Faith for Survival

By Faith part 4  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Today we are continuing in part 4 of our By Faith sermon series.
I’ll provide a quick recap before getting into today’s lesson.
In week one I spoke about the Biblical definition of faith as written in Hebrews 11:1
Hebrews 11:1 NLT
1 Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.
In week two we examined the limitless power of our faith as Jesus taught us in Matthew 17:20-21
Matthew 17:20–21 ESV
20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
And last week I spoke about how to increase your faith by hearing the word of Christ as referenced in Romans 10:17.
Romans 10:17 ESV
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
All of these sermons are available on our One Light Church YouTube channel for anyone who would like to review them or would like to share with someone.
So by now we have confirmed what faith is, the limitless potential contained in even a small amount of faith and how to increase our faith.
This week I want to share an example through Scripture of the faith required to trust God in the most challenging of circumstances.
Our Scripture reference is
1 Kings 17:1–24 NLT
1 Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!” 2 Then the Lord said to Elijah, 3 “Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. 4 Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.” 5 So Elijah did as the Lord told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook. 7 But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land. 8 Then the Lord said to Elijah, 9 “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.” 10 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?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called to her, “Bring me a bite of bread, too.” 12 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.” 13 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. 14 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!” 15 So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. 16 There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah. 17 Some time later the woman’s son became sick. He grew worse and worse, and finally he died. 18 Then she said to Elijah, “O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?” 19 But Elijah replied, “Give me your son.” And he took the child’s body from her arms, carried him up the stairs to the room where he was staying, and laid the body on his bed. 20 Then Elijah cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, why have you brought tragedy to this widow who has opened her home to me, causing her son to die?” 21 And he stretched himself out over the child three times and cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, please let this child’s life return to him.” 22 The Lord heard Elijah’s prayer, and the life of the child returned, and he revived! 23 Then Elijah brought him down from the upper room and gave him to his mother. “Look!” he said. “Your son is alive!” 24 Then the woman told Elijah, “Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the Lord truly speaks through you.”

God is God Alone

Verse 1 begins with a formal oath made by Elijah as a Prophet of Yahweh the one true God delivered to King Ahab that no dew or rain would fall in that region again until he gave the word.
It needs to be understood that the drought was a form of divine punishment due to the spiritual decay of the Israelites lead by King Ahab to serve false gods namely the false god baal who was the god of the Canaanite faith and credited with bringing storms, rain and fertility to the land.
It is also interesting to note that the Lord chose to use the Prophet Elijah to deliver the message against false gods because Elijah’s name means Yahweh is God. This is a direct declaration to King Ahab and the Israelite people that Yahweh the one true God is the One that provides for His people and that all other gods are man-made and powerless.
Today as God’s people we too live in a society that accepts many false gods. This is one of the reasons that it is so important for us to read the scriptures daily and meditate, pray and attend church with other believers. This helps to form the solid foundation of our faith so we will know when something contrary to our faith is introduced. Otherwise if we are not careful and rely on society to influence our beliefs there becomes a greatly increased risk of religious syncretism to our faith.
Religious syncretism means the blending or combining of multiple faiths or belief systems into a new system. Said differently allowing the ways of the world to distract and corrupt God’s holy people.
Just as in the time of King Ahab the Israelites did not stop recognizing Yahweh as a God but they included Him as one of their gods, Unfortunately, there will be many in our time of intellectual and social movements that are trying to do the same thing with Christianity. A popular phrase you will hear by popular culture is that there is more than one path to heaven or more than one way to God. Others that say holiness is an outdated concept and for a specific people and we need to live how we feel is best and that because God is love then we are covered under grace.
These teaching are false teachings and nothing short of blasphemy.
Hear me clearly this morning, the Bible is the holy word of God and a guideline and blueprint for our lives. God says what He means, and He means what He says.
While yes, I am a firm believer and teacher of the Lord’s grace because without the free gift of grace none of us could be saved. So what I am stating is that just as Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it, that as His followers we must strive to live holy lives as defined by God’s standard of holy living in the Bible and when we miss the mark as we will do at some point, then we are to repent of those actions ask for forgiveness and by the grace and by the blood of Christ we are set free to keep moving forward serving others and living for God.
Our God is the one true God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and He alone is the one we serve! Somebody give Him praise!

