When Elisha gathered around with the sons of the prophets, there was a famine. Barrenness, sickness, affliction and famine were seen as judgment from God for sin. As we read again and again, the curse of sin is judgment and death.
These people were in search for food. When they went around to gather something to eat, they gathered wild gourds. From the text, it did not seem that they knew what the food would bring. They simply wanted to fill their need for food. But when they added this unknown item into the stew, it became deadly. They cried out, “There is DEATH IN THE POT.” Elisha had to add flour to the stew for it to become safe to eat.
We often try to add things into our daily lives to fill voids. We are facing a famine – the curse of sin. Through Christ alone the curse is no longer. We grab anything we can to fill our needs; however, we do not always understand what we truly need. Elisha poured flour into the deadly stew. In the same way, we can seek to eat from the Word of God, and become blessed by the “meal” of Christ. Through prayer and God’s Word we are sanctified. In 1 Timothy 4:4-5 we read: “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer” (NASB). It doesn’t matter how deadly the stew of your life has become; nothing is too dead for God to raise back to life. He will repair. He will revive. He will restore. He will redeem.
“One of them went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine and gathered from it his lap full of wild gourds, and came and cut them up into the pot of stew, not knowing what they were. And they poured out some for the men to eat. But while they were eating of the stew, they cried out, ‘O man of God, there is death in the pot!’ And they could not eat it.” – 2 Kings 4:39-40 [ESV]
Elijah came on the scene with no introduction and announced the Word of God. He told the people there would be no rain, upholding what was said in Deuteronomy 28:24 for those in disobedience. Ravens brought him food and when the brook dried up, he went to the widow of Zarephath and God provided.
Elijah then had a showdown with the prophets of Baal. As Elijah watched, the prophets could not get Baal to produce fire. Elijah poured 12 jars of water in a trench and God produced fire that drank up all of the water and burned the surrounding stones. It was an amazing display of God’s power, but then Elijah ran in fear and hid himself in a cave.
God approached Elijah and asked him – What are you doing here? There was incredible wind, an earthquake and fire but God was not in any of them. Then came a gentle whisper. Elijah was reminded of God’s greatness. There are moments when we need to be reminded of God’s greatness – when fear and doubt creep in and try to discourage us. Today, ask yourself how great is our God? How great is our God! Step out of the cave.
“When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” – 1 Kings 19:13 [NIV]
As I was reading the blessings and curses in Deuteronomy, something jumped off the page in Chapter 28 of the book. It says, “They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendents forever. Because you did not serve the LORD your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the LORD sends against you” (v. 46-48a). The words “joyfully” and “gladly” are words we do not always see with “serve.” Sometimes the word “serve” gives us a bad taste in our mouths. The very thought of serving is to perform a duty for someone else. What about us? So we are to serve joyfully and gladly? As if we are happy to do it? As if we like doing it?
The number of church members who serve the church is simply sad, with studies showing that about 20% of the members are serving the Lord. If we consider the people who are serving the church, which is a small number of the actual congregation, we then should consider how many of that small group is serving “joyfully” and “gladly.” To serve in this way, means that the person’s heart is in this service. To serve in this way, means that the person is not doing it because it is what a person does, but because the person desires to serve the Lord out of love for the Lord.
Today, consider if you fall into the 20% category at your church. Are you serving the Lord? If yes, consider if you are serving “joyfully” and “gladly” at the church. Is it a burden or a joy? If it isn’t a joy, perhaps the area you are serving in is wrong. Whether or not you serve, seek out the talents God has given you and see how you can use them to serve Him. When you find that place at the church that you were meant to serve, the joy will come. It is important to serve the church, and it is important to have that joy to spread around to others. We all need more joy in our lives.