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Lesson 5: God’s Riches Meet Your Needs

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“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’” Matthew 6:31-34

Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you through this lesson.

By Faith…Two Single Moms

A little bit of history

David reigned on Israel’s throne for 40 years. His son Solomon became famous for his God-given wisdom, strengthened Israel’s defenses, conducted trade throughout the known world, and engaged in numerous building operations including a magnificent temple for God. But his foreign wives turned his heart away from God, so God judged this sin by dividing the Kingdom after his death. Solomon’s son Rehoboam reigned over Judah—the southern kingdom (2 tribes—Judah and Benjamin). Jeroboam (a general) was made king over Israel—the northern kingdom (the other 10 tribes). But, Jeroboam rebelled against God and established a substitute religious system that turned the people away from their God. Sin always brings judgment. In 722 BC, God allowed the Assyrians to destroy Samaria, Israel’s capital, bringing the Northern Kingdom to an end.

During this tumultuous time, God called men and women to become His prophetto receive messages directly from God and proclaim them to the both kings and ordinary people. Unlike the priest or the king, the prophet did not inherit his office. He received his calling directly from God. Some, like Elijah, were called into a lifetime of service to God, while others performed one simple, yet important, job.

About 150 years before the end of the Northern Kingdom, two single moms lived who were struggling just to survive. Things looked hopeless.

1. Recall a time in your life when God creatively provided for you as things looked hopeless. What was it like?

Getting to know the widow of Zarephath…

The town of Zarephath was located between Tyre and Sidon in modern Lebanon. Being Gentile territory, the people worshiped the idol Baal. Elijah was sent to Zarephath to a widow whom God had already chosen to receive His help although she was not Jewish. God’s grace and mercy is always available to individuals. Let’s call this widow “Zee.”

2. Read 1 Kings 17:1-16.

  • What was Zee’s crisis situation, and how was she planning to deal with it (verses 10-12)?
  • What might have been her emotions at this time?
  • What did Elijah ask of Zee (verses 13-14)?
  • What did God promise to do for her (verse 14)?
  • What would Zee need to do?
  • How was God faithful to His promise (verses 15-16)?

Only a true God can provide flour and oil in a drought! Elijah stayed with the widow and her son, eating flour and oil cakes twice a day for almost 3 years! How long could you stay grateful while eating the same meal twice a day for 3 years?!

3. Read 1 Kings 17:17-24.

  • What was Zee’s crisis now (verse 17)?
  • How did she respond to the crisis (verse 18)?

Zee’s response is a common reaction among people who do not know God’s ways when personal tragedy hits their lives. It’s the pagan view of life: “When things go well, the gods are pleased with me. When things go wrong, the gods are angry with me.” But, Jesus said in Matthew 5:45 that God sends sunshine and rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous equally. For Zee, it was God’s opportunity to take her another step along her faith walk, making it personal. It was His goodness to her.

4. Discuss Elijah’s response and how God answered Elijah’s prayer (verses 19-22).

5. How did Zee’s faith grow as a result of God’s faithfulness to her (verse 24)?

Through a near tragedy, this woman came to know the living God in a very personal way.

Getting to know the prophet’s widow…

Elijah served as God’s prophet in Israel for many years. He mentored a local farmer named Elisha as a helper and to continue the ministry after Elijah was taken to heaven (2 Kings 2). Three characteristics distinguished God’s true prophet: 1) he was loyal to God alone, 2) his predictions came to pass, and 3) his message agreed with previous revelations. Performing miracles was not the primary test because false prophets could do that through Satan’s power (Deuteronomy 13:1-2).

6. Read 2 Kings 4:1-7.

  • Let’s call this widow “PW.” What was her crisis situation, and how did she deal with it (verse 1)?
  • What did Elisha as God’s representative ask her (verse 2)?
  • Then, what did he command her to do (verses 3-4)?
  • How did she respond (verses 5-7)?
  • What was this woman’s responsibility, and did she do her part?

The widow’s husband was a member of a school of prophets similar to Bible schools. One community of prophets was located at Bethel, just north of Jerusalem. The Mosaic Law provided for paying off debts by working but with limitations (Leviticus 25:39-41). God gave instructions to His people to continually care for the needy, especially widows and orphans (Deuteronomy 24:19-22). By the time these two women lived, widows and orphans were not only neglected and ignored, they were also oppressed and cheated. But, our faithful God “defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow (Deuteronomy 10:18).”

Olive oil was expensive and time-consuming to make. It was used for cooking, lighting lamps, dressing wounds, and as a deodorant when water wasn’t available for bathing. The wealthy used it for a skin softener. It was also used for anointing kings and the dead for burial as well as for ritual offerings. The widow had a valuable commodity.             

7. When Elisha told the woman to ask her neighbors for jars (verse 3), what could have been the benefits of doing so—to them and to her?

8. How did God provide for this family’s current and future needs (verse 7)?

9. How do you think this incident impacted her sons?

10. Look at the kind of help this woman had sought from God and what she actually received. How did God “defend her cause?”

We often overlook what God has already provided for us and concentrate instead on what we don’t have. In this lesson, God used what both Zee and PW already had as a resource to multiply on their behalf. If you have someone in your sphere of influence who is a widow, single mom, or otherwise needy, be her advocate and help her to look at her resources. Then, join her in asking God to multiply what she already has to meet her needs.

