Saturday, December 21, 2013

December 21, 2013 … Giving To “The Poor”

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 355

Devotional Song: Go to this link – Please take your time to see a video of a poignant song, performed by Crystal Lewis and Ron Kenoly, singing Beauty for Ashes , reminding believers how much God gives even when we cannot or will not give of ourselves.

Highlight Passage #1 - NLT: Mathew 25: 40  
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!’ … "
Highlight Context - NLT: Matthew, Chapter 25… GO TO THIS LINK … [Jesus’ parables about Kingdom living] … 

Reference Passage #2: Matthew 26: 6-13 … [NLT] GO TO THIS LINK … [Jesus teaching on the priorities of giving] …

Reference Passage #2: Matthew 5: 1-12 … [NLT] GO TO THIS LINK … … [Jesus’ beatitudes on kingdom living.] …

Reference Passage #3: Luke 9: 23 … [NLT] … [Jesus teaching on discipleship] …  
23 Then He said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. …"

My Journal for Today: Have you ever driven by a beggar with a sign that reads something like – “POOR … Homeless … need money for food!” ?? Tugs at your heart as a Christian, doesn’t it? But if you’re like me, when I see such beggars on the streets or byways, I also bristle with a bit of human cynicism at the same time, having been burned by such begging in the past.

 One example (and there are many others!), was our family giving to a man with a “homeless” sign on the streets of Salt Lake City, … the sign read … “HOMELESS, Please help so we can eat!” … So, my family and I stopped and bought a rather substantial meal which would feed a family; and then we stopped by and gave it to him on the street. He feigned being thankful; and after we pulled around in the traffic, we observed the man going behind a building to dump the meal in a trash can and then come back to the begging spot where he had been trying to solicit hard cash. How he would have used the cash, if we had given money is only speculation; but I’m afraid all to often it is used to purchase drugs or alcohol.

Oh, forgive my feelings of cynicism, LORD!!

And I pray today that genuinely, as I read and meditate on the passages which Os Hillman called to my attention for study today (see above), especially the quote from Jesus in the Matthew 25 parable, I don’t get too cynical about helping those in need. It’s really hard to have the discernment to live and give like Jesus talked about in His teaching; isn’t it? It’s hard in these dark times of greed to be discerning enough to help those who REALLY need help. That’s why my wife and I have decided – for the most part - to give to and through our church; where we know that discerning Christians will do their best to give and help those who really need the assistance.

Oh, I will continue to try to give to those who reach out for help on the streets; but my “rule-of-thumb” is never to give cash and then to do all I can to try to meet the expressed need circumstances of those who are begging for help. In the past, when I saw someone begging for money for food, I’ve tried to take the person to sit with me and eat. If someone has begged money to buy gas, I’ve offered to use a gas can I carry in my car to take them to their vehicle (which often is not with the person) and give them the gas. If they refuse the help in lieu of the cash, I’m pretty sure they’re not sincere.

 It’s not a perfect system of discernment; but I do my best to keep my attitude in line with Jesus’ teachings on giving to the poor.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help me to be a discerning steward of Your providence … with a heart willing to help the poor. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

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