Fed by ravens

1Kings 17:2-16

The background of this story is that Ahab was the King of Israel and he did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. (1Kings 16:30) He set up an altar to Baal and worshipped him and made a wooden image. In 1 Kings 16:33 it says that Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the Kings of Israel who were before him. 

Wickedness was at its peak in Israel. God was not happy with them and He spoke to Elijah that there would be a drought.

God gave Elijah specific instructions about what to do regarding the drought to receive God’s provision He told him to hide by the Brook Cherith. Elijah was to drink from the Brook and God commanded the ravens to feed him – and they did! Every morning and every evening they brought him bread and meat – Divine provision.

A bit of information about ravens – the brains of ravens are amongst the largest of any bird species – they are very intelligent, playful, curious and often scavengers. The raven was the first animal to be released from Noah’s ark.

God is not limited by human resources and He is creative in His provision. He could have sent manna, like He provided for the Israelites in the wilderness, but here He chose to use the ravens.

Can I just say that God knows what His people need. Elijah was alone. God knew he needed companionship of a sort, as well as physical sustenance, so He chose to use the ravens. They would have been a welcome antidote to solitude – coming twice a day. Maybe Elijah started to look forward to their regular visits – a break in monotony; companions; confidants etc.

Saints, God is not just going to feed you and then leave you to go mad with loneliness. God cares about your mental health just as much as He cares about your physical sustenance. He is sending His ravens, so to speak, with encouragement and help.

1 Kings 17:7 “And it happened after a while that the Brook dried up, because there has been no rain in the land.”

It was bound to happen but God had a plan. 

When one source dried up (the Brook) God sent him to another source – a widow in Zarephath.

Verse 8 – God told Elijah to go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon. Sidon is a port city in modern day Lebanon.

From the Cherith Brook to Zarephath it was a long journey – about 80 miles away. Jezebel, the wicked wife of Ahab, was from there and it was an ungodly place. It must have seemed to Elijah that God was leading him into a place of danger.

God could have provided him a widow from the next village to feed him – that would have been much easier – but God is not about making things easy for us. We must respond to His Words with tenacity and faith. God knows where our next provision must come from. He knows what He wants doing and the people that need to be involved.

A little widow in Zarephath preparing her last meal with her son, getting ready to die because food and funds had run out was God’s choice to provide for the prophet and receive miracles.

Please, just read that again and reflect on that.

God has His sources. You think your money might come from a certain place yet God may have other ideas.

Sometimes we can be tempted to think our source will be a wealthy person or a multi-million pound company – yet God may have earmarked a widow on the verge of destitution to help you. He is not limited to the funds of this world. But we must be obedient to God’s voice.

Elijah could have said to God, “Why do I have to go all the way to Zarepath to get food? Aren’t there any widows near my brook that could help me?”

There may have been widows nearer Elijah’s location that could help him… and the widow God chose wasn’t really able to help him – but God chose her… and He had a plan.

To be continued…

 

 

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Trust

In this unusual time I just want to remind you that Heaven is not in lockdown and God is still on the throne.

God has no limitations and His provision does not depend upon the systems on Earth. He can and does use them but He often bypasses them. Elijah was fed by ravens in the wilderness, and when the time was right He used a widow to feed him.

In His Word God says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

God’s view of the unborn baby

Psalm 139:13-16 “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvellous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skilfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they are were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them”

Even at the point of conception God sees the unborn baby as a living being. The Bible says that God sees the substance of the baby, even though it is still unformed – when it’s still a mass and there are no discernible parts.

Not only that, but the Bible talks about the baby being fearfully and wonderfully made – he or she has a Creator  who loves him or her. The child has been created with the skill of the Master Creator – the one who made the Heaven and Earth, who painted the zebra and the giraffe, who created sky-topped mountains and sensational sunsets. He’s the one who gives life to every human being.

In His book are written all the days fashioned for each child, even when it’s just a mass of cells, when as yet there are no days – just the time of darkness, growth and development in the womb – a specific plan and purpose for each specific human being .

God creates no child by accident. He has a plan and a purpose and a story for each one. Even when we can’t see a purpose – God sees it all.

When John the Baptist was in the womb of his mother, Elizabeth,(Luke 1:39-45) he leaped for joy when he heard the voice of Mary, who was carrying Jesus in her womb. He was fulfilling his purpose even in the womb – to be a forerunner and a proclaimer of Jesus, the Messiah.

