Friday, March 15, 2013

Testing Our Faith

Testing Our Faith
I Kings 17:8-13
And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,  Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.  So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.  And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.  And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.  And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.

There were no supermarkets in the days of Elijah, the people depended upon their farms and others that farmed for their food. Women and children depended greatly on the man of the house  to provide food and shelter for them. When the man died, the widow was left to care for her children as well as for herself. If the widow had no family living around her, she most likely would starve to death even in normal conditions. 

These were hard times because of God’s judgment upon the children of Israel–––a severe drought was ravaging the land. God told Elijah to go to Zarephath, where a widow was commanded to sustain him. This widow woman, with her young son, were very poor–––but her financial situation was not what distinguished her from all the rest of her neighbors, it was her faith. Her obedience and inspiring faith, provide for us today an example of how we are to trust God in the most difficult times of life. She exemplifies what hope and confidence in God looks like–––that we might follow and imitate her excellent spirit.

That this widow woman was commanded by God to care for the prophet Elijah, suggests that she was a follower of God and already obedient to His commands. The Lord asked her to obey by faith even though her obedience may cost her tremendously and potentially lead to starvation. Her first test was small, in that, Elijah might discern whether she was the one to whom God had sent him. He simply asked her for a drink of water. In days of drought, even a cup of water would have been highly valued, yet, she stopped gathering sticks for her fire and brought a thirsty stranger some water.

Elijah’s second request was more severe than the first. He asked the widow woman to bring him a cake. Elijah was asking this dear woman to give up her last provision and trust the Lord to take care of her. She said to him; “I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse:” He then spoke these words to her; “Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for they son.” How important it is to have courage in the life of faith–––the third request was the most difficult of all.  She was asked to make a cake for Elijah first and then make some for herself and her son.

She obeyed the prophet’s command willingly––-knowing the immense cost to herself and her boy. The Lord sometimes requires obedience before He sends His blessings. Because of her great faith, God poured out His blessing upon her and provided her with food and water during a time when the rest of the world was starving. Before God demonstrated His power, the widow woman of Zarephath, was required to demonstrate her faith to the people around her.

Thought: The widow woman of Zarephath understood that to acknowledge God in her life could bring either judgment or mercy and while the judgment and punishment of Israel was in full thrust, she trusted God. In His compassion and love for His own, He has promised to supply every need according to His riches in glory.  Philippians 4:19 ~ But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. The woman of Zarephath obeyed God in the hardest of times, not overcome by the temptations of her trial, but proved her faith.

We, dear friends, have need of strength from Christ, to enable us to do what He has asked us to do. We need his strength that teaches us to be content in every situation and trial and then know He renews our strength day by day that we may wholly depend upon Him. We, above all, are indebted to Him for the great riches He has lavished upon us according to, and because, of His infinite grace.

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