A Widow’s Cup of Faith – My Daily Bread!
Our courage to have faith in the Lord is found in the Word at 1 Corinthians 5: 7, NIV which tells us:
“We live by faith, not by sight.”
These seven words are the anchor of our belief in Christ. None of us were alive at the time Christ walked the earth so all of our belief today is by Faith. The Bible describes Faith in Hebrews 11: 1, NIV as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” I have also heard it expressed as the place between promise and assurance.
But God gives us such beautiful stories in His Word to help us with our faith. The story that resonates on my heart today I heard our Pastor preach in his sermon Sunday. It is the awesome story about the unbelieving widow who learned what it meant to have faith in the Living God, a faith that enabled her to see a miracle! Her story is told in 1 Kings 17: 1-16. The first thing that struck me about this widow was that she was not a believer, yet God choose her to fulfill His purpose, but first just like us, she had to believe! Turn you Bible to 1 Kings and follow along in Chapter 17, and meditate on some wonderful truths about the power of faith.
Background: Her story really starts with the prophet Elijah who God had instructed to go into the heart of his enemy’s territory; where he was being sought by those who wished to kill him because the Lord’s Spirit was upon him and he would just not stop speaking against their false worship of the Canaanite god Baal. These were dark days for the Northern Kingdom of Israel, God’s prophet was on the run after he told wicked King Ahab that God was going to withhold the rain because of their unfaithful hearts.
Now God had removed Elijah from the situation after he had delivered his unpopular message and we are told of the Lord feeding Elijah by a brook near Kerith Ravine by a raven. (I Kings 17: 1-6) Next we are told ”Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him: go to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there, I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food”. (1 Kings 17: 7-9, NIV)
Elijah may have wondered how a widow who was the poorest of the poor, already living on the fringe of society could have the means to supply his needs. He may have also been concerned about going deeper into enemy territory, for this was close to King Ahab’s Queen Jezebel’s hometown. Regarding them, scripture tells us “ Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethabaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria.” (1 Kings 16:29 – 33, NIV) But Elijah obeyed the Lord without hesitation and went in search of his widow.
The Widow’s Tale of a Handful of Flour And a Little Oil in a Jug: And here is where the beauty of the Lord shines through in the exchange between Elijah and the widow! For when he arrived at the gate of the town, “a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink? As she was going to get it, he called, and bring me, please, a piece of bread. As surely as the Lord your God lives, she replied I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it – and die.” (1Kings 17: 10-12, NIV)
A few things jump out about the widow from their first exchange. Based upon how she answered him she recognized who Elijah’s God was based on how she addressed him – “as surely as the Lord your God lives”. That she was a desperate woman at the edge of hope, with no one to help was clear; for she had gotten up that morning thinking that she was preparing her last meal for her and her son! Despite her own troubles she took the time to respond kindly to a stranger’s request. But his second request likely raised the stakes on her patience and made things much more personal for her. He asked for some food in the midst of a drought, and never mind that it was all the food she had!
“Elijah said to her: “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.” (1 Kings 17: 13-14, NIV)
At that point the widow was confronted with a choice – to believe what Elijah said His God could do or not to believe. To give Elijah her last or to keep it for her and her son. And she also had to act – to go and prepare Elijah’s bread first and bring it to him before she realized the promise! We all know how the story goes, “She went away and did as Elijah told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.” (1 Kings 17: 15, NIV)
Did you catch that Saints, she had to believe and then follow up her belief with actions! And in the midst of her simple act of faith – a miracle occurred! Today in our world where miracles seem like wishful thinking will you have the faith to believe that God can act in extraordinary ways if we only believe and obey? If the widow had only believed in what she saw, “her handful of flour and a little oil” she would have never obeyed Elijah. But in that crucial moment she had the courage to believe what she could not see, to operate on faith, and as a result, experienced God magnified!
Lessons for us today:
Oftentimes our own disobedience keeps us from experiencing the untold blessings of the Lord. He holds them out to us day after day, but we never recognize what they are because we are looking at our own resources that can never be more than a “handful of flour and a little oil”.
Every act of faith starts with an act of obedience. We may not ever see the miracles of God in our lives until we step out on faith and act in the unlimited power of the Holy Spirit! Speaking of Abraham’s obedience the Word says: “You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” (James 2: 22, NIV)
When you think you are at your lowest point and cannot see what God is doing, have faith that God already has the solution. This will give you the courage needed to take your eyes off of your “handful of flour and little bit of oil” and look around to see who God has put in your path to minister to in the Spirit of Christ! Saints give yourself away in the name of Jesus, it is a wonderful pastime and a guard against a faint heart!
Sometimes when we are in the midst of our worst trials God provides help from the most unlikely sources. God can use whomever He chooses to accomplish His will, the saved, the unsaved, the churched or the un-churched, sinners or saints, believers or nonbelievers! Do not discount people because of their station in life, what kind of job they have, what kind of clothes they wear, where they live, or how much money they do not have. Your blessing from God may be on the other end of their faith!
Sometimes we may question where God’s grace is leading us, places where we would not willingly go. At those times remember that God led Elijah into the heart of dangerous territory to show him that He was still in control of all that happened to him; and demonstrate that His care for Elijah was not dependent on his surroundings.
I cannot help thinking that this story is asking each one of us if we are willing to give up everything we have for the sake of obtaining everything God has for us. The widow had to give her last, but in this act of total surrender, she received an unlimited supply of blessings. Sometimes letting go of the things that are dear to us is just what God is requiring; so He can fill our lives with what He needs for the work He Has for you in the Kingdom. ”And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work”. (2 Corinthians 9: 8, NIV)
And finally Saints, we must live by Faith, not by sight for in that place between God’s promises and His assurance is unwavering confidence that God is able “to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV)
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