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The Widows Auxiliary

Anchored In Truth / Jeff Noblit
The Truth Network Radio
May 17, 2020 1:00 am

The Widows Auxiliary

Anchored In Truth / Jeff Noblit

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Rugby Bibles a list go back to first Timothy chapter 5 may have missed God on this, but I'm just taken the next text to our first Sunday back Google preach about widows again. Okay. And how interesting it is that this six section of Scripture is so descriptive and specific and other just list after list here and not go to put all of them on the screen but there's a lot of it here so is just a unique passage of Scripture. I call this actually on this are series beautifying the bride's were going the first Timothy as Paul is writing to Timothy, who is overseeing the church in Ephesus. He's he's actually in a since pastoring the church through Timothy and he's getting things in order and the issue are the ministry to in ministry by widows was a very large ministry in the early church because there were a lot of widows mortality rate among men was great and I they were just a lot of dependent and needful ladies elderly ladies in the church. In this day so it was incumbent upon the church to do practical things to organize and care for this ministry and so that's what Paul is laying out here now and in the in the earlier verses here versus three through eight, we have one group of widows referred to and that this is the group that is just centered on those who need material support of the church and they have no family to care for them.

So the church takes them in if you will. Will you come to our text today, you have a completely different group verse nine first Timothy chapter 5 will go down through the end of verse 16, a widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than 60 years old having been the wife of one man having a reputation for good works, and she's brought up children if she sewn hospitality to strangers. She's washed the Saints feet if she has assisted those in distress as she has devoted herself to every good work, but refused to put younger widows on the list for when they feel sensual desires and disregard of Christ. They want to get married, thus incurring condemnation because they set aside their previous pledge at the same time.

They also learn to be idle as they go around from house to house, and not merely idle but also gossip and busybodies talking about things not proper to mention.

Therefore, I want younger widows to get married.

Their children keep house and give the enemy no occasion for reproach for some have already turned aside to follow Satan. If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows. She must assist them of the church was not be burdened so that they make assist those who are widows indeed.

Again I call this the widows auxiliary. I use the word auxiliary because it means additional or supplemental something of a backup. This is not a permanent ministry for the church in every age, but it may be necessary to have something like this from time to time I says in verse nine.

I want widows to be put on the list.

Now what is the list. What are some scholars who say this is an ecclesiastical order of widowhood or something of a female Presbytery and I certainly don't go that far. But here are some observations when you look at the qualifications for widow ladies to be on this list in verses nine and 10. It goes way beyond any qualification that would have been needed if these widows are only going to be cared for by the church is as it is, is a different group a different purpose.

If you will. So starting in verse nine we had this different group that's different but there's a difference written from those in verses three through eight. I for example, he says these widows have to be 60 years of age. I certainly Paul is not inclined to get the support of the church of what needs it. She has to wait to see 60.

I don't think he's going to send a letter.

He's 59 1/2 out into the streets to starve. So we we obviously are into a different group here of contrasting with those ladies who only needed the care and support of the church now again I'm calling in the widows auxiliary.

These are ladies who came together in an organized fashion. Organized by the church leadership. They were both acknowledged by the church to be the objects of the church benevolence and their publicly dedicating themselves to give the rest of their lives in special consecrated service to the church. That's important. That's the difference in this group than the previous. The previous group had no real public setting aside if you will, to be special servants in the church so the objects of the church's mercy but also they are the servants to the churches ministry. They are the objects of the church is benevolence and they are to be faithful.

Full-time labors for the rest of their life for the end are for the churches benefit now. Perhaps we get a little insight on this early church widow organization from acts chapter 9 verse 39, and a widow lady named Dorcas who has passed away in the Bible says here so Peter arose and went with them and when he arrived they brought him into the upper room and all the widows stood beside him it's it's seem to be implying this was a group a fellowship group, weeping and showing all the tunics and the garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them, so perhaps that is alluding to that there was a forming of an unofficial organization of widowhood if you will, or what I would call the widows auxiliary in the early church and again I'm convinced it was a pragmatic type thing. Usually when I use the word pragmatic.

I use it in a negative way because we have so much in the church today were folks are leaving the canon of Scripture to do pragmatic things because quote they work."

In church life. But there is a spiritual and good pragmatism.

