What To Do With The Little That You HaveGo around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don't ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side. (2 Kings 4:3-4)
I received a lot of feedback from yesterday's message, "How to Prepare for Your Own Blessings." It was amazing that so many people admitted they were blocking their own blessings because they have not prepared for them. Today's message involves more information about preparing for your own blessings. You MUST get your containers ready!
Second Kings 4:1-7 is an excellent example of what can happen when your containers are ready. The widow of a prophet was in so much debt she thought her dead husband's creditor would take her two sons as slaves. When Elisha asked her, "What do you have in the house?" she said, "Your servant has nothing here at all except a little oil." Elisha then instructed her to do several things: (1) Go to all your neighbors and ask for all the empty jars and not just a few. (2) Go inside and shut the door behind you. (3) Pour oil inside all the jars. (4) As each is filled, put it to one side. The widow did as she was instructed. She kept pouring until all the jars were full. There was not an empty jar left. All this from "a little oil"!
The widow was able to keep pouring the oil because she had containers for it. She had prepared in advance. By faith she believed what the man of God had told her. She was able to get out of debt by selling the oil and paying her bills. Don't you wish you could do the same? What do you have in your house that would allow you to use the same principle? What little do you have that can be multiplied if only you had the proper containers to hold it? Even the rich fool who wanted to build bigger barns to hold his crops had the right principle in mind but not the right motives (Luke 12:13-21).
So, what do you do with the little that you have? You dedicate it to God and watch His miracle take place. You believe by faith that when you give God your "natural" thing, He puts His "super" in front of it and what you receive is a "supernatural" blessing. It has to be a partnership. You give your "little" to receive God's abundance.
Get your containers ready! The widow used jars because they were appropriate for her oil. Oil is symbolic of holiness. Isn't it amazing that the only thing the widow had was something holy? Do you have something holy to offer God? Is your heart the right container to hold what He will give you? Is your heart the right container to receive the oil of joy and the oil of gladness? Is your heart in the right condition to receive as much oil as that which ran down Aaron's beard to the skirts of his garment? (Psalm 133:2)
What to do with the little that you have...Go and get the right container for it and then pour it out to God as an offering!
A Bed, Table, Chair and Lamp
She said to her husband, "I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let's make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he come to us." (2 Kings 4:9-10)
Whenever Elisha the prophet went to Shunem he passed by the home of a well-to-do couple. The woman recognized that Elisha was a holy man of God so whenever he passed by she invited him in for a meal. She finally decided to make a small room for him with the necessities to make his life comfortable. She recommended four things. Taken in the natural sense this is what the four necessities were for:
- A bed so that he could rest and be refreshed to do ministry;
- A table for his reading material;
- A chair for him to sit in and meditate; and
- A lamp so that he could stay up as late as possible to read.
The bed, table, chair, and lamp mean much more than meets the eye. According to Exodus 31:7-9, the furnishing of the tabernacle consisted of four pieces of furniture: a bed, table, chair, and lampstand. God has given the Israelites specific instructions on how to build the tabernacle which served as a place of worship. All furniture in the tabernacle symbolized God's presence. The bed represented rest for the weary soul. The table was for the bread symbolizing Christ as the Bread of Life. The chair represents Jesus sitting on the right hand of God. The lamp represents Christ as the Light of the World.
What's in your bedroom? Is the presence of God tabernacling there?
Doing the Work of God
A little maid who waited on Naaman's wife said unto her mistress, "Would God my Lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for lo he would recover him of his leprosy." (2 Kings 5:2-3)
Sometimes in this fast-paced world, it's easy to feel like our day-to-day actions don't matter. But, in God's eyes we are all important and have a purpose in His plan, especially when we reflect His kindness and love toward others. Just like a raindrop that falls into a still pool sends out expanding rings, a kind deed or word can have impact far beyond our view.
Keep this simple truth close to your heart and know your life has meaning. Be filled with joy knowing that in your small way, you can do God's big work just as Naaman's wife's little maid. Because of her kind words, Naaman was pointed in the right direction to be cured of his leprosy. Who can you help today by your kind words or deeds?
The Floating Axhead
As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. "Oh, my lord," he cried out, "it was borrowed." Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. "Lift it out," he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it. (2 Kings 6:5-7)
As a Bible teacher and life application theologian, it is often easy to see God and recognize how we are to respond after reading a passage. This story is a bit challenging. Where is God? What response are we to have after reading about the floating axhead? What's our life application here? Yes, this passage is challenging but not impossible!