To abort a child is to go against the very heart of God. Only God has the right to give and take away life. This is not a choice we should fight to have. Indeed, this is too great a  responsibility for us. Who are we to say that a child is unwanted – God loves that child immeasurably. Who are we to say that a child is too great a burden – God can give us strength to do all things. Who are we to say we can’t afford to have another child – God will provide all we need, according to His riches in glory.

If we abort a child, we are aborting the purpose of God in our own life, the life of others and the life of another human being.

What if Mary had decided to abort baby Jesus? To continue with the pregnancy meant that she had to face possible rejection by Joseph and the whole of her community. Not only that, she would have aborted God’s plan and purpose for the whole of mankind. We’d all be facing an eternity in Hell without the birth of Jesus into the world.

What if the child you are carrying is the one God plans to become the one who discovers a cure for cancer? What if the one you are carrying is the one who will carry revival to their generation;who will lead a country; who will invent new and wonderful products?

What if you discover that it’s greater to preserve a life than to destroy it? That in that clump of cells there is great purpose and potential.

All His works are marvellous.

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Shattering the stony heart

In Church two weeks ago and today I felt that God said He was shattering the stony heart. I felt that some people’s hearts are so hard – because of previous hurts, disappointments etc. that there was a layer of concrete around their heart. But God has started chipping away and He is going to shatter it and replace it with a heart of flesh

Ezekiel 36:26 says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Maybe you only have some residual hardness or to the other extreme maybe your heart feels like concrete right now – Jesus wants to transform your heart so it is soft and pliable and responsive to Him.

He will never let you down like people may do. Let Him do that work in your life – you will not regret it.

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In quietness and confidence shall be your strength

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Isaiah 30:15 says, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

Verse 16 is probably our natural human response:”And you said,  No, for we will flee on horses” But the Bible says, “Therefore you shall flee! And,we shall ride on swift horse-Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift”

As humans, many times we don’t like inactivity. We want to feel in control and want to feel that we are doing something about our problems. We might want to run away rather than facing our problems or trusting God with them. But it won’t end well.

The world values natural prowess and people seen as go-getters. But the Bible says about God that, “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior.”

Our natural strength and ability is useful – but it can only take us so far

Zechariah 4:6 says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord”

When we are tempted to run, God’s telling us to return to Him and rest. Let Him give you strength and victory.

The race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the strong. Gideon’s army was small (Judges 7) and God reduced the size further so only God could receive the glory for the battle.

Judges 7:22 says, “When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army fled to Beth Acacia, toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah by Tabbah”

The battle belongs to the Lord. Stop striving! There are battles you don’t have to fight. They are God’s battles. Only rest in Him. Be confident – you’re on the winning side.

God says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” (Romans 12:19) God will repay the wrongs done to you.

In Joshua 6 we see how the Lord said (verse 2)”See,I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its King and its fighting men” Joshua had to be obedient to God by circling the city seven times – he had a part to play but ultimately it was God who gave the victory.

 

 

 

When God says “No!” Part 2

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Compare 1 Peter 1:1 “To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatians, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”

So, there was a Church there at some point in time.

Sometimes God’s “No” isn’t a “Never”. It might just be a “Not Now”.

Sometimes in our own understanding we might think, “It can’t do any harm to go there and encourage these people   but the Bible says in Proverbs 3:5,”Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

God directs our steps and our stops.

 

Peace, be still!

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In Mark 4:39 we read how Jesus calmed the storm with the words, “Peace, be still.” The wind was so strong that it was beating into the boat and water was coming into the boat. The disciples, some of whom were experienced fishermen used to being out at sea in adverse conditions, were afraid and thought they were perishing.

Jesus arose and  calmed the sea with the words, “Peace, be still.” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

Whatever storms you are experiencing in your life right now, Jesus wants to calm them. He is speaking these words to you today – Peace. Be still.

Let Jesus calm your storms within and without.

Elisha and the Widow’s Oil

_20170318_1810532 KINGS 4:1-7

This woman was in dire need. Her husband had died and a creditor was coming to take her two sons away to be slaves. This woman’s husband had been the son of a prophet; he was a man who feared the Lord and Elisha had known him. So, the woman appealed to Elisha to help her. She was not in a good situation and she sought the man of God.

