Generous Conversations

How many people have you talked to today?

Conversation 

This is maybe a surprise question but I believe an important one. Taking time to engage meaningfully with others – such as staff in shops and supermarkets –  is very important to everyone. The bank, which I use here in the UK, encourages their staff to be friendly and to “connect” in a real way with customers. They sometimes ask a question like: “Do you have anything interesting lined up for the rest of the day?” or “Do you have anything special in your schedule this afternoon/morning?” Excellent communication skills.

While travelling in an inter-city train recently, I noted an advert. It depicted a “senior youngster” looking somewhat sad.  The script stated that she had not spoken to anyone for 3 weeks or so. Thus readers were encouraged to text a suggested gift of £3 to the organisation that would enable the lady to have a lunch out and make friends. In the script, it also stated that there were 1 million others just like her in the UK who were in similar situations.

Quite a challenging advert…. I checked it with someone else in the caring profession who endorsed the fact that many folks went for long periods without talking to anyone…. Let’s turn this situation around.;…

Recently, on a train journey, I had the wonderful experience of being able to dialogue with the person sitting next to me for about 2 hours…  It was so rich and interesting as we had both been overseas on assignments. On arrival, I was able to meet other members of the family….

Noticing a business commuter on an evening train doing a puzzle…. I said “Good evening..” He was so grateful to be able to talk to someone. He shared how so often no one would engage in conversation. As we dialogued, he asked me a question he had been desiring to ask someone in the Non-Profit world. “Should he have a significant donation to lodge with our organization, how would we guarantee that it reached his desired destination?”. It was a privilege to outline our verification process for recipient projects. He was very grateful, I then enquired if I might ask him a question. ” Should he hear of a country manor house management that was looking for good managers could, he let us know?” “Look out for the phone call..” was his kind response.  His business was designing special showrooms for cars, furniture etc….

Global Nomad….

Provision Through Poor Single Women

As a servant of God, do you appreciate, or despise God’s provision through poor poor single women? Maybe you feel so sorry for them and dare not ask them to help you out?

Here’s another way God provided for Elijah. (Note that God delights in surprising us with ways of providing for us that we would never have thought of).

(Yes, we looked at this story a few weeks ago, but this time we look at it from another angle).

This story is also in 1 Kings chapter 17, following right after the time Elijah spent by the brook Kerith, where God fed him through Ravens and the clear water in the brook. Because of the drought in the land, the brook dried up eventually too. So God told Elijah to get up and go to the village of Zarephath in Sidon.

God told him that He had already commanded a widow there to feed him. We don’t read any details about how God did that, but we can be sure He had already commanded the widow. Elijah didn’t even have to hunt for her.

As soon as he reached the gate of Zarephath, he met a woman gathering sticks for a fire. He asked for a drink of water in a jar.

As she went to get it, Elijah called out, “And please bring me a piece of bread.”

The woman must have recognized him as a prophet of God; she stopped and said, “As surely as the LORD your God lives, I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.”

This woman knew something of the God of the prophet, and must have had some respect for this God, but had not trusted Him for herself yet.

Well, Elijah had just completed a course in trusting God, so he caught on to God’s plan for provision through poor widows. Elijah told her to make a little cake (or bun) for him first, and then there would be enough for more for herself and her son in her resources. Her flour and oil would not run out until the day the Lord sent rain again.

The widow woman obeyed and found it to be so. All three of them were able to eat until the end of the famine!

Do you see a giving principle, and an asking principle, staring right at us in this true story?

The woman decided to trust God to provide for her and her son, but putting the request to provide food for the prophet or servant of God first. By getting her priorities right, God met all her family’s needs. That would be the giving principle.

From Elijah’s side, he merely had to obey God and ask (as instructed), the first widow he encountered at Zarephath. They both had to show fresh faith every day, yet, I’m sure their faith in God increased as they saw that He met their need for food on a daily basis.

I have found this to be true too. During the years I cared for my parents, I maintained my pledge to God to pay my tithes and offerings. Back in 1977 I had begged God to help me get out of debt and promised that I would give a tithe to missions (as I already was doing) but then give another tithe especially to missions. It took a few years, but I have kept that pledge through thick and thin. During those caregiver years I often had no income except what a pen pal might tuck into a card or letter.

Do you notice that I still have body and soul together? 🙂 God did not fail me, and I learned that I didn’t need everything I wanted. Not only that, but I learned that God delights in making provision through poor widows and single women.

What if you are in Elijah’s sandals, as a servant of God, relying on the gifts of others so you can focus on ministry

Then, like Elijah, a worthy example, you must trust God to lead you to those He has appointed to meet your needs. They may not be rich patrons, or large foundations. They may be poor single women who have to trust God for their own daily bread. They may grow in faith and obedience at the same time you are learning to do the same. The point is to trust God, not the poor woman.

After a while the Lord may put you into a different situation again, to learn new lessons and to cause someone else to learn to give. It’s all a question of trusting the God we serve with an utter abandon. Then we will know that He will never fail us!

Do not despise God’s provision through poor widows or even single women and old maids.

An Angel to Meet Your Personal Needs

Has God ever sent an angel to meet your personal needs?

This story happened just after the contest on Mount Carmel between Elijah, prophet of God, and the 450 prophets of Baal – all to determine who was the One true God. God provided fire to burn up Elijah’s soggy offering; the people rose up and killed the 450 false prophets; and rain came at last. But Elijah was so drained from the whole experience that when Queen Jezebel sent word that she would have Elijah killed within 24 hours, he took off running.

