Justice and the Stranger

Exploring Bible Verses About Welcoming The Foreigner

Dan Franklin
Oct 23, 2022    41m
Studying Bible verses about welcoming the foreigners reminds us that at one time, we are all foreigners before joining the family of God. These verses teach us to reach out to the foreigners that reside among us. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at LBF.church to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Dan Franklin: [00:00:19] Amen, Thanks so much, team. And thanks, Kristie, for that. There's a word that you heard several times, if you were paying attention as Kristie just read through the scripture, a word that came up five times just in those nine verses. And that word, did anybody catch it, that came up over and over again? All right. Maybe it wasn't as clear to all of you as it was to me, but that's okay, that happens sometimes. The word that came up five times in that passage is foreigner, five different times, in all three sections of that.

Dan Franklin: [00:00:51] Now, a quick question for all of us here. How many of you have spent any amount of time in a different country? All right, a whole bunch of us have. If you have, you know, what it feels like to be a foreigner. And it can be exciting, but it also can be a little bit confusing at times. Now, in college, I got to spend a semester overseas. I got to spend a semester in Israel, which was amazing, and I was really glad I got to do it. But like most situations, when you're overseas, when you're out of your normal context, you don't always understand the customs of what's going on and you can end up a little bit confused. So I'll tell you one quick way that me and the friends that I had over there, because there were about 30 of us Americans over there for the semester, a way that we were confused about the culture that we were in. In the United States, when somebody tells you how much something costs, that's how much it costs. We are the rarity in this regard, if you spend time overseas, you probably kind of know this.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:52] And so one of the things that happened, especially during the first month or so that we were over there, is one of us would sort of go exploring and go around and check out different things in the area and then take a cab home. And so somebody might get home from this adventure and take the cab home, and everybody would gather around and hear what went on, and we'd say, well, how much did you pay for the cab home from where you were? And they'd say, I paid 20 shekels. And quickly the mockery would begin, the mockery would begin, because everybody would gather around and say, you paid how much to get home? By the way, a bunch of college boys, do you think there was a lot of sensitivity when somebody got taken advantage of? There was not, there was just abject mockery. I can't believe you paid 20 shekels just to get back from there to here. And when this mockery would happen, the person who had had this happen would always say the same thing, they'd always say, well, that's what the cab driver said it cost. And it would be like, no, no, that's the starting point of the negotiation, that's where you begin. You should have paid four or five tops for that trip back, you got taken. And when anybody got taken, when anybody other than you got taken, we loved it, we would laugh at it. And frankly, we'd even get to the point that when we got taken, we would sort of laugh at ourselves, sort of get back and be like, yeah, they got me with that one, I didn't know. You know, I went into the store, I thought it should cost this, I paid way too much. I took the cab ride, and I paid way too much for it. We'd be able to laugh at ourselves. And do you know why we could laugh at ourselves? Because even though we had got taken advantage of, we were not poor, we had spare resources. And so even though that had happened, we didn't feel deeply vulnerable.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:36] But I want you to imagine something for a minute, imagine being a foreigner, having a lack of knowledge of the culture and what's going on, and not having people around to help you navigate it, and not having the spare resources to laugh at yourself when you got taken advantage of. And that's the reality of most foreigners over the course of human history, just as vulnerable to exploitation, just as vulnerable to confusion, and just as vulnerable to being taken advantage of, but without the freedom to laugh when it happens because of the lack of the spare resources.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:18] What we're going to be talking about a lot this morning is God's heart for the foreigner, specifically the foreigner in the nation of Israel. Because what we're going to go through in this passage, and by the way, if some of you have already turned there, if you have a Bible, turn to Deuteronomy 24. If you're using your phone, type in Deuteronomy 24. If you don't have either of those, well, we'll have the verses up on the screen as we go through this. But here's what we're going to get to see, we're going to get to see a passage where God is instructing ancient Israel as they are about to become formalized as a nation and saying, this is how as a nation you are going to live out justice. And he's going to highlight three areas of normal Israelite life and talk about how in each one of them they live out justice and specifically justice to the foreigner.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:08] And so here's what I want to do, just if you want to know what this is going to be like today, we're going to go through these three sections in this passage, and as we do, we're also going to ask ourselves three questions that are going to help us bring this instruction for ancient Israel into 2022 United States for us today. So here's what it's going to be like, again, in these verses in Deuteronomy chapter 24, verses 14 through 22, we're going to see three sections. God's going to give instructions about three sections of Israelite life. He's going to give him instructions about justice in employment, instructions about justice in legality, and then instructions about justice in what we might call welfare or benevolence.