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Posts Tagged ‘God’

There is a special place in God’s heart for widows.  Widows, orphans, and foreigners represent a vulnerable demographic of both ancient and modern culture.  Without a steady source of income or strong representation in business and legal affairs, they can easily find themselves exploited.

It is interesting that over and again God chooses the vulnerability of widows to demonstrate the principles of His kingdom.  Throughout the lineage of Jesus, we see widows taking their place in God’s unfolding story of redemption through the lives of women such as Tamar, Ruth, Bathsheeba, and even Mary.

It is a widow who provides for the prophet Elijah.  It is a widow who recognizes Jesus as Messiah when He is presented in the temple and only eight days old.  It is a widow who is commended by Jesus for her generosity when she offers her two mites.  And it is the story of a persistent widow Jesus uses to teach his disciples to always pray and not give up.

There are powerful lessons to be learned from those who would appear to be helpless among us.  Little is much when it is held in faith-filled hands.

The following is a collection of sixteen verses in the Bible that tell us of God’s heart for widows.

  1. Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan.  Exodus 22:22 (NIV)
  2. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.  Deuteronomy 10:18 (NIV)
  3. When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.  Deuteronomy 24:19 (NIV)
  4. Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow. Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”  Deuteronomy 27:19 (NIV)
  5. Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.  1 Kings 17:9 (NIV)
  6. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  Psalm 68:5 (NIV)
  7. The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.  Psalm 146:9 (NIV)
  8. The Lord tears down the proud man’s house, but he keeps the widow’s boundaries intact.  Proverbs 15:25 (NIV)
  9. …learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.  Isaiah 1:17 (NIV)
  10. Leave your orphans; I will protect their lives.  Your widows too can trust in me.  Jeremiah 49:11 (NIV)
  11. Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.  But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.  Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44 (NIV)
  12. There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.  Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.  Luke 2:36-38 (NIV)
  13. Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him.  As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.  When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”  Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”  The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.  Luke 7:11-15 (NIV)
  14. Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.  He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.  And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’  “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.  And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”  Luke 18:1-8 (NIV)
  15. Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 1 Timothy 5:3 (NIV)
  16. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27 (NIV)

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Yesterday, we lit the “Bethlehem” candle for the second week of Advent.  It’s the week we remember the faith of Mary and Joseph—and what faith that was!  Is easy for us to forget how impossible the word was they were asked to believe.  And not just believe, but act on.  And not just act on, but be ridiculed for.  After all, no one was really prepared for God’s plan.  No one expected an unwed teen girl to give birth to the Messiah.  No one expected the Savior’s earthly caregiver would be a poor carpenter.  No one expected the King of Kings to be born in a stable amongst the barn animals.  And no one expected the Lord of Lord’s welcoming committee to be a group of rag-tag shepherds.

But, Mary and Joseph heard the word of the Lord.  They took it in, let it change them, and obeyed it– even at great personal cost.  And the beautiful thing is it was their very obedience that paved the way for their own salvation.  The manger made the resurrection possible.

God hasn’t asked you to give birth to the Christ in a stable, but He’s definitely asked you to do something.  And it’s probably something you weren’t expecting.  How do I know?  Because He’s not a tame God.  His ideas are wild, adventurous, and beautiful.

How will you respond to His word over your life?  Will you take it in, let it change you, and obey?  One thing’s for sure.  You’ll never experience the glory of resurrection in your life if you’re not willing to undertake some manger experiences.

 

 

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In yesterday’s message, we explored the story of a man named Jacob in the Bible.  His life is woven together with the thread of “almost.”  Many times he found himself incredibly close to God’s plan for his life, but he would so very often pull up short before he reached the goal.

Here is a review of Seven Key “Almosts” in Jacob’s life:

  • Almost Never Happened: Jacob’s mother, Rebekah, was barren, but his daddy, Isaac, prayed for her, and she conceived twins.

Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was barren. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.  (Genesis 25:21)

  • Almost The First Born Son: Even from the womb, Jacob was grasping for the blessings of God as he grasped at his brother’s heal when he was born.  Esau was still the firstborn, but Jacob connived his way into getting the firstborn son’s benefits.  He bought the birthright for a bowl of beans, and he stole the blessing with a bowl of soup.

After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob.  (Genesis 25:26)

  • Almost blessed By God: God appears to Jacob and speaks amazing promises over his life, but Jacob tries to connive God.  He tries to hijack the blessing and make a deal with God’s promises.  Jacob responds to God’s promises with a statement of, “If you will bless me, then I will follow you.”

There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will… Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will…”  (Genesis 28:13-20)

  • Almost Married The Girl Of His Dreams: In one of the most heartbreaking stories of the Bible, Jacob wakes up the morning after his wedding to discover he is married to the wrong woman.

