widow of Zarephath was sadly gathering wood to cook her last meal. Then
she and her son would die of starvation, she thought. But a man was
approaching, and when he spoke to her he demanded the impossible. He
asked her to bring him some water and bread.
She was awfully sorry, but she had only a little meal and oil, she said,
and she was just in the act of cooking the last, and then die, she told
him. Surely he would not demand her last crumb for himself.
But Elijah, (for this was his name), told her to bring him some bread
first, and then cook for herself and son. He then assured her that the
Lord had said that the meal and oil would not be exhausted.
She hastened to do his bidding, and behold! the provision did not give out. The man remained at her home,
and they ate daily. There was always plenty.
This beautiful and heartening story is told in I Kings 17. Why was it
left on record in the word of God? Paul says whatsoever was written
before is for our teaching, that we may have expectation. What
expectation can we have from this story, if we believe, as many do, that
it was for the time of which it spoke, and has no relation to us? What
good is it if we teach that God does no do likewise for us today?
To me it means that God looks out for our sustenance, and that we need
not be afraid of starvation if we trust Him and do His bidding. This is
a time when much money is needed, if we are to live. But our God is not
a Pauper. He can see to it that we have much, in this time of great
demand, as well as He could see to it that the widow had plenty.
The trouble is, we have been taught that God does not take our needs
into consideration, and that we should not depend on Him to do it.
Elijah asked that he be served first. This was not greediness. It merely
shows that God should be first in our consideration, for he is declared
to be a man of God.
If she had cooked for herself and son first, the story might have been
different. Indeed it would not have been related at all, for she would
have been doing as the human will dictates.
C E P T A N C E
"Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a draught." This is
what Jesus told the disciples after they had toiled all night and had
caught nothing. Peter said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and
have taken nothing. Nevertheless, at Thy word, I will let down the net".
Can you imagine a better reason for letting down the net, than the word
of Jesus? They had TOILED all night, and not a fist did they get. They
were discouraged. But not enough to keep them from acting on the word of
their Master. They launched out, and let down the nets, and they
enclosed a great multitude of fishes. They did not toil this time. The
fish were right there, ready to be caught. All they had to do was to let
down the net, and haul in the fish.
They had been fishing near the shore, evidently expecting only a meager
catch. They toiled much and caught nothing. Now they went out in the
deep, and the haul was enormous. Is there not a lesson here? How often
our blessings are small, because we do not expect much! God is not a
pauper. His gifts can be plentiful, if we are out in the deep, expecting
blessings suitable for one who is unlimited in wealth. God asks us to
trust Him. To the expectant ones, He promises blessings that "there
shall not be room to contain it". If I need much, why should I not
expect much? "Our God will supply our every need", says Paul.
The fish were material supply. They would increase the riches of the
fishermen. In letting down the net at the word of Christ, they accepted
what He had in store for them. Our prayers and expectations do not
change God. The fish were already there, before the fisherman launched
out and let down their nets. They would have remained there, but
uncaught, if they had NOT launched out. So, you see, they accepted what
God was willing to give them. Their trust did not make God willing. But
it brought to them the fishes.
Is there not a lesson here for us? God, help us to act on it!
LISTEN TO GOD
nerves need soothing, their power for good restored.
I do not seek this by going to a baseball game nor by going to any other
place where there is noise. Quiet is what I need. I need to be quiet
with God. There is far too much excitement in the world. This tears up
nerves. It does not soothe them.
Instead, I get quiet with God, after asking Him to bless me. You don't
have to be quiet in order for God to extend His blessing, but you do
have to be so in order to receive it. If you are in a tense state, the
blessing does not "take". It goes over your head.
I talk with God---or, rather, I listen while He talks with me. I do not
say, "Hear Lord, for Thy servant speaketh". I say, "Speak, Lord, for Thy
servant heareth." God is not nearly so anxious to hear me talk, as He is
to have me listen to Him.
He talks to me by my thoughts. Therefore, I must have thoughts of
humility and of devotion to Him. I make my mind as nearly a blank as
possible. God can talk best when our mind in not running to and fro
trying to formulate some plan for our work. In my thought He tells me
that it is His business to look after me, and that His Son has been sent
to "be about the Fathers business". Moreover, He tells me that when the
Son went away from the earth, He sent the holy spirit to do the Father's
business, which is also the Son's business. The spirit does it more
widely, for the Son had restricted Himself to working where He was,
while the work of the Spirit is universal. It is everywhere.