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:51] So let's just start, let's look at these verses together, we start in verses 14 and 15, and here's what we read. We read, "Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns. 15Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty of sin." All right, so your basic employment instructions for Israel. It's saying you're getting into the land, some of you are going to be landowners, some of you are going to be employers, by the way, raise your hand today if you're an employer in some way. All right, a bunch of you. Others of you probably are, but you just don't raise your hands when I ask you to do that, that's all right. Speaking to the employers saying, all right, some of you are going to be landowners and employers, and in ancient Israel, there would have been some people that had more of kind of steady work where they would have known where they were going to go and try to make their living each day, but there are also a whole bunch that were just what are called hired workers, which meant that they went out each day and they just hoped somebody gave them some work. You know, some landowner is going to invite them in to work the field, or some homeowner is going to invite them in to be a part of the household for that day. They would work for that day, there was no guarantee of any employment beyond there, and so they got paid that day. Remember the part in the Lord's Prayer where Jesus says, give us today our daily bread? That's because for most Israelites, and frankly, for most people throughout history, they worked a day to get money, for the day, to get food for the day. And so at the end of the day, the workers were sent home with their pay. But God is recognizing that if you're an employer and all your employees are poor, you could be tempted to take advantage of the situation and you could be tempted to say, you know what, go home, come back in a couple of days, I've got various monies moving around, I'll get it to you guys eventually. And that he could look at the hired workers and say, what are you going to do, hire a lawyer? What are you going to do, go to a judge? Who are they going to believe between the two of us? I'm just going to tell them that I paid you already. They were vulnerable to be taken advantage of because they didn't have the resources to make sure that they got justice.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:20] And by the way, if you look at what he says at the end of verse 16, he basically says, if you take advantage of these poor people, God will take up their cause. Never forget this, when we read the Old Testament law, when we read these commands to the Israelites, this was never primarily about setting up a functional nation, it was primarily about setting up a nation whose face was cast towards God. First and foremost, their first obligation was not even toward one another because God says, you're going to answer to me for everything that you do here. So he says, this is how we're going to live that out, we're going to live out justice here, you're going to take care of your workers. And do you notice who is specifically targeted or highlighted as one of the workers who might be vulnerable? Whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns?

Dan Franklin: [00:09:13] And so here's what we need to do here, here's where we're going to take our first pause and ask our first question because so far, we can say, alright, we basically get what's going on. And it's not hard to bring this into today and say, oh, you know, pay your workers what they're owed and pay them what they're owed when they're owed, and don't take advantage of your workers, especially if they don't have recourse. But we've got to ask this question, why does he highlight the foreigner? And the first question that we need to start with is the question, who is the foreigner? I'm in fact, any of you right now, if you have an open Bible, does anybody have a different translation than the New International Version that we're using? All right, a few of you do. And if you have a different translation, you might have a different word here. So the New International Version has Foreigner, the King James and the New King James use the word stranger. If you have the New American Standard Bible, it uses the word alien. Not alien, alien, but you understand, foreigner once again. And if you have the English Standard Version, it might say Sojourner. So there are different English words that are all translated into this. And so we're asking that question, all right, who is the foreigner, who is the stranger, who's the sojourner, who is the alien that's being talked about here? And on first glance, we might say this is a silly question, a foreigner is just a non-Israelite. You know, so you have the Israelites and then you have the non-Israelites, that's all he's talking about. But here's the deal, that's actually not that simple, because not all non-Israelites had the same status in Israel.