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Feast or Famine

A Bible Message by Bayless Conley


Copyright © 2007 Answers with Bayless Conley

Please turn to Amos, Chapter 8. He is one of the Minor Prophets, not called minor because
what he has to say is of minor importance, but because there are not many chapters there.
Amos 8:11,

11 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine
on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the
words of the LORD.
12 They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to
and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it.

In the days of Eli, when young Samuel was learning the ways of the Lord, the Scripture says
that the word of the Lord was rare and there was no open revelation. There can be seasons and
times where there is a famine of hearing the word of the Lord; and maybe on a personal basis,
you have not heard from God in a long time. Maybe there has been a real famine, a dearth, or
an absence in your life of direction or of hearing God’s voice. I can think back over my life at
times where God very distinctly has spoken to me and impressed my heart during times of
prayer or sometimes just warned me about things, and I had a sense. I knew God was talking to
me, and I do not like it when God goes silent. I just do not like it. Yet I think more often, it is not
that God has gone silent, it is that we have become too busy or other things have perhaps crept
into our life; and there has become in our lives, even as it said here, a famine of hearing the
words of the Lord.

A PROLONGED ABSENCE OF SOMETHING ESSENTIAL TO YOUR LIFE CONSTITUTES A


FAMINE

Generally when we think of famine, we think of there being no rain. Because there is no rain,
there are no crops. When there are no crops, there is no food. It affects all different areas of
life, and we think of famine in those terms. However, there are a lot of different kinds of famine.
There can be a financial famine in your life, where there has been a real lack of finances. There
can be a famine of joy in your life, where you have just been grappling with depression and
struggling with issues in your life; and you really, really have not been joyful, nor happy. There
can be a famine of good relationships in your life. There can be a famine of health in your life,
where your body is being attacked, and you just do not have the strength and the vitality that
you once had. A prolonged absence of something essential to your life would constitute a
famine. Famine is whatever it might be that has had a prolonged absence, something that is
essential to you living a Godly Christian life. We are going to talk about how to break the famine
in your life.

Look in Second Kings 6:25,

25 And there was a great famine in Samaria; and indeed they besieged it until a
donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and one-fourth of a kab of
dove droppings for five shekels of silver.

Now they were not eating the dove droppings. That was fuel for the fire to cook the donkey’s
head. The donkey’s head was the food. I think things are pretty bad when a donkey’s head gets

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really expensive and the only thing you have for fuel to burn for a fire is dove droppings. Things
got extremely bad. In fact, in this famine, people turned to cannibalism as things just went from
bad to worse. We come to the seventh chapter; and in the first few verses Elisha, the prophet,
speaks the word of the Lord and says that the famine will be broken and gives this incredible
promise about flour being sold for almost nothing, just a few cents, and we come down to verse
3. It says (2 Kings 7:3)

3 Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to
one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die?
4 “If we say, ‘We will enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die
there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to
the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we
shall only die.”
5 And they rose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians; and when they had
come to the outskirts of the Syrian camp, to their surprise no one was there.
6 For the LORD had caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots
and the noise of horses--the noise of a great army; so they said to one another,
“Look, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the
kings of the Egyptians to attack us!”
7 Therefore they arose and fled at twilight, and left the camp intact--their tents,
their horses, and their donkeys--and they fled for their lives.
8 And when these lepers came to the outskirts of the camp, they went into one
tent and ate and drank, and carried from it silver and gold and clothing, and went
and hid them; then they came back and entered another tent, and carried some
from there also, and went and hid it.

FIVE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO TURN YOUR FAMINE INTO A FEAST

Now there was a great famine going on, and I like what these lepers said: “Why do we sit here
‘til we die?” Man, that is good counsel. If there is a famine going on in your life, do not just
sit there. You need to get up and do something. They went out to the Syrian camp; and God,
of course, caused a miracle to happen. They went in, and their famine turned into a feast. They
went and began to feast and started hiding things; and then, as we read the story, their
conscience got the better of them. They said, “the thing we are doing is not good. This is a day
of celebration. We are going to share this with everyone else.” So they went into town and told
everyone that the Syrian army had fled and let everyone else in on the feast, as well.

Now maybe today you are in the midst of a great famine in your life, financial or, as I mentioned,
no direction for the longest time, no joy, a famine of health, whatever it might be. You can
continue to sit there until you die, or you can do something. These four lepers got up and got
moving. They said, “Let’s do something lest we do nothing.” By getting up and doing something,
they turned their famine into a feast.

