I was talking with a man recently who said:
“People are getting laid off.” People can’t find jobs.”
People are taking pay reductions.” People can’t pay their bills.
People are slashing their budgets.” Home values are dropping
Savings accounts are being emptied. Investments have gone up in smoke.
He looked at me…smiled and said….that’s just what’s happening in my family.
I had another man ask me what was my best investment advice for right now….
I said buy stock in companies that sell antacids and ulcer medication.
I was just kidding.
I asked the Lord what He’d have us share with you considering the economic outlook and He said:
“Tell my children, they’ve got more than they can see (they’ve got resources they don’t even know they have).”
Just over 30 years ago, when I was Director of Development for a Christian College in eastern North Carolina, I went to see a successful farmer about a donation.
After giving the farmer my sales pitch about helping others . . . he began to tell me that he had not had a good year financially. He claimed that year was even worse than the year before.
I knew something about his financial situation because his daughter attended the college and she was always talking about her Daddy.
For instance, I knew he’d purchased a new truck ($25K), a new Corvette for his wife ($30K), a new car for his daughter ($20K), a new tractor ($45K) and a new combine for harvesting his wheat ($50k). . .so I smiled and recited the lists of things that he’d paid cash for.
I will never forget how serious he was when he said “Yes, I paid cash for all that stuff. . . but I didn’t have any money left over to put in the bank.”
The success of his year was determined by how much money he had in the bank after he’d paid almost $200,000 in cash for “stuff.” So in his mind, it had been a bad year.
What conditions have to exist for you to declare your situation to be bad?
For some . . . not making the payment on their Mercedes Benz. . .would be a desperate situation.
For others . . . it might be the reality of your home being foreclosed on because you are three months behind on the payments.
For others. . .it might be losing their job and for yet others. . .it might be having their hours reduced.
The severity of the disaster depends upon your perspective . . . or what you are, in fact, experiencing.
If there was a single mother in your church and you discovered she and her son are down to their last meal. . .would you consider that a disastrous situation?
How do you view your own unmet needs?
Regardless, the real question is how does God view our situations?
1 Kings 17:12 says:
“And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
God sent the prophet to see this widow at Zarephath. A lesser man of God may have wondered what God was up to when he saw how poor this woman was . . . but Elijah knew God wouldn’t have sent him there if He didn’t have a plan.
When the widow looked around, she thought she was going to die. The scripture indicates that God had given her an instruction but from her words to Elijah, she had despaired of her answer coming. Have you ever felt that way?
God is about to reveal something very powerful in 1 Kings 17:9 and we need to never forget the lesson:
“Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.”
In the natural, it did not appear that this woman could be the one called to sustain the prophet.
The Amplified Bible says: “. . .I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”
The New Living Translation says: “. . .I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”
The New Century Version says: “. . .I have commanded a widow there to take care of you."
Are you getting this?
Here’s a woman who thinks she is about to have her last meal with her son and then die. The “circumstances” were undoubtedly very real to her.
But the “truth” recorded in the Word of God said her purpose was to “sustain” “provide for” “feed” and “take care” of the prophet.
God saw something in her finances that she did not see.
Are you ready for this? God sees something in your finances that you have not yet seen.
It was something Elijah didn’t see with the natural eye but accepted by faith and the direction of the Lord.
Child of God. . .that’s what we have to do as well. . .accept it by faith and the direction of the Lord.
1 Kings 17:13 says:
“And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.”
The prophet gave the widow very specific instructions. Here are seven things we can learn from this verse
1. Fear Not
No doubt the widow was thinking . . .that’s easy for you to say. . .you’re not the one dying here.
Fear Is your Enemy. Fear had its beginning with Adam's rebellion and fall in the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God's directive to them, fear entered their hearts.
Genesis 3:10 says:
"And Adam said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I am naked; and I hid myself."
Fear Is A Killer. Scripture tells us fear will have a profound effect on the unbeliever. Jesus declared that in the last days "men's hearts will fail them for fear..."Luke 21:26
Fear Will Rob You. Fear is the tactic terrorists use to shut down a nation: psychologically, economically, domestically and physically! The world will give you a never-ending list of reasons we could worry ourselves into an early grave if we allow it.
Fear Destroys Relationships, hinders growth in business, impedes academic progress, breaks up families and keeps people out of church!
Fear Is The Root Cause Of: strife, worry, bitterness, resentment, jealousy and hatred - but fear can be conquered and driven out of our lives!
The devil is a spiritual terrorist whose main aim is to leave your powerless and purposeless. But God gave us the Word which holds the answers.
Deuteronomy 31:6 says:
“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
Just as the widow needed to fear not. . .you need to fear not.
Don’t just stand around talking . . .do what God says do!.
The word go is the Greek word H935 bow and according to Strong’s Concordance it means to “go” but also “to attain and to enumerate.”
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines go as “to move on a course” or to “proceed without delay.”
The first two letters in “gospel” “good” & “God” is go. . .it’s time to get up and get moving.
Get up off your excuses. . .your buts:
-but I don’t really understand what’s going on
-but I don’t really know what to do
-but I don’t have anything to work with
-but this, but that ….
Buts and excuses are not going to cut it on Judgment Day.
Way too many believers spend way too much time talking about what they’re going to do instead of just doing it.
Once you make a decision. . .you need to stop talking. . .and even quit praying if it means you are hesitant to get going.
Exodus 14:15 in The Living Bible says:
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Quit praying and get the people moving! Forward, march!”
