Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bible Widow - Naomi


Naomi Teaches the Widow that Honesty is the Best Policy

Naomi had lost her husband and two sons and was left with two daughters-in-law to support and no means for doing so. Here she was in this foreign country with her life crumbling around her. Her grief was deep and her pain so intense that she felt like there was no way out. And you know what she did? She blamed God. She railed at him about his reasons for not stopping the plague from killing her sons. In Ruth 1:13 she cried out, ‘The Lord Himself has raised His fist against me.” It’s conjecture what she said and did, but regardless, she was just plain angry and beat down. Have you ever been in that position?

It was at this point that Naomi made the decision to return to Bethlehem, a long dangerous journey of over 70 miles. You would have thought that when she finally reached her destination, alive and with her beloved Ruth at her side, she would have heaved a sigh of relief and rejoiced in God’s goodness to her. But that isn’t what she did. “The Almighty has greatly afflicted me,” she called out to them. Her physical appearance was so greatly altered from when she lived there that she was barely recognizable, stooped by grief, bitterness, and poverty.

Before we become too harsh with Naomi, think of all the adjustments you’ve had to make since the loss of your spouse. Perhaps you too have suffered loss of income, family home, and are afflicted with grief and loneliness. Naomi refused to hide her sorrow or bitterness. She believed in God’s sovereignty and attributed her suffering to His will.  I like this about Naomi. There was no pretense about her. She didn’t pretend everything was okay when it wasn’t. She didn’t respond with, “I’m fine, thank you,” when she felt like screaming. She was in the bosom of her own people and felt free to express her true feelings. I think Naomi’s advice to you would be to not play the martyr and say what you think is expected of you when trusted family and friends inquire. People ask how you are because they want to know, they’re concerned and want to be of help. Saying, “Oh, I’m okay,” or “I’m hanging in there,” doesn’t help you or them. Feelings are fickle; we know that. But, they are real to us when we experience them and Christ is touched with the feelings of our weaknesses. Be honest with yourself and your family/friends and solicit their prayers for your comfort and emotional well-being. God will hear yours and their prayers. In fact, He longs to do so and bring you back to total wellness again. 

Shari Hervold

Bible Widow - A Widow’s Gift

A Widow’s Gift

  While Jesus was teaching in the temple, people were coming and going. He went over by the box where offerings were put. He picked this place to teach because He knew on that day, a very precious lady would come in with her last two pieces of money.  She had two mites. These were worth hardly anything but it was all she had. She did not know that Jesus knew about her.  Because she had so much love for God and trust in Him, she was going to give her last two mites and go hungry. She was so thankful for the comfort God had given her since her husband died. She had to give something. Waiting in the shadows, embarrassed that her offering was so small, she hoped for a chance to put her little coin in the offering box.  She planned to wait till the rich people were done pouring in their big offerings. Quietly, shyly, she watched for her chance. Jesus turned His head so she thought He was not looking. Quietly the KING OF THE UNIVERSE let His shy little widow woman think no one saw her give to HIM. Inside His heart, Jesus was thrilled at her attitude of gratitude even when she was so poor. He could hardly keep quiet.

  He pretended not to notice her, but this KING OF THE UNIVERSE was adoring HIS daughter the widow lady, as he was teaching. Out of the corner of His eye He watches her silently work her way over to the box, looking this way and that. Hoping no one would see her give just two mites.

   As she places her coins in the box, something happens in the heart of Jesus. What He did next had the effect of a huge pile of money hitting the floor. You know how everyone looks if you drop 50 to 100 big coins on the floor? It was just like that. Everyone was looking. Jesus, the KING of the universe, told everyone to look. She was caught! There was no hiding now.
At first she was so embarrassed. Then, as she heard the blessing from the Master's lips, tears flooded her eyes. There must be some mistake. She did not give more than the rich people, yet He said she had. Jesus began to explain that the rich people gave so much money but they still had lots of money left to get everything they needed. They had not given the same way she had. He told the crowd it did not take any faith for them to give so much because they were living in comfortable homes, full of food, and had more money coming.

  Her gift was different. Her husband was dead. She had no more money and no more coming. She had given the money she really needed to buy food with. She was going to be hungry. She had to trust that God would take care of clothing, food, and housing. Her gift showed she was very, very thankful and knew God could get her anything she needed. Their gifts showed they wanted praise from others. They also showed they were not really thankful for what they had.

  Her example has caused many people to give more out of a heart of love and trust just like the little widow lady. In this way her gift has grown to many billions of dollars. That's how she gave more than all the rich people's gifts added together.

Jesus was so proud of her! He not only blessed her on that day but for the rest of her life. We do not know her name but her story has been told for over a thousand years. She has taught us how Jesus delights in unselfish giving till it hurts.

Jesus said to give with joy, thankfulness, trust, and love. He will make sure you always have enough to be able to eat and extra so you can give more.

By Pastor Bruce Sofia

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bible Widow ~ Widow of Zarephath

A Lesson from the Widow of Zaraphath

1 Kings 17:8-16

The story of the widow of Zaraphath clearly shows a woman who was in dire straits.  A famine had gripped the entire region and she and her small son had run out of provisions.  In fact, she was down to her last meal.  She was totally destitute without any means of support, and yet, she a Gentile, was shown mercy by God.

Elijah, God's prophet, was suffering under the same famine as she and God had instructed him to go to Zaraphath where a widow resided whom God had commanded to care for him.  Don't you find it curious, yet comforting, that God specified that it was a widow?  Yet, we can see from the story that Elijah and the widow provided support for each other.  She obeyed Elijah's request for that last morsel of food, and miraculously was enabled by God to prepare a meal for the three of them each day until the famine ended.  And it wasn't just their physical needs that were met.  Their daily conversations and Elijah's spiritual insights had to be a blessing to the widow, thus lessening the loneliness of widowhood for her.  In addition, undoubtedly Elijah played with her son and shared with him stories of the God of Israel.  So, none of them had to muddle through the drought alone.

This widow was desperate, but God is a god of the desperate.  Don't be afraid in your desperation, when the dark times of life come crowding in, to look God in the eye, so to speak, and seek Him for His provision for your need whether it be physical, emotional, financial, or spiritual.  He will do for you as He did for this widow - the unexpected and the supernatural.

God didn't just drop the food in their mouths.  That lonely, desperate widow had to first focus on the need of another, then trust God to meet her needs.  So be prepared to be used by God to bring about the answer to your prayer.  Never forget that though you may be a widow, you are never alone with God in your life.  Just remember the widow of Zaraphath if you ever doubt that!

Shari Hervold