Following God’s Script

I have been pondering on the story of the widow of Zarephath and Elijah in 1 Kings 17: 1-16. My eyes and mind have been fixed on  verse 9. God told Elijah,  “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”

On getting to Zarephath, we discover that this widow had needs and in fact was poor. She was happy to serve Elijah water when he requested for it however notice that when he requested for food, the widow had a story to tell. The intriguing part of the story is that God had said earlier that He had commanded this specific widow. Surprisingly, it was not recorded in the bible that God pre-informed this widow about the prophet’s visitation.

In the absence of detailed background of this widow; I make a guess that she knew God and therefore believed the words of prophet Elijah and thus followed his instructions? Or could it be that she felt propelled by “something” within her to be sacrificial and generous? If God had pre-warned her, would it have changed her disposition?

Linking it back to my day-day activities; there is a possibility that I have acted the ‘role of the widow’ in people’s lives without necessarily realising that I was following God’s script or aware that the recipients of these good acts were under specific instructions.

Lot and Abram

My hubby and I had an interesting  discussion tonight. We studied Abram and Lot’s story, Genesis 13, at the point where they had to separate because they both had lots of flocks, herds and tents and the land could not contain them.

To let you know, Abram was Lot’s uncle. Lot lived with him post his parent’s death. I am sure Abram loved him as his son. When Abram was instructed by God to leave  his family and go to a land built by God, he took Lot with him.

Abram had “the blessing” on him and I am sure it rubbed off on Lot too- lots of flock, herds and tent etc.

In Gen 13, Lot’s herds men picked quarrels with Abram’s. Abram’s reaction was to call his young cousin and said, “Guy, we need to separate. We don’t need to quarrel, we are brothers. See the large expanse of land before us. Please choose the region you like and I will go the opposite direction”. Mr Lot became an instant surveyor; he choose the well watered land and left the seemingly dry ground for his uncle. His dearest uncle who was his foster-father. That is disrespectful, I think.

Analysing Lot based on my perspective and cultural influence:

Firstly, I think Lot should have cautioned and reprehended  his herdsmen. Basically he should have said, “have you forgotten where thou was hewed?  Stop all this nonsense and ‘respect yourselves'”.

Secondly, even if he was offered the blank cheque, he should have said, “Daddy, thank you. With huge respect, please choose first”.

Analysing Abram:

How could he had been so cool about it? I mean, Abram took care of Lot and you could almost say he owned whatever Lot owned. Yet Lot’s herdsmen had the effrontery to speak with his men. But see Daddy Abram’s good spirit, he said, “please don’t let us fight”.

Also when he suggested that Lot choose and he chose a better land, I (if I were Abram) would have reacted in a way that Lot would clearly see how displeased I was. Yet, it was not recorded that Abram yelled or narrated chronicles of Lot.

Abram’s disposition challenges me. Think about it – are you quick to recount how you loaned Miss X or Mr J on days when, for some reason, they don’t behave as expected? Or how you helped Mr M get a job and he did not appreciate you. Or how you fostered a child who seldoms get in touch with you anymore? Very painful experience, yes I can imagine.

This is why the Lord says, “whatever you do (deed or word), do as unto the Lord not for man” Col 3:17, 23

Ready to serve?

The stories below made me ponder on my “faith journey” specifically the call to serve.

Story A. On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is your guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover”. Mark 14:12-16

Question: Was the owner expecting a request from the Lord or was he just prepared and ready to serve at his Lord’s beckon and call? Perhaps he had planned engagements to take place in the guest room which he cancelled?

Story B. “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’ ” They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. Mark 11:2-7

Question: The colt was tied by someone, the owner. I assume the owner was among those standing by otherwise, it seems an awkward place to tie an animal.

Was the owner expecting a request from the Lord? Or was he just prepared and ready to serve his Lord at any time required and with anything? In this case, a virgin colt- none ever rode on it.

A call to serve. Service to the less privileged; motherless and fatherless;  those in need of words of encouragement.

“Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matt 25:40.

