Summary: We draw closer to God by serving others in His name.
How to Have a Personal Relationship With Jesus Christ August 26, 2007
Knowing God through Service
Over the past few months we’ve been doing this series called. “How To Have a Personal Relationship With Jesus.” We’ve looked at how to start the relationship; how to talk to God, how to recognize God’s voice; the Holy Spirits role in our relationship; how to hear his voice through scripture, and in worship; in creation & life circumstance. Last week we talked about how we can relate to God through using our spiritual gifts. Today is the last in the series – next week is church camp and there will not be a service here, and then we are into September, we’ll be doing the “Jesus Who?” course in the service.
Today I want to talk about how we build our relationship with God through service & in particular, service to the poor.
Read Acts 10:1-8
God hears Cornelius’ prayers and his gifts to the poor
Because of his prayers and his gifts to the poor, Cornelius becomes the first non-Jew to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!
It is not like giving to the poor is paying the bill on the “God-phone,” but when we give to the poor, it lets God know our heart and it connects us with his heart.
You might have questions about giving to the poor since there has been a few stories about “aggressive panhandling” in the news. It amazes me the vitriol, hatred and fear that comes out in the responses that people have to the stories.
People had all sorts of solutions to complex problems, most of them we demeaning and punitive toward the poor. I think that because of the prevalence of aggressive driving on highways, we should ban driving! J Whether you give change to beggars on the street or you give to the poor in a different way, our attitude to the poor is not to be hardheartedness, but compassion.
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 If anyone is poor among your people in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. 8 Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. … 10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward those of your people who are poor and needy in your land.
Proverbs 19:17 (Today’s New International Version)
Those who are kind to the poor lend to the LORD,
and he will reward them for what they have done.
Serving the poor shows love to God
James says in 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother or sister in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
Serving the Poor connects us with God
Tolstoy Story - Where Love Is, God Is
In a certain town there lived a cobbler, Martin Avdéitch by name…
- hard life – all his children died, his wife died leaving a 3 year old boy, who was Martin’s joy, but the boy died as well. Martin despaired & gave up on God.
Once a holy man visited him and convinced him to begin to read the gospels – they reconnected him with Jesus & gave him hope. Every night after his work, he would light a lamp and read until he fell asleep.
One night he had a dream:
"Martin!" he suddenly heard a voice, as if some one had breathed the word above his ear.
He started from his sleep. "Who’s there?" he asked.
He turned round and looked at the door; no one was there. He called again. Then he heard quite distinctly: "Martin, Martin! Look out into the street to-morrow, for I shall come."
Martin’s shop and living quarters were in the basement, there was a window where he could see the boots of the people passing by – he recognized many people by their shoes.
So the next day as he worked he kept looking out the window to see the feet of the Lord, feeling foolish while he did it.