Your Faith Walk

11. Consider the fearful situations that Zee faced. How did she respond to God with faith?

12. Consider the fearful situations that PW faced. How did she respond to God with faith?

God loved the two single moms and their children. He knew what was going on in their lives. He was able to do something about it. But, God did not restore their husbands back to these women nor did He prevent them from going through the agony of watching food supplies dwindle or facing threats from a creditor. His provision was not luxurious foods or easy money. During their walk, a loving God said no to some things. Yet, they chose to trust Him rather than submit to fear. And, God rewarded their faith with an outpouring of His blessing. Likewise, God may not choose to remove the threats from your life. But, in any and all situations, you can count on these truths…

#1 God loves me.

#2 God knows what is going on in my life.

#3 God can do something about it.

#4 I can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do!

That’s your walk from fear to faith.

Journal Your Faith Walk

13. Reflect on the words of the song below. How grateful are you for the times when God says, "No?” Consider an experience where God did not respond as you hoped He would. How did you react? What was the ultimate outcome? What did you learn about God?

Had a lot of dreams that never came true. Things I could have done, but never got the chance to do. When I couldn’t see the path of the storm your wisdom wouldn’t let me go that way. And it broke my heart, but now my heart can say,

Thank you for the times you said, No. Thank you for the doors that you closed. All the ways you never let me go and the things you never gave me. So many times I didn’t understand and wouldn’t let you take my hand. But now I want to fall at Your feet and thank you for the things you never gave me. (David Meece, “Things You Never Gave Me”)

Faith-in-Action: “Recognize God’s Provision”

Jesus said to His followers, “Don’t let your needs dominate your thoughts.” Your heavenly Father knows your needs. Give yourself to the Lord first. Think differently about God’s provision for you. God has 4 lessons for us to learn regarding His provision to us.

Lesson #1: God’s provision is His to give and take away. Regard it humbly.

  • Everything we have comes from God.

There isn't anything we have that we did not receive from God—birthplace, height, attractiveness, intelligence, natural talents (1 Corinthians 4:7). Yet we live as though we had something to do with those things.

  • What we have is not a measure of our goodness or our faith.

How God chooses to provide for you or for me at any time in our lives is His sovereign choice. When God removes our comforts and strips away our support, we actually begin to depend on Him as God Almighty—as an essential to our lives, not just an appendage. Don’t let anyone deceive you by equating prosperity with your measure of faith.

  • God determines our provision—the how, when, and why

Most of the time, God’s provision is going to come through people, not miraculously appear from the sky. People design products and services to sell; they take the risk to start businesses and hire workers, including you. People buy farmers’ crops. And, people provide meals for someone in a time of need. We must learn to trust whatever manner He chooses.

  • Our provision belongs to God. Hold onto it loosely.

Just before Elijah went to live with Zee, God placed him beside a stream for 6 months. Birds brought him food twice a day (1 Kings 17:1-6). But, it’s during a drought so he watches the stream gradually dry up!

"The God who gave the water has chosen to take the water. It's His sovereign right! He gives the child; He can take it away. He gives the business; He can take it away. He gives the house; He can take it away." (Chuck Swindoll, sermon series on Elijah)

Lesson #2: God’s provision is always enough. Receive it gratefully.

  • The sufficiency of God’s enough

After 40 years of life in the desert, eating just morning manna and evening quail, without house, farm, new shoes or clothes, Moses tells the people of Israel they “lacked nothing” (Deuteronomy 2:7). Later, he tells them that in their new land with abundant water and bountiful food they “will lack nothing” (Deuteronomy 8:7-9). When you have the Lord’s provision (whatever it is), you lack nothing that you need at this time in your life. It’s what you HAVE that counts, not what you lack.

  • The creativity of God’s enough

When you receive God’s provision, you learn that He is trustworthy, creative, and personal. For one widow, she had endless pancakes but only enough for today with a promise for tomorrow. She had to trust that flour bucket to be refilled for the next day’s meals. She lacked nothing. For the other woman, she had a bottomless pot of oil, enough for today and to plan for her future. She lacked nothing. God doesn't do the same thing for everyone. Your hope is to be in your God, not in prosperity—current or future.

Lesson #3: God’s provision is meant to be shared. Give it generously.

  • Compassion is doing, not feeling

Compassion is doing something to ease someone’s pain, whether it’s for this week or more. It’s proactive. God’s plan for the needy was that perfectly good food was purposely left in the fields for the poor to have.

  • Compassion requires trusting God, not having plenty

A fine line exists between good stewardship of the provisions given today and not trusting God enough to be able to share it. It’s what you do with what you have. God gave us a wonderful example to follow in the Macedonian Christians.

“Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity… they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will. (2 Corinthians 8:2, 7)

  • Compassion shares God’s riches flowing through us

God’s grace can make a dynamic difference in the mindset of His people when it comes to provision. How you respond as the receiver or the giver should be different than what the world does. God’s riches to us are supplied through us to meet another’s needs (2 Corinthians 8:13-14).

  • Compassion is personal

Have you experienced the joy of deliberately and delightfully meeting the specific needs of a person with a name and a face you know? Compassion is personal.

Lesson #4: God’s provision brings Him glory. Praise Him openly.

Acknowledge that what we have, whether much or little, all comes from God. Ask God to give you frequent opportunity to tell your story. That gives Him glory. Recognize God’s provision to you is being supplied to you for His purposes. Whenever there doesn’t seem to be enough, remember these four truths to stand strong in the tough times:

#1 God loves me.

#2 God knows what is going on in my life.

#3 God can do something about it.

#4 I can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do!

Reflect

14. What did you learn from this faith-in-action that helps you walk from fear to faith regarding God’s provision for you?

Pray

Pray about your fears and decisions you are making to trust God in them. Thank God for His grace toward you and His love for you.

Related Topics: Faith, Women, Women's Articles

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