“You’ve Got What It Takes!”
Brother Stephen Green, Youth Minister,
New Bethel AME Church, Lithonia, GA
Speaking at Metropolitan AME Church
Youth Explosion Day
June 9, 2013
Scripture: I Kings 17:8-24 NKJV
In the scripture, I Kings Chapter 17, I want to highlight verses 8-16 [highlighted in red below].
I want to speak to you from this theme: “I’ve Got What it Takes!
I am an avid movie-goer, and last Friday night, I was there when Fast and Furious 6 came out. I don’t want to spoil the movie for you – so I’ll just say that it was action-packed from beginning to end, and I enjoyed it. When the movie was over, I was ready to go, but my friends encouraged me to stay; so we stayed and after the credits. There was another scene after the credits rolled that gives you a hint that there may be a sequel or something else coming, perhaps in Tokyo for Fast and Furious 7. I would not have known there was something greater coming after the movie was over if I had not stayed until after the credits were over
And so we have it in the scripture. In I Kings Chapter 17, we find a widow woman, a single mother, who was raising her son in immense poverty. She’s at the end of her rope, the credits are now scrolling on her own life, and she finds herself losing hope in the middle of a drought. Israel has turned her back on God: King Ahab and Queen Jezebel have replaced the only true God with idol gods. So God has sent a drought on the land, a drought so severe that brooks even dried up, plants withered away, soil became eroded, and the sun’s dry heat made it almost impossible to walk.
If we are honest, we too have found ourselves in a drought; the brooks have dried up in our homes when five people can sit in the same house and not speak to one another at a meal. The brook has dried up in our own community when the likelihood of your incarceration is based on your skin. The brook has dried up when there is opposition to raising the standards of excellence and making sure our children have a holistic approach to education. The brook has dried up and plants are withering away when after school funds are diverted to fund juvenile jails. The brook has dried up when Philadelphia closes 23 schools but spends $400 million on a new prison. There is a drought, the brook has dried up and the plants are withering away when Trayvon Martin can be identified as suspicious while his confessed assailant goes on trial tomorrow and people are hoping this murderer gets off. The brook has dried up when this country STILL has a death penalty. We have a drought when a young man named Kendrick Johnson goes missing at school and is found rolled up in a mattress and the police say there is no foul play. We have a drought and the brook has dried up when, in our community, we think we can sit home and not go to the polls in 2014 like we did in 2008. Some of us are suffering from a spiritual drought: we don’t even want to go to church. We don’t even feel the spirit of God anymore. We can’t even stand to get out of bed in the morning. We don’t even get up in the morning and say our morning prayer, or say our prayers at night; we don’t even wake up with our minds on Jesus.
I’ve got good news for you Metropolitan: Even in the middle of a drought, God will still send somebody your way, right at the nick of time.
The Widow of Zarapheth
Back to the scripture: This gentile woman was gathering sticks at the gate preparing to die because she thought the drought would consume her and her son. But God sent a prophet her way to tell her she’s got what it takes to make it through the drought. You’ve got what it takes to make it through the drought because you are not the consequence of your condition. Even thought she is a poor woman and a gentile, gathering sticks from the ground, God still makes use of her. It doesn’t matter how any cars you have in your garage, how many people knew your name in school, how tall or short you are, God still makes use of you. Abraham was old –it doesn’t’ matter how old how young I am, God can still use me. David smelled like dirty sheep, Peter was a curser. If God can use David and Peter and Abraham and Moses, then surely God can use little old me.
You have been picked out by God because you are God’s child. I’ve come to let you know this morning that “you’ve got what it takes.
You can be seated on a bus in Montgomery and break the backs of Jim Crow; you can be a student at a school and break the backs of integration in our school system. You’ve got what it takes. You can start an after school program that closes the achievement gap – cause you’ve got what it takes. You can write the legislation that ends mass incarceration because you’ve got what it takes. You can write a book and give hope to someone struggling with depression cause you’ve got what it takes.
Don’t minimize your gifts
In verse 1, the Prophet Elijah says, “Bring me a piece of bread.” The widow says: “All I have is a little oil for me and my son to feast on before we die.” This scripture shows that we always want to minimize our gifts and our resources, but we have always been a people who take a little and make a lot with it. We have taken a little leftover bread and made bread pudding; we may just have a little, but our God can make a little a lot.
Get this: What you need to make to deal with the drought is already in the house, it’s already in your cupboard. All the resources the widow ever needed was already in the house. Graduates, as you embark on your journey of life, you have just what you need already in the house: You’ve just got to bake it. All you gotta do is put some pressure in it. Add a little water, a little heat, all you need is already in the house.
If you want to start that business, the idea is already in the house. Start that book because you’ve already got the plot. Be a doctor because you already like people. Be a good teacher because you already like kids. You can be a good lawyer because you already like to argue. You’ve got what it takes and everything you need is already in the house.