The Lord Blesses Obedience

Beginning with verse 2 the Lord tells Elijah to go east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it meets the Jordan River. Then the Lord instructs Elijah to eat what the Ravens bring for He has commanded them to bring Elijah food.
So, Elijah is obedient and did as the Lord commanded and this was a miracle because most of the other brooks had dried up at this point. Also, because of the drought food was hard to find but every day the ravens brought food to Elijah.
Brother and sisters sometimes God will ask us to do things that may cause us to be uncomfortable for a period of time. Elijah knew that a drought and famine would cause him to suffer just as it caused the rebellious people to suffer but he was obedient to God, nonetheless.
And not only did the Lord provide for him fresh drinking water in an area surrounded by saltwater near the Dead Sea but He also provided bread.
And while the Bible doesn’t say exactly, I tend to imagine that the royal palace would have bread presented on the balcony or courtyards in the morning. The birds would know just the right time to get there between when it was plated and when the wicked King and Queen would arrive. It would seem likely to have the birds swoop down to get a morsel of bread and carry it off to Elijah.
You see once you have been serving the Lord for a while you will come to know that not only does the Lord provide for His people but many times, He will provide for you from the plate of your enemy. Praise the Lord!

Trust God Despite the Situation

Verse 8 picks up with the Lord telling Elijah to go to Zarephath near Sidon where there is a widow woman that He has instructed to feed him.
While the Bible does not say this, if I was Elijah and I had been hiding out from the authorities, alone, hot, uncomfortable, and sipping water from a drying up brook and eating bread brought by birds then the thought of going to Zarephath which was a Phoenician city on the Mediterranean coast where someone would take care of me would sound like a welcomed relief.
But when Elijah gets there, he finds the widow woman gathering sticks. She was presumably newly widowed because she could be easily recognized to Elijah by her mourning garments.
He then asks her for a cup of water. So, she politely goes to help him, and he also asks for a bite of bread as well. But the woman swears by the Lord that she does not have even a single piece of bread in the house. At that time when someone says As Yahweh your God lives the phrase indicated that a formal oath will follow. Elijah knows without a doubt that she is sincere.
The widow goes on to state that she only has a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug and furthermore things are so hopeless that the sticks she was gathering are so that her and her son could have one last meal before they die.
This condition would test the faith of almost any believer. Elijah obeys the Lord and declares to a wicked king that there will be a drought for years then flees to hiding to survive on a small brook and bread morsels from birds then travels to a city in hopes that there will be someone there to feed him, only to discover that the person which the Lord wants to use is no better off than himself and preparing to die due to her circumstances.
While perhaps not this severe, but there will come times in our walk when we will be in seemingly impossible circumstances. Yes, there are times when it is our own doing, but this is not the case here for Elijah or the widow and there will be times in your own life it is not your fault either.
Like Elijah, you are listening and obeying the Lord’s call on your life to the best of your abilities. But the sin and rebellion of others are causing painful circumstances for many including yourself. This may be in a bad relationship or a toxic work environment or a corrupt government or a variety of other circumstances. It is in these moments of trials and testing that we will see the condition of our faith based on how we react to the situations.
Also, we must be careful not to judge the vessel in which the Lord choses to bless us with. It would have been easy for Elijah to be prideful and say that as a Prophet of God he needed to be helped by a wealthy man at a high socioeconomic class but instead God chooses to use a poor widow woman of a lower socioeconomic class to be the vessel of the blessing.
Said differently never judge a book by its cover and be open to the Lord using people that society would least expect to bring forth your blessing. While we see the outside the Lord examines the heart and knows exactly who to call, where to call them and what they need to do to bring about the blessing and plans He has for your life even if they do not look like they are in a position to bless you.

