Summary: In the following sermon we are going to learn how our “life psalm” ought to be “alternating verses of praying and praising” with the assurance that our requests given in the will of God, though they be might be delayed, will be granted in His power and sovereignty!
Always Pray, Do not Give up!
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
“Faith is the furnace of our lives. Its fuel is the grace of God. And the divinely appointed shovel for feeding the burner is prayer. If you lose heart and lay down the shovel, the fire will go out, you will grow cold and hard.”
I believe we are in the midst of a battle to “maintain a radical, heartfelt, self-denying faith in Christ” in the midst of constant threats of persecution, sinful temptations, business and injustices. Since we live in the stench of sin of a fallen world that is not our home, it is imperative that we constantly “breathe in heaven’s air” by constantly talking to, listening and obeying God for if we do not do so our attempts at holiness will be swallowed up by opposition to the Light and the everyday business of life! While Jesus’ command to “pray and not give up” in today’s passage intuitively and spiritually makes sense, then why do most Christians struggle to pray without ceasing? For some it is a sense of unworthiness but for others when pleas for justice go unheard and answers are delayed despite their crying out day and night, they quickly become exasperated and leave His throne of grace to find a timely, likely to fail, “worldly solution.” But from the persistent widow in today’s passage, we will learn that for prayer to be effective it must be given persistently and in faith! In the following sermon we are going to first learn how our “life psalm” ought to be “alternating verses of praying and praising” with the assurance that our requests given in the will of God, though they be might be delayed, will be granted in His power and sovereignty! And secondly, we are going to learn that always being in the “energy of prayer,” by sending to send silent, short, swift petitions” to our Maker is the key to remaining faithful until Christ returns!
The Unjust Situation
Jesus said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.
Luke 18:2-3, NIV
To understand the first few verses of this parable lets review some background information on each of the participants. In Jesus’ day district judges would go from town to town and charge money to make legal decisions regarding disputes. The judge would setup his court in a tent and his assistants would decide which of the numerous cases would come before him. While most cases were “brought before the elders of the local synagogue,” the widow in this parable is said to plead with this kind of Gentile, district judge to have her case tried. While this widow hoped she might get justice against her adversary, by one who was supposed to be unbiased, objective, and neutral, to her dismay this judge was found to be a “man of the world.” Even though “honoring God and one’s fellow human being was upheld as ideals throughout the Hellenistic word,” we are told this judge’s “conscience was seared in him” for being “self-aggrandized” he neither feared God nor cared for anyone except himself. Without any remorse this “Atheist in power” refused to hear the widow’s repetitive demands for justice despite knowing that widows are often the object of God’s special love and care (Luke 2:37, 4:26, 7:12; Deuteronomy 10:18). Since the judge felt he was not “accountable to anything outside himself,” he simply ignored the widow to attend to cases of more prominent and better paying citizens.
The second character in Jesus’ parable, the widow, is seen as a hopeless victim. “In an age when social services were almost exclusively dependent on human good will, widows, orphans, and the sick and needy were exposed to a precarious social existence” of being dependent on a male family member or the community of God’s people. The unrighteous judge in this parable showed no interest in hearing the widows case for a variety of likely reasons. First, being a woman and a widow, she had little intrinsic value to the community and precious few laws to protect her in what was at that time “truly a man’s world.” Second, she had no husband or kinsmen to come alongside and assist her. And third, being poor she lacked the resources needed to bride the judge to select her case amongst the likely overwhelming cases waiting to be heard. “The obstinacy of the judge and defenselessness of the widow would seem to doom the widow’s prospects of success.” And yet despite having “absolutely nothing going for her,” like the hemorrhaging woman of Luke 8:43-48, the widow “assumes unusual responsibility for her own well being” by continuously and publicly demanding her case be heard. One can almost picture her in the court, following the judge in the streets, and standing outside of his home screaming at the top of her lungs “grant me justice against my adversary!”