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:41] And just to demonstrate this to you, I want to show you a passage where this comes up. This is Exodus chapter 12, and its instructions about the Passover, and I want to show you two verses in the same context about this. Verse 43 says, The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover meal: “No foreigner may eat it." So has anybody ever read a verse in the Bible, and it seems confusing? All right, you read this, you're like, thank God for straightforward, I'm not sure I like it, but it's straightforward, it seems really straightforward. All right here's the deal, you're setting up your nation, and you're going to have the Passover once a year, it's the biggest Jewish holiday, no foreigner may eat of it. Moses and Aaron are like, got it, no problem. Five verses later in Exodus chapter 12, verse 48, we read this, we read, “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land." Is anybody a little confused here? You're like, wait a second, you just said no foreigner may eat of it. Now you're telling us, oh, if a foreigner wants to eat it, got to make sure that all of the household males are circumcised, which was the sign of belonging to Israel. And then after that, what is the foreigner get to do? He gets to eat it, he gets to participate in the whole thing. So this is very confusing.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:15] We're like, well, what's going on? Why is the foreigner not allowed to eat it? And then the foreigner is allowed to eat it? It's because even though the new international version here translates both of these words with the English word foreigner, they are not the same Hebrew word. There were a few different Hebrew words that were used to describe non-Israelites in the land, these are the two main ones. The first one in verse 43, I know you're really interested in this, is the Hebrew word nekhar. And the second one in verse 48, for the kind of foreigner who was allowed to eat the meal, it's the word ger, the Hebrew word ger Which, by the way, is the word that shows up all five times in our passage in Deuteronomy 24, and shows up about 160 times throughout the Old Testament.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:00] So here's what we get, God is speaking to Moses and Aaron, and he says, a nekhar doesn't get to eat the Passover meal, but a ger, as long as the ger has all the household males circumcised, gets to come in and eat the meal. There are at least two different sorts of statuses, that foreign-born people in Israel could have. You can have the status of a nekhar, and this probably was somebody who was just passing through the land. They were on their way to somewhere else, they were passing through the land, and God says, no, no, people just passing through, they don't get to get in on the Passover meal. But a ger was more likely a person who had made Israel at least their long-term and maybe their permanent home, they had adjusted to the land of Israel and probably they had even adopted the religion of the Israelites, which is marked by the idea that they probably would have taken on circumcision. And they said, Israel is our home, this is our nation, this is where we belong. And so God says, all right, the nekhar, they're just passing through, they don't have the same status as the ger. The ger had such strong status, in fact, look at what is said in Leviticus chapter 19 verse 34, "A foreigner, a ger, residing among you must be treated as your native-born." The same status as full Israelite citizens. And then I love this because this is going to come up later, "Love them as yourself..." For you were what? "You were a foreigner.", you were gers in Egypt. This is going to be a theme; I'm not going to spoil it because we're going to get to this more later on. Remember that you were foreigners, in the way that you treat foreigners. So we get this whole idea, we're going to make sure that employers take care of the employees who are poor, those who are Israelites and those who are gers, those who have taken on Israel as their home, but they're not native-born Israelites.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:02] I want to just say this right now before we move on to the other parts of the passage, because some of you right from the beginning, as soon as it was like we're going to talk about foreigners and now we're talking about this, you're like, what does this mean for immigration policy in the United States in 2022? You're wanting to get there, and you're waiting for my big moment where I unveil the ten-point plan of what we're going to do. So here are a couple of things on this. The first thing I am going to make some comments, but the first thing is this, we need to always be careful in doing this. We are reading instructions that God was giving to ancient Israel about establishing the nation. We are the church today, we are not Israel, we are not a nation. There are parallels to this, but it's not a direct one for one. So when we're reading the Old Testament, as somebody has once said, everything in the Old Testament is written for us, but not everything in the Old Testament is written directly to us in the same way. Sometimes we're reading the Old Testament, and it's not that it's not God's Word, it's just that we're looking at it and we're saying, all right, we're not reading this as a direct command for 2022 United States Christians, were reading it as a window into the heart of God and what matters to God. So that's how we bring this into today. And I'll make a couple of comments, in fact, three comments about what I think this does tell us about how we approach something like immigration today.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:23] The first is this, it can be absolutely just to have a different status for legal foreigners and illegal foreigners in a nation. For people to read the Bible, and they're like, hey, you're supposed to welcome the stranger, so open the borders and anything beyond that is un-Christian, that's just not correct. Foreign nations, all kinds of nations in the ancient Near East, they had borders, they had immigration policies, they had ways that people became a part of the nation. So somebody is going to look at this and be like, hey, because God is love and because we welcome the stranger, any barriers to immigration are immoral. That's simply not true, that's comment number one.