A sermon developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett and preached at Faith Community Church, Barre, VT, on November 7, 2010.
James 1:26-27 - If anyone thinks he is religious, without controlling his tongue but deceiving his heart, his religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
• If our tongues talk about religion but our lives do not back it up, our religion is useless.
• Pure religion helps those who can offer nothing in return, such as orphans or widows.
• Pure religion is also keeping ourselves from being stained by the dirt of the world while we try to help those around us.
• Whatever we do, it must be with integrity.
Some examples of orphan ministry in the Bible:
• Pharaoh’s daughter adopted Moses to spare him from genocide. Exodus 2:1-10
• Mordecai took in his cousin Esther after her parents died and raised her as his own daughter. Esther 2:15
• Joseph accepted Jesus as a son knowing that he was not Jesus’ biological father. Luke 1-2
We cannot help physical orphans if we are still Spiritual Orphans ourselves.
• With 63 million orphans in the world today, we must accept the reality that we will not be able to make a significant difference in the lives of orphans in our own strength.
• If we are spiritual orphans, we will not have the energy needed to help all the physical orphans in the world.
• We must have God’s help in this matter.
• We cannot have God’s help if we have not yet made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
• Too many of us are spiritual orphans drifting through life bouncing from one idea or concept or philosophy to another.
• We do not need a bunch of people jumping on the orphan ministry bandwagon because it is this week’s cause, only to abandon orphans when the next cause comes along.
• We need people to make a deep and personal commitment to Jesus Christ FIRST.
• Once we have found our spiritual home in Christ, we will be centered in our faith and know how to help others more effectively.
John 1:12-13 - But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be called children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.
• This verse tells us that we must receive Jesus. Once we do, we become God’s children and are no longer spiritual orphans.
• Receiving Jesus means we realize we cannot get to heaven on our own.
• Receiving Jesus means we accept the fact that Jesus died in our place on the cross.
• Receiving Jesus means that we make a sincere choice to turn away from living for ourselves and to start living for God.
• When we receive Jesus, we find a spiritual home in Christ and are assured of a heavenly home when we die.
• We often do not feel worthy of having such a wonderful spiritual home.
• Notice that God is the one who reaches out to us first; it is God’s will that we receive Him.
• God initiates a relationship with us.
• We must choose to respond in faith to God’s invitation.
• If we refuse God’s invitation, we will continue to drift through life as a spiritual orphan.
• But if we make a firm commitment to Christ, we not only find a spiritual home for ourselves, but we can also use God’s power to help others.
Once We Have Our Own Spirit Strong, How Can We Help Orphans?
1. James 5:16 - The intense prayer of the righteous is very powerful.
• God can use us to pray for orphans.
• Our prayers must be intense.
• We must be living right so that our prayers are not hindered by sin.
2. Luke 3:10-11 “What then should we do?” the crowds were asking Jesus. He replied to them, “The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same.”
• God can use us to meet the physical needs of local children in foster care.
• If we have more than we need, we can give it to a child in need.
• If we do not know any children in need, we can give it to an organization that does.
3. Deuteronomy 15:7-8 - If there is a poor person among you . . . you must not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Instead, you are to open your hand to him and freely loan him enough for whatever need he has.
• God can use us to meet the financial needs of the poor.
• Notice it mentions lending to the poor instead of just giving them money.
• The point of lending instead of giving is to keep the poor from becoming dependent on handouts. It also protects their self esteem.
• Though our “loans” may often become “gifts,” it still helps people see their need to accept responsibility for themselves instead of always being dependent on others.
• If we are short on cash to help, we can hold a bake sale, have a car wash, plan a yard sale, or do a silent auction. We can do more as a group than we can do by ourselves. But by all means, let’s do something!!!!
• Pure religion is caring for those who can offer nothing in return, such as orphans.
• We will not be able to help orphans without God’s power so we must first make sure our own faith is solid.
• We can pray powerfully for orphans.
• We can give our excess belongings to children in need.
• We can raise money to help older orphans become self-reliant.