STUDY | Spend the week studying 2 Kings 4:