He tells me that after showing His power by resisting the trials of
Satan, the Son began His work of caring for the bodies and minds of
people, as well as teaching the truth of His Father, and wound up His
earthy career by suffering as a basis for healing, (sa. 53:4, 5, and
then dying as a basis of salvation.
I had heard. I was happy. I arose and went back to my work refreshed in
body and in mind and in spirit.
I have obligations to meet in the near future, but is not that the
Father's business? I will not worry about them, for they are not due.
The Father, Who is "rich in houses and lands", will look after them
through His Son and the holy spirit.
Did not the Son tell the fishermen to launch out into the deep, and let
down their nets? And was not the result a miraculous draught of fishes?
I will not worry about sickness, for did He not heal all manner of
diseases? And was not this part of "the Father's business"?
"Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. he was entombed,
and He was roused the third day according tot he scriptures". Paul says
this was what He taught the people at Corinth. His meetings there were
filled with great success. Many believed. In discussing his meetings in
that city, he said, "I decided not to perceive anything among you except
Jesus Christ and Him crucified".
With his mind's eye he did not see them even as he preached to them. He
saw, among them, Jesus Christ and His crucified. I think this is a very
effective way to proceed. He forgot all their weaknesses and inability,
and saw sitting beside each one, or, rather IN each one the crucified
Christ. This was why his preaching was with demonstration of spirit, and
with power. He did not see them as they were within themselves, but as
Christ the crucified and risen One, was able to make them.
He said to them in another passage, that Christ died for the sake of
all. He did not see some on their way to heaven, and others bound for
hell. Alas! hell fire forms the greatest part of the preaching of many
preachers. In that case, the preacher is perceiving among them, not only
Jesus Christ and Him crucified, but also Satan, with all his malignity.
He sees the two in combat and in his mind Satan is the victor.
But Paul saw the triumph of Christ. He saw the One Who had conquered
death, and knew that the time will come when death is abolished. It is
impossible to see Christ and Him crucified---and nothing else---and not
see that He made ample provision for the never-ending well-being of
Paul was happy in his preaching, for he understood, as he said in
another passage, God "always gives us a triumph in Christ".
His exhortations to them was: "For Christ's sake he conciliated to God".
He had the word of the conciliation.
He envisioned the goal---God All in all.
We could preach with greater joy, if we could see, not a congregation of
people, but a congregation composed of "Jesus Christ and Him crucified".
Christ says that if those who are heavily loaded will come to them, He
will give them rest. I take this invitation literally. It means what I
would mean if I should say to a child, "That load is too heavy for you.
Come to me, and I will make it so you can bear it". Too often we think
of this as having only a "spiritual" meaning. Indeed, we spiritualize
too much of the scripture. Life, or daily living, rather, is a literal
thing. We become burdened with many things. It may be burdens of body,
or burdens of mind. It may be financial burdens. It may be grief. It may
be caused by the doings or attitude of others. We may be burdened for
those we love.
How do we come to Christ? I do it by laying aside, temporarily, the work
I am doing, or the thoughts I am having. I come to Him literally, to the
extent that I go some place, sit down, stop trying to plan, stop
thinking of whatever it is that burdens me, I make my mind as nearly
blank as I can and ask Him for His help, and then I listen to Him talk
to me in my spirit. I don't jump up in a minute and start on the grind.
If it takes several minutes. If it requires an hour, I keep company with
Him for an hour. I went to Him for something, and I do not leave until I
You can't come to Christ in the sense of this text, while darting from
one task to another, or when laboring at the same task while you snatch
a second to say, "Lord, help me". There is nothing that cannot wait.
If you come to Him and still are in a fret about what is burdening you,
you have come in vain. You must show Him the respect that is due Him.
Your human mind is so often in a state of rebellion, that it is better
if you can lay aside your own conscious mind, and let Him deal with you
through your subconscious. He will communicate with you through this
medium, and you will be relieved, depending on how completely you
surrender yourself to Him.
And this not to be done just once. You have other burdens the next day.
Come again and yield yourself and your thoughts to Him.
This makes you more efficient for your daily tasks and loads.