< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: A Little Oil

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Little Oil

I've just finished reading the book Reckless Devotion: 365 Days into the Heart of Radical Loveby Heidi and Rolland Baker for the third time. And I've put parts of one of their sections together for this devotion I'm going to share at a nursing home in a couple weeks.
2 Kings 4:1-7 The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”
But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

Elisha asked the widow what she had when she cried out for help. And instinctively she said, “Nothing.” But then she remembered. “Oh, I have a little oil.”

So often we are dismissive of ourselves. We say we have nothing. Nothing God would want to use anyhow. We come up with all kinds of good reasons for why God can’t do anything notable or meaningful with us. “I have no special talent, I’m poor, I’m old, I have no connections, no special gift.”

“But, wait. I guess I have a little oil.”

And that is all God needs to take us and do a miracle.

Then Elisha told the widow to go around to all her neighbors to give her their empty jars.

What an interesting approach to solving her problem! God could have told Elisha, “Pay off her debts.” Or “Give her money.” But He did neither.

Why? Because God didn’t want to just solve her problem; He wanted to change her life, giving her a completely different outlook and perspective. He wanted to transform her faith and grow her trust in God, removing her anger and bitterness.

The process of gathering up all the empty jars was a prophetic act. She cooperated with God, making the statement that something was about to happen, even if she didn’t know precisely what. “Go and ask your neighbors for their empty jars.” Elisha told her. So she did. And he added, “Don’t just ask for a few.” Then he told her to start pouring oil.

Think about this. She had a lot of jars and her one jar with just a little oil in it. But she took the step of obedience and began pouring. And the oil didn’t run out until every jar was full!  God had done a miracle.

She now had the resources she needed to pay off her debts and get out of her bad situation. But more than that she had firsthand knowledge of the supernatural provision of our incredible Father. She had the faith to believe for His supernatural intervention in her life and the lives of others.

Her empty jar had been filled. Her life transformed.

And God wants to do the same for us. He wants to fill our emptiness with His plenty and He’s inviting us to take a step of faith, to trust Him completely.

He’s looking for is our willingness. He wants us to quit telling Him He can’t use us and just say yes. He’s looking for empty vessels to fill. He is looking for those people who want to be fully filled with His precious Holy Spirit, who don’t have a lot of stuff in the way.

And when we come to Him willing to cooperate He’ll do the rest. That’s when God is able to display His glory through us.

When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and filled Jesus’ disciples, empowering them to go out and plant the Church; that wasn’t a one time only thing. God is still anointing, filling and empowering those who belong to Him. We should each ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with His oil everyday.  In fact, fill us to overflowing so that oil touches the lives of those around us. So that the love of Jesus flows from us.

God wants to use you. When He calls you, go. Now you may be sitting there thinking, “I’m 80 years old and can’t drive any more. Where am I supposed to go for God?” Well, yes, I don’t think He’s going to call you to go to Africa as a missionary! But he may ask you to knock on your next door neighbor’s door and make a new friend. Or sit with someone at the dinner table who’s alone. Or attend a Bible study. Or write a letter. Or send a card. Or smile at someone. Encourage someone. Make someone laugh! Or listen to their problem without telling them about yours. Or pray for someone. Pray for our country, the church or the world.

God has placed each of us where we are. If we let Him we can be useful to Him.

And whatever He has you do, do it with all your might and for His glory. We are His children and He wants us to burn brightly for Him.

Ask God to empty you of all that hinders His work in your life. Choose to make yourself an empty container. Then He can come and fill you with His presence, and in a moment, everything can change.

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