Title: Perpetual Blessings
Text: I Kings 17:8-17
Illustration: Energize Bunny keeps going and going and going until that battery loses power it has an expiration date on it to tell you that when it will no longer be effective….But God’s blessing never stop once He starts! We have perpetual blessing in Him once we become obedient. Obedience is the battery that gets God started.
We enter our story with Elijah the Tishbite, a prophet of God who has heeded the word of the Lord. The Lord previously told Elijah to down the brook of Cherith where He will provide for him. It was at the brook that Elijah will drink and the ravens will bring him food. This shows us that God will use unusual means to bless you. But what makes this account meaningful is that God provides for Elijah in a time of lack. The text tells us that there was a drought in the land. Droughts affected food supplies especially back in those days. But this shows us that even in times of despair the Lord takes care of his own. Elijah was going to eat and drink despite what was going on in his environment. That is good news for a child of God today. Despite what things maybe going on in your life, the Lord is Jehovah Jireh, He will provide for you. When things are drying up around you, the Lord will send you to a brook to meet your needs. But brooks are only temporary bodies of water that form when larger bodies of water overflow. So why did God send Elijah to a something that was only going to be temporary? You have to remember something about the God we serve. He has more that one way to bless you and there is a purpose in everything He uses to bless you. If God allows one stream to dry up on one of his children you can rest assure that he has another one waiting to meet your needs. Some of you can testify when one door closed another opened that was even better than before. You stopped getting that extra OT check but your bills are always paid. Your baby’s father doesn’t come through like he used to but your children lack nothing. A relationship dried up but it was because God has a better love for you. God has a way of meeting your needs. When you are following the Lord, He may dry up something in one place to bless you in another. It just may be in a strange place. This is the case in our story today.
I. God will provide in an unusual place vv. 8-9
The Lord gave Elijah a word telling him to get up and go to Zarapheth in region of Zidon and live I will provide for you there through a widow who will meet your needs. But why did God send him to Zarapheth? Why did God send Elijah to a foreign Gentile territory who did not serve the same God? We know that God will provide. But why will God put you in an uncomfortable place? He sent Elijah to Zarapheth. This is an unusual place of God to show His providence. Zarapheth means refinery. God will always put you in difficult or challenging places just to refine and make you better. Some of you are having a Zarapheth experience right now. But it is only for you to come out like pure gold. Like the 3 Hebrew boys, while are being refined in the fire, you got somebody there with you to make sure you get though and shine!
II. Unusual participants in the process vv.10-13a
The text says that he arose and went. He was obedient to God’s instruction. And when he got to the entrance gate of the city, he sees an unusual person that was apart of the promise for him receive what God has promised him. What made her unusual was her personal plight. She was a widow woman. Her husband died. She no longer had a covering. She no longer has the one who keeps the family together. She was poor because she had no man to help make ends meet. Yet she was the one God chose to help out His prophet. She was an unusual participant. Elijah sees her gathering sticks for fire wood to prepare a meal. While she was gathering sticks, Elijah calls and asked her for a drink of water. She was obedient to his request and went to complete the task. As she was going according to the text, He calls her again and asked for some bread in her hand. One thing you should notice in this text is that this woman is preparing despite her circumstance. She had enough drive in her to do what she had to do for her and her son even though it may have been her last meal. I believe God likes these types of people. This is the type of character that God uses and calls. She was preparing. Next, we see the key that unlocks the blessings of God. We know that Elijah was obedient to the word of God. But now we see the obedience of this Gentile widow to the commands that man of God gives her. It is sad when you see unbelievers more obedient and more submissive to the authority that God has instituted in the Church than so called Christians. We as believers are rebellious and do not like to submit to God’s ordained order. We want to do our own thing and then we question why we get in trouble. Our rebellion according to 1 Sam 15:23 is as sin of witchcraft. But obedience is linked to the favor of God as this widow will prove. But in verse 12, we may see that there may be a problem. The widow says, “As the Lord you God lives, I don’t have any bread for you. All I got is some meal and a little bit of oil that I am ready to cook it so me and my son can eat and die. The widow did not have bread which was end result per se. But she did have the meal, the oil and fire wood. She had all the ingredients to make the bread. This is a message for somebody. You may not have all that you desire but have all the ingredients to be successful. It is all how you use it! Use your resources properly. You may not have a million dollars but if you use it the right way, it can happen. Next, we see something else. Even though the widow was preparing the last meal for her and her son she had a negative expectation. She said we are going to eat and die… This tells us that despite how bad we are doing we have high expectations. What we focus on becomes a reality. So that is why we have to focus on Jesus fixing our situation because that is the reality when you trust and believe in His name! Look how Elijah responds to her in the text. Elijah tells her in verse 13a, “Don’t be afraid and do what I say. In other words, trust me and follow my instructions. My beloved, we can’t let fear paralyze us to no move on faith. This is our problem with giving. We are afraid that we won’t have enough left over to make it. We are afraid of what the money is going to be used improperly. But God does not give us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. Fear will block you from your blessing. You can be confident that when you are in a fearful situation, the Lord is right there with you. Be of good courage. So you don’t have to be afraid! Just trust, believe and obey the Lord your God!
As the story goes on, Elijah makes an unusual request that would challenge any of us who was in this widow’s situation. He tells her to make him a cake first which lead us to our third point
III. Make God and the things of God your first priority
God must be foremost in each one of our lives. If God is not first, then we are committing idolatry. What do you mean preacher? If you are more worship you money more the God you are an idolater. If you love yourself more than God you are an idolater. If you put anything or anybody on the throne of Jesus, you are committing idolatry. God is a jealous God. He won’t compete for your affection. He will just turn you over to those false gods. Elijah tells this woman make me a cake first then hook up something for you and your son. Elijah is this context is symbolic for divine authority. Therefore, give what you have to God first. My beloved, when you give to God first there is a promise attached to it. Look at verse 14. Elijah gives a prophetic word that the jar will not be empty and the oil won’t fail. It is not going to run out! This is what happens when you give to God first. All your needs will be met and then some! Jesus echoes this promise in Matt 6:33, “to seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you”. This leads us to our final point. When we seek the Lord first, it causes…
IV. Perpetual Blessings v. 15
The widow was obedient and did what the prophet Elijah said to do and look what happened. The text says that she and he and her household ate for many days. Because of her obedience not only did she and her son were blessed but also the prophet was blessed. When you are obedient, it affects other around you. Favor is transferred. When you are obedient to the Lord you house will be blessed. This church will be blessed. The community will be blessed by your obedience.
The widow, her son and the prophet ate for many days. No matter how long the widow ate, I was it was more than she every suspected. Somebody here can testify when you trusted and obeyed God he blessed you more than you could have imagined! It blows your mind when you think how much he blessed you! That is blessing from being obedient!
This widow in the text only had a little bit to give but a little became much in the Master’s hand. That is what happened when Jesus got a hold of those 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. Little became much in the Master’s hand. That is what happens when you sow a seed. Little becomes much in the Master’s hand. That is what happens when you tithe. Little becomes much in the Master’s hand.
V. Perpetual Praise
Perpetual blessings call for a perpetual praise. Because blessing of God never run out. I can’t run out of praise! I got to praise like David praised. I will bless the Lord at all times…He praise will continually, perpetually, be in my mouth!