Summary: Many stop receiving God’s blessings because we stop bringing empty jars, and allow Him to change our little into much. Keep asking, seeking & knocking.
‘Empty Jars’ Text: 2 Kings 4:1-7
The story – picture the story in your mind. The prophet is sick and had to borrow to pay bills. Then he died, leaving his family in debt, with only a little oil left. In comes the prophet Elisha and a miracle happens but:
Question: Why did the oil stopped?
Before we answer that let me ask you: How much do you want to be blessed? Do you have the capacity to receive?
Secret: That capacity is up to you – how many empty jars have you collected?
How greatly do we want our Church to be blessed and to grow? Do we have the capacity to receive? That capacity is dependent upon how many empty jars we are willing to collect.
As long as there is capacity to contain and to receive, the oil of God poured on. The flow of oil was not determined by God’s ability or willingness to give but the availability of empty jars which depended upon the woman and her sons endeavors to collect and receive.
Empty jars represent:
1. our needs: just like the prophet and his family. On our own we needed credits in life. The wife of the prophet widowed came into needs in grief, of loneliness, and threat of losing her sons. Pressured to repay loans she was not able to repay, the threat of further loss of her two sons loom. Likewise the sons having just lost their father face the threat of losing the mother’s care and love.
2. Our neighbors’ empty jars collected, may speak of used up lives, empty lives, in need of God’s touch, in need of the little oil left over in the widow’s home that represents her lifeline.
3. Christian who were once full but now empty due to neglect of God, in need of oil.
A great truth: A little in the hand of God avails much when we learn to ask, then receive in obedience. Even our neediness and weaknesses become great blessings. Cf. Faith as small as a mustard seed.
Paul said: 2 Cor 12:10 ‘For Christ sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’
Why? 2 Cor 12:9 ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness… that Christ’s power may rest on me.’
Even concerning Jesus, Paul commented: 2 Cor 13:4 ‘He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God’s power.’
A spiritual principle: 1 Cor 1:27f ‘God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – the things that are not- to nullify the things that are.’
Thus we can even rejoice in our suffering! Cf Romans 5:3-6
Back to the story:
How can I help you? [Might as well be a question from God!] Before the woman can reply [before we could reply to God’s question!] Elisha continued: ‘What do you have…?’
Maybe like the woman [v2b] our reply similarly is: ‘nothing at all except a little oil’
Do we have needs, even great needs? How can God help? The world has great need of salvation etc. How can God help? The Church has her needs too, how can God help?
Often our reply is: ‘we have nothing at all’ mentality – weak, not gifted, no time, etc.
If we want God’s blessings; heed Elisha’s instruction carefully: V3 ‘Go around and ask ALL your neighbors.’ Cf. salesman with a monthly target to meet!
DON’T ASK FOR JUST A FEW. [DafJaf]
Cf. Our intercession – how much are we asking from God? DafJaf!
Our evangelism – how many people have we shared the Gospel with? How many have we tried to invite? DafJaf!
Go inside and shut the door. Pour oil into all the jars and as each jar is filled put it to one side. Here we have an imagery of prayer. Cf. Mt 6:6 ‘But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.’
Pour oil = filling of the Holy Spirit.
V6 She kept pouring [praying in the Spirit]. The sons kept bringing the empty jars and putting the filled jars to one side. What was of no value is now filled with value!
V6b Oil stopped flowing. Why? NO MORE EMPTY JARS! Has God stopped blessing us because we have NOT been bringing to Him our empty jars, and thus came into debts to our creditors in life? Have our Church stopped growing because we have not gone to our neighbors and bring their empty jars to be filled? Note: It is as we get our empty jars and also of our neighbors that the woman, our personal and family and Church needs are met and the future supplied! V7.