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October 4 – Not by bread alone

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone.Deuteronomy 8:3 

Scripture reading: 1 Kings 17:7-16

What an encouragement the dried-up brook must have been to Elijah. God was fulfilling His promise of withholding dew and rain! It also meant that God was going to provide for Elijah some other way. He reaches Zarephath and, encountering the widow, he instructs her to bring him some water. As she leaves to comply he asks for a morsel of bread too. This unleashes an outpouring of her pitiable story. She has nothing baked, little flour, little oil, few sticks, and little time left to live.

You might think that Elijah might respond with something like, “I’m sorry. Yes, I understand. I’ll ask someone else. Just the water will be fine.” You might even think that would be the kind and sensitive thing to do. But he doesn’t. He intensifies the request. Do what you are going to do “but first make a little cake of it and bring it to me.” Does it need to be said that God’s request should have given her no hesitation? If obedience meant that yesterday’s supper was her last meal she should have given a morsel of bread to the man of God. God doesn’t ask for our leftovers or what we can conveniently part with. He demands our all to be given without hesitation.

But notice the Lord’s gentleness. He wins her obedience with a sandwich of assurance. Top slice: ‘Do not fear.’ Bottom slice: ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not empty . . .’ And every day thereafter was a reminder of the faithfulness of the Lord and His Word.

Suggestions for prayer

Ask God to teach us how generous and gracious He is, even in His demands, so that we might trust Him for His daily provision of grace and cheerfully give Him whatever He asks of us.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta.

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