Nowhere to Go But . . .

A drought has caused major depletion of resources, and you are personally affected by it. Not only are you affected, but your pantry has dwindled down to the last meal. You have a child, but your husband has passed away. Completely out of ideas, you begin to prepare the very last meal you and your child will eat. Afterwards, outside of a miracle, you and your child will die.

But suddenly a man comes to you and asks you to prepare that meal for him instead saying, “If you will give me a small portion first, God will make sure your supplies will not run out.” What do you do?

We can find this exact scenario in 1 Kings 17: 9 -16. A man named Elijah is told by God to leave where he has been staying and travel to a certain town, Zarephath. There he will find a woman who is to supply him with food. Verse 9 records the voice of God and reads,

Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you. I Kings 17:9

Elijah meets the woman and asks her for some bread. Verse 12 reads,

But she said, ‘As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.’  I Kings 17:12

Rewind back up to verse 9 and read the last part, “. . . behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” The verb “commanded” is written in the past tense. The Lord has already prompted this woman to feed Elijah before he will even arrive. And then, sure enough, here comes Elijah asking for the last of her food. After inventorying her resources, her response is all too similar for many of us: “I can’t.”

How often do we get a subtle prompt from the Holy Spirit and quickly excuse it away because we’re incapable somehow?  No time, no money, or perhaps even not worthy. Life is hard, and sometimes we think that doing what God asks would make it harder or is impossible.

Thankfully for us, God is in the habit of using our inadequacies.

Repeatedly, we find accounts in Scripture of God using uncreative, unqualified, broken, homeless, powerless, and unwanted people to accomplish His will. He does this so that we will know that it is only by His strength and His goodness that we can accomplish His desires anyway. God uses this woman despite her circumstances to bless someone else, and then in His loving-kindness He blesses her right back.

We must also consider if we refuse to do what He asks, life is certainly not going to get easier and may get harder. And then on top of the hardship, we miss out on God’s blessing for obedience. If the woman says “no,” not believing that God can do anything, that very well could be her and her son’s last meal.

An important aspect of having faith is being willing to act on it. It’s the difference between seeing a bridge and believing it can hold you versus walking across the bridge and allowing it to support your full weight. You do not have to have everything in your life in order before God can use you. In fact, He wants the very opposite. He wants us to come to Him with nothing but a willing heart and a surrendered spirit.

The woman allows the Lord to support her full weight, and in verse 15 we read the merciful outcome of her decision:

So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. I Kings 17:15

The commands of the Lord are not always easy. In fact, they are usually unconventional and force us to do things that prohibit us from relying on our own resources or strength. Many times we will not know what the outcome will be. But having faith is being sure that somehow God will do what He has said He will do.

Ponder your past and remind yourself of something the Lord asked you to do. What was your response and what was the result of your decision?

About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to two young boys.  Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner.  She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.

By Faith . . . We Wait

By faith we wait,
when we want an answer so desperately.

By faith we wait,
when we want to do and go but haven’t yet heard your voice.

By faith we wait,
when we want to move towards something . . . anything.

But we dare not go until you say.
Like Abraham, we look towards the stars and cling to your promises. (Genesis 15)
Like baby Moses, we will drift in the currents, unknowing of the future that you have
written. (Exodus 2)

By faith we wait,
to see purpose in this time which seems now like a detour. . . or worse, a dead end.

We will answer your call to rest and wait on You.

In the quiet,
We will hear the distant sounds of battles you are waging in our name.
We will stand firm and watch You deliver us.
We will not be discouraged.  We are ready because You are with us.  (2 Chronicles                            20:17)
We trust in You who already knows what is yet to come.
We trust in You whose purpose will stand.  (Isaiah 46:10-11)

Even Jesus waits still today, and so, too, will I.

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.

The Feel of Freedom

Since I was born again, I find that I have begun marking time and my life in terms of “before I knew Jesus” and “after I knew Jesus.”  Before, I was a mess, bound up in the chains of worldly dysfunction like hopelessness, depression, fear, and oppression. Or, just one word:  lost.

As I have worked through an ongoing process of healing, learning the Word, and serving, I have wondered at how the Lord has gently led me through a process of unloading so much unhealthy, pent-up feeling and thinking and has replaced all that old, broken junk with shiny new feelings and thoughts.

For years I walked around all day on the verge of tears. Then, for the first year of my walk with the Lord, I cried through worship. Every. Single. Time.  It is as if all the pain had to be released before the Lord could work on anything else.  Gradually, as the truly acute pain subsided, reverence and gratitude replaced pain. I was so happy to feel better that it never occurred to me things could get even better. But they did, and they do.

Now if I cry in worship, it is because of overwhelming joy and awe at the almighty power of the Living God. And this feeling is constant; it is what overflows in me now instead of tears.

I have an admission about this, though. It took me months to figure out what this feeling is. It sort of feels like I want to cry all the time again, but not out of sadness. It is because of the display of awesome power that the Lord has shown me and His faithfulness every day to sustain me through whatever the day brings. It is pure gratitude and the recognition of so many little victories along the way. It is freedom from pain. It is daily joy.

