Living on What
Living on What’s Left
New Hope Baptist Church
May 28, 2006
Text: 2 Kings 4:1-7
This is a familiar passage of Scripture. Many times we’ve heard about the Widow’s oil and the miracle that Elisha performed for her and her sons. This account will help us to answer for ourselves just how bad, how much we want the blessings of God in our lives; how bad we want the presence of the Holy Spirit and the guidance of His power for our lives, our families and our households.
There is a tale of a young man who was desperately seeking God. He went to a well-known and wise old man for help. He asked him how he could find God. The old man took the young man to a nearby river and there they waded out into the deep water. Deeper and deeper they went and when the water got up to their chins, the old man took the young man by the neck and pushed him under the water. He held the young man down until the young man began flailing the water in desperation. In another minute, the young man would have surely drowned. The old man finally let the young man come up for air. They both found their way back to the bank of the river. The young man asked the old man, “What did this have to do with finding God?”
The old man asked the young man, “While you were under the water, what did you want more than anything else?” The young man simply replied, “Air.” The old man concluded with this thought, “When you want God as much as you wanted air, you will find Him.”
We can certainly ascertain several things, several principles from this passage, but today I want to consider three very important things from this widow. You will recall her situation. He was recently widowed. Her husband had been a student in the school for prophets. Not unlike many of us today, he probably had to borrow lots of student loans to get through school. However, before he could make good on the loans, he died. History tells us that the nation Israel was in shambles at that time. It was not a good time financially. Interest rates were at their highest; sells were down; the only thing that could still bring in a profit was oil, much like today with our high gas prices.
In that day, when a man died in debt it was not just written off. No, whatever or whoever he had left behind became responsible. This widow had two sons, her only possible means to livelihood, and now the debtors were threatening to take them in payment for her husband’s debt. She was beside herself. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a desperate situation like that before? Have you been to a place in life where it seemed that absolutely no hope was left? A place where you felt like eating a last meal and dying? I don’t mean when you’ve just gotten behind in a few bills and you dodge the phone calls from creditors. That’s bad, but that’s not the desperation I mean. I mean a place where you could not even imagine daylight ever coming into your life again. Total desperation was there but there was no solution to your situation. That’s about where this widow was, except she had one thing. She had a little oil.
It’s interesting that Elisha didn’t offer her an immediate solution or give her material goods right away. First, he asked her what she had to offer. God, who made the world from nothingness can surely provide anything you need, but he also wants something from you. How much faith do you have in Him and His Word? Notice that it was a little oil. It doesn’t take great faith to move God. Jesus said if you have the faith of the size of a mustard seed…
Well, the widow was instructed to Put Up. She had to show forth her faith. She had to go and borrow. She had to give some action to her faith. In the process of going she no doubt had to take into account her present situation. She had to determine within herself that she was going to lay all of her cards on the table and trust the prophet.
God wants to see your faith working. God wants us to exercise faith, and participate in His works. John 2:6-7 - Wedding Feast - no wine - nearby stood 6 stone water jars…Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water".
· John 11:39 - Jesus was about to call Lazarus out of the grave - He asked the people to move the stone away from the tomb.
· Mark 6:38 - feeding of >5000 people - Jesus asked, "What do you have?"- 5 loaves and 2 fish.
There comes a time when you have to deal with stuff in your life. Old stuff that needs to be shed. You have to realize that old dependencies are dead to you. Just like this widow’s husband, who was the one she depended on was dead, you have to come to grips with old things and people you have depended on and determine that you will depend on God alone. You have to deal with old stuff in you life. I tell you, you won’t be able to live on what’s left until you have depleted yourself of some old stuff that has occupied you way of thinking, your way of living form day to day, your mindset, your decisions and beliefs. Deal with the old stuff. Clean house, wash the walls of doubt and pity. Scrub the floors of your old habits. Deal with the old stuff.
Not only did she have to put up the old stuff, but she was instructed to shut up. Elisha told her to take her sons and to go into the house and to shut the door behind them. The word that is used here for “shut the door” in the original language means to deliver up; to give over to. In other words, empty yourself. Tell Jesus all about it. Too many times we shut up in the opposite way. We don’t tell Jesus much at all. Sometimes your sins can get you in such a place that you just stop talking to God at all. That’s just where the Devil would have you, silent before God. But when you are really in need of a blessing from God, when you have come to the end of yourself, when there is no other way out or around your situation, you better learn how to shut up to God. Tell Him all about it. Not just about your need materially, but your lack spiritually. Empty yourself to Jesus. You can’t begin to expect or to receive from the Lord until you have emptied yourself. The widow was instructed to get empty vessels. Why? Because God can’t fill what is already occupied. How empty are you today? Better yet, what are you full of? Are you full of self? Full of pride? Are you living on your own wits? Are you making your own decisions about your day to day life? Maybe you’re not destitute right now, but do you think it’s your own ingenuity that has kept you? How empty are you? The Bible says that we should be being filled with the Holy Spirit. That means every day, every minute, every second we should be replenished with the Holy Spirit in our lives. But if we are full of our own sense of handling things, there is no room for Him.
