Know Different

“And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” – Revelation 5: 9-10. 

How often have you heard someone end a sentence with ”… but I know different” or “they are different from” or “different than.” Of course there are differences in our backgrounds, experiences, cultures, and the color of our skin. But are we all that different?  

Our parts are interchangeable. If you need a blood transfusion in another part of the world, chances are someone has your blood type. We all laugh. We may not laugh at the same things and a smile may be harder to coax from one individual than it is from another, but there are things that make us happy. We all cry. We all feel pain whether physical, psychological or emotional. When someone close to us dies we feel a sense of loss. We all want to feel important and accomplished. Not necessarily to be Nobel Laureates, but to feel like we matter. We all want something better for our kids regardless of our color, religion, culture, or geographic location.  

We all find it easier to love those like us than for those we perceive as “different”. So the sooner we begin to see how much we are alike, the better for us all. How can we do this? The risen Jesus commands his followers to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28.19-21). This is a mandate for Christians to carry the gospel banner into all nations and to all people groups. The Bible does not say we can dismiss or ignore people because of our prejudices and biases or the color of their skin.  

It is pretty clear that Jesus died for all people. What would it look like if Christians refused to love, serve and preach to people who did not look, sound, or live just like them? Could we be unintentionally opposing our mission of helping the whole world find and follow Jesus because of prejudices or because or racial bias? These are hard but necessary questions. 

Why do we judge by the exterior? Why are we prejudiced? Why do we have biases? Being a Christian is not about exclusion. Being a Christian is not about separation or discrimination. As Christians, we are called to have compassion for people in situations that we may not understand. How can you love people if you can’t look beyond the outside and accept them right where they are at? What every Christian can pour into the life of others is the powerful passion of love regardless of how different they may be.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you find it difficult and/or scary to enter into the conversation about diversity and racial issues? Why or why not?
  2. What kind of conversations do you think that Christians need to have that will lead to racial reconciliation and encouragement?
  3. How does being “in Christ” change the discussion of race? How might thinking of others as made in the image of God change your views of people who are different? 
  4. Where do we go from here? How do you begin to implement the needed changes in order to love those who are different? 

The Poor and Discipleship

“Entering the battle for justice, then, will require at least two basic things of us. First, it will require a willingness to see the scriptures as they really are: it will require of us the willingness to understand that God sees and cares deeply about the plight of the oppressed. Second, it will require our willingness to hear in our sacred texts the compelling call to move outside our small worlds and actually see and experience the world as it really is-inclusive of the suffering and pain that we could easily avoid noticing in so doing, we will experience the invitation of God to engage the world at its point of need and to be transformed in the process.”  Jim Martin, The Just Church

Discipleship is and always will be the core purpose of Northstar. The goal is to do all the things we do such as worshiping God, creating meaningful environments, reaching lost people, etc., through the lens of discipleship.

We tend to make the connection between reaching the lost and discipleship quite easily. But do we connect discipleship and serving the poor?  It can be easy to give the necessary attention to spiritual matters, while pushing the physical into a secondary role. A reading of the Law, Proverbs, Prophets and New Testament will clearly show that God advises His followers to actively care for the poor while cautioning against any indifference toward the needy. For example, Proverbs 31:8-9 says: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Or Psalm 41:1: “Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.“

Discipleship at its most basic is having a heart orientated to others. Discipleship is about faithfulness, desire, and opportunity. We know what we are called to do, we just need to see the opportunities that God has placed before us. In that context the Lord has placed us in a community that has poor and homeless people. When we evaluate what we are called to do and what we need to do it becomes clear that we should serve and help this community. My prayer is that we will pursue this opportunity, but not without working through first what God has called us as His disciples to do. 

I am reminded that I am blessed to be a blessing. This carries a responsibility to be a helping hand and share my unique resources with those in need. Very rarely does one leave poverty without the support of someone outside of poverty. God has placed us in community so that we can support, help, encourage and disciple one another.

A person in poverty is waiting for you to choose to come and connect with them. We do not need to neglect spiritual needs for physical ones. Those two areas are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, Christ demonstrated care for the whole person, body and spirit.  As His followers, we must demonstrate the same, not allowing other areas of discipleship to prevent us from addressing the needs of the poor in our areas.

