Summary: This sermon examines six steps to achieve a better life. It involves planning and having faith.
Two construction workers were eating lunch one day. One of them says, “I hope I don’t have another meat loaf sandwich. I’m getting tired of meatloaf.”
The next day the construction worker opens his sandwich for lunch and says, “Meatloaf sandwich again I hate this stuff!”
The third day this guy opens his lunch and says “Oh meatloaf again! I’m getting tired of this every day.” The guy who’s been eating lunch with him every day gets tired of hearing him complain and say, “Hey man why don’t you just get your wife to fix you a different kind of sandwich for lunch?’
The first guys replies, “My wife? What are you talking about? I’m not married I make my own lunch.”
People tend to be this way about life. Everyday they go through the same routines, complaining about the outcome of their day. They never sit back and ask the question, “How can I change things?” Today I want to discover a way to break that pattern. It is a two step process that intertwines with each other; making plans and having faith.
There is a very interesting story told in 2 Kings 4:1-7. Listen as I read it.
One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.”
She has lost her husband. Now she must depend on her sons to care for her. But a creditor is about to enslave them, leaving her defenseless and unable to care for her self. Notice she does not fall apart or just turn to prayer. She devises a plan to seek help from someone she has a relationship with and faith in.
“What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?”
“Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied.
And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.”
So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim!
A plan was presented to her. It required her to participate in the plan by offering what she had available. (The flask of oil.) It required her to seek help from those she had established a relationship with. (Friends and neighbors) It required effort on the part of those in her household. (Her sons) It required privacy. (The shut door)
For people to make changes in their lives they must quit making excuses. For example, “My finances are in such disarray that I will never recover. My education is so lacking that I will never better myself. My life in such shambles that I cannot see my life getting any better.” They must begin making plans to see beyond these hindrances. They must put effort into making a better life for themselves with what is available.
Next, they must have established relationships with friends, neighbors, and family. They must surround themselves with those whom they can share their plans and receive support. Isolation only leads to discouragement.
Also, it must be a private matter as the plan is put in place. If they begin to receive negative reactions to their plans, they must close the door to those comments. Well meaning people can often dash plans by misspoken words. Their comments must be ignored. Plus, people must recognize that there is a creditor who does want to see God’s children prosper. So the whispers of the enemy must be ignored also.
Let’s continue with the story.
“Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons.
“There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing.
When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”
When the jars ran out, the oil stopped flowing. Her plan had reached fulfillment. Also, not only did her plan save her sons but was abundantly more than she expected. Successful plans when followed will achieve the best results.
This brings up the question, “If making and following plans are so successful then why aren’t people doing so?” The answer is quite simply the lack of faith and fear of failure.
This year there have been 12 shark attacks in the Carolinas. None have resulted in death. Yet, I have heard people declare they will not get back in the ocean anymore. Because of their fear they have lost their faith in the ocean being safe. This fear is in spite of the fact that they have gone into the ocean numerous times without injury.