God had not changed or lost any power to deliver him, but when anyone of us is utterly exhausted we are liable to imagine and do stupid things. He left his servant behind at Beersheba and kept running.

(What a rush of panic adrenalin!) He ran for another full day into the desert.

There he dropped under a broom tree and begged God to take his life.

Does any memory come to the surface of a time when you panicked and ran the other direction until you dropped in your tracks?

The part that surprises me here is that God did not scold Elijah and remind him of his fantastic victory on Mount Carmel. God just let His servant sleep. His body needed recharging first of all.

Then he needed nourishment. So God sent an angel to bake him a bun or small loaf of bread, and bring a bottle of water. Not just once, but twice. No scolding, just, “The journey is too long for you; you need to eat.”

That almost sounds as if God had scheduled this trip for Elijah. It was part of His divine plan for His servant.

Now that angel food and water must have been powerful stuff, because by the strength he received he was able to travel another 40 days and 40 nights, until he reached Mount Horeb. That’s was God’s mountain, the place where He had written out the ten commandments on tablets of stone for Moses and the people.

Hey, if we are going to run away – the place to run to is God. Get away and alone with HIM! Never mind the distance or the cost!

Now for some of us that may not mean such a long trip. I know I could never run that far or long.

In my case, I know that I just need to reach for my Bible, and go curl up in my soft recliner, and ignore all my usual to-do lists. When I’m over the initial exhaustion, I get back to my computer desk and start journalling away, to work out the issues before the Lord, waiting for Him to show me His mind and attitude and even His specific message for me in all of this.

I can’t say that an angel has ever wakened me from a sound nap to offer me physical food from Heaven. But I have been spiritually nourished by God’s Word, and gained fresh insights and enthusiasm to go on in serving the Lord.

I’ve never seen an angel with my eyes; perhaps an invisible angel has come to meet my personal needs. I just credit the Lord with the sense of His presence and encouragement. In the Old Testament days He seemed to send angels, but today we can meet with the Lord directly if we are His.

The important thing to remember when we panic is to run towards the Lord, and not away from Him!

Provision Through Poor Widows

As a servant of God, do you appreciate, or despise God’s provision through poor widows? Maybe you feel so sorry for them and dare not ask them to help you out?

Here’s another way God provided for Elijah. (Note that God delights in surprising us with ways of providing for us that we would never have thought of).

This story is also in 1 Kings chapter 17, following right after the time Elijah spent by the brook Kerith, where God fed him through Ravens and the clear water in the brook. Because of the drought in the land, the brook dried up eventually too. So God told Elijah to get up and go to the village of Zarephath in Sidon.

God told him that He had already commanded a widow there to feed him. We don’t read any details about how God did that, but we can be sure He had already commanded the widow. Elijah didn’t even have to hunt for her.

As soon as he reached the gate of Zarephath, he met a woman gathering sticks for a fire. He asked for a drink of water in a jar.

As she went to get it, Elijah called out, “And please bring me a piece of bread.”

The widow must have recognized him as a prophet of God; she stopped and said, “As surely as the LORD your God lives, I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.”

This widow knew something of the God of the prophet, and must have had some respect for this God, but had not trusted Him for herself yet.

Well, Elijah had just completed a course in trusting God, so he caught on to God’s plan for provision through poor widows. Elijah told her to make a little cake (or bun) for him first, and then there would be enough for more for herself and her son in her resources. Her flour and oil would not run out until the day the Lord sent rain again.

provision through poor widows

The widow obeyed and found it to be so. All three of them were able to eat until the end of the famine!

Do you see a giving principle, and an asking principle, staring right at us in this true story?

The widow decided to trust God to provide for her and her son, but putting the request to provide food for the prophet or servant of God first. By getting her priorities right, God met all her family’s needs. That would be the giving principle.

From Elijah’s side, he merely had to obey God and ask (as instructed), the first widow he encountered at Zarephath. They both had to show fresh faith every day, yet, I’m sure their faith in God increased as they saw that He met their need for food on a daily basis.

I have found this to be true too. During the years I cared for my parents, I maintained my pledge to God to pay my tithes and offerings. Back in 1977 I had begged God to help me get out of debt and promised that I would give a tithe to missions (as I already was doing) but then give another tithe especially to missions. It took a few years, but I have kept that pledge through thick and thin. During those caregiver years I often had no income except what a pen pal might tuck into a card or letter.

Do you notice that I still have body and soul together? 🙂 God did not fail me, and I learned that I didn’t need everything I wanted. Not only that, but I learned that God delights in making provision through poor widows and single women.

What if you are in Elijah’s sandals, as a servant of God, relying on the gifts of others so you can focus on ministry?

Then, like Elijah, a worthy example, you must trust God to lead you to those He has appointed to meet your needs. They may not be rich patrons, or large foundations. They may be poor widows who have to trust God for their own daily bread. They may grow in faith and obedience at the same time you are learning to do the same. The point is to trust God, not the widow.

After a while the Lord may put you into a different situation again, to learn new lessons and to cause someone else to learn to give. It’s all a question of trusting the God we serve with an utter abandon. Then we will know that He will never fail us!

Do not despise God’s provision through poor widows or even old maids.