Elisha was a prophet in charge of a school of prophets. There were many of them, and they were tired of being confined to cramped quarters. They gained Elisha's permission to move near the Jordan River and build a place there. In the process of building, one of the men lost a borrowed axhead in the Jordan. Elisha responded to his distressed pleas by casting a stick into the river. The axhead floated and was retrieved by the grateful builder.
There are several life applications: (1) Don't panic even when others are distressed. Elisha kept his cool and performed a miracle. (2) Accidents do happen. How we respond to them tells a lot about us. The builder was a prophet in training and felt responsible even though it was an accident. (3) If we play it safe all the time and never take risks, we will never get anything done. This incident set the prophets back only momentarily, but they eventually built their log cabin. Improvements require some risks. (4) Nothing is impossible with God as seen in the miracle of Elisha. An iron axhead can't float under ordinary circumstances. It should have sunk to the bottom of the river, but it didn't. God's power prevailed.
If you are facing difficult situations (including sinking axheads), don't panic. Respond without casting blame on yourself. Be flexible enought to venture out of your cramped environment. Realize God can perform miracles (cause iron axheads to float) when we trust him to do so.
I told you some life applications were there! So it is with all of God's words. If we but read and study we can see God in everything!
Seeing By Faith
And Elisha prayed, "O Lord, open his eyes so he may see." Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17)
Elisha's servant was afraid when he saw an army had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked Elisha. "Don't be afraid," the prophet answered, "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Not so the servant probably thought as he looked out the window and saw the enemies around the city. He saw no one with them. . . It was only Elisha and the servant. Actually, in the natural the servant was right. But Elisha prayed, "O Lord, open his eyes so he may see." Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around protecting them from the enemies.
This is a perfect illustration of seeing in the natural and seeing in the spirit. Elisha was seeing by faith, whereas his servant was believing only what he could physically see. Faith reveals that God is doing more for His people than we can ever realize through sight alone. When we can't figure how things will work out in the natural, we must remember that spiritual resources are there even if we can't see them. Look through the eyes of faith, and let God show you His resources. If you don't see God working in your life, the problem may be your spiritual eyesight, not God's power.
It's Not As Bad As It Looks
And Elisha prayed, "O Lord, open his eyes so he may see." Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17)
You know you have heard from God when out of nowhere you hear a voice telling you something that doesn't match up with what you are doing at the time. You know you have heard from God when it's comforting and encouraging. You know you have heard from God when it is short and to the point. I have heard from God based on these indications.
I heard God speak seven words: "It's Not As Bad As It Looks." Seven is the number of completion and perfection. That's all God needs to say at this particular time. God wants His people to know that it's not as bad as it looks.
When you look around and see the gas prices soaring, God says, "It's not as bad as it looks." When you see your marriage failing, God says, "It's not as bad as it looks." When you see how bad your children are acting, God says, "It's not as bad as it looks." When you look at your bank account, God says, "It's not as bad as it looks." Whatever you are looking at and think you are seeing, God is reminding you that "It's not as bad as it looks."
Elijah had seen the wickedness of Jezebel. She had been threatened to kill him by the end of the day. (1 Kings 19:2) It looked pretty bad to Elijah, didn't it? It would look pretty bad to you also if your life was on the line and someone had promised to kill you before the sun went down. God convinced Elijah that what he was seeing wasn't as bad as it looked. And God is trying to convince you that whatever is ailing you, "It's not as bad as it looks."
When Elisha's servant saw the army surrounding him and Elisha, he thought the worst. And reasonably so. How could two people defeat an entire army? God let the servant know that it wasn't as bad as it looked. After Elisha prayed, "Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." (2 Kings 6:15-17)
God wants His people to know today that in the natural, yes, it looks pretty bad. But seeing through spiritual eyes, "It's not as bad as it looks." Don't deny that your situation is real. Put away your magnifying glasses. Put on fresh lenses and see what God sees. Then declare what God has said, "It's not as bad as it looks."
Agree with me today that "It's not as bad as it looks."
Lessons From the Lepers
Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, "Why stay here until we die? If we say, We'll go into the city the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let's go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live, if they kill us, then we die." (2 Kings 7:3-4)
In the above two verses, we see the lepers are in a bad situation; yet they had choices. No matter what situation we find ourselves in, we always have choices.