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you believe a part of discipleship is helping the poor? Why or why not?
  2. Do you have relationships with those who come from a background of poverty?  If so, how are you involved with them?
  3. Do you actively seek to understand the plight of the poor and marginalized?
  4. After hearing the message, how has your perspective on the poor changed?

Ordinary People Can Make An Extraordinary Difference

“…if anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will be the same again.”  ? Wm. Paul Young, The Shack

Does it take someone like Bill Gates to make a real difference in the world? The founder of Microsoft is worth more than countries. For example, Bill Gates is worth more than two Kenyas, and three Trinidads. Bill Gates is now engaged in the process of ridding himself of over $28 billion in the hope of improving the lives of others less fortunate than himself. When you hear stories like this, it’s easy to feel as a plumber, or real estate agent, or soldier, that you can’t do a whole lot to fix the problem of poverty. It takes the uber rich like Bill Gates to make a real difference. That is not true. God calls every believer to help solve the world’s problems, and one ordinary person’s life can actually make an extraordinary impact on the world. 

You can make the world a better place through your life even if you are not uber wealthy or a person of influence. When you rely on God to help you impact the world, His power will start to work through you in your neighborhood, city, state, and everywhere else you go. You would be surprised at the impact your life can have on those around you.   

The first thing we need to do is change our mindset from heroism to love. You don’t have to be a superhero in order to make a significant positive difference in the world; you simply need to love people who need love. We, as Americans, look for significant or dramatic ways to help people that would be newsworthy and make a difference on an epic scale, rather than simply make a habit of inviting God to work through us.   

The second thing is we depend too much on formulas. Life is not a formula. For example, we think that to achieve X requires us to do Y. To help the poor you need to give them a few dollars – the universal formula for poverty. The simple truth is there are no rules of engagement. It is simply first, experiencing God’s love and then serving others with that love. Serving others with love can and will take many forms. Our goal should be to discover our own unique way to contribute. So ask God to help you figure out what you’re most interested in doing, and what you do best. Then use that information to discern which opportunities to serve are best for you to act upon. Impacting the world for the better is much more about who you are than it is about what you do.

Pray about what you do before you do it. Pray and ask God to show His perspective to better see the needs around you. Pray and ask for God’s compassion and God’s love for people so that you’ll consider them more important than yourself. Then pray for God’s power to do something about the needs around you.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is one need that you are personally passionate about meeting in people?
  2. What are your abilities and gifts that could help make a difference in the lives of people around you?
  3. What are some of the obstacles that prevent us from getting involved in the needs of the community around us?  What can we do to overcome them?
  4. When you think through your passion, your abilities, and your experiences, do you have any creative ideas on how to get involved in the un-churched community around you in order to help the poor?

What Can We Do

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.“ –  Psalms 5:3.

In yesterday’ s devotional I outlined the importance of opening our eyes and seeing the need around us. Today we talk about what we can do to help meet the needs of the poor in our area. 

As I mentioned yesterday, God calls us to serve and care for the poor, but what does that mean? How are we to care? Each of our responses will be unique and personal, and God calls each of us to love our neighbors in different ways. As such, my thoughts are by no means meant to be a blueprint for what is required. They are merely my limited personal reflections on how we can serve the poor as part of our individual and corporate worship. My goal is not a to-do list, but rather showing God’s love for the poor.

First, I think we need to come to grips with our perception and in some cases prejudices against the poor. The simple fact is some of us were born poor, and it’s not our fault that we’ve stayed poor even if we’ve worked hard all our lives. Remember: Jesus was poor, and so were most of the people He met every day. Think of it: God’s Son was born in a stable, and when He died they placed His body in a borrowed tomb. During His lifetime, Jesus accumulated no property; on one occasion, He pointed out that “foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58). Being poor was no disgrace to God’s only Son – nor should it be to us. Looking down at others has no place in the life of a true Christian.   

Second, because it is so hard to love people whom we cannot see and do not know, it is important to open our eyes and connect with the poor. I know the idea of developing a connection with poor people is something that will probably, at least initially, take us outside of our comfort zone. But it can also stretch and grow our compassion and help us love the way God loves. You may even find as many have, that this interaction will bless you more than it does the poor people you interact with. OK, Marty, you need to be a little more specific on what this “connection” means.  Connecting with the poor could mean taking a homeless person out for a meal, or volunteering at a homeless shelter. 

