Ministry in the New Testament Church

Scripture: James 1:27, Acts 2:42-47, Matthew 25:38-40
Date: 08/31/2019 
Lesson: 9
'If you were to pass away, would your contribution be mourned and missed like the ministry of Dorcas was remembered and mourned? How can we leave a better legacy of service? What practical skills do you have—like Dorcas’s skills with making garments—that you might use in service to others?'

Is My Christianity Real? Part 2 - DVD or Digital Download

Is My Christianity Real? Part 2 - DVD or Digital Download
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Doug Batchelor: Good morning, friends. We want to welcome you to "Sabbath School Study Hour" here with the Granite Bay Church. We're so thankful for those of you who are watching online or via satellite or one of the social media sites and especially for our local family here in the Granite Bay area and beyond. We have a great study today we're going to get to in a moment and--but we have a free offer. The free offer is a CD, or DVD actually. It's called "Is My Christianity Real?" And this is part two, and if you'd like to get a free copy of that, all you've got to do is call 866-788-3966, that adds up to 866-Study-More, and ask for offer number 869. It's the DVD, "Is My Christianity Real?" And if you want to know more about how to get this, you can simply text the code "SH131" to 40544, and you can find out how to receive this.

Well, in a moment, we're going to get into our study but to begin with we're going to start with some singing, so I'd like to invite our song leaders, if they'd come out and join us on the platform and then we'll get to our study.

female: Good morning. Happy Sabbath. We're going to be singing number 462, "Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine."

♪ ♪ Blessed assurance,

♪ ♪ Jesus is mine.

♪ ♪ Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine.

♪ ♪ Heir of salvation,

♪ ♪ purchase of God,

♪ ♪ born of His Spirit,

♪ ♪ washed in His blood.

♪ ♪ This is my story,

♪ ♪ this is my song,

♪ ♪ praising my Savior all the day long;

♪ ♪ this is my story,

♪ ♪ this is my song,

♪ ♪ praising my Savior all the day long.

♪ ♪ Perfect submission,

♪ ♪ perfect delight,

♪ ♪ visions of rapture now burst on my sight.

♪ ♪ Angels descending bring from above

♪ ♪ echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

♪ ♪ This is my story,

♪ ♪ this is my song,

♪ ♪ praising my Savior all the day long;

♪ ♪ this is my story,

♪ ♪ this is my song,

♪ ♪ praising my Savior all the day long.

♪ ♪ Perfect submission,

♪ ♪ all is at rest,

♪ ♪ I in my Savior am happy and blessed,

♪ ♪ watching and waiting,

♪ ♪ looking above,

♪ ♪ filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

♪ ♪ This is my story,

♪ ♪ this is my song,

♪ ♪ praising my Savior all the day long;

♪ ♪ this is my story,

♪ ♪ this is my song,

♪ ♪ praising my Savior all the day long.

♪♪ female: Amen, happy Sabbath.

Doug: Well, we've got a good study. We're continuing in our series dealing with "The Least of These," and today we're going to be on lesson number nine and I'm just looking around here because we were going to do a little mission report but I think our missionaries aren't here yet. So that may come later in the program. Anyway, lesson number nine and it's "Ministry in the New Testament Church," and we have a memory verse and I think we've read this before: James 1:27. And if you want to say it with me, James 1:27. Are you ready? "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit the orphans and the widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."

We will actually be looking more closely at that particular verse in a few minutes, but I want to get right into the lesson. We've got a lot to cover. You know, it might be a good idea if you turn in your Bibles just a little review. If you go to Matthew chapter 25. I know this was studied probably at some length last week. I was not here but I know that was the subject. Go to Matthew 25 and you go to verse 31. And this is a very--it overlaps into our study today. A very important parable, and Jesus says, "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, and He'll sit on the throne of His glory. And all the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on the right, 'Come, you blessed of My Father,'"

Clearly this is a parable because you don't talk to sheep. "'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'" And, of course, the righteous say, "'When did we see You in any of these conditions and minister to You?' And the Lord says, 'Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to Me.'" Then, of course, He turns to the goats, the lost, and He makes a similar but a negative statement. He says, "I was hungry, you gave Me no food; I was thirsty, you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger, you did not take Me in; naked, you did not clothe Me; sick and in prison, you did not visit Me." They'll answer and say, "Lord, when did we see You in any of these conditions and not minister to You?" He'll say, "Assuredly, inasmuch as you did not do it to the least of these, you did not do it to Me." And one group goes into everlasting life, and the other into everlasting punishment.

