Richvale Church
The Story of the Persistent Widow
  • Intro
    Good morning welcome to our service... Last week we started a sermon series entitled the greatest stories ever told and we are looking at the parables that Jesus taught… we looked at the question --Why Jesus taught in Parables?
    We started in Matthew 13 which is significant when it comes to the parables… because as Jesus ministry grew in popularity so did his opposition where religious leaders were plotting to get rid of him.. So...
    In Matthew 13 there is this transition in Jesus ministry where He began to teach exclusively in parables…
    Matthew 13:34 ESV
    34 All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable.
    When Jesus started teaching in parables it initially confused the disciples.. and they confronted Jesus on why he taught in parables?
    Jesus explains in Matthew 13 the reason was to both reveal and conceal His teaching on the Kingdom of God ..
    To reveal truth to those who were spiritual hungry and conceal truth from those who had wrong motives and closed minds… who refused to hear or understand truth.
    Jesus taught that the discipes who would listen would have greater understanding and those who closed their minds and would have less understanding of his kingdom purposes.. even what they knew about the kingdom of God would be confused..
    This morning we going to be looking at Luke 18 and be looking at the parable of the Persistent Widow --- Also known as the parable of the the unjust Judge..
    The parable of the Persistent woman is really a story of His Jesus Coming…it has this end times eschatological lense…
    at the end of the parable he asks the question-when the son of man returns will he find Faith on the earth…
    the parable is a warning for his followers that days ahead would be difficult and that what is needed before his return is alertness.. and perseverance… what is needed are spiritual disciplines.. to keep on praying, pressing forward in faith, and believing that in the end God will administer justice.
    Jesus taught that the way to stay alert is to keep practicing spiritual disciplines through forming habits of prayer that focuses on the Word of God..
    Much of our lives are controlled by the habits that we have formed.. whether they are good or bad habits.. Habits are actions you do automatically. They are your default mode.
    Habits are repeated behaviors or patterns that give regularity or stability to your life. They are things you do on a consistent basis without having to constantly invest time and energy in deciding.... Habits will either work for you or they will work against you.. so...Habits, good and bad, are learned behavior
    ME
    One of the things that I have found challenging over the past few months is keeping up with some of my healthy habits and practices.
    For example, we went through a long period where we weren't eating much junk food we weren't eating chips or drinking soda..... The other day I went to our garage and soda cans were piling up and so took them to get recycled I got something like $17.00 back.... Folks the wheels have come off...
    since I'm being so honest and giving full disclosure here, this didn't happen in one day... gradually over time I have given myself permission to drift away from healthy goals and habits.
    When it comes to habits… most of us know what we ought do… Most us know that we should be exercising and eating right there is no mystery there… knowledge is not the problem … it is not that I don't know what I ought to do... it is that I don't do what I know I ought to do… That is where the battle ground...
    YOU
    What about your habits?
    Now, I want you to do a quick exercise with me. Take a moment and listen to these statements... mentally decide whether they are true or false statements....ready.
    Habits are either the best servants or the worst masters? (T/f)
    We first make our habits, then our habits make us? (T/F)
    If you don't master your habits, they will master you? (T/F)
    The chains of habits are usually too small to be felt until they are to strong to be broken. (T/F)
    We build our lives each day with the bricks of habits we have. (T/F)
    Bad habits are like comfortable beds—easy to get into, but hard to get out of. (T/F)
    HOW DID YOU DO? my guess is that most of us agreed with these statements... What does this illustrate? The point is that each of us already knows the power of our Habits…and how habits impact our lives.. The good news is that is half of the solution… it is just putting habits into practice.
    Lets Read our Text… Luke 18 this is from Eugene Petersons The Message.. .
    Luke 18:1–8 The Message
    Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, “There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’ “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’ ” Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”
    The parable of the persistent widows has a number of themes and contrasts running through the text… there is the issue of
    1. Inequality and Justice
    2. Fear and Faith
    3. Patience and Persistance
    4. Wicked and Righteous Character of the Judge...
    When you have so many themes — it can become difficult to interpret simply because there is such wide range of possible applications…It seems that Luke understood this and he tells us at the beginning ....Jesus told this parable to teach about the the importance of developing Spiritual discipline.... To learn how to prayer and not worry in uncertain times… It is about prioritizing Spiritual habits..
    T/S What habits should we prioritize in Uncertain times.

