Summary: With the looming economic meltdown, persons are tempted to not be faithful in their stewardship. This sermon is an encouragement to give despite the hard times now being faced.
Today is the start of our stewardship series which is normally done this time of the year. Our stewardship series is always about the use of our spiritual gifts, the use of our time and the use of our resources. This morning I want to start off the series by looking at the topic, “Stewardship: Giving In Times Of Little”.
In the scripture passage read earlier we see the biblical account of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. In this biblical narrative, the context is set in a time of drought and famine in the land. There was not much to go around, especially if you were poverty stricken like this poor widow.
We do not know anything about the widow in terms of her name, age, education, what type of house she was living in, or how long she has been a widow. However, the biblical text makes it abundantly clear that she had little, next to nothing as an indication of the times she was living in.
The difficulty of the times not only affected her, but it also affected the man of God, Elijah. He too was in desperate need of food and shelter; the basic amenities of life. As such, under the directives of God he was instructed where to go and find food and shelter.
The times facing the Israelites seems so similar to what many persons in our island and the world are facing. Job cuts, unemployments and the financial sector crisis. We hear the financial analyst and experts predicting crisis for 2009 and beyond. We hear that things are getting very tough on households with limited resources. We hear that the dollar is sliding. We hear of terms like stimulus funds, which are funds pumped into the economy to stimulate growth and employment. At the end of the day, all we hear is that we are in serious financial times.
Yes, we are facing some serous times ahead. However, I believe that there are some interesting, counter cultures, lessons we can learn from this biblical account of Elijah and the widow as they faced their crisis; some lessons that will certainly help us and give us the assurance that God is still in control and will supply all our needs, despite the analysis of the times. The Bible states that…
“my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NIV)
From the text we learn that in times of little…
1. We Are To Still Give Obediently
The bible tells us that the word to Elijah from God was…
"Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food." (1Kings 17:9 NIV)
Not only was the word for Elijah, but also the word was for the widow. She was instructed by God to GIVE, despite the little she had, unto Elijah, and we see the poor widow doing exactly what God had instructed her to do nothing more and nothing less.
In these crucial times or times of little, many persons will tell you and in some cases many of you will be tempted not to give or to refrain from giving. However, God’s financial stewardship says you are to still give, and to do so obediently.
What this widow did was what God has been instructing us to do along, give back to him.
And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD” (Ex. 35:4-5)
And we see the church doing just the same, obediently giving back to God.
“Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made” (1Cor. 16:1-2 NIV)
Despite the little the widow had she was obedient to the command to give. As such, because she did what God had asked her to do she experienced…
a) The Provision Of God
The bible tells us that with respect to the little she had it never run dry. Listen to what the bible says about the little…
“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. 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” (1Kings 17:14-15 NIV)