What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Poor You Have With You Always...

Proverbs 31:20: "She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy."

I am currently working in an old established historic church in an old established historic downtown neighborhood. Due to the current difficult economic climate in our country, our church is in a prime location for the transient, homeless and hopeless people to come searching for some kind of help.  We have so many hurting people stopping by on a regular basis that we had to limit our times of giving out assistance to one day a week.  This really hurts...the needy can't limit their times of need to one day and one hour a week.  We are having to turn people away every day because we just can't keep up with the constant flow. Our resources are being stretched to the limit and even our own church people are finding it difficult to make ends meet.  We refer people to all of the usual charitable organizations in the community that are established for that purpose, but we have discovered that the charitable organizations are sending many of these people to us in the first place because of their own lack of resources. It is a heartbreaking situation that is being played out in churches and communities all across the country.

I must admit that this is an area where I personally have a lot of difficulty. Oh, I've given a fair share to the needy, you know like old clothes to the Salvation Army and other such organizations, and food for the food pantry at church to be distributed to the needy or gifts for baskets at Christmas or Thanksgiving. But I feel like this just isn't enough anymore.  What else should I do?

God has called some people to become very involved in "rescue" type ministries in our urban areas. He has called others to foreign places where the gospel has never been heard. He has called some to difficult ministries in large suburban churches where the needs are of a different kind, but still important. Who's to say that one kind of ministry is more important or needful than others? Isn't that why God gave diversities of gifts to men and women in the body of Christ? I Corinthians chapter 12 is very comforting and helpful in understanding that God did not intend for all of us to do the exact same things in serving Him. Furthermore,
I Corinthians 13:3 says that "though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." In verse 13 we are reminded that "now abide faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love."

So I must conclude that the most important thing for me to do is show God's LOVE to those that He brings into my path. Whether they are rich or poor, sick or well, good or bad. All are equally important to God. If the needy are around us, we must reach out to them with love. However, we must also identify who the needy are in our personal sphere of influence. It may be the wealthy lady next door, or the bag lady on the street. It may be the teenage friend of your own child who comes from a broken home. It may be a lonely widow or the unsaved neighbor dying of cancer. It may be a friend on Facebook whom you've never personally met who has burdens she/he is afraid to talk about, but who always seems to be right there searching for hope and answers.

Yes, the needy are everywhere, in every neighborhood, in every church, and possibly right under our noses.

Help me, Lord, to identify the ones You've placed in my path that I may be able to help. Keep my eyes open, my ears attentive, and my heart softened to their pleas. Give me discernment to know when and how to act to show them Your love. Help me to always point others to You, and not to seek praise for myself. Enable me to screen out the voices of the world and tune in to Your voice only. Thank you, Lord, for teaching me Your way of love. Amen.

Perhaps you could share some of your ideas for helping others during these difficult times.  What does your church do to meet the needs of the needy in your community? How can others become involved?  Maybe this has gotten you thinking about ways you could help as well.  I know my mind is working on this, and my heart is praying about it.  I just pray that God won't let go of me until I do something about it.

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