Third, we can engage the world by being more generous with our money. Christians have historically given more to charity than non-religious people. But can we do better, can we do more? “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (1 John 3:17-18).” We should not trust in our own riches, but should instead allow God to use our money to help the poor. We should give generously. The question is not how much of our money are we willing to give; it is how much of God’s money are we going to keep.

We care about the poor because Jesus cares about the poor and because we were commissioned by Him to preach, heal and deliver those in need.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What was your first encounter with poverty? How did it affect you?
  2. Read Luke 18:18-22: When Jesus tells the man about the “one thing” he still lacks, He tells him to sell everything, give the proceeds away to the poor and then to come and follow Him. Do you think the “one thing” is more related to the selling, giving, or following? Why do you think so?
  3. What do you feel most limited by in life, something on the outside of you (money, schedule, job) or something on the inside of you?
  4. Read Luke 4:18-19. In what area do you need freedom right now?

Opening Our Eyes

“Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die; save them as they stagger to their death. Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.”  – Proverbs 24:11-12.

It is easier to close your eyes. Homeless and poor people go unseen everyday, as those more fortunate walk by, ignoring their existence on sidewalks, in parks, in subway stations. But perhaps the time we most close our eyes is when the poor ask for help. Requests like “Spare change?” “Got a dollar? and “Please help” overwhelmingly fall on deaf ears and diverted eyes.

When we look with open eyes, the world can appear an unfair and compassionless place. It is a large issue. It is difficult to get our arms and minds around this issue. What can we do in the face of so large a problem? It is easier to shut our eyes. The poor are real, but maybe they will seem a little less real if we can divorce ourselves somehow from their plight and go on with our life. But even if we close our eyes they are still there.

God does not want us to close our eyes. Throughout the Bible, it is made clear that the poor and the oppressed have a special place in the heart of God. God could have manifested himself as the supreme ruler of the world, but instead was born in a manger, lived as a humble carpenter, and acted as a servant to all He encountered. Paul reminds us of that in 2 Corinthians 8:9: “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.” When Jesus announced his ministry, he read from Isaiah (61:1-2) that “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19).  Jesus also actively calls us to prioritize the poor as He did. He says, “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” (Luke 14:12-14).

God cares whether we open or close our eyes. A preferential option for the poor is not optional. So how can we open our eyes to the poor all around us?

Note: Wednesday’s Devotional is on what we can do as individuals and as a church to help the poor in our area.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What was your big take away from this week’s message?
  2. Mayor Bob Free said, “The majority of the issues that our community is facing would be eliminated or drastically reduced if we could just figure out a way to become a community of great neighbors.” Agree or disagree? Do you think this applies to the poor?
  3. What would happen if everyone made it a point to open their eyes to what is happening in our area? 

Poverty Unplugged

“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.”  1 Timothy 6:17-19.   

Poverty and the poor. When you hear those words, a predictable series of images probably flicker through your mind: A homeless man living under an overpass in a major city. A shoeless child on the streets of Haiti. A jobless widow in Kenya. But there are people in need closer to home than we may think. When we think of these people, we rightly want to help. But how? Good intentions are not enough. We tend to think of poverty as a lack of material things like money, food, or housing. So our first instinct is to give those things to people who are poor. While that may work in the short term, we have other avenues as a church and as individuals to help the poor in the world and in our backyards. 

Here are some things to consider as you think about how we as a church and as individuals can help the poor in our area. First, remember that we are all poor in some way. I’m poor too. I’m in need too. I’m broken too. The world divides people into “those who need help” and “those who offer help.” The truth is we are both. We are all “poor” in that we experience less than the fullness that God intended for us. For those people who are wealthy, poverty takes the form of materialism, workaholic tendencies, arrogance or superiority that looks down on the less fortunate’s love for them.

We need to understand that people who are physically poor are not necessarily also poor in spirit. Don’t pity poor people; view them as equals who simply have less material goods than you do. Let the poor know that not only has God not forgotten them, but Jesus Himself identifies with them. When we approach the poor with an attitude of superiority or when we treat them like projects to be fixed, we forget our own dependence on Christ’s grace. 

