Summary: From the widow of Zarephath, we can learn important lessons about stewardship.

September 14, 2002

I. Introduction:

A. Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

1. The most famous American memorial for unidentified soldiers killed in combat is located at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

2. Though it was never officially named, the memorial has come to be known as the Tomb of the Unknowns or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In 1921 a soldier who had died in France during World War I (1914-1918) was interred at the site. A massive marble tomb was placed on the site of the original grave in 1932. An inscription on the walls of the tomb reads: "Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God." On Memorial Day 1958 two other unknown soldiers, one who served in World War II (1939-1945) and one who fought in the Korean War (1950-1953), were also buried at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; on Memorial Day in 1984, a soldier who served in the Vietnam War(1959-1975) was interred.

B. Unknown soldiers known for their:

1. Commitment

2. Faithfulness

3. Dedication

4. Bravery

5. Loyalty

C. Unknown Soldiers of the Bible

1. Little maid at the household of Commander Naaman

2. Demoniac healed by Christ who spread the gospel throughout his city.

3. Widow of Zarephath

II. Body:

A. Widow of Zarephath—what we don’t know about her

1. Name

2. Age

3. Background

4. What type of house she was living in

5. Whether she had relatives around her or not

6. How long she was a widow

7. Education

8. How much money she had in her bank account

B. Widow of Zarephath—what we know about her

1. Dedication

2. Faithfulness

3. Trust in God’s promises

4. Generosity

C. Principles of stewardship derived from the life of the widow of Zarephath

1. Principle number 1—God first and self is second

a. This principle diagonally contradicts the principle that the world is promoting

1. “I” principle

2. Self promotion

3. Self exaltation

4. Self preservation

b. This principle is in keeping with the first commandment and the tenth commandment

1. Exodus 20:3—“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

2. Exodus 20: 17—“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”

c. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:31—“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

d. Matthew 6:33-34—“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

2. Principle number 2—Circumstances does not change God’s command to be faithful

a. As human being we are good at finding or making excuses to be less faithful to God.

1. Circumstances—threat of losing a job, imprisonment, death, alienation, etc., as excuses to be less faithful to God.

2. Personal needs—“God helps those who help themselves.”

3. Family and peer pressures—unbelieving spouse, children, and friends as alibis not to be faithful to God.

4. Bad experiences caused by church leaders and members as alibi not to be faithful

5. Modernization—old time religion is no longer applicable in our modern society.

6. Delay of God’s coming as an excuse for not being faithful.

b. Ellen G. White, Counsels of Stewardship, pages 138-139, wrote, “The Scriptures teach that wealth is a dangerous possession only when placed in competition with the immortal treasure. It is when the earthly and temporal absorbs the thoughts, the affections, the devotion which God claims, that it becomes a snare. Those who are bartering the eternal weight of glory for a little of the glitter and tinsel of earth, the everlasting habitations for a home which can be theirs but a few years at best, are making an unwise choice. Such was the exchange made by Esau, when he sold his birthright for a mess of pottage; by Balaam, when he forfeited the favor of God for the rewards of the king of Midian; by Judas, when for thirty pieces of silver he betrayed the Lord of glory. {CS 138.3}

c. Reality check—regardless of our situation, God expects us to be faithful to Him.

d. Biblical examples of faithfulness:

1. Noah—120 years of preaching amid taunting and ridicule from people around him.

2. Joseph—faithful in spite of being sold by his own brothers; carried to a foreign country where idolatry was everywhere; and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.

3. Daniel—taken from his beloved city, educated in Babylon, surrounded by paganism, thrown into a lion’s den.

e. Romans 8:38-39—“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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