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Rev. Stephen Snodgrass

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July-August- 2011

Relying on "Nothing"

Have you every “ran out” of something? Time in your schedule? Gasoline in your tank? Food in your pantry? Money in your bank account? Many of my friends have heard me tell stories of a man who worked for my dad for almost 20 years. His name was Joe and he had a unique way of getting his point across. One day while working out in the country, my dad sent Joe to town to pick up some parts that they needed to complete the job. After a very long time had gone by and we began to wonder what happen to Joe, he came walking into the building. It was clear from the look on his face that he was not happy. It did not get any better when my dad where he had been and why did it take so long. Joe cocked his head to one side and said, “Mister Morris, on the dashboard of your truck there is an orange needle. On one side of the needle it has an “F” and on the other side an “E.” What does that “E” mean?” To which my dad replied, “Empty.” Joe responded, “It sure is...about a mile up the road.”

The woman in II Kings 4 was in a desperate situation. She was now a widow. The bank statement showed that her account had reached zero. She was now to the place where she owed a handful of merchants for goods that she had purchased out of necessity.
                  As we peer into the window we see her pouring the burdens of her soul to the prophet. Elisha was an old family friend and spiritual leader. Her husband had been one of the few to be called one of the “sons of the prophets,” and left a legacy of faithfulness. Some scholars and rabbis believed this to be the wife of Obadiah.
Listen close and you will hear her plight…”thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.” (II Kings 4:1) What? Because she had no means to pay her creditors, they were going to come and take her sons as payment. They would serve as bondsmen until the debts were satisfied.
“Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not anything in the house, save a pot of oil. It was in the middle of this crisis and Elisha’s response to it that we learn a very valuable lesson on relying on “nothing.” This is what he instructed her to do, “go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.”  
This dear preacher’s wife, came thinking that she had nothing, but her “nothing” was about to become her “everything.” One thing is very clear about the spiritual character of this woman, she trusted the directive of Elisha. “So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out.” She took the prophet’s words as words from her heavenly Father and began to follow the directives without question.  
                  This little Old Testament saint heard the Word of God and obeyed. She may have had a little oil, but her faith was absolutely active. As she shut herself in with God and began to pour the oil into the empty vessels and began to see God multiplying, no doubt a short was heard by the neighbors as she began to praise God. After filling all that were in the house imagine her excitement…there was still oil in the vessel. She hollered out to the boys, “run to the neighbors and get more vessels there is still oil coming out.” Big and small vessels. Round and tall vessels. Painted and plain vessels. Imagine the headlines in the local paper, “Company Widow…strikes oil!!”
Although the many vessels that were filled that day were different shapes, sizes and belonged to many different neighbors, they had two things in common. They were empty and they were filled from the same source.
Verse six and seven tells us that her ability to receive ended before God’s ability to provide. “And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.” “bring me another vessel …..!!” Talk about momentum. When they had a room full of empty vessels the oil was flowing. When all the vessels were full …the oil ceased. God want to take our empty vessels and fill them. Remember it is not your strong points that bring honor to God.
Paul humbly reminds us in II Corinthians 12:9-10 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” When placing our “nothing” in the hands of God, we are giving Him the best tools to accomplish His perfect purpose.


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