So this is a very important parable. You know, one thing that jumps out at me, in this parable what is the deciding factor between who is saved and who is lost? Is it--does the Lord say, "Because you stole and because you lied and because you killed, depart from Me"? They're not being condemned for what you call sins of commission where you commit a sin. They are being condemned for sins of omission, a duty they neglected to do. And the duty was to care for their fellow men. I said I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was sick, I was a stranger, I was naked, I was in prison. You did nothing for Me. And I think that's very interesting because so often when we think about what is the dividing criteria between the saved and the lost, we think, "Well, the saved, they're obeying God's commandments and not doing bad things. And the lost are, you know, they're the publicans and the harlots." But here, in this parable, Jesus says, "If you do not love your brother, you cannot be saved. If you don't care about the people who are hurting around you, then you don't understand the gospel, you don't have My Spirit."

Now, I think that this parable goes beyond what a Christian's duty is. Of course, we're talking in our lesson today about ministering to the practical needs of people, giving food to the hungry and clothes to the naked and so forth, but are there spiritual analogies when someone says, "I was hungry, you gave me food"? What is the food we are to give? Man doesn't live by bread alone but by every word, the Bible. Should we be sharing the bread of life with people? I was thirsty. What's that water represent? Jesus stood at the well, said, "If you ask Me, I'll give you water. You'll never be thirsty again." Well, not only should we be giving people the bread of life, we should be helping them find the living water and the Spirit of Christ. Says, "I was naked and you clothed Me."

Now, we should have a ministry that once a year I think we give out some clothes and things and I know a lot of us donate clothing to a variety of charities. But shouldn't we be providing the robe of Christ's righteousness for those that are naked? He says, "I was sick." Well, we should have a ministry to people who are physically sick but does the Bible talk about people who are spiritually sick from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head, they are full of wounds and bruises and putrifying sores. It's like a spiritual sickness of sin. And He says, "I was a stranger."

Well, we should be sympathetic to those that are lonely and strangers, especially visitors that come in. They don't know anybody. Help them feel welcome and at home. But what about people who are alienated from God, that we introduce them to the Savior? "I was in prison." Very important to have a prison ministry. We have people here and other local churches that go to Folsom and Vacaville and some of the prisons, and I'm proud of them. But what about those who are in prison, holden by the cords of their sin? Every one of these things that Jesus states, there are six things that are itemized: hunger, thirst, naked, sick, stranger, prison, right? Every one of those things has a spiritual analogy as well. And so God wants us not only to be helping with the practical needs of the world around us but we should be caring about the spiritual needs.

And then He says, "Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me." That always kind of gives me a tinge of conviction. How about you? Because you think, "Oh, man, this--a lot of people I've driven by. I know there's folks that I could have ministered to and I neglected. Did I neglect Jesus?" You ever thought that way? This made me--this made me think of something. Now, God is omnipotent. What does that mean? He's all-powerful. God is omniscent; He's all-knowing. And God is omnipresent. That means He can be everywhere. But here's one more. It's actually a sub-category. God is omnipathic. Now, you know what pathos is? Like, when you say "sympathy"? It means to feel what another person feels. Now, you should all be feeling better because the politicians tell us they feel your pain so that should--they say, "We know how you feel." So I'm sure you all feel a lot better just knowing that. But I have my doubts, but does God feel everything? Not only does God feel what every human feels, does the Lord feel every sensation in the universe? Does He know everything? Then does God know when the little sparrow's tummy is growling because it's hungry? Does God know when the dog is hungry? Whatever any intelligent--any mosquito in His creation, God knows everything, right?

So with that in mind, what is God feeling right now? You and I can't comprehend how God hears a million prayers at once, right? How does God feel a zillion nerve endings all at one time. But God feels everything. So does God feel all the suffering in our world? So anything you do for any creature, human or otherwise, to relieve its suffering, does God feel that relief? Are you still with me? This is not pantheism; this is good Bible theology. Anything you do to relieve the suffering of any human or animal, God knows that relief. He feels it because He knows everything.

So it is really true when Jesus said, "Inasmuch as you've done it for them, you've done it for Me because I feel when you hurt them and I feel when you relieve them." So isn't it--doesn't that kind of make you think, "Wow, I really can make Jesus feel better by loving others." It's real, it's true. So, anyway, then to that whole concept just really struck me with great force one time, that everything we do for anybody else, Jesus actually senses the relief of that.

All right, well, with that kind of as a backdrop, we'll go to the section where it talks about a new community. Now, Christ told us in the Great Commission, Matthew 28, he said: "All authority has been given to Me. Go therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I've commanded you," and part of the teaching that Jesus has commanded us to observe is that we care for the poor, that we minister to those that are in need.

Now, we're going to look at some verses in Acts. You might want to go in your Bible to the book of Acts and there'll be several there today. Some of us can help read some Scriptures in a little bit. Acts chapter 2: "A new kind of community." What country of the world was the first country to practice socialism? The United States. When the Pilgrims landed, they decided to have a communal garden and to do--to work in a community. They didn't mean to be practicing socialism in its modern sense but they really thought that they were going to be a new light on a hill. I just got done reading a great book on Roger Williams that talked about this. And it failed miserably. They nearly all starved to death because nobody wants to work in everybody's garden. You know what I'm saying? You want to own your own garden. And when it ended up being everybody's garden, nobody worked in it and they all nearly starved if it wasn't for the aboriginal Americans that came to help them. So it was a brief failed experiment but, do you know, in the early days of the church, they had a little bit of communal living. Not like a hippie commune, that's a whole different story. This was a Christian communal--they all had their own homes but they shared. Notice what it says. I just said that to get your attention. Acts 2:42: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship."

