Our church is going through a bit of a transition as I type this. Our pastor for the last 34 years, has finished his course and run his race. He is now safely and securely enjoying his home in heaven. He taught that the most gracious words spoken were In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:2-3) We all miss him terribly. I miss him terribly. Heaven is a real place and real people go there. I wouldn’t bring him back to this mess of a world, if I could. But I will do everything I can to honor his legacy, the truth of Scripture, and get to that same place myself. I want all of you to get there as well!
His family and friends (which includes all of the church involved) feel the same way and are diligently trying to carry on. Each of us, in our own faltering ways, must move forward. I attempt to write the lessons, knowing that I am not capable of replicating his knowledge but I feel led to continue what he started. Bear with me while I stumble. I can speak for everyone when I say, we are all trying to correctly and in a God honoring manner, carry on the vision and purpose for our little church. Bear with each other as we move forward.
Scripture tells us the things that are important to God. It is so much more than what most think. God’s instructions don’t just apply to the leadership; they apply to every church member and attender. The verses in our lesson today remind us that there are things that God has required from the start. These include the weightier matters of faith, justice, good judgements, mercy, kindness, love for God, love for others. These demand a significant amount of time,effort,and practice. The lesson today is from the book of Deuteronomy. It is an expositor of sorts, of the law given to Moses. It is being shared with the survivors of the wilderness as they get ready to cross into the promised land. When moving forward into something new, reflect back in prayer and study. How did we start; where are we going. Look for scriptural examples of good and watch for warnings of bad. Be aware of the things that will tear down instead of build up. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.(Matthew 23:23) A church is not run like a business, although good business is required. The weightier issues of the heart matter.
Marginalize -Webster, to relegate to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group. To assign to a place of insignificance, out of sight, out of mind. Not what I want. Not what we do best.
Hired Servant - worker, employee
Pledge- something held as security, a token or partial payment for something else.
Bondman- Slave, Serf
10 When thou dost lend thy brother anything, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge.11 Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee.12 And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge:13 In any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment, and bless thee: and it shall be righteousness unto thee before the Lord thy God.
God does not take issue with lending and encourages the borrower to take personal responsibility. God does take issue with how we lend and what our thoughts are about doing so. The person borrowing or the poorer should not feel embarrassed for having to ask for help. His dignity is just as important as the lender’s and should be preserved at all costs. No grabbing to take back. No public humiliation. Taking a token or pledge for the debt is understandably a way to encourage the borrower to repay. If the pledge or token is something that causes undue hardship to be without, then you shouldn’t take it and definately can’t keep it overnight. The borrower may need to use it. Interestingly, in a society that borrows on credit cards at will, these verses sound foreign. This is referencing the true poor among us. It is not speaking to borrowing to keep up with society. Our response to the needs of others shows where our heart is at during our giving. Did we consider his/her feelings? Do we lend and then mock or whisper later? Did we want to be seen, to look important or good in someone else’s eyes? These Scriptures suggest that lending correctly, with deference to the other person, gets you praise from the borrower and blessings from God.
14 Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates:15 At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee.
So when employing someone, pay them fairly. Regardless of whether they are brothers or strangers. In this case the intention is whether they are Jewish or Gentile. If you hire them, you treat them right. You pay them when you tell them you will. Not everyone has abundance. The phrase living from paycheck to paycheck was real then and is still real today. To not do what you said is a serious matter. It becomes sin to you because it is a lie. God does not lie but we know who the father of liars is. Even those ones you consider little white lies, have no business in a believer. Have you noticed so far that the issue is really your heart in each matter. Consider….Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.(James 5:4)
16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
Although how we act can greatly influence those around us, each person is responsible for their own actions. In today’s society, we know that who we are is just as important as what we are. God says he is no respecter of persons. Societal influence may help with a job, but it is not going to help much when you stand before God. Blaming someone else is not the answer. Each individual has choices and decisions to make and will be accountable for those.
17 Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow's raiment to pledge:18 But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing.19 When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.20 When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.21 When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.22 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.
Repeatedly God reminds them of how He brought them out of Egypt. How he protected, fed, and cared for their every need. If they had focused a little more on what God had done for each of them, they would be in a better mindset to take care of the others around them. We may be guilty of this ourselves. Do we even consider that all the things, talents, intelligence we have, came from God? These verses speak of a system where each individual cared for the poor, the strangers, the fatherless, the widows. Many by leaving part of their harvest. Being greedy is not the answer. Being generous toward those unable to help themselves is the answer. Do we look to be a blessing to others?
What things do you think might have been used as pledges at the time this was written? What things are pledges now?
When you examine your life, what has God done for you that you can now do for others?
How does the government welfare system compare to God’s plan for taking care of the poor, fatherless, and widows?
Who do we marginalize in today’s society? Discuss
Thank you for studying with us! God Bless