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.
There are some people who fall, but get right back up again. Then, there are others who fall, but have a harder time getting up. Sometimes it’s not what people have said about you that keeps you down, but what you think about yourself that keeps you down.
In John 5, the writer tells us of a sheep market or gate in Jerusalem. Sheep were led through this gate to the temple where they were sacrificed. The sins of the people were placed upon the sheep to cleanse them of their sins, but right next to the gate was a pool, called Bethesda, filled with a lot of people – a great multitude – who needed to be cleansed of their sicknesses. They were impotent, blind, halt and withered. Some of them became a burden to others because they had to be carried, lifted and transported from one place to another. These people were overlooked, forgotten, abandoned and rejected. No one wanted them while they were not well. Where were their families? Where were their friends?
But Jesus was there.
One of the people lying at the pool was a man who had an infirmity for thirty eight years. The scriptures didn’t tell us that he had been this way since birth, but thirty eight years was too long. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10b). Jesus knew how long he had been in that condition and asked him if he wanted to be made whole. The man told Jesus, Sir, I have no man to put me in the pool (John 5:7). Not only was he waiting for the move of the water, but he was waiting on someone to carry him into the pool. He sounded helpless, but he also sounded like he was blaming others for his current state. If someone would have put me in the pool, I wouldn’t be here. I’m still sick because of them. It’s their fault. But Jesus never asked this man about other people. He asked a question so that the man may examine himself, not others.
Jesus didn’t say it to this man, but I believe He is telling a lot of us this: You could have been up a long time ago. In fact, you should have been walking by now. Don’t get me wrong. I do believe God will carry you, but at some point He wants you to learn how to walk. He wants you to grow up and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Stop thinking everyone is against you. Stop regretting what happened. Stop living in the past.
Sometimes, just like this man, we’re waiting on a person. We’re waiting on someone to do what God says we can do. We’re waiting on the pastor to do it. We’re waiting until the wife comes or the husband comes and then we’ll do. We’re waiting until the money comes and then we’ll give. Why don’t you give what you have now? Why don’t you do what God has told you to do now? If you’re not doing anything with little, why would God trust you with much?
Jesus didn’t take him by the hand and lift him up like Peter with the man who was lame from his mother’s womb (Acts 3:7). Instead, He gave him a word. Rise, take up your bed, and walk (John 5:8). The impotent man believed he would receive his healing through the water, but he received it through the word. God doesn’t always heal or perform miracles the way we think. We expect Him to do it one way, but He may do it another way. What I want you to understand is this: Jesus told him to do something, the man did it and he was immediately made whole. This man literally walked in obedience and in faith. Had he not obeyed the word, he would have never received his healing. No one had to carry him anymore.
I can be so hard on myself. Sometimes I beat myself up like a drum. Seriously. But falling doesn’t mean failure. I’m learning now that had I not fallen, I would have never learned how to walk. For the last few months, I’ve been praying Psalm 51:10. Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me. I’ve also been asking the Holy Spirit to help me move on and let go of things (and people). Will the enemy remind you of things you did to someone or things someone did to you? Yes, but every day I am choosing to forgive – and that includes myself. Jesus has already made me free (Galatians 5:1), but now I must choose to walk in that freedom. It’s a choice.
You will recover from where you have fallen. You are going to make it. Time is too precious. Don’t spend another moment living in regret, worry or anger. This man walked for the first time in thirty eight years – and so can you! It doesn’t matter how many times you have fallen. You’ve been lying there long enough. Rise again. Take up your ‘bed’. Don’t use excuses anymore. Don’t blame anyone for what happened to you…and walk.
For though I fall, I will rise again (Micah 7:8).
God knows my heart.
God is a forgiving God.
God will never stop loving me.
All of those statements are true.
He does know your heart. He knows the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.
If you confess your sins, He will forgive you.
Nothing can separate you from His love.
But God gets tired, too (Hebrews 3:10, CEV).
For 40 years, the children of Israel tested God (Hebrews 3:9) and He was very patient with them. The Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them during the day and in a pillar of fire to give them light during the night. He brought all of them safely through the waters of the Red Sea. No one drowned. He didn’t lose anyone. He took very good care of them. God gave them food to eat and water to drink while in a dry place. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink.
Yet after all of this, most of them didn’t obey God. Most of them did not please God. They died in the wilderness. They died before receiving the promise. They never got to where God wanted to take them. They weren’t defeated by satan. They were defeated by their own lusts. It didn’t matter what God did for them. His miracles, wonders and grace just weren’t enough for them.
They engaged in sexual immorality. One version of 1 Corinthians 10:8 tells us that some of them sinned with other men’s wives and 23,000 fell dead in one day. (That’s a lot of people). Other versions of the bible use such terms as whoredom, fornication and prostitution. And some of us have done the same things. We have brought God into conversations that He didn’t want to hear, we have taken Him places that He didn’t want to go and we have done things that He didn’t want to see. We have put ourselves in situations that were hard to come out of.
Not only has it been said, but it has also been written – You shall not tempt the Lord your God (Matthew 4:7, Luke 4:12; paraphrase).
They tried the Lord’s patience and died from snake bites (1 Corinthians 10:9). They murmured and complained against God and His dealings with them and were destroyed by the angel of death (1 Corinthians 10:10). They didn’t know His ways and they didn’t want to become acquainted with them. God never brought them out of Egypt to die in the wilderness, but that’s what they believed. They said it all the time – and what they believed is what happened. They wanted everything to come easy and when it didn’t, they gave up. They didn’t endure during the hard times.
God has brought us out of a lot of things.
The moment you hear His voice, don’t harden your heart. Don’t be stubborn (Hebrews 3:7-8). Don’t act like you don’t hear Him. Whatever the temptation is (and it doesn’t have to be sexual immorality), God will give you a way to escape it. He will provide you with a way out. He doesn’t want you to go back in what He brought you out of. He is able to keep you from falling. The things that happened to the children of Israel were written so that we would read about them and learn from them in these last days (1 Corinthians 10:11). These things were written to warn us.
Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. (Romans 6:1-2)
Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? (Romans 6:15)
Does this mean that we can go ahead and sin and not worry about the consequences or not worry about who it will affect or hurt later on? No. God hasn’t given us grace to continue in sin. He has given us grace to obey Him. He has given us grace to repent. He has given us grace to change.
If our remaining time on this earth is short, then that means our opportunity for doing the Lord’s work is short also. Don’t continue in sin, don’t tempt the Lord, don’t let anything keep you from doing what the Lord has told you to do and don’t take advantage of (exploit or make unfair use of for your own benefit) His grace, but take full advantage of (make good use) the outcome and opportunities that His grace gives.
His grace not only saves us, but it teaches (to communicate to another the knowledge of that which he was ignorant of) us.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11-12; paraphrase).
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.