1 Kings 17:7-16 7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the LORD came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, 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?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” 12 “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.” 13 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. 14 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.'” 15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah.
This story is a lot like a diamond. It sparkles from many different angles. There is so much to observe as we hold this story up this morning.
Ahab had become King of Israel in the north and I Kings 16:30 tells us, “Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him.” Elijah the prophet was sent by God to confront Ahab and prophesied that a drought was coming upon the land because of his wickedness and that it wouldn’t rain again until Elijah at God’s command, said so. And it came to pass. Elijah was then directed by God to head to a brook where he would have water and where ravens would bring him food to eat.
As our passage this morning begins, we read: “7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.”
What does that feel like for you and me? What do we experience “when the brook dries up?” Let me try to unpack it. Everything Elijah had grown used to, everything he counted on was now gone. He had drunk from the brook. Now what would he drink? He had been fed by ravens. Now what would he eat? Ravens weren’t hanging around a dry brook either. Think about a time in your life when you asked the question, “What am I going to do now?” Just before you asked that question, I guarantee your brook dried up.
And why did that brook dry up? Because there had been no rain in the land. And why had there been no rain in the land? Because of evil Ahab. It wasn’t Elijah’s fault that the brook dried up, but he was dealing with the consequences of someone else’s bad choices. Have you ever been there?
When you are faced with those kinds of challenges, take heart. God has more than enough in His storehouse to see you through.
The God who is more than enough wants you to remember His provision.
God had led Elijah to the place of provision previously. He would do it again! If God leads you to a supply before the draught, He can lead you to a supply during the draught. Sometimes God will prepare you and supply you before the time of trial or testing. If you come into some money or some provision don’t think that is just yours to blow and enjoy. God may be setting you up to keep you through a time that is coming. One day, the brook may dry up. But there will be other times whenn He wants to supply you in the time of testing, but the bottom line is this: GOD WILL SUPPLY!
Verse 8 “Then the word of the LORD came to him.”
The God who is more than enough wants you to seek His Word and listen to Him!
Matthew 4:4-Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” When Jesus uttered those words, He was hungry. He was thirsty. For He had been in the desert where Satan had tested and tried him. But what good would turning stones to bread have done? He could have eaten the bread and been hungry again in four hours. But to hear God’s Word and obey it leads us to a place where we are sustained every day for life!
Christians, our lives depend on the words of God. We need to be praying, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (I Samuel 3:10) When was the last time you prayed, “Lord, speak directly to me?” Okay, just before the sermon, J but before then! Are you asking God to give you a specific word about your life? Are you asking God to tune your ears to hear His voice?
God wants to speak to you. He wants you to hear His voice. Why do you think Jesus was always saying, “He who has ears to hear, let Him hear?” “Today if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts towards Him,” because you don’t know when the brook is going to dry up. You don’t know when your time will be up in this life. You don’t have the promise of anything until you have the Promises of God on your side through a relationship with Jesus.
Have you ever thought of praying, “Lord speak directly to me before I read the Bible today?” “Lord speak to me about my family. Tell me what I need to know.” “Lord, speak to me about my job today. What is it you want me to accomplish?” I started praying Thursday night because I had a great anticipation about today’s service. Our service in the sanctuary on Wednesday night was filled with the convicting power of the Spirit and the joy of the Lord and this “word” came over me on Thursday, “Something good is about to happen.” I started praying over that word. “Help me be faithful, God, to recognize it. Help me be faithful to give you glory for it. Help me maximize it for your glory. Help me believe what you have for TVCOG will come to pass.”
Let me show you something in Exodus 3 that is pretty subtle, but pivotal. Begin with verse 1:“Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight–why the bush does not burn up.” When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”
When God saw Moses was interested in His overtures He had made to get His attention. . . that is when Moses took a step towards God, that’s when God spoke. When God knew Moses was interested in knowing more, that’s when He spoke more clearly. When he had Moses’ full attention, that’s when He told Moses what He wanted to do in and through Moses.
Do you want to hear God speak? Show Him you are interested! Do you want to know what God says about the circumstances of your life or your future? Ask Him. I won’t go into detail, but something happened 12 years ago that Thom and I both witnessed and there was some confusion around the event. Thom immediately went to praying, and he simply prayed, “God if this is from you, please let me know it’s ok.” It wasn’t but a few minutes that someone we knew came up to Thom and simply said, “I don’t know why I am supposed to tell you this, but God told me to tell you everything is ok.” You can’t tell me God doesn’t speak!
