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Sunday Message for April 16, 2023


With the news full of reports of a failing economy, people losing so much on their stocks, mortgage foreclosures, and every other kind of gloom and doom - maybe it is time to look at what's real and true. Because, depending on what economist you listen to, we are either on our way out of the problem, deep in the middle of it, or going to experience problems for the next couple of years.

So it looks like the state of the economy depends on who you choose to listen to. Maybe it's time to start listening to that still small voice within. After all, it's the only one that knows for sure what's happening.

In our Prayer Service we used to have we were reading the lessons from Lowell Fillmore's book Things to be Remembered. We were discussing the story about the prophet Elisha and the poor widow.a

It is in (II Kings 4:1-7) and it reads, "Now the wife of a member of the company of prophets cried to Elisha, "Your servant my husband is dead; and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but a creditor has come to take my two children as slaves."
Elisha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?"
She answered, "Your servant has nothing in the house, except a jar of oil."
He said, "Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not just a few. Then go in, and shut the door behind you and your children, and start pouring into all these vessels; when each is full, set it aside."
So she left him and shut the door behind her and her children; they kept bringing vessels to her, and she kept pouring. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel."
But he said to her, "There are no more." Then the oil stopped flowing.
She came and told the man of God, and he said, "Go sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your children can live on the rest.""b

This story has so many little lessons in it for our current economic time. A good affirmation for us to use is, The oil of God's bountiful supply is sufficient to fill all the empty places in my soul, body, and affairs.

Lowell Fillmore reminds us "that every person who is in trouble, no matter how serious his need may be, has within himself something valuable, which if drawn upon in faith and prayer will help him to satisfy his needs and deliver him out of trouble."

This story of the widow reminds us to not speak negatively about what we have, even when our resources seem to be very inadequate.

The prophet, Elisha, asked this weeping woman, "What do you have in the house?" The widow said that she had nothing at all, meaning that she had nothing of value, only a pot of oil.

I know how she felt. Years ago, when I worked for a failing computer firm, I was laid off because they had to cut back just to stay in business. I had nothing! I needed to get another job just to pay my bills. I was desperate and depressed! How was I going to survive?

I felt soooo sorry for myself! Then, one day, the prophet within me said, "what do you have in the house?"

I realized that I was sitting at my computer doing my resume', I had two closets full of clothes, I had a car in the driveway, I had a roof over my head, and I had plenty of food to eat. I could program computers, train Swedish Massage, run a restaurant, and many other talents that could earn money. Many people on this earth would kill to have what I took for granted.

That was the moment that I shifted into 'can-do' mode. I realized what I had, I realized my worth, and I realized that stinkin' thinkin' was not going to move me forward into anything positive.

As a nation, we need to shift out of fear mode into knowing our worth and our ability to come back stronger than before. We need to stop focusing on our lack and start again to focus on what a prosperous nation this is and on what creative, resilient people we are.

Perhaps we need a billboard for our nation so that it can start affirming, As I bless, consecrate, and rightly use the little things that I find in my possession they grow, and I begin to discover how great is God's loving, generous supply for me.

When the weeping widow spilled her story of woe to Elisha, the prophet did not sympathize with her or give her money out of his purse. Elisha was not a co-dependent.

Instead, he gave her some very practical advice. He told her to begin to solve her problem by using what little she already had and to increase it through her faith. At the time that I was laid off; when I shifted to positive thinking, the first thing I did was to tithe 10% of what I had. That was my step of faith in Truth Principles.

Had I known it at that time, I would have used Lowell Fillmore's affirmation, By exercising my faith in God's all-sufficient supply I am able to draw upon it for all my needs.

Elisha recommended that the widow's boys also do something to help. They went out and borrowed dishes from the neighbors, as many as they could get, and brought them home to their mother.

When we face challenges, we sometimes forget that there are people who will help us. We forget to reach out and ask for help. I did; I always thought that I had to handle it all by myself. So instead of allowing others to share with me - I stressed myself out and thought I should be some kind of super woman.

But we can go to friends and family, even if it is just to ask for them to pray with us or to help shore up our faith.

In the news we read of an anonymous donor - or donors - who gave $45 million to a handful of universities, including the University of Southern Mississippi. The school received $6 million, the largest single gift in its history. Usually someone at a school knows who the donor is, and just remains publicly mum. But these donations are a true mystery.

A great affirmation is, I am thankful that my Father-God supplies me richly as I make myself ready to use that greater supply wisely and well.