I want to share five things with you tonight that you can get up and do if you want to turn your
famine into a feast. But you know what? If we sit and do nothing, many times the famine in our
life will be prolonged. Somebody might say, “Well, I am just waiting on God, waiting for a
breakthrough.” Well that is good, and He is the Lord of the breakthrough the Scripture says.
However, we also read that we are co-laborers together with God. It is not always just God
doing something. It is us doing something in response to His promises, us co-laboring together
with God, us trusting God, us responding to the Spirit of God. It is not a matter of just sitting

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around and saying, “Okay, well, maybe God will turn up, and maybe God won’t turn up.” There
are things that we can do.

1. Inquire and ask God why.

Look in Second Samuel, chapter 21. We are going to look at the first thing that you can do.
Second Samuel 21:1,

21:1 Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after
year; and David inquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, “It is because of
Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites.”

Now Israel had made a covenant with the Gibeonites to protect them, but Saul in his zeal had
tried to eradicate them and exterminate them. David asked God why there was famine, and
God said, “This is why: You have broken your word. You have broken your covenant.” Here is
the first thing you can do: You can inquire and ask God why. Sometimes, it never dawns on us.
We have not heard from God in the longest time, stuff has been going on in our life, and it has
protracted, and we are suffering because of it. Yet we never get quiet and say, “God, is there a
reason for this?” It says in Proverbs, “The curse causeless shall not come.” There is a reason
for things. God gave David an answer, and he went out and did something about it. In fact, look
at 2 Samuel 21:3,

3 Therefore David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? And with what
shall I make atonement, that you may bless the inheritance of the LORD?”

So David responded. He inquired of God and then he went out and did something to change
things.

A while back, a friend came to me and shared how they had been battling with depression for a
long time, and it suddenly dawned on them, “Maybe I should ask God why. Why have I been so
depressed? Why do I wake up in the morning depressed? Why am I depressed during the day?
Why does the slightest little bit of bad news send me into a tailspin? Why is it so hard to get out
of the tailspin once I get into it? What is going on?” This person asked God, and God spoke to
them immediately. He said, “Your problem is about an inch below your nose. Listen to the way
you are talking.” The Bible says death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those
who indulge in it will eat the fruit thereof for death or life. They had just been speaking
negatively, and they had been partaking of the things that they said. Our words are like seeds.
They changed what they were saying. Now that is about as strong as you can get.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. That is pretty strong. Some people think, “Ah,
some people make too much of this speaking words.” Friend, do not think that. Read in the
Book of Genesis: God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God said, “Let there be a
firmament above the heavens,” and it was so. God said, “Let there be the creatures in the sea,”
and it was so. God said, and it was so. God made man in His own image and His own
likeness. Do you get it? That is exactly how it came to pass. God gave us the ability to speak
words… words filled with life. We are translated from death into life by speaking words. If
you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess Him with your mouth
as Lord, you will be saved. Now if that can change your eternal destination from hell to heaven,
do you not think your words can maybe do some other things in your life? Some lesser things
like maybe getting you out of depression? If your words can get you out of hell, certainly
they can get you out of depression.

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The point is, my friend asked God, “Why? Why am I battling with depression?” and God gave
them an answer. If you are in a famine, ask God why. Maybe you will be surprised at what He
says, but probably you will not be. It is likely to be something like, “You need to forgive so-and-
so.”

