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.
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!
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!
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!
“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!
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
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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