To one, God may be like the man who left ninety-nine sheep to search for one sheep that had gone astray until he found it (Luke 15:4).
But to another, He is like the prodigal son’s father, who doesn’t go after his son and search for him, but instead He waits (Luke 15:20). He waits for him to grow up. He waits for him to humble himself. He waits for him to come to his senses.
The prodigal son knew what belonged to him and he went boldly to his father and asked for it. The problem was He left what he needed after he got what he wanted. Even after God gives you what you’ve been asking for, you are still going to need Him.
Just because the father didn’t search for his son doesn’t mean he didn’t love him, but it was time for his son to make a decision. What do you want? He had to make up his mind. Either he could stay where he was (apart from his father), toiling, but still hungry or he could go back to his father where there were hired servants and enough bread to spare (Luke 15:15-17).
God has better for you. You don’t have to stay where you are. You don’t have to struggle, but you’re struggling because you want to do things your way. The Holy Spirit will convict you. He will tell you what you need to do, but He is not going to do it for you and He’s not going to make you do it. This has to be your choice.
Elijah asked the question, How long will you halt between two opinions? (1 Kings 18:21). How long will you go back and forth? How long will you sit between who you were and who you are created to be?
There are some adult Christians who want God to treat them like babies. You want him to always pick you up and carry you, but it’s time to learn how to walk – by your own faith. You’re His child, but you’re not a baby anymore. God expects us to grow in our salvation (1 Peter 2:2). Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and He expects us to grow, too. At the age of 12, Jesus was being taught in the temple, but by the age of 30, He was teaching others.
Making choices is part of growing up and sometimes it will feel like making a decision is hard, but when you read the conversation between the serpent and Eve, we learn that God will tell you the type of ‘trees’ that are before you and He will tell you which tree to choose and which tree not to choose, but He is not going to choose for you (Genesis 3:2-3).
God gave you the power to choose, but choose rightly. Maybe you’ve made some poor choices in the past, but the days of being angry, blaming people, living in regret and feeling powerless or helpless are over. Maybe your parents didn’t always make the right choices concerning you, but you’re grown now. You can make your own choices. Choose to obey God and when you choose to do what God wants you to do first, then those things you’ve been worrying about and toiling for will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).
Whether you want God to use you or you want what He has for you or you want to become like a planted tree that brings forth fruit, it is going to require growth, time and change. Do you really want it?
In 1 Kings 17:2-3, the Lord told Elijah to hide by a brook. When he did what God told him to do, God took care of him. Not only did he have water to drink, but God commanded the ravens to feed him every morning and evening. One day, the brook dried up because there was no rain.
If God commanded the ravens, surely He could have commanded the brook, but He allowed the brook to dry up. Prior to this, Elijah was satisfied. He was comfortable. He didn’t have a thirst or a hunger for anything, but now he did. He wasn’t satisfied with where he was and he didn’t want to remain in that condition anymore.
The word of the Lord came to Elijah. Not only did God tell him to move, but He told him where to move to. Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Zidon and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain you (vs 9). Sometimes God leaves out the details. He never told Elijah that the widow woman had a need. All He told him was that she would feed him.
When he arrived at the gate of the city, he saw the widow gathering sticks (I guess that meant she was about to cook something). He asked her for some water. As she was going to get the water, he asked for a morsel of bread. First, the woman told him what she didn’t have. I have not a cake (vs 12). Then, she told him what she did have – a handful of meal in a barrel, a little oil in a cruse and two sticks. This was her last meal and this meal wasn’t just for her, but it was for her son also.
This woman didn’t want to die and she didn’t want her son to die, but she was preparing to die because she didn’t know what else to do. She didn’t know where her next meal was coming from. It didn’t look like things were going to get better and now she had a man – a perfect stranger – asking her, an unmarried mother, for her last.
I hear the conversations of single mothers from time to time. They love their children, but sometimes they are tired – tired of raising their children alone, tired of the daily routine, tired of trying to provide, tired of missing field trips and Awards Day. It hurts when you can’t do what you would like to do for your children. You want them to enjoy their childhood. You want them to be happy. You don’t want them to worry about adult things such as bills and other responsibilities.