Both the “helpers” and the “helped” are loved by God, they have dignity as people made in the image of God. They are designed for community with one another. Always respect the dignity of every person because they are extremely important and valuable to God.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Zechariah 7:9-10: The Bible talks a great deal about the the poor, widow, foreigner and orphan. In what specific ways are each of these four groups at a disadvantage in society?
  2. What dangers do the poor, widow and orphans face if there is no one to intervene on their behalf?
  3. Thinking of each of these three categories of people, what are practical ways an individual or the church could possibly get involved?
  4. How do we respect the dignity of each of these groups? What rewards do you think you would experience from helping these people?

Like A Good Neighbor

“A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”- Matthew 22:39-40.

If you heard just the first part of the commercial that says, “And like a good neighbor,” most people would say or sing “State Farm is there.” State Farm’s advertising campaign has centered on State Farm customers who, in moments of crisis, are able to summon their agents out of thin air by singing the famous jingle: “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” The advertising is intended to reinforce the idea that State Farm agents, like a good neighbor, are there, whenever and wherever you need them. It makes me ask whether we as believers are also there for people when they are in a crisis, or when they are lonely.

Yes, we should have empathy for other people, but if we want to be a good neighbor, it requires action. Remember the story of the good Samaritan. We rarely consider the Priest and the Levite in this story. They are irrelevant because they made a decision to be uninvolved. Their legacy remains that they were too busy to help. The result is that we don’t waste our time on studying them and learn how to do “nothing.” Instead, we concentrate on the Samaritan because he embodies what it means to be a good neighbor. 

To be a good neighbor, we need to open our eyes and see people. Before the Samaritan could help the man in the ditch he had to see him. When Jesus said, “open your eyes and look at the fields” He was talking about people, all kinds of people; neighbors, friends, relatives to name a few. How long has it been since we looked and saw the opportunity to minister to someone in need, to be a good neighbor?

To be a good neighbor means we reach out to those who may be strangers at this time. It also means we may need to repair past relationships. Consider the “one anothers” of Scripture and you will come to the obvious conclusion that God wants us to be all about one another, even if we have “gotten crossways.” The way to do that is to love people. The Samaritan obviously saw the man lying in the ditch and needing help. We may not deal with people who have been robbed, beaten, and left for dead. However, speaking a kind word or taking an interest will help someone who feels robbed by life, beaten up by his circumstances, and lonely. 

I pray that this series we are motivated to get involved and serve people. The Samaritan opened his eyes, his heart, and his hands. Like the Samaritan, I hope we take a personal interest in those around us. I also hope that we make an investment in others. The greatest possession you can invest today is in yourself and your time?   That is what good neighbors do. 

Discussion Questions

  1. Loving our neighbors is an extension of our love for God and our love for ourselves.  Agree or disagree and why? How easy is it to love your neighbor as yourself?
  2. What part of the Good Samaritan parable had the biggest impact on you? Why?
  3. Did God give you an opportunity to love your neighbor this week? If so, what happened? What did you learn from the experience?
  4. What’s one change you can make in your life to put more love into action?

A Mad Rush

“…through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” – Romans 12:2.

Loneliness affects a huge number of people in a variety of ways resulting in a host of emotions, frustrations and circumstances. The person living next door to us may be in an extended season of deep loneliness. The immediate reaction is, well, it’s because they have no friends. Maybe they have few friends because they are awkward in social gatherings. There can be a rush to judgment.  Sometimes I pretend I don’t have time. All the tasks on my to-do list are incredibly important. I’m too busy to pay attention to their loneliness, answer that email. Too busy to help my neighbor. I’ve got a meeting. I’ve got to get that deal done.  Let’s face it, my life is pretty hectic.

Then there’s Jesus. When you study the life of Jesus, you never see Him rushing. He was busy, really busy, but He didn’t rush. Even when the end of his life drew closer, Jesus had time for other people’s problems. An example is found in Matthew 20.

Jesus was a man on a mission. He was going to save the world and had little time left. But even as He begins His final week of His life on earth, He does not rush. In fact, He stops to help two beggars. As Jesus and the disciples left the town of Jericho, a large crowd followed behind. Two blind men were sitting beside the road. When they heard that Jesus was coming that way, they began shouting, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” “Be quiet!” the crowd yelled at them. But they only shouted louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” When Jesus heard them, he stopped and called, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord,” they said, “we want to see!” Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.” (Matthew 20:29-34)

There are numerous other examples of taking time for people. Jesus was and is never too busy for the broken, too hurried for the harried, or too occupied to extend His hand to help others. Nothing prevents him from loving us. If Jesus never rushed, then why should we? He lives in me and is working through me and surely He doesn’t need my rushing to accomplish His eternal purpose.