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:03] Comment number two is this, what you see clearly, not only in our passage but throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament, is that God's heart bends towards inclusion and not exclusion. God is looking, and telling the Israelites, to look for reasons to include, don't look for reasons to let yourself off the hook and exclude. We should always be looking for reasons to include.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:30] And the third comment is this, even sometimes when we look back at ancient times, we're like, oh, everybody was so ethnocentric. Even in ancient Israel, there was no harbor at all for prejudice when it comes to race, or prejudice when it comes to ethnicity, you treat that foreigner who has adopted your country the same way you would treat a native-born. So who is the foreigner? The foreigner is the person who belongs here, they absolutely belong here, but they maybe don't quite fit in because they haven't been here very long. More on this later, but let's go on.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:08] All right, so we started with these employment commands, and we move on to just more broad legal commands. And verse 16, it feels like a big verse, it says, "Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin". By the way, that last statement makes it sound like he's saying everybody will eventually be executed, that's not what he's saying. What he's saying is anybody who is going to be punished will be punished not because of what a relative did, and not because of what their ancestors did, but only because of what they themselves have done.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:08] And we'll move on in a second, but just real quick on this, this ties into how foreigners would be treated. Think if you're a couple of generations down the line in Israel, and they're looking around at some of the foreigners who are living among them, and somebody says, hey, you know what, this guy, this guy is an Egyptian. Do you remember what Egypt did to us? Do you remember, Joseph, do you remember how your father and your grandfather died because of what the Egyptians did? How are we letting this guy in here? We got to do something. And God says, no, no, no, anybody who's going to be punished is going to be punished for their sin, not the sin of their extended family, not the sin of their ancestors.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:28] And that leads in to the overall legal status which we see in verses 17 and 18. So a great command in verse 17, "Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge." Now, Pastor Phil talked last week, I don't know if you were here, about the quartet of the vulnerable. Some scholars have called it the quartet of the vulnerable. By the way, did you guys enjoy last week? Was last week pretty great? Is anybody right now marking your calendar, saying when does Phil get to preach again, right now? That was awesome. But the quartet of the vulnerable, and you see sort of the trio of the vulnerable here, you see the widow, the fatherless, or the orphan, and then you see the foreigner, the alien, or whatever you're going to say about that, and then the fourth in the quartet is the poor. And often in passages in Scripture, you see the trio, but you don't see the poor, because the assumption was most widows are poor, not all, but most widows in this culture are poor, most fatherless are poor, and most foreigners, especially sort of first-generation immigrants, are poor. And so that sort of covered that, so you're going to see three more times after this verse, these three come up.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:36] So he says, all right, the fatherless and the foreigner, they're going to be vulnerable to be taken advantage of. So have a special eye, have your eyes open to make sure nobody denies justice to those. And then he also gives a shout-out to the widow, and he says, don't take the widow's cloak as a pledge. Because you might have a situation where a widow is poor so she borrows money, and when you borrow money, you put up something for collateral to say, I'll give you this possession so that I can come back and pay you back and you know I'm going to come back. Sometimes an article of clothing was taken for that, but you weren't allowed to take a poor person's main garment because it wasn't only their clothing, it was how they stayed warm at night. So it says, no, no, no, you're better off taking a loss on that loan that you gave to the widow than taking what's keeping her warm at night. Be willing to take the loss, be willing to put yourself at risk, and don't deny justice to the fatherless, to the foreigner, or to the widow. And then look, this so important, verse 18, it's going to come up again, later on, remember. "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this." Israelites, when you're thinking about how you treat the foreign-born, I want you to remember. I'm only going to pass over this now because we're going to come back to this in verse 22. remember where you were.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:05] That's the legal instructions, and what we get in verses 19 through 22 is what we might call sort of, welfare instructions. so this is going to be interesting. Verse 19 says, "When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow. 21When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow." Three times, the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow. Now, here's the deal, this is sort of the introduction of a practice, in fact, some of you might know the name, what's the practice that this became in Israel? Yeah, several of you know it, gleaning.