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Sermon of the Week 
Wednesday, March 08 2017

 

I'm not asking this question about your retirement account, your current salary, what your inheritance is worth, or how much you can sell your house for, and yet I'm asking about all those things and more....

    1 Kings 17 tells the story of the widow and her son, who were starving in the midst of famine, who because of her obedience, even though she had very little faith, ushered her into a new season which was her due season, just as we talked about last Sunday....  

    1 Kings 17:8 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah saying, v9 ‘Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a (poor, starving) widow there to feed you.’ v10 So he set out and went to Zarephath and when he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks. 

    He called to her and said, ‘Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.’ v11 As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, ‘Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.’ v12 But she said, ‘As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing to bake, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.’

    v13 Elijah said to her, ‘Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. v14 For the Lord the God of Israel says, "The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth". v15 So she went and did as Elijah said, and she as well as Elijah and all her household ate for many days. v16 The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah".

    Don't judge your new season timing or appearance, by what God is doing in others around you. When your “new season” which contains your due season, is about to break, it often gets worse before it gets better. The woman could have thought, why should she be blessed when folks all around her were starving...Your schedule isn't always the same as the folks around you, because we are all on our own personal journey into the miraculous.  

    We've heard of the child who was walking along the beach and was stooping over again and again as she picked something up and threw it in the water. A man who saw it and got closer to see what she was doing, realized that the beach was covered in starfish as far as the eye could seethey had been brought in with the tide and were now stranded. The little girl was picking them up one at a time and throwing them back into the ocean.        

    Amused at her feeble efforts, the man asked her, Why are you doing that?And she replied, If the starfish dont get back into the ocean, theyll dry out in the sun and die. So Im putting them back. The guy laughed and said, But there are thousands of starfish on the beach, theres no way you could possibly save them all. Even if you spent the rest of the day doing thisit just wouldn’t matter.” As he spoke, the little girl picked up another starfish and stared down at it for a minute. Then she held it up to show him and said, “But it matters a lot to this one.” And she proceeded to throw it in the water.                                                  

    Regardless of  how seemingly insignificant, our acts of obedience, in God's economy of redemption, it matters. While an observer is overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem and doesn't feel that what he could do would be worth the effort, and does nothing....The girl sees the value in each starfish and as a result, she  sees whatever she can do as important and valuable.                                                      

    What is Worship? What is Patience? Do we have enough Patience to Worship God passionately, even when God is late? And we may feel as stranded as one of those starfish.....Do you have enough trust to wait for God’s Answer when it doesn’t happen on your time table or look like what you expected? You may feel like just one starfish stranded on the beach of life among so many…                                                                                                                                                   

    In our scripture passage for today, the act of obedience seems insignificant compared to the overwhelming size of the problem. The woman does what most of us would have done in the same situation. She feels incapable of meeting the need which is presented to her. She doesn’t have enoughnot even for herself and her sonso she can’t give enough. She tells Elijah that she has only enough for her and her son and then they will die.                                        

    But Elijah encourages her to trust God and give Him her insufficiency, her lack, and even what she doesn't feel she has. It is when the woman places her "Not enough" in God's hands, that it becomes her "more than enough"...  and she has enough for herself and her son and Elijah, and the meal and oil do not run out so that the 3 of them are fed for many days till the famine is lifted.           

     Even though we may sometimes stress about our budget or our uncertain  future, we are not on the verge of death. The cupboards and the refrigerator are not completely empty. We don’t wonder where we will sleep tonight. 

We are aware as we watch TV and other media, how badly many folks in the world, have it today and we may feel so helpless to do anything about it.     

    When we see the devastation of communities hit by the tornadoes, or floods, or earthquakes.... we are inundated with all the tragic, terrible things happening in our world. Winnie and I give $20 dollars a month to TBN and to Operation Blessing... It's not much, but it can be all the difference to that one starfish or that one family....                                                                                                                                                        

    The Chicago Tribune revealed that 5 died and 18 were wounded in that city in one night. It told the story of a young mana Stanford studentconvicted of sexually assaulting a woman at a party and b sentenced to only 6 months in prison. It talked about a professor killed in a shooting on the UCLA campus.                                                                                                                                                   

     We rejoice at the good, hopeful stories that find their way to us, but we cannot ignore all that is troubling iand rotten n the world around us. Countries and regions that are torn by war. Ceaseless gun violence in the streets of our cities. The overwhelming hate and fear, pain and prejudice, illness, poverty, loneliness, and loss. It's at a level which is hard not to see even if you try to look away.                                                                                                                                                                

    As Christians, we believe that we are called to be generous. To work for justice. To care for our creation, to serve others and especially to help those who are most vulnerable.                                                                                                                                                   

