154 soldiers returning from war have committed suicide within the first 155 days of 2012. Elected officials seem more concerned about their bank accounts rather than the lives of the people they were elected to serve.

The Bible predicted that in the “last days” people would suffer many difficult situations and witness many unpleasant things:

You can be certain that in the last days there will be some very hard times. People will love only themselves and money. They will be proud, stuck-up, rude, and disobedient to their parents. They will also be ungrateful, godless, heartless, and hateful. Their words will be cruel, and they will have no self-control or pity. These people will hate everything that is good. They will be sneaky, reckless, and puffed up with pride. Instead of loving God, they will love pleasure. Even though they will make a show of being religious, their religion won’t be real. Don’t have anything to do with such people. – 2 Timothy 3: 1-5 (Contemporary English Version)

Is there any hope for the “average” man and woman? The Bible recorded many cases where God’s servants experienced hard times and sought the help of their God.

The Bible book of Job relates the experience of a wealthy servant of God named Job. After enjoying a period of prosperity and good health, one day he found himself in a sad state of poverty. He lost all his livestock and ten children in one day and shortly thereafter, he was struck with a painful disease.

During this time of great hardship, Job did not turn against his God but remained steadfast to the righteous principles that he believed in. H was later rewarded with twice as much flocks and herd as formerly and ten more children.

What lessons can we learn from Job’s experience?

1. It is normal to feel frustrated, helpless and without purpose. Job felt so bad he even wondered why was he born and why was he alive. “Why from the womb did I not proceed to die? [Why did I not] come forth from the belly itself and then expire?” Job 3:11 (Job did not imply nor does the Bible suggest taking one’s own life.)

2. Our difficult life experiences do not mean we are being punished by God. A simple explanation is that we are born in sin and as sinners we naturally endure a life of “ups and downs.”

3. God will reward those who remain faithful to right principles. Job was blessed with double the livestock he had before and 10 more beautiful children. Job was blessed with many more years of life as he continued living “a hundred and forty years and came to see his sons and his grandsons—four generations. And gradually Job died, old and satisfied with days.” Job 42:16,17

While you are undergoing hard times keep these Bible verses in mind:

Turn your burdens over to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will never let the righteous person stumble.”  Psalm 55:22 (GOD’S WORD Translation)

“A young man I used to be, I have also grown old, And yet I have not seen anyone righteous left entirely, Nor his offspring looking for bread.” Psalms 37:25

“If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” Matthew 6:30

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (New International Version)

©Jonathan 6/2012

Comforting words from our Lord Jesus

Come to me, all YOU who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh YOU. Take my yoke upon YOU and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and YOU will find refreshment for YOUR souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light. Matthew 11:28-30

In the first century Jesus offered spiritual comfort to those who were burdened by unreasonable religious rules, overbearing politicians and the weight of a guilty conscience. He can do likewise for us today. Read about his life and teachings in the books of Matthew, Luke, Mark and John.

Men of courage in the Bible

Courage is the quality of being bold, strong, fearless, valiant. It also implies being able to persevere and withstand danger, or difficulty.

In “Bible times” men of God have always needed courage to stay faithful to the Most High. It always seemed as if there was a greater resistance to doing right than doing what is wrong.

When the nation of Israel was about to cross into the Promised Land, Moses told them, “Be courageous and strong,” and he repeated that same advice to his appointed successor Joshua.

Deuteronomy 31:6,7 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance.

Closely related to courage is knowledge,  understanding and application. For example, to become courageous and strong, Joshua was told to read God’s law regularly and put what he read into practice or apply it.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. – Joshua 1:8 (English Standard Version)

King David was another fine example of courage. In describing how he developed that quality, he talked about his reliance on his God, his past experiences, appreciation for the “house of the Lord,” trusting his heavenly Father for protection against his enemies and the importance of the qualities of faith and hope. Here is an outline of what David said:

A Prayer of Praise – Psalms 27

You, Lord, are the light
that keeps me safe.
I am not afraid of anyone.
You protect me,
and I have no fears.
Brutal people may attack
and try to kill me,
but they will stumble.
Fierce enemies may attack,
but they will fall.
Armies may surround me,
but I won’t be afraid;
war may break out,
but I will trust you.