I can only imagine how strong this woman was trying to be for her son. She was trying to keep it together, but sometimes we just want someone to come and ‘save’ us. You know, take care of all our problems. Well, God did send a man in her life, but He didn’t send him to be her husband. (I had to point that out because sometimes a single woman/mother is so anxious to be married or in a relationship that she confuses ‘help’ with ‘husband’). Elijah didn’t give her any food or money. He didn’t get her out of debt or out of poverty, but he showed her how to get out. He showed her how to trust again. All she had to do was obey the instructions. All she had to do was give the very thing that she was afraid of losing.
Sometimes we are so focused on what we want that we don’t see what others need. Let’s look at it this way: Had Elijah not moved, the widow and her son would have died. Our obedience to God is so important. It was so easy for Elijah to get comfortable at the brook. It was so easy to trust God for the things he could see. Life was good. He had water, bread, and meat every day, but God didn’t send him there to stay. He was only there to pass through. I’m sure he got used to the daily routine. I bet he thought he had God figured out. He knew exactly what time the raven would feed him, but when the brook dried up and the raven stopped coming, he had to trust God through a woman who only had a handful of meal, a little oil and two sticks. The widow was being tested, also. Whoever is faithful with little will also be faithful with much (Luke 16:10).
I wanted to know how far and at what length this man went to obey God and to meet this widow. What was the distance between Cherith and Zarephath? One source on the internet reported it was approximately 85 miles. Another source reported it was between 80 to 100 miles. I don’t know if Elijah got there by foot or by a horse, but that was a long journey if you didn’t have a car. Did he get tired along the way? Did he want to stop? Did he want to turn around? Did he eat? Did he drink? What did he have to give up?
Just like Elijah, you will never have to worry about your need when you put HIS kingdom first. God will supply your need according to His riches in glory. So if you’re lacking in an area, it’s probably in the area that you refuse to give to God or to trust Him in. When the widow woman gave her last, she and her household had a lot left over (1 Kings 17:15).
I know you have these great ideas and plans about what you want to do, but God has a better plan – and it includes more than just you. The devil may have used you in the past to hurt and to betray people, but God is going to use you to help people.
God is going to allow some things to happen – not to hurt you or to punish you, but to cause you to make the decision to move. I’m not talking about moving to another city or to another state. I’m talking about moving toward His purpose for you – moving toward the reason why you were born. If you don’t move, you will never discover who you are and in case no one ever told you – You are a blessing. God knitted you together in your mother’s womb. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. The word God placed in your mouth is like a hammer that breaks a rock into pieces and the anointing on your life is able to destroy the yokes of many.
This is why you can’t remain where you are.
You have dwelled in your feelings, fear, self-pity, isolation and hurt long enough. It is time to get up and leave those things behind. It is time to turn (change; repent), take your journey and go to where God is leading you (Deuteronomy 1:6-7, paraphrase). Don’t be ashamed of where you came from. Don’t be ashamed of the things you have done. Don’t even compare yourself to others. Do what the widow did and use what you have. God is going to give you instructions. They will be simple, not hard and difficult.
We were created to do more than what we are doing. As sons and daughters of God, we don’t have to stand idle because no one will hire us (Matthew 20:6-7). There is plenty of work to do. The harvest is plenteous (Matthew 9:37), but you won’t realize this until you stop looking after your own things and start looking on the things of others (Philippians 2:4).
Someone has a need and they are praying for you to move.
necessary: absolutely needed; so important that you must do it
Someone asked me yesterday about teaching the teenagers. Everything in me screamed, Nooooo! Then I did what I’ve always done in the past. I suggested teaching the adults, but he explained to me that he already had teachers for the adult classes. There was not a need there, but there was a very important area that was lacking and he wanted to put me where I was needed. (It’s interesting how we take our children to church every Sunday yet we sometimes neglect them, but children make up the body of Christ, too).