Elisha then instructed the widow to take the receptacles with her into her house and, after shutting the door, begin pouring the oil that was in her little jar into the receptacles that her sons had borrowed.

So after asking for help there comes a time when we need to go alone and be with God. We need to shut out the world's negativity and just commune with the divine. Jesus quite often did this, sometimes praying all night.

It says in (Matthew 6:6) "Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."c

The widow had faith, and she poured out the oil until she had filled all the vessels. And because there were no more vessels she had to stop pouring. This increased supply of oil was then sold for enough money to pay all her debts and release her sons from possible bondage. The supply of oil seemed to be limited only by the number of vessels that could be obtained to hold it.

God will always provide for us as much as we can accept. But we come with a thimble instead of a bucket. We have to learn to accept more of God's good. The oil only ran out when there were no more vessels to fill.

In the news we see where more than 200 Illinois workers received a card from their former employer -- and with it, a massive year-end bonus check. After selling the family ball bearings business to a Swedish company, the Spungens decided to share the wealth with their former employees. They gave away a total of $6.6 million.

The little pot of oil, which the widow said was the only possession she had left, is a symbol of a precious but little-appreciated possession that every person has within himself. When understood and rightly and prayerfully poured out it will supply the needs of anyone who has faith enough to use it. It is the tiny seed idea, which through faith and prayer grows to such proportions that it can deliver a person from any kind of bondage.

We can think of our needs as opportunities to be used as receptacles into which God's increase may be poured. An empty life crying for satisfaction, if the cry is turned to God, will cause that life to become a vessel filled with the riches of God that truly satisfy. The empty vessels borrowed from neighbors may represent to us opportunities for pouring out our blessings and good thoughts upon others. By pouring them out thus they can increase our ability to draw more heavily upon the infinite Resource.

We all have some kind of little pot of oil, but we have to get into a positive frame of mind before we can recognize it. We have to have the faith to let God's divine ideas grow within us and expand.

Oil represents joy and praise, which make life run smoothly. Even if we are without material food, we still have that oil of Spirit within us which we can pour out to fill up the empty places in our life and the lives of our friends. We may wonder what good the increase of the spirit of joy and praise can do in supplying our material needs. In the story the widow sold the increased supply of oil and then paid her debts with the money she received for it.

Joy and praise are worth money, because they are what all the world is seeking. Like other spiritual gifts these are enjoyed and increased most when they are given away or shared. Giving and sharing God's gifts brings more joy to the giver than receiving and hoarding can bring to the receiver.

Those who depend on the possession of many things to bring them happiness and satisfaction will remain hungry in their soul even though their barns may be bursting, because material things alone cannot fill the emptiness of the inner person. So, the concept that 'those who die with the most toys win' - is way off base. It is the pouring out of the riches of Spirit in prayer that satisfies both the soul and the body.

In the news there was a Michigan man who won $10,000 in the state lottery's Club Keno game. Soon after winning the money, Jim Dancy decided others needed it more than he did. So, he gave it all to the Greater Kalamazoo United Way. Dancy said, "I was heavily influenced by my close friend Julie, who taught me to think of others first, and to stop and think about what life is really about. I know the needs in the community are great right now, so for me it was the right thing to do."

When we give or express life, we increase our capacity for living. When we express wisdom, we grow wiser. When we love we increase our consciousness of love. When we are joyous, we increase our joy. When we exercise our strength, we grow stronger. Our labors and our experiences in the material world should help us increase our inner, spiritual resources. These include life, love, wisdom, strength, and other attributes of the spiritual person. These grow and expand by proper use. That use is the pouring-out-process.

Spiritual riches have been given to every person by God, abundantly; and as we prayerfully pour out these gifts, even though at first, they may seem to be small, they will surely become great through faith and works. Their possible greatness will be limited only by the capacity of the vessels that we have provided to hold them.

We can discover the limitless nature of the blessings that God has given us when we draw freely on them by pouring them out. We can pour them out with such faith and love that we inspire others with the desire to pass their blessings along also.

The gifts of God are limited only by a person's capacity to express them or pour them out. We can supply our needs for outer things by first drawing the oil of Spirit from within. The one who learns how to pour out this inner substance which God has given him will never have a lack of good things in this world.

Don't ever despair because it seems that you have little to draw upon. Just look within and rejoice in the abundance that God has given you in Spirit, and then fearlessly give forth what you find in the house.

aLowell Fillmore Things to be Remembered
bII Kings 4:1-7
cMatthew 6:6

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