Now when it says, "they continued steadfastly," they're listening to it and they're following it. "In breaking of bread, in prayers. For fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common." So, you ready to start doing that? You want to be like the New Testament church? Everybody, take out your purse right now and your wallet. We're going to put it in a big pile here. "Bring it and lay it at the apostles' feet," isn't that what it said? We'll take all the money out and then you can trust the apostles to distribute as you have need. You can submit what your needs are. Anyone ready to go for that? Any takers? Well, first of all, I don't know if it'll work right now because until the church is full of the Holy Spirit, people will take advantage of the system, right? But this is what they did. They were so spiritual.

The other thing is they were not going out yet doing mission work. They were still working locally. The Bible tells us that Jesus said, "Do not go in the way of the Gentiles yet." Wasn't until 34 AD and the stoning of Stephen they began to preach outside. Said, "Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." So they're largely in Jerusalem and it said, "All believers were together, had all things in common. They sold their possessions and goods, divided them among all as anyone had need." I don't hear too many sermons on that. "So continuing daily in one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house."

Now, what does it mean when it says, "break bread from house to house"? I've heard some pastors say, "Well, that means that they were having a lot of Communion services from place to place." No, keep reading. It says: "They ate their food." The breaking bread is eating food. So what it's telling us is they were sharing in the temple. Didn't Jesus go to the temple and preach? Several times the disciples went to the temple and preached. Once they were arrested and the Angel of the Lord opened the doors for them and said, "Go back to the temple and proclaim the words of this life." So they're preaching in the temple and they're going from house to house, eating with people, and preaching. So that's a good pattern for us today. Not only what will--happens here in church once a week, but that we go into people's homes and give Bible studies. "They ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God, having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."

You know, they had--there was a little oasis of peace from the Crucifixion of Christ until the persecution of Stephen for about 3 1/2 years where they went unopposed because Gamaliel said, "Look, their leader's died, they'll disperse." But they didn't disperse. They kept growing. And they got stronger. Go to Acts 4: "Now the multitude of those who believed," Acts 4, verse 32, sorry. Acts 4:32: "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own," it all belongs to God, "but they had all things in common." There it is again. "And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was anyone among them--neither was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands and houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each one as any had need." There it is again. Have you ever wondered, "Will this happen again before the Lord comes?" I think so.

Now, do you realize this is not what was happening in the Old Testament. Even in the best of times, every man had his property. They had mechanisms for caring for the poor, but never before had God told His church in the Old Testament, "You all sell your goods, put in a common pot the profits, we'll distribute it." So this was a very unique situation where they are walking in the baptism of the Holy Spirit and they're all--they figured that food and clothes, that just to keep us alive so we can preach. Their one mission in life was to tell about Jesus. Kind of wish that would happen again, right? And so possessions and food and clothes, that was all secondary to the big picture of preaching the gospel. And they distributed to anyone that had need. And then it mentions, "And Joses, whose name was Barnabas (which is translated Son of Encouragement)," nabas means encouragement and bar means son of, "a Levite from the country of Cyprus, having land, he sold it, and he brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet." And it says that because it's contrasting the generosity and the big-heartedness of Barnabas who sells everything and he ends up becoming an apostle, an itinerate preacher with Paul, right? So he really was sold out.

Then the next verse talks about Ananias and Sapphirus. Sapphirus! Ha, Ananias and Sapphira, that ended up doing the opposite. They began to start saying, "Well, we're going to sell everything, give it all." But they lied and they pretended to be totally committed and they weren't. So there's an interesting paradox of two verses that you find here, talking about the needs of the poor. I think it was Abraham Lincoln that said, "God must really love poor people because He made so many of them." And Jesus said, in Matthew 26:11: "For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not always have."

Now, will there always be poor? There's a couple of reasons that--well, there are several reasons but there are two principal reasons that the poor people are poor. Some people are poor because of choices that they make, bad choices, and can include lifestyle. Sometimes, it's circumstances and they have no choice. And so we need to be sympathetic. When you drive down the road and you come to an intersection and there's someone standing and they're holding a sign and they're saying, "Please help." How many of you have seen that? How many of you never raise your hands when I ask a question? Because I think we've all seen it and only a few raised their hands. And you want to help.

Have you ever gone through a little internal conflict because you think, "Is this a worthy poor person or is this somebody that I'm just going to help their drinking problem?" And you wonder and it is true and take it from someone who used to panhandle. Sometimes people panhandle because they're lazy and they want to do other things. For a while I was in that category. I remember I was driving with Bill May here in Sacramento. We went to an intersection. There was a guy standing there and he was holding a sign and it said: "Please help. Need beer. Why lie?" He was being honest. Said, "I need beer." And Bill and I looked at each other, said, "You want to help the guy because he's being honest." But, you know, we always struggle.