    But I think this question of how much is enough often gets us to the place that we are so staggered at the vastness of the need that we do nothing at all.                                                                                                                           In a world as broken as ours: where do we begin? And perhaps a more troubling question: where do you stop and just say no? For surely if we tried to solve every problem and meet every need, we could give away everythingwhile hardly making a dent in all that’s wrong in this world, whether it's about homelessness and poverty, or violence, and so much more. .                                         We just don't feel that we could make much of a difference, so why fool ourselves.....it's just never enough.                                                                                                              

    I came across a story which tells of a river with a village on its shores. One day, a villager noticed a baby floating down the river and jumped in to save it. Then more and more babies began to float down the river and the villager called out to other people to help her save them before they drown. Eventually, one woman leaves the group and starts to head upstream along the shore. Someone asks her, “Are you giving up and leaving us?” And she answered them by saying, “No, I’m going upstream to find out how to stop these babies from ending up in the river in the first place.” All the others were active, but she was pro-active.                                                                                                                                   

    We need both direct service and love, and the deeper work of dismantling systems which create and sustain these disfunctional and toxic environments. And both are equally important and both are crucial.                                                                                      Our faith demands that we act with care and service toward others in all the ways we can, when we can, as much as we can. 

    Too often though, we become so involved and overwhelmed with bailing out the boat, that we don't put our efforts into stopping the leak!                                                                                                              So many throw up their hands and give up, as they cry out "what's the use"!!! But we as believers who are followers of Christ are clearly told where we are to begin. We are called to deal with the source of the famine spiritual famine in the land....

    We are called to do something, which will usher in a new season of transformation, a fresh start, of new life and new hope. Each of us can be world changers, and each of us can begin to stem the tide of spiritual famine in the land...Scripture tell us that in the last days there will be a famine in the land, not of bread and water, but a famine of the word of God….                                                                                                                                                  I believe the principles of national transformation may be seen in …                                     

    Acts 16:23  And when they had laid many stripes upon them (Paul and Silas), they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them confined. v24  Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. v25  And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. v26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. v27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. v28  But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do yourself no harm: for we are all here. v29  Then he called for a light, and rushed in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, v30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? v31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house".  

    When it looked the darkest, they worshiped and praised the loudest! Sometimes you have to dance when you don’t feel like dancing, you have to lift your hands when they’re too weary, you have to shout when the breath has been knocked right out of you, and you have to do in faith, what you couldn’t do any other way!

    All of the churches in the country, giving everything they possibly could, would not be enough to end the spiritual famine that has gripped the earth. But we each have the answer that has the power to bring a global “new season”      His name is Jesus, and as we bring men and women and young people and children to Christ, we can change the world and break the power of this spiritual famine..... The little woman gave the bread she had and it was enough.                                                                 

    John 6:48 "I am that bread of life. v49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and they are dead. v50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it, and not die. v51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my self, which I will give for the life of the world".                                                                                                                                                            

    The Lord's workings and His touch are as unique as we are....Different people saw and experienced Jesus in different ways, and even had different outcomes But then again, Jesus didn’t work the same in everyone either, did he? One was healed by touching the hem of his robe... someone else had to go wash in the river, someone else got mud put in his eyes... someone else just had to have faith and his daughter was healed with no physical touch from the Lord at all...another was healed as he went to the temple and on his way it was done…and how about those who couldn’t believe because they were dead!  Jesus met people exactly where they were, in whatever condition they were in. He didn’t offer hand outs, He offered a way out!!! 

    If Elijah had been turned away by the woman's lack, he might have gone on his way and remained a stranger. Instead, his fate, his life, his well-being and that of the widow and her son become bound together in a "Due Season" of God. In fact, it is because of this Divinely appointed relationship that Elijah was around to raise up the same widow’s son when he dies.                                                    

     “One day, a little girl got lost in the woods on a farm near where she lived. The farmer who owned the land found the little girl and said to her, ‘Don't be afraid; I'll take you home.’ The little child looked up at him, and with a smile, said, "I'm not afraid. I knew you would come, I was waiting for you." "What do you mean, you were waiting for me?" said the man. "What made you think I was coming?" "Well, I was praying that you would." she said. The farmer asked. "What were you praying?...When I first heard you, you were just saying the alphabet.' What was that for?" She looked up to heaven  and said, "I wasn't sure exactly what to say, so I was praying all the letters of the alphabet and letting God put them together the way He wanted. God knew I was lost and He can make sense of it all, better than I do." 