The psalmist too reminds us: “Be still, and know that I am God…!”(Psalm 46:10). We need to do just that. We need to slow down, to take notice and to respond to the people God places in our lives. 

Discussion Questions

  1. If you could summarize the meaning of rushing into one sentence, what would it be?
  2. How do we develop the ability to slow down? How do we develop the ability to see beyond ourselves?
  3. Can you think of examples from the scripture of how Jesus prioritized his life around the mission field? Time, conversations, leadership, friendships, etc.
  4. What can we do this week to be a better neighbor?

I’m All Ears

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.“ –  Psalms 5:3.

I often quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer in this devotional. Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, and an anti-Nazi dissident. His writings on Christianity’s role in the secular world have become widely influential, and his book The Cost of Discipleship is a classic. Apart from his theological writings, Bonhoeffer was known for his staunch resistance to the Nazi dictatorship. That resistance led to two years of imprisonment, and finally death by hanging on April 9, 1945 as the Nazi regime was collapsing.

Eberhard Bethge, a student and friend of Bonhoeffer’s, writes of a man who saw the execution: “I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer… kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, wrote a book on Christian community entitled Life Together. The following is a passage from that book on listening.   

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear. So it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to Him. Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking. Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking when they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either. One who cannot listen long and patiently will presently be talking beside the point and be never really speaking to others, albeit he be not conscious of it. Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.”

As I said on Sunday, most people don’t listen with intent to understand. Rather they listen with intent to reply. Our goal is not preparing a clever retort while the other person is talking. Our goal is to listen to others as God has listened to us. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. In your opinion, what are the main characteristics of a good listener? What characteristics or habits would disqualify someone from being a good listener?
  2. When it comes to listening well, what do you find most difficult? Why?
  3. What are some good listening skills we can develop in our relationship with the Lord? With other people?
  4. What can we do this week to listen to the lonely people around us?

The Untouchables

“When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” – Matthew 8:1-4

You are a man in your mid-20s. You have a wonderful wife and two children. You have a good job and a promising future. You have land and livestock. Then one day a sore appears on your leg. It’s not real painful so you are not worried. But the sore gets bigger and other sores appear on your arms and hands. The sores get bigger and bigger, until it almost covers much of your extremities. You go see a physician who tells you, “I am sorry to inform you that you have…leprosy. You are going to have to leave your wife and children, your land, your home, your job, and go off to live with the other lepers outside the town.”

You are stunned and terrified. You have just been given a death sentence. The process of dying by leprosy is worse than dying itself. Your body will slowly rot to pieces while you continue to live. What makes it even worse is the complete separation and isolation that is about to begin. The mental and emotional damage of leprosy is almost as bad the physical. You are required to stay away from people. Whenever somebody unknowingly comes near, you are required to shout, “Unclean! Unclean!” You cannot ever go home. You can never hold your wife, or play with your kids. If you see them, and touch them, they may get leprosy themselves. So you go off alone to rot and die. You wish you would die. Then one day, something happened that this man and his family would never forget.

You kneel before Jesus and say, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.” (Matthew 8:1-3) This man’s story is probably very similar to the one I  just told you. His situation is probably very similar as well. Jesus and others are getting closer, so he probably starts shouting, “Unclean! Unclean! And just as likely the people following Jesus stop in their tracks.  He doesn’t fault them for it. He understands. He would feel the same way if the roles were reversed.

But something strange happens. Jesus keeps coming closer. He doesn’t see or sense revulsion. He sees concern. He doesn’t see fear. He sees love. So he kneels and says, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”  Jesus touched him and  said, “I am willing,…Be clean!”

Jesus could have healed the man without touching him. He can heal with just a word or from a safe distance. The touch said, “I am here with you. I sympathize with you when no one else does. I understand. I love you.”

If only we could reach out and touch the untouchable. Reach out and love the lonely.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What was your impression of leprosy before reading this devotional? How has that impression changed after reading this devotional?
  2. Why do you think Jesus touched the leper?
  3. Are there social outcasts in your neighborhood? 
  4. What can we do this week to reach out and touch, or help someone who is lonely this week?