Our Response in Hard Times 3
OUR RESPONSE IN HARD TIMES
ISAAC – passed the test of the hard time by sowing in the time of famine.
God’s truth in the time of famine - stay and sow where He has planted you.
ELISHA - passed the test of the hard time by refusing the gifts from Naaman.
God’s truth in the time of famine – do not let the riches the world offers cloud our judgement.
NAAMAN - passed the test of the hard time by changing his thoughts.
God’s truth in the time of famine – do not let our thoughts get in the way of His solution.
In our study of how to respond in hard times, we are going to look at two men; Elijah and Gideon.
LET US LOOK AT ELIJAH
Q - Does the Bible always make sense to you every time you read it?
I am thinking especially of when the bible says things like Elijah was just like you and me!
James 5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, NKJV
James 5:17 Elijah was human like us. GW
James 5:17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are. KJV
I do not know about you but when I look at my life and then at Elijah, I do not think I am anything like Elijah!
Ø He increases the oil for the starving widow - 1 Kings 17:14–16.
Ø He raises a woman’s dead son to life - 1 Kings 17:17–24.
Ø He prophesies a drought - 1 Kings 17:3.
Ø He prays for rain after the drought had lasted three and a half years - 1 Kings 18:41–45.
Ø He challenges the 450 prophets of Baal.
Ø He calls down fire to consume the sacrifice - 1 Kings 18:24, 36–38.
Ø He kills the 450 prophets of Baal!
Ø He calls fire down upon the soldiers of Ahaziah - 2 Kings 1:10–12.
Does this sound like you and me?
However, we must keep in mind that it is not about Elijah, and it is not about us, it is about the Lord.
Just as we can look at Elijah and find ourselves wanting; so we can look at each other and find ourselves wanting and it is at that those times that we need to remember that all that we are, all that we have, or all that we do, is about the Lord.
LET US LOOK AT GIDEON
Judges 6:11 Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valour!"
A winepress was a rectangular cavity hollowed out of rock or constructed artificially where grapes were trampled underfoot; its fullness was a sign of prosperity, while its emptiness represented famine.
We need to picture this in our minds; Gideon is threshing wheat in a winepress, it is a time of famine.
God goes to this man hiding in the winepress and calls him a mighty man of valour!
Obviously, God can see something in Gideon that not even Gideon can see, and His report about us is the same because when He looks at you and me, He sees something you and I do not see!
We would not look in a winepress for someone to deliver us out of bondage and oppression.
Therefore, it is clear – God does not look at or for the same things, we do.
Romans 4:17 ... God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;
That means God could look at a man hiding in a winepress and call him a mighty man of valour!
Ok so here we have two men who it seems could not be any more different.
Gideon is hiding in a winepress, threshing wheat: Elijah is on spiritual steroids, having a go at everything.
I do not know about you this morning but at this point, I feel more a Gideon than an Elijah.
However, James knows something about Elijah that causes him to think that you and I are allot like Elijah!
1 Kings 19:1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time."
Elijah has just killed the 450 prophets of Baal and now a woman named Jezebel has threatened to kill him.
What does this woman think she is about - this is Elijah!
He raises people from the dead, he stops rain, he brings rain, he calls down fire from heaven and a woman wants to kill him – truly, famine time has come!
What is Elijah’s response in this hard time!
1 Kings 19:3 ... he arose and ran for his life,
Now James 5:17 is starting to become a little believable, maybe Elijah was like you and me!
1 Kings 19:4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”
Every mountain has a valley and Elijah is now experiencing his.
It is becoming clearer that God uses people; great people – No - just people!
For like Elijah and Gideon, we can hide in fear and intimidation!
One minute we are on the mountaintop and we can see for miles; the next we are in the valley and we cannot see our hand in front of our face.
It is at these times that we must trust the Lord for the valley is not a place for hiding but for sowing.
1 Kings 19:9 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Gideon is hiding in a winepress in fear and intimidation - Elijah is hiding in a cave the place of suicidal prayers!
In both cases, God called them out of their place of hiding and pointed them towards a better future!
I believe the Lord is asking some of us today:
“What are you doing here” in your cave of doubt!
“What are you doing here” in your winepress of lack!
“What are you doing here” hiding in your inadequacies!
There is a story about a tourist who sat down on a bench in a park. Looking over to an old man sitting next to him the tourist asked, “Can you tell me something this town is noted for?” The old man replied, “I don’t rightly know except that it’s the starting point to the whole world. You can start here and go anywhere you want!
Gideon’s story starts with hiding in a winepress and finishes as a deliverer of a nation!
Elijah’s story starts well but he stumbled and ended up in a cave but he listens to the voice of the Lord and not only comes out of his cave but becomes one of the greatest prophets in history!
Listen, God did the calling but Gideon had to leave the winepress and Elijah had to leave the cave.
Do we have a New Testament scripture to prove what we are saying?
1 Corinthians 1:26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.
I BELIEVE THAT IF WE ARE LISTENING, GOD IS SAYING TO US - COME OUT OF YOUR CAVE!