How do you know how far do you go? So what is the responsibility of the church? This is our study today. When we know of people who are in need. There are people of varying levels of prosperity in every congregation. We have them in our congregation. And you want to help but how do you help? Now, Deuteronomy, interestingly enough, verse--I'm sorry, chapter 15, verse 4: Moses said, "Except when there may be no poor among you." No poor? Anyone ever seen that? Said, "There may be no poor among you for the Lord will greatly bless you in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance." The closest thing I've seen to this is I've been to some Pacific Islands where there were poor people but there was no hungry people because there was so much fruit and food falling out of the trees everywhere that nobody was hungry. If anyone was hungry, it's because they didn't reach out and put it in their hand and bring it to their mouth. But nobody was starving, but they had no money. And I've been to a number of islands where people had no money and even parts of the Congo where there's a lot of rainforest, there's a lot of food, but the people are very poor. No one has money.

And so--but God said that there would be a time when there would be no poor. Can you name a time in biblical history when they probably got the closest to that? Solomon. Wilderness, yeah. Nobody was hungry in the wilderness because they had manna falling down every day. But during the time of Solomon what does it say about silver? Says silver was counted as nothing. It was like stones because people had so much gold back then in the days of Solomon. Anyway, so what is the response of the church? God does want the church to be caring for the poor. Principally, the way the church is to care for the poor is to have silos where we distribute what people need. The church, I don't believe God ever wanted to be a bank but there are exceptions where the church was to give cash to certain people. I'll get to that in a minute. Go to Acts 3, verse 5 and 6: "So he gave them his attention." Remember, there's a beggar. He's at the Beautiful Gate at the temple. He sees Peter and John coming in. He's saying, "Alms for the poor." Peter stands still and he looks at them, expecting something, and Peter says, "Silver and gold I do not have." You think that man was downcast? At first, he probably thought, "Oh, what are you going to do? Give me a tract?" He says, "But what I do have: In the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk."

You know, I'll admit I try to keep some sharing literature in my car with me in my backpack when I travel and sometimes I'll meet a person who's panhandling and I'll say, "Do you take credit cards because I don't have a lot of cash." Sorry, that's not very nice. But I'll say, you know, "I don't have any cash. Silver and gold I don't have but here's a book." I say, "I've got something for you." And then I say, "But it's a book," and they go, "Ohh. I don't want a book." Or sometimes you'll stop and someone's, you know, they're at the road. They're saying, you know, "I need food." Well, you give 'em a granola bar or something that you have and they go, "Huh, I don't want--I want money. I don't want food." Sometimes they are grateful for food. So you've got to be careful not to judge people.

I'll tell you a quick story that I was getting ready for the radio program one Sunday night and I had a little ritual for years. I used to go to Cal Expo where we did the radio program, the weekly "Bible Answer Live" radio program. And I liked stopping there, going over my "Amazing Fact" and I'd go eat at Chipotle. And on my way in, somebody stopped me to panhandle and they said, you know, "Do you have any money for--I need some money, I'm hungry. I want something to eat," and I said, "Not right now," because they looked pretty rough and I thought, "This person's probably going to take it and they're going to, you know, a lot of people have crack, speed problems or something or heroin. I said, you know, "I don't want to contribute to that," and said, "No, that's okay, thanks but not today." And so I went in, I sat down, and I started to look over my notes and I was eating my burrito and I looked across the street at the Walgreens and he was panhandling there. I thought, "Oh, he found somebody who has given him some money." So I watched. He went into the drug store and he came out with food. I thought, "He--" and then he stopped on a bench and he ate. And I thought, "He was hungry. And I prejudged him wrong."

And so, you know, you don't know so sometimes I've thought, "If I don't know, help them because I'd rather help them and I get the blessing because, you know, you've tried to do the right thing, than prejudge everybody and not help anybody. So we struggle sometimes, wanting to know how do you draw the line, how do you help? Someone's going to read a verse for me in just a moment. You're going to have Acts 6 I think. I'm going to read 2 Kings 4, verse 1. You remember the story of the widow. Her husband died. She had two boys. "A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, saying, 'Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he feared the Lord.'" He was a good church member. "'And the creditor is coming,'" not to take away my possessions but "'to take my sons as his slaves.' So Elisha said, 'What shall I do for you?'" And she's thinking, "Well, help me pay my bill.'" "He said, 'Tell me, what do you have?'" If you will commit what you do have to the Lord, He will help you with the other things. He never did give her money. He said, "What do you want me to do? Are you asking me to give you a loan?"

