When giving is not easy

When giving is not easy

The great prophet Elijah, under God’s direction had pronounced a drought on the nation of Israel as punishment for Idolatry. All the land had been afflicted. People everywhere were running out of food and starving, such was the case with the widow of Zarephath.

This widow was down to almost nothing, when God tells Elijah “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” (1kings 17:9) To Elijah’s credit he did not question God. Who would have ever thought a widow with next to nothing could provide a place of refuge.

When Elijah got there he asked the widow for food. She described the little she had. Once again Elijah is not disturbed. He instructed her to feed him first and then her child and herself. The nerve of this man to come into town as a stranger to take the little bit she had left. But Elijah understood God’s plan. This widow was about to find out that not only is there a God, but that He can take the little we have and turn it into a great blessing for ourselves and all those around us.

Shockingly she did not give the strange man a “piece of her mind” or in other words “tell him off”. No, remarkably she submitted. She would take the little bit of flour and oil and make bread for Elijah and miraculously there was still more left to make. The next day the same thing would occur. Everyday there was always more flour and oil to make bread. As long as she fed the man of God, she had flour and oil for her family. The widow practiced great faith, in obediently giving the little she had and God rewarded her faith.

It is not easy to give when we have little. But there are many ways of helping those in need. There are also multiple ways of helping to progress the work of God. When we sacrifice what we can in faith, God is faithful in return. I would never promise great wealth. However I know that God is able and willing to care for our needs when we learn to trust in Him. Jesus said “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:31-33) Paul also said “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)



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When tragedy strikes!

The Book of Ruth: Journey of Faith

The Book of Ruth: Journey of Faith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Noemi was a woman who had run out of faith and was not very happy with her God. Many years ago her husband had died.  However that was not enough grief. Now her only sons lay dead.  With no money, property or foreseeable source of income, she made the best decision she could. She turned to the only family she had left, her two daughters in law, Ruth and Orpha, and said “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.” (Ruth 1:8) Noemi kissed her daughters-in–law and believed she would never see them again.

Then they both began to cry and nobody was leaving. They both declared that they weren’t going anywhere. Noemi was not too happy.  Her best plan to save her daughter-in-laws was not working. She explained that she had nothing to offer them and finally convinced Orpha to leave, Ruth would be more challenging. Ruth displayed great courage, stubbornness and faith in God as she declared “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17) Ruth was determined to be loyal to both Noemi and God.  Noemi must have thrown her hands up in defeat. Both women with nothing in this world to call their own would return to Bethlehem or as Noemi would say, ” the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:20-21)

It’s easy to understand Noemi’s bitterness. We’re supposed to raise our children and then help them raise their children. Hard work and proper planning is also supposed to provide us with a healthy income deep into our old age. It’s the plan for a whole lot of folks, including me. Then tragedy strikes. God is so merciful He can see us through the most desperate situations.

Although Ruth was a foreigner she found favor in the eyes of one of the most powerful men in Bethlehem, Boaz. He had heard the most improbable story of the foreign girl who had given up her family and homeland to stay loyal to her penniless mother-in-law. (Ruth 2:11-12)He allowed her to work his land and everything Ruth could gather was hers to keep. What would happen next would be a true shocker. Boaz fell in love with this penniless, Moabite woman, and married her. (Ruth 4:13)Noemi became the adopted grandmother of their son Obed, King David’s grandfather, and they all lived happily ever after.

God can take the worst situation and turn it completely around. Although Noemi was bitter and perhaps angry with God, He had a plan and had never forsaken her. God incorporated Ruth, the foreigner into not only David’s blood lines, but Jesus himself, also a descendant of Ruth. In this manner both Jew and Gentile were already included in the plan of salvation. Before we grow bitter consider that God knows what is best, has us in his hands and will surely fulfill his purpose in our lives.

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