God’s Heart for the Vulnerable

When the Old Testament talks about God’s justice, it often does so by highlighting His particular concern for those most vulnerable to injustice. Three particular groups are highlighted repeatedly: the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner (or, in different English translations, the stranger, alien, sojourner, or immigrant).

Not only does God love and provide for these vulnerable groups of people, He also commands His people to do the same. As we saw yesterday, God even instilled policies to ensure that these vulnerable groups has the means to provide for basic needs such as food.

Later, God sent prophets to rebuke those who had failed to protect these vulnerable groups. Jeremiah and Malachi warn of God’s judgment for those who failed to keep these commands, listing mistreatment of the orphan, widow, and foreigner alongside sins such as adultery, sorcery, lying, and shedding innocent blood.

The Bible also takes these three groups—widows, orphans, and foreigners—as metaphors for how God rescues each of us in the midst of our vulnerability. The Prophet Isaiah compares God to a husband, redeeming a widow. In Galatians, Paul describes our salvation in Jesus as a process of being adopted as God’s children. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes that those of us who are Gentiles were once strangers and aliens to God’s covenant with the Jewish people, but that by Christ’s death, we can be naturalized in as citizens of God’s kingdom, reconciled to Him and also to one another.

God deeply loves the vulnerable—and, at least in a spiritual sense, that includes all of us.

Reflection Questions:

1. How could you practically serve and reflect God’s love toward those who are vulnerable in your community?

2. How might recognizing your own vulnerability—and God’s grace in redeeming us in the midst of it—inform how you respond to those who are vulnerable as widows, orphans, or foreigners in our society and around the globe?

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How to UNCOVER God’s Word:

ASK – God to connect with you here. In prayer, start by slowing down, inviting God to be present. Begin with focus and openness to see what God has for you.

READ – the selected section of Scripture slowly. Take note of the words and phrases that intrigue you, reading them a second time if necessary.

REFLECT – on what grabs you. What connections do you see at this point in your life? How might God be speaking to you through these words? Stop long enough to let this take root and thank God for engaging you.

RESPOND – to the Scripture. Speak directly to God about what’s on your mind and heart. Look for ways to live out what you’ve uncovered – individually and with your church. And look for ways to bring what you have discovered to others.

Listening – Hearing what God has to say

Everyone that has ever prayed to God has wanted a clear answer to some request or question. Often those answers are not what we expect or when we expect them. The key to finding and understanding those answers is making time to listen to God. We have to be very intentional when we listen so we actually hear what God is saying. The Bible talks about how Jesus found time away from everyone else to just be with God.

Spiritual quiet time often is mixed in with prayer and reading the Bible. That means finding a quiet place where you can settle your heart. It means turning off all the things that compete for your attention. When we focus solely on connecting with God and hearing what He wants to share is when we receive direction, hope and answers.

There is no set time or formula for doing this or for guaranteeing results. It is about determining where you can best hear God and connect with His spirit. But also realize that God can answer you and reveal himself through many different ways including other believers, worship and your circumstances.

Once you are in the habit of listening and find what works best, you should take note of three things: (1) The time of day it is best for you to do this. (2) The place you are most productive meeting God. (3) The activities such as prayer, Bible reading, music and other things that get you most focused on God. As you learn what works best in these three areas, you need to commit to doing this in a way that is most likely to be honored by God.

Prayer – Talking with God

It is actually pretty awesome to think that we have a direct line to the Creator of the universe. We often make a relationship with God more complicated than it needs to be. If you look at your best relationships, it is usually because you care about one another, you spend time together, and you value what the other has to say. The same things hold true for a relationship with God.

Prayer is simply talking with God. It is being honest with Him but also recognizing His ways are beyond what we can appreciate or understand. One person once said that if you knew what God knows, you would answer every prayer just as He does. This means we have to accept that we won’t always understand why God responds as He does or why we don’t get everything we seek.

In fact, we should simply seek His will and the strength to accept it rather than what our own hearts may desire. He wants what is best for us and has a perfect eternal perspective. Find time each day to pray and talk with God. This will help you to start learning how to trust Him with everything in your life.

There is no formula you have to use for prayer, but many have found a simple model that works well. It is based on the acronym ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Adoration is expressing to God how great He is and how you love Him for it. Confession is admitting your sins and being accountable for disobeying Him so you can be cleansed.

Thanksgiving is thanking God for His grace and forgiveness in our lives and expressing your appreciation for everything He has done for you. Supplication is asking God for help with the things in your life that need change as well as praying for others. Find time each day to pray and talk with God. This will help you to start learning how to trust Him with everything in your life.