Well, I must admit I like to pick and choose what I want to do, but it may not be what God wants me to do. Sometimes God doesn’t place you where you want to be, but where you need to be. From time to time, I’ve behaved just like Moses where I didn’t feel qualified or worthy to do what is being asked of me. Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? (Exodus 3:11).
God didn’t spare Moses for nothing. It was for a purpose. He was set apart. He grew up in Pharaoh’s house. He was educated in all of the wisdom and culture of the Egyptians and was mighty in words and in deeds (Acts 7:22). The day that God called him out of a burning bush, Moses was already walking in his calling. He was leading the flock to the backside of the desert, but he didn’t think he was qualified either. God knew why Moses ran away from Egypt. He knew that he murdered someone. He knew he didn’t speak very well, but none of those things changed God’s mind. Moses wanted God to tell him who he was, but instead God told Moses who HE is. I am that I am (Exodus 3:14).
Everything Moses went through (good and bad) – from the time he was born – was preparing him for this very moment. God had given him much and now He was requiring much. He knew Moses was afraid, but He promised to be with him (Exodus 3:12). All He needed was for Moses to trust Him and to obey Him while HE do the work (Philippians 2:13; John 14:10). Leading his father-in-law’s flock was easy, but leading a people was going to be a challenge. However, it taught him how to pray on the behalf of others, it taught him how to love people and it taught him to trust God.
Maybe you don’t have what someone else has or maybe you can’t do what someone else can do, but you are necessary. We need one another. God has set every one of us in the body as it pleased Him. There is no need for the ear to try to be the eye because the function of the ear is just as important as the function of the eye. They look different. They don’t operate the same, but they are still important to the body. Even the parts that seem the least important – the parts we can’t see – are valuable to God.
We shouldn’t go to church just to get a need met, but we should go to church to meet someone else’s need. There are people going through things that we have no idea about. There are people who are fainting. They are thinking about giving up. They are thinking about quitting, but because we are so focused on our problem, we can’t see their problem. In fact, God told me a couple months ago, It’s time to stop feeling sorry for yourself. God wants us to have pity or compassion on others, not wallow in self-pity. He wants us to be like His Son, who had compassion on the multitude who was with Him for three days and had nothing to eat (Matthew 15:32; Mark 8:1-3). He knew some of them had traveled long distances. He wasn’t like some of us who have seen someone’s need, but instead of feeding them, we sent them away hungry. Had Jesus done that, the people would have fainted along the way, but He cares for us.
Sometimes we get weak along the way. We all need comfort, encouragement and support and we are to care for one another. For too long, we have been ministering to the whole while neglecting the sick. They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick (Matthew 9:12).
If God is sending you somewhere, it’s because a need is there. If He is asking you to do something, it’s because someone has need of it. Sometimes we forget that God gave us a body for HIM. The body is for the Lord and the Lord for the body (1 Corinthians 6:13). Don’t let your past stop you. Don’t let your weakness stop you because His power and strength is made perfect in your weakness. When you are not doing what God needs you to do, you are like a missing piece of the puzzle, but what you don’t understand is that those other pieces need you. Whether you feel like it or not, you do ‘fit’ in God’s plan.
You are necessary.
I know this woman who always talks about not having enough money. Well, one day I decided to give her a gift. It wasn’t much, but something is better than nothing, right? Do you know what she said when I handed the money to her? I don’t need it. Trust me. This woman wanted that money and had someone else offered it, she would have taken it, but because it was coming from me, she rejected it.
How sad it is to ask God to send you help only to reject it because it is coming from a person that you don’t like or from a person that you don’t want to receive help from. I’m realizing now that God has answered many of our prayers, but because it didn’t come in the form or in the person that we wanted it to, we rejected it. Sometimes pride is the thing that keeps us from receiving ‘answered prayers’. Pride says, I know what’s best for me. My plan is better. I can do it better than God. Too many me’s, my’s and I’s will lead to trouble.