I will never forget a gentleman whom I had met, just an acquaintance, a minister of the gospel,
and he shared the story of something that had happened to him during Bible school. He was
going to a good Bible school, but it was not a Spirit-filled school; in fact, it was not a school that
embraced a Spirit-filled message. They did not embrace speaking with other tongues, and the
baptism in the Holy Spirit, as we read in the Book of Acts, is something for today. They
embraced salvation, forgiveness, and evangelism, and there were just a lot of great points; but
the fullness of the Spirit was not a doctrinal point that they embraced. While in school, he got
baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, and he caught fire.
He started praying for other students, and he got a whole bunch of other students baptized in
the Holy Spirit and speaking in other tongues. This wild fire started going throughout the school.
The student body president went after him hammer and tong and just persecuted him severely,
and said what he was doing was of the devil, and he tried to shut him down, I believe he tried to
get him kicked out of the school and just made his life miserable in any way that he could. Well,
this guy did not back off of what he had received from God and went on to be a great pastor,
and led a great church of thousands. Years later that same guy who had been the student body
president, came to him and said, “I have no peace. I have no ministry. My life is a wreck, and
the Lord told me it is because I hated you, and I spoke against you. And since I left Bible school
all those years ago…” and this is years down the track, he said, “…my life has been one
disaster after another after another after another. It has been just a nightmare, and I finally
asked God why, and God directed me all the way back into Bible school that I had seeds of
bitterness in my heart against you, and I was jealous of the people who were following you, and
that was really the root of why I came against you so severely. God told me that is why:
because I hated you, and I spoke against something the Holy Spirit was doing. I need you to
forgive me.”
The minister said, “Well, you know what? I forgave you way back then.”
He said, “Well, that is all right, but I needed to do this,” and it broke the famine in his life.

Ask God. It may be your famine will bring you face to face with someone that you have
wronged. It happened with Joseph’s brothers. The only way they found relief from their famine
was going to their brother that they had mistreated. That is the only way they found relief. All
right, so number one, if you are in a famine, and something is lacking in your life, the first thing
you can do about it is ask God to show you why.

2. You need to be where God wants you to be.

All right, look in Genesis 26. We come to a second thing that is very important if you are
experiencing a famine in your life. If you will listen to what I am about to say, it may save some
of you from a lot of grief. Genesis 26:1,

26:1 There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days
of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar.
2 Then the LORD appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in
the land of which I shall tell you.
3 “Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; (we come to verse 6)
6 So Isaac dwelt in Gerar.

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If you want to prosper and be blessed during times of famine, you need to be where God wants
you to be. Everybody else was packing up and going down to the land of Egypt, but God told
Isaac, “No, you need to be in this land. You stay here.” The famine was severe in that land, but
it was where God wanted him. It is so important.

I can remember being in high school, and I was not much for school events and things. I was a
bit of a rebel and a non-joiner. I did go to one football game in my three years of high school,
and we were there to sort of cause trouble. I went with a friend of mine, and we went over to
the opposite stands, and it was in a bit of a rough area where this other high school was. We
were over there yelling some things we probably should not have been yelling. We left the
stands and were walking, and then I had a guy stop me. He said, “Hey, aren’t you on the wrong
side of the field?” As he was saying that to me, about 12 guys formed a circle around me. Then I
just got this whiff of whiskey. These guys were all drunk. They had been drinking Southern
Comfort, an unmistakable smell. The guy crossed his arms and said, “Don’t you think you ought
to get out of here?”
I said, “Yeah, I reckon I should.” I started to walk away. He tapped me on the shoulder, and I
turned around, and he popped me one. I just stood there and looked at him. If I would have
done anything, I would have been jumped by 12 guys. So I turned and started to walk away just
in time to see my friend get popped in the face by a group of guys who were standing around
him.

When you are in the wrong place, it can cause you trouble. If you are in the right place
where God wants you to be during a famine, that will make a difference. In the Book of
Ruth, Elimelech was married to Naomi, and he had two sons. There was a famine in the land of
Israel, and Elimelech packed up his family and went to the land of Moab. There is no indication
anywhere that God led him to do it. It was just like everybody was packing up to go to Egypt in
this story. He just got his wife and children, and they moved to Moab. They left the land of God’s
inheritance where they were supposed to be planted, and they went into Moab. And you know
what happens to Naomi’s husband? He dies. Well, the two boys marry pagan girls, and you
know what happens to the boys? Both of the boys die. So Naomi is not only a widow, she is
bereaved of both of her sons. All she has left are two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. Orpah
returned to her gods and to her people, but Ruth said, “I am going to follow you.” It is an
incredible story of Ruth’s loyalty and how God turns things around for her, but I think that never
had to be. It cost them dearly because they just decided to go, and they were not in the place
where God wanted them to be.

Do not get up and move just because of a famine, even if there is a famine of good jobs,
a famine of finances, a famine of clean air and open spaces, or even a famine of
companionship where you just feel lonely: “Well, I am going to go to another place.”
Individuals, as well as whole families, have been devastated because they were not where God
wanted them. As a pastor over the last several decades, I have seen it happen many, many
times just like it did to Elimelech and his family. We need to ask God, “God, where do You want
me? Where am I supposed to be?” It is one of the most interesting studies in all of Scripture that
the blessing of God is tied to a place. God’s blessing in your life is tied to a place.