I ask only one thing, Lord:
Let me live in your house
every day of my life
to see how wonderful you are
and to pray in your temple.

In times of trouble,
you will protect me.
You will hide me in your tent
and keep me safe
on top of a mighty rock.[a]
You will let me defeat
all of my enemies.
Then I will celebrate,
as I enter your tent
with animal sacrifices
and songs of praise.

Please listen when I pray!
Have pity. Answer my prayer.
My heart tells me to pray.
I am eager to see your face,
    so don’t hide from me.
I am your servant,
and you have helped me.
Don’t turn from me in anger.
You alone keep me safe.
Don’t reject or desert me.
10 Even if my father and mother
should desert me,
you will take care of me.

11 Teach me to follow, Lord,
and lead me on the right path
because of my enemies.
12 Don’t let them do to me
what they want.
People tell lies about me
and make terrible threats,
13     but I know I will live
to see how kind you are.

14 Trust the Lord!
Be brave and strong
and trust the Lord.

©Jonathan 06/2012

Where in the Bible does it say “if a man refuse to work he shall not eat?”

The Bible at 2 Thessalonians 3:10 reads:

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”

There are other related verses on the subject of work such as:

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you – 1 Thessalonians 4:11

The very craving of the lazy will put him to death, for his hands have refused to work. – Proverbs 21:25

Look! The best thing that I myself have seen, which is pretty, is that one should eat and drink and see good for all his hard work with which he works hard under the sun for the number of the days of his life that the [true] God has given him, for that is his portion. – Proverbs 5:18

More Bible verses on work can be found here.

Is God Punishing You when you fall on Hard Times?

©Written by Y. Luke

Many who have fallen on hard times feel that God is punishing them for something they did in the past. Many feel that if things are going well God is with them and if things are going wrong, God is against them. However does the Bible indicate that our personal hardships mean God is punishing us?

The Bible has records of many God-fearing individuals who fell on hard times. In fact, one of them even thought God had forsaken him. His name is Job.

Job was a wealthy man who had many children and several lifestock. One day he suddenly found himself alone, broke and sick with a loathsome disease. Thinking God had something to do with it, he exclaimed “My friends, I beg you for pity! God has made me his target.” Job 19:21 (CEV)

The following Bible verses give 3 possible reasons why we all fall on hard times.

  1. As imperfect creatures we sometimes find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or as the Bible puts it, “…time and unpredictable events overtake all of [us].” Ecclesiastes 9:11 (GW Translation)
  2. Another byproduct of our imperfection is indecision and bad choices. If someone drinks a little too much alcohol, gets behind the wheel and is seriously hurt in an accident, his hardship is directly related to his poor decision. A Bible proverb explains it this way, “A man’s own folly wrecks his life.” – Proverbs 19:3 (NEB) The apostle Paul also warms, “Do not deceive yourselves; no one makes a fool of God. You will reap exactly what you plant.” – Galatians 6:7 (GNT)
  3. The fundamental reason why mankind experiences a life of hardships and pain is the presence and influence of the evil spirit call Satan the Devil. The Bible reveals that Satan the Devil was the cause of Job’s tragedies. (Job 2:3-8) Additionally it identifies Satan as the main source of our problems today when it states: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” – Revelation 12:12 (NWT) As “the ruler of this world,” Satan has influenced many to engage in evil acts that have resulted in untold misery and heartache. – John 12:31; Psalm 37:12, 14 (NWT).

During times of hardship the following two scriptures can be comforting:

God gives a hand to those down on their luck,
gives a fresh start to those ready to quit.
– Psalm 145:14 (The Message)

Come to me, all YOU who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh YOU. Take my yoke upon YOU and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and YOU will find refreshment for YOUR souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

©Luke 2011