Obedience’s Miracle—The Widow of Zarephath (P2)

Part 2 of 3

The Widow of Zarephath’s story begins while she is at the gate gathering a few sticks so she can go home and prepare the last little bit of food for herself and her son. In her mind, the end is near. Her plan—without God’s miraculous intervention, which she must have hoped for—she and her son will starve to death.

This woman had nothing for her own family to eat, much less a prophet. Through her obedience, God sustained both of them. Elijah sees the woman that God has told her to meet and asks her for a cup of water. I can just see her acknowledge him and turn to go to get the water. Then behind her, she hears him ask for a piece of bread.

Can you imagine just a little attitude in her response to him? The Message says she said, “I swear, as surely as your God lives, I don’t have so much as a biscuit. I have a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a bottle; you found me scratching together just enough firewood to make a last meal for my son and me. After we eat it, we’ll die.”[1]

This man of God is asking for the last of all she has.

Perhaps she’s wondering…Did God send this man? Do I dare trust him? Do I trust God?

Elijah tells her not to be afraid, but instead, to “Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”

There it was—there was the promise of a miracle. All she had to do was believe God—the God of Israel—and obey. In that moment she chooses to trust God.

So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.[2]

God sent Elijah to a woman who had nothing so that He could provide for her and her family supernaturally as a result of her faith. As she decided to care for God’s spokesperson, God provided miraculously for her household.

[1] 1 Kings 17:12  MSG

[2] 1 Kings 17:15-16 NKJV

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Obedience’s Miracle—The Widow of Zarephath (P1)

Part 1 of 3

God chose to take the life of the prophet Elijah and intertwine it with the life of one widow. Elijah served as God’s spokesperson, the man who stood in front of King Ahab and prophesied “…the next years are going to see a total drought—not a drop of dew or rain unless I say otherwise.”[1] Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife, tried to kill all of God’s prophets. At one point, Elijah thought he was the last living prophet.[2]

Our lives our intertwined for mutual provision and blessing.

Those who worshiped Baal believed he was the god who brought rains and bountiful harvest—so the words Elijah spoke for God were profanity against Jezebel’s god. After declaring no more rain, Elijah hid himself in the Kerith Ravine, east of Jordan where the Lord sustained him with water from a brook and food ravens brought to him.[3] When the brook dried up, God sent Elijah to Zarephath with instruction to look to a widow to sustain him.

The woman, only referred to as the “widow of Zarephath,” demonstrates a powerful faith through her obedience in 1 Kings. The city serves as part of her identification. We can assume she is the only widow in her city. Zarephath rest inside the region of Sidon, the native country of Queen Jezebel, the woman who married the wicked King Ahab and required her god, Baal to be worshiped instead of God Almighty.[4]  We might easily assume this widow is not of Hebrew lineage, but she clearly believed in the Hebrew’s God and trusted Him.

So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah (1 Kings 17:15-16 nkjv).

God’s purposes are so much higher and wider than what we imagine. God tells us to go here or there—to do this or that—and it’s easy to think it’s about us. Hopefully we can see it as God positioning us for blessing. While that is often a part of his plan, our eyes usually rest on ourselves, when in fact it has less to do with us and more to do with what he wants to do through our relationships with the people to whom he connects us for a bigger purpose. Our lives our intertwined for mutual provision and blessing.

Who has God sent into your life to help you? Are you looking for God to answer you through the divine connection of relationship He’s placed in your life? What relationships does He want you to cultivate?

[1] 1 Kings 17:1 MSG

[2] 1 Kings 18:22

[3] 1 Kings 17:5

[4] 1 King 21:25-26

Give Him Thanks for His Unfailing Love

#5 of 5 Ways to Step into God’s Rest

Psalm 100:5 says, For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.[1] ALWAYS.

I can’t imagine where I would be today without the unfailing love of God active and constant in my life, and yet, I so often fail to thank Him for it. On many occasions, I am terribly guilty of taking His love for me for granted. Instead of a selfless focus, I choose a selfish focus—and that robs me of a deeper relationship with Him and the daily opportunities to choose to step into His rest.