If you're in a setting that has a unique and particular demographic.

Like in the early church. A large percentage of widows it's proper to structure and organize yourself so that these ladies can be useful to the church and they can be cared for by the church.

Sometimes folks want to call these at a deaconess group.

I don't see that because deaconesses would not happen this year to be 60 years of age would have to be widows, etc. now I as we look at this widows auxiliary, writing to amplify that outside the women's auxiliary ministry team in the local church.

First of all, he says they have to be of a mature age 60 years of age. Now this is not an absolute age for all churches of all times that have an organized widows ministry, but it is a guiding principle is evident from the text will see this more and more as we go along that Paul had seen that younger widows often were a problem when they were added to this group and so he thought an age restriction was prudent 60 years of age right second lease yes to be notable for good works, good works in verse 10, it's just simply says she has to have a reputation for good works now organizing this way from our text. First of all good works in the home. She has to be known to be faithful in her Christian duties in the home. Verse nine says she has to be the wife of one man now this is the mirror opposite of the mirror image of the qualification for an elder over in chapter 3 verse two where he says, an elder has to be the husband of one wife.

What it means is that she has a long-standing reputation of marital fidelity is never been known to be unfaithful to her husband or her marital balance.

She was a good, true, devoted Christian wife to her husband.

Also, concerning the home.

It says talks about her being it having good works as a mother. Verse 10 says she brought up children.

Obviously, this emphasizes that she brought them up in the discipline in the and in the instruction of the Lord. She sacrificed for them. She labored for them and her diligence to be a good mother is a mark of her life. So we see this very clearly in our text, that this woman has to be a woman of good works in her home. I see the phrase brought up and since she has the she has brought up children. It comes from a root word that means to nourish and you can see the picture here that this is a woman who nourished her children both physically physical nourishment but spiritual nourishment also. She was looking after their eternal souls. So in the home. She has to be known for good works, but secondly, the Bible says in the church to be on this widows auxiliary should to be known for good works.

I see this. First of all, in verse 10 where it says she has shown hospitality to strangers in this day. It was very common for Christians to be under such persecution, they were literally without house and home, sometimes without necessary food and clothing so it was essential that local churches have their own doors open to these Christians who may come through just looking for place to sleep and looking for milk to feed them. She was known to take care of this stuff. If you read this phrase. Hospitality to strangers to Goodman. She went to the marketplace everyday found somebody that no one noon brought them home for a week. That would be unwise and be dangerous. That's not the context of what's going on here. The Bible also says in verse 10 that she washed the saint's feet both literally because that was a common practice in the early church and figuratively. She had a faithfulness in her service to the local church and this washing of feet emphasizes that she served in the church with humility and with industry in other words, she was not a diva who had to have things her way, and was full of self-important's. This is further expressed in verse 10 where it says she assisted those in distress. While the list paused with putting together here is the qualifications to be on the widows auxiliary ministry team well thirdly good works in the community at large.

Verse 10 continues Jonas is devoted to every good work. I think this includes her her activities in the community at large.

She's a con thoughtful and good person, to the best of her abilities to all of those in her circle of influence.

Proverbs 16 seven reminds us of a person that even his enemies are caused to be at peace with him. She's the kind of person that even those who might reject her God and her faith when they watch her long enough to begin to respect her and appreciate her for her consistency and her faithfulness, ladies. Is this not the kind of person you want to strive to be. Do we qualify ladies, do you qualified to be on the apostle Paul's widows auxiliary ministry team quite a list now less refined ourselves. Though this is not a law as such is not a standard of perfection. What Paul was to point out is what was the pattern of her life. Sure, she CN she failed. She had some weaknesses I like to think about it this way.

There are times when she failed, but when she had fallen. She didn't fall away.

Think about that falling away is the that the idea behind the word apostate it means to completely divorce yourself and separate yourself off from the faith. Christians can never truly apostate size. We may fall, but we never fall away, so it is true of her. So Paul give squat a stringent list of qualifications.

If a widowed woman is going to be on this particular list now again I can see no way that Paul would say this is necessary before you feed and care for our hurting senior adult lady, but for this group who often were cared for, but were also something of a servant ministry team. He had high standards and how qualification now.