The lepers were at the city gate because according to the law they were not allowed into the city but were to depend on charity outside the city gate. Because of the famine no one was feeding them at the city gate. If they stayed where they were, they would surely starve to death. If they went to the camp of the Arameans they would either live or die. Their situation was desperate. Yet they teach us that we always have choices, but we must take a chance.
When the lepers arrived at the camp, they found no one there. So they ate and drank. Then it dawned on them that the people in the city were starving. So the lepers decided to do the right thing. They reported this to the royal palace so they could have food as well. The lepers teach us to share.
One would think a leper couldn't teach us anything. These lepers did! Let's not dismiss learning from unexpected sources. The story above teaches us that we always have choices. However, some of those choices involve taking risks. Then when we find our way out of a desperate situation, we should share with others.
Too Many Irons In the Fire
But Jehu didn't follow the Lord God of Israel with all his heart, for he continued to worship Jeroboam's gold calves that had been the cause of such great sin in Israel. (2 Kings 10:30-31)
Perhaps you have heard the expression, "I have too many irons in the fire." Or perhaps you have used that expression yourself indicating you have many tasks to perform. While having a lot to do is quite important, we need to evaluate and ascertain why we have so much to do. Do we have a lot to do just to say we have a lot to do? Do we have a lot to do because God has called us to do a lot? Do we have a lot to do because of wrong motives.
All people who have many irons in the fire don't have them there to better God's kingdom. Representing God is NOT always serving Him. As with many of the kings of Israel, Jehu did much of what the Lord told him to, but he did not obey God with his whole heart. Jehu had many irons in the fire. He had become God's instrument for carrying out justice, but he had not become God's servant. As a result, he followed God's instructions while having an iron in the fire that should not have been there. Jehu worshipped and permitted the worship of golden calves.
Several things must be remembered when considering your irons in the fire:
- Are they there to honor God or self?
- Too many irons will put the fire out completely.
- Sometimes a wrong iron could be in the fire.
Check out your own fire. Are there too many irons in it? Are the right irons in your fire?
Breaking the Bank
Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in its lid. He placed it beside the altar, on the right side as one enters the temple of the Lord. The priests who guarded the entrance put into the chest all the money that was brought to the temple of the Lord. Whenever they saw that there was a large amount of money in the chest, the royal secretary and the high priest came, counted the money that had been brought into the temple of the Lord and put it into bags. (2 Kings 12:9-10)
Did you know many of the things we do originated in the Bible? The above verses describe what we call a "piggy bank." As children, most of us had a can with a hole in its lid. We would drop our coins (mostly pennies) into the can. When we had enough money in it, we took it out and spent it. Even today, some of us still keep loose change in a jar with a lid.
If the truth be told, the piggy bank had nothing to do with the muddy barnyard animals. In medieval England, clay was known as "pygg." People would usually put their coins in their pygg dishes or jars when they came home. These were commonly referred to as "pygg banks." An English potter, around the year 1600, was asked to make several of the pygg banks. Unfamiliar with the term, he made several banks shaped like pigs, with a slot in the backs for coins. Even though the potter made a mistake, the customer was not disappointed and, in fact, ordered more for friends. The charming idea caught on and quickly spread throughout Europe. Unfortunately, in order to get the money out, the pig had to be smashed. That's where we get the expression, "breaking the bank."
The origin of the "piggy bank" had nothing to do with pigs. Pigs don't save money. They bury everything in mud. Surely, the Jews in the above scripture wouldn't dare call their container a "piggy bank." Pigs were offensive to the Jews.
Whether you put your loose change in a jar or can with a lid on it, remember that loose change can quickly add up to dollars. Use that money to buy something special for yourself or for someone you love.
Anointed to the Bone
Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb. When the body touched Elisha's bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet. (2 Kings13:21)
Elijah was a great anointed prophet who performed eight (8) miracles. Before descending to heaven in a chariot of fire, Elijah fulfilled Elisha's request by giving him a double portion of his anointing (2 Kings 2:9-10). After receiving the double portion of anointing from Elijah, Elisha did follow in Elijah's footsteps. He performed fifteen (15) miracles which is one less than a double portion. How can we account for a double portion? What happened to the other miracle?
While alive Elisha performed one less than double the miracles of Elijah. After his death, even the bones of the dead Elisha had miraculous powers. When a corpse was hidden in Elisha's tomb, it came back to life as it touched the prophet's bones. How anointed are you? Will people feel your anointing by being in your presence? By talking to you? By walking in your shadow? Are you anointed to the bone?