God is Faithful

In verse 13 Elijah demonstrates the unwavering faith when without hesitation he states, “Don’t be afraid!” Then Elijah tells her to move forward with her plan to prepare one last meal for her and her son but to first make a small bread cake called ugah in the Hebrew for him to eat then use what’s left over for her and her son.
How outrageous that must have sounded to the woman but then Elijah goes on to declare in verse 14 that Yahweh the one true God 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 the widow did as Elijah said and trusted the Lord. Consequently, there was alwaysenough flour and olive oil left in the containers just as the Lord had promised.
I love that word always in verse 16. The widow’s faith activated the faithfulness of God. There was not a need to ever worry about enough food to eat because there was always enough. It didn’t say they had one meal a day. It didn’t say they had to cut back because times were tough. It said they always had what they needed.
Listen to this preacher this morning when have an active faith that trusts the Lord and what He says He will do then you will always have what you need to survive.
God is faithful and His words are faithful, and He will never let you down. Hallelujah!
I can testify to the many times in my life when I seemingly didn’t know how I was going to make it. Times when I had more month than money. Times when I was called to do something, I didn’t feel qualified for. Times when I had more work in a day than hours to get it done. Times when I needed to inspire others and my heart was broken on the inside.
But through it all Jesus has always seen me through. Jesus has always been there for me. Jesus has always made my little bit more than enough. Jesus always is closer than a friend and Jesus always is more than sufficient for my faults and failures. Jesus is always perfect, faithful, and more than enough for anything I need and if you trust Him then He will be the same for you. Amen!
In verse 17 after a period of time of Elijah living with the widow, her son became sick. He grew worse and eventually died. In the Hebrew text they used the word neshamah or breath meaning the breath of life.
The widow blames Elijah as the man of God and asks if he came there to cast judgement on her and her son. You can imagine the grief of this poor woman who lost her husband, was about to starve to death then finally gets a stable situation with the prophet living there and God blessing her family. Then it is all seemingly taken away and she feels all alone and abandoned or even betrayed by the man of God.
This initial reaction is all too common when tragedy strikes. Many peoples first reaction is to blame the Lord. But the truth is that death and sickness can happen to anyone at any time and the Lord is not singling anyone out when these traumatic events happen.
Verse 19 picks up with Elijah quickly stating, “Give me your son.” He then carries the child to the upper room where he was staying and place the child on his bed. Then Elijah begin praying to God. He too in his grief does not understand why this terrible thing has happened to the widow that was kind to him and obedient to the Lord. He pleads with the Lord three times which was a common number in rituals crying our “O Lord my God, please let this child’s life return to him.”
Let this be an example for us that when we are seeking the supernatural to have faithful, persistent, prayer to the Lord.
The Lord hears Elijah’s prayer and in Hebrew they say the nephesh, or the soul or breath returned to the child. Elijah then reunites the child with his mother and exclaims “Look! Your son is alive!”
In verse 24 the woman tells Elijah “Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the Lord truly speaks through you.”
This shows by the great miracle of reviving her son from death that the Lord has placed and even greater power on him then was needed to multiply the flour and oil and affirms his prophetic office.
This will help to provide him with the extra confidence he needs to be used at the contest on Mt. Carmel in chapter 18.


In closing, we can see that when are obedient to God times may not always be easy, but He will always provide for His people if we remain faithful to Him.
Our blessing and resources can come in many different and unexpected ways. The Lord blessed Elijah through birds, small brooks of water and an impoverished widow.
Always remember that there is a purpose in our journey and in the important work which the Lord has called each of us to do.
As Christians we have been given the awesome responsibility and opportunity to help lead someone or in some cases many people to salvation through Jesus Christ.
While we all will share the same message, we all will have a different journey which will require a great confident faith that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He says that He will do.
It is easy to share when there are no consequences but like Elijah had to declare the famine though it cost him something, at some point in your walk it will cost you something as well.
However, just as God was glorified by the saving of the widow and the resurrection of her son, the Lord will also be glorified in the good works He will do through your walk.
So wherever you are today in your walk with the Lord make a new or renewed commitment to living for Him. Be sensitive and obedient to the calling He has placed on your life. Have faith and confidence that if you are pure of heart seeking to learn and live in the ways of Christ that your needs will be met and that the Lord will be glorified through the love and good works you show.
May you grow in the knowledge and power of the Lord Jesus Christ and walk in his way.
Have a great week and remember our joy is in Jesus!
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