Summary: The story of Elijah and the Widow of Cherith. A sermon that just begins to touch the surface of God’s Grace.
Three Pictures Of Grace
Story of a young preacher preaching his first sermon in a little country church in Arkansas. All of his family and relatives came to hear him preach. Afterwards nobody said anything about his sermon. They just left quietly. He was dying to know how he had done, so finally he ask his uncle Billy.
He said, "Well it could have been worse - if you had had more time."
Background - I Kings 16:29-33
I Kings 17:1 - First mention of Elijah
In Chapter 17 we are introduced to the prophet Elijah. We know very little about this man’s background or of his call to be a prophet. But he was a man sent from God. He was to become God’s chosen instrument to bring a rebellious, sinful nation back to her knees.
Elijah means - "Jehovah rules".
Vs. 1 - is Elijah’s first recorded act. - to pronounce judgment in the form of a drought. In the midst of this pronouncement of God’s judgment upon Ahab and rebellious Israel we are going to see how God’s Grace Still Rules.
There are dozens of aspects to God’s grace. There is:
Common grace - Saving grace - Restoring grace - Sustaining grace - Maturing grace - Teaching grace - Sovereign grace - Sufficient grace - Miraculous grace - Protecting grace - and on and on. In fact the entire Christian life is lived by God’s grace.
To many when you talk of grace, they only think of saving grace. - Eph. 2:8,9. But that is only the beginning.
To many their definition of grace is the acrostic - God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. This is not an incorrect definition, however this definition only touches the surface. It’s like walking along the beach while the surf washes over your feet and believe you are swimming in the ocean. The ocean is miles deep.
What is a good definition of Grace then. "Grace is God’s freely given, unmerited favor toward the sinful and failing, the expression of forgiving, redeeming, restoring love toward the unworthy."
"Grace arises from God’s unconditional love, a love with no strings attached, no preconditions for it’s action. Grace is God’s love taking the initiative to meet our need, whatever that need may be. God does not love us for anything He can gain from his loving; it is not based on some kind of exchange system. In no way does He love us because we are deserving or have earned it. He loves us and reaches out to us in grace simply because it is the nature of love to reach out. He loves the unlovely, the sinner, the one who cannot possibly merit that love. To love the unlovely is God’s great delight. Such love is merciful and forgiving." Dwight Hervey Small
Grace is so great and deep a subject that it can better be illustrated and shown than defined.
This morning lets look in our passage in I Kings 17 at - Three Pictures of Grace
Our first picture of Grace has to do with God’s prophet Elijah and is:
I. Equipping Grace - Vs. 2-7 Gods boot camp
Elijah was to become one of the greatest prophets in the OT. - but he was human - just like you and I. Before God could fully use him, he had to learn, he had to be equipped for God to use.
1. Elijah learned two things at the brook Cherith.
a. Obedience - Vs. 2,3 - to follow orders
b. Trust - Vs. 4
2. God used two things to care for Elijah
a. The natural - the stream
b. The supernatural - the ravens
3. "The will of God will never take you where the grace of God cannot sustain you"
Our second picture of grace has to do with god’s salvation of the widow of Cherith.
II. Saving Grace - Vs. 8-16
1. God called her - but she didn’t know it. Vs. 9
2. God’s grace in action - were there not many widows starving? - why her?
a. she was under judgment
b. she faced death
c. she was without hope Vs. 12
3. Three "nots"
a. I have not - Vs 12
b. Fear not - Vs. 13
c. Waste not - Vs. 16
4. Here is a picture of our condition before God.
a. We have not - "There is none righteous"
b. Fear not - Christ died for our sin
c. Waste not - Salvation is eternal, not temporary
The third picture of grace has to do with Gods testing of this Widow’s faith:
III. Maturing Grace - (discipling grace) - Vs. 17-24
1. Salvation is not the end of the Christian life. It is the beginning.
2. What did this Widow yet need to learn. God humbled her and taught her.