Church members need to be very careful about getting involved financially with people with loans. I think if you're going to go into business with a friend, you need to ask yourself what's more important, the business or the friend? Because sometimes you may have to choose between the two. You've got to be very careful. So here Elisha said, "I'm not going to give you money," but he did take care of her problem by saying, "Here's--if you will have what you have consecrated to God, God will bless it." She had all the resources she needed. Please read for us that verse.

female: Acts 6:1: "Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution."

Doug: Now you know what it says there, in some versions it says: "The daily distribution of food," and so the apostles were buying food and giving it to the widows. And it's talking about--you notice what it says here: "Because their widows were being neglected in the distribution of food." They were not distributing money. And so the church needs to be very careful about being looked upon as a vending machine, an ATM or something. When we were down in Sacramento, more so there than here, we had a lot of homeless downtown, as you know. And a few times people came to the gate and some of the pastors couldn't tell them no. You know, they've got some incredible stories. Some of them are probably true stories. A lot of them are very dubious stories. And I've had people come in. They've knocked on the door and they said, "Father, I'm a member of this church." I know right away when they call me Father, they're not a member of my church. And then they'd tell me a story about how they need some help and said, "Yeah, I'm here for Mass every week." I said, "You didn't read the sign. We're not open Sunday."

So I heard some really interesting stories and, take it from me, because like I said, these were my friends, I lived on the street. And so you know you have to be discriminating but what happens is when you--sometimes you feel sorry for them and you give them $5 or $10, word gets out. And all of a sudden, we'd come to the church and they'd be a line of people waiting for us to open the office and they'd be--just one story after another, and we'd say, "No, no, no." And then I found out one of the local pastors, not our church, he was telling everybody, "If you want money, go to his church." And so we had a way to get even. We got a picture of that pastor and we printed it on a Xerox machine and we printed his phone number across the bottom with all these little tabs where you could tear off his phone number and we said, "Pastor So-and-so, here for you in your time of need." And we pinned it up at the Welfare Department. No, we thought about it; we never did it.

But it got to be a problem. I mean, because we had a line of people and then, you know, we were giving away clothes every week and we were helping a lot of people but then we found there was a lot of people that were coming and they were just--they were rifling through all the clothes and they were taking them and selling them at flea markets and we thought, "That's not the purpose of it." And so it is a struggle knowing how do you balance those things out. So anyway, the main thing is we do want to care for the practical needs.

You know when we read earlier from Matthew 25: "I was hungry, you gave me food; thirsty, you gave me drink; stranger, you took me in; naked, you clothed me; sick, you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me." I had no money and you gave me cash. It never says that, does it? It talks about dealing with the real practical needs so we need to just remember that. Now, there are exceptions and I'll get to that in just a moment here. 1 Timothy 6:8: "Having food and clothing, with these we shall be content." There are special things you want to help people with and making sure that they're fed, making sure that they're clothed. Jesus said, you know, Solomon was not clothed like the flowers and God feeds the birds. And He talked principally about seek first the kingdom of God and the other things will be added. But then you've got this verse that was our memory verse, James 1:27: "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Fatherless is this: to visit the orphans and the widows in their trouble, and keep yourself unspotted from the world."

Now, we're going to go read a lengthy passage of Scripture. Turn in your Bibles please to 1 Timothy 5. I may not read every word. 1 Timothy 5, we're going to start with verse 3. Paul is giving instructions about there were people who were helped with cash from the church coffers and you see here it says: "Honor widows who are really widows. But if any widow has children or grandchildren," now what does He mean by honor? He meant put them on the weekly or monthly payroll where they are given a cash distribution and you'll see that as we read on here. "Those who are really widows. But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents," in other words, the family should be helping them, "for this is good and acceptable before God. Now she who is really a widow," nobody to help take care of her, "and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers day and night. But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives." That's a verse you should underline just--it's a sermon in itself. "And these things command, that they may be blameless."

So the widows who are true widows, there's no outside support, no family left to help take care of them, they have no children, no siblings, they should be taken care of by the church. They shouldn't be out begging on the street. "But if anyone does not provide for his own, especially those of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." That's a very powerful Scripture. Who is the first person that should be caring for the poor? Their families, right? They had no social security, they had no welfare back then. People had to do it for their own families.

"Do not let a widow under 60 years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, well reported for good works: if she's brought up her children, if she has lodged strangers, if she's washed the saints' feet," in other words, if she's practicing Christian virtues. If she has relieved the afflicted, if she is diligent to follow every good work. But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton," they start getting lonely, "against Christ, they desire to marry, having condemnation because they've cast off their first faith. And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house," now he's talking to Timothy about problems Timothy's happen--having where he's pastoring. "Not only be idle but gossips and busybodies, saying things which ought not to be said. Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house," if they're still of marrying age, they should have family, and the families will care for them, not the church. "Giving no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some have already turned aside after Satan. If any believing man or woman has widows," in other words, if you're a believer, man or a woman, if you've got family that are widows in the church, "let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that they may relieve those who are really widows," that are isolated.