Joshua’s focus

Joshua was an “ordinary” boy. He had a humble beginning. Not much was said about his father, ‘Nun’, probably because he lived his life under the Israelites captivity and died while on the journey to the promised land. In a nutshell, there was really nothing tangible to associate with his father. But there was something about Joshua. Remember the report he gave after spying the land? I paraphrase, “though there are Giants there, we are more than able to conquer them for He who is with, for and by us is greater!

Let us go back in history. During Moses’s era, there was the Tent of the Lord’s presence that anyone who wanted to consult the Lord would go into. Moses would go into this tent to converse with the Lord face-to-face and once the conversation has ended, he would leave the tent. However, Joshua, a young guy and Moses’ protege, never left the tent. He practically lived in it; he had his bed, toilet, laundry, kitchen etc there. Why? Because Joshua was zealous and therefore requested for permission to live in the tent; or he felt more at home in the Lord’s presence; or Moses mandated him to stay and he obeyed instructions given that he was a “boy” under authority.

Joshua stood firmly by Moses. There was no negative report written about him during the time of Moses neither was there any written afterwards. The Israelites loved him.

Through his dedication, loyalty, obedience and fervency he rose up to limelight. That strikes me like a blow because I doubt if he, at any point, nursed the ambition to be a leader of the Israelites or do you think he did? I think if he did, we might have caught a glimpse of it during the conspiracy act cooked up by Miriam and Aaron. Joshua simply had a love for God and godly things. He wanted to live in obedience to Him and do His will. His whole life was dedicated to Him. He was open to His leading and promptings. This is what I define as putting the horse before the cart. How often do we as human beings chase after secondary issues? We sometimes shift focus from the crux of the matter, which is, “But first be concerned about God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all of these things (e.g. Church secretary, women’s leader, youth pastor, soloist, choir lead, prayer coordinator, Sunday school teacher, secular jobs etc) will be provided for you as well.

So the question, “is what is your focus”?

Infertility.

The issue of infertility has been since the days of our forefathers..read on

A. Sarai was barren, she was not able to conceive Gen 11:30 Then one of the angels said, “I would return about the same time next year and the Sarah, your wife, will have a son” Gen 18:10 And the Lord visited Sarah as he had promised. She conceived and gave birth to a son. Gen 21:1-2

Lesson: Word of prophecy precedes manifestation

B. Rebecca, Isaac’s wife, was barren. And Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebecca became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Gen 25:21

Lesson: Power of a praying husband. Intercessory prayer

C. Rachel and her sister, Leah, married the same man, Jacob. Leah had children but not Rachel. Gen 29:31 Then God remembered Rachel, He answered her prayers and made it possible for her to conceive and give birth to a son. Gen 30:22-23

Lesson: Persistence in prayers

D. Hannah and Peninnah were Elkanah’s wives. Peninnah had children but Hannah had none. 1 Samuel 1: 2 On a particular year, after several years of barrenness and anguish, she knelt before the Lord and prayed for a child; a heartfelt prayer. She made a vow to dedicate the child to God and also not to cut his hair. 1 Samuel 1: 10-11 Shortly after the Lord remembered Hannah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. 1 Samuel 1:19-20

Lesson: Continuous fervent prayer avails much

E. Manoah’s wife. For some reason, she was not named. The angel of God appeared to her foretelling the birth of her son. She gave Manoah the report. Manoah prayed for the angel to appear to them again to give more specific details. The angel appeared to the wife again. Judges 13: 2-9

Lesson: There is something about Manoah’s wife – her faith.

F. The Shunammite women. She provided shelter and food for Elisha, the Prophet, whenever he passed by the town. To return her benevolence, Elisha prophesied that she will conceive and bare a son. About the same time the following year, she gave birth to a son. 2 Kings 4:11-17

Lesson: Reward of service. Receive a prophet in the name of a prophet and you receive a prophet’s reward. Receive a righteous man in the name of a righteous man and receive a righteous man’s reward.

G. Elizabeth and her husband, Zechariah, were both righteous before God. Elizabeth had no child. Zechariah was a priest. One of the days he was on duty, the angel appeared to him and said, “Your prayer has been heard. Your wife will conceive and give birth to a son”. Surely and shortly afterwards, Elizabeth conceived and gave birth to a son.

Lesson: Continuity in the Lord’s service; Power of a praying husband; Continuous fervent prayer avails much.