    1. Prioritize Prayer over Panic.

    Have you noticed that there are no shortages of things to worry about?
    I was thinking through the last several years and all the things that concerned me… things that mattered to me maybe 5 years ago… how much of that worry was constructive and how much helped me? How about 3 years ago? the truth is the things that I was worried about have little or no bearing on today… rather they just take up emotional space and energy.
    Here is the problem with worry… is that worry never solves anything…
    Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, RATHER it empties today of its strength.
    What about what is happening right now in our world…upsurge of COVID cases…uncertainty of our economy… deeper divide in our politics…
    I have to be honest it is concerning… I am concerned about what things might look Like in the future.. I feel vulnerable and helpless.. maybe you can relate to these feelings..
    When it comes to our fears… I don't think that we ignore feelings.. we need to be honest and say this makes me uncomfortable… if we don't see our need … concerns… we will have no need to take those things to prayer.
    Luke sets up the meaning of this parable ... He tells us what the main point of the parable is of the parable is a lesson on how to overcome our worries through prayer.
    Luke 18:1 ESV
    1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
    We May not have an antidote for COVID 19 but we have the antidote to Worry!! It's to develop a life that depends on God through prayer
    Jesus says that his disciples...
    a. Ought always to pray -
    The ought here is more than a suggestion it's the imperative to practice prayer. As believers prayer ought to be our practice... Paul told the concerned church in Thessalonica - that they should pray at all times on every occasion..
    at the same time prayer
    should not be looked at as a task — something on a checklist of to do list…
    We need the right view of prayer… Prayer is a benefit .. We sometimes see prayer is something that God needs…
    The practice of prayer is for our own benefit..it is the way that we surrender to his will in the earth… When Jesus taught the disciples to pray… not my will be done but your will be done on earth as it is in heaven… living in a fallen world it is hard to dercern Gods will…desire heavens will on earth.
    The psalmist said ..
    Psalm 103:2 ESV
    Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
    he then lists the benefits..
    He forgives our sins, heals our diseases, redeems our life, crowns your life with love and mercy, satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed..
    Prayer benefits us personally because it deals with the unknowns and the stresses of life...
    Howard Huges in his commentary says… How different the Modern Church would be is we commited to prayer...
    There would be times of inexplicable visitations from the Holy Spirit. More laypeople would come to grips with the deeper issues of life. The leadership vacuum would evaporate. There would be more conversions.
    Luke tells us that we ought to pray and
    b. not to loose heart -
    here is another benefit!!
    The phrase loose heart is interesting -- it means to become discouraged and disheartened... How many times do you find yourself taking one of those big sighs... sense is losing hope… Jesus would say instead of sighing and feeling hopeless look at the benefits…breathe in the atmisp of the Kingdom
    We were just in the book of Philippines series we saw the connection between prayer anxiety..Paul said to the church of Philippi...
    Philippians 4:6 ESV
    6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
    Jesus in His sermon in the Mount.. gives the another negative imperative of don't be anxious..
    Matthew 6:25 ESV
    25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
    The imperative to not be discouraged is in the negative… it’s a warning..
    When you think about how we discipline our children… most of our instructions are in the negative… don't pull your sister hair, dont cross the street on your own… Don’t put your finger in the socket… The reason we say don't is because it is a warning… often consequences for certain actions… when it comes to worry the Bible says don't… do it..
    Don't be anxious what you eat or what we drink or what we ware... look at the nature the birds of the air and see how got takes care of his creation...
    worry has consequences… worry has the potential to invite the very thing into your life that you are trying to avoid.
    l remember before Ryan's drowning accident… I continually worried about him falling into the pool.. and then it happened the very thing I focused on.
    When trouble entered in to Jobs life - he made the comment the things I feared has come upon me..
    now I'm not teaching a principle I am making an observation.. I'm putting out there for your consideration.
    it could be plausible .. that
    Just like your Godly belief and faith open the door for the things of God to happen in your life, your negative belief and fear opens the door for the things of the enemy to happen. 
    In many ways fear is just like faith, but in a negative form.  The more afraid of something you become, the more susceptible to it you are.
    Jesus says don't worry… instead keep your eyes on the bigger picture his Kingdom...
    Even when things don't go as planed keep a kingdom perspective…
    Mother Teresa, was asked if she ever grew fainthearted while working among the poor.
    No, I do not become discouraged. You see, God has not called me to a ministry of success. He has called me to a ministry of mercy.
    T/S What habits should we prioritize in Uncertain times.
    1. Prioritize Prayer over Panic

