Welcome everybody. I hope this morning, that you feel loved, and that you feel so much more valued in terms of walking in the place that God has positioned you, so that together we may give glory to God as we see his works through us. Today, we’re going to look at 1 Kings chapter 17 verses 7-24, and I want to share with you about the Seeds For Your Miracle. You see, what we need to understand is that God always works in the unexpected, the improbable, and the questionable so that he may receive the glory.
In our world today, we hear a lot about cutting back and downsizing, as businesses across the nation attempt to rebound in these difficult times. And unlike the confidence of our President, in his State of the Union address, many families, real families, are stressed as they face the real concern of how to make ends meet. And the Bible tells us of a family in a situation just like that; they didn’t know how they could go on, they had come to the end of their resources, and they only had a day’s worth of food left. So they had given up on everything, including life itself, but God had different plans for this family, and this morning, you need to know that he has different plans for you too. So, today, we’re going to look at our text from 1 Kings 17, verse 7, and we’re going to look at the “Seeds for Your Miracle.”
And here’s the context, the prophet Elijah had gone to King Ahab and said, “There is going to be a drought in the land. There is not going to be any more rain until God says there’s going to be rain,” and that was because King Ahab was a wicked man. The Bible says, “He did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him” (1 Kings 16:33). You see, Ahab outside of the will of God, he had married Jezebel, and began to worship her God, Baal, just as God had warned would happen. And so Ahab, was living in unrepentant sin, and God sends Elijah. Elijah turned up and he declared a drought on the land. God had seen the wickedness in Ahab’s kingdom and so this was a time of famine; and a time of drought. Picking up in our text in 1 Kings 17, verse 7, it says,
“Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him: 9 "Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food." 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, "Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?" 11 As she was going to get it, he called, "And bring me, please, a piece of bread."
12 "As surely as the Lord your God lives," she replied, "I don't have any bread — only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it — and die."
13 Elijah said to her, "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 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 gives rain on the land.'"
15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.”
17 Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. 18 She said to Elijah, "What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?"
19 "Give me your son," Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. 20 Then he cried out to the Lord, "O Lord my God, have you brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?" 21 Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the Lord, "O Lord my God, let this boy's life return to him!"
22 The Lord heard Elijah's cry, and the boy's life returned to him, and he lived. 23 Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, "Look, your son is alive!"
24 Then the woman said to Elijah, "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth." NIV
Isn’t that an awesome story? I love stories in the Bible like this, because it’s so like God. You know from Genesis to Revelation we find God working in the unexpected places, using people whom we would find to be improbable, doing the questionable, yet obtaining unlikely results. And so, here God sends the prophet Elijah to an unexpected place, where he uses a poor widow to provide food and water for the prophet. And not only does he ask the most improbable person to do this, but God does this in a very questionable manner.
And isn’t that so much like our God? I mean, look at me, this church, and everything that God is doing here. You know sometimes I look around and I feel like I’m living in the middle of this amazing miracle. And I think sometimes, we take it for granted, what God is doing in our midst. You know, what was God thinking, when he decided to do church in a whole different way in Emmitsburg? What was God thinking when he chose me? Who would’ve known the great things that God was preparing to do here at Christ’s Community Church? But that’s because it’s all God… it’s God… it’s God choosing the unexpected and working in the unexpected places.
So here in chapter 17, God sends the prophet Elijah... He says in verse 9, "Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there.” He tells the prophet, the man of God, go to this unexpected place, not somewhere in Israel, not to the church, not to the religious people, but he sends him to a place of famine. And you know Elijah has got to be thinking, “Why Zarephath?” That has got to be the most unlikely place to find food and water. You’re sending me to the most barren of places and you’re telling me there’s going to be provision there!
And here is the thing, I want you to make sure you get this, often the place that is the most unexpected, is the place that bears the Seeds For Your Miracle. And this is amazing because the most barren place may be where you are right now. You see, most of us think, “If I was just in another place… If I was just in another church… If I just had a better job… and so what we do is we always look for this other place. You know it’s anywhere but here. It’s as the old saying goes, “The grass is always greener on the other side”. But the reality is that you are always here and you’re never there. The very moment you get there, guess what? You are here! So you’ve only got here, this place, and this moment; to do what God has called you to do. And so right now, at this moment, God has given you your time, he has given you your talent, and he has given you your treasure. He has given you these three things and the opportunity, wherever you are, whatever season of life you’re in, in that place, His provision is there.
Now maybe you’re thinking God’s provision is going to come from somewhere else. And God said, “I’m sending you to Zarephath. We need to begin expecting the unexpected. Your provision is in the unexpected place. The ingredients for your miracle are right there in your midst. The provision has always been there. It’s always in that place. It’s where you are. And it’s unexpected. Because everybody’s in a place, in some season, or some area of their life where it appears to be barren, and life is difficult. But God is a God of miracles, he shows up, and he provides in those hard places.
Next he uses those whom we would consider to be most improbable candidates. God says in verse nine, “I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food." Now you’ve got to imagine Elijah’s reaction. He has got to be just more than a little bit doubtful. You know, here was a widow that was about to make her last meal and die; and God says, “She is going to supply you with food.”
You know as I was thinking about this, I realize how much we are just like this widow. I mean her first response was, “I only have a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug” (1 Kings 17:12). And in the same way we always tend to look at what we don’t have. You know the glass is always half-empty and not half-full. But what we and the widow don’t often recognize, is that she had the ingredients for a miracle right there. She was too busy looking at what she didn’t have, to recognize what she had, and that God was getting ready to work through her in a big way.