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:08] It actually factors in really significantly into the Book of Ruth, which by the way, focuses on a foreigner in Israel. And so here's the practice that's being talked about here, and it's weird because, again, we could look at the employment instructions and we could say, yep, that's justice, that's giving somebody what they're owed. We look at the legality instructions and we say, yep, that's justice, that's giving them the justice that they're owed legally. We look at this and we're like, is this justice? Isn't this kind of charity? Isn't this mercy? It's my field, but what I'm being told about my field is that I harvest it and I go through once and collect all the grain, I go through the olive tree once and shake loose all the olives, I go to the grapevine once and I get all the grapes off it. And anything that I miss belongs to the poor, the fatherless, the foreigner, and the widow, they get to come by and get it. This was like the original low-income work that God set up in Israel. He said you're not going to take away their low-income jobs, and I say low-income jobs because they went out into the field and did a hard day's work and got this. Again, if you read the book of Ruth, you see this happening with Ruth, that she goes and works incredibly hard and comes home with provisions for her mother-in-law. This was God saying that part of justice in the land involved giving special concern and care for the poor, and in particularly, three groups of people who are often poor, the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:40] We've talked about this before, and just as a preview, we'll talk about this again in the next three weeks as we continue in this series. We sometimes want to separate justice and mercy out strictly. We're like, here's justice, and that's what I have to do; and then there's mercy, and that's optional. Is mercy optional? It's not. And when you read the Bible, the Old Testament, and the New Testament, justice and mercy get mixed together, and it's hard to figure out where one ends and the next begins. Because this seems like mercy, but God is saying, no, that's justice. Gleaning is justice, caring, and having an eye for the basic care of the poor in your midst, that's not mercy, that's justice.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:21] And then once again, look at how he ends this section in verse 22, remember, "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this." We saw this in the verse I quoted in Leviticus, Leviticus 19:34, remember you were gers, you are foreigners. And now twice in our passage, remember that you were slaves in Egypt, remember when you were on the other side of this? Remember when you were the foreigner, as you look at how you treat foreigners?

Dan Franklin: [00:25:50] So here's the second question we've all got to ask right now, and the question is, have you ever been a foreigner? Have you ever been the stranger? Have you ever been? And remember when we're talking about this, what we're talking about is somebody, you're where you belong, but you don't yet really belong. And we could start as simply as just saying, all right, some people are just foreigners in the much more literal sense. Some of you in here may be first-generation immigrants, or maybe you're not first-generation immigrants, but it's recent enough that you still have that sense. You're like, I still sort of feel like I'm not quite at home here, even though this is my country. What I want to let you know is that not only do you fully belong in the United States of America just as much as any native-born person here, but to this church family, you absolutely belong. You may feel like a ger, but all of the gers are welcome.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:53] But let's also broaden this out now. Let's just ask the question, have you ever been in a situation maybe it wasn't with a foreign country, but you kind of felt like I'm where I'm supposed to be, but I don't quite feel like I belong yet? Maybe you started into a new school, and you felt that sense of like, I know I'm where I'm supposed to be, my parents dropped me off at the right place, but I do not feel like I belong here. I don't know what's going on, I don't know who is, and I'm trying to sort it out. You have that sense of feeling like an outsider, even though you're where you're supposed to be.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:30] Some of you haven't been in California very long, and you experienced moving from somewhere else and coming to California. And I love California, but let's be honest, California is weird. So if you're coming from somewhere else, you're like, wait, what's going on? And why do they do that? And what's everybody talking about? And you're experiencing some of that confusion and some of that disorientation about being where you belong, but not quite belonging yet.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:56] Maybe some of you are even experiencing this with our church right now, maybe you're new, maybe it's your first time, or maybe even you've been here a while, and you're like, I know, I'm welcome, I know that I'm allowed to be here, but I still don't quite feel like I belong. Like afterward, I see people high-fiving and hugging and talking, and I just, I'm not a part of that yet, you can feel like a ger, you feel like you're on the outside. And by the way, I just want to pause here and say this. One of the things that every Sunday, that we pray about when we pray before the services, is we pray that if anybody shows up here on a Sunday morning and for them, it took a heroic step of faith to get here. Like, for some of us, we come because we're just like we come, and it's not that big a deal to come. Some of you are here, and it took a big step of faith to get here. Like this morning, you were like, I don't want to go, but I should go, and yet you showed up here. Part of our prayer is that if you show up here on a Sunday morning, and it took a big step of faith for you to get here, that God will meet you in a special way when you come.