Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Spirit of Not Enough

Have you ever felt like there just wasn’t enough time in a day? That you have more things to do than you have time to do them. When you’re looking at the bills do you think to yourself, "There just isn’t enough money to pay them all"? Are you so tired from work and all the other things that have to be done that you just can’t make it to church?

Where are you going to get the energy, there's just not enough; time, money or energy to do everything that has to be done. But the problem is that there 's a calling on your life. God has a plan and a purpose for you. As a Christian there are commands that are placed on our lives. God has a plan for us but it is in addition to all the other things we need to do. We have to work to put food on the table. We have to go shopping, get the kids to school, and be a part of their extra-curricular activities. This is just life, not to mention the demands that are made on you for other things. Is it just me or does everybody seem to have their hand in your pocket?

God isn't asking you if you have enough time, money or energy to do what he has commanded you to do. he didn't ask, "Is it possible, if you have enough time that you could do me a favor?" He just said go do it. It's up to us to figure out how to make it all work.

I believe that this feeling that we have that there's not time or resources is one of the spirits of the age. It is the "Spirit of Not Enough." Think about this for a moment , this is the most properous generation in the history of mankind and yet one of the things we always here is, "I don't have enough.: There is never enough.

One of the things I hear all the time as I witness to people is, "I'll come to church, when I have time." I used to have conversations with the people I worked with. They’d tell me about the stuff they saw on TV the night before; they’d tell me about the weekends they spent playing, going fishing on Sunday morning, parties, just sleeping late. But when I’d invite them to church they always said, “I work too much…I’m too busy.”

That's a lie from the pit of hell. It's designed to stall the work of God and to keep us from stepping out in faith. It takes faith to come to church regularly. It takes faith that all the bills will get paid and all the things will get done while taking time out to attend church or be involved in the work of the church. The lie is designed to keep us from seeing the will of God for our lives.

But we can overcome the "Spirit of Not Enough." We can remove that spirit from our lives. Look at this in the Book of First Kings:

1 Kings 17:8-16
8 Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying,9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.”11 And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”12 So she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.14 “For thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.’ ”15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days.16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah.

The Spirit of Not Enough

At this time in Israel there is a great drought. the drought has been brought on because the king, Ahab, has led the people away from God. he has turned them to false gods. The drought was an effort by Elijah, the prophet, to demonstrate the power of God.

1 Kings 17:1
And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”

So God brought on this drought throughout all of Israel and the surrounding areas or Tyre and Sidon. The widow lived in Sidon and our text tells us that God commanded her to provide for the prophet. Elijah follows God's will and goes to Zarephath. he meets the widow and asks for a drink, but as she goes to get the drink he stops her and says bring me a morsel of food.

She stops right there and say, "I don't have enough." I'm going to gather the firewood, then I'll cook our last meal and then we'll starve. She's looking at what she has, these are hard times, she's seeing that there isn't enough for her and her son. She doesn't want to share what she has. She’s just like us isn’t she? We are all guilty of this. The Bible says God commanded her. She’s a woman of God and has heard the command from God to meet the needs of the prophet and she’s willing to do that when she has enough, but when she doesn’t that's another story isn't it.

This is human nature. There are things we want, things we need, things we absolutely have to have. But we only have so much. Our paycheck is a finite amount, but the people trying to get a cut of it aren’t. There’s always somebody else who wants money.

There's never enough time, either. I don't have enough time for all the things I have to do. I can't get everything done, as it is, and now I'm being asked for more time to do other things. "I never get any rest. Up early for work and work all day. Three services a week, now they want another night for Bible Study and outreach. When do I get to rest?"

This is the widow's thinking, "I have barely enough for us and now you want a piece." "Who are you to ask for some of what we have?" She says this to Elijah, the man of God.

Elijah, in this text is a picture of Jesus. he is a type of Jesus Christ. Have you ever had Jesus interrupt your plans? You decide to spend the day at the beach or some other thing and God has a different plan for you that day? When you hear it you kind of complain to God, "I never have time like this. When do I get to have some time for myself?"

Doesn't it seem like time has compressed for us? Think about this, whatever happened to the 40 hour work week. It doesn't exist anymore. the world demands more of our time than ever before, but there's still the call of God, isn't there?