Elisha was willing to help her and asked what she had in her house. This woman did not have a house full of belongings. All she had was a jar of oil.

A quick question – what do you have that God can work with? If she only had that jar of oil, that is what God was going to use.

Elisha told her to borrow empty vessels from all of her neighbours, which she did. She shut the door behind her and started pouring out the small jar of oil into ALL of the vessels. Amazingly, the oil just kept on flowing until ALL of the vessels were full.

This was a miracle! This miracle was dependant on the woman’s faith. Elisha told her, “Do not gather just a few.” She was told to make room for God to do the miraculous. I say to you today, “Do not gather just a few.” Expect God to move mightily on your situation. If this woman had gathered just a few vessels she might not have had enough money to repay the debt and live off the rest. Please, brothers and sisters, do not limit God in your actions, in your thinking, in anything …

You do realize , of course, that God did not need the small jar of olive oil to perform the miracle. But He wants us to commit ourselves fully and take a step of faith. He requires us to lay the foundations for a miracle to take place.

This woman was a spiritual woman and she did not hesitate to respond to the instructions of the Lord’s prophet in faith and obedience, even if it seemed crazy to her. Will we do that?  Naaman was asked to bathe in the River Jordan in order to be healed from his leprosy. He went away in a rage when he first heard this, because he thought this idea was ridiculous. But, eventually he did bathe in the River and was healed of his leprosy.

The things God asks us to do may not always make sense but we must trust Him. He knows what He is doing.

God is our loving Heavenly Father and He wants to provide for us, His children, when we are in need. Psalm 34:10 says, “…those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.” God provided enough oil for the lady to pay the debt and enough for her whole family to live off. God is not only a generous provider ,but He  has unlimited resources.

Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it”. Our Father in Heaven owns everything that is in the world – the animals and the crops etc. He sends the rain and makes the sun shine – He brings the perfect conditions for harvest. He is a rich Heavenly Father who delights in giving us all things.

Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things.”

More about the feeding of the Five Thousand

John 6:1-15

The disciples wanted to send the crowds away so they could fend for themselves. But Jesus said in John 6:35 , “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry and will never thirst.” He also said in John 6:37, “Whoever comes to Me I will never drive away.”

Jesus will never turn away someone who is earnestly seeking Him. That is not His heart at all. He will never turn you away.

Why didn’t the people have some lunch with them like the young boy? Possible this was because they were desperate . As soon as the crowd heard where he was they rushed to follow Him. They didn’t want to risk missing Him by stopping for food. They were hungry and expectant for a miracle from Jesus.

Are you hungry today for a miracle from Jesus? Are you desperate enough to run to him with your problems?

In Matthew 14:16, Jesus said, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

In other words, Jesus was saying, “I have everything they need. They don’t need to look elsewhere, not even for food.”

Jesus is the source of every blessing. We may feel that we have little resources and little ability, but God can take our small contribution of whatever it is and multiply it to meet every need. All God needs is a willing heart. The boy willingly gave up his lunch and Jesus blessed and multiplied it.

Jesus asked Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat” (John 6:5). This was to test him. Philip only saw the impossibility: “even 8 months wages will not be enough to give each person even one bite of bread.”

Are we like Philip? Do we only see the impossibility of the situation? For example, “The cancer has spread, there’s no hope of a cure”, “We just don’t have enough money for that”, “I’m too old for a new job” etc.

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD!

Andrew had more faith than Philip. He brought the young boy with five small loaves of barley bread and two small fish – not enough to solve the problem in the natural, but enough for Jesus to work with.

Grace

You could define grace as

GOD’S

RICHES

AT

CHRIST’S

EXPENSE

Grace is completely undeserved. It is a free gift from God. We can not earn grace.

Ephesians 2:8,9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

We can not earn our way to Heaven. We are not saved by doing good works. Good works will follow a person’s salvation, but we are not saved because of them. We are saved because Jesus died on the cross for our sins and the sins of mankind.

In Luke 23:40 a man who had spent his whole life committing crime gave his life to Jesus and received the assurance of eternal life with Christ in Paradise. It was only that simple prayer of faith that saved him, not any good deeds (for he had none) This is the grace and mercy of God in action.

No matter what you have done, you too can receive this grace of God. Tbere is no sin too great that Jesus can’t forgive. Bring your sins to God and with a repentant heart allow Him to wash you clean and give you too the assurance of eternal life in Heaven.