Summary: Preaching to the poor.
“PREACHING TO THE POOR” Part 2
1. Review from last sermon.
Preaching to the poor has always been important to the church. Listen to how important it was to Jesus to preach to the poor. When John the Baptist was put in prison, he became discouraged and believed that Jesus was not the Messiah. He sent a messenger to ask Jesus, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3). John the Baptist expected a Messiah who was a political deliverer, one who would drive the Romans into the sea. No wonder John the Baptist doubted, he was imprisoned by the Romans, the very ones he expected Jesus to drive into the sea.
Notice Jesus’ answer . . . “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:5).
Surely, the miracles of Jesus were signs enough to demonstrate that He was Messiah, but Jesus added the phrase, “The poor had the Gospel preached to them.” Why is preaching the Gospel to the poor important?
There’s a little known fact about John Wesley I want to share with you. Wesley claimed a church was not a New Testament until it carried out the admonition of Jesus, “The poor have the Gospel preached to them.” Jesus said more than once, “Preach the gospel to the poor.” Why? Because we are supposed to preach the Gospel to them.
The great revivals of John Wesley and the beginning of the Methodist church were primarily among the poor. When Wesley began preaching in the field to coal miners, he could see the “streams of mercy” which were the tears flowing from their eyes down coal-blackened faces. When the rich would not respond to Wesley, the poor heard him gladly.
2. OBSERVATIONS ABOUT MONEY FROM THE CENSUS
The U. S. census was officially released this month. I read the following observations:
a. We live in a money culture. The distribution of wealth, like population, is unevenly distributed.
b. Money—or the lack of it—determines where people live.
c. You are where you live. Listen to what I jut said. You reflect the neighborhood where you live and you choose your neighborhood by money, either what money you have or what money you don’t have.
d. "Follow the Money." That was the advice given to Woodward and Bernstein in their Watergate investigation. That advice is very helpful in understanding people and spirituality. First, people live where their money allows. Second, you can find those who are spiritual in a church by checking the tithing record. (Of course these are private records, but true spirituality is revealed in obedience to God in all things, including money.)
B. WHAT MUST WE DO?
1. Give to those in need.
Some people are poor because they don’t have enough money to buy the basic needs of life, i.e., food, clothing, and shelter. Notice what Isaiah said we are to do for them:
“I want you to share your food with the hungry and welcome poor wanderers into your homes. Give clothes to those that need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help” (Isaiah 58:7, LB).
Dr. Daniel Kim said he estimated over 3 million in North Korea who have starved to death during the famine in the past 10 years. I’m against Communism because it’s atheistic, but also it doesn’t work. It can’t take care of its poor people. I hear about the poor in Russia and the poor in Cuba.
2. Help those who can’t help themselves.
Some poor people are not educated enough to help themselves, not trained enough to help themselves, and cannot take care of their needs. Hence, they end up being poor.
Also, people who cannot help themselves because they are addicted to drugs, addicted to alcohol or have some other habits so they can’t take control of their life; they can’t be a productive citizen. Hence, they are poor.
3. God is concerned for the poor.
Why is God so concerned about the poor? Because in both illustrations just mentioned, God looks after those in need, and God looks after those who can’t look after themselves. Because the poor cannot look after themselves financially, who is going to look after them? And if you look after the poor, you are a friend of God’s.
The poor shall never cease from the land” (Deut. 15:11). Even God understood in the best of economies, where the Jews lived by the Word of God; there would always be poor people. Even Jesus knew those facts when He said, “For ye have the poor always with you” (Matthew 26:11).
4. But even the poor must give to God.