Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Proper Living

Several months ago, I began to research the housing bubble of 2008. As many of you know, this was the time when the entire world slipped into a recession that lasted longer than any other. The recovery from this recession took a lot longer than it took for the Great Depression and previous recessions. Millions of people in the United States were unemployed. I remember the time so very well. I saw many of my dear friends struggling to make their mortgage payments, apartment rents and loan payments. Some even lost their homes. Everything that they had worked so hard for was gone in an instant. One day they were on top of the world and looking to buy a bigger home and the next day they were struggling to make their daily bills and financial obligations. It was a very tough time for all.

As I continued to do my research, I read article after article that listed the players in this tragedy that was euphemistically referred to as “the financial meltdown of 2008”. Banks, insurance companies, mortgage companies and a whole host of other financial organizations played fast and loose with a system that had been deregulated for years and “grey areas” of the remaining laws and regulations were exploited all in the name of greed. 

While so many suffered, others enjoyed a massive payday. These individuals and groups made billions of dollars off of the misery and pain of others. When I began to look for those to blame for all of this, it would have been easy to assign that blame to financial institutions and the “fat cats” of Wall Street. But, in the end, I placed the blame squarely on all of us. We all had a part in the meltdown. Many bought houses they couldn’t afford, because they thought that nothing could happen. When I talked with people who lived through that time, they all told me the same thing. Mortgage companies told them that real estate was the safest investment anyone could make. Each were given examples of properties that sold for two and three times what they were originally purchased for. Everyone was getting rich.

Just like the children’s game, Musical Chairs, the music was getting slower and slower and soon people were going to find themselves without a chair. Many literally lost their chairs when the banks foreclosed on their homes as the music stopped. The good times were over and everyone was looking for a way out.

While I was doing my research, I ran across a passage in Paul’s second epistle to the Thessalonians. In chapter three of that letter, Paul talks about proper living and how we should always conduct ourselves.

Paul writes, “For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you. We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow. Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: ‘Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.’ Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living. As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.

Let me be clear here. Paul is not telling us that we turn our backs on those in need. We are commanded by the author and perfecter of our faith, Christ Jesus, not only to help those in need but to also love them.   

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus, in chapter twenty-five, says, “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.

As Jesus tells us, we have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters who are in need. During the early days of the church, believers sold their homes and possessions to help those in need, especially the widows and orphans. Jesus even went further to tell us that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. 

However, if there are those who are idle, they need to heed the words and commands of Jesus’ faithful servant. Paul is quite explicit in his words. He states, “We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living.

Later, Paul praises those who follow the words and teachings of Jesus and tells them not to get tired of doing good. We should always do our best and do good for all. During the meltdown of 2008, the ministry that my wife and I started with the generous donations of our faith family helped those in need. We helped with medication, utility and rent payments, bought food, clothing and gifts for those in need and loved all who needed a shoulder to rest or cry upon. When parents didn’t have enough money to buy Christmas gifts for their children, the ministry was there to help and provide.

Each day my wife and I thank Father God for the opportunities that He gives us to serve His children. Everything that we receive is a gift from His hand and we do not deserve it. It is out of His love for us that He provides for our daily needs and gives us that daily bread that feeds us spiritually.

With the holiday season coming up quickly, I urge everyone to live the words of Jesus and Paul. Do not remain idle. Always work hard in the Kingdom to help those in need. Counsel those who are idle and help them to see the righteous path so that they, as Jesus tells us in Matthew, “will go into eternal life.”

When we do what we are commanded to do out of love not only for our Heavenly Father but also for those around us, we know that we can keep a strong grip on the righteous teachings of Jesus and stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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