How to Get Help from God
2 Kings 4:1-7
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Nov. 11, 2012
*I once heard on TV that a mosquito can pick up the scent of a human from 40 miles away. I’m not saying that to cast aspersions on the way anybody smells. But just to say that trouble has a way of tracking us down. Whether it’s big trouble or small, trouble will track you down. And there will be times when you need help.
*But I’ve got some good news for you today: God wants to help us!
-And in these verses we see how to get help from God.
1. The first thing to do is simply ask for God’s help.
*This Old Testament widow is our example. Verse 1 tells us that: “A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.’”
*This lady had a terrible problem. She was a good, Godly woman, but her husband had died. And she was deeply in debt, so the creditors were coming. And they weren’t coming to take her car or her house. They were coming to take her sons!
*She needed help, so she asked for it. And that’s exactly what we should do.
*You could say, “Well, I don’t have any needs like that.” But you have no idea what you might need tomorrow. And what are you going to do when the need arises? -- Sometimes we just need to swallow our pride and ask for help.
*But you need to be careful who you ask. This lady asked one of God’s servants for help. And though we don’t see it spelled out here, I am sure that she also asked God Himself for the help she needed. And that’s what we should do.
*When King David was in the latter years of his reign, his son Absalom rebelled against his father, and set himself up as king. 2 Samuel 15 tells us that David had to flee Jerusalem. He was running for his life!
*And out of that great distress, David wrote this prayer we find in the 3rd Psalm:
1. Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me.
2. Many are they who say of me, "There is no help for him in God.'' Selah
3. But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
4. I cried to the Lord with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah
5. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.
6. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me all around.
7. Arise, O Lord; Save me, O my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone; You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
8. Salvation belongs to the Lord. Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah
*The Lord helped David. And He will always help His people at just the right time, in just the right way.
*Whenever we need help, we can ask God to help us. -- Why? -- Because He wants to help us!
-In Jeremiah 33:3, the Lord said: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
-In Matthew 7:7, Jesus gave His followers this promise: “Ask, and it will be given to you.”
-And in Philippians 4:6&7, the Apostle Paul tells Christians:
6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
7. and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
*How do we get help from God? -- Ask for it!
2. And then allow God to choose the best way to help us.
*This is the message to us in vs. 2-4: Allow God to choose the best way to help us.
2. So Elisha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?" And she said, "Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil."
3. Then he said, "Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors -- empty vessels; do not gather just a few.
4. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones."
*When this lady went to Elisha in vs. 1, what do you think she was hoping to get? -- Money. She had no idea how God was going to choose to help her. And this thing with the oil? -- She couldn’t have guessed that in a hundred years!
*But our God is a creative God. He created the whole universe and everything in it! The Lord knows the best way to help us. And He has amazing ways to do it.
*The Children of Israel were backed up against the Red Sea. -- Pharaoh’s army was on the way. Who would have thought that God would miraculously part the Red Sea? -- But He did!
*The Children of Israel were wondering in the wilderness for 40 years. Who would have thought that the Lord would send manna, food from Heaven? -- But He did!
*In the next chapter of 2 Kings, Naaman the Syrian was dying of leprosy. Who would have thought that the Lord would heal him, if he would only dip in the Jordan River seven times? -- But He did!
*Who would have thought?
-That the Almighty Son of God would come to earth on the first Christmas and be born as a man? -- But He did.
-That Jesus would allow Himself to suffer and die on the cross to take the punishment for our sins? -- But He did.
-That Jesus would rise from the dead? -- But He did.
-That 10 days after Jesus went back to Heaven, God would send His Holy Spirit with tongues of fire and rushing wind. -- But He did.
*Who would have thought that Jesus would give eternal life to everyone who receives Him as Savior and Lord? -- But He does!
*God knows the best way to help us:
-Always through His Son Jesus Christ.
-Sometimes through His people, like Elisha.
-Sometimes through miracles, like this oil.
*Sometimes the Lord helps us through our circumstances. It can be good circumstances, like bumping into just the right people at just the right time. But God can even help us through the bad circumstances in life.
*One of the most impressive people I ever met in Ukraine was a young man named Vladimir. We met in the summer of 1997. Here was a man who seemed to have it made under the old Communist system. Vladimir’s father was the Commander of a group of Soviet nuclear submarines.
*And Vladimir was in the Soviet Naval Academy. It was a very elite school. But he got booted out for being drunk. Then one day he heard about an English class where the Bible would be used to teach the English language.
*Vladimir didn’t care anything about the Bible, but he wanted to learn English, so he went. And he learned something a whole lot more important than English!
-Vladimir learned about our Savior Jesus Christ.
-And not long after that, he trusted in the Lord.
*I got to preach in Vladimir’s church. The next day about 20 young people from that church visited the ship that took our team from city to city, down the large river in Ukraine. One of those young people was Vladimir’s girlfriend, Oksana.
