God gave Israel the Promised Land. It was theirs as far as God was concerned, but they had to seize the God-given opportunity to possess it. God told them that He would send an angel to drive out the enemies before them. But an angel wouldn’t do it on his own, God’s people had to be obedient in order to get angelic help. (Exodus 23:20-23)
They knew what God said, but they didn’t take advantage of their opportunity to possess the land of promise. They fixed their attention on the problem rather than God’s promise. “There are giants over there,” they complained. That was certainly true, but the giants had nothing at all to do with what God said. The people had “grasshopper” vision, which caused them to lose their God-given opportunity. And their failure to act in faith concerning God’s Word caused an entire generation to die in the wilderness. The Scripture states, “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:19) The bottom line was that they didn’t mix faith with what God said, and fear stole their God-given opportunity from them.
Open Your Eyes and Seize Opportunities.
The city of Jerusalem – Luke 19:41-44
Sitting on the Mount of Olives, Jesus wept as He gazed over the city of Jerusalem. “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:42 NJKV) Then He prophesied Jerusalem’s destruction and stated the reason: (paraphrased) “Because you knew not the time of your visitation and your God-given opportunity.”
Jesus had “…taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him.” (Luke 19:47) The people of Jerusalem missed their greatest opportunity by not recognizing the time of the Messiah’s visitation. They closed their eyes and ears to God’s Word incarnate in Jesus Christ.
There is a sequence and timing in God-given events. When opportunities are lost, sometimes they are gone forever, which was the case in that generation.
As someone aptly stated, “Yesterday is a canceled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is the only time you have.”
You Can Receive Divine Provision Regardless of the Circumstances Around You.
The widow of Zarephath – I Kings 17:8-16
During a devastating famine in Israel, God spoke to Elijah, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” (I Kings 17:9 NJKV) If Elijah had failed to act on the Word of the Lord, he would have missed an opportunity to minister to this woman, her son, and the entire region – as well as having his own needs met. It is obvious that both Elijah and the widow had to act in faith before God’s provision was set in motion to meet their needs.
All that the widow woman had between life and death was just enough meal and oil to make a cake for herself and her son. Elijah said, “…make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.” (I Kings 17:13 NJKV) The woman seized this God-given opportunity for provision for herself and her son. She made a cake for Elijah first, and after that they ate a full year out of that barrel of meal and cruse of oil!
A hopeless situation was turned into a divine provision by two separate acts of faith.
Faith to Respond to God-Given Opportunities Comes from His Word.
The widow in debt – II Kings 4:1-7
This passage tells of a widow woman whose creditors were about to come and take her two sons as slaves because of the debt she owed. Elisha asked the widow what she had in the house and she answered, “Nothing but a pot of oil.” The prophet told her to go borrow “vessels…not a few,” (II Kings 4:3) take them into the house, pour into them from what she had, then take the oil and sell it to pay her debts.
The widow was given an open-ended opportunity, but she had to decide if she would believe it and act or discount it. What Elisha said did sound far-fetched. This woman could have said, “Forget it! What am I going to do with all these vessels? If I pour my oil from this pot into another vessel, I won’t have any more than I had at the beginning.” But she acted in faith, borrowed the vessels, and as she began to pour, the miracle of increase began. Where did she get this kind of faith? Her faith came from the prophetic words of the prophet. Elisha gave her a Word from God, and she seized the opportunity to enter into God’s provision. A Word from God changed her life.
You Must Fulfill the Conditions of God’s Word to Receive the Provision.
Naaman the leper – II Kings 5:1-14
Naaman was an important captain in the Syrian army, but he was afflicted with leprosy. Through the witness of a little household maid, Naaman heard about the miracles done by the prophet Elisha and went to his house for healing. Elisha sent a messenger and told Naaman to go wash in the Jordan seven times and he would be healed.
Naaman became angry, because Elisha didn’t pray for him personally or lay hands on him. Because of a preconceived idea, he could have lost his opportunity, returned home, and died a leper. But after an encouraging word from his servant, he was obedient and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan. I’m sure that each time Naaman dipped himself in that muddy river he paused and looked at his skin. But it wasn’t any different until he met the conditions by dipping seven times. Then “his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” (II Kings 5:14 NJKV) Hebrews 10:35-36 brings this event into a scriptural conclusion: “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”
Those Who Believe and Act Will Receive God’s Provision.
Elisha and the famine – II Kings 7:1-10
In this passage, the people of Samaria were suffering from a severe famine. Elisha gave them a Word from the Lord that tomorrow there will be an abundance of food sold in the gates of Samaria. The king’s right-hand man did not believe the Word of the Lord and was told by Elisha that he would see it, but he would not partake of this miraculous provision.
An entire city of starving people could have missed a divine opportunity because of unbelief. But four leprous men outside the gate decided to do what they could before they died of starvation. They asked the question, “Why sit we here until we die?” (II Kings 7:3) They knew where there was an abundance of food and decided to act on what they knew. In that life-or-death situation, they used what faith they had to seize the only option with any hope. They went to the enemy’s camp. It seemed that God was just waiting for someone to do something in faith. When they arrived, they found the camp deserted. God had caused the enemy to hear the noise of a great host, and they fled for their lives, leaving behind abundant provision. I believe the noise they heard was a host of angels marching military style.
Even In Desperate Situations, Use the Faith You Have to Seize God’s Opportunity.
The man at the pool of Bethesda – John 5:1-14
The lame man at the pool of Bethesda also had a God-given opportunity. He didn’t really know who Jesus was, but something about the way Jesus said, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk,” (John 5:8) made the man recognize authority in His words. He acted on the words of Jesus and took up his bed and walked.
This man was probably taught all his life that it was wrong to carry anything on the Sabbath, but opportunity necessitates making a decision. He probably asked himself, “Am I going to be religiously correct and believe only what I have been taught, or am I going to act on the authority of these words and be well?” He decided he would rather be healed than religiously correct.
Sometimes God’s Word may seem contrary to human reasoning, because of what men have taught. The Holy Spirit will bring a revelation on the inside (in your spirit) that is stronger than all the outward logic or evidence. Faith is never blind. Faith always sees the end results. Faith is an act based on divine revelation from God’s Word. And that persuasion results in attitudes and actions which bring the manifestation of opportunities for God’s provision.
God has made abundant provision for you through Jesus.
Regardless of the circumstances you may be facing or the needs in your life, God has already provided the answer through His Word. Won’t you accept Him at His Word and act upon the promise today?