I believe God speaks every Sunday in this house of worship. He speaks through you as you interact with each other. He speaks to us in response to our worship of Him. He speaks through His Word as we read it and talk about it. Some people listen. Some people resist it. Acts 7:51 “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” Oh God, circumcise our hearts that we may hear YOU clearly!
I asked for permission to share something from Kenneth Frederickson. He put a statement on Facebook this week, and it illustrated how precious God’s Word is when we are listening to it. He said, “I have admittedly lost focus on the most important part of my life God. I am not going to give any excuses for this. However, I will remedy this. This deficit affects everything I do. I need our God. Without His voice inside me I’m lost.” The Word of God is critical in our lives! It’s like bread and water are to our physical bodies.
When the brook dries up, when there is transition in your life, when a change is required, when you are in physical need of something, before you need anything else, you need a Word from God. Vickie Winans recorded the song, “We Need a Word from the Lord.” It simply says:
We don’t need another political uprising,
We don’t need another conqueror on the scene.
What we need is a special word,
that will bond within our hearts
and give us direction from above.
We need a word from the Lord,
a word from the Lord.
Just one word from the Lord,
will move all the doubts
and cause the sun to shine,
and give peace of mind;
speak Lord, speak.
Our kids are in Florida at my sister’s for two weeks. I texted them both this week and said, “Don’t forget to talk to God. He wants to hear from you.” Hannah texted back, “Did He tell you to tell us that?” I laughed and simply reminded her that God always wants to hear from her and that He always wants her to hear from Him. You never know what is ahead. Wouldn’t it be great to go into the draught with a Word from the Lord ahead of time to carry you through?
The God who is more than enough wants you to humble yourself in order to experience His provision. One thing God wants according to Micah 6:8 is that we will walk humbly with Him. You aren’t a self-made anything. What you have you and what you are is by the grace of God, and you non-Christians in the house, listen, because that goes for you too. Anything you have, you have because God in His mercy and in spite of your sin and disobedience has chosen to bless you, and He can take it all away in a minute.
What was this Word God gave Elijah? He told him, (vs. 9) “Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.” Now think this through with me. Women were people men were supposed to take care of. Widows were people that men like Elijah were supposed to care for, not people he was supposed to ask for a handout from. He should have been helping her; not the other way around. Yet God sent him to a widow woman, a poor widow woman and told him to humble himself and ask for help.
You will never experience God as more than enough if you are full of yourself. Pride always has an agenda and it isn’t to promote God or to worship Him. James 4:7-10 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. . . Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” It’s interesting that right inside a passage on resisting Satan is a command to humble yourself before the Lord!” If Satan can keep you proud, He can keep you from the God that is more than enough.
John Piper said in an online sermon, “There is a very close relationship between unbelief and pride. Unbelief is a turning away from Jesus (or God) in order to seek satisfaction in other things. PRIDE is a turning away from God specifically to take satisfaction in self.” (http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/battling-the-unbelief-of-a-haughty-spirit)
If Satan can keep you proud, he can keep you from believing what God says about wanting to supply all of your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus! To hear God’s Word and dismiss it is to say you know better. Does that describe where you are? That’s a dangerous place to be in my friend. God can’t do a more than enough work in a person’s life when they dismiss His Word.
This widow lived in Zarephath. It was a place that was going live up to its name. The name Zarephath means “smelting furnace, or refining“. It refers to the furnace into which metal is placed so that it can be heated up and have any impurities removed. Is anyone tracking with me? Zarephath was going to be a place of refining for Elijah. There he would be stripped of any remaining pride, any self-reliance. Why was that necessary? We see later in I Kings 17 that Elijah was going to help raise the dead. You can’t be full of self and pull off miracles like that. And what did God say at the end of verse 9 about Elijah going to Zarephath? He told him to “STAY THERE.” That reminds me of Pastor David’s mantra, “Stay bowed down!” That’s hard isn’t it? We don’t mind being humble if it happens in a hurry, right? We don’t mind being dependent as long as we can quickly get back on our own two feet and take care of ourselves. But the mindset God wants us to have is ongoing humility and dependence that remains ongoing in our lives.
Many of us are independent, self-reliant kinds of people. We want to figure a way out of our troubles. We think we can handle it ourselves. We think we are in control and when we do, we just might hear God tell us to go to Zarephath where there is no way we can earn or produce what is needed even to stay alive. We will have to depend on Him or die, and we will have to learn to stay in that place!
