The ten virgins heard that the bridegroom was coming, but he delayed his coming. Then, at midnight, he came while they were sleeping.
In the days of Noah, everything appeared normal. People were busy making plans and building a life for themselves. There were banquets, parties and weddings. It was business as usual. Everyone was having a good time until Noah entered the ark. Then, the flood came and everyone was destroyed.
In the days of Lot, people were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting and building. But the same day that Lot left Sodom, brimstone and fire poured down like rain from the sky and destroyed everyone.
Each of these stories have one thing in common. The bridegroom, the flood as well as the brimstone and fire came unexpectedly.
As I was reading these scriptures, I thought about the body of Christ. To those whom God revealed that this was coming, did we believe God or His prophets? Did we prepare for this pandemic? Like John the Baptist, was the church preparing privately until it was time for us to appear publicly?
Despite this being a difficult time for the world, I still believe this is a great opportunity for the body of Christ. Let your light shine before men so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven. This is the time for the world to see the church demonstrate what we have been preaching.
The same Jesus that raised the dead is in us. The same Jesus that healed every kind of sickness and disease is in us. The same Jesus that fed five thousand is in us. Who is fasting? Who is praying? Who is caring for the fatherless, the prisoners, the widow and the homeless?
Is the church waiting on the government to do it or will the Lord find us doing?
I don’t know if my sister is still doing it or not, but for awhile she was buying a lot of hair products for hair growth. And I mean a lot. One day I was asking her about one of the products she had on her dresser.
I don’t know if it works or not. I didn’t use it long enough. I started and then I stopped.
Does that sound familiar?
When something doesn’t happen as quickly as we would like it to, this is what some of us do. We get weary, we stop believing and we stop doing the things that we started doing.
The reason why some of us haven’t seen results or haven’t seen certain things come to pass is because we got distracted along the way. We started making daily confessions and then we stopped. We stopped fasting. We stopped doing what God told us to do. Some of us decided to set up a time to pray every day, but then something else became more important and it took the place of our prayer time.
When Peter was in prison, the church prayed for him and they prayed without ceasing. They didn’t stop praying just because nothing had happened yet. They prayed until their answer knocked on the door.
The angel told Daniel, You words were heard and I have come for your words. If the church had stopped praying, the angels would have stopped working.
Peter needed a miracle. He was in a situation that he couldn’t get himself out of. He was bound with two chains between two soldiers and there were guards at the prison door. Now, Peter wasn’t worried about his situation. He was sleeping. He was resting, but because the church remained faithful, consistent and persistent, an angel appeared to Peter in prison. It was the angel who took the chains off his hands. It was the angel who led him out of a door that he wasn’t supposed to go through.
I’m not saying that the church never grew weary, but in spite of what it looked like or how they felt, they kept praying. Without ceasing means they never stopped. Our problem is we just don’t give God time to work. If nothing happens when we think it should happen, then we assume that God doesn’t love us or that He has forgotten about us or that He changed His mind about what He said.
Let’s become the church we read about in the book of Acts. These people probably needed a miracle in their own lives, but they kept Peter’s name before the Lord. I know God doesn’t sleep or slumber, but they gave Him no rest until Peter was released from prison.
They were like the widow who went to the judge daily until he gave her what she asked for. They were like the person who went to a friend’s house at midnight to ask for bread, but the friend told him that the door was shut, he was in bed and he wasn’t getting out of bed. But because of their friendship (John 15:15) and because he refused to return home without getting what he asked for, the man got out of bed and gave his friend what he needed.
There are some things that we need to stop doing, but praying isn’t one of them.
Pray without ceasing.
[Scripture references: Acts 12:1-16; Luke 18:1-8; Luke 11:5-13]
The Lord told Elijah to hide by the brook, but I don’t want you to look at this from the point of Elijah hiding from Ahab. The purpose of him being hidden had nothing to do with the past, but it had to do with the future. God was preparing him for what was about to happen.
Not only did Elijah have water to drink, but God commanded the ravens to feed him every morning and evening. He knew exactly when the ravens were coming. Inside of Elijah was a gift, but in order for God to get out of him what He placed in him, he had to create a situation to stir up the gift that was in him. He had to make him uncomfortable.
One day, the brook dried up because there was no rain. Now, he had a thirst that he didn’t have before – and I’m not talking about a physical thirst. Had not the brook dried up, Elijah would have remained where he was, but someone needed his gift. What God had given him, wasn’t for him. It was for others. It was to serve others.
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. This woman had a need and God wanted to use Elijah to meet that need, but he never told Elijah about her need. He just told him that he was going to take care of him through this woman.
If you take care of what concerns God, He will take care of what concerns you.
Some people are still looking at the dried brook, crying over what they lost. The only thing lost that we should be concerned about is lost souls, not the things that we have lost because God can restore those things.
This widow 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, a widow and a single mother, to give him her last and the only thing that she had left.
Through instructions, Elijah showed her how to get out of her situation. 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.
We were created to do more than what we are doing. There is plenty of work to do. The harvest is plenteous (Matthew 9:37). But one person cannot do it alone. Every one of us has received a gift. Our job is to discover what that gift is and then put it to work. When you don’t do what you are supposed to do, someone else suffers. Jonah is a great example. God sent him to Nineveh, but he went where he wanted to go. When a storm came, Jonah was sleeping, but the people on the ship were suffering with fear and a near death experience.
Had Elijah not gone to where God sent him, the widow and her son would have died. It is important that we stop waiting for someone else to do what God told us to do. And stop comparing ourselves with others. Stop thinking that someone is better or can do it better than you. God gave gifts to the body of Christ to complete, not to compete with each another. Your gift is needed. Someone needs what you have.
You may not be the answer to everyone’s problem, but you are the answer to someone’s problem.
Use your gift.
Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants [stewards, managers] of God’s various gifts of grace (2 Peter 4:10, EXB).
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.