Friday, May 5, 2017

Bottle of Oil Never Ran Out

Sometimes I wonder if it is wrong to try to apply every single scripture I read to my own life instead of just reading it for what it is in a historical context and applying it generally to the world. I mean, I feel like I SHOULD be trying to apply spiritual truths learned in scripture to my own life, but what I feel like I'm trying to say is that I am so self-centered, I think everything is about ME.  And I don't think that is the best viewpoint in life.  It would serve me better to be a listener than to switch everything I hear and read and want to tell my own story about the same topic or idea.  I need to listen with the intent to UNDERSTAND instead of the intent to REPLY.

Nevertheless, my post today is about a prophet in the old testament. And I'm gonna do it again--try to apply a miracle of long-ago to my present situation.
In 1 Kings 17, the story of Elijah and a destitute widowed woman gathering firewood. Elijah goes to this woman and asks her to give him water and a little something to eat.
12 She said, “I swear, as surely as your God lives, I don’t have so much as a biscuit. I have a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a bottle; you found me scratching together just enough firewood to make a last meal for my son and me. After we eat it, we’ll die.”13-14 Elijah said to her, “Don’t worry about a thing. Go ahead and do what you’ve said. But first make a small biscuit for me and bring it back here. Then go ahead and make a meal from what’s left for you and your son. This is the word of the God of Israel: ‘The jar of flour will not run out and the bottle of oil will not become empty before God sends rain on the land and ends this drought.’”15-16 And she went right off and did it, did just as Elijah asked. And it turned out as he said—daily food for her and her family. The jar of meal didn’t run out and the bottle of oil didn’t become empty: God’s promise fulfilled to the letter, exactly as Elijah had delivered it! (MSG)
The widow doesn't even have a name. How sad is that? She had lost her husband, had the responsibility of providing for herself and her son, but she had no food, income, or hope of a future while the whole country is in a drought. She is ready for death.
And then a prophet comes along and tells her, "Don't worry about a thing." Just make me a biscuit and God will provide. Right.
She obeyed.
God fulfilled his promise to her just as Elijah said He would.

Sometimes at work I feel like I'm gonna die, that I've reached the end of my rope.  I feel like I come in with my very best, but that my best isn't good enough. I feel like I give and give and yet in return I get punished. I feel that I don't have enough power to manage those I've been given responsibility to educate, and more and more frequently I want to walk out the door and never return.

And then I read a passage in my quiet time like the one above.  The widow was working til she fixed the very last thing she had left to give when God made a way for her. She had to make one last biscuit and give it away before preparing for herself and her son, and then God took care of her needs for ever after, Amen.
Ok, I know I am not a widow. I'm not starving and jobless.  There isn't a drought.  But I can't help but want to see myself as a struggling woman in need of rescue.  And perhaps I am being told to work one more year (make one more biscuit for someone else), and then God will provide me with what I need.
Like I said, I know it is out of context.  God didn't promise it to me.   But I feel like He is big enough that if I ask Him for the help, He is able to provide it. He did it for her, he can do it for me.

In James 1, the bible says that if we lack wisdom, we should ask of God, who gives to all liberally.  I don't want to work at my current job anymore. The struggle is real. I'm not handling it well. I'm bitter against my husband for not making enough that we could survive and thrive without my income. I'm taking meds, my back hurts, I'm sleeping alot and eating even more. I've gained 10 pounds in the last month alone.
God, please help me. Give me wisdom, direction, and a promise to hold on to if I have to stay in my current situation. I need help. For real. I'm hurting. I'm scared. I'm bitter.

Image: https://img.clipartfest.com/352b15958859c0923437187a56f621a3_the-woman-uses-the-last-of-her-elijah-character-clipart-set_1024-768.jpeg

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Careful Living: Not as Unwise, but as Wise

King Solomon spared no expense to build a temple for God. He made sacrifices three times a year at the temple. 1 Kings describes the worship scene honoring God for weeks. 
And then King Solomon blew it.
1 Kings 11 (MSG) records:
6-8 Solomon openly defied God; he did not follow in his father David’s footsteps. He went on to build a sacred shrine to Chemosh, the horrible god of Moab, and to Molech, the horrible god of the Ammonites, on a hill just east of Jerusalem. He built similar shrines for all his foreign wives, who then polluted the countryside with the smoke and stench of their sacrifices.9-10 God was furious with Solomon for abandoning the God of Israel, the God who had twice appeared to him and had so clearly commanded him not to fool around with other gods. Solomon faithlessly disobeyed God’s orders.
How easy is it to take our eyes off of the One our heart loves! 
A warning and reminder in the New Testament is in Ephesians 5 (NIV):
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For me, I think having my quiet time reading and praying in the mornings helps me get re-centered.  It also helps to listen to praise music that "brings me before the throne room", so to speak, reminding me of the amazing personal relationship I have with the Lover of my Soul, and friends who pray, reach, and touch my life with encouraging words and service all help me to remember who I am and Whose I am. 

Lord, help me to remember your love for me in a tangible and present way.  Help me to be that Godly friend who prays for others and gives encouraging words and touches.  Help me to be the salt and light in this very dark and hopeless world that so many people flounder in. Forgive me of my sins. Cleanse my heart. Guide my path. Hug me. Hold me. Fill me. Use me.