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Principles – a Blog Post

January 19, 2018

Several years ago, my wife gave me a plaque, which later hung in my office for several years, with a saying I have gone back to, over and over again. It said, “The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you”. I cannot tell you how many times I looked up to where that plaque hung and embraced the truth of that statement. We are certain to go through trials in our life, and even more certain is the reality that God is totally and completely aware of them. Our trials are always the part of a bigger, “God-sized” plan. We are limited by human eyes and thought at times, but faith and trust allows us to get past those barriers.

I’m reminded of the story of Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath. Elijah had been given the unpleasant task of delivering some difficult news, that there would be a time of drought and famine. However, God did not deliver this news without a plan to sustain Elijah during this time. God told Elijah to go and hide by the brook Cherith and there he would be fed by ravens, who would bring him bread and meat, and the brook would be sufficient to provide him water. He exercised faith and trust, and obeyed the Word of the Lord. Sure enough, as if there was any doubt, God provided, just as He said He would.

When He had Elijah just where He wanted him, God sent Elijah to Zarephath, where he was told that a widow had been commanded to feed him. Elijah may have had curiosity as to how this would all work, but he obeyed completely. Talk about an unlikely scenario! This was a widow who was not an Israelite, and she had a young son. It was difficult for a widow to provide even in the most plenty of times, but now there was drought and the resulting famine. Elijah was obedient, however, and asked the woman to provide him a drink and some bread. The woman, at that moment, was preparing to bake her final loaf of bread for she and her son, for she had run out of supply, and was prepared that this would be their last meal and eventually starve to death.

The widow was now at her own crisis of belief. Did she trust the man, who she evidently recognized as a God-fearing man, and trust that the God that this man served had sent him there, risking her final meal…or did she carry out her own plan and hope for some miracle to transpire or rain to suddenly begin to fall? I believe we see the Holy Spirit drawing this widow into realization of her need to trust God, and trust God she did.

She responded to Elijah’s requests wholly and completely and the three of them trusted God for the next step. What happened next is the stuff of true miracles. She emptied her oil and flour containers with this “last meal”, but that was not the end. When it was time to prepare the next meal, instead of seeing empty containers, they were full. Each time she would use a measure of flour or oil, there was plenty, and for every succeeding meal, there was plenty – it never ran out until the drought was ended.

Elijah obeyed, the widow trusted, God provided…Plain and simple.

Every miracle, small or large, begins with an act of obedience. Think about it – Abraham and Sarah, Moses at the Red Sea, the Feeding of the 5,000…all of these were fostered by an act of obedience at the direction of God.

Bringing it to a personal level, let’s think about this obedience and trust in regard to our personal stewardship – specifically our finances. I’m sure we can agree that our finances are at their best when God’s full blessing is on them. If I want God’s full blessing, then I need to be fully obedient and fully trusting Him. In order to ensure that, I must…

  1. Embrace Godly patterns – if I honor God first and trust Him with the rest, I will find that God does more with “the rest” than He would with the entire amount. In Malachi 3, God chastises His people for holding back the tithes (the first 10% of income, which is a command to return to God’s storehouse-the Church), and says they are robbing Him because of that. This places them under a curse. I’ve seen first-hand how the finances crumble when God is not placed first and I don’t want to go back there.
  2. Exercise Godly principles
    1. Earn wisely – get rich quick schemes are generally get poor quicker schemes
    2. Give generously – giving breaks the power of money over us.
    3. Owe sparingly – debt can mortgage our future
    4. Budget expectantly – Scripture urges us to “count the cost”, the total cost
    5. Plan distantly – short-term band-aids often restrict us in the long-term
  3. Expect Godly provision – Again we go back to Malachi 3, specifically verse 10. “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” That is a command and a promise.

I’ve realized, over time, that God is faithful to His Word. I’ve also realized that there is not greater blessing in my life than to have the hand of Almighty God on my life and guiding my provision of all of my needs. He’s been faithful, time and again, to teach me, to provide for me, and to give me grace to meet every need. I don’t want to hold back my family by being disobedient to God’s commands. I don’t want to hold back my church by not being obedient in Biblical stewardship. I don’t want to hold back the blessings of God on my own life by not trusting Him. Thank God for His faithfulness!

Blessed,

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church – Palestine, TX

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