II he says to exclude younger widows, younger widows were not allowed to be on this list. We see this primarily verses 11 through 15 and he outlined some really pointed and specific things and here's where we pick up that the apostle Paul obviously had been our had seen some really bad examples, and some of the churches and so he's laying out some dictates here to keep this from being the case in the church at Ephesus were Timothy's work well exclude younger widows. First of all because they have unique temptation they have unique temptation.

What I think the point were making temptations unique to them that are not so common among the more elderly widow now one of the ones I would list is a failure. Your and following through is one temptation I have a failure in following through in verse 12 he says don't put a younger, went on there because there there likely to get other interest going and they will quote set aside their previous play. They didn't follow through. Set aside their previous play. I think this makes it clear that there was a a formal setting aside where these widows pledge themselves before God and the church to give themselves wholly to the Lord's work and his local church without ever again. I thought of marriage. In other words, God and the church becomes their husband there setting that aside their going forward with the new devotion of ministry but Paul is saying, being young, often the desire for marriage returns and they break the play, which so one unique temptation is a failure to follow through.

Well he he picks on this elaborates a little bit more in verse 11, and says they failed to follow through because they feel sensual desires and the phrase sensual desires means just what you think it means. It means sexual desires. Another words there too young to fully comprehend hand. Rather, the pledge of celibacy and the devotion to Christ there making. They may have been very genuine and very enthusiastic but they just were not mature enough to make that kind of commitment that I'll never again consider marriage. I'll devote my life wholly serving God. Just as a side note here because it came to my mind. The Roman Catholic Church takes this text, and some others and runs off to the edge of the solar system and back with it to try to establish the the doctrine of celibacy among all of those who serve in the church. John Calvin points out in his commentary, but there's not one in 10 among church leaders. Nuns included that state chase in their sector relationships. About after making those pledges, he says, but they have too much pride to admit they're wrong and go back and fix the problem.

Well Paul is here saying that young women should make this pledge of never again marrying and totally devoted himself church because that they'll have the sensual desires stir up and they'll fail to follow through.

He had something else to this failing to follow three cut pieces in verse 11, in disregard of Christ falls pointing out this is a serious thing. You don't dedicate yourself to God and before his church and take it lightly.

They do it in disregard to Christ they break the pledge to both Christ and to the church now, let's remind ourselves. Don't be out of balance here as uncomfortable as it may be, it's necessary to say it is not wrong for a widow lady to have sensual desire he's gone tell them what to do in a moment it's wrong for them to pledge themselves to singleness though and devotion to Lord if they're not ready to live that out.

That's the point Paul is making one not only a failure to follow through on this pledge, but another aspect of the unique temptation is laziness or what he uses here, they learn to be idle. Verse 13 he said I just seen it. Younger widows are have a tendency for for idleness there too young to amateur and lack the discipline needed of one who has no longer the obligations of husband and home so that they tend to be slack in their lives and he's including your slack in their spiritual duties and in this particular spiritual play. He continues on this idleness leads to something else and I call this a ministry manipulation that's a temptation my goodness in our day-to-day in in our age as a lots of ministry manipulation going on that is improperly improperly using your office or your role in ministry for your own selfish ends and not for the good of God and the glory of God. He said these widow ladies have this special pledge of ministry.

There are ministry servant team to the church but when younger widows are put on there. There's a proneness for those ladies to begin to kinda scheming to manipulate this role they have of ministry for their own carnal in its here's the way he words in verse 13 they go around from house to house. When they visited homes and were welcome in the homes because they were official servant ministers of the church.

But the point here as they get into these homes there up to carnality and no good.

They use this position on the widows auxiliary ministry team to get into people's lives and learn all of their information. They like sticking their noses in, and their ears and places they do not belong. Is this not get down to brass tacks is talking to down to where the rubber meets the road. Now were talking about widows, but what about the rest of us this morning. They're not great lessons here for all of us will Paul didn't stop there also exist to get that become gossip did they become gossip first or take the word gossip has the idea of throwing up bubbles. I like that visual picture just doesn't problem just by just bubbling all the time about something so they use the veil of their spiritual service to make these visits and they spread gossip from house to house to have you know where was this morning. You know that ended and ended another bubble bubble bubble.