Now, do you understand that whole passage, what it's talking about there? It's talking about the responsibility of the church and how to care for the widows that James just itemized. All right, let's go to the section on Dorcas. Acts chapter 9, verse 36 and 37: "At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha." And the word "Tabitha," by the way, means gazelle, "which is translated Dorcas." So when you say Tabitha or when you say Dorcas, you are saying gazelle and you're saying gazelle in either Hebrew or in Greek. "This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. And when they washed her, they laid her in an upper room." And so Peter comes and why don't you read for us, I think, Trevor, is it? Why don't you read for us Acts 9, verse 39?

Trevor: "Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them."

Doug: Now, Dorcas is sort of a type of the church in that she is caring for the people who are needing clothing, and the church is to help clothe the naked. We talked about that from Matthew 25. Look at Isaiah 58, verse 7: "Isn't the fast that God has chosen to share your bread with the hungry, that you bring into your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him?" When you read about the perfect woman in Proverbs 31, you know what it says? I'm going to read you several verses here. Proverbs 31:13: "She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands." Verses 19 to 21: "She stretches out her hand to the distaff, and her hand holds to the spindle," a spindle for making fabric. "She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. She's not afraid of snow for her household, for her household is clothed with scarlet."

So it talks about this woman is clothing the naked. She's busy making clothes. And this is what Dorcas did. So what does Peter do? He comes down, he--all the widows there and they're showing him all the things that she's made and he puts them all out because this is what Jesus did when he resurrected the little girl. Peter puts them all out and he kneels down. By the way, this is what Elisha did when he resurrected the boy. He went to the upper room, put them all out. Peter's in an upper room with Dorcas's body and he kneels down and he prays "and he turned to the body and he said, 'Tabitha, arise.' And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then when he gave her his hand, he lifted her up; he had called in the saints," the church.

Now, don't you like the idea that you and I are called saints? "And the widows, and he presented her alive. And it became known all through Joppa, and many believed on the Lord." You know what the lesson is here? If you make yourself useful and productive, God has a reason to keep you alive. When your funeral begins, will people be sorry you're gone? They were really sorry Dorcas was gone because she had clothed them all. So we want to be--we want to be caring for the needs of the poor.

Now, I think I saw the Hoover family came in. Where are you at? Come on up front. We were going to have--and can I borrow your microphone? Would that be okay, please? Thank you so much. We think it's always nice during Sabbath School to have a little mission report. This is the Hoover family and I'll let you introduce your family. Is your daughter with you here?

Ryan Hoover: She's probably in Sabbath School.

Doug: She's in Sabbath School class, okay. They are members of Granite Bay who went off to India. How long ago?

Ryan: Seven months.

Doug: Hold it up real close.

Ryan: Seven months.

Doug: And where in India did you go?

Ryan: We are in Hyderabad, India.

Doug: And about how many people in that city?

Ryan: Ten million, more or less.

Doug: Ten million people. And what is your job there?

Ryan: Well, we are working on translating all of the "Amazing Facts" materials, study guides, magazines, broadcasts. Working with a lot of different people there.

Doug: Hold the mic up real high. Just bury it in your beard there.

Ryan: So yeah, so basically just translating all of the--well, we're not translating by we're coordinating the translation with about 30 individuals there into about eight languages we're working on right now.

Doug: Yeah, we've seen--it's really wonderful because we've seen not only is it the magazines, the TV programs now are going out in Tamil, English, Telugu, Hindi, and Hindi. Isn't that wonderful? Around India, and the magazines are going out in those languages as well. Now, what's the weather like there?

Female: Hot. Actually, the worst time is April and May. It's really, really, really hot and humid. We reached about 116.

Doug: And humid. It's about the worst place in the world when it comes to heat.

Female: I've sweated, yeah, like I've never done before.

Doug: And then your air conditioner broke this summer?

Female: Well, it's not that it broke. The devil was mad and it didn't work. For right the day we were actually printing about 2000 magazines, the devil decided to attack because he was mad at us. But--so certain things didn't work but we got it working after a couple of days and—

Doug: I remember talking to Ryan during that time through WhatsApp and he said, "Boy, it's really miserable here right now, 100-plus degrees, 100% humidity, and no air conditioning.

Female: No air conditioning. We also had a water—

Ryan: Water shortage.

Female: Lack. But we were praising God that even though the monsoon was 2 1/2--about 2 1/2 months late, because we only had 48 days of water left, four days before we left it start raining hardcore so hopefully we'll have water when we get back.

Doug: Amen.

Ryan: Yeah, one of the fun things is with our broadcasts, we have the free offer, same as we do here, and we've sent out, through last week, we sent out 98 free offers throughout India, through 19 of the 26 states, I believe.

Doug: Amen. Now when you travel in Hyderabad, we were there together in Hyderabad, when you travel in Hyderabad, how long does it take to get about 5 miles in the city?

Ryan: Five miles would be clear the other side. It's a pretty small city, actually, but it takes about 45 to 50 minutes to get—

Doug: To go 5 miles. Traffic is unbelievable.

