Mulberries - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Remember what God has done

We are forgetful people, and we live in a forgetful culture. I don’t think we forget on purpose. There are many times I truly believe we just get so busy and our brains get so full that forgetfulness just comes naturally. But it sure isn’t purposeful. I forget things all the time, but mainly that’s because I’m running around like a crazy person.

Example: I forgot to post yesterday. Did I do it on purpose? Not at all. My flight got into Wichita about 12:30 in the morning Wednesday, I slept for a few hours, and I work up and went to work. Posting a devo completely slipped my mind until later in the afternoon.

Mulberries - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Mulberries – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is 1 Samuel 12:24.

But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you.

God has provided so many things for me. Sometimes it’s tempting to believe that we have gotten all that we have through our own intellect or our own skills, but that’s just pride talking. Any good thing in my life has come from God, and I have a lot of good things.

But I take everything for granted, I think. My friends. My family. My job. My house. Because on the bad days, I feel like I have nothing, and I feel like God isn’t working at all, and I start to wonder if He really keeps His promises.

I don’t know why He puts up with me.

He’s so much more patient than I am. If I had been half as good to someone else as He has been to me and they treated me like I treat Him, I would have given up years ago. But not God. His love baffles me.

Today’s verse actually comes out of a similar situation. The people of Israel, who God had chosen and blessed and taken care of and rescued and all that jazz over and over and over again for generations, had decided that they wanted a king other nations could see instead of an All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Always-There God they couldn’t. Samuel, their High Priest who served as God’s mouthpiece, told them they were making a mistake, but they were insistent.

So God gave them what they wanted. A king who looked good but didn’t have much going on inside, but that’s a different story. What is interesting to me is how God reacted in the first place.

If you have a chance, read 1 Samuel 12. Samuel stands up in front of the people of Israel and reminds them of everything God has done for them. And he warns them that if they forget God and how He cared for them that they would have to endure some suffering until they remember who God is.

Throughout Scripture, God has always demonstrated His love and faithfulness for the people of Israel. The Old Testament is brimming with stories of how God rescued them from danger and how they turned around and forgot him a short time later. And as a child, I used to think that they were the stupidest people on the planet. But am I much different?

God has opened doors for me that I could never have opened on my own. He has provided a comfortable place for me to live that I could never have provided for myself. He has given me a wonderful family, incredible friends, etc. etc. etc. So many good things. And after He has saved me and rescued me and given me more blessings than I can handle, I turn around and forget and start worrying about tomorrow. 

I’m just as bad as the children of Israel. And God is just as faithful to me as He was to them.

Forgetting is dangerous. Because if we forget where our blessings come from, we’ll start thinking we did it ourselves. And then when trouble comes again, we’ll rely on ourselves. And there’s no power there.

Samuel warned the people of Israel not to forget God. And maybe that generation listened, but the generation afterward didn’t get the memo. And even the king himself wasn’t paying much attention. And God was forced to remind them.

It works the same way in our lives. So don’t forget. Or God will have to remind us who He is.

Wheat ready for harvest at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

God will use someone, but it doesn’t have to be you.

Selfless people are heroes. And I find it ironic that the most selfless people I know aren’t wealthy or famous or powerful. Some of them are, but most of them are normal, average people with limited resources. But limited resources don’t stop them from being willing to give everything they have to help someone else.

I was thinking about being selfless this morning, and the story of Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath came to my mind. It’s a relatively long passage, but it’s a good read.

Wheat ready for harvest at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Wheat ready for harvest at Safe Haven Farm – Haven, KS

Today’s verses are 1 Kings 17:8-16.

Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.” So he went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the gates of the village, he saw a widow gathering sticks, and he asked her, “Would you please bring me a little water in a cup?” As she was going to get it, he called to her, “Bring me a bite of bread, too.”

But she said, “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.”

But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”

So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.

This poor widow really had nothing. She had herself, she had her son, and she had enough food left for one meal before they starved to death. Put yourself in her shoes. What would you have done if some crazy, wild-eyed preacher walked out of the wilderness into your home and asked that you feed him before you eat your last meal.

I’d like to think my reaction would be as mild as the woman’s, but I don’t think it would be. If I were in her shoes, I think I might have told him to buzz off and let us starve to death in peace. But that’s not what the widow in this story did.

I’ve often wondered why the woman didn’t hesitate. From what I know of Elijah, he wouldn’t have looked clean-cut and appropriate. Actually, when he came to Zarephath, he had just come from living in the wilderness and being fed by ravens. This was at a time of drought and famine in Israel, due to the evil King Ahab. Everyone was starving. And I’m not sure, but I don’t think that the woman would have heard of Elijah. This was before the events on Mt. Caramel.

But something convinced her to listen to him. Maybe she believed him. Maybe she felt like she didn’t have a choice. Maybe she thought it didn’t matter. Personally, I like to think that she was selfless. Why else would God have chosen her to be the one to feed Elijah? Because that’s what happened. God used this poor widow to provide for His prophet, and as a result, the widow and her son had plenty to eat too.

What would have happened if she had refused to do as Elijah asked? Well, she and her son would have starved. And God would have used someone else to provide for Elijah.

And I guess that’s the point I’m making this morning. We all have limited resources (until we start drawing on what God has made available to us), and we all face a choice about what to do with those resources. And it never fails that the less someone has, the more they are willing to share and vice versa. Granted, I know some very wealthy people who are very generous with their finances, but they seem to be the exceptions.

When it comes right down to it, if you are a follower of Christ, you have a calling to help others, not necessarily wild-eyed preacher types but maybe it’s your next door neighbor. Maybe it’s your friend at school. Maybe it’s a coworker who needs a ride to the airport. And it doesn’t have to be a financial need either. Maybe it’s time someone is asking for. Or clothes. Or shelter. Or just a listening ear.

Someone in your life needs something from you. God has put that person in your life for a reason, and you have a choice to help them in spite of the cost to you personally or to ignore them and put yourself first. You can do either. That choice is up to you. But before you make that choice remember the story of this poor widow in Zarephath. She had a choice too, eat her last meal or share it with a crazy preacher who claimed God would provide for them both.

God didn’t have to use her. He could have used anyone. But in taking care of Elijah, God wanted to bless someone else too. And that’s what happens when you use your resources to help someone else. Not only do you help them, but God helps you at the same time.

You can’t out-give God. You can’t give Him so much that He can’t pay you back. Don’t believe me? Try it. This widow did, and she realized the benefit of serving God far outweighs the instant gratification of serving herself.

God will use someone. It doesn’t have to be you. But you’ll be much better off if it is.