And so, what God says is, “I’m going to take John, I’m going to take Dawn, I’m going to take Bob, I’m going to take any of you sitting in this room this morning, and I’m going to do something amazing.” You see each of us contain the ingredients of the miracle that God wants to do, because each one of us, because you are an image bearer of God himself. You were created in His image. And because the Spirit of God lives inside of you, you contain the necessary ingredients for your miracle. Because nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).
You know, He took a widow, who said, "I don't have any bread…” (1 Kings 17:12) and he said, “You’re going to feed the prophet.” He took Moses, who said, "Lord, I have never been eloquent... I am slow of speech and tongue" (Exodus 4:10). And he parted the Red Sea. You see the bottom line is this, whatever gift you have, whatever you think you have to offer, doesn’t add a thing to God. He’s all-powerful. He’s all-knowing. And He’s ever-present. There is nothing you can do that he needs. And yet he gives us, as mere “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7), the privilege of being a co-laborer with him in the Kingdom.
In 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, the apostle Paul tells us, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”
But most of us, don’t trust God with the improbable, and don’t give God the opportunity to do something miraculous in our lives, because we don’t invest our time, our talent, or our treasure. Were doubtful that we could do something of value. Meanwhile God is looking for somebody who’s available, who’s willing to get involved, and who will start doing something. He says, “Just give me that handful of flour and that little bit of oil in your jug; trust me for the improbable.” That’s all God wants you to do.
Now the widow doesn’t have enough food for herself and her son, yet the prophet Elijah said to her, “Go home, make a small cake of bread for me, and then make something for yourself and your son.” I imagine the widow looked at Elijah like he was off his rocker. You know, she’s looking at him thinking, “I just told you I’m about to make a meal for my son and die. We don’t even have enough food for ourselves.” But you see… this is how it is with God… in our minds we can’t even process this, we can’t work out the logic, because it’s irrational, it’s illogical. And so, what happens is that we question God, our faith is crippled, and fear immobilizes us. We don’t get to do what God has called us to do. And the miracle is still waiting to happen.
You know, when my wife got the cancer diagnosis, we knew the battle wasn’t against cancer, because there’s a name behind cancer, and his name is Satan, and he came “to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). But there is also a name that is above cancer, and that’s the name of Jesus Christ. And there is no fear in love, because "perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). Yet one of the greatest battles against cancer is the battle against fear. Because fear will try to cripple you… fear will try to immobilize you… fear will tell you that there is no hope, that there is no room for faith, and we’re paralyzed. We’re paralyzed!
So Elijah said to the widow, "Don't be afraid…" (1 Kings 17:13). You see, what happens, is that we think we’ve only got this or that… and we get crippled and paralyzed, we hold back, and we think, I’m just going to eat this and die. But if we stopped focusing on what we don’t have… if we could grasp the power of God, and the potential of the seed, we could do so much more. You see, we’ve got the ingredients for a miracle. God never asks us to sow what we don’t have. We’ve just got to believe. We’ve got to plant it!
So many of us, when it comes to faith and church life, we don’t sow our time, we don’t sow our talent, and we don’t sow our treasure, because we have this sense of fear and scarcity like the widow did… that somehow it’s going to run out! But when you understand that God is your source, that he’s your supply, you know that there’s more than enough! Because He never runs out! He’s the God of overflow. He’s the God of abundance! That’s who he is!
So, the key here, is what Elijah says to the widow, “But first” … and that’s the test. He says, “But first, make a small cake of bread for me” (1 Kings 17:13). You see, the first, is a sign of expecting the unexpected, trusting in the improbable, and believing that which is questionable. It’s the principle of the firstfruits. It says, “God, I’m giving you the first, I’m giving you the best, and then I’m trusting that the jar of flour will not be used up, I’m trusting that the jug of oil will not go dry, and I’m trusting that all the rest is going to go a whole lot further.”
You see, if we in the body of Christ, in this house, could grasp the power of the first, then we’d be clamoring to give him our first. The widow hadn’t understood that, she hadn’t realized that what she had contained the seeds for her miracle. What she had was enough in the hands of our God. It didn’t matter what logic said, it didn’t matter what Wall Street said, because God says, "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." (Genesis 8:22). By acting on a questionable plan, giving him the first, and believing the word of the Lord that came from Elijah’s mouth, she activated her miracle.
As we close, I want to remind you, that within yourself you contain the seeds for your miracle. God is working in the unexpected places, he is using the improbable, and doing the questionable. You see the step of faith in Elijah’s day is the same as it is in our day. It always requires risk, it always requires stepping into the unknown, and our God calls us to a place where we must be certain of what we do not see. Where we overcome our fears and trust him with the improbable. Our God is more than enough.
What the widow didn’t realize, was that when she was feeding the prophet, it was her faith and her obedience that kept her and her son alive. You see she didn’t realize that the man she kept alive, was going to be used by God to bring her son back to life. She didn’t know that her miracle was going to need a miracle. And maybe some of you here today, you’re thinking, your miracle needs a miracle.
We have the seeds for a miracle. Your miracle is in God’s house. And let me just say this as we close, the miracle’s always In His House; you can’t ever out give God. And you never know when your miracle is going to need a miracle, so the best thing you can do is invest your time, your talent, and your treasure into God’s house. You’ll see your miracle realized when you expect the unexpected, trust the improbable, and believe the questionable. These are The Seeds for Your Miracle and you might just be that person today. Let me pray for you as we close.
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
January 25, 2015