Well Hallelujah!! Even though the little girl could not see God, she had faith that God could make sense of it all.                                                                                                                                          

    How much faith is enough? The followers of Jesus said to him one day, "Give us more faith." Jesus answered them, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you." A mustard seed, is so small that you can hardly see it!                                                                                                                                                          

   The question that is asked in Luke by those closest to Jesus, is asked because they believe they need more faith, “Increase our faith!” they asked Jesus.       The real question is, does God exist for my needs or do I exist to fulfill His purposes? We can't just be focused on God always being there to help us, we must also be thinking that we are here to help God fulfill His greater plan and purpose for others through us...Our needs are supplied in fulfilling His plans.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

    2000 years later we often make the same request, the disciples did, especially in a culture where more seems to be better, and it's easier to notice what we lack when we see so much abundance all around us. But the Lord wants us to  recognize that whatever we have is enough to set in motion a "Due season" manifestation. 

    The challenge is always to understand the difference in what we can do with what we have compared with what the Lord can do with what we have..... There must be a balance in our thinking.... 

    In the early 1940’s the Germans were experimenting with extracting an oil from the mustard plants. They would pick the plants and put them through a process that would pulverize and squeeze the juice out of the plant. When that was done, they would reprocess the remains to be used for cattle feed. They chopped up what was left, then they formed cakes from it, baked the cakes to dry them out and used this for cattle feed. The cows then chewed on the cakes, passed the mulch through their multiple stomachs and after it passed through their systems, they expelled what was left.                                                                                       

    The problem for the farmer was that wherever the droppings landed, mustard plants began to grow. In this account we are given some insight into the parable of the mustard seed....and it suggests to us, that the size of the mustard seed should not be thought of in terms of measurement but in terms of endurance and its ability to reproduce itself. Great faith is not a matter of quantity but of endurance and its ability to be multiplied by itself over and over again.                                                                                         

    In the experiment of the mustard plant, it endured the process of mulching, and of pressing, chopping, baking, being eaten, and passing though all those cow stomachs…and still reproducing itself. Mustard seed Faith is not about what's happening to us, but God is looking at what can happen through  our availability, that can release a miracle…The old song says “Through it all I’ve learned to depend upon the Lord”….                                        

    There comes a stirring within our spirit that indicates opportunities are being given us, one by one to deposit a seed in someone's life, so that they too can come into their new season. When we avoid it, rationalize it, ignore itwe fail to truly see one another with the value, God would have us to.                                                                                                                                     

    When we share the greatest gift we have been given in love, we are reminded again and again, that we belong to each other. That our struggle is one struggle. That our story is one story. And that our hope is one hope. And together we really can make a difference! 

    Be grateful when God answers your prayers, but be more grateful when God uses you to answer someone else's prayers! The little girl in the starfish story doesn’t ask whether she has enough to give or that she can do enough to really matter. She just knows that it matters enough for that one starfish that she is doing what she can and it matters enough to herto do it and keep on doing it.                                                                  

    What is enough? This is a question our faith compels us to wrestle with, but our faith also tells us that this is not a question that God asks at all. God offers us a love and grace that helps us to see each other as people on the same journey, and he binds us together in a common need, and empowers us to love and serve one another in ways beyond what we could ever imagine possible. Its much more than joining hands and singing kum by yah…                                        

    Its about heading upstream in a proactive faith, that must know what is at the root of the spiritual famine…. And we discover that it is ourselves, in each missed opportunity to lead someone to Christ and set them on a new journey toward faith, hope, love and obedience to Christ.                                                                      

    Even when we feel we dont have enough or cant do enough, we can trust in God that He is always enough. When it comes to how much of that love and grace God offersto us and through usthe measure is never just “enough.” The measure is more than enough. Abundant, more than we can ever think, ask or imagine. THANK YOU JESUS!                                                                                                                        

    During the depression there was a sheep ranch owned by a man named Yates. Mr. Yates wasn't able to make enough with his ranching operation to pay the principal and interest on the mortgage, so he was in danger of losing it all. With very little money for clothes or food, his family (like many others) had to live on a government subsidy. Day after day, as he grazed his sheep over those rolling West Texas hills, he was no doubt greatly troubled about how he would pay his bills.                                                                                                                                  

    Then a seismographic crew from an oil company came into the area and told him there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease contract.                                                                                              At 1,115 feet they struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day. Many subsequent wells were more than twice as large. In fact,   

30 years after the discovery, a government test of one of the wells showed it still had the potential flow of 125,000 barrels of oil a day.                                                     

    You see, Mr. Yates owned it all but He didn't understand what he had. The day he purchased the land he had also purchased the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he had been living on government relief. He was a multimillionaire but he was living in poverty. The problem? He didn't know the oil was there even though he owned it all.                                                                                                                                     

    When you change your perspective, you change your outcome. So many Christians live in spiritual poverty, subject to the moral, economic, social and spiritual famine in the land. They are entitled to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and his energizing power, but they are not aware of all that's included in their birthright because Satan has put blinders on them. So they give the enemy, advantage over them and their family for generations yet to come….They become like Esau, who sold his birthright for a bowl of pottage and forfeited the long term blessing for instant gratification .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

    Jesus words still ring as true as ever…. John 8:32 “You  shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”. 

