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Marshall Baptist Church

A God Who Cares: For the Orphan and the Widow

 

A God Who Cares: For the Orphan and the Widow

James 1:27

 

Intro: Couch potato? NASA has a job for you. To study the effects of prolonged time in space, scientists at NASA are recruiting people to spend 90 straight days in bed, broken only by medical testing to see how the body reacts to such inactivity. In return for 90 days of bed rest at NASA's Houston facility, NASA will pay participants $17,000.

 

People will take that job.  We are a people who hope we can have success by signing up and doing nothing.  Christians walk the aisle and want to do nothing.  And those in need of help often slip through the cracks.  Often that includes children given up by parents and widows.

 

Proposition: We have a God who cares for the orphans and the widows – and He calls us to show our love for Him by caring for them too.

 

James 1:27 is a single verse but it carries some big messages about what it means to be a Christ follower.

 

I.                Realize that Christianity is not just a relationship – it is also religion.

Personal hot button: I'm really tired of Christians attacking the word "religion" like it is evil. The most overused statement is, "Christianity is not a religion, it's a relationship." Let me be very clear: I get the heart of that statement and I know what you are trying to say, but it is just plain wrong.

Let's first look at the accepted world's definition of religion according to Merriam-Webster:
”The service and worship of God or the supernatural.”

Would you ever say, "Christianity is not the service and worship of God - it's a relationship."  I hope not! In fact defining Christianity as the service and worship of God is a much better definition than just calling it a relationship.

Let's stop defining religion in a negative way. You say, "Yeah, but that's the world's definition." Okay, what does the Bible say about religion? Look at what James wrote.
James spends a lot of time in his book defining true religion compared to false religion. He doesn't say following Christ is not religion. And he doesn't define Christianity as simply a relationship. Instead he focuses on Christianity being about helping the helpless, speaking words that lift up, pursuing holiness, and having a faith that works itself out in action.

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.  Galatians 5:6

 

Christianity is about a relationship with Jesus, but it is also about a religion that focuses on a faith in God that shows itself in service to others. We do Christianity a disservice by only defining it in terms of a personal relationship.

Ex. Are you married?  Yes – we have a personal relationship.  Great – so you share the same bed? No.  You help each other around the house?  No.  You make financial decisions together?  No.  You only show her love?  No.  It’s not about my actions to her – we have personal relationship.

Instead of saying Christianity is not religion. Let's do what the Bible does and define what true religion is.

 

II.             Honor God by caring for orphans and widows.

What does God see as the purest form of worshipping Him and following Him?  What is one of the best ways you can honor Him?  Take care of orphans and widows.

 

“I’ve never heard a sermon on this.  Could it really be that important?”

16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.  Deuteronomy 10:16-18

 

"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

 

The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.  Psalm 146:9

 

8 And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: 9 "This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.'  Zechariah 7:8-10

 

Why does God care so much for orphans and widows?  They are often the forgotten ones.

Ex. I laid in the snow ditch forever.  No one came.  Many orphans and widows feel like they are laying in a ditch and no one cares.

 

What are ways we can better care for orphans?

  1. Adopt.
  2. Support pro-life.
  3. Give to Carmi – which you do through your tithe.
  4. Pray for them.

 

What are ways we can better care for widows?

  1. Call them.
  2. Visit them.

Ex. Mike Hammond had no trouble finding respondents to a poster advertisement he pinned up in his village post office in southern England. In the ad, Hammond sought a drinking buddy for his 88-year-old retired father who resides in a nursing home. Bonus: Hammond offered not only to pay for the pub beer, but also $14 an hour for the companion's time. After being inundated with responses, Hammond chose a retired doctor and a former military man to be his father's paid drinking pal.

  1. Pray for them.
  2. Invite them.
  3. Ask them ways you can help.

 

3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.  1 Timothy 5:3-5

 

III.           Keep yourself unstained from the world.

James says what it means to really be a Christ follower is to not be stained by the world.  How do you do that?  A stain comes when something comes in such close contact that it becomes connected.  Grass stain.  Water stain.  If you are too much connected to worldly things the world will begin to rub off on you.  And sometimes stains ruin things.  Who here has ever ruined something they care about from a stain?  We ruin our witness and relationship to Christ when we allow ourselves to be stained by the world.

 

One of the things the world does is it treats the fatherless and the widows horribly.  And if you live too much in the world you will act the same.

22 "Do not take advantage (afflict) of a widow or an orphan. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.  Exodus 22:22-24

 

How do people take advantage of or afflict orphans and widows?

  1. Abortion is the number one killer of the fatherless.
  2. Widows and orphans are often simply forgotten.

 

The Bible specifically says to make yourself clean from the sins of this world by not only living holy but also sticking up for the fatherless and the widow.

16 wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, 17 learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. 18 "Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.  Isaiah 1:16-18

 

Conclusion: One might think Philippe Quint would be more careful with his $4 million violin. The Grammy-nominated, Russian-born violinist left his 285-year-old Stradivarius in the back seat of a Newark, N.J., taxicab. One day later the driver, Mohamed Khalil, tracked Quint down to return the irreplaceable instrument. And to say thank you, Quint gave the driver a $100 reward and organized a half-hour concert for 200 cab drivers at Newark Liberty International Airport.

 

That’s all? 

Doing what God has called us to won’t always lead to great riches.  If you adopt a child or care for a widow – you probably won’t be financially rewarded.  However, the heavens will rejoice in a concert much sweeter than you could possibly imagine.  You won’t regret it.

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