Do you remember the widow woman from Zarephath? She needed help. There was a famine and her husband was dead. She was a single mother preparing their last meal. Not only did she lose a husband, but she lost hope. She wasn’t just preparing a meal, but she was preparing to die. God heard, He saw and now He was sending help, but in the meantime He was dealing with her. Before the answer had arrived, God had already commanded the woman to do something (1 Kings 17:9).
The widow didn’t know Elijah. To her, he was a stranger – and I think that was a good thing because sometimes we become too familiar with those who have rule over us and instead of honoring them as prophets of God, we treat them as mere men. Jesus didn’t just give men or women, but he gave gifts to the church (Ephesians 4:8). According to Luke 4:24-26, there were many widows in Israel during the famine, but God didn’t choose them. He chose a widow from Zarephath. He sent Elijah to a woman who was not his ‘own people’. Had it been another widow, she may have been like the woman at the well. Jesus answered, “You don’t know what God can give you. And you don’t know who I am, the one who asked you for a drink. If you knew, you would have asked me and I would have given you living water” (John 4:10, ERV). But that wasn’t the case with the widow of Zarephath. She recognized the gift of God.
It was the same with the Pharisees. They knew the Old Testament scriptures. They read about the coming of the Messiah, but when He came, they didn’t recognize Him. He came unto His own and His own received him not (John 1:1). He didn’t look like what they were waiting for. He has no stately form or majestic splendor that we would look at Him, nor [handsome] appearance that we would be attracted to Him (Isaiah 53:2, AMP). He was called Beelzebub. Some thought he was John the Baptist, Elias or one of the old prophets. To them, He wasn’t the Son of God. He wasn’t the Savior of the world. He was just the carpenter’s son. And sometimes we are just like the Pharisees. When God sends us what we need or what we’ve been praying for or what we’ve been waiting for, we miss it.
While the widow was gathering sticks, Elijah asked for a little water in a vessel. That wasn’t a problem. She could do that, but as soon as he asked for a morsel of bread – now that was a problem. First, she told him what she didn’t have. Then, she told him what she did have. I have not a cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse. I’m sure Elijah knew she felt uneasy and unsure about giving him what he had just asked for so he told her to not be afraid. Fear not. Go and do as you have said, but make me a little cake first.
It’s hard to trust someone you don’t know and this is one of the reasons why Christians struggle with trusting God. We really don’t know Him the way He wants us to know Him. Just because you grew up in church and you’ve read the bible from Genesis to Revelation, doesn’t mean that you know Him. If you knew Him, you would trust Him and if you trusted Him, then you would obey Him.
The thing God is asking you to do (or give) is little, but it will bring about something big in your life – if you will trust Him. Elijah assured the widow that she would not run out, but that she would run over – but first, she had to believe. She trusted God with her last and gave it to the man of God first. Let each one give thoughtfully and with purpose just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver and delights in the one whose heart is in his gift (2 Corinthians 9:7). As a result of her giving, faith, patience and obedience, she, Elijah and her house ate for many days (1 Kings 17:15).
Look closely at the picture above. You can recognize what those gifts are right away because of their shape and form, but if they were disguised in a box covered with wrapping paper, you couldn’t easily recognize them. Many of us have rejected and walked away from blessings, breakthroughs and answered prayers because of the wrapping, but the gift isn’t the wrapping. That’s just the covering. That’s just flesh. The gift is inside of the wrapping.
Prayer: One version of Isaiah 53:3 tells us that Jesus was looked down on and passed over. We admit today that there are still areas of our lives where we look down on Him and pass Him over because our evil desires and lusts look more attractive than Him. Create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us. We repent of pride, self-sufficiency and self-righteousness. Father, help us to recognize the gift of God and help us to recognize You at work in our lives. Give us understanding where we lack it, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Do you look forward to the new year because you depend on that income tax return every year? Some of you have probably already calculated and planned how you are going to use it this year. Unfortunately, that’s me, too. When I recently found out that I may be receiving a lot less than what I normally get, I started worrying. I even panicked. (And no, I don’t want the money to go shopping or take a vacation or anything like that). The first thought was, I need a second job. Then I started thinking, I need to do this. I need to do that. Apparently, the Lord started shaking His head and got tired of watching me trying to figure out how HE was going to take care of me because the next thing I know He was giving me two scriptures and told me to meditate on them.
