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Summary:

Thesis: God's care and concern for widows reveals his nature.

Intro.:

1. OPENING STATEMENT: "Moses wrote laws to protect them; the prophets thundered against those who abused them; and Paul set out policies for meeting their needs. Jesus had many among his followers; and the early church nearly split over them. Who are they? Widows. [LaVonne Neff, "Three Women Out of Four," CT 29 (8 Nov. 1985):30.]

2. Statistics about widows: 3. This lesson will have 2 parts:

a. 11 mill. widows in the U.S. a. Widows in Scripture.

b. 1 of 6 women over age of 21. b. Practical Suggestions.

c. 3 of 4 women will be widows!

I. WIDOWS IN SCRIPTURE.

A. Provisions for Widows in the Law:

1. Deut. 10:17-18 ...................... Close to God's heart.

2. Deut. 14:28-29 ...................... God's people to provide for.

3. Deut. 16:11, 14 ..................... Included in social/religious activities.

4. Deut. 24:17-22 ...................... Special allowances made for them.

5. Isaiah 1:17 (quickview) ; Ezekiel 22:7 (quickview)  ........... Prophetic denouncement.

B. Widows in the New Testament:

1. Jesus treated widows kindly:

a. Mark 12:42-43 (quickview)  .................. Example of giving.

b. Luke 7:11-15 (quickview)  .................... Raised only son of widow.

c. Luke 18:1-8 (quickview)  ...................... Parable which showed his sensit.

d. Mark 12:38-40 (quickview)  .................. Condemned mistreatment.

2. Early church took pains to care for them (Acts 6:1-4 (quickview) ).

3. Paul developed comprehensive system for care (1 Tim. 5:3-16).

4. James included care as sign of true religion (James 1:27 (quickview) ).

II. PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS REGARDING WIDOWS.

A. For Widows:

1. Be reminded you are close to God's heart.

2. Allow your family to do for you (1 Tim. 5:8).

3. Allow the Church to do for you (1 Tim. 5:9).

4. Recognize your special opportunities for ministry (1 Cor. 7:8, 32-35).

5. If you remarry, it must be "in the Lord" (1 Cor. 7:39).

B. For the Church:

1. Be mindful of widows (God's concern; prayer).

2. Support widows (Acts 6 (quickview) ; 1 Tim. 5).

a. Only widows indeed (1 Tim. 5:3).

b. Only faithful widows (1 Tim. 5:10).

c. Only older widows (1 Tim. 5:9).

3. Give them some "space."

a. Don't allow to become "topics of popular discussion."

1) "Husband's hardly cold in ground--already dating?!"

2) "What she really needs is another man."

b. Allow them to grieve at own pace (3-5 years!)

Conclusions:

1. God's care and concern for widows reflects something about his nature.

2. May we share God's concern for this not-so-rare group of people.

(This sermon largely derived from the LaVonne Neff article cited earlier in this lesson.)


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