Study 6: Touch the poor
Proverbs 31:20 “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy”
Who are the poor?
“Those who are unable to care for themselves because they lack the basic necessities of life. These are food, shelter, clothing and work, which is the means to provide these things”
1. The poor have little or nothing to eat and therefore cannot work, or do not have work, so they cannot eat. ONE HALF OF THE ENTIRE WORLD IS CHRONICALLY HUNGRY. This is not just a stomach ache before lunch, it is a lifestyle.
2. There is also a problem of the water supply in many developing Nations, where the water is little more than mud and is badly contaminated.
3. With hunger and poor water goes disease, where there is very little medical provision in the form of doctors, medicine, and research into the diseases that come with poverty.
4. Refugees make up a large part of the number of poor. They live in squalid conditions through no fault of their own. Often many families live together in one tiny space, making it impossible to have a family relationship.
Why are they poor?
1. There is plenty of food to go round, the problem is unequal distribution. The West consume three quarters of the world consumption of protein every year and yet only have about one tenth of the world population. A large proportion of people in the West are overweight and there is a significant number of deaths attributed to factors connected with overeating. We need only find a small amount of added tons of grain to feed the malnourished. This would mean we would not be able to feed about 50 per cent of the beef cattle, so cutting down on the West’s meat consumption but providing for the hungry.
2. The need for energy in the form of oil, gas and electricity to keep up our fast moving lifestyle gives wealth to a very small proportion of the world population.
3. Selfishness causes many to be poor as we hoard what we have without consideration for the needs of others. There are more hungry people in the world today than ever before because of failed crops, war, lack of education, and greed.
What can I do?
It is our responsibility as Christians, knowing how our Lord cared so much for the poor, to reach out our hand and care for the poor around us and take an interest in organisations that are doing work in the world, and allow our hearts to be touched by the need. Of course Jesus came to announce the good news that we can be free from sickness and poverty through relationship with Father.
1. God always has a plan. In the Old Testament it was the year of Jubilee, to remind Israel who owns the land, Leviticus 25:10-24. Also the Sabbatical year every seven years for the liberation of slaves and leaving the fields fallow so there was no poor in Israel, Deuteronomy 15:4. Added to this was tithing so one tenth of farm produce went to the poor.
2. Understand God’s concern for human suffering, and have a biblical view of the poor. God saw the needs of human beings and gave up His most treasured possession, Jesus.
3. Change our personal attitude to the poor. If we are born again, selfishness has been broken in our lives so we have a whole new set of personal, social and economic standards set by the Word of God, Isaiah 58:7-12. We are only stewards for our Master of all that we have and we have to be willing to part with any of it as He desires, Matthew 19:21. After all, who provided it in the first place? Deuteronomy 15:10-11.
4. We must be united as Christians so we can convince the world that Jesus came from the Father, John 17:20-23. Jesus was always moved with compassion. He and the poor were inseparable.
In the feeding of the five thousand Jesus shows us how to deal with the enormous need of the hungry.
First be moved with compassion, Matthew 14:14;
Second break the need down into manageable groups, Mark 6:39;
Thirdly start just where you are with what you have, not what you do not have, Mark 6:38;
Fourthly always remember Jesus takes it personally when we feed the hungry, Matthew 25:40;
Fifthly Jesus always multiplies what we give Him, Matthew 14:20.
The Acts of the Apostles it tells of ordinary people who were completely available to each other. Their sharing was voluntary according to a need that they could provide, even to selling possessions, Acts 3; Acts 4; and Acts 5. It is not giving “only if I am so rich that it won’t hurt”, it is getting our thinking straight biblically, and realising that nothing we have is our own, but we are just holding it in trust for God. Like the widow’s mite (Luke 21:1-4), God sees our heart and what we hold onto. We need to let it all go and let God be in charge of our purses and possessions.
God challenges our Church today that He sees us as ‘lukewarm’ as we are very busy and say we are rich and have grown wealthy and in need of nothing but He sees us as wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. He gives us this opportunity to repent, change our mind and attitude, and share His heart for the people He sees as important and see things from His perspective even if it costs us everything, then we will be truly wealthy by God’s standard. From this we will be enthusiastic and burning with zeal Revelation 3:14-22 AMP
Common excuses for not helping the poor and needy.
1. They don’t deserve help, they got themselves into poverty, they can get themselves out of it.
2. God’s call to help the poor applies to another time.
3. We don’t know any people like this.
4. I have my own needs.
5. Any money I give will be wasted, stolen or spent, the poor will never see it.
6. I may become a victim myself.
7. I don’t know where to start and I don’t have time.
8. My little bit won’t make any difference.
Where do I begin?