There was a famine when Elijah was the prophet, and God said to him, “Go to the Brook
Cherith. I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went to the Brook Cherith;
and, sure enough, there were ravens feeding him twice a day with bread and meat. What if he
had not gone there? He would have missed God’s blessing. God’s blessing for his life was tied
to a place. Then the famine was up there, and He said, “Go into the City of Zarephath. I have

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commanded a widow woman there to feed you.” All right, there is a place where the blessing of
God will intersect your life. God’s blessings are tied to places. It is important that we ask God:
“God, where am I supposed to be? Am I where I should be? Am I where You want me?” A
number of people, because of maybe a dearth in the job market, pack up the family and leave to
go across the country, and they lose their family in the process. Things turned out to be worse
where they went than where they came from. I could tell you story after story, but you probably
know a few of your own. I even think it is important to be in the church that God wants you to be
in. There used to be a commercial on TV, “This Sunday go to the church of your choice.” That
was a good message; but better, go to the church of God’s choice. There is a place where God
wants you planted where your DNA and the DNA of that house will match. It is important.

When I first got saved, God dealt with me in a very strong way about going to this church… we
called it the Tab. It was Faith Tabernacle, but everybody in town called it the Tab; and God dealt
with me about going to the Tab. I have joked about it sometimes. I was most definitely the only
male in the church with long hair. There was not another guy with long hair in the whole church;
and I think I was the only one under 103 years of age. Now there were other churches in town.
In fact, there was another Spirit-filled church in town where all the longhaired hippies who had
been saved attended. I went to some Bible studies and to a service there, and God just dealt
with me in my heart: “I do not want you here.” So I went over to the Tab. One of the things about
the Tab is they preached this radical doctrine of holiness, something that I really needed. And
they had the move of the Spirit there. I learned some things about the ways of the Spirit and
some things about traditional Pentecost. God wanted me there. At the other place, I know what
would have happened to me because I knew my weaknesses. I still know my weaknesses. All
the boys and girls who were going there were still smoking dope, drinking before they went into
services, sleeping around, and it just was not anything with them. It was tolerated and almost
even embraced by the leadership in the church there. Had I gone there, I would have gotten
sucked right in the vortex, and my life would not have been changed. I might have ended up
back out in the world. So it is important where you go to church.

Now if you are where God wants you to be, you can turn your famine into a feast. Look
back in this chapter in Genesis, chapter 26. The famine is on. Isaac is in the land of Gerar, right
where God told him to be. Look at Genesis 26:12,

12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year…

I want to stop there. All right, that same year is the year of famine. There is a famine going on in
the land, but Isaac sowed in that land,

…and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the LORD blessed him.
13 The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very
prosperous;

How many of you think that verse sounds good? How many of you would like to prosper and
continue prospering until you become very prosperous? Does that sound good in relationships?
Man, I want to prosper, continue prospering, and become very prosperous in my marriage. I
want to prosper, continue prospering, and become very prosperous in my finances and my
ability to bless others. I want to prosper and continue to prosper and be very prosperous when it
comes to health in my body and with my friendships and with my children. That is what I want.
Look at verse 14,

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14 for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great
number of servants. So the Philistines envied him.

3. You can sow in your famine.

He became the envy of the world around him. So Isaac was where God wanted him to be, and
he turned his famine into a feast, which brings us to the third thing that Isaac did: You can sow
in your famine. Isaac sowed at a time of famine; and, that is when most people end up eating
their seed instead of planting it. This is especially applicable to a famine of finances. The New
Testament uses the analogy of planting seeds as giving. Second Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9:
“He that sows sparingly will reap sparingly; he that sows bountifully will reap bountifully.
Let every man give as he purposes in his own heart.” So it is an analogy that the Bible uses.

I am sure the Philistines told him that he was foolish, that it would not grow. There had been no
rain. The ground would not produce. He would be wiser to save it and make his seed last as
long as he could. That was what everybody else was doing. There was not going to be any rain.
His crops could not grow. He better just make the best he could out of that seed, make it last as
long as he could, and pray that he will hold out. Yet instead of that, he sowed. Isaac heard
another voice that said, “Do not hang onto it. Let it go. And I will make it grow and multiply it.”
Isaac did that, and the Lord blessed him.