    2. Prioritize Character over Circumstances

    One of the biggest challenges in uncertain times is understanding the Goodness of God’s Character..
    One of the questions that I have often encountered when sharing my faith with others… is the question of the Goodness of God... If God is a loving and good God… how come he allows bad things to happen to good people? Why would God save one person and not another? Does God have favorites… Is God a God of Justice…
    If we are to place prayer over panic we have to believe that God is Good.
    Kent Hughes has some great comments on this he tells us, ‘It is impossible to walk with God if we question his goodness.’
    But believers can do this very thing. We can attempt to walk with God while we still questioning his goodness.
    In our parable we have a widow who approaches a judge for justice over an adversary…
    Here have a woman who is marginalized… she is at a great disadvantage… She is a middle eastern woman and therefore defenseless against a male dominated world… so she comes from a place of weakness and helplessness…
    We are not given the exact situation, but she needed someone to stand up for her cause... You would expect to get justice from a judge... but not this judge....
    Now when she heard about the reputation of the Judge, she could have easily given up... but we are told that the the widow kept on coming to the judge
    The Judge would have been at the city gates where the sanhedrin and the wise men would discuss law...
    By going directly to the judge and then taking the issue public to the public square, she put the heat on the judge by embarrassing him.. she kept coming to him and saying give me justice against my adversary...
    This unjust judge was not going to give in easily, we are told that for a while he refused.... but afterward some time the pressure became too much and he broke down his resistance ..
    The verb phrase “wear me out” is from the noun meaning “part of the face under the eyes.” The verb form, a word used for boxing, means literally “to strike someone on the face in such a way that he gets a ‘black eye’ and is disfigured as a result..
    He breaks down and gives what the widow the justice she requests
    Kenneth Bailey says that
    Possibly the judge wanted to keep this off of the “front pages” of the community paper and avoid embarrassment in front of those he knows… So He gives in to here request and he gives her justice.
    The widow in the story represents the marginalized in our society, it could be because of social, economic reasons... It could be because marginalized because of culture... those who have been unfairly treated.. This widow represents that segment of society.
    Whats happening is that this widow pressed society to live by a higher law, even if that placed her life at additional risk.
    Right now Justice is hot topic in our country and world… with the black lives matter movement… And I think that this parable speaks into the issue of Justice…
    As Christians we need to gain a biblical perspective of Justice… that needs to inform our values..rather than our emotions…
    Now, what we need to understand is that God has always been on the side of the marginalized...disenfranchised.. Jesus spent the majority of his ministry with those on the fringes.. fisherman, tax collectors...He was called friend of sinners.. The bible tells us that God hates injustice..
    God is a God of justice
    Psalm 33:5 ESV
    5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
    God upholds the cause of the oppressed
    What is required of us? The bible tells us.. The prophet Micah tells us what our responsibility is when it comes to issues of the marginalized.
    Micah 6:8 ESV
    8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
    God is all about Justice…love kindness and walk humbly with your God..
    Now we need to remind that Parables were all about contrasts..
    The Old Testament notion of a judge was that he was to be a person the community trusted to be impartial in decision making. However, here he is the opposite: He is “unrighteousYou would expect a pubic servant to have respect for civilians under his leadership..
    but not this judge..He was a ruthless judge… He exercised Power without compassion. He didn’t fear God and he did not respect people...Bribery was widely practiced in the Middle East during the first century. If a person was poor and could not pay a bribe, however, he or she would be ignored and would have to protest loud and long to receive justice..
    We need to Remember that Parables are all about contrasts… We may not understand what is going on in our lives… We may not understand why Covid is impacting our lives our families… So Jesus puts before us this contrast of the worst case senero… a widow who would struggle to get justice in normal circumstances… and a judge who has no concern for God or people… Yet through persistence she got justice...
    What the parable does is make us wrestle with the divine nature of God… That God is by his nature good God and will do what is best
    God's commands and judgement meet his perfect standards of justice... God deals with everyone equally there is not partiality with God...
    There is a twin parable is the Friend that comes to the house at midnight and asks for a loaf of bread.
    Jesus asks the question -- If you had a friend come to you house at midnight and ask you for three loaves of bread. How many of you are going to say to your friend don't bother me, my doors are shut and my children are in bed... I cannot give you anything? no you are gong to let hm in..
    God is not like the unjust Judge…He is like that friend at midnight…God is more than our friend we are his children… … If his children ask for a loaf of bread he will not give us a stone...
    What about the elect… his chosen who cry to him day and night.... How will a Good judge answer..
    Rhetorical question -- will he come speedily the answer is yes... Will he delay long over them? the answer is no..
    We sometimes have this view of prayer like the genie and the lamp… and sometimes God doesn’t answer us in the way that we expected? we become disillusioned.
    Sometimes we pray and the answer is no, not yet and yes… or it may even seem that God is silent… Prayer is often not about us changing Gods mind but us aligning our wills with his mind…
    The Apostle Paul engaged in such prayer when three times he pleaded with the Lord for the removal of his thorn in the flesh (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7–9) ! God does not take away the thorn.. rather God says to Paul that his grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made strong in weakness.
    2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
    God is not like the unjust judge who will turn you away, for God is good and gracious. If a corrupt judge can be influenced for good by someone of little importance and no worldly clout, how much more can the person created in the divine image pray expectantly to the compassionate God?
    T/S What habits should we prioritize in Uncertain times.
    1. Prioritize Prayer over Panic
    2. Prioritize Character over Circumstances