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:59] And by the way, church family, that special way might be something I say in a sermon, and it might be a song from up front, but much more likely, it's going to be a warm welcome from one of you. I was thinking about this, this week, eight years ago, when my younger brother got married. We were at the wedding and we kind of had the whole wedding weekend, and we didn't know most of his new extended family before the wedding. We'd met a couple of them, but we met most of them at that wedding weekend, and I had some time to bond with my brother's wife's older brother, so with my brother's new brother-in-law over the course of the weekend. And as the wedding was winding down, Karina and I went up to say goodbye to him and his wife. And we said goodbye, we gave him a hug, and then the new brother-in-law said this to me, he said, we started this weekend as strangers, we're leaving as family. How powerful if the one place on the planet that you came in expecting to enter as a stranger but to leave as family was the church? Brothers and sisters, this is what we want.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:16] And I'm just going to tell you, we'll get to more applications later. But I just want to say, when you show up on a Sunday, especially if you're somebody that you're like, I don't have an excuse I do belong. Thank God I have friends here and I belong here, and it's not just that I'm formally allowed, I really belong here. Show up on Sunday mornings with your eyes open for the gers, with your eyes open. And sometimes you can spot them, if you're looking, you're like, that person doesn't know where to go. You can tell just by body language. That person is looking for somebody to talk to. That person is kind of standing hoping that somebody talks to them. Have your eyes open for the gers. At Celebrate Recovery on Friday nights, at Youth Group on Wednesday nights, men's Bible Study, and women's Bible Study, have your eyes open for the gers. Have your eyes open for the people that are coming, and they have enough courage to say, I want to belong, but they don't yet belong. Have your eyes open and also pray that God will move in your heart, that you'll care enough to have your eyes open for the gers. And part of the reason that we get to do that, is that we get to look back and we get to remember we were all there. And again, whether it's that you're an immigrant, or you just remember what it's like to be on the outside, we all can trace back to a time when we didn't quite feel like we belonged, where we were foreigners.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:37] Now, here's what I want to say. If you're a believer in Jesus in a much more profound way, you were once a foreigner, and you were brought in. Look at what's said in Ephesians chapter 2 verses 12 and 13, remember, once again that word, "Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ." We might not always feel it, but we were all strangers, we were all foreigners. And it's not just because we're Gentiles, although most of us in this room are, it's because our sin had estranged us from God, and we were far off. We were the foreigner, we were the ger, and Jesus brought us near to God by the blood of His cross, by paying the full price for our sins so that we could belong not only to the church but that we could belong to the family of God.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:46] Look at what He goes on to say just a few verses later, in verses 19 and 20, he says "Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone." You once didn't belong, but now, by the grace of God, you do. So any time you look at somebody and you're sort of like, Yeah, they're on the outside, But I got to think of myself. No, you don't, because you're already welcomed, you're already a son or a daughter in the family, all your sins are forgiven, your eternity is taken care of, you have the Holy Spirit, you belong to Jesus, and you get to have open eyes for the gers all around who, in one way or another, still need to be welcomed in. Remember being the foreigner, so that you can reach out to those who are foreigners.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:48] And finally, I want to come to the last question we need to ask today, and that's who is the foreigner residing among you? Let's personalize this for all of us right now. And let's start with our own circle, and don't start getting too creative, maybe it is just literally the foreign family in your neighborhood, or the foreign exchange student in your school, maybe it's somebody as simple as that that you say, I know where they're at. And maybe the foreign family in your neighborhood, you're like, they don't need any help, they're well connected. But on the whole, have an eye open, it's hard adjusting to a new place.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:25] But think beyond that, think if you're a part of a school, think about the kids, you know, who are sitting alone at lunch. If you're at work, think about the people that nobody else wants to spend time with. And Phil talked about this last week, maybe you're like, there's a reason why nobody spends time with those people. It's their own fault. It's because of their behavior. It's because of how they handle things. They dug themselves into this hole. No wonder nobody wants to spend time with them. Do you remember the verse where God said, reach out to the foreigner unless they're difficult? Does anybody want to do a sword drill and look it up real quick? We reach out to those on the outside, even if we have concluded in our own judgment that they're outside because of their own actions. We reach out to the gers among us because thank God Jesus didn't look at us and say, I died for their sins, but it's their fault. It was our fault, ad he pulled us out of that mess. Who is the geezer around you? Who is the person at your school, at your work, in your neighborhood, that right now, and I guarantee you right now, God is putting a specific person on your heart that you're like, I know exactly who it is that God's placing on my heart?