Then they go to the next housing bubble overall limit of excessive bubble and they think the last house think they're just getting what the other houses bubbled about but actually she's going go to another house and to limit the last house bubbled about in there just blabbering everywhere. I like the way Paul gives us these graphic terms. You see it in your mind, your bonsai then he says it. Also, there tended to be busybodies. These are all the unique temptation pieces of young widows when they have this a position on the widows auxiliary busybodies is the word in verse 13. Busybody is the idea of sinful curiosity. I just cannot swim.

No, I just want to learn what what who's doing this and what was going on there. Just curious, but not for the glory of God, carnal and sinful curiosity they want to know all about your business.

Of course, to minister to you. The truth is they want to know all the juicy details of things that they have no business knowing anything about verse 13 he continues on systems that guards are talking about things not proper to mention brothers and sister. Do you understand there's a lot of things that are proper to mention recently to be talked about.

They may be true but they don't need to be talked about the art someone say whenand all you should say that, well, it's true what Paul says when it don't matter if it's true, something should be talked about that these young widows seem to be prone to this instead of being faithful in their ministry duties of the idea of the text here that these ladies are talking about things that both the subject matter itself is wrong to be talked about and their motive for talking about it house to help house is impure and not right before God. So Paul is basically saying. Generally speaking, that younger widows do not need this much time on their hands. They don't need to be set apart, supported by the church have this ministry responsibility because they're too immature to handle it.

Interesting. Now this is not parallel for all of us in a lot of ways, church elders first about the church shouldn't put me in the office of elder, who are too immature to handle it. That might be good men but just not ready for yet with.

There's a small group leader or an outreach leader or deacon in the church are in whatever position of influence are we sure they are old enough and mature enough to handle it pulses these widows are not old enough to stay out of trouble is basically what you say you still come to many text as practical and specific. Is this too much time is often the devil's workshop. Well, we saw the unique temptation that the young widows have Nexus talk about the tragic implication when these widows get in this ministry may fail the way Paul is describing. They sometimes fail maybe often fail. There is serious implications. Your number one the first one is a public reproach public reproach and verb verse 14 he says I don't widows to do this because the give an occasion for the enemy to bring reproach. Now the enemy he talks about in verse 14 that will bring, but old that will begin to put reproach on the church is not Satan. In this context, Satan is mentioned specifically in verse 15, the enemy here are those people who are outside of the covenant Fellowship of God's people. People who do not lock our Christ. People who resent our doctrine's and are teaching same thing. People who look for any reason whatsoever that they might discredit Christ and discredit his church. So when this widow lady becomes idle and a gossiper in a busybody and then decide will get married on but I set aside that pledge I made in my will do that I'm going to marry this man. I found he says you just allow the community to blank disdain old God in his name in the community. It's a serious it's a it's a serious and tragic implication so public reproach is one thing, secondly public condemnation public condemnation verse 12.

The text says. Thus, incurring condemnation of the specific context here is they made the pledge to be on the widows auxiliary ministry team and then they saw they won't get married and they pulled back. Will Paul is saying is they stand condemned before the church because, in effect, by pulling back and not following through with their vow. They're saying Christ is insufficient to meet my needs and Christ is unworthy of my whole devotion and service yet.

Ecclesiastes 54 and five says when you make about to God. Do not be late in paying it for he takes no delight in pools pay what you file it is better that you should not valid and that you should bow and not pay. That's an important truth to remember these ladies falling back on their commitment are misusing their ministry role bring public reproach and public condemnation. Thirdly, they make an enemy of affiliation. I make an enemy affiliation is interesting how a word here in verse 15.

For some have already turned decide to follow Satan strong statement. There think what he saying there is they begun to act like they're in league with Satan. They become one who contributes to Satan's calls instead of God's call. This is the same thing that was happening in the Gospels when Peter begin to reprint rebuke the Lord when the Lord said he was going to go down the cross and Peter rebuke Jesus and God forbid it like this will never happen to you, Jesus turned it Peter after he said that it looked and said to Peter, get behind me Satan interest is that you're not sitting your mind on God interest but manage your your your not acting like you're in the league of fallen men and in the in the kingdom of Satan and doing his bidding. That's what happens to these ladies. They make an enemy affiliation when they fail to follow through these vows or misuse this widows ministry, auxiliary ministry team role improperly.

