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In The Widow's Home (1 Kings 17)

In loneliness by Cherith's brook Elijah communed with God and doubtless he learned many a lesson which prepared him for the experiences which lay ahead. He was dwelling in the secret place of the Most High and learning the sweetness of abiding under the shadow of the Almighty.

But Cherith's brook began to dry up. He watched the level of water getting lower and lower and doubtless he wondered what God was going to do. Every morning and evening when the ravens arrived with his ration of food he was reminded of God's unfailing care, so he would learn not to be anxious. And when the brook finally dried up, and not before, God spoke again. How important that we each learn that lesson, not to move until God speaks. Sometlmes we are apt to get impatient and make our own plans in life, when if we waited God would show us His way.

All in good time God spoke again to Elijah. "Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee". God's instructions were clear and they left no room for argument. Zidon was the very place where Jezebel's father was king and it looked as though he would be putting his head in the lion's mouth! However, faith learns to trust when God leads the way and the scripture distinctly says "he arose and went to Zarephath". That is the obedience of faith, and it

points up a most important lesson for us, to trust and obey when God speaks to us, even though we cannot see the way ahead.

Elijah set off on his long journey, some eighty to a hundred miles, and when he re,ac~ed the gate of the city, there was the widow gathering sticks for a fire to bake the very last cake for herself and her son. Not a likely sort of person to care for God's prophet. But that was just the point. God was leading His servant to the most unlikely places and the most unlikely people to teach him that his trust must be in God and in Him alone. There was a measure of humbling in the experience too. God could have provided for His servant in the home of some wealthy person had He chosen to do so, but He didn't. Elijah had to learn to be content in the home of a very poor widow, for godliness with contentment is great gain.

Elijah was learning his lessons in God's school and so also was the widow. When she explained she had only a little meat left and a drop of oil and that she was baking the last cake for herself and her son, the word from God's prophet was "make me ... a

little cake first". God first, that was the lesson. "Seek ye fffst His kingdom, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Mat. 6:33). The things the Master referred to were the daily necessities of life. Never a command without an accompanying promise, both for ourselves and the widow, for Elijah added "thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel. The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth". And to the woman's credit it is recorded "she went and did according to the saying of Elijah". They are simple words hut we cannot emphasize too strongly the important lesson they contain. God loves that sort of obedience that starts immediately to do what He says, without any protest or argument.

The woman's faith was abundantly rewarded, for it says "the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the Word of the Lord, which He spake by Elijah". Of course they didn't. How could they, for God had spoken and His word can never fail. But we notice God did not fill the barrel with flour, nor the cruse

with oil. She did not receive a supply for the next week or two. No, it was a day by day supply. Each morning she found sufficient for another day. "Give us this day our daily bread", and in answer to that prayer God's supply never failed. Surely the woman and her son would never forget that lesson.

Nor Elijah, for in that humble home God taught him more about the life of faith. Zarephath means "place of refining" and it was a refining experience for him, such as the apostle Peter speaks of when he says that manifold trials are for "the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perisheth, though it is proved by fire" (1 Pet. 1:7). Through life's experiences God leads us, sometimes allowing trials to come so that our faith may be strengthened, "for the proof of your faith worketh patience. And let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing" (James 1:3,4). So let us take courage, if sometimes the way seems hard. It may well be our heavenly Father is allowing it for our good and for His praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

continuedfrom page 31 Younger friends are equally anxious today to be fruit bearers for the Master. Ample opportunities exist in youth work, parent and house meetings, volunteer service, tract distribution, camp and gospel van work and outreach campaigns. The winning of souls is a wise work, but it is not the

only fruitful work. Age is no barrier to fruitbearing. "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree... they that are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and green" (Ps.92: 12-14).