Central Baptist Church
Monday, July 22, 2019

Morning Worship Sermon

 
 

“BOTTOM OF THE BARREL”

I Kings 17:8-16

 

          Ill. -   Man fell over a cliff

             -     He fell over 100 feet before he managed to grab hold of a limb!

             -     It's 1,000 feet to the bottom!

             -     It's 100 feet of sheer cliff to the top!

             -     He looked down, then up, and cried out!

             -     “Help! Is there anybody up there!”

             -     A voice replied, “I am God, trust Me and let go of the limb and I will catch you.  Just      trust Me!”

             -     The man said, “Is there anybody else up there?”

 

          Now I’ve been there!  What about you?

 

          Desperately clinging to some twig of life - one slip would mean sure disaster!

 

          God would say to me, “Billy, let go and trust Me!”

          I have to admit that in times like that I have asked, “Is there anybody else up there?”

 

          It’s not so easy to simply let go and trust God!

          Yet the essence of real faith is letting go of that false limb outside of God in which we find our security.

 

          I Kings 17 shows us what can happen when we let go of our false limbs of security and trust in God.

 

          Our text tells us of a widow whose trust in God has become legendary.


-  Zarephath was in a great drought

-  Rivers were powder dry

-  Crops were failing

-  There was famine

-  Many were dying of starvation

         

          With this background listen to our text :

 

I Kings 17:8-16 "And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, 9  Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. 10  So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. 11  And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. 12  And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. 13  And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. 14  For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. 15  And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. 16  And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah."

 

          On this day the widow of Zarephath had only a little meal and a little oil left.  Just enough for one last meal then she and her son would die!      

          What a sad ending!

 

          But it was only the beginning, for God had other plans.

 

I Kings 17:8-9 “And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, 9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.”

          The striking thing about these verses is the fact that God had already been to Zarephath!

          “Behold, I have commanded a widow woman to feed thee there.”

          Before the widow’s problem ever came to be, God was already on the scene.

I.  WHEN OUR NEED IS GREATEST - GOD IS NEAREST!

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

          Whatever impossibility or valley of despair, you might find yourself in today, God has already surveyed the path and is waiting to take you through it!

Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

Psalm 37:23 “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.”

          “Ordered” =  Prepared

          How can God delight in my trials and testing.  Folks, He’s seen the whole picture, we’ve only seen the pieces!

          Ill. -   Jig Saw puzzle has 500 pieces

             -     When you look at one piece of the puzzle you have no idea what the puzzle looks like

             -     But when you put all the pieces together, you see the whole picture

           Folks, He who has seen the whole picture of your life can put the puzzle of our life together perfectly.

II.  OUR LAST SUPPLY BECOMES GOD’S FIRST CONCERN

          The widow of Zarephath had reached the “Bottom of the Barrel.”

I Kings 17:12 “And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
 

          Here’s the real story.  Not the feeding of Elijah, for God had already performed a miracle and fed him by using the ravens at the brook Cherith. 

I Kings 17:4 "And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there."

          The real story was the fact that the widow had reached the “Bottom of the Barrel” :

-  No one but God can save her now

-  Trusting God is the widow's only hope

-  And what hope she found in God

          When we get to the “Bottom of the Barrel”, the end of our self-sufficiency, we have the assurance that God is still there!

          He reaches out lovingly and tenderly to meet us at the point of our greatest need!

          Ill. -   Preacher asked question, “Everybody who wants to go to heaven, raise your hand”

              -    Everyone raised their hand but one old man

              -    Preacher felt the man didn’t understand and asked the question again with the same results

              -    After the service the Preacher asked the man why he didn’t want to go to heaven, to which the man replied

              -    “Oh, I want to go to Heaven, I just thought you were getting up a load to go tonight!”

          When we have so many things clamoring for our attention, it's hard to focus on that which is spiritual and eternal.  As long as things are going well for us, we tend to treat God as some sort of extra-added attraction.

          Until! 

          Until the circumstances of life focuses our attention on Him, it is then that we begin to appreciate all that He is and all that He can do for us!

III.  GOD ASKS MUCH WHEN HE WANTS TO GIVE MUCH

I Kings 17:13 “And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.”

          He asked for the greatest possession in the widow’s life.  What He asked for was the equivalent of asking for her very life itself.

          It’s no different from what God asks of us today :

Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

          God wants nothing in our life to be greater that He is - nothing we trust more than we trust Him!

          If He is going to give His all to us, we must be willing to give our all to Him.

          How can we do less?

          She gave her all, acknowledging that God had first priority in her life.  An act of kindness was also an act of trust and obedience.  God delights to bless us when we trust Him for our deepest needs.

IV.  WHEN WE GIVE IN FAITH, GOD BLESSES IN ABUNDANCE

I Kings 17:16 “And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.”

          God abundantly kept His promise!

          He met every need that the widow and her son had!

          Ill. -   Elderly woman praying for food

              -    Two neighborhood brats in the yard overheard it and was going to have some fun

              -    They brought some food and put it on her porch, knocked on her door and ran into the bushes to watch

              -    The woman came out, found the food and began to praise God

              -    The two boys jumped up laughing and told her they brought the food

              -    She replied to the boys, “Boys, God did send the food to me, even if He had to use two little devils to bring it!”

           God will meet our needs!

          Too often we give God the crumbs - not the cake!

          We give Him the leftovers of our time, talent, money.

          God provided enough! 

          Not a full barrel, but enough! 

          She continued to take out of her jar bottle the quantity of meal and oil needed for her and her son.

          She went with confidence each time for a supply, and was never disappointed!

          Faith is not something we exercise merely by human effort and self-discipline.         

          Perhaps today you’ve come to the “Bottom of your Barrel”.

          Life looks bleak, difficult, and impossible. Your tired of being disappointed by the promises of others.

          The greatest miracle that can take place in your life is not that your needs are met, but that your heart learns to trust the God who alone can meet those needs.

          You do not have to face the pressures and problems of life alone.

          God will always provide exactly what you need, when you need it.

          Trust God!

          Once you do, your miracle has already begun!

 

          Those who venture out upon the promise of God, will have no problem exposing or emptying themselves in His service, by giving Him His part first!

          Will you reach into the “Bottom of your Barrel” and give God His part today?