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God Provides

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So here’s the backstory...

Elijah - Yaweh is my God
Tishbite, from across the Jordan
Never experienced natural death
Trusted God enough to confront Ahab
In today’s text, was being prepared for something big
Never experienced natural death
Never experienced natural death
Ahab -
King of Israel, but not Judah (the kingdom was divided)
Married Phoenician (gentile) princess Jezebel
Built temple for Baal - god of storms and fertility. Worshipping him meant child sacrifice and temple prostitution for men and women. This was vile!
1 Kings 21:25 ESV
(There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.
Elijah has warned Ahab that his idolatry will cause rain to be withheld from Israel. “You’re going to worship the ‘storm-god’? I will reveal Myself as having power over the rains!”
1 Kings 17:1–16 ESV
Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” And the word of the Lord came to him: “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’ ” And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.
Deuteronomy 11:16–17 ESV
Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the Lord is giving you.
Leviticus 11:16–17 ESV
the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind, the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl,
God’s plan is in motion, Elijah is sent to have his faith grown. And God is growing his faith through a simple cycle: word of the Lord (rhema/hray’mah), obedience (action), affirmation (fulfillment). For Elijah, widow, even the ravens!
He still does this today! Exhortation, comfort, presence, scripture

God’s Provision is Generous

2 Corinthians 9:8 HCSB
And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.
Nothing wasted. But generous. chalkboard, niagra falls, guy in a barrel
v.4 I will provide! The brook for water and ravens will bring food.
God’s provision was generous in that He sent bread and meat twice a day, with a constant supply of water.
A generous supply of food made for a generous supply of faith in Elijah.
Ravens - not the most likely choice for God to send to Elijah
unclean
scavengers
would have no natural desire to be around humans
It took faith to accept and eat what the ravens brought
When the brook dried up (drought) it was time for more generous faith building:
Go to Zarephath - between Tyre and Sidon. Into gentile land. Homeland of Jezebel. Heart of Baalism.
The region was in the grips of the drought. Worshippers of Baal believed when the rains didnt come, he was dead. When the rains did come, he lived (again).
A widow will feed you - when the widow was revealed, Elijah realized she has almost nothing with which to minister to him. Of course! Ravens. Ill equipped foreign widow. All building faith!
He tells her ‘God has promised’, which confessed: I believe Him!
So the flour was never exhausted and the oil never dried up. Has God been generous to me? The widow could have eaten that first small cake. Just to make sure.
Open hands/closed hands
Personal generosity - If I find myself being stingy, I will find myself being miserable. Maybe only in one area of my life, but it is a truth.
Corporate generosity

God’s Promises are True

By going, the widow proved she believed the words Elijah spoke.
Our obedience is crucial to God’s working in our lives.
“do not fear, first make me a little, then for you and your son”
God’s word, combined with the widow’s obedience, ensured the fulfillment of the promise!
How did God treat Elijah as He was preparing him for something big?
Chances to grow faith
Clear instruction
Generosity

God’s Plan Unfolds Before Us

The more obedient steps Elijah took, the more clarity he had
As God faithfully leads us, we will see His work around us
When we see what He is doing, we will see that we are right in the middle of it!
This time of year… OCC, food boxes in your church family. Reconnecting with loved ones in your own family. And right now, conversations of special thankfulness.
How can I thank God for all He has blessed my life with?
Be Generous. Time, Resources, Affection (How?)
Understanding that generosity doesnt have to come out of excess. Jesus praised the ones who gave all, He rebuked those who hoarded what they had. (barns, food, money)
You cant out-give God.
Article | OPEN

A neural link between generosity and happiness

Soyoung Q. Park, Thorsten Kahnt, Azade Dogan, Sabrina Strang, Ernst Fehr & Philippe N. ToblerNature Communications 8, Article number: 15964 (2017)doi:10.1038/ncomms15964Download CitationCooperationHuman behaviourReceived:21 October 2016Accepted:12 May 2017Published online:11 July 2017

Abstract

Generous behaviour is known to increase happiness, which could thereby motivate generosity. In this study, we use functional magnetic resonance imaging and a public pledge for future generosity to investigate the brain mechanisms that link generous behaviour with increases in happiness. Participants promised to spend money over the next 4 weeks either on others (experimental group) or on themselves (control group). Here, we report that, compared to controls, participants in the experimental group make more generous choices in an independent decision-making task and show stronger increases in self-reported happiness. Generous decisions engage the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) in the experimental more than in the control group and differentially modulate the connectivity between TPJ and ventral striatum. Importantly, striatal activity during generous decisions is directly related to changes in happiness. These results demonstrate that top–down control of striatal activity plays a fundamental role in linking commitment-induced generosity with happiness.
Proverbs 14:21 NASB95
He who despises his neighbor sins, But happy is he who is gracious to the poor.
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