Look in the New Testament at some verses in Luke, chapter 4. I just want you to see this. Luke
4:25, Jesus is speaking. He said,

25 “But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the
heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine
throughout all the land;
26 “but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of
Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.

All right, there was a great famine, and there were a lot of widows in Israel, and Elijah the
prophet was sent to a woman who was not even of the people of Israel. She was of another
nation. She was not part of God’s heritage. She was God’s creation, but she was not a part of
the commonwealth of Israel. So in this great famine, with all of these widows in Israel among
God’s people, Elijah was only sent to one widow, and she was from a heathen land in the City of
Zarephath. Why do you reckon that was? Let’s look. Turn back to First Kings, chapter 17, to a
very familiar story. We want to read a number of verses from here. 1 Kings 17:8,

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.”

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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.

I know why Elijah was sent to this woman. Even in a time of famine during which it had not
rained for three and one-half years and water was more valuable than gold, even during this
time when Ahab, the king, had sent men out to go see if they could find some grass somewhere
so that all the horses in Israel would not die, Elijah asked the widow for some water, and she
went to get him some. Work that out. He said, “Hey, I am hungry.”
She said, “Well, I am just gathering a couple of sticks. I have enough for me and my son to have
this one tiny meal. We are going to eat it and die. There is nothing else. We are starving.”
He said, “Go make me some first.”
And she went and did it. She sowed in her famine.

When Elijah turned up, the widow and her son were dying of starvation. He was well fed. He
had been by the Brook Cherith for several years being fed twice a day supernaturally by ravens.
Yet here he comes, and imagine what she thought: “Man, he has a lot of nerve!” Think how
angry her son got! What? That fat guy over there is asking you for food and water, and you are
going to give it to him? Mom!” They were in a famine about to die, and he wanted their last
crumbs of bread and their water. But you know what? God never asks us for anything
without the promise of something better. Look at 1 Kings 17:14,

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.’”

Now the widow could have said, “Well, I will tell you what. If the Lord is going to multiply the
meal, then let’s go in the kitchen and let Him do it, and then I will give you all you want. Come
on, get to work on this. I will bake you the biggest cake you have ever seen! Let the Lord
multiply it first.” That is a lot of people’s mentality. “When I get more, when God gives me a
breakthrough, well, then I am going to sow, then I am going to give.” But that was not her
mentality. That is the position that a lot of Christians take when they are faced with a financial
famine. Instead of releasing the little they have in obedience to the promptings of God, they hold
on to it even tighter. Now the widow did not have to give it, but she did; and she released it
based on the promise that was given to her. Look what happened. You know the story, but let’s
read it. Verse 15,

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.

Now if she had not obeyed, she and her son would have starved; but because she released
what she had in obedience to God, with faith in His promise, her famine was turned into a feast.
As long as she held onto her flour and oil, it was her last meal; but when she released it, it
became the seed that produced a thousand meals before the famine was over.

I have proved it again and again in my own life in many different ways. Jesus said, “Give, and it
will be given unto you…” Luke 6:38 “…good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and
running over it will be given into your bosom. The same measure you use will be measured
back to you.” Frankly, the subject under discussion there was not finances, though it applies. It
was talking about giving forgiveness and showing love. Friend, this works in relationships. If

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you are in a famine of relationship, a famine of joy, make somebody else joyful. Sow in
your own famine. If you are going crazy over your children who are out in the world, and you
are thinking, “Man, my house is so messed up! My children do not love me. They are out on
drugs. They are doing this. I am worried crazy over them.” Hey, pray for somebody else’s
children. Go encourage somebody else’s children. Go down to the local mission and serve
some wayward child a meal down there. Sow a seed in your famine, and watch God multiply it.

I remember years ago, I was in a meeting in a little Grange Hall. An evangelist was there, and I
knew him personally and knew that he was in a bit of a financial struggle. Do you know what he
did that night? I will never forget it. He got up and said, “You know what? We really have some
needs in the ministry right now. If something does not happen soon, we do not know what we
are going to do. So what we want you to do is give your biggest gift that you can give tonight…
just pray right now. Ask God what you can give to help.” We all prayed. He said, “All right, what I
want you to do, stand up, look around the room, and go give it to somebody else in the room.”
He said, “I do not want any of it. Give it away.” I remember I gave a guitar as an offering, and I
said, “Well, you look nice,” and went up and put it in some guy’s hand; and some guy gave me
something. Everybody just dispersed it around the room. He was sowing seeds in his famine.
And you know what? God broke the deadlock of famine in his life.