When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”  (Genesis 29:25)

  • Almost Got Paid For Years Of Work For His Father-In-Law: Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, steals the flock of sheep he had promised to give to Jacob.

“Agreed,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.” That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons. Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks.  (Genesis 30:34-36)

  • Almost Leaves His Father-In-Law Behind: Jacob attempted to leave his father-in-law’s house and get a fresh start on life, but his wife, Rachel, stole her father’s idols and brought all of the spiritual junk with them.

When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods. Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was running away. So he fled with all he had, and crossing the River, he headed for the hill country of Gilead.  (Genesis 31:19-21)

  • Almost Repents And Gets Right With God: In fear of losing his life, Jacob cries out to God for protection, but he ends up wrestling with God rather than surrendering to Him.  Jacob almost loses a leg in that wrestling match.

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.  (Genesis 32:24)

But something happens in the middle of Jacob’s almost life.  God steps in.  God doesn’t just almost step in.  God steps in.  And God fulfills His promise to Jacob, and His purpose for Jacob’s life.

I challenge you to leave your life of “almost” behind.  Allow yourself to fully surrender to God, and dare to discover what He can do through a life that is completely given over to Him.

 

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I’m not who I once was.  I’m not yet who I will be.

These two sentences reflect both the beautiful redemption and the work in progress of a follower of Jesus Christ.  As believers, our salvation is complete, and yet the process of becoming like Jesus and walking into the destinies God has called us to can be challenging—especially if we forget to give ourselves grace.  Grace to grow.  Grace to fail.  Grace to try again.  Grace to overcome.  Grace to succeed.

The good news is that God does not ask us to do anything that He does not also equip us to accomplish.  So, when He says, “Come,” He is already extending the measure of grace that will be needed for us to follow.

In Hebrew, the letter H is illustrated by an open window that signifies “grace.”

God’s very name, YAHWEH, contains two measures of grace—He has more than you need to get the job done.

What has God called you to do?  Everything you need is streaming in through the open window before you.  Don’t let fear make you pull the blinds.  Let His grace in, let it change you, and let it fill you with the courage to trust and obey.

 

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Checking the mail a few days ago, I was excited to see my latest ebay purchase had arrived.  I made my way to the kitchen and sliced through the envelope to see a $100,000,000,000,000 bill.  That’s right, 14 zeros, a one hundred trillion dollar bill!

Although the bill I held was once actual legal currency, the postage stamp on the envelope it came in was worth more than this little piece of paper.  The bill was printed by the Republic of Zimbabwe, which has suffered from hyper inflation.  At the time it was printed, the one hundred trillion dollar bill was designed to accommodate a typical government worker with one month’s worth of salary.  It has since been completely devalued, and Zimbabwe now uses a combination of US dollars and European money.

I bought the bill as a novelty, but also as a reminder.  One hundred trillion dollars is sitting on my nightstand to remind me that economics is the ultimate demonstration of faith.  A quick viewing of any American currency will tell you the money is backed as a Federal Reserve Note, and it will then declare, “In God We Trust.”

The irony of the two statements lies in the fact that faith in God is so much more secure than the hope we could ever put in our Federal Government.  But, every day we demonstrate we are a people of faith as we give and receive little green pieces of paper in exchange for goods and services.  Faith is the foundation of the U. S. economy, and what makes our economy so volatile.

It would do us well to remember faith is the foundation of the economy of Heaven, as well.  Every transaction we make through prayer is processed through the currency of faith.

I think it’s time for a shopping spree!

Podcast

The podcast will be available Tuesday afternoon.

Links

For budget and debt reduction information that Mindy referenced in yesterday’s sermon, check out Dave Ramsey’s site or Larry Burketts’ site.

On the Radar

This Saturday is our Garage Sale for our kids grades 2-5 who are going to camp.  If you’d like to donate some items, please drop them off this Wednesday evening or contact Pastor Lolo at peterandlorinlopez@gmail.com to arrange a different drop-off time.

Family Connection

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery all the way up to our youth.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring your children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

We also have all the info you need about RAMP, our ministry to youth in Sweetwater High School and Middle School and surrounding campuses, as well, at www.efcyouth.com.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “We Cry Out” Jesus Culture version
  2. “Here Is Love” Jenn Johnson version
  3. “Your Love Is Like” by Rick Pino
  4. “The Same Power” by Hillsong  

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, May 2, we will continue our “Infrastructure” sermon series.

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(cue cheesy infomercial voice) “Have you ever felt like your prayers were falling on deaf ears? Or like everyone else around you was getting blessed but not you? Does it sometimes feel like God forgot about you?