Joy, y’all. That’s a big victory if you look back at the beginning of this story. And hope. This story has Jeremiah 29:11 all over it. And freedom . . .

But here’s the thing. I knew a lot of believers during all those dark “before” times. Some tried to share the Gospel with me and others prayed for me to come to know the Lord somehow, but the message couldn’t get through.

None of it was effective because most of those out in the secular world wait until they are at rock bottom to turn to the Lord, especially if they weren’t raised in the faith and introduced to Jesus as a child. The Word has such wisdom to share with us, and those who don’t know it are defenseless in this broken world. They don’t know of the advice in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians to:

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  Ephesians 6:11 

They don’t know that they are precious, created in the image of God Himself, loved beyond comprehension or measure, and bought and paid for by Christ’s work on the cross. Therefore, they don’t understand who they really are or what their true value is, and they fall prey to the world, putting their faith in people and things that cannot ever satisfy or save them.

But in truth, it wasn’t an explanation of the gospel or an invitation to church that led me to Christ. It was the Lord working through the believers in the church as those people lovingly applied biblical principles to my very worldly problems, and demonstrated how those principles lead to true freedom. This is one of Satan’s greatest lies to the world:  faith means giving up your freedom.

If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.  John 8:31-32

About the Writer:
Amy is a joyful believer who is experiencing the healing power of understanding one’s identity in Christ. She is grateful to serve among amazing sisters in Christ at her church and for a church body full of beautiful believers who model the pursuit of Christ with their words and actions. She is also a mother of two tweens (pray for her) and enjoys her career as a scientist and medical writer.

Having Faith

In Colossians 1:4 Paul writes to the Christians in Colossae about how he is thankful for them “because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints.”  But what does it really mean to have faith?

 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1

Even though we cannot see God, we can have faith in Him and who He is.  In the Bible we learn about God’s character and who He truly is; we learn about what He has done for His people and His beautiful promises to us.   We read about how Jesus came to the earth to die for our sins so that, through Him alone, we can have eternal life.  We can have faith in what He did for us on the cross.

We also read in God’s Word about His people and the faith they displayed while walking through different circumstances in their lives.  In Luke there is a woman who lived a sinful life and heard that Jesus was coming to eat at a Pharisee’s house.  She brought an alabaster jar of perfume, poured it over Jesus’ head and feet, and wiped his feet with her tears and hair.  In Luke 7:50, “Jesus said to the woman, ” ‘Your faith has saved you, go in peace.’ ”  What a beautiful display of repenting from the sins of your life and leaning towards Jesus, the only one who can make you whole again.

In Mark, we read of a woman who was subject to bleeding for twelve years.  Yes, that’s right, twelve years!  “She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.” (Mark 5:26)  What an awful time she must have experienced in her life, not being able to be healed and spending all she had to get better.  But she heard that Jesus was coming and she thought to herself that if she just touched him, she would be healed.  She did, and, even though there were many people surrounding Him, Jesus knew that someone had touched Him.  She was fearful when He asked who had touched Him, and she fell at His feet trembling and telling Him her story.  In Mark 5:34 Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”  What freedom and liberation she must have felt in that moment, to not only be physically healed, but to be affirmed by Jesus who said to go in peace.  Her life would never be the same after that moment.  All the pain and suffering she endured for those twelve years had ended and were no more.

I think about Ruth and how when her husband died, Naomi, her mother-in-law, tried to get her to go back to her home country.  But Ruth insisted in Ruth 1:16, “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.”  She stayed with Naomi and trusted in God; and He took care of them.  Ruth eventually remarried and had children.   I also think of Esther and how she had faith in God that He would change the king’s heart and how she risked her life in asking that the king would save her people.  She had learned that the Jews were to be killed on a certain day, and she knew that when she appeared to the king, if he did not hold out his scepter to her, she could be killed instantly.  Thankfully not only did he welcome her, but he also learned of the evil plots being made against the Jews in time to save them.  What faith she displayed in God and how He used her to save her people!

Faith is believing in God and knowing that He will take care of you even in the midst of hard situations.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4

These precious women’s lives would have been so drastically different if they had not put their faith in God.  Other people’s lives would also have been impacted without their faith.  What opportunity do you have today, my friend, to put your faith in God?  Is it the free gift of salvation where you don’t have to worry any more about working towards salvation and acknowledging that it’s a free gift, something only Jesus can give to you?  Your life can be changed just like the sinful woman who found redemption in the midst of her tears and wet hair at Jesus’ feet.  Is there a situation in your life where you’ve tried everything and you don’t know what to do?  Esther and the woman subject to bleeding turned to God who led them through their battle.  Naomi discovered a new life when she trusted God. What does God want to do for you, my friend?  How can you show your faith in God to those around you?  May we develop the perseverance from faith that helps us to become mature, not lacking in anything, so we can be the warriors for our Savior and put a mark on our time in history.

About the Writer:
Alana faithfully serves at her church home, First Baptist Dallas, where she enjoys using her talents and gifts to help others grow in Christ.  She has also taught elementary music in public schools for nineteen years.  She is married to Mike, and they have a cute mini golden doodle puppy named Bentley.