    3. Prioritize Faithfulness over Faithlessness.

    Bruce Larson author and pastor tells this about years ago riding the NY subway and seeing this ad for the New York Bible Society… quoted psalm from the psalms that says,
    “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging bread.”
    What struck Larson is that it seemed to be bizarre to have that particular verse in the part of the city where you had desperate poverty… Here was this outrageous claim of scripture that God would abundantly provide for his children…they wouldn’t have to beg or bread… When you think about all those who were down and out that must have read that sign....
    This audacious promise thatThat God not only gives eternal life, but God will not forsake you in this life… ‘
    After giving us the characteristics of the Unjust Judge… He makes the comparison with the God of justice… That when we approach the Righteous Judge… That God would not ignore you but He would speedily come to your rescue....
    Luke 18:8 The Message
    8 I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”
    It has been said that God is no man’s debtor…
    Jesus leaves the story with a question... When the son of man returns will he find faith on the earth? We are still living in the church age…The kingdom of God is both already and not yet.. When Jesus came he announced the breaking in of his Kingdom and we are now in this period of time where we are waiting for inauguration of the ultimate Kingdom… The question for the last 2,000 years the question has been, how are we to live in the not yet as we await the return of Christ?
    The parable’s purpose was explicit. We do not have to guess at its central message (though there is much to unpack). Jesus’ disciples are to continue praying until Jesus comes back.
    Jesus says when He comes back will there be those who are
    1. Seeking Justice
    2. Persisting in prayer
    3. Trusting
    4. Praying
    5. Believing
    Conclusion
    We develop Faith through our Habits!!
    What habits do is that enable us to persist through difficult times.... The widow kept coming back day and night looking for justice.... eventually the unjust judge gave her justice... We don't have an unjust God... We have a Good God... Seek the goodness of God in the land of the living... Expect that God outcomes are going to be the best outcomes...
    We have to ask ourselves the question what is going to sustain us in the next months and weeks as a church...
    I don't think in 25 years of ministry have faced the level of challenges we are facing right now… There have been different issues… but never the challenge of gathering a group together for worship…
    Jesus talks about this period between now and his return... What does it look like? What do we do we priotize
    1. Prioritize Prayer over Panic
    2. Prioritize Character over Circumstances

    3. Prioritize Faithfulness over Faithlessness.

      • Matthew 13:34ESV

      • Luke 18:1–8MESSAGE

      • Luke 18:1ESV

      • Psalm 103:2ESV

      • Matthew 6:25ESV

      • Psalm 33:5ESV

      • Micah 6:8ESV

      • 2 Corinthians 12:9ESV

      • Luke 18:8MESSAGE

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