‘8 Principles of God’s Loving Provision For His People,’ a Sermon by Pastor Paul Scheperle of Lifestream ChurchAustin Roe
As Christians we are facing challenging times today where we must pray and lean on the Lord for strength, maybe in ways we have never had to before. I came across a very inspiring sermon message by Pastor Paul Scheperle of Lifestream Church in Washington, Missouri. With what is facing our countries and our everyday world, I think these principles of provisions for God’s people is something we should all keep in mind with whatever lies ahead. His sermon focuses on (2) sets of Bible verses (from Lifestream Church’s Youversion sermon notes):
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
1 Kings 17:7-24
Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’ ” She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah. Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” “Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. Then he cried out to the Lord, “ Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “ Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!” Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.”
Pastor Scheperle also focused on 8 Principles About Provision from God:
1. God is not surprised by your need.
- God is not surprised by your drought. But we are. God knew the drought was coming so He sent Elijah to a brook. God knew the famine was real so he sent a bird to dive bomb food to Elijah twice a day!
- God is not surprised when one miracle runs out. But we are. When the first source of provision ran out, God simply provided another one. He could have kept the brook flowing, but He chose to change suppliers. He is not surprised when you run out.
- God is not surprised at His abundance. But we are. He delights in surprising us in the way He provides for those needs! He knows He owns it all.
- God is not caught off guard by our needs! But we are. The day Elijah noticed that the brook wasn’t quite as flowy as it was the week before – this was no shock to the one who gives water to the earth!
2. God can show himself mighty in your season of need.
- God sets the stage to show Himself mighty.
- Elijah’s need was just God’s stage for a grand show. The widow’s desperation was God’s platform for the miraculous display of His power and kindness.
- Remember the story in the NT of the man healed of blindness? His need for healing was just an opportunity for God to be glorified!
- John 9:1-3 NLT: As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2“Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.
- God could have kept the brook flowing – but the only one around to see it and give God credit was Elijah!
- A terrible need needs a mighty God. God could and often does simply meet our needs on a consistent and quiet basis. He uses the resources of your job to provide for your needs, and that’s good. That’s expected. It’s during the seasons of the unexpected that God’s glory shines.
- Showing himself mighty tests our faith. It’s also in those seasons where He shows his might and power through provision that our faith is tested and strengthened!
3. God is your source, everything else is resource.
- The brook was not Elijah’s source.
- The raven was not the source of sustenance.
- The widow was also not Elijah’s source.
- Elijah was not the widow’s source either!
- Your job is not your source.
- Your strength is not your source.
- Your brains are not your source.
- Your SS income and retirement account are not your source.
Try this test. You know if something is your source or your resource; ask yourself these questions: Can it die? Can it be stolen? Can it disappear? Can it leave you? Can it fire you?
4. God will direct you to provision – listen!
- You are not alone.
Elijah may have felt all alone in the wilderness.
The widow was probably very lonely – she was a widow with a young son and no way to feed him!
- God is speaking.
Elijah heard God’s voice! God spoke to Elijah, and Elijah spoke to God!
Listening is one of the hardest parts of prayer! Cognitively I KNOW that He is God, but sometimes I don’t act like it. It’s in quietness and stillness that He reminds me who He is – God, the great provider. It’s in quietness that I remember who I am – I’m His child! He takes care of His children! Psalm 46:10 NLT: “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”Isaiah 30:15 NKJV: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”Notice how both had to listen to the directions – Elijah had to listen to direction from the Lord and the widow had to listen to direction from this stranger. There had to have been something in her spirit that told her to do what he said.As you learn to pray like Elijah, you’re going to learn to listen for God’s voice and you’re going to learn to recognize it quicker!
When God directs you to provision, it may not come from the source you expect. God sends the man of God to a widow! God could have led him to a wealthy home in a nicer town, but instead, he chose Zarephath in Sidon, the home of Jezebel, the heart of enemy territory, the center of Baal worship.For Elijah, he chose to send him to a hard place for his provision. Just like Camp Kerith, the hard places are only seasons. But He will take care of you there!
5. God is pleased with immediate obedience!
- Go at once. Vs 9 said that God told Him to GO AT ONCE!
- She went away and did… The woman obeyed after a momentary challenge. Vs 15: She went away and did as Elijah had told her.
- They immediately obeyed – God immediately responded!
Don’t mishear this – God is not like a gumball machine where you put a coin in and you immediately get something out! Sometimes He may work that way. Sometimes He won’t, but this is a fact: A life of spiritual health is a life of LONG OBEDIENCE IN THE SAME DIRECTION.
6. God moves as we move – walk by faith!
- We don’t always get the next step.
Nowhere in this story do we see that Elijah knew the next three steps down the road. God simply gave him one step at a time. As that step was walked out, God kept directing Him. Elijah had to walk by faith.
- The next step is often looks unsafe.
He had to leave the safety of a quiet brook to walk by faith and go back into public life!
He walked by faith as he walked up to a city gate to find a widow who he did not know. God gave no identifying qualities other than she was a widow.
The widow walked back to her kitchen in faith! That would have been a hard faith walk seeing your hungry son sit there while you bake a biscuit and give the first one to the stranger!
We walk by faith even when what God asks of us makes no sense! It made no sense for God to ask Elijah to go to a widow when there were wealthy people who could have easily met his needs!
- God moves, we move and God moves again.
- There is a learning curve to walking by faith. As you pray like Elijah, you become more accustomed to walking in faith!
7. When your brook dries up, change your focus.
- Elijah was focused on a national mission. Elijah was not focused on the brook and ravens, he was focused on his mission. That is why he could leave.
- The widow changed her focus. She had been focused on her need and her son. Now she was focused on Elijah and the Lord.
8. God cares about you and knows your needs!
- God took notice of this woman. In a sea of people, God noticed her!
Luke 24:25-26 NLT: “Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
In a sea of widows, God saw HER! In a sea of need, God paid attention!
- God pays attention to your needs too!