Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bringing calm through a simple jar of oil

Can you imagine having to sell your sons to pay a debt? (2 Kings 4:1-7) Picture this scenario. Your husband is dead and you have a debt to pay off with no means to do it on your own. You have two young sons and you are now expected to sell them to cancel your debt. Are you kidding? I think I might just run off and never look back. But, that action might be out of fear. Here we see a story of a woman who stood in faith.

Her husband belonged to a group of prophets, but now their home was empty of him. What would she do? She goes to Elisha and asks for help. He asks her if she has any oil in the house. She tells him that it is all gone. I can imagine her heart is filled with fear at this time. He is telling her to grab her oil to sell and she has none to even use herself. (2 Kings 4:2-3)

Elisha knows a little about God's provision. After all, he was given a double portion as Elijah was lifted up by a chariot into the heavens. (2 Kings 2:9) He has seen God's miracles first hand. He knows this woman has nothing to worry about. Faith is believing in the very things we cannot see nor understand.

"For we live by believing and not by seeing." 2 Corinthians 5:7

"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1

"So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." 2 Corinthians 4:18

What do you think she has her eyes focused on this day? For me, it might be that my jars are all empty and now I am lost at what to do. But Elisha is there to encourage her. He is lifting her spirits as he speaks calmly and firmly to her. Isn't that just what we need sometimes? A friend who will help us off the ledge and lead us to trusting what we know we believe in our heart. The God who was helping her this day, is the same God who is helping you today. You may not see His every move, but He is still there working behind the scenes.

So, now she is to borrow all the jars she can from her neighbors and take them inside. Not only is she to do this, but Elisha makes sure she closes the door behind her. Everything doesn't have to be seen by those around us. There are some things God wants us to see. (2 Kings 4:3-4) Many times when faith is all we have left we come to realize faith is all we need.

Now her sons have helped her gather all the jars or flasks and now she is filling them. Can you believe it? She is filling them all from her jar that was empty! God restored and refreshed not only her jar, but her faith! You gotta love a God who is constant and sure!

Soon every jar was completely filled to the brim. Now, she and her sons have enough oil to not only pay the debt, but to live on in the future. God provided just as Elisha knew He would. (2 Kings 4:5-7) Have you seen your jars filled to restoration? When hard times come knocking on our door we often just panic instead of going to our knees.

This is not the first time we see this in scripture. We see in (1 Kings 17:8-24) where Elijah was there to help a widow in Zarephath. He asked her to fix him something and all she had left was enough for one more meal for herself and her son. He goes then to tell her to feed him first and then make more! In her obedience she finds not only more flour, but more oil. God provided enough for each and every day. Did Elisha know of this story? Had Elijah shared with him the miracles that God has performed through him being a willing vessel?

When hard times come we often fear the next day, but we should see by now God provides for those who love and trust in Him. We don't have to know the details. We just have to believe. Trials come in many different forms. From losing your job, to sickness attacking. We are not going to have a life without trial, but we can live a life without fear. I have had my share of trials and I can share with you that God has never let me down. Sure, I might have turned to my fear first before going to Him, but through each one I only learned I was more sure of my faith in Him and His promises.

Just as the woman here in this scripture we are not to do it on our own. We are called to reach out to God and know that He is going to provide. Is it always going to be in the way we wish? Of course not. That's where trust comes in at. We have to believe that He knows what He is doing with our lives. That is putting our faith into action. As we go through trials I think it's wonderful to share those with others around us. We don't have to put on a brave face. You can see these women did not. They were real. They were searching for help. When those around you see that you make it through each and every trial that comes your way, they will see God in action in your life.

"We are hard-pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies." 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
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