The other part of her shutting up or getting the empty vessels was to show her readiness to receive. You can’t expect abundance with filled vessels. You can’t expect abundance when unconfessed sin is running over in your life. Are you living in sin, just can’t let it go? Then you ain’t ready. You can’t expect abundance when pride has plotted your path. Pride that says “I know what I’m doing” or “I’m going to live life my way”. Pride will keep you from the abundance of God. You ain’t ready. What’s captivating your mind, your thoughts and directing your decisions? Anger that you just can’t let go of. Jealousy that is eating you up. Envy of someone else’s blessings. Defeated attitudes that hold you back. You ain’t ready. You still to full of other things to receive abundance from God. You ain’t ready.
Finally, the widow was instructed to fill up. She was to fill the vessels until they were full and set them aside. When the vessels were full, then she was ready to do business. With the vessels full, she was to complete three things:
First, she was to be wise in business. She was instructed to sell the oil. She was to sell the oil for profit. When God gives you the means to be blessed, you must use wisdom in handling any gift. Your profit might not be monetary, but whatever you are lacking, whatever your need, when He gives you the means to meet that need, you must be wise in its handling. If he has gifted you to teach, then you will receive joy and satisfaction when a student learns. Whatever you gift may be, it will surely bless you when you apply it will all wisdom.
Second, she was told to pay her debt. The Bible says to “Owe no man anything, but to love him”. Surely that is speaking to monetary indebtedness but you may own a spiritual or emotional debt to someone. It’s time to set your house in order. Whatever has had a hold on you in the past, it’s time to pay it up, let it go, free yourself from all entanglements. Paying your debts means to free yourself. Have you been tied up in bad relationships? Pay your debt and be free. Is there some habits that you have allowed to just hang on to your life and now they’re pulling you down? Pay your debt and be free. Has worry about the future captured your every thought? Pay your debt and be free. Have you neglected your home and now it’s all haywire? Pay your debt and be free. Are you fornicating and you just don’t know how to stop? Pay your debt and be free. Has your social drinking become more a habit? Pay your debt and be free.
You need to notice one thing about the oil that the widow was told to pour into the vessels. In the Old Testament, oil was a sign of wealth and stability and also joy. It was considered to be a staple, much like we consider flour, meal, eggs and sugar. But the interesting thing about the word used for oil in the Hebrew, “AMAD” is that it means to tarry, or to stand by. You see, the miracle that God performed was on something she already had. He worked with the oil already in her possession.
So many times, we think that our blessings, our miracles have to come from another source than what we already have. Many times, that is exactly what gets us into trouble, thinking the grass is greener on the other side. It may be greener, but you don’t know how much it costs in water and fertilizer to keep it green. Look, it God can make this universe from nothing; surely he can take your mess and fix it. He can cause you to look at your own spouse in a new way. He can even make you look good to your spouse again. He can reveal that inner beauty and rekindle sparks in your hearts. He can make your house a home. He can work on the hearts and minds of your children. He can turn things around at work. He can take the money you already have and make it go further than you can imagine. He can do whatever is needed if you are willing to free yourself of the old debts, and He will cause the oil to tarry, to stand by to be available whenever you need it.
That’s how you get to the last point of living on what’s left. I know I’m right because the third thing the widow was told was that she and her sons could live on the oil that was left. That meant that the oil was going to be available throughout her life time and the lives of her sons. It was on stand by. Whenever it was needed, it would be there. It would never dry up, never give out, never not be. It had been touched by God. The God of abundance.
Notice that the prophet told her to live on what’s left, not on the leftovers. The Lord placed into my spirit that there is a difference between leftovers and what’s left. I kind of had an idea of what He meant in my spirit, but I did not quite know how to relay it to you until I both heard an illustration and then looked at the original language. Let me try and illustrate this for you, but you will have to help me by using your imagination.
Pitcher, cups and the ocean.
Let me break it down just a little further. If you are kicking it with another woman’s husband, you’re living on leftovers. You don’t have any authority in that thing. When you eat warmed over food, that’s leftovers. When your children grow up untrained, without respect for elders and lacking morals, what you get is leftovers; their disrespect, their uncaring attitudes and lace of esteem.