* Receive monthly magazines from Missionary organisations.
* Read a book on the subject. (Recommended “Rich Christians in an age of Hunger” by R. J. Sider)
* Visit your nearest Salvation Army centre.
* Consider visiting your local prison.
* Look out for any refugees in your area.
* Visit some missionaries if possible.
2. Reach out just where you are and ask God to stretch your capacity to have love in your heart for every precious soul He puts across your path.
3. Start by showing God how serious you are by supporting care ministries, with prayer and in a practical way of giving clothes and food joyfully from what you have. Be committed and consistent. If there is nothing in your area consider converting a spare room into a collection spot and encourage your friends to give. Then believe God to put people across your path those who have needs, 2 Corinthians 9:10-11
God has made it His business to care, so what is His business is our business. So it is our responsibility to care, and to reach out to every need in our circle of influence and then to allow God to stretch us to get more and more involved further afield.
Suggested prayer – “God, you are the God of the poor. I am your “Joyful Woman”. Show me what to do and I will do it.”
Home Challenges for Joyful Woman 06
1. Since becoming serious about studying the Word, are you beginning to branch out in faith and boldness, trusting God to lead you by the power of the Holy Spirit within you? Can you give an example?
2. In the last two weeks what have you changed in your life in a meaningful way in the areas of your time keeping? Would you like to share with us how you are putting this into practice?
Read the notes ‘Touch the poor’
3. Do you know any poor people here or abroad and are you involved in helping them improve their standard of living?
4. From the notes and/or study what challenged you the most and what are you going to do about it?
Read Proverbs 31:21. “She fears not the snow for her family, for all her household are doubly clothed in scarlet”.
5. Do you have a short testimony of God’s supply for you or your family?
6. Consider ‘fear’, can you see one area in your life that you are NOT fearful about and one where ‘fear’ is especially active in your life? Read Hebrews 2:14,15; Romans 8:28-32; Proverbs 29:25; Job 3:25.
7. Think about one person in the Bible, who was told ‘Do not fear’. What was their problem and how did they respond to that encouragement. Does this encourage you? Why? (Use the word list at the back of your Bible, if you need help to find somebody)
8. Read all the Scripture references, on the spare sheet, and choose one that really spoke to you and write it in the front of your Bible so any time you have an attack of ‘fear’ you can find it.
9. Think about the area you have declared a problem in answer to Question 6. Find one relevant Bible verse from the list to counteract this attack.
10. What are you going to change in your life from reading these verses?
Read Psalm 91:1-16
11. What can you do to make sure no problems come to you family, health or property? Which verse encourages you?
12. Do you apply the Blood of Jesus over every area of your life daily, as a reminder of the Covenant God has with you, paid for by Jesus? How do you do this? Do you have Communion at home?
13. Do you have a testimony of overcoming fear in your own life?
14. When you hear of tragic incidences through the media, do you then feel that fear has a stronger hold over you? How do you then “Renew your mind”?
15. Do you have any verse of Scripture you could give to anyone who fears for their own safety or that of their children?
16. Memory Verse – Choose your own from the sheet provided, trying to learn as many as you can!
17. Answer True or False to the following questions. If you can give verses from the Bible to back up your answer that will help you.
Home Challenges 6 – additional Sheet
Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 118:6-8 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? ….It is better to trust and take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in man.
Isaiah 43:1-2. But now this is what the Lord says, He who created you….Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers they shall not sweep over you: When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
Psalm 34:4. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
John 8:31-32. ..If you abide in My Word (hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them), you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.
John 14:27. Peace I leave with you , My peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Isaiah 41:10. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteousness right hand.
Romans 10:17 So faith comes by hearing (what is told) and what is heard comes by the preaching (of the message that came from the lips) of Christ (the Messiah Himself).
Ephesians 6:10-18 Be strong in the Lord…..Put on the whole armour of God…Stand…Pray at all times….
1 Thessalonians 5:18 Thank God in everything (no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks) for this is the will of God for you (who are) in Christ Jesus (the Revealer and Mediator of that will).
2 Timothy 1:7. For God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Philippians 4:6-7. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 13:5-6 AMP. …for God Himself has said, ‘I will not in any way fail you nor give you up, nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake you nor let you down (relax My hold on you)! Assuredly not!…’ so we confidently and boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be seized with alarm (I will not fear or dread or be terrified). What can man do to me?’
Add any other favourites…