Then, fourthly, is not spelled out specifically in our text, but it certainly implicitly taught here evil leaven you become a part of evil. 11.

I me to folks in the church begin to miss use at your coming if you take a ministry role in you use it to be a busybody gossip than that kind of spirit multiplies in the church like yeast multiplies Indo mates very is very. It's amazing what a magnet that is for Carl in the unregenerate to run to the church and just jump on the bandwagon of misusing Christian ministry for carnal ends, while Paul wrote to the church at Corinth and sit a little leaven leavens the whole up ago well find leaf concerning these younger widows Arctic that are to be excluded pulses.

I got a remedy for their situation. I call this a divine rectification. Let's rectify this.

Let's cure this list remedy this. What he says in verse 14. Therefore, I want younger widows. Here's how you fix it pulses let them get married, bear children and get keep house interesting, very specific. In other words, is a younger widow. Instead of making a show of spirituality presuming you're ready and able to make this commitment before the church don't do that backup look at getting married again having children and keeping your house now, once again, this is not a law but Paul is writing down a practical level, bringing a solution to what he saw as a common problem. He's challenging these younger widows to reassume the great and powerful ministry that God has given women. What is the great and powerful ministry that God has given women a lot preached it to you. First Timothy two and specifically verse 15 the first Timothy two women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity was self restraint of that word there preserved. I agree with the scholars who believe that that means they will have a preserving influence a saving influence in the world.

How can a woman have the most powerful good and godly influence in the world of being the best she can in her home being all she can be in her home. Does this mean it's always sinful woman have any employment outside the home. The Bible didn't teach that I've never put that burden on you, but you should always turn your hearts toward home should be the center of your life in the center of your interest and I believe there are too many ladies in the church to take jobs out in the world without praying it through without seeking the Lord as it is this the right thing for us. The pulses get married, bear children and keep house there's an interesting idea, and in these two words keep house scholars tell us the word keep means to rule. Rule your own house is what makes the idea here is, if you keep busy and an excellent way where you're supposed to be.

It's going to keep you out of trouble. Rule your house.

The ideas don't rule over something out in the world when you want to be ruling your house. Don't rule over your husband. Rule your house.

Don't rule over the busybody gossip club, pull yourself into your home rule in your appointed place pulses. This will keep a lot of younger ladies out of trouble. You want an important place to feel accomplished, to feel satisfied, then love your husband raise godly children and keep your home in an orderly fashion and make it a welcoming environment for all ladies.

Do you want to grow old with sweetness you want to grow old, joyful, contented and attractive than devote yourself to what God called you to be and to do common watching this a long time now and you know I've I've never seen a sweet, joyful, contented, attractive, elderly feminist, can I go can I go there and say that they're just ugly but you show me a lady that's learned to be content in God's will and God's word, they just seem to grow older better.

I don't seem to.

They do know we all we all get older and appearance. Of course, as I said before it begins to sag Dragon bag, but I'm tell you there is a sweetness and a beauty to a woman's countenance who grows old trusting in the Lord.

Well finally he says here in verse 16. Nice talk about the younger widows staying out of trouble. That's the context here. He should hear something also that keep you busy and keep you out of this trouble of busybody and being idle and being talkative and thought about. They should talk about it being a gossip or 16 if any woman he's a believer has dependent widows. She must assist them in the church must not be burdened so that it may assist those who are widows indeed. He said by the way, don't you have somebody in your family. You could be caring for even though you, your husband may be gone and your children may be raised. There may be older ladies in your family who need your care and your assistance. Well let me close with three conclusions for practical application probably could get 13 just three thoughts that jumped out to me and will will be done with this, and they certainly fought all of his number one were reminded again how all of life centers in the local church. God has intended. All of our life centered on me when your child in the nursery your parents bring you to low church when you're in childhood, you can have a connection to the local church when you're a teenager are our young single adult you can serve and honor God in the local church when you're married and raising your children and your your newly married you got maybe small babies, you can raise them in the codicil the church when you get older and if your spouse dies, you can still serve the local church and the church made help and support you like this dictate is a leavens the church is always there your husband may die, but the church still there your wife may department the church is still there for these widows, their husbands are gone there children are grown. What does Paul say pull yourself in the ministry in the local church that's with the widow's auxiliary ministry was here and if you have needs as a widow but you have no family then look to the local church. It's all centered their in this day when we have to read to find everything every head thing has to be redefined because it's been dumbed down to the most carnal denominator remind ourselves hiding looked at you folks. The balcony okay up there. Remind yourself that church is not an event you attend.

