Pastor Alan Platt
flew in from South Africa last weekend to ask us “How many jars are you putting out?” He retold the story of the woman in the Bible instructed by Jesus to fill up empty jars with her oil. First off, it amazes
me when preachers such as Platt retell Bible stories with such vivid detail, inspired with visions of how the event took place, providing incredible insight and new appreciation for the story…amazes
me! As such, I will never think of this story in the same way again. I will even think of it again…that in itself is an accomplishment!
LIVE A LIFE OF EXPECTANCY
So, Platt starts out his message with “Live a life of expectancy,
” because God will meet you at the level of your expectancy. And he goes on to give examples in the Bible: Jairus
, the Centurion
, the women who touched Jesus’ robe
, the city of Capernaum, etc, where people set their level of expectation high and Jesus met them at the level of their faith.
USE GOD’S VOCABULARY TO CREATE YOUR EXPECTANCY
Furthermore, your expectancy is to be based on what God says; not on our circumstances. Because when God speaks, it changes the picture of our future. If you listen to God, He’ll put pictures of great expectations on your mind and you will carry that. Conversely, if you have the wrong source of information, you will carry the wrong pictures, and ultimately have the wrong expectation. So, what are you basing your expectations on and what is your expectation for your life, your church, your city?
EXPECTANCY CREATES AN ENVIRONMENT FOR THE MIRACULOUS TO HAPPEN
Platt illustrates how this applied to him in real life. He is most well-known for the work he has done in South Africa. He has literally changed the city through his Godly work. And this first started in 1994, when God gave Platt the illustration of Mark 6: the feeding of the 5,000 in the Bible. From this story, Platt was shown how the disciples, given 5 loaves of bread, were instructed to feed 5,000 people. He imagined how timidly those disciples must have approached the first group of 50 people, holding out his one loaf of bread. Platt imagined how meticulously they must have torn off the first morsels of bread, attempting to naturally somehow tear of nearly a thousand more pieces. And then
, Platt saw how the disciples must have suddenly become aware of something miraculous happening right inside their hands. And as they realized that this bread wasn’t going anywhere, they must have stood up straighter and torn off pieces more boldly, probably at one point, encouraging people to “take as much as they wished!” And truly, the disciples had grown bolder, because 12 baskets were leftover once everyone was fed. The takeaway from this story? The disciples had to at least start breaking the bread in order to experience the miracle that God had in store for them.
2 KINGS 4:1-7: THE WIDOW’S OLIVE OIL
Platt gives his final illustration…the one that impacted me the most. And again, I am moved by the amount of detail and insight Platt and other such speakers have into these stories…truly, as if they are relaying a story from their life! So, in this story, Jesus instructs a widow who has no money, to use the little jar of oil that she has to fill as many jars as she collects and then sell the oil for money.
“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.” 2 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.” 3 Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. 4 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.” 5 She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. 6 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. 7 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.” And so, the widow’s first task is to collect
And so her first task is collecting jars. Now, here is where Platt’s God-inspired storytelling comes in again. He envisions this woman going around to her neighbors, asking for jars. And as she does, they must ask her what she is planning to do with them and when she replies with Jesus’ instructions, Platt deduces that those neighbors must have thought to themselves, “Boy ever since her husband died, this woman doesn’t quite have her head on straight anymore!” Once all the jars are collected, Platt then goes on to see this woman telling her two sons to help her fill them all and being met with similar sentiments of skepticism from them. Platt describes the woman pouring out those first few drops of oil timidly, just a tiny stream, probably with one eye closed…and then, just as with the disciples with the loaves, suddenly realizing the the oil was not stopping, that the little jar of oil was miraculously ever-flowing. She must have excitedly gestured to her son for the next jar and quickly they must have switched the full jar for the empty jar, never interrupting the flow of oil. And this must have gone on for some time, during which the atmosphere of that household must have been electric. The skeptical sons were probably screaming, “It’s working, Mom!” And inevitably, there came a point when the widow asked for another jar when her son looked around and said, “There are no more jars, Mom.”
The takeaway from this? This is very important. The oil only stopped flowing when they ran out of jars. When there were no more jars is only when the oil stopped flowing. That means that it all depended on how many jars they had collected at first. They dictated the capacity to which God could fill them. They set their expectation for God and He fulfilled his promise and met them there. Now…what is the capacity for which you
are setting God up for? How many jars are you collecting? Collect those jars, pray over them [Jesus prayed over the loaves and the widow prayed over the little jar of oil] and expect God to fill those jars.