We can sow. There is something you can give. There is something you can release from your
hand, something you can release from your heart, something you can release from your lips,
and something you can release from your life in your famine. And you know what? God can and
will multiply it back to you.

4. In your famine, you can pray according to God’s word.

I want you to look at another verse in the New Testament in the Book of James. I am going to
read another New Testament commentary on an event that took place. James 5:17,

17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would
not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.
18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its
fruit.

The fourth thing that we can do in time of famine, we can pray. Now look back at First Kings,
chapter 17, verse 1. It says,

17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the
LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain
these years, except at my word.”

Now we know Elijah prayed because the Book of James said that he did, but back up to chapter
16. We are going to find out why he prayed and on what basis he prayed. 1 Kings 16:30,

30 Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who
were before him.
31 And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the
sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of
Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him.
32 Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in
Samaria.

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33 And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God
of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.

On the heels of that we find Elijah making the statement to Ahab, “It is not going to rain except
at my word.” All right, somewhere in there we know Elijah had prayed. I know what he prayed.
We will not take time to turn there, but you can write it down. In Deuteronomy, chapter 11, God
had said that if My people turn from Me and serve idols and serve the Baals, and they go away
from Me, I will shut the heavens that there will be no rain. They turned away from God, and had
not been serving Him, but the heavens still gave their rain until Elijah prayed according to the
word of God. According to Hebrews, chapter 11, the promises are obtained by faith. Promises
need to be received; promises need to be believed.

Turn to chapter 18, and I am sure you know the story. There is the big showdown on Mount
Carmel. The nation is up there, God sent fire down, answered Elijah’s prayer, and they all
turned back to God and said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” Everyone has at least
given lip service to Him. We cannot judge their hearts; but at least in action and word, they had
turned back to God. So they were ripe again for the heavens to give their rain, and we read in
James that Elijah prayed again, and the heavens gave their rain. Turn back to First Kings,
chapter 18, and look at verse 36:

36 And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that
Elijah the prophet came near and said, “LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and
Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant,
and that I have done all these things at Your word.
37 “Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the
LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.”

Of course, fire fell down, and the people saw it. In verse 39, they cry out, “The Lord, He is God!
The Lord, He is God!” Elijah then killed all of the false prophets. Now go to verse 41. Look at
this (1 Kings 18:41):

41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of
abundance of rain.”
42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel;
then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees,

He took on a posture for prayer. He prayed again; but the point I want you to get in this: He
prayed according to the word. There was a promise also in Deuteronomy 11, “If My people will
turn back to Me, then I will open the heavens. The heavens will give their rain; the land will
produce its fruit.”

It was not just Elijah all of a sudden one day saying, “ I am feeling kind of bored. Man, nothing
to do out here. I know, I think I am going to pray against rain. That will be fun!” It was not just
something he pulled out of the air. He was not showing off. His prayers were built around a
promise. The promise was fulfilled, he prayed, and the heavens gave their rain. He said, “I hear
the sound of the abundance of rain.” He said that in verse 41. How did he know that? Because
he had God’s word for it. He had a promise. He prayed according to the word.

Now Jesus said in John 15:7, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what
you will, and it shall be done for you.” If you are in a famine right now, and I suspect there are
a few folks who are experiencing a famine in their life, find a promise that covers your need,

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and pray the promise. That is something you can do in your famine. Pray the promise. God
honors His word.

Did you know there are promises for marriage in the Bible? Did you know there are promises in
the Bible for children who are wayward? Did you know there are promises in the Scripture for
healing? There are promises in the Scripture for God meeting your needs. There are promises
in the Scripture for peace for your mind and tranquility. There are promises in Scripture for
direction from God. There are promises in Scripture for protection for your family. Those
promises need to be prayed. If you are in a famine, do not be like so many people who sat and
did nothing. Be like the leper who said, “Why sit here until we die? Let’s get up and do
something.” This is something you can do. Begin to search the Scriptures. Prayerfully read your
Bible. Say, “Holy Spirit, guide me. Show me. Give me a promise for my situation.” And you know
what? When you pray according to the promise, you will see things begin to turn around. Faith
comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