You’ve got what it takes because you have the guarantee of God’s promise.
Verse14 says: “The jar will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry…until the day the Lord sends the rain.”
That’s good news – to know that whenever God makes a request of you, He will back it up with a promise. He promises provision for your faithfulness.
Whenever God makes a request of you, He is already going to back it up with a promise. He asked Noah to gather two of every animal; He gave Abraham a covenant. He gave Moses I am that I am. He told David: I will be your shepherd.
God will keep you “in perfect peace”
I came to let you know Metropolitan that whatever God is requesting of you, God has a promise for you: “I’ll keep you in perfect peace.” God has a promise that when finals get rough, I’ll keep you in perfect peace. When your parents get a divorce, I’ll keep you in perfect peace. When college gets tough, when friends walk away, I’ll keep you in perfect peace. When dark nights come, when the roads get rough, when it gets hard – I’ll keep you in perfect peace.
So Metropolitan, this morning I’m glad to know that the woman did just as the Lord has asked of her through the prophet Elijah. This story is so significant because, although she respects tradition, she is not stuck in traditionalism. She does not judge the Prophet Elijah based on his appearance, but she trusts in the God that Elijah represents. You never know who God will send to speak to you, you just have to be ready; when God speaks, when God gives the green light, start walking; whenever God says go you gotta go.
Sometime back, I was home in Little Rock; we’d just purchased a new home and I went home for Christmas break and my Dad picked me up from the airport. I had just gotten a new IPhone 5 and Siri and I were best friends. She’d gotten my movie tickets, she told me what the weather is like. I said, “Siri, give me the address to the house.” I told my Dad, watch this, don’t worry, Siri will take us home. Siri says, “Follow me.” She says, “Merge onto the highway; exit right.” But Daddy keeps going straight. I said, “Daddy why are you are going this way? You are not paying attention to Siri.” Daddy says, “Son, I don’t need to listen to Siri. I’ve already been to the house before; you’re going there for the first time.”
Sometimes God is just like my daddy; you can trust him because he already knows where He is going. God already has a track record. Siri may want to take you another way, but my Father knows the way, and He already has a track record. I trust God more than I trust Steve Jobs. My grandmother knows. My Daddy, knows, but God has a track record.
No matter what you are going through: You’ve Got What it Takes
No matter what you are going through, you’ve got what it takes, because you serve a living God that has a proven track record. When there was emptiness, He made you whole. When I was hurt, He healed me. When I was weak, He cured me; when I was broken, He brought me back together again.
I stopped here at Metropolitan to see if there was anyone here who knew about God’s track record? He already has proven He has a track record, He’s proven time and time again. He’s proven himself to be faithful; He’s proven himself to be just.
Some of you can look at your own lives, your own history. You can walk through the hallways of your own life, and you know that God has proven time and time again that God is faithful, and God is just.
This canon would be all fine if the story closed at I Kings 17 because God grants his promise to Elijah and the widow. In verse 15 the bible says: “They are able to feast on this little oil and flour for a long time, and for everyone in the household to be fed.”
But I can’t come all the way to DC and leave you with just this – I can’t leave you at I Kings 17. I gotta show you that I learned something in class. I did take Old Testament. This canon isn’t closed. I came to Metropolitan this morning to let you know that, if you flip the page, in I Kings, Chapter 18, God sends the rain.
If you put God to the test, the rain will fall!
I came not as a Morehouse student, I came as a meteorologist, to let you know that the rain is coming! I came by Metropolitan to let you know that the drought is over! I came by to let you know that in Chapter 18 God sends Elijah up to a mountain and Jezebel sends Jezebel’s gods, and Jezebel’s prophets and the prophets of Baal go at it with Elijah. Then God says tells Elijah, “Let Baal bring the water since he’s the god of rain.” They call on Baal all day and all night: Baal does nothing. So God said, “Put Elijah to the test!
I’m glad that I stopped by Metropolitan to tell you to put God to the test. If you put God to the test, I’m already sure that He will provide. I know times may be rough; sickness may come; droughts may come; but if you put God to the test, surely rain will fall! I come by Metropolitan to tell you that a tropical storm is on the way!
When Jesus went to the cross, there was a drought; the soil eroded but the drought stayed all day Friday; all day Saturday there was a drought; but I heard there was a tropical storm that got up early on a Sunday. Is there anyone here who knows about this storm? His name is Jesus. There’s a storm on the ocean and if your soul’s not anchored in Jesus, it will surely drift away.
I’m glad I’ve got what it takes. I came to tell you: “You’ve got what it takes.”
God will take good care of you!
Scripture: I Kings 17: 8-24
Elijah and the Widow
8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”
12 So she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’”
15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.
Elijah Revives the Widow’s Son
17 Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him. 18 So she said to Elijah, “What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?”
19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” So he took him out of her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. 20 Then he cried out to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?” 21 And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him.” 22 Then the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived.
23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives!”
24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is the truth.”