If so, then you need Pastor Eric’s all new Comple Prayer System. It’s guaranteed to get your prayers noticed. Pastor Eric’s Complete Prayer System is guaranteed to shoot your prayers to the front of the line. You’ll have the answers to your prayers in no time. And all of your friends will notice.

Best of all, Pastor Eric’s Complete Prayer System comes with a money back guarantee!

What is this answer to your prayers? It’s Pastor Eric’s A.C.T.S. Complete Prayer System! And it’s as simple as 1-2-3…and, uh, 4.

  • The ‘A’ is for ‘Adoration.’ All you do is adore God the way He’s supposed to be adored. Sweet talk your creator and watch what happens.
  • The ‘C’ is for ‘Confession,’ which we all know is good for the soul. Repent of your misguided ways, and ask God for forgiveness.
  • The ‘T’ is for ‘Thanksgiving,’ which should come around more than once a year. Remember all God has done for you and thank Him for it.
  • The ‘S’ is for ‘Supplication,’ where you ask God to supply your needs-no dictionary needed.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to turn your prayer life around! And Pastor Eric’s Complete Prayer System won’t cost your $500. It won’t cost you $400. It won’t even cost you $100. If you call anytime between now and judgment day, you get Pastor Eric’s Complete Prayer System absolutely free!

But wait, there’s more. Pastor Eric will throw in your salvation absolutely free for eternity if you will accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

ACT(S) Now!” (end cue)

Podcast

Click to listen to “Infrastructure: Communication Systems,” Pastor Eric’s message on prayer.

On the Radar

“All Things New”: If you liked Pastor Eric’s Complete Prayer System, then you will love Pastor Eric and Mindy’s new CD. If you don’t have one, order now.

Kid’s Camp Garage Sale: On May 1, there will be a church-wide garage sale to benefit the kids going to summer camp. If you would like to donate items for the garage sale, bring your stuff to EFC Sunday or contact Pastor Lolo.

Links

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery through to our children’s minsitry.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring your children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table.

We also have all the info you need about RAMP, our ministry to youth in Sweetwater High School and Middle School and surrounding campuses, as well, at www.efcyouth.com.

Sweetwater Prayer Center-Haven’t visited the Prayer Center in a while? Check out the Prayer Center website.

Beauty of the Bible-One last little bit of shameless self-promotion. Visit the best Bible blog on the web.

Sunday Preview

Thanks to Pastor Eric for asking me to write the review. Next Sunday, April 25, Pastor Eric continues his “Infrastructure” sermon series.  Come join us.

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Yesterday was another powerful service, wasn’t it?

I think we went through a record number of tissues as a congregation. The next time Pastor Mindy preaches, there will be a notice posted on the Monday Morning Review so you will remember to bring extra Kleenex.

I also just noticed on Pastor Eric’s facebook where he and Keegan are officially on their way back. Be sure to give them a warm welcome home. I’d wait a day or two to allow them time to recover, though.

Thanksgiving

As was apparent from the message and testimonies, we have a lot to be thankful for individually and as a congregation. We should also remember all God has done for us and give Him praise, not just for what He has done, but simply because He deserves it.

If you’re curious about what this might look like, check this out.

I think we all can dance and shout on half of something. Maybe next week we can persuade Eric and/or Mindy to demonstrate Bishop Jakes’ fancy footwork. Now, that would get the congregation dancing and shouting.

I sincerely hope each and every one of you have a fantastic Thanksgiving.

You Heard it at EFC

On the Radar

Advent Choir – The Advent Choir is a new and exciting adventure for EFC and is open to anyone who would like to participate. The choir will sing throughout the holiday season beginning next Sunday. Practice continues tonight November 23, 2009 @ 7pm at EFC.

WorldChangers – The EFC children’s ministry, a.k.a WorldChangers, has a new website where parents can keep up with weekly lessons and everything else going on with their little world changers.

EFC Facebook Group – Have you joined the EFC Facebook Group? If not, you might be missing out on stuff happening at EFC. If you haven’t joined yet, you should. As of this morning, there were 50 members. That means over half of you still haven’t joined. What are you waiting for?

Revelation Bible Study – The Revelation Bible Study meets weekly on Tuesdays @ noon at EFC. It’s not too late – it’s never too late. Come join in this in depth study verse-by-verse through the book of Revelation led by EFC’s very own Curtis Ward, who is blogging about the study on his blog The Watchman’s Gaze. Check it out.

Last Word

By the time this is published, Pastor Eric will be somewhere over the Atlantic, and by the time many of you read this, he will be somewhere over Texas. Which means he will resume writing the Monday Morning Review next week, but it also means that next week we get to hear more great testimonies.

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend.

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