    One day when Jesus was preaching to thousands, it got late and everyone was hungry, but all they had was one small lunch. Surely, in the natural, without spiritual insight, it would never be enough. But they had the people sit down. Then Jesus broke the bread, and gave it to the disciples …then the disciples broke the bread and gave it out to the groups of 50, …then the people broke the bread for their neighbors. And it was more than enough                                              

    Notice that in this miracle of multiplication, Jesus broke it and gave it to the disciples, and they continued to break it and give it to the multitude. When they aligned themselves with what Jesus was doing, they were able to do the same thing with miraculous results!                                                                                                                                        

    OK, moving on….Luke 4:16-30  "Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. (17) The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. (after reading from Isaiah, he said) (24) “I tell you the truth , "no prophet is accepted in his hometown. (25) I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. (26) Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon".                                                                        

     This was Jesus’ first recorded public  sermon….He is making the point that when one way closes another will always be opened …When one thing runs out, another will be provided…You have a Divinely appointed destiny, and all  the steps to that destiny are accounted for in God’s detailed and inclusive plan.

    Gideon is a classic example.  When the angel speaks to Gideon he says “O mighty man of valour” but Gideon is hiding away in a wine press, trying to hide his stuff from the enemy. The angel of the Lord calls him and says “go in your strength” and Gideon says “Who, Me? I am the least in my tribe and the least in my father's house, why are you calling me?” Gideon is saying “Look I am an empty barrel, I don't have the ability”.                                                                                                                        

    Moses was the same, He was schooled in the wisdom of the Egyptians.  He had it all. Then God took him into the desert and began stripping it all away until He spoke to him in the burning bush and called him saying “I want you to go down to Egypt”.  Moses says “you’ve got the wrong man, I can't speak, I am a stutterer and  I am just an absolute failure”.  At that point in Moses’ life he was, in his opinion, an empty barrel, with nothing to actually give. And that was what God was waiting for….                                                                                                    

    Peter was the same, he had these big proud boasts “Lord if e-veryone else leaves you, I will follow you even  to death” but after he failed the Lord comes to him very gently and says to him, not once but three times,  “Do you love Me??.. I want you to go and look after my sheep”.  He once considered himself a full barrel, but after the Lord had worked with him he was broken, he was empty, and it was then that God called him to lead His church. 

    A fellow was hobbling along the road, with only one shoe, with a huge smile on his face, when a lady feeling sorry for him, remarked how sad that the man only had one shoe, and yet he was so cheerful! The man, still with a big smile, said....Yes! I just found it... to him, one shoe was to be grateful for!                                                                                                                                                                                         

     We may not understand God's provision for us, we may not understand His ways, but we need to trust Him that He actually knows the outcome that is best for us, and how to get there.  God came through for the widow and let her know that what she already had was enough to set a miracle in motion.                                                                                                    

    When Jesus showed up for Mary and Martha, their brother Lazarus had already died 3 days earlier. TALK ABOUT BEING LATE!!!   Martha said… "Lord, If you would have been here my brother would not have died...!"             

    But then she got a revelation that took her from not enough, to more than enough…. something dawned on Martha that didn't dawn on her sister and  she said, "But even now Lord, you have the power to raise him up again."                                                                                                                                                    

    God has an “Even Now Miracle” for some folks listening to me today! Regardless of what has happened or not happened…."Even now" you've got what it takes to see God amaze you with what it takes to fulfill your destiny…. Get you faith back out. Get your Joy back out. Get your ... shut up Devil, back out... Just because it's too late for you doesn't mean it's too late for Him. He's able! He's able! "Even Now".... it shall happen!  YES LORD!                                                                   Now listen to this, listen to what Jesus said to Mary and Martha….He said,    

    "Show me where you laid him down." Show me where you gave up? Show me where you stopped believing that I could do the impossible? Show me where you got too weary to keep going? Who bewitched you that you quit trusting me? Show me where you decided I wasn't going to do it? I can't give you a miracle until you show me where you left your faith and you gave up!                                                                                                        

    Show me where you got so busy with the work of the Lord that you forgot about the Lord of the work? Who hurt you so bad, disappointed you, let you down so bad, that you forgot how you used to worship Him?                                              

    We need to go back to that place, so we can get up again…   You see, sometimes the Lord will wait until all of your critics  All of your enemies  All of your Doubters  All of your Neighbors  All of your Co-workers know its' impossible, and then, He brings forth His "even now".. He removes all doubt as to who He is, and that He is still able!                                            

    If you have Christ in your life, you have whatever it takes to meet that pressing need that is upon you today....Depend on it. God's work, done in God's way, will never lack God's supply”. And it takes a lick’n and keeps on ticking!!!! What you have is enough, because what you have plus God, is the substance for your "New season" miracle~! 

 

Posted by: AT 06:46 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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