Category Archives: social work
People have different expectations during Christmas. Some of you have been waiting for this season so that you can do lots of shopping. Some of you have been waiting to take a vacation and go some place nice and have some fun. Some of you have been waiting to visit your loved ones. Some of you can’t wait to get a special gift from your friend or family. For some, it is just a holiday season which comes and goes every year. Some of you are seeking a new job, new house, new computer, new phone, new books, or new clothes. The malls and shopping centers are now full with people seeking something for themselves and for their loved ones. I heard news about a mother who bought 300 gifts for her children (see the picture above), and when people criticized her, she tried to justify her desire to give those gifts. It is a very sad thing that she will be raising her children who will not appreciate the true meaning of Christmas. She is seeking to gratify herself. People are no longer seeking JESUS the real reason for Christmas Season.
We read the Christmas story of the wise men who came to Jerusalem. They were seeking the King of the Jews. You might have seen written on signboards or plaques, “Wise men still seek Jesus” or “Wise men still seek the King of the Jews”.
What you seek tells a whole lot about you!
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east and are come to worship him.” Mathew 2:1-2
There are few problems with our celebrations which have plagued our society and culture today. Christmas has become a self-seeking, self-gratifying festival. We are told, advised, and encouraged to treat ourselves well because we deserve it. Even Christians are deceived to think the same way. We often justify our indulgences and celebrations because of the traditions of old passed to us by our fathers. Our traditions and celebrations are not much different from the world. Additionally, we are doing our best not to break the materialistic traditions of Christmas, at the same time trying to pass along the traditions of old to the new generation. However, Paul warns us that “People will become of lover of themselves rather than lovers of God”
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves……… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! II Timothy 3:1-5
Let me encourage you to seek JESUS this Christmas.Here are Scripture passages to meditate this Christmas, which in essence will help you Seek rightly:
- The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. Psalm 14:2, Psalm 53:2
- There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. Romans 3:11
- Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; I Chronicle 22:19
- The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. Psalm 10:4
- But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. Deuteronomy 4:29
- And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes. Daniel 9:3
JESUS himself came on that Christmas night to seek us. The purpose of Christ’s First Coming is clearly told in the Scriptures,
“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10
These are Twelve things we are exhorted and encourage to Seek
- But Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; Mathew 6:33, Luke 12:31
- Seek the LORD and his strength, Seek his face continually I Chronicle 22:19
- Seek for all the commandments of the LORD. I Chronicle 28:8
- Seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach. Ezra 7:10
- Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail” Isaiah 34:16
- Seek good and not evil, That you may live; Amos 5:14
- Seek righteousness, Zephaniah 2:3
- Seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hidden in the day of the LORD’S anger. Zephaniah 2:3
- Seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: Romans 2:7
- Seek peace, and pursue it. Psalm 34:14
- Seek judgment. Isaiah 1:17
- If ye then be risen with Christ, Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1
But without faith, it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6
What are you seeking during Christmas as you wait for Christ’s Second coming? Will he find you seeking Him in faith? Luke 18:8
#Christmas is not about buying gifts for yourself but it is all about giving! There is so much joy in giving. It is always fun to wrap a gift and give it to someone, and then watch their reaction as they unwrap the gift.
Jesus First Advent/ Coming reminds us of the Great Giver, the God Himself.
Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that HE GAVE his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
When God gave His Son Jesus, it shows three things about his giving:
- The Quality of Gift: It was the very best gift.
- The Cost of Gift: It was the very big sacrificial gift.
- The Purpose of Gift: It was the very thing you and I needed.
It teaches us a few things about giving during this season.
- We need to give the best gift.
- We need to do our homework to find out the need of the person.
- Our gift should be wrapped with sacrificial love.
What are you planning to give? What kind of gift are you wrapping? What does it do to you? Is it a sacrificial gift? Is the gift you are wrapping really needed or useful? What impact will it have on the recipient?
Christmas is not thinking about ourselves, but thinking about the need of others. We are reminded by Paul in Acts 20:35
“….remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
There are many ways of giving. You can give to spread the message of Christmas to those who have never heard about Jesus.
Contact me if you need ideas about giving this Christmas.
At His Second Advent/ coming, we will be given rewards /gifts at the Bema Seat of Christ. I would encourage you to give a gift that would bring change in a person’s life, home, and community. It is part of our stewardship and accountability toward our Living God, to whom we have to give an account someday!
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. Revelation 22:12
Are you expecting a gift?