Which brings us to the fifth way to experience God’s rest:

  1. Give Him thanks for his unfailing love.

Psalm 119:90 says, Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.[2]

David—a man after God’s own heart—learned to step into God’s rest. He struggled to stay in that rest throughout His life, but he always came back to thankfulness for God’s love. He could step into God’s rest and give Him those thoughts and concerns trusting He would do all He promised.

We can enter his rest because he loves us. His love never fails. No matter what choices we make or what direction we go—He continually and affectionately loves us. There is nothing we can do (or not do) to cause him to NOT love us.

What has God’s love promised you? What are you thankful for? What does it take for you to step into God’s rest?

[1] ESV

[2] ESV

Shout Your Praise – 5 Ways to Step into God’s Rest

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth[1]. Here you and I (as a part of the whole earth) are instructed to make a loud, joyful noise to the Lord. We can’t shout to Him unless we are in His presence. I imagine myself stepping into the presence of God with a blast of worship and praise.

people-festival-party-dancing pexelsAs a cheerleader in high school, I have many memories of the crowd erupting as the team ran onto the field, scored a touchdown or received a good call from the referees. While that can in no way compare to the shout of praise we should have for God Almighty, it’s a picture of a shout of praise.

Maybe the next question is how to shout that for joy. What do you say to Him? He’s God! He knows your heart and mind. He knows your thoughts before you express them, and yet He wants to hear your voice—your praise.

As I read and reread Psalm 100, I underlined the verbs—David’s instruction of ways we can acknowledge God in our lives and rest in Him—

  • shout
  • worship
  • come before him
  • know him
  • enter in
  • give thanks
  • praise His name!

I think verse two expounds on this, telling us how to shout for joy. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.[2] It’s another picture of what our shout of joy looks like. It’s the act of pouring out our adoration, love, respect and devotion—our worship—with all the happiness, delight, pleasure and cheerfulness in His presence.

[1] Psalm 100:1 NIV

[2] Psalm 100:2 NIV

Agree with His Guidance – 5 Ways to Step into God’s Rest

Has someone ever come to you with a serious problem? Likely, they asked for your advice. Maybe you took time to pray about it. You probably became emotionally invested in the outcome. You felt like you had some wisdom for their situation—especially if it was a familiar a road you’d walked before them. You spoke into their life—maybe even offered to help them—and then you found out they didn’t take a single drop of the advice or guidance you offered. I’ve been there on both sides of the coin. I’ve received good, even godly advice and didn’t take it. I also offered guidance and direction to someone who went their own way. It can be frustrating.

So, now imagine the Creator of the universe—the one who put you on the earth with purpose in the first place—offering you guidance and direction, but you refuse it. It happens every day. I’ve done it repeatedly. There are all kinds of reasons—from stubbornness and natural desire to do things on our own to being too busy to take the time to hear His voice, or carefully follow His instruction.

As we continue our search for ways to step into God’s rest, we must—

4. Eagerly and without reservations agree with the guidance he gives us.

Obedience is better than sacrifice.[1] King Saul disobeyed God’s guidance when he faced the Amalekites in battle. God told him to destroy everything. Instead, Paul allowed the Amalekite king to live and kept the spoils from battle. Samuel confronted King Saul asking, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?”[2]

God guides us in many ways.

His guidance is available to you ever time you open the Bible. It is His Word to us individually. Soren Kierkegaard said, “When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, ‘It is talking to me, and about me.’” Yet, how many times have you known the Bible clearly said not to do something and you did it anyway? Again, I am guilty. We can easily convince ourselves we know better than God does, or our desire for something allows us to justify our decisions or actions.

When we refuse to agree with God’s guidance, we disobey Him resulting in sin, rebellion, disrespect of God and His Word or idolatry (thinking we know better, or looking to other’s for approval rather than God).