Occasionally on Sunday church is not an event you attend. Occasionally on Sunday church is a family you belong to, for eternity, and that's the picture you get here. These widows no matter what place there in the church is the center of it. I love that the church should be the center of all of our lives. Menu don't do the things of course you do, but you always do them as an extension of your body. The body of Christ, you belong to number two were reminded of this text of the essential value of work. The essential value of work.

Even these widows the reason they were organized in this ministry team so they could make a pledge of spending the rest of their lives expending the totality of their energies serving their God in this local church working not now one hand there's a part of us that says they steer ladies their audible ladies. I have been devoted to their husbands. I've raise those children. They done all the support they've labored so hard if I do nothing else will take care of them outside I would say amen to that. But Paul says no they should do what they can do. They should still work in the local church and I can do much. We certainly would ask them to do anything that in their elderly state they couldn't perform the double sink is the principle that work is good whenever stop working for the Lord brothers and sisters course this player parallels over to our secular work that's good to. It's all given of God. So Paul says we got this organized ministry were widows themselves. Even their old and to whatever degree in firm condition can do what they can in service to the church. I'm reminded of second Thessalonians 3 1010 to 12 for even when we were with you, we used to give you this order if anyone is not willing to work the knees not to eat either that'll help God's work. If they get hungry. Verse 11 we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined live here it is again doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. This includes the men by the way, he said the witness could be busybodies. Men tend to verse 12. The such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in a quiet fashion and eat their own bread saw the other day that in this present distress.

Our country is going through this virus that the government has given such benefits to the unemployed. That 60% of those unemployed are making more money than they made working not on one hand. I'm grateful for that. On the other hand, I disagree with that. When you give a man something he hasn't worked for.

You're doing a disservice to him a funk look, there's always there's always room to give somebody grace.

Amen. Sometimes, and I trust some of these boys work for me. Occasionally my place. I love working these young boys, and I tried the end of the day to pay a little more than our Greek is in until about grace said you'd work for this part.

I gave you that just grace but the point is this whole thing that there's this mandate of handout mentality and free stuff just because your living and breathing is not biblical is a disservice to the person you diminish their worthiness. It's the base it's beneath. Rather, the dignity of humankind, so you should get without work well even here, these elderly widows are to do what they can do pledging themselves to spend the rest of their lives and devotion to God, the church will number three. I'm reminded of the power of prayer in verse five is listed. The only specific ministry. These widows might be doing so is in verse five that she who is a widow. Indeed, who has been left alone has fixed her hope on God and continues here it is in entreaties and in prayers day and night, so there are many of these in this widow state who are of such an infirm condition that all they can do is intercede for the work of the church. Paul says that's a lot that's a lot. While it is all they can do. It's actually the most anyone can do.

Sometimes folks. I pray for the work they mean the church really prayer is the work. It's common for us to say, well, all she can do are the least she can do is pray. We all often overlook or even dismiss the week infirm elderly among us who give themselves to the ministry of entreaties in prayers for God's church, yet the truth be known, it is their prayers that are the key to the church's success. It is their prayer that touches the heart of God and moves the hand of omnipotent and the day will come for all of us. Every single one of us would perhaps all we have left to perform for God's church is to pray for her bedridden.

We were sick.

All we have left is prayer.

It will be true then as it always has been true that when prayer is all we can do we want to do again will be doing the most we could have ever done.

You understand that it's the greatest thing we have is that not amazing that at the end of our life like these. There was a ladies all they have left us to pray and entreat God to bless the Lord our God is not mature or anything with the most powerful thing you could have ever done that arose not diminish roles not insignificant barrels.wav payroll is essential in every down the God just pierces through my mind and my heart when I hear about some senior saint in the church in their imploring God for their pastor for their small group for mission work.

I have used illustrations before true illustrations of folks who told me they pray for me and I believe we get to heaven. Those of us who had public profiles will not be the ones with the greatest gifts. It will be those who faithfully labored in prayer for God's work, which is where these widows pray prayer at any age is the most important work of all

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