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Friday, July 10, 2009

A Miracle: The Widow's Oil

Scriptures: 2 Kings 4:1-7, Prov 3:5-12, Exodus 4, John 14:12-14, 1 john 5:14-15, Isaiah 43

Pastor Dave Hepburn of Whitewood, SK gave the message on Sunday while Pastor Lorne ministered with the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys.

Pastor Dave based his message on 2 Kings 4:1-7 which is the story about the widow’s oil. He said the lady was in dire need when she came to the prophet Elisha. She had come to the end of herself. Her husband was dead and she had a debt she owed and the creditor was about to take her sons as slaves. Back in those days, there was no social insurance, no welfare. In fact, no one who could come and help her out. She only had her 2 sons to pay the debt yet as they grew older, they had become her helpers.

In our country, our needs aren’t as substantial as many people in other parts of the world. When we’re sick, we go to a doctor.
When our cupboards are bare, we go to the grocery store. Many places in the world don’t have doctors or grocery stores available to them.

Pastor Dave asked us to look at Prov 3:5-12 which states, ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. 9 Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. 11 My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.’

Pastor Dave said this woman came to the end of herself. She knew what was coming. She was coming to the beginning of God’s ability. When we come to the end of our self, we come to God’s abilities. We need to trust Him with all our heart not only in the tough times, but in all times.

Instead of asking what she wanted him to do, Elisha asked what she had in the house. What she had was a jar of oil. Not a huge jar for cooking but according to Hebrew tradition, a small flask used for anointing. She had no money and no livestock for food.

Pastor Dave said there are times when we feel we don’t have much to offer God. He says he can’t sing, can’t speak well, and he’s too shy to visit the neighbours, so what can he offer the Lord? He referred to Exodus 4 when God is calling Moses to the task of leading the Israelites. God had greater plans for Moses than what Moses wanted to do. Moses questioned God’s judgment. God used the miracles of a rod turning into a snake, a hand turning leprous, and fresh water from the Nile turning into blood to show Moses that He was all-powerful and would be with Moses as he faced the people. Moses still had his misgivings about his speech and eloquence but v11-12, says, ‘The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." '

Pastor Dave said there is a lesson in these words that God will not call you to do something you don’t have the ability to do. He wanted to encourage us that the Lord is willing to offer to you that which you need to fulfill your task. God will be with us until the ends of the earth. He won’t leave us helpless.

John 14:12-14 says, ’12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.’

The same writer of the Gospel of John also wrote 1 john 5:14-15 which says, ‘14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.’

Do you know that He hears us? Pastor Dave said we can have confidence that God listens to us when we go before Him in His throne room. When the veil of the temple was torn in two, it meant we could now go into the very presence of the almighty God – bypassing the priests – and lay our concerns before Him.

Now back to the widow, Pastor Dave said, 2 things are a key to this miracle:
- She believed in God enough to be obedient
- She gathered the vessels and sent her sons to gather more

When they brought the first vessel, she filled it, set it aside and filled the next, and the next, and the next, until there were no more to fill. The Bible says the oil was stopped when the last empty vessel was filled. This lady could have gone home and done nothing. The creditors would have taken her sons and her debt would have been paid. But she trusted God enough to be obedient. And her sons needed to trust God as well otherwise they would become the payment.

Pastor Dave said the Bible never says we’re not going to go through bad times – it just says God will be with us when we do.

He referred to Isaiah 43 and said there are times we wonder if God will answer our prayers when we have trials. Pastor Dave said he had a trial last spring. He had bulls for sale in the paper, but no one phoned about them. From a farmer’s perspective, no phone calls equates to no sales. He had bills due at the end of June but no money to pay them. So, he decided to start hauling bulls to the auction. When the time came, he got a phone call from a guy who wanted to see the bulls. He brought a neighbour and together, they bought 2. The next guy looked and left. Next guy bought 2. The second guy came back and bought 2.

Pastor Dave said God answered when the time was needed. He said he even sold more than he needed to pay the bills. And yet another farmer didn’t even get any phone calls. Pastor Dave said he praised God for opening the doors when they seemed closed. He said God isn’t just Jehovah Jireh up on the mountain with Abraham. God will provide always.

He said we need to be like this woman. Be obedient to Him. And we need to do something with the miracle He provides. God provided the miracle to the widow. She had the oil. That was nice. All those barrels. What will she do? The creditors are still coming for her sons. The jars are full. God did His part. What’s going to happen? She asks the prophet and Elisha tells her to sell the oil and pay the creditor.

Pastor Dave said sometimes we’re given a miracle and don’t do anything with it. He said we believe the greatest miracle of all – salvation – and yet we hide it under a basket. The Father in heaven is the one that makes the miracles in our lives but we must do something with those miracles so the people can glorify God.

Let’s not hide our light under a basket. Let the people see the glory of God. You may think it’s a stretch but if that widow had an infinite number of jars, she could still be filling them today.

God’s power is infinite. There’s no measure to His grace. And the same God who filled the jars for that lady in Biblical times and gave her enough so she had money left over after her debt was paid is the very same God who knows your needs and your hardships. He still has the ability today to meet those needs. He still knows our needs. He still cares for us.

Do we believe God can meet our needs today as He met that woman’s long ago?
We need to be obedient and surrender our lives to Him completely and wholly.

Pastor Dave doesn’t have much to offer the Lord and yet God met the woman’s need with the little flask of oil. The oil represents God’s Spirit – so His love and Spirit can overflow into our lives and into other people’s lives.

He said God is here to meet your needs. We need to know the difference between needs and greeds so we don’t get them mixed up. God is here to meet our needs. The Bible says if we ask Him anything according to His will, He hears us. If we pray for boldness, God will not say no.

Whatever it may be, the Lord is here. And He wants to meet us and hear our prayers.

If you wish to talk to Pastor Dave about this message, please send an email.

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