As we say in Texas. . .just get a move on it.
1 John 3:18 in God’s WORD Translation says:
“Dear children, we must show love through actions that are sincere, not through empty words.”
Benjamin Franklin said:
“Well done is better than well said.”
Don’t talk about it. . .just do it. . .because your Heavenly Father is watching every step you take.
Proverbs 5:21 in God’s WORD Translation says:
“Each person’s ways are clearly seen by the Lord, and he surveys all his actions.”
Don’t just talk about it. . . “be a doer of the word” as it says in James 1:23.
It’s time to get around TUIT.
4. Your reaction will determine your destiny
How would you react if you’re down to your last meal and the man of God said, “Stop! Make me a meal first before you feed yourself and your son.”
Your reaction to authority. . .will determine your destiny.
Submission to authority is a powerful spiritual concept which we will teach in greater detail on another day.
For the purpose of discussion in this teaching let me simply say that those who don’t understand how to operate under authority will never be given authority over others.
It’s also important to understand that someone who claims to be submitted to authority is not really proven until they must submit when things don’t go their way. Up to that time, they merely agree to submit because they find nothing wrong.
The real test of a person’s submission to authority is their reaction when things are not going the way they want or think they should.
5. Bring it to me
Not only did the prophet want her last cake . . .he had the nerve to tell her to bring it to him.
Some people would have resented the prophet for such a request . . . and some might even think doing such a thing was beneath them. They would have also starved to death.
In our effort to get out of debt. . .we may need to do what we feel is beneath us. . .like get a second job.
It is well to remember what God says in the following two scriptures:
James 4:6 says:
“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “Godresiststheproud, But gives grace tothehumble.”
I Peter 5:5 says:
“ … Yes, all ofyoube submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “Godresiststheproud, But gives grace tothe humble.”
We all need God’s grace and His help. He makes it a point to tell us that He only helps those who are willing to be humble to submit. He even resists those who are not willing to!
We may have to give up our Saturday and Sunday football games to get a second job to start paying off our debt.
We may have to give up our Cadillac Escalade for a pre-owned Ford Focus to help reduce our monthly expenditures.
We may have to give up our frequent dinners at upscale restaurants or even the local buffets to re-direct money to paying off debt rapidly.
There are defining moments where we must stop worrying about what the neighbors or the relatives will think. . .we must humble ourselves to do what’s right for our long-term financial well-being.
And for the record, I know people who work second jobs just so they have enough money to tithe and give offerings.
6. Obedience will eventually yield rewards
Next, the prophet gives her permission to do something for herself and her son. That is, after she’s taken care of the prophet. . .waiting on him hand and foot . . . giving him water and then what she thought was her last meal. . .he now tells her she can make a cake for herself.
This widow woman faced many obstacles that could make her doubt what the man of God said, but she obeyed his instructions anyway.
You may think you’re at the end . . . with nowhere to turn. . .but I doubt that anyone hearing my voice has faced the prospect of one last meal with your child before dying. She was not in a position to beg from others because no one else had anything either due to the famine.
This widow woman had a choice . . . in the direst of circumstances, she looked beyond her situation and acted in faith on the word given to her by the man of God.
1 Kings 17:14 in the New Living Testament says:
As a result of that obedience she was told “. . . There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”
If she had not responded “in faith” on “the Word,” things could have easily been different.
There is a spirit of poverty that makes you want to hold onto what you have in fear of that being all there is.
There are some people who are so fearful about getting down to their last dollar that they squeezed George Washington until he begins to cry. Which leads to the last point:
7. Holding on to what you’ve got is not the answer
Here’s what the Lord is stirring in me . . .hold on too tightly to what you have and you’ll lose it.
Proverbs 11:24-25 says:
“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
God’s spiritual laws never change. They never grow old. They work under any circumstance and they do not change no matter what country you live in … what society you were raised in … no matter what race you were born into.
God’s Word works … no matter what!
Release and increase (prosper); retain and decrease (tend to poverty).
I heard this scripture expressed years ago that . . . when you release what’s in your hand, then God will release what’s in His hand.
No question, I’d much rather have what’s in God’s hand than what’s in mine.
Once again, we see the law of release. When we release what’s in our hands, then God will bring increase into our lives.
I will always remember where I was standing when a dear friend of our ministry called to say that she was sowing a $21,000 seed into our ministry.
Her oldest daughter was entering college and all she had saved for this event was $21,000 which wasn’t nearly enough for even one year. . .so she decided to release what she had as a seed to bring increase into her life.
Within a short period of time. . .someone she knew well came to her and told her that he felt led to pay for half of her daughter’s tuition. Not only that, he was going to pay for half of her other daughter’s tuition when she entered college in a year or two.
When what you have in your hand isn’t enough to meet your need. . .it’s time to turn it to seed.
When the widow woman released what was in her hand. . .God released what was in His.
It’s the law of release to increase.
Say it with me. . .
“When I release what’s in my hand, God will bring increase into my life.”
One more thing. . .
People turn to the Bible for comfort but to the Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine and CNBC for financial direction.
People seem to have their opinions shaped more by talking heads than they do the footsteps of Jesus.
That has to stop if you want to prosper no matter what.
If you want to survive and thrive in this or any other economic crisis you will face in your lifetime, then you’ve got to get back to the basics. . .the Word of God. It never changes and it always works.
No matter what’s in your bank account . . . you must always remember that you’ve got more than you can see and. . .that’s something to shout about on a Sunday night or any other time.
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