Summary: Part 2 of Elijah series - giving God the little you have, and the best you have, and watching Him use it.
1 Kings 17:7-24 – What to Give a God Who Has Everything
A minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building.
Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute. The substitute wanted to know what to play. "Here’s a copy of the service," he said impatiently. "But you’ll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances."
During the service, the minister paused and said, "Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected, and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge $100 or more, please stand up." At that moment, the substitute organist began to play, "O Canada."
You know, every one of us has been asked for money recently. From telemarketers to telethons to televangelists, or even regular old pastors, each has been asked lately to surrender that part of us near and dear to our hearts: our money. Today, my message goes further than money – I know many, if not most of you, give 10% or more to the work of the Lord. But sometimes, as someone once told me, giving 10% is easy enough for some – it’s all the other stuff that God asks for that’s the problem. The time, the efforts, the energy, the talents, the support, the involvement, the prayer, the encouragement, the just “showing up”… all these are things that even generous givers will shortchange God on.
Now, I must say, I don’t like preaching about money. The preacher Clovis Chappell wrote: I have never felt any hesitation in speaking to my congregation about money… I thrill to it. I revel in it. I love to see the liberal enjoy it. I love to watch the stingy suffer.” However, I must admit, I don’t feel the same. However, Jesus talked a great deal about money. 16 of the 38 parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions. In the Gospels, 1 out of 10 verses, 288 in all, deal directly with the subject of money. The Bible gives 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2000 verses on money. So here we are today.
Today’s Bible passage comes from 1 Kings 17, as we continue our journey through the life and times or Elijah. If you remember last week, we found the prophet in a drought, and his personal supply of water had just dried up too. So where does a person go when they run into dry spells? They continue to listen to the Lord and take instructions from Him. We’ll start with v8-16.
So here’s the context. Because of the evil in the land, God has sent a drought through the prayers of His servant Elijah. During the 1st little while, Elijah was kept fed and watered by the brook running through the Kerith Ravine, on the eastern side of the Jordan River. Soon, though, the water dried up, and Elijah had to go somewhere else. And God said to go to Zarapheth, which is some 70 miles northwest of the ravine. There he would find a widow who would help him.
Now, this is odd on many levels. A) Why would God send Elijah so far away, even outside of the nation, to get food and water? Jesus commented on this in Luke 4, in that Elijah had to go so far because there was so little faith from among his own people. B) Why would God send Elijah to this particular person? This lady may not have even been a Jew. Scholars are not sure if she worshipped Baal, the god of the land, or Jehovah, the God of the Israelites. C) Why would God send Elijah to a poor starving widow, of all people? One who could barely feed herself and her son?
Well, I certainly don’t claim to understand all the ins and outs of God’s plans. But I do see how this all came around in the end. And I can see some of the reasons why God chose this poor starving widow. She was a giver. She gave. She was a real person with real problems, but when it mattered, she really did give of herself to God and His work. Through her obedience and faith, she watched God supply her needs, and she became part of God’s plan to take care of Elijah.
In this 1st section of scripture, we can plainly see that she gave what little she had. V12 – she only had just a little flour and a little oil, just enough for one last meal with her son, only to end up starving after. And here comes Elijah, asking for bread. Odd request to ask for food from a starving widow. Yet, Elijah said that God would provide, and everyone involved would be OK. She went away, prepared the bread for Elijah, and then still had enough for herself. Even though she used all she had, there was still enough to go around.