Ryan: The church we typically go to is about 4 miles and it's about 40 minutes away.

Doug: Yeah, and Ryan was with us, we were in India a little more than a year ago and invited to speak at the largest Christian church in the world. It's called Calvary Temple and they let us speak at their evening program and he said, "Sorry, they'll only be 25 here tonight." That was 25,000. But they are so dedicated. They started at 10 o'clock and they went 'til, like, 5 in the morning. They have all-night prayer meetings so pray for the church in India.

Ryan: Yeah, you should start that here.

Doug: Yeah, that's right, yeah. But what else? We got a couple of minutes. What else do you want to share about what's going on there?

Ryan: Well, we've--the study guides are--we've been changing out all of the images in the study guides because they're all predominantly American, a little bit of diversity, but we're changing out every image, reshooting everything with Indians. We went to Spicer University for a weekend and went to the girls' and boys' dorms and took about 50 or 60 pictures of the students to be included in the publications. And those, once we get back, we'll start printing those. We just received, two weeks ago, an official deed of trust for "Amazing Facts India," so we're now officially an entity, organization, recognized by the government nationwide. So we can open a bank account, a post office box, and function legally within their system. So that was the goal.

Doug: Now, it's more difficult in India to preach publicly, isn't it?

Ryan: Yes.

Doug: To do evangelism publicly is very difficult. And--go ahead.

Ryan: Even in the churches, if we are there with an overwhelming presence, they'll--they could come question us. So I do all of my ministry at my computer in our apartment.

Doug: Yeah, you've got to be careful, yeah?

Ryan: She speaks.

Female: I speak.

Doug: Are you learning a few--now, it's Telugu in Hyderabad, right? Ryan: Telugu is the local language and so we've learned a couple of words but we've been taking lessons. The wife of one of our workers has been teaching us, the three of us, Hindi for about three months and so our daughter's learning the best but—

Doug: Amen. Have we got Manjit here? She speaks Hindi and Punjabi, right? And English. So we so appreciate the Hoovers. When do you head back?

Ryan: Two and a half more weeks.

Doug: Praise the Lord. That's really exciting. Well, I tell you what, why don't we have prayer for them before we tie off our lesson. Would that be okay? Oh, go ahead, you want to share something?

Female: Come at 2 in the afternoon, we'll talk and have pictures here at the church.

Doug: Oh, thank you, I'm glad--thank you for reminding us. Yes, they'll be giving a little more of a report about what's happening and pray for the work in India. Can we just pray together real quick? Father in heaven, we just thank you for the work of the gospel going on around the world. We pray you continue to bless the Hoover family and what they're doing. Keep them safe and healthy and may the Word go far and wide as a result of the work they're doing. And we ask in Jesus's name, amen.

That's exciting to have a little mission report sometimes. Thank you so much. Well, we're just going to tie off our lesson real quick. We talked about the giving that was happening there in the church and the clothing of Dorcas. Giving is ways--I'll tell you what, I'm going to go down to the section here, Paul's guide to living and loving well. And you got your microphone? In a minute, you're going to read Romans 12:8 and I'm going to read Romans 12, verses 1 and 2: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you might prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." And so part of the transforming of the mind that we need as Christians is being able to think like Christians about caring about others. You know, as you read through a number of the books in the Bible, when Paul speaks he never uses the word "I." It's always "we," "us," and the church is to be sensitive to the needs of others. Please read for us your verse in Romans 8. I'm sorry, Romans 12, verse 8.

Female: "He who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness."

Doug: You notice Paul is--he's highlighting a special gift of giving with liberality. Some people have been blessed with means, some people just have a gift for knowing how to multiply funds and invest well. And he says, "You've got that gift. Continue to work, continue to earn, continue to give." Then I'll read Romans 12, verse 19 to 21. This will be our last verse: "Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it's written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. Therefore 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he's thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." By the way, Paul here is quoting from Proverbs 25, verse 21.

You know, when you're doing practical ministry as a church and sometimes we've been downtown or different parts of town and you're giving away food or clothes and things, and they say, "Well, I'm not a member of your church," and they say, "That's okay, we love you anyway," and it softens their heart. I've even seen some of them say, "Well, I don't believe in God. I'm an atheist." And say, "That's okay. Jesus loves you too." And by showing love to even those who might be antagonistic to your faith, it softens their heart. So this is some of the ways the church is to minister today.

I want to remind you in closing there is a free DVD we'd like to make available. It's called, "Is My Christianity Real?" And this one is part two of a series and if you'd like to get a copy, you can call 866-788-3966, that's 866-Study-More. You can also obtain this via text right now by texting "SH131" to 40544 and we hope that you listen to that, watch it, and then share it with a friend. Thank you, friends. God bless. We're out of time for today's study. Hope you were edified and we'll look forward to doing it again next week.