When you live on what’s left, you don’t have to worry about contamination. When you live on what’s left, you are more apt to be in control. When you pay your tithes or offerings consistently, you can life on what’s left. When you grown old with your own spouse, even thought the bad times, fall outs and misunderstandings, you can live on what’s left. What’s left may not be like it used to be, but it’s all yours. You have a history that no one can take. When you’ve gone through sickness and disease and treatment after treatment and God has spared you life, you can live on what’s left. Young people, when you apply yourself and go through school and college, and not spend all your time out playing, you can live on what’s left. Ask some of these men and women here in New Hope, what have labored at school and then paid their dues on a job for 20 or 30 years, who are now living on retirement that they have earned, I tell you, you can live on what’s left. When you trust in Jesus, the God who blesses abundantly, when you are willing to use your faith and to step out on His Word, willing to place you total life and purpose and future into His hands, you can live on what’s left. He is the God of what’s left.
There was a woman from Samaria who went to a well to get some water. We are told that she went in the heat of the day, to avoid contact with others because she was known to have a spurious reputation. She went to the well seeking leftovers. I know I’m right because she only had a bucket and a ladle for drinking. She was looking for an immediate fix of water. Just enough to take her through the night. But Jesus offered her what’s left, for He told her that is she drank of the water He could give her that she would never thirst again. He’s the God of what’s left.
There was another woman who had an issue of blood for many years. She had blown all of her money and possessions on trying to get some relief. She heard about Jesus and all of the miracles He had performed. She sought Him out and when she got within His space, she attempted to get some leftovers. I know because she was pushed back in the crowds. She was ignored and discouraged from trying to get up to him. So she reasoned within herself as she was probably pushed down to the ground, “If I can just touch the hem of His garment, I’ll get saved. She wasn’t even looking for healing anymore. But Jesus gave her what’s left for when she touched His garment He knew that Power has gone out from Him. When He looked at her, He told her that her faith had saved her (made her well) and to go in peace and be healed of her affliction. He both saved her for eternity and healed her sickness. He is the God of what’s left.
Seems like we have a lot of women witnesses today, but I am reminded of another whose daughter was dying. She was not a Jew but she went to Jesus anyhow. She asked for her child to be healed. Jesus tested her faith by suggesting that He was sent to deal with the Jews first. The woman didn’t give up. She offered to take the leftovers for she said “even the dogs are allowed to eat the crumbs from the Master’s table.” Her faith was so great that Jesus, the God of what’s left healed her daughter before she got home. There was the man in the tombs, unable to be bound by any man. Constantly, the Bible says, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and gnashing himself with stones. He was looking for some immediate relief from Jesus, though possessed by many demons. Death might have seemed better that life at that point. But after Jesus dealt with him and the demons, he was found sitting down, clothed and in his right mind. He got what was left.
You might be wondering what’s left for you today. Well, let me see if I can help you out. You have to go over 2000 years ago. It was a Friday morning when they led Him up to Calvary’s Hill. There, they nailed His hands and His feet to an old rugged cross. They lifted Him high and spread Him wide and dropped it in the ground. He hung until the sun refused to shine. He hung as they mocked Him and ripped His garments. He hung in disgrace between two thieves. He hung as His Father forsook Him. Jesus hung until every sin of mankind was put upon Him. Jesus hung and He died.
They took His body down and gave it to be buried in a borrowed tomb. They laid Him in the tomb when He stayed all of Friday, all of Saturday, but early on Sunday morning, early, he got up from the grave. It was after being tortured, beat beyond recognition of a human being, it was after being spat upon, it was after His beard had been plucked from His face, it was after carrying the sin of the world, it was after He died and rose again that He said “All Power, both in heaven and on earth is given to Me”. The word used for power her is not “dunamis”, the Greek word for dynamite or dynamo or explosive, no it’s “exousia”. From the time Jesus began teaching in the synagogue, people asked by what authority He taught. When He healed the sick and infirmed, they wanted to know by what authority he did so. When He cast out demons, raised the dead or simply showed love to men, they wanted to know by what authority he did so. He never told them by what authority. In fact, He blatantly refused to tell them by what authority, other than to say that He did nothing by His own authority. But now, after He has completed His purpose on earth, He says that all Authority has been given to Him. The right, the influence, the say-so, the last word. The license, the mandate, the specialist, the expertise, the source and the power. They all belong to Him and are under His Authority.
That’s what’s left for you to live on! The authority of Jesus. There is none like it. There is no match. All authority both in heaven and on earth is His. Whatever you need, He’s got the authority over it. Whatever you lack, He’s got the authority over it. He’s Omnipotent, He’s Omnipresent, and He’s Omniscience. Jesus is what’s left. Live in Him!