Summary: “And Elijah said to her, ‘Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son.’” (1 Kings 17:13)
Our theme for today’s sermon is “a disciple gives”. A disciple is a “follower” who adheres to the teachings and lifestyle of his master. A Christian disciple is a person whose life and conduct reflects that of Christ. Since today is children’s harvest and we are worshipping as families I am reminded of what many parents tell their children “do what I say and not what you see me do”. A disciple of Christ does what he says and children should see their Christian parents behaving like Christ. Their conduct should be that of a witness for Christ and not a craving for worldly goods. What is our witness at harvest time? Do our children see our gratitude for a good harvest? Since many of us are not farmers a good harvest does not only mean an increase in the produce of the land or an increase in the number of the flocks. A good harvest also means an increase in our business, an increase in our earnings and investments and an increase in the number of our development projects. As disciples of Christ we have everyone reason to be and thankful and a harvest celebration is a good opportunity to show our gratitude through our giving.
Step One: The disciple’s foundation
a) Responding to the call of Christ
Christian discipleship begins with laying the right foundation. It is the most important foundation in life and affects our eternal destiny. It begins by hearing and responding to the call of Christ. It is a call to change our mind about our way of life and return to a loving and merciful God.
b) Accept God’s gift of forgiveness
A Christian disciple must not only respond to the call of Christ but also accept God’s gift of forgiveness made possible by the death of Jesus Christ. This is because in Adam “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23) and deserve the death sentence for “the wages of sin is death”. (Rom 6:23) Christ met God’s righteous judgement on the cross so that whosoever believes in Him should not die but have eternal life.
c) Accept God’s righteousness
A Christian disciple must also accept that he has been made the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ took our place on the cross, was made sin and bore the full judgement of God so that we can be made righteous with His righteousness, a righteousness that has never known sin before.
God’s call and provision is because He is loving and merciful. When He calls and commands us it is because He wants to take care of our needs. When God calls us to be His disciples it is because He wants to save us, bless us and make us a blessing. When God prepared and commanded a Gentile widow to take care of the Prophet Elijah during a drought it was to bless her and take care of her. God could have sent Elijah to a rich person who had all that was needed to meet Elijah’s needs. He rather sent him to a poor widow about to prepare her last meal before she and her son died of hunger. God sent Elijah to the poor widow because she needed to be taken care of and for them both to know that their provision came from God. When Elijah asked for water and a piece of cake it was to give her an opportunity for God’s miraculous supply. God met her need for water, flour and oil during the drought and also raised her son from death.
When God commands us to give, it is not because He needs what we give. He commands us to give so that He can meet our needs. As disciples we need to grow to that level where we can trust God completely and do whatever He commands us.
Step Two: The disciple’s growth
a) Growth through fellowship
Every living thing grows and a disciple is to grow in discipleship. Jesus Christ taught His disciples, lived and fellowshipped with them and eleven of them grew in their discipleship. The one who did not grow in discipleship never laid the right foundation. We also as His disciples grow in discipleship through fellowship with other believers.
b) Growth through learning
We grow in discipleship by studying and meditating on the Word of God and learning from those who teach the truth and live the life of Christ.
c) Growth through encouragement
An important aspect involved in the growth of a disciple is encouragement. Jesus Christ and all true disciples mentored others in love and through encouragement.
God’s great commission is to make disciples of all nations. As disciples we are to follow His directions. Paul and Silas were prevented from going into Asia and go to Macedonia instead because of those who needed to hear the gospel. They taught the Word, fellowshipped with the brethren, encouraged them and baptized them. Their actions led to imprisonment and instead of complaining worshipped God. They could worship God because they trusted Him and from what happened we can clearly see that they were there in prison to minister to the jailor. What then happened led to the salvation of the jailor and his family and the establishment of the Church in Europe.