Monday, October 12, 2009

Today's Devotional

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Matthew 25: 34 - 40
Thoughts on today's verses...
A question I often ask is, "Who is the least of these brothers of mine?" In our society, that is a difficult question to answer when there is a person panhandling on virtually every street corner in America. Who truly is the person in need?

I'm reluctant to give someone money, but I am inclined to buy them groceries or to take them somewhere for a meal. I recall one such time my husband was traveling with a group of men to a Promise Keepers event when they stopped at a 'Golden Arch' establishment. There was a man asking for money, my husband approached him and said, "Come with me, I'll buy you a meal." The person refused and almost became combative. He wanted the money... for whatever reason... alcohol or drugs.

So, how can we tell if someone is the 'least of these?' I trust established agencies that assist these persons. My favorite is The Salvation Army. They have soup kitchens, shelters and provide clothing. They have outreach programs to assist the down and out by helping them to become job ready, to address substance abuse and half-way housing for released inmates. This is only one such agency, there are also our community food banks and Community Action agencies.

I'm not telling you not to give to someone standing on the corner, but just be aware of what may become of the money you give them. Maybe rethinking what you give by carrying an emergency supply in your trunk for such occasions - bottled water, fruit bars, trail mix or easy open canned goods. Even soap and toilet paper and other personal items. Maybe taking them or directing them to the local Community Action or to the bus stop and purchase a ticket for them.  This is especially good if the person is a young adult (teenager, runaway).  I realize this post is going to be controversial, to say the least...

These are just some of my thoughts as we approach the coming holiday season. One of my favorites is the Angel Tree program. One year when we took our note off the tree I began to cry as I read the items the child asked for; underwear and a book. No toys, not several books, not expensive tennis shoes...

If you are like me, you may remember the "poverty years." Those times when you couldn't rub two nickles together. They are actually some of the best memories I have. We had to depend upon the Lord to make ends meet. I recall one such time in church. We had our tithe of a whole $20 to give. My husband looked at me and said, "If we give this, we have nothing until next pay day and we're almost out of milk." I told him to give it anyway. As we were leaving church, an elderly woman approached my husband as if to shake his hand and pressed (you guessed it) $20 into his hand! She said the Lord just impressed upon her the need to do that. Ah, such amazing grace!

My prayer...

Lord, I'm late posting today. This verse and all the memories have touched my heart. I've even put our Compassion Kids pictures here. Lord, keep me ever sensitive to You and Your Spirit. Fill me with so much of You that I can't help but know who the "least of these" are and to reach out my hand to assist them in their need. In Jesus' name I pray ~Amen!

Yours, because we're His,

Tamara