I remember years ago I had some pretty severe symptoms in my body. I was suffering, and I
had been praying for healing. As I had been seeking God and reading Psalm 91, I felt very
prompted from a promise in there that says, “No plague will come nigh your dwelling.” I saw it
two ways. First of all, I saw that as protection for my house. “The angel of the Lord camps
around about those that fear Him.” And, “He gives His angels charge over you.” “The arrow that
flies by day.” All of those verses are all about protection. No plague comes nigh your dwelling. I
saw the promise for no plague, no sickness, no disease coming near my house… protection for
me and my family. But I also thought of it this way because the Bible very clearly talks about our
physical bodies being our dwelling. This is just our tent. This is our temporary housing. This is
my earth suit. You really do not see me tonight. I am in here looking out two windows at you. My
earth suit got spray painted with spots. I am going to talk to God about that when I get to
heaven. My dwelling gets sunburned really easily. Our temples all have different paint jobs.
Some of them are just made differently, but this is our dwelling. This is where I live. I am a spirit
being, created in the image of God, and this is my earth suit. This is my house I live in while I
am on this planet. Well, I saw the promise this way: No plague will come nigh my dwelling. I saw
it in a personal way, and I really felt that God opened it up to me. So I am praying, “No plague
will come nigh my dwelling. I come against this sickness that is trying to lay hold of my body. I
resist it in Jesus’ name, Lord. I thank you…” And I was praying and praying, and I was not
getting any relief; and it went on for days and days. I was in our den on my knees with my Bible
open to Psalm 91. I had been fervently praying it and praying it for days. I got quiet, and I felt
like God said, “That won’t work for you.”
I said, “What do you mean it won’t work for me? Sure it will. It is Your promise, Lord!”
He said, “No, that won’t work for you.”
And I rebuked God. I said, “No, no, no! It will work! It is Your word! I believe Your word. You
keep Your word. It will work for me.”
I heard that again: “It won’t work for you.”
And finally I said, “Why won’t that work for me?”
He said, “Look at it again.”
So I started from the beginning of the Psalm, and it starts off with, “He who dwells in the secret
place of the Most High.” Now I knew from cross-referencing that and looking at other places that
when the Scripture talks about the secret place of the Most High, it is talking about God’s
presence. In another place in Psalms it says, “He will hide me in the secret of His presence from
the strife of tongues.” So I knew what that meant. “He who dwells in the secret place…”
And God said, “You do not qualify. You have had time for everything else lately, but you have
not been spending any time in My presence.” Of course, except praying to get something from
God. But I had not really spent time with God other than when I was seeking Him for the

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healing. And you know what? I changed in a hurry, and God answered my prayer on credit. It
does not take long to change. Believe me, it does not take long to change. In my heart of
hearts, I said, “God, I am sorry. You are right. Man, I have been busy doing everything else.
And, yeah, I have been after You because I need to get healed; but, frankly, if I were not sick
right now, I would not be seeking You. And I have not spent any time worshiping You and just
being with You. I repent, Lord. I promise I am going to spend time in Your presence.” I was
instantly healed. God does work on credit. He sees our heart.

Now something worth remembering: God’s love is unconditional; but most generally His
promises are conditional. You need to fill the conditions; but we can pray the promises.

5. Prepare in your time of famine.

Look back in First Kings 18:43. Elijah is in that posture of prayer in verse 42. 1 Kings 18:43,

43 and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and
looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.”
44 Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as
small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab,
‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’”

The fifth thing you can do is you can prepare. Now we have the cloud the size of a man’s hand
coming up over the horizon. He said, “Go tell Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot. Go to Jezreel…’ That
was where the summer palace was ‘…lest the rain overtake you.’” Then the sky began to grow
dark with clouds. We can prepare.

Look in the next book in the Bible. Second Kings 4:38,

38 And Elisha returned to Gilgal, and there was a famine in the land. Now the
sons of the prophets were sitting before him; and he said to his servant, “Put on
the large pot, and boil stew for the sons of the prophets.”
39 So one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and
gathered from it a lapful of wild gourds, and came and sliced them into the pot of
stew, though they did not know what they were.

It turned out to be a mistake. They were all poison, but he said, “Put on the large pot.” They did
not have anything to put in it. That was why the man went out to look for something to put in it.
There was a famine going on. There was no food. Yet, what does the prophet say? “Put on the
large pot.” Prepare. Get ready. During your famine, you can put out your biggest pot. You can
prepare.