So Elijah went to find the widow woman and humbled himself to ask her for a drink and some food. When he found her she was collecting sticks in order to start a fire so that she could make the last meal for her and her son out of the supplies she had before they would starve to death. What goes through a person’s mind in that predicament? They were down to the last of their resources. So here is Elijah, a man with no resources, asking the widow to give to him of her last resources. That’s a pretty desperate picture, right?
Sometimes the God who is more than enough allows us to get desperate in order to pour into our lives something we know is completely from Him.
God wanted the widow woman to understand that her resources weren’t valuable, but her obedience was! In the natural, it was ridiculous for Elijah to ask for the last of her resources. It was less than chivalrous. It was self-preserving to take her last little bit. What was God doing, asking for the last little bit of food from this poor widow woman?
Our more than enough God wants us to see He will pour an unending supply into our lives if we are willing to give Him everything.
Legend has it that a man was lost in the desert, just dying for a drink of water. He stumbled upon an old shack–a ramshackled, windowless, roofless, weatherbeaten old shack. He looked about this place and found a little shade from the heat of the desert
sun. As he glanced around he saw a pump about fifteen feet away—an old, rusty water pump. He stumbled over to it, grabbed the handle, and began to pump up and down, up and down. Nothing came out.
Disappointed, he staggered back. He noticed off to the side an old jug. He looked at it, wiped away the dirt and dust, and read a message that said, “You have to prime the pump with all the water in this jug, my friend. P.S.: Be sure you fill the jug again before you leave.”
He popped the cork out of the jug and sure enough, it was almost full of water! Suddenly, he was faced with a decision. If he drank the water, he could live. Ah, but if he poured all the water in the old rusty pump, maybe it would yield fresh, cool water from down deep in the well, all the water he wanted.
He studied the possibility of both options. What should he do, pour it into the old pump and take a chance on fresh, cool water or drink what was in the old jug and ignore its message? Should he waste all the water on the hopes of those flimsy instructions written, no telling how long ago?
Reluctantly he poured all the water into the pump. Then he grabbed the handle and began to pump, squeak, squeak, squeak. Still nothing came out! Squeak, squeak, squeak. A little bit began to dribble out, then a small stream, and finally it gushed! To his relief fresh, cool water poured out of the rusty pump. Eagerly, he filled the jug and drank from it. He filled it another time and once again drank its refreshing contents.
Then he filled the jug for the next traveler. He filled it to the top, popped the cork back on, and added this little note: “Believe me, it really works. You have to give it all away before you can get anything back.” That is the essence of genuine faith! It is not a risk, but it is a challenge to human reasoning. Faith will call on us to do the unthinkable so that we might receive the impossible! When you sacrifice what you have, God will supply more than you need.
As I was mulling this text over God showed me this: You can’t separate the command of God from the promise of God, and God promised He would provide more than enough! Every command can be coupled with a promise. He may tell you to be strong and courageous, but just after the words leave His mouth, these follow, “And I will be with you.” He may tell you to go speak to Pharaoh in His behalf, but then He will say, “I will put my words in your mouth.” His commands are made possible because of His promises! He said to the widow in verse 14, “’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.'” Who makes those kinds of promises and can keep them? Our God!
The Hebrew word for God Almighty is El Shaddai which means, “The God who is more than enough.” The Psalmist talked about having “more than enough” when he said, “My cup runs over.” What about the disciples who had fished all night and caught nothing, but at the Word of the Lord they let down their nets one final time and hauled in so many fish their nets broke?
Everything Jesus touched turned into more than enough. 5,000 men plus women and children had nothing to eat. That’s a big problem. All Jesus had to work with was a young boy’s five loaves of bread and two small fish. That’s not enough. It was a big problem and a small supply. But we know the story. After Jesus got involved there was more than enough for everyone to eat and 12 baskets of food were left over. What is not enough in our hands is more than enough in God’s hands.
Are you in a situation where the problem is big and the supply is little? Do you feel like time is running out and you are close to the end of your resources? You need a WORD from God. God wants to speak to you this morning. God wants to direct you this morning. Maybe you haven’t been humble enough to say, “God I can’t manage this.” Maybe you haven’t been desperate enough to pour your heart out to God in faith. Today is the day everything can change. You can pray and expect God to do exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ever ask or think of (Ephesians 3:20). And if God has spoken directly to you and you dismiss this Word or justify why you don’t need to respond to it in your heart and life, you will have just told God that you know better than He does. If you hear His voice today, do not harden your heart to Him. Come and receive from the God who is more than enough!