Letters To The Next Generation -
Overcoming for those who are overcome!
On Oct 18th, we started a series entitled, “Letters to the Next Generation”. The series is based on the book of Deuteronomy, where Moses is reminding the next generation of the laws of God and challenging them to write a better story than the first generation. While God did many great things through that first generation (namely the big exodus from Egypt), they were predominantly remembered for wandering in the wilderness (in the Plains of Moab) for four decades. Imagine that, for forty years, they wandered and probably many wondered about all that went wrong. God called them to possess the Promised Land but instead they ended up falling short and in the wilderness, the Plains of Moab, for forty years. I want to encourage you to use this Touching Base in your small groups, and in your mentoring relationships to discuss what we talked about on Sunday. The following is a guide to help you go deeper based on Sunday’s (Nov.29) message.
Big Idea: We are to engage in demonstrating compassion and upholding justice.
Text: Deut. 10:18-19; 14:28-29; 15:4,7,11;16:11; 24:10-22; 26:12-13; 31:12
This past Sunday we looked at an issue that is very much part of our church purpose statement, Loving God Passionately And Serving Others Significantly. By just looking at the text of Deuteronomy, we can see that God has a large heart for the fatherless, widows, aliens and the poor.
To begin, discuss the service on Sunday. What impressed you? What story moved you? (Ken shared about Honduras, Rhonda shared about Garbage City, Meredith shared William Booth’s story, there was a DVD presentation, Joanna shared about the situation in Kingston)
As a group or individual, read through the texts for this week and make your own observations. I have included my own at the end of this article.
Now comes the real test of your bible knowledge: How many texts can you reference in the New Testament that speak of these same kinds of issues?
Why has it often been the case that the Church (universal) has ignored the important issues raised in these verses (in both the Old and New Testaments)? What do we have to be careful about when attempting to build bridges with the poor or reaching out to those who are in need as described in Deuteronomy and other bible texts?
Look at the Advent Conspiracy initiative. Is there something you can do as a group to participate in this “conspiracy”? (The forms were handed out on Sunday)
To sum up the dialogue from your meeting/or personal reflection, how would you summarize the nugget that you would want to pass on to the next generation?
As a small group, go see the movie The Blind Side - A homeless black teenager, Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) has drifted in and out of the school system for years. Then Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) and her husband, Sean (Tim McGraw), take him in, transforming Michael's life and theirs). It is based on a true story and is a powerful example of transforming love! I took my wife to it for her birthday.
My observations of the Deuteronomy texts.
1. The nature of God reflects a compassionate disposition towards the poor Deut 10:18. This is an important point. It shows that this is not just an OT law but a reflection of the character of God that is the same yesterday today and forever. (Continuity versus Discontinuity).
2. Our care and concern for the poor or needy (not always poor) is a reflection of the nature of God. Our action Deut 10:19 is a response God’s character Deut 10:18.
3. Being fatherless, an alien, widowed and or poor does not reflect that God no longer loves them or that they are in some way second class citizens. Deut 10:18,19 Bad things happen to good people.
4. God does not recommend helping out the poor but commands it- Deut 15:11 Deut 24:22
5. Personal wealth means we are to take responsibility for the less fortunate. With blessing comes responsibility. This is implicit in the Deuteronomy text.
6. The “how to’s” are laid out in Deuteronomy. Every generation needs to figure out the how to! - Deut 14:28,29; 24:19,20; 26:12,13
7. God has some very strong words for those who do not live a generous life style. Deut 27:19
8. There should be no poor but there will be poor (Deut 15:4,11) What accounts for this “should not be but will be” scenario?
9. Deuteronomy was not just about a handout but a hand up. For example, the aliens (one needy people group) were encouraged to learn God’s truth. Truth that Deuteronomy declares will bring blessing ( Deut 31:12). In Deut 16:11 the aliens, fatherless and widows were to be part of the community. Relationship would be the bridge for skills, knowledge, wisdom etc to be passed along. Deut 24:14 illustrates how the poor were to be employed, given opportunities to build a life, create equity.
10. Blessing comes from blessing others. Deut 14:28,29 What kind of blessing?