Dan Franklin: [00:35:37] We'll come back to that in a minute. But let me also say this, we want to be a church who's not only thinking about the outsiders, the foreigners within our immediate spheres, we want to be thinking of the foreigners in the midst of our community. Some of you may have been watching, we have a podcast that we put out every two weeks, and lately, we've been highlighting some of our local outreach partners. And the podcast episode that's going to come out this Wednesday, that I just did the interview for, is with one of our newest partners, they're called Newcomers Access Center. And you want to guess who they deal with? They deal with immigrants and refugees. And if you even think just back over like the last five years, man, what were some of the countries that had the most turmoil and the most difficulty going on over the last five years? The three countries you'd probably think of would be Syria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine. Frequently, the Newcomers Access Center is dealing with helping people who are from Syria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:40] Phil talked about this earlier, by the end of the series, we've just got three weeks left, we want each of us to be led by the Lord to say, you know what, of all the local outreach partners, this is the one that God has placed on my heart and I want to pray for every week, I want to give financially to, and I want to figure out if there's a practical way I can use my spiritual gifts to help there. For some of you, that is going to be the Newcomers access center. For some of you, you're going to say, that's where I need to be, that's where I need to be praying because you have a heart for the foreigner among us. All of us want to look at our circle and all of us want to look at our community and say, how are we showing God's heart to the stranger and to the foreigner who's far off?

Dan Franklin: [00:37:26] But here's what I want to do as we get ready to wrap this up. I asked you a few moments ago to think of who is the ger in your circle. Who is the person that God has placed around you, that God has placed on your heart right now, and you're like, yeah, man, I know? I just think of your students, Phil said something really profound last week where he said, if you're a student and you have friends, you have the exact thing everybody else wants. Adults, is that still kind of true of us? It is still kind of true of us, everybody wants to be included.

Dan Franklin: [00:37:58] And so here's what I'm going to ask you to do, I'm going to ask you to bow your heads right now. And we're just going to take a quiet moment. And what I want you to do, is to do two things. I want you to take this quiet moment, first of all, to pray for the ger, to pray for the outsider that God has placed on your heart. And then, to pray for yourself that God will so solidify you in remembering his love for you, that you'll have a heart for them.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:47] Father God, I want to thank you that while we were strangers, you invited us in. And it was costly, it didn't just involve time and a conversation, it involved you sending your beloved son to pay a torturous price, to forgive all of our sins, and make us where we entered in as strangers, but we left as family. Thank you for bringing us in. And Father, I pray that just even as we think about it and maybe our anxiety level rises and we get overwhelmed, I pray that you remind every heart of every believer in here that we truly belong forever to you, that you are working all things together for our good, and we are your children forever. Father, show off your light in this community, through those of us that reach out to outsiders the way that you've reached out to us. And I pray for each person that has an individual in mind right now, Father, I pray that you lead them this week to take a tangible step of reaching out to that person on the outside. Father, I pray that your goodness and your love will be shown as we look to live out your justice and mercy in our midst. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:13] Let me just ask you to stand as I get ready to send us off, and I want to say just a couple of things. One, we're going to have our prayer team up here afterward. And for some of you, you've got that ger in mind, you have that outsider in mind, join in with one of the members of our prayer team, just either saying, I need prayer because I know I'm supposed to reach out, but I'm pretty sure I'm not going to do it, and to have them pray with you about that. Or also come up and pray if you're like, I know that I'm supposed to reach out here. I don't want to because I don't even like this person. God changes our hearts on those. And frankly, if you don't want to come forward, turn to the members of your family, turn to the people around you after this and just say, you know what, let's just pray real quick, let's pray for one another's person so that we can join together in this.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:59] But let me just close our service with a reminder of the words of the Lord Jesus from Matthew chapter 25, when he mentioned the foreigner. He said, "I was a stranger, and you invited me in." When we invite in the stranger, we're inviting in Jesus. Amen? Amen. God bless you for the rest of this Sunday.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848