Recovery & Recompense

God is able recover all that belongs to you. God is powerful and able to recover you physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, socially, relationally, academically and even professionally. Whatever you are going through God covers you in recovering all for you. There are many instances in the Bible when God recovered belongings to individuals. God is no respecter of persons and He will recover all for you if your trust in Him. When God recovers anything for His children it is always superior than what it was before. Many of God’s children are going through issues that cause despair and heartache, but Trust that God is working all out for your good and God recovers, recoups, redeems, regains, reimburses, repays, restores and recompenses!

God recovered all that Job lost – his children, business, possessions, health, fellowship, livestock and relationships.

God recovered Naaman’s leprosy and his flesh was cleansed like that of a young boy.

God recovered Joash’s kingdom from his murderous grandmother Athaliah.

God recovered: Naomi & Ruth, The Shunammite woman, The Israelites, barren and broken individuals and God recovered each and every one of us from our lives of sin to righteousness through Jesus Christ.

Be encouraged at this very moment and proclaim, declare and decree God’s goodness in your life and his Power to Recover all! Praise the LORD Jehovah El Gemuwal- The Lord God of Recompenses!

God comes through in Covering You!

God Loves Me Deeply After All

In the swirl of your new life with the Father, the next awakening may feel more like a step backward than a step forward. God is offering you something you want and need—a welcome home. But something inside you may want to resist. Being welcomed home by your heavenly Father and received into the family—no questions asked—may seem totally unrealistic for someone who has wandered so far and so long.

We call this stage of your journey your awakening to love. At this point, we start by saying, “I don’t deserve this.” God’s acceptance is just too unbelievable. But what God says and does is so entirely opposite of what we think we deserve that we are moved to the most amazing realization: “God loves me deeply after all.”

You can see why we say that a spiritual tug of war accompanies our homecoming. We have one set of convictions about ourselves, and God has another. We look at our past filled with failure and shame, and he looks at who we are with love and compassion.

That’s why this awakening is a huge breakthrough. We are realizing, perhaps for the first time, that none of us deserve a second chance, none of us deserve to be forgiven, and we certainly don’t deserve to be loved unconditionally. But we are! You are! You don’t deserve it, but God gives it to you anyway.

If you’re like most of us, you know all about the soundtrack of shame. Shame whispers, “You don’t really matter” and “You are not lovable.” Shame shouts, “No more chances for you!” Shame brings self-condemnation, and when we first encounter grace, we find ourselves repeating, “I don’t deserve this.”

Do not let your past mistakes and failures define you. That is the voice of shame. You aren’t what you’ve done or not done. You are not what’s been done to you. You are who God says you are. His child.

Do you feel a spiritual tug of war going on inside you? If so, how would you describe it?

God, Who Are You?

As Christians, we believe that God has made Himself known through both natural and special revelation. Natural revelation is God revealed in nature. Natural theology is the process whereby we seek to understand this revelation in nature. For instance, arguments from nature, such as the cosmological argument, the fine-tuning argument, or even the moral argument, help us to learn some things about the nature of God and even demonstrate that life is not an accident.

This begs the question, “What can we learn about God from natural revelation?” Well, without going into detail here, by studying the philosophical and scientific arguments for God’s existence, we can see that God is a necessary, uncaused, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, personal, creator God. Yes, that’s a lot to digest. And fortunately, God has made Himself known even clearer through special revelation. We can be thankful that arguments from natural theology provide a compelling case for God’s existence, but these are also arguments that other theists like Jews and Muslims can utilize. That’s why we need special revelation to answer more precisely the question before us.

Namely, Who is God?

Scripture confirms through special revelation what we’ve already said about God through natural theology—God is a necessary, uncaused, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, personal, creator God. But special revelation seasons things up a bit by supplying more flavorful details about God. Here’s a mere sampling of what we learn about Him.

God’s Nature (or Essence) Revealed in Scripture: • God is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-12; Jeremiah 23:24) • God is omniscient (Psalm 147:4-5) • God is omnipotent (Jeremiah 32:17; Psalm 135:6) • God is Spirit (John 4:24) • God is in a league of His own (Isaiah 46:9) • God is immortal and invisible (1 Timothy 1:17) • God is the Creator (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16) • God is unchanging (Malachi 3:6) • God is sovereign (Psalm 115:3) • God is One, yet He exists in three persons (Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14)

God’s Character Revealed in Scripture: • God is loving (John 3:16; 1 John 4:8) • God is gracious and merciful (Jonah 4:2; Deuteronomy 4:31) • God is righteous (Psalm 11:7) • God is holy (Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:16) • God is just (Deuteronomy 32:4; Isaiah 30:18) • God is forgiving (1 John 1:9) • God is compassionate (James 5:11).

Reflection

If you had to best summarize who God is based on the biblical data we have, what would you say?