1 Kings 17:8-24 (Part 2) – Real Faith or Playing It Safe

Posted: February 21, 2019 in 11-1 Kings

1 Kings 17:8-24 (Part 2 of 3)

The Widow at Zarephath

From the time I accepted Christ as my Savior back December 2001, he had been working in my heart to go into the ministry. I always had excuses as to why I could not. Slowly but surely over the next 9-10 years, he eliminated all of the obstacles that I had thrown up. Even then when I accepted the call on my life, I had time to not go directly in the ministry by going to seminary. Don’t get me wrong, the time in seminary was necessary and it deepened and strengthened my faith. Then, I was ready. But the Lord made me wait for about 3 ½ years before the first offer of full time ministry came here in Illinois. All during those times, the wait was frustrating, but it was also safe. I could continue with my secular career and continue to simply dream of the day I would be in full-time ministry.

Then, the day of faith came when the job offer was made here. That was when faith had to be exhibited. We were set where we were. In South Carolina, we were doing quite well financially and I had been in my job at Fujikura for a decade. At church, we were leaders in the church. I was not only supervising the church’s financial reporting but I was also teaching classes and was involved in so many things there. We were set. Then, when the call came to accept or reject the offer from Calvary, that was the real faith test. Many people thought we had lost our minds to give up what we were giving up – especially in our mid-fifties. It came down to faith. We were called by God to pursue this path that we find ourselves on and though we had been preparing for it spiritually, emotionally, financially, still it came down to faith. Leave the known, the comfortable, the easy for the unknown, the uncomfortable and the hard. That takes faith. Even now, the call to ministry continues to take faith. We must trust the process to the Lord as I grow and learn about full-time ministry.

Sometimes, we just have to go for it. We have to quit talking about our faith and live it out. It is similar to my senior pastor here at Calvary. When God called him to plant this church almost 25 years ago, he had a prosperous career with his family’s Christian singing group and had a prosperous business in developing sound systems for large venues. He had it made. But God called him to plant a church. The world told him that he was crazy to walk away from his prosperous hand in the music and sound industry. But sometimes, you just gotta follow what God puts on your heart. Is it going to be easy? No, it’s probably going to be hard. It’s probably going to make you question yourself and your own intelligence and the world is going to tell you that you are nuts. It is at these times that real faith is all we have – to do what God called us to do and to keep doing it when things are tough.

That’s the thing that I thought about today as I read 1 Kings 17:8-24 for a second time was how the widow who was down to her last meal had no earthly reason to trust Elijah, but she went ahead on faith and gave Elijah what she thought was her last food. That’s the thing. Believing in God sometimes requires faith and trust even in the face of everything else in you and around you screaming no:

8 Then the Lord said to Elijah, 9 “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”

10 So he went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the gates of the village, he saw a widow gathering sticks, and he asked her, “Would you please bring me a little water in a cup?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called to her, “Bring me a bite of bread, too.”

12 But she said, “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.”

13 But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 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!”

15 So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. 16 There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.

17 Sometime later, the woman’s son became sick. He grew worse and worse, and finally he died. 18 Then she said to Elijah, “O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?”

19 But Elijah replied, “Give me your son.” And he took the child’s body from her arms, carried him up the stairs to the room where he was staying, and laid the body on his bed. 20 Then Elijah cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, why have you brought tragedy to this widow who has opened her home to me, causing her son to die?”

21 And he stretched himself out over the child three times and cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, please let this child’s life return to him.” 22 The Lord heard Elijah’s prayer, and the life of the child returned, and he revived! 23 Then Elijah brought him down from the upper room and gave him to his mother. “Look!” he said. “Your son is alive!”

24 Then the woman told Elijah, “Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the Lord truly speaks through you.”

In this passage, we see that, when the widow of Zarephath met Elijah, she thought she was preparing her and her child’s last meal. However, a simple act of faith produced a miracle. She had no earthly reason to trust Elijah. Based on what we see in the biblical record, there is no mention of Elijah and the widow having previously known each other. Though she probably did not know Elijah, she trusted him and gave him all she had to eat. Faith is the step between promise and assurance. Miracles seem out of reach for our feeble faith. But every miracle, large or small, begins with an act of obedience. Such an act of obedience requires us to overcome doubt and maybe even hardships that result or maybe even ridicule from others. Sometimes, the only thing that we have to go on is faith in the Lord when all earthly indicators are that we should not proceed. That’s when real faith kicks in – to do what God has called you to do when everything fleshly and temporal tells us we should not.

So, that’s the thing for today, have faith, real faith. Let’s not just talk about it and stay in the safe end of the pool. Sometimes, God calls us to jump into the deep end of the pool so that we will learn to not just give mental assent to faith but really live it out. If you have followed a call by God, keep the faith. Cling to God and know that in your obedience, He will provide for you. If you are being obedient, have that real faith and trust that God will make a way for you. Trust in Him to provide for you even when everything and everyone and earthly logic would tell you a loud no. That’s real faith – to trust God when the world tells you that you should not.

Amen and Amen.

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