Elisha knows this woman is poor, it has to be pretty obvious, doesn't it. But he poses the question anyway. God does that. he knows our schedule. he knows what we've got to do. he knows about our financial situation, but he says, "Just one more thing...Can you reach into that little bag that you have for yourself and give it to me first?" He’s really asking, “What’s first in your life? Work; Your boss; the car, the mortgage?” The little bit that you have for yourself or me? We're crying, "There's only enough for me," and God is saying, "I need that little bit you have for my will to be done."

God is Doing Something in Elijah and in the Widow

God is doing something here in both Elijah and the widow. This is a test of faith for both of them. For Elijah, God says, "I have commanded a widow to provide for you." But when he gets there and sees this woman, she is down to her last meal. She hasn't got enough for her self and God is commanding here to provide for him. What would you think if you were Elijah?

For the widow, after today they starve, there's nothing left. Then the prophet shows up and says feed me first.

1 Kings 17:12-13
So she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.

So she is faced with a test of faith, also. But there is a promise attached to her obedience, “For thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth."

If she is obedient then God will ensure that she won't starve. he will provide for her needs until the crisis (drought) passes. There is a promise that is attached to our obedience as well. If we will respond to the command of God to give of ourselves.

John 10:10
10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy. he's the one who feeds us the line that we don't have enough. he's the one who tells us we can't give to the church and meet all of our own needs. he's the one who asks, "How can you give more of your time, or money, or yourself when there isn't enough for you?" He's the one who says that God asks for too much. He's the one who wants to steal your blessing. The devil doesn’t want you to get blessed. He wants you to feel like there’s too many demands from the church in your life. He wants you to think that it’s the pastor that’s asking too much. He wants you to think that all the things the church does are up to the Pastor to do. Because he wants you to miss out on the blessing that God has for you.

But Jesus says, "I have come to give life life and that more abundantly." he isn't coming to steal from us, he comes to bless us with abundance. The devil comes to steal but Jesus comes to give. he will give sufficient time, energy and resources to see his command done. That's what he does with this widow, if she will obediently feed the prophet, God will provide sufficient resources to see His command through. The same is true for us, not just in the realm of resources, but in the giving of ourselves, too.

Luke 6:38
38 “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

My friends at work used to tell me. You're doing too much, you're burning the candle at both ends. You're going to make yourself sick. But the truth was that i was more energetic and fit than any of them. Energy was imparted to me, because I was in the will of God. I spoke to a pastor friend, not long ago, who complained how tired and discouraged he was. What the conversation boiled down to was that he wasn't really doing what he was called to do. He had other plans working other pursuits. he wasn't really fulfilling the call of God in his life so he wasn't receiving anything back.

Have you ever noticed when you’re feeling lazy and you lay down, you begin to feel more and more tired? I don’t know why I’m so tired! When you sleep too much you just don’t feel like doing anything. When my kids don't want to do what they are asked to do, suddenly they have to have a nap; they get very tired. We're the same way, when we don't want to do what God is asking us to do, we get very tired. When I'm really busy, that's when I'm happiest. I have energy throughout the day.

The same is true with doing what God has called us to do. Outreach energizes. Seeing someone respond energizes. That's the vessel being refilled. That's God's response to our faith and faithfulness.

Matthew 11:28-30
28 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

This is the replenishment of the vessel. This is the promise behind the command. This is what having and abundant life means.

Living Life Abundantly

Elijah, is a type of Jesus here. he comes with a burden and a promise. The widow is struggling with the "Spirit of Not Enough," and yet in her response of faith she was replenished. This same thing is true for us. If we will respond to the call of God he will make his will possible for us.

We have a tendency to see the cup as half empty. "I have nothing left. There's nothing I can do. It's impossible!" Just remember this:

Mark 10:27
27 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible

Jesus will make a way for you if you will just step out in faith. Faith and obedience are the things that will overcome the "Spirit of Not Enough." Don't let that thief of old rob you of your blessing. Don't let him be the victor IN the struggle for obedience. He always appeals to the flesh: The part of us that wants to hoard things, like leisure time and money. Jesus always appeals to the higher things in our makeup, faithfulness, character, and selflessness. Which of those is easier to respond to? But which has blessing and promise attached? Which one tears down and which one elevates? The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, Jesus comes to elevate us. Jesus comes with the promise of replenishment. He will sustain us.

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