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Summary: The widow of Zarephath received a lifetime of grace from God, as offered to her by the prophet Elijah.

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The Offer of a Lifetime

I Kings 17:8-16

June 10, 2007

There was this fellow who was downtown to do some business. He was only in the building for a few minutes. When he came out he saw a police officer writing a parking ticket. He approached the officer and said, “Come on, how about giving a person a break?” The officer ignored the man and continued to write the ticket, at which point the guy called him a Nazi.

The police officer glared at the man and wrote him another ticket for having worn tires. Then he was called a doughnut eating Gestapo. The officer finished the second ticket and proceeded to write another one.

This went on for about twenty minutes or so. The more the officer was abused, the more tickets he wrote. Finally the officer was starting to get writers cramp, so he walked away. Another fellow who was standing by watching all of this happen approached the first fellow and asked him why he abused the officer so badly because now there were a mass of parking tickets on the windshield. He said, “Personally, I don’t care. I came downtown on a bus and the car he was putting the tickets on had a bumper sticker that said, ‘Hillary in ’08.’” (If you are a Democrat, you can substitute Rudy Giuliani. The punch line is the same).

We usually think that more is better. But not in all cases.

Every once in a while, Toni and I fantasize what we would do if we won the lottery. Now, to be up front with you, we don’t play the lottery, and as I understand it, you have to play to win – even though your chances of winning are less than your chances of being hit by lightening. In fact, we believe that gambling in all its forms is inconsistent with the Christian gospel, is dangerous for the community, and an unjust form of taxation on the poor - the people who can least afford it. That is why we so oppose the expansion of gambling in the state of Indiana. That is why we are disappointed in the governor who recently signed a bill allowing slot machines to be placed in race tracks, which we believe shouldn’t be there in the first place.

We always joke that if we would win the lottery, we would have to win a lot, because we would have to leave the church. Our bishop would not be too happy with us. We couldn’t win just a few thousand dollars; we would need to win big so that we could support ourselves because we wouldn’t have a job anymore. And, in our way of thinking, it just isn’t worth taking the chance.

There are some things, however, that I wouldn’t mind winning. I wouldn’t mind being Tasha Callister of Jacksonville, Florida who won the Ben and Jerry’s “Do Us a Flavor” contest. According to an October 6, 2006 press release by the ice cream company, Ms. Callister was selected by 40,000 entrants for the best idea for a new ice cream flavor. Her’s was called “Puttin’ On the Ritz” and is a blend of Vanilla Ice Cream, Caramel and Ritz Cracker Swirl with Chunks of Chocolate. She won an all expense paid trip to the ice cream factory in Vermont, as well as – and here is the good part – a year’s worth of free Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.

They are having another contest called, “YO! I’m Your CEO!” One hundred word applications are being accepted. The winner will become CEO. Actually, I would rather win second prize. Second prize will be a lifetime supply of ice cream. Not too bad, huh?

Did you know that if your supply of underwear is running low, you can enter to win a lifetime supply of free underwear from Jocky? British Petroleum is sponsoring a contest in which you can win a lifetime supply of gasoline. But you’re going to have to have a tank to put that gas in, so the winner will receive a new Ford F-150 every five years for the rest of his or her life.

What would you like to win? Would you like to win a lifetime supply of Pepsi, or toilet paper, or M&M’s, Australian wine, symphony tickets, Indianapolis Colt’s tickets, groceries, haircuts, or tennis shoes?

The thing you have to remember about lifetime offers is that they are only as good as the company that offers them. If Ford gets taken over by Toyota, there go your new trucks. If the elastic market gets stretched too thin, there go your boxer shorts and sport bras. If global warming occurs too rapidly, there goes your ice cream.

One person who received a lifetime offer was the widow of Zarephath. Let’s try to remember what was happening here. Shortly after he began his prophetic ministry, sometime around 875 BCE, Elijah got embroiled in a controversy with King Ahab. Ahab, if you remember, was the king who married Jezebel, the foreign woman, a woman who worshiped foreign gods. She brought her gods with her and pretty soon Ahab had begun to worship them as well. He had begun to believe that these foreign gods were the ones who controlled the rain, and for that matter, all things on earth.

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