Announcer: Don't forget to request today's life-changing free resource. Not only can you receive this free gift in the mail, you can download a digital copy straight to your computer or mobile device. To get your digital copy of today's free gift, simply text the key word on your screen to 40544 or visit the web address shown on your screen, and be sure to select the digital download option on the request page. It's now easier than ever for you to study God's Word with "Amazing Facts," wherever and whenever you want and most important, to share it with others.

Announcer: "Amazing Facts Changed Lives."

Male: I come from a Hindu background. My mom is a preacher for Shiva who is a Hindu god. My father is agnostic kind so me, myself, I grew like as an atheist. In the year 2007, I had an experience of being in South India and that was the first time I experienced Christian people, you know? The majorities were Christians there. There were some Adventist youth who invited me to be a part of one of their midweek service. They were presenting a video of Pastor Doug Batchelor, "The Richest Caveman." I was moved, you know? I do understand good and bad and I pictured myself into the bad category than the good one. I started experiencing several dreams and which started troubling me. And you know, I kept the website in my mind. I went to the Internet café and started browsing the website of "Amazing Facts." And then I saw the Bible study guide there. Every day I started taking one of the lesson and I was baptized 2007.

After my conversion, I straightly came to Spicer to do my studies. During the summer vacation, I decided to go back home and give my mom and my father a visit. By that time, they knew that I have converted to Christianity. I was thrown out of the house. We are not in good terms even today but sad part for them, not for me. During 2015, I was diagnosed with leukemia. I had only one professor and one friend who was coming along with me to the hospital every day. When I asked this assistant doctor what do you think is the life span of a person like me, then she said, "You'll be losing weight and you'll get sick slowly, slowly if you don't go for treatment." So a year-plus, one night I decided--it was January 2015, I said, "I am not going for any treatment anymore." I said, "Lord, you gave me one year so what I'll do is I'll just do your ministry and that's okay." And I never went for any treatment after that. I just left everything right over there. I didn't take even one tablet, one medicine.

I'm standing in front of you, strong in 2018. Nothing happened. I don't know what happened. I don't know if still there in my body or what, I don't know. I'm not dead yet. I want to serve in India. "Amazing Facts" team, especially Pastor Doug, has really played a very important element in my life to give me an identity.

Announcer: Let's face it. It's not always easy to understand everything you read in the Bible. With over 700,000 words contained in 66 books, the Bible can generate a lot of questions. To get biblical straightforward answers, call into "Bible Answers Live," a live nationwide call-in radio program where you can talk to Pastor Doug Batchelor and ask him your most difficult Bible questions. For times and stations in your area or to listen to answers online, visit

Doug: Friends, have you ever heard of the bowhead whale? This enormous leviathan is the second largest creature in the world. Dark and stocky, it roams the fertile Arctic northern waters. These massive creatures can be more than 65 feet long and weigh more than 75 tons. That's heavier than the space shuttle. Yet, in spite of their titanic size, they're able to leap entirely out of the water. Can you say "belly flop"?

The bowhead whale gets its name from its bow-shaped skull and they've got one ginormous noggin. Matter of fact, their heads are about 40% of their body size, which comes in handy when you find out how they use their heads. They've got very thick skulls. Sometimes they get trapped under the surface and they use their heads to ram the ice. They can break a breathing hole in the ice that is a foot and a half thick. Friends, you have to just imagine what it would be like to be walking around on the Arctic ice and all of a sudden have the ground beneath you crack and split and rise as one of these sea monsters pushes its head up to breathe for the first time in 90 minutes.

Because bowheads make their home in the coldest part of our world, they have the thickest blubber of any whale. But this, plus their friendly and curious nature, made them prime targets when the European whalers discovered the bowheads. They hunted them nearly to extinction. Fortunately, because of conservation efforts, we've slowly seen their numbers begin to increase since the '60s.

One of the most amazing facts about the bowhead whale is its longevity. Scientists have discovered by evaluating harpoon tips found in their skull and examining their eye tissue, there are bowhead whales out there that are probably over 200 years old. You realize that means there are bowhead whales swimming the oceans right now that were alive before Abraham Lincoln was elected president. Can you imagine that? Among the other amazing megafacts about the bowhead whale is its megamouth. They have the largest mouth of any in the animal kingdom. And when they open their piehole full extended, it's large enough to park a medium-sized SUV inside. Yet, in spite of the fact they've got such big mouths, they survive by eating the very smallest creatures in the ocean: plankton, krill, and other microscopic animals.

Friends, I'm always amazed by the creatures God has made. This bowhead whale is able to dive to the deepest oceans. They can break through the ice and move mountains with their head and completely leave the water and fly through the air. And yet, they do all that by gaining strength from almost microscopic organisms. Helps us remember that we survive through the little promises in God's Word. Jesus, when tempted by the devil, He quoted just a few little verses and He sent the enemy running. You can also have that same durability and long life as the bowhead whale by trusting in God's Word and His promises. ♪♪♪

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