Christmas is a time when people give gifts or receive gifts. The shepherds were told that you will find your gift wrapped in swaddling clothes. “And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12
The Word of God encourages us to receive Christ Jesus who is God’s indescribable gift to mankind! ( II Cor 9:15) As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: John 1:12
There are also gifts stored for those who are looking for His second coming! “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” II Timothy 4:8
I am planning to write a ” #Christmas Encouragement for the day ” for the next 21 days as we are in the Christmas celebration month. Check here every day.
How is your preparation going on?
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”Micah 5:2 For many missed his First coming except for few even though it was foretold clearly by the prophets.
And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence. I John 2:28
As we are planning and preparing to celebrate our Lord’ First coming or Advent, similarly we must prepare for our Lord ‘ Second coming or Advent. not be ashamed before Him. Are you preparing?
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
According GeorgeBarna.org research on giving the percentage of born again adults who gave any money to churches dropped to its lowest level this decade 76% but at the same time among all born again adults, 9% contributed one-tenth or more of their income. Among those who made more than $60,000 to 100,000 or more only 1-5 percent born again people contributed one-tenth or more of their income.
Christians who are rich are often tempted to live like other worldly people. We find in the Scripture a young man who was rich who when asked by Jesus to give his possession to the poor became sad. Even though, he had obeyed the Ten Commandments from his childhood. The Rich man who allowed poor Lazarus to sit by his gate and shared all his left over crumbs was seemingly a good man, because he didn’t chase poor Lazarus and nor stopped him to sit by his Gate, but he was not a very generous man. Hannah and Saphira in the New Testament Church were godly people and member s of a bible believing church of Jerusalem. They both struggled to give their all even when they had promised to give the price money of their field. In all these three incidents found in the Bible. The end result was very tragic and terrible. Though the people in the first two incidents which I have mentioned were not believers but the third example is of a rich Christian couple who displeased God and the Holy Spirit. They were struck by the Holy Spirit and died. We find in all three incidents, God was not pleased. How often we find people in our churches that are rich and well-heeled but are not very generous.
We must give our attention to the Greek word for “Charge” Παράγγελλε; it is to give command with solemn authority. Therefore we should understand that God is not suggesting but commanding the rich people in the Church to use their riches wisely. These commands should not be taken lightly.
The key message for the rich is to exhibit their trust in God by distributing and giving their uncertain riches to receive good and certain reward.
It is said of King Munbaz, when he dispersed his father’s treasures to the poor, his brethren and friends came about him, complaining of it; to whom he said, “my fathers treasured up below, I treasure up above. My fathers treasured “up for others”, I treasure up “for myself”; my fathers treasured up for this world, I treasure up for the world to come.”
“Uncertain riches” is a good description of the mammon as it cannot satisfy you nor can last eternally. Riches fly away and cannot save one from God’s eternal judgment. The purpose of money is also given in this passage. First God does permit to enjoy but more than that God expects to “Distribute and Give”. God has given here the purpose of the riches because He Himself is the giver of all good things. We find here what is called: Purpose Driven Giving.
- Ready to distribute (εὐμεταδότους)
This carries an idea of giving to a particular person (without any partiality). This has an inbuilt notion of giving toward the needs of a destitute and indigent believer in the local church. They should be always ready to give to those who are in need in the body of believers. Here the idea is rich should have eager desire to invest in the life of individual believers who do not have enough and are impecunious. Buying groceries, clothes and pay for poor children’s school fee etc. are some of the examples. Always looking for an opportunity to give.
- Willing to communicate (κοινωνικούς)
This carries an Idea of willingly giving to the need of a fellowship/local church. The rich should be willing to bear the burden of their local church. There are many needs in the local church. First and foremost they should be willing to pay their tithes faithfully, though the NT does not prescribe tithes but one is expected to give more than 10%. The Pharisees use to give 20% of their income. We are expected to give more than that sacrificially and cheerfully without being noticed by the congregation. The rich should not neglect the world wide body of Christ. There are many bible believing churches in developing nations where their need is exigent and insistent. Some of them cannot support their own pastors nor can send missionaries. Therefore giving towards such need is vitally important for the cause of the gospel.
Paul asked Timothy, a young Pastor to “Charge them that are rich”
Ten Commandments for the Rich based on I Timothy 6:17-19
1. Thou shall be not highminded.
2. Thou shall not trust in uncertain riches.
3. Thou shall trust in the living God.
4. Thou must know that it is God who giveth thee richly all things to enjoy.
5. Thou must do good.
6. Thou must be rich in good works.
7. Thou must be ready to distribute to the needy fellow believer.
8. Thou must willingly give to the fellowship of the believers.
9. Thou must lay up in store for thyself a good foundation for the future
10. Thou shall lay hold on eternal life.
• Pastors should not be afraid to confront rich people of his local church.
