"The Least of These": Ministering to Those in Need

July, August, September 2019

Want to learn more about "The Least of These": Ministering to Those in Need? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: God Created (Genesis 1-3, Proverbs 14)
Welcome to a new series of lessons about our Christian obligation of mercy to those around us. The Bible calls for more than a simple-minded approach. Deuteronomy 28 teaches that faithfulness to God brings material blessings. That suggests that those needing help might have been unfaithful to God. At the same time, the Mosaic law contains several commands about aiding those who find themselves in difficult economic circumstances. That tells us that merit might not be the test for helping. The Job story and Hebrews 11 reveal that the general rules do not always apply. This past Sabbath I listened to a sermon about Jesus' story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). I thought about this series of lessons when I heard Luke 15:16 - "no one gave [the prodigal] anything" when he was hungry. The result, in Luke 15:17, is that the prodigal "came to his senses." Would the prodigal have come home if some well-meaning person enabled his rebellion by giving him food? Let's begin our exploration about what the Bible teaches about our obligation of mercy!

Lesson 2: Blueprint for a Better World (Exodus 3, Matthew 22, Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 14, Leviticus 25)
How many times have you heard a political leader speak about how to make your country better in the future? How many times have you heard a local planner describe how to improve your local community? Our study this week suggests that if we want a better future, we need to ask God to guide us. God has set out some principles on this, so let's discover what the Bible has to teach us!

Lesson 3: Sabbath: A Day of Freedom (Exodus 16 & 20, Luke 13, Mark 2, Matthew 12)
I love the Sabbath! My life is a series of deadlines. When I'm home, I have work to do on the house and the lawn. I'll bet you know what I'm talking about. When I was a young man, the pressure cooker of law school brought the blessing of the Sabbath into clear focus. While other students were studying, I was able to have a guilt-free time to go to church, eat with friends, and read and relax. Let's plunge into our Bibles and see what other blessings we can find in the Sabbath!

Lesson 4: Mercy and Justice in Psalms and Proverbs (Psalms 9, 82 & 146, Proverbs 10, 22 & 30)
"Justice" and "mercy" are words in natural tension with each other. It is justice to give you what you deserve! It is mercy (perhaps) to protect you from getting what you deserve. As beneficiaries of Jesus' great mercy, we need to be careful about how we apply these two concepts. We don't want to be shown great mercy by Jesus, and then fail to show mercy to others. The question is always, "What is mercy in this situation?" Let's see what we can learn from the Bible about justice and mercy!

Lesson 5: The Cry of the Prophets (1 Samuel 8, Genesis 18, Jude 1, Romans 1, Isaiah 1)
Prophets in the Old Testament held a special place of trust. Today, we have the Bible, but then much of God's instruction to the people came through His prophets. Let's dig into our study of the Bible and see what they teach us about God's will for the least of these!

Lesson 6: Worship the Creator (Psalms 115, Deuteronomy 10, Amos 5, Isaiah 58)
Imagine a friend who never listened to you! Your advice was unimportant. Your needs irrelevant. You might better have saved your breath then tell your friend what you like and what you dislike. Now imagine an employee like that. One who never pays attention to instruction. How would you react to a friend like that? How would you react to an employee like that? Thinking about this gives us a sense of what it is like to be the Creator God and have a group of followers who do not really think that obedience is important. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 7: Jesus and Those in Need (Luke 4 & 7, John 2)
When we get a new boss at work, when we hear the speeches of candidates running for public office, we listen to see what they say they will do. After the boss has been running the office for some time, or the candidate is elected, we compare what they promised with what they actually have done. Why? We want to know if they are honest. But, another reason is to determine whether we understood the original promise. Our Lord is honest. He is trustworthy. This week we will compare the "promises" about what He did for the least of these with what He did, to be sure we understand what He meant. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 8: The Least of These (Matthew 5, Romans 12, Luke 16)
We have a saying in the United States about "Bumper Sticker" responses, referring to slogans a person might put on the bumper of a car. You ask someone a question, and they give you a "bumper sticker" answer. "The least of these" is like a bumper sticker. What does it mean? God loves every person, so how can we label someone a "least?" Jesus tells us that the "least" of us "is the greatest" (Luke 9:48). At the same time, Jesus twice refers to the importance of helping "the least of these" (Matthew 25:40 & 45). We need to drill down and understand God's will, so let's dive into our study of the Bible!

Lesson 9: Ministry in the New Testament Church (Acts 2, 4 & 5, 2 Corinthians 8)
This week we start our study with a report on what the very early Christians did with their property. Nothing like it is reported in the Old Testament, and nothing like it is ever reported again in the New Testament. Why is that? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 10: Living the Gospel (Romans 8, Matthew 9, Galatians 3)
Do you sometimes feel "harassed and helpless?" You hear all sorts of different points of view and they cannot all be right. Even if you think you have the correct view, there are all sorts of people who think you are obviously wrong. Even if you are confident that you have the right understanding, are you helpless to change things? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what it teaches us about properly living the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Lesson 11: Living the Advent Hope (Ecclesiastes 8, Matthew 25 & 26)
If we think that we should live a life in accord with the teachings of the Bible and teach others to do the same, would the end result be a little more heaven on earth? Is that a reasonable belief? Or, is the presence of sin a permanent barrier to heaven on earth? Are Christians properly criticized for leaving the solution to problems to the Second Coming of Jesus? When the Lord asks us to pray, "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:9-10), is fixing problems on earth something to be left to God? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 12: To Love Mercy (Matthew 6 & 7, Isaiah 58)
Being a parent is sometimes wonderful, sometimes terrible, and always educational! In our quest to determine how we should relate to the "least of these," we have discussed conflicting points of view. How can you know what is the right view, the view God endorses? This week we find one simple guide - what have you learned as a parent? What have you learned as a child? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 13: A Community of Servants (1 Corinthians 12, Hebrews 10)
I'm sure that at some point you have been a new employee. What is the first thing your new employer did? Most likely, your employer gave you some sort of orientation. You needed to understand your role in the company and your specific job. Of particular importance is knowing what you are supposed to be doing and what you are not supposed to be doing. Our Christian walk is like that. As we finish the last in our series on "the least of these," let's review the nature of our work by plunging, once again, into the Bible!

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Would you like to help us share the Bible Study of the Week with others? At present, the Bible Study of the Week can be read in ten languages: Bosnian, English, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Romanian, Russian, and Spanish. We welcome serious volunteers who are willing to spend the time each week to translate the lessons from English into another language. We are particularly interested in having the lesson translated into Portuguese. Please contact us if you would like to volunteer to translate.