Where's the Other Miracle?
Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb. When the body touched Elisha's bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet. (2 Kings 13:21)
Elijah was a great anointed prophet who performed eight (8) miracles according to the Bible. Before ascending into heaven in a chariot of fire, Elijah fulfilled Elisha's request by giving him a double portion of his anointing (2 Kings 2:9-10). After receiving the double portion of Elijah's anointing, Elisha did follow in Elijah's footsteps. He performed fifteen (15) miracles which is one less than a double portion. How can we account for a double portion? What happened to the other miracle?
While alive, Elisha performed one less than double the miracles of Elijah. After his death, even the bones of the dead Elisha had miraculous powers. When a corpse was thrown into Elisha's tomb, it came back to life as it touched the prophet's bones. How anointed are you? Will people feel your anointing by being in your presence? By talking to you? By walking in your shadow? Are you anointed to the bones?
Miracles are happening around us everyday. Like Elijah, we can be part of the miracles bestowed on others as we walk in God's ways. Like Elisha, we can be part of the miracles bestowed on others when our anointing is more than just skin deep. When we are truly anointed to the bones, miracles happen!
Someone is waiting for that other miracle to round out his or her double portion. You just might be the one through whom that miracle will be performed. Ponder in your mind today: "Where's the other miracle?"
Stories That Shaped Our Lives
To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did. (2 Kings 17:41)
Everyone has a story to tell. And most of these stories are based on what happened to us when we were children. These stories have helped to shape who we are today. And they help to explain why we do what we do.
A story is told about a child watching her mother cook a pot roast. The mother cuts off two inches from the end and throws it away. The child questions the mother since the roast was already small, but the mother says, "I do it because I saw my mother do it." She telephones her mother and asks why she cuts off two inches from the end of the pot roast and throws it away. That mother says, "I do it because I saw my mother do it." Four generations down the line, each mother says, "I do it because I saw my mother do it." Finally, the child's great-grandmother admits she started cutting off two inches because at the time she didn't have a pot big enough to hold the roast. It became a habit, and she never stopped doing it.
All of us have a pot roast story that shaped our lives. I have a sudsy dishwater story. I grew up in rural Sussex County, Virginia and we had no running water. We got our water from a pump outside. Therefore, we used water sparingly. Also, we had to heat water on a stove to cook, wash dishes, take baths, etc. Because we never threw away any hot sudsy water until we had maximized its use, today I almost never throw away nice hot sudsy dishwater until I have used it to its capacity. I just hate to see hot sudsy dishwater going down the drain. Oh, what a waste!
All of us hang onto stories that shaped our lives but are no longer valid. Have you ever questioned why you squeeze the toothpaste tube from the middle instead of from the bottom, or roll up the tube as it becomes empty? Have you ever wondered why you put toilet paper on the roll going under instead of over? Have you ever wondered why you associate certain foods with certain days of the week? Could it be because of something that happened when you were growing up?
All of us do what we do today based on some story that has helped to shape our lives. Feel free to share you pot roast story or your sudsy dishwater story with me. In the meantime, I'll let the water down the drain that is no longer sudsy and is no longer hot.
A Turning-Your-Face-To-The-Wall Situation
Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord. (2 Kings 20:2)
Have you ever had a situation that you thought was so bad you didn't want to think about it or talk about it? You thought it would just go away on its own and you could return to your normal life. The only thing you wanted to do was to just turn your face to the wall. Some "turning-your-face-to-the-wall" situations impact our lives so much so that we can never return to normal. That's when we have to pray for a "new normal."
I believe all of us have had at least one "turning-your-face-to-the-wall" situation. I don't know how you handled yours, but Hezekiah should be a model for us. When he was sick unto death, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to God for his life. He was too sick to make it to his prayer closet, so he did the next best thing. While lying on his bed, he turned his face to the wall and prayed. Notice he prayed for the only thing that was important to him at the time. He did not give God a list of requests concerning other things. Our "turning-your-face-to-the-wall" prayer should be singular in purpose as well. Hezekiah's prayer was answered and God added 15 years to his life. Notice Hezekiah left it up to God to answer in his own way.
What does all this mean? It simply means when we have a "turning-your-face-to-the-wall" problem, we should do what Hezekiah did. We should turn our face to the wall shutting everybody and everything out so our minds will not be troubled with distractions. Then we should pray fervently to our Father believing He will keep His promise never to leave us nor forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5)