• Pastor should not hesitate to ask them to give toward the needs of poor people of the Church.
• Pastor should encourage them to give to the local church for the gospel ministry.
The advancement and propagation of the Gospel should be the chief priority. Investing in the ministry of the Gospel is best way of investment in the future because it has eternal and infinite value all other things are transient.
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
We have often asked to ourselves and others what is the right religion? What should we be doing to please God? Does this verse give us warrant to become active in social work? I hope shedding some light on this portion of the Scripture may help you to evaluate your religion.
We must understand that James is writing to the Jewish Churches who are scattered in all different places. He is also trying to help them to see the difference between unproductive religion and productive religion. He is giving them picture of false religion and pure religion which is accepted by God. They must have brought with them in their Church their old religion and practices.
Pure religion – On the word here rendered “religion” (θρησκεία thrēskeia). BDAG says, “it is the expression of devotion to transcendent beings.” Here James is emphasizing external actions and patterns of behavior of follower of Christ. Most commentators will agree that this word refers to the outward, to the external expression of belief. It is outworking of one’s Faith. Faith without works is dead..” We must understand even though we are talking about outer behavior, practice or work, but we are not called to do these outward things out of impure and selfish reasons. This should be the inevitable result of the one’s internal pure religion. The phrase “pure religion” means that which is genuine and sincere, or which is free from any improper mixture.
Undefiled (ἀμίαντος) carries the further idea of a religion free from selfish do-good motives.Andtherefore undefiled religion is what is not selfish and a religion which does not promote one’s own interest. And this is not what one feels about his or her own religion but what is pure and undefiled before God and the Father.
This genuine religion has two elements.
1. First it is not selfish but benevolent. (External Element)
First, the verb to look after or oversee ἐπισκέπτεσθαι (episkeptomai) is a compound verb in which the prepositional prefix epi- places an emphasis on the act of looking. Here, then, it is proper to translate this verb not merely as “visit” (KJV, RSV, NASB) but as “look after” (NIV). It is the same verb used by Matthew in Mt 25:36, 43. it is just not feeling but it is moving with compassion in a tangible way. A Christian is moved with compassion and gives out all what he can liberally, sacrificially and cheerfully. One is not merely giving money but also is actively involved in taking care of the fatherless and widows with his own hands. You are also called to do not for you own glory and praise. We can be tempted to do it and want our name or our loved one’s name on a plaque. How often our giving and our service is merely for applause.
2. Secondly it is not stained but blameless. (Internal Element)
The second thing, we must give our attention to is to this Greek word Unspotted (ἄσπιλον).(“unspotted,” literally, “without spot or stain”) refers to what is morally (spiritually) untainted, i.e. morally unblemished (pure) – “free from censure, irreproachable, free from vice, unsullied” (K. Wuest). The pure religion also demands purity. It is a call to live holy. We should keep ourselves “without reproach”. That is, religion will keep us from the maxims, vices, and corruptions which prevail in the world, and make us holy. James has used word “world” five times in his epistle but on all occasion it is used in negative sense. This means he was exhorting us that there are things in the world that can defile us.What are some of things that can taint or stain us?
a. By world: culture, community, and company (II Corinthians 6:12,Proverbs 12:26 ,Psalm 1:1)
b. By Flesh: Our tongue (v 26), our heart ( Jeremiah 17:9) and our corrupt mind ( I Timothy 6:5) and our lust and greed (Colossians 3:5)This is by no means a exhaustive list.
• Evaluate the motives behind the social work. John 12:6
• New Testament tells us who these widows are, see I Timothy 5:5-10
• Acts 6 is another example of taking care of poor and needy within the church.
• James does not open up a social organization for widows and for orphans. He is speaking to these Christians in their churches, and he is reminding them of their duties. It is Churches’ responsibilities.
• This passage does not give us any basis for social agenda, which has become increasingly popular among evangelicals.
• Many social religious organizations and the leaders of such organization using religion as a “cloak of covetousness” (I Thessalonians 2:5), “whose god is their belly, and who set their mind on earthly things”( Philippians 3:18) and those who suppose that godliness (Religion) is a means of gain. ( I Timothy 6:5)