Matthew 6:8 – Your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask Him.
Philippians 4:19 – But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Later that same evening, I went to bible study and the woman of God was teaching about ways we serve mammon rather than God (Matthew 6:24). When she mentioned such things as being anxious over unmet needs, fear about the future and expecting the government to help you, I knew that was me and I repented for not trusting God as I should. After she sat down, the man of God read from Isaiah 9:6. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder. We have a choice. Either we can trust in the world system (government), which will one day fail or God’s system, which lasts forever.
So when I thought about it later, I realized I wasn’t acting any differently from the woman who is seeking a man to take care of her (and/or her children) financially or a woman who wants God to heal her child, but is afraid to trust Him to supply her financial need if the SSI benefits are cut off. Not every single mother or divorced woman is money hungry or greedy. They do it to live, to survive and to be fed, but the psalmist gives us a solution for this in Psalm 37:3.
Trust in the Lord and do good…you shall be fed.
To trust in God means to believe, to depend on, put all your confidence in or to be fully persuaded that He is able to perform what He promised. Isn’t it sad that some of us pray to a God that we don’t trust or read a bible that we don’t fully believe? That’s probably one of the reasons why God allows certain situations in our lives – to teach us how to trust Him. You see, you don’t need trust for something that you already have or for something that you can already see.
The world teaches that you have to lie, cheat or steal in order to get a spouse or a promotion or more money, which is evil, but the psalmist says, ‘Do good’. You don’t have to hurt people in order to help yourself. Don’t do evil to others just because they have done evil to you because God does not let evil men succeed (Psalm 37:33). Instead, wait on the Lord and keep His way (Psalm 37:34).
For years, I’ve been trying to live off of what I make (which just isn’t enough). I give tithes and offering, but there is something else you and I can do. We can sow seed because God multiplies the seed you sow (2 Corinthians 9:10). A good example would be the boy with five barley loaves and two small fish. He didn’t eat his seed, he sowed it and God multiplied it. He, along with thousands, were fed and there were twelve baskets left over of the fragments that remained, which was OVER and ABOVE (John 6:13). Also, learn how to manage your money better. Don’t waste or squander your income with riotous living. There are some things we buy that we really don’t need. The world teaches us to spend, which leads to debt. Owe no man anything, but to love one another (Romans 13:8). But God teaches us how to be debt-free by giving (with expectation that you will receive). Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you mete withal it shall be measured to you again (Luke 6:38).
Jesus told Simon Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven”. Those who are in Christ Jesus have keys also. The key may be a revelation or a mystery or an instruction to obey. From time to time, we quote Revelation 3:8 (I have set before you an open door and no man can shut it), but I never realized until now what caused the door to be opened. One of the things the church of Philadelphia did was they kept (obeyed) His word.
In Luke 5, Peter was toiling all night, but never caught any fish. Jesus said, Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a draught. That was a key. Peter was a fisherman and to him, he knew what he was doing, but now Someone came along and told him how to fish another way – a better way (since his way wasn’t working). I’m sure Peter was tired and frustrated (probably even hungry), but he accepted change, believed, and obeyed. Nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.
If you and I would apply the keys God has given us, we will be able to open doors that have been shut in our lives for years. Just as Peter’s nets became full, our nets (bank accounts) will become full when we obey the Lord’s command. Sometimes we think money is our problem, but disobedience is really our problem. But if you will obey God, He will not withhold no good thing from you. The Lord is your Shepherd and you’re not going to want for anything this year. God is watching over you and since He neither slumbers nor sleeps, that means you can rest – in Him and in His word.
Help us, Holy Spirit, to trust in the Lord and to do good.