There was a great famine in the land due to a drought. The prophet Elijah had been instructed by the Lord to find a certain widow in Zarephath who would supply him with food. But when Elijah found her and asked for bread, she told him she had only enough flour and oil to feed herself and her son for the very last time. Elijah then said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But make a small cake of bread for me first.” In other words, “Before you feed your loved ones, I want you to trust God and feed me first.” Elijah was asking the widow to stretch her faith farther than it had ever been stretched before. He was challenging her to put her faith in God for the family’s provisions…no matter how long the famine lasted. He reassured her that by trusting God the jar of flour and jug of oil wouldn’t run dry…and they miraculously didn’t. Oh, to have the faith of that widow! Her eyes only saw a handful of flour and a dribble of oil left…but yet she bravely stepped out in faith, trusting God to provide for her family.
For all of you that enjoy Bible trivia, the middle Scripture of the Bible is this verse, Psalm 118:8 . It’s the very center point of God’s Word. So was it placed there by chance or divinely inspired? Many times I’ve prayed to find God’s perfect plan and purpose in my life…to be in the very center of His Will. For I know that’s the safest and very best place to be. And if I look at the fundamental truths in this verse, it makes that search easier. Where am I placing my faith and trust…whose promises am I putting stock in…and where really does my confidence lie? If it’s in man, I’m going to be disappointed…but if my trust is in the Lord, I will find His ultimate plan and purpose for my life.
The gist of this Scripture is repeated in Habakkuk 2:3-4 where it says, ” But the righteous will live by faith. And if they shrink back, I will not be pleased with them.” We all claim to have faith and trust in God…but do we really? Shrinking back is hesitation and self-doubt that we can really do what God is calling us to. Sure, we can believe for great miracles in someone else’s life…but when it comes down to trusting God in our own, we falter. Self-doubt can effectively stop any Kingdom work the Lord has for you…for when you hesitate, you’re essentially telling God you don’t trust Him. We are to live by faith, believing that if God calls us to something, He will equip us also.
The only way you can become really good at something is to practice…whether it’s a sport, a musical instrument, or a newly discovered talent, without practice, it’s just wishful thinking. Today, this Scripture wants us to take a new and different attitude when faced with the trials in our lives. It wants us to consider trials as practice. Every time we’re put to the test, we need to realized it’s a God-ordained crucible in which we are being purified. In other words, trials equal refining…trials equal developing patience…trials equal suffering in the faith…trials are a chance to practice what we preach.
Even the early Church had problems with Church division, and here Paul was pleading with them to unite rather than split into factions. For if you think about it, if the local Church can’t come together and become one voice…how do we expect the world to follow suit? When Jesus called those first disciples, He told them to “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17) And if you look at the other meaning for the Greek word for “perfectly united”… it means to mend or repair broken nets. Now anyone knows you can’t catch fish with torn nets…so how can the Church expect to follow Jesus and be fishers of men when their nets are shredded with division and strife? We as a body of Believers need to become perfectly united together, and mend our nets.
Jesus spoke several times in John about this idea of water and thirst. John 6:35 says, “He who believes in Me will never be thirsty.” and in John 7:38, Jesus quoted the Old Testament from Isaiah 58:11, when He said, “You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Thirst is a very strong desire. It’s a longing to fill the dryness within us…whether with actual water, or spiritual water. For within us all is this God-shaped emptiness…but sadly, we will spend our entire lifetime trying to fill this emptiness with the wrong type of water. Arid and parched, we search for everything and anything to satisfy our thirst…but every time we think we’ve found it, the water dries up and we thirst again. It’s finally not until we find that Well of Living Water that we can drink and be fully satisfied.
I don’t know about you, but patience has never been one of my greatest attributes. I want something to happen now, not later…and I get antsy and anxious when I have to wait. But if you look carefully at this Scripture, you’ll see Micah concluded there are two things we need to do…watch and wait. So, what does it take to successfully watch and wait for the Lord? In a word – it takes trust. To trust in the Lord is not a one time, one size fits all event. Trusting in God is an ongoing, ever-growing, process of waiting in hopeful expectation and increasing belief that He will do what He says. Our job isn’t to manufacture the outcome…or job is to rest in Him, waiting and watching as He does the work in our life.