Today I’m continuing with chapter 4 of what will someday be a book about hospitality. If you’re new to the blog, you might want to go back to Ch. 1: Sheep in Goat’s Clothing. If not, read on and enjoy!
There’s a story in the Bible about a preacher and a widow and her son that would make the headlines of every newspaper in America if it happened today: Preacher Demands Last Bite of Bread from Starving Woman and Child.
It would be the lead story on every cable network. Every liberal broadcaster would run it with that derisive little smirk tugging at the corner of his or her mouth.
Let me give you a little background before I jump in.
This story takes place during the reign of Ahab, King of Israel. Ahab was a really bad dude, and he had a wife who was even worse than he was. Her name was Jezebel. Remember her?
Israel had had a string of evil kings who had led God’s people into idol worship and all kinds of bad stuff.
And just when it seemed things couldn’t get worse!!!!
I Kings 16:30 “Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him.”
See what I mean?
There was a prophet in Israel at that time named Elijah, and he didn’t like what this bad king was doing to God’s kids. So, he challenged him.
But King Ahab wouldn’t be worried about what some wild-eyed preacher from Tishbe had to say, so Elijah had to back up his words with some action.
I Kings 17:1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”
No rain? No dew? For how long? Years?
Well, that would get Ahab’s attention, wouldn’t it? You can read the entire account in 1 Kings chapters 17 and 18, but I’m focusing on Elijah’s interaction with a particular widow.
Elijah was affected by this prolonged drought just like everyone else. On top of that, he had to hide from Ahab, who was trying to knock him off, thinking if Elijah were dead it might somehow start raining again.
God spoke to Elijah to hide out next to a brook in the Kerith Ravine, east of Jordan, and He sent ravens with meat and bread in their beaks every morning and every evening to feed him.
Not exactly Pizza Hut delivery, but Elijah didn’t starve.
Eventually the stream dried up. Now what?
God spoke to Elijah again:
I Kings 17:9-10 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.”
So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
The audacity of this guy! Okay, maybe ask for a drink of water, but asking a poor widow for bread?
“As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”
Okay. So Elijah said, “I’m so sorry. I wouldn’t think of taking a piece of bread from a starving widow and her son.” NOT!
This is what he said:
Verse 13 “Elijah said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.’”
What? What kind of man was Elijah?—telling a widow to not only share her last morsel of food, but to feed him first. Every warning bell in this woman’s head should be going off.
But remember, God had told Elijah, “I have directed a widow to supply you with food.”
I’m sure she didn’t consciously realize that God was directing her, but something inside told her to listen to Elijah—to put aside her fears and do something that seemed preposterous, even irresponsible.
It’s important to note that Elijah didn’t ask the woman to do this blindly. He told her what God’s promise was.
Verse 14 “For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.’”
The widow faced a decision. Her choice was to believe what God was saying—or not. Faith is hearing what God says and believing it enough to do what He says.
Verses 15 -16 “She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.
For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah.”
When we read events in the Bible, we sometimes forget that they’re not just stories. They’re real experiences of real people. This widow had a real choice to make. She could live in fear and hang on to what little bit she had, or she could believe the word of the Lord and share it with some guy she didn’t even know.
What would have happened if this widow had hung onto that last little bit of food? It would have been gone in a few bites, and she and her son would have died.
What are we hanging on to?
Elijah said “Don’t be afraid.”
There’s a lot of fear in America today, and with good reason, it would seem. People are concerned about their retirement, about terrorism, about an intrusive government. Some people are afraid of an economic collapse, so they stockpile food and supplies.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t save or invest or have a store of food on hand. We should do all of these. But what’s our motive? Fear or faith? Is our trust in our retirement funds? Our savings account? The cellar where we have our hidden stockpile?
God told the widow not to be afraid. To share what she had. Not to hang onto it.
And what happened? A miracle!
Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
How do we store up treasures in heaven? By the way we treat people on earth.
I truly see nothing wrong with stockpiling supplies and food for a reasonable amount of time. There are any number of scenarios in which this would prove to be a wise decision.
I have a question though. Are you going to eat that food you’ve stored and watch your neighbor’s starve?
Is that what Jesus would do?
Now if you’re going to stockpile food so you’ll have some to share with the hungry, I say, “Good for you.”
If you’re going to stockpile food and hide it from your starving neighbors, that’s not so good.
I know there’s a balance. Some people sit back and expect God to hand them everything on a silver platter without putting in the effort. That’s not what I’m talking about.
But we can expect God to provide for us by a miracle if we open our hearts and share what we have with those who need it.
If we don’t—we’ll have to be content with what we can provide for ourselves, and no matter how well prepared we think we are, we can lose it all in an instant. If you don’t believe that, study the Great Depression.
I believe we’re facing some rough times ahead. America is a lot like Israel was back then. We’ve set aside God and worshiped at the altar of materialism. Our greed and irresponsibility have brought us to a precarious place. So what should our reaction be to this impending doom? Shake in our boots? No. The worst times usually end up being the best times in the end.
It’s time to get close to God. Pray. Read the Bible. And then do what the Bible says.
Remember Matthew 25 from Chapter 1: Sheep in Goat’s Clothing?
Jesus told the people in the line to the right—“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in.”
They questioned Jesus.
Verse 37-38 “ . . . Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, . . .?”
Jesus told them that whatever they did to the least of one of Jesus brethren, they did it to Him.
This is no time to fear. It’s a time to lay up treasures in heaven.
At the end of each chapter I’m sharing an LOL story about my experiences on both sides of the “hospitality” door. Today’s story is about a scandalous situation with a preacher in a motel, and my terrible sense of direction. Enjoy! And don’t forget to look at today’s recipes: easy peasy roast beef and Mississippi Mud Cake. AND a helpful hint.
And don’t forget to comment. Ask a question? Start a conversation. Tell me one of your experiences with hospitality.
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