I read George Mueller’s diary, which is quite an amazing book. It is a bit of a slow read in some
parts, but well worth reading. He had an orphanage in England where he fed and clothed
several thousand children, trained them up in the way of the Lord, and he never asked for a
dime. Everything that came in, every English pound he believed God for and prayed for on his
knees, came in supernaturally. It is really an amazing story. One day they had no bread; they
had no food at all to serve the orphans who were there at that time in the orphanage. Do you
know what Mueller told them to do? He said, “Set the tables.” And they set all of the tables.
They put all of the plates there; they put the forks there; they put the knives there; they put all
the chairs there; they had the children sit down and pray a blessing. Just then there was a
knock at the door. A man was standing at the door and said, “I have this huge bread wagon out

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here, and my axle is broken, and I am not going to be able to get it where I need to. Can you
use this bread?” It was enough bread to feed all of the children.

He put out his pot. He prepared. Faith makes preparation. The Bible says by faith Noah
prepared of things not seen as yet. Being warned by God, he built an ark to the saving of his
household. Noah prepared for a hundred years. That is a long time! I will bet he was glad he did
when it started to rain. If you are in a famine, do not start complaining and talking failure.
Start looking for a pot to set out. Find a way to prepare for what you are expecting God to
do.

Is there a famine in your life? Do you have any pots in the house? Is there some way that you
can prepare? Somebody might say, “Pastor, God has not spoken to me in the longest time!”
Well, I will tell you what you need to do. When we leave service tonight, you go drive over to
Target or to some local drugstore and get yourself a journal and some notebooks and some
pens so you can write all the great things down that God is going to be saying to you. Get the
pot out. Do something to prepare.

“Oh, my marriage, Pastor. There is just such a famine going on! I have been praying and
praying for my husband to get saved, and he makes fun of me when I go out the door, and he
hassles me, and he will not let me tithe. And oh, Pastor, what do I do?” Tomorrow go to the
Bible bookstore. Buy the nicest leather Bible you can, and have his name embossed in gold on
it. Then you put it in a drawer when you get home. That is your pot. Set it out. He is going to
need that Bible when he is standing next to you in church shouting his lungs out and crying and
thanking God for His mercy.

You can prepare. There is something that we can do. Faith honors God. The word of the Lord
was spoken in that story where… actually, just about full circle… the prophet said, “Tomorrow
about this time, flour is going to be sold for just a few cents.” After the word of the Lord was
spoken, those four lepers got up and did something, and their famine turned into a feast.

I pray tonight that you will not just be a hearer of the word, but you will get up, and you will do
something with it. Let me quote some verses to you. You can write these down. We won’t turn
there. This is Job, chapter 5, verses 20 and 22. Just listen to it. It says, “In famine He shall
redeem you from death, and in war, from the power of the sword. You shall laugh at
destruction and famine.” That means because God is going to put you in a place, He is going
to redeem you. He is going to save you from it. You will be able to laugh at famine.”

Here is one: Romans 8:35 and 37, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall
tribulation or distress or persecution or famine?” Verse 37, “Yet in all these things we are
more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

If there is a famine, you can ask God, “What was the cause? Why? Is there something I need to
do?” Inquire of the Lord. Secondly, you can make sure you are in the location God wants you to
be. “God, am I where You want me to be?” Number three, you can sow in your famine. There is
something you can give. Number four, you can pray. Find a promise that covers your need, and
pray it. And, number five, you can prepare.

There is one other famine I want to mention in Scripture. It is in the gospel of Luke. It is in the
story of the two sons who came to Daddy, and the younger son said, “Dad, I am out of here. I
want my inheritance.” The father divided to him all of his inheritance. He went out and wasted it.
He partied, wild living, and the Bible says, “A great famine arose in that land.” Suddenly he

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realized his stomach was empty. His father’s hired servants were better off than he was. He
said, “I am going back to my father’s house. Even the servants are better off than I am.”

Well, maybe there has been a spiritual famine in your life. Maybe you are a prodigal son or a
prodigal daughter, and it is time for you to come back to the Father’s house where there is
spiritual richness and where there is abundance and where you can partake of all of the things
that the Father has.

Let us just take a minute to wait on God. Is God saying anything to you? Is there a famine in
your life? God wants to help you.

Copyright © 2007 Answers with Bayless Conley

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