*Now you have to understand that Vladimir spoke English, but Oksana did not. So he was telling me about her with Oksana standing right there. Vladimir said that he really loved her, and wanted to marry her. But he was concerned, because she was not a Christian, even though she had started going to church.
*So I started talking to Oksana, as Vladimir interpreted. And I asked her if she had ever received Jesus as her Savior and Lord.
-Oksana said, “Yes.”
-And Vladimir said, “What?!? When?”
-She answered, “Last night.”
*After we got back home, Vladimir said this in a letter: “I am excited about Oksana becoming a Christian. I did not expect to get God’s response on my prayers so soon. I praise God that He sent your (mission) team to Sevastopol. I and Oksana decided to get married on August 22.”
*Looking back, Vladimir is certainly not proud of getting kicked out of the Russian Naval Academy.
-But he surely is glad that God took advantage of those circumstances:
-To turn his life around.
-To save his soul.
-And to give him a Christian wife.
*God has ways to help us that we never dreamed of, and we need to let Him decide what to do. We need to let God be God.
*How do we get help from God?
-Ask for it!
-Then allow God to choose the best way to help us.
3. And apply God’s instructions.
*We see this troubled widow following God’s instructions. Look starting in vs. 3, where Elisha said:
3. . . “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors -- empty vessels; do not gather just a few.
4. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.”
*In vs. 3&4, God gave the instructions through His prophet. And in vs. 5-6, the widow followed those instructions to the best of her ability.
5. So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out.
6. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel." And he said to her, "There is not another vessel." So the oil ceased.
*This widow was obedient. She followed God’s instructions to the letter.
-Then in vs. 7, she went back to find out what God wanted her to do next:
7. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest."
*That widow wanted to keep on following the Lord. But why did she follow the Lord’s instructions? -- Because she trusted in the Lord. And we can too.
*Listen to the way David described the Lord in Psalm 103:
1. Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2. Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
3. Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
4. Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5. Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
6. The Lord executes righteousness And justice for all who are oppressed.
7. He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.
8. The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
9. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
11. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
*What a Savor! What a God! He is worthy of our trust! The Lord is generous and kind. And if we will follow His instructions, He will be sure to help us.
*How do we get help from God?
-Ask for it!
-Allow God to choose the best way to help us.
-Apply God’s instructions.
4. And amplify your faith.
*Don’t put a limit on what God can do. Verse 6 reminds us that we need to amplify our faith. “Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’ And he said to her, ‘There is not another vessel.’ So the oil ceased.”
*I don’t think this lady intentionally tried to limit God. But the oil stopped flowing when all the vessels were full. And if they would have had more vessels, they would have had more oil!
*This reminds us many times we underestimate what the Lord can do.
-We think: “Things will never change. There’s no way God can help.”
-But He can! -- Our God can do more than we can possibly imagine.
*Howard Hendricks gave this great testimony about Dallas Theological Seminary: “Shortly after the Seminary was founded in 1924, it almost folded. It came to the point of bankruptcy. All the creditors were ready to foreclose at twelve noon on a particular day.
*That morning, the founders of the school met in the President's office to pray that God would provide. In that prayer meeting was Pastor and author Harry Ironside. When it was Harry’s turn to pray, he remembered Psalm 50:10. There the Lord said, ‘Every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.’ And Harry Ironside prayed: ‘Lord we know that the cattle on a thousand hills are Thine. Please sell some of them and send us the money.’
*Just about that time, a tall Texan in boots and an open-collar shirt strolled into the business office. ‘Howdy!’ he said to the secretary. ‘I just sold two carloads of cattle over in Fort Worth. I've been trying to make a business deal go through, but it just won't work. I feel God wants me to give this money to the seminary. I don't know if you need it or not, but here's the check.’ And he handed it over.
*The secretary took the check and, knowing the critical nature of the hour, went to the door of the prayer meeting and lightly knocked. Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder and president of the school, answered the door and took the check from her hand. When he looked at the amount, it was for the exact sum of the debt. Then he recognized the cattleman’s name on the check, turned Dr. Ironside and said: ‘Harry, -- God sold the cattle.’” (1)
*God sold a few of His cattle for Dallas Theological Seminary. And surely He can help us too!
*But how can we get God’s Help?
-Ask for it!
-Allow God to choose the best way to help us.
-Apply God’s instructions.
-And amplify our faith.
*Don’t put a limit on what God can do.
-Trust in the Lord to help you at just the right time in just the right way.
*And if you have never trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, you need the greatest help of all!
-You need Jesus Christ!
-You need to be saved!
-You need the help that can only come through the cross of Jesus Christ.
*Jesus loves you.
-He died on the cross for your sins too.
-He rose again from the dead.
-And He will save you, IF you will turn to Jesus and open your heart to receive Him as your Savior and Lord.
*You can call on the Lord to save you right now, as we go to God in prayer.
1. Howard Hendricks - Source: “Stories for the Heart” compiled by Alice Gray (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1996), p. 272 - Online source: http://bible.org/illustration/selling-cattle