When the Lord started guiding me to step into His rest months ago, I resisted. I had a negative mindset about rest. My resistance caused me to experience some dryness in my soul. My relationship with God suffered because of my disobedience. I learned long ago that when that happens I need to go back to the last thing God communicated to me—and so I did. I asked God to forgive me and to teach me about His rest.

As I’ve continued to allow the Lord to teach me, I’ve discovered once again his ways are higher than mine. A seemingly simple word, rest, is indeed full of God’s power and adds so many dimensions to our lives as believers.

[1] 1 Samuel 15:22

[2] Samuel 15:22 NIV

Accept His Authority – 5 Ways to Step into God’s Rest

I had the pleasure of hearing Dave Martin speak at Victory Worship Center while visiting my son a quite some time ago in Arizona. He made a statement and it stuck with me. He said, “He is God and I am not!”

I can’t help but think about the many times that I thought my idea, my plan or my way of doing something had to be the way God would do it. So I did it—or I tried to control it—and it ended up like a decorated birthday cake splattered all over the kitchen floor as I tried to move it from the counter to the table.

I remember as a young person thinking, If I give God control, he’ll make me do something I don’t want to do. I was determined to hold on tight and control the outcome of my dreams. Eventually I learned those dreams, (Yes, even the ones I thought at first might never come true because of the choices I made on my own), were dreams He put inside my heart. I discovered only with him could those dreams become a reality. Once I let go and gave it all to Him, He made a way when there seemed to be no way at all. In most cases His way far surpassed every expectation I ever had.

So, the third way you can step into God’s rest is to:

3. Accept His authority for every detail in every area of your life.

The song, It is Well from Bethel music speaks to my heart on this. Part of the lyrics—“Let go, my soul, and trust in Him. The waves and wind still know His name.” If the waves and wind accept his authority and obey Him, we can too.

I admit there are things even today that I try to fix on my own, instead of giving it to him full control of the journey. His ways are so much more than I could have imagined. Still, letting go and trusting Him is a part of the rest He’s invited us to enter.

Value Him as Your Creator – 5 Ways to Step into God’s Rest

David’s next step to help us move more toward God’s rest—

  1. Value of Him as your Creator.beach-breakers-coast-913 pexels

This is a form of worship. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.[1]

I looked in the margin of my Bible and notation to see Psalm 46:10 took me back to that scripture I wrestled with years ago that says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”[2] A few pages over I was drawn to another “rest” scripture. Psalm 116:7 instead. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.[3]

This immediately made me think about listing the ways in which God is good to me as a form of worship to value Him as my Creator. There are many examples in the Bible, especially in the Psalms where David worshipped God by reciting God’s goodness in his own life and in the lives of his people.

The struggle for me is often where to begin, but I realize God doesn’t care where I start. In prayer and in worship to Him I begin with something like this:

  • You, O’ God, saved me from death and healed me as a newborn following my parents’ car wreck.
  • You spoke to me in the times I was afraid as a child and as an adult, and comforted me.
  • You gave me courage to obey you!
  • You filled me with discernment and helped me to make safe choices so that I was not in the wrong place at the wrong time for calamity and disaster to touch me.
  • You blessed me with favor.
  • You set me on a path that you alone know.
  • You have given me many opportunities to grow in faith.
  • You have placed amazing people in my life to love and share this journey with.
  • You have taught me well—even when I refused to listen. You never gave up on me!
  • You gave me a wonderful husband and taught me about marriage—even when I thought I couldn’t do it.
  • You are faithful to forgive me when I fail.
  • You put a song in my heart and encourage me to sing it—especially when I feel down.
  • You gave me beautiful children, who have grown up to become responsible adults.
  • You are with me always, even when I don’t hear you or have difficulty understanding your will or your ways.
  • You’ve strengthened me in the hard times and never given up on me!

He made the earth and everything in it. He created you! He deserves to be worshiped as Creator.

How has he been good to you? Make a list and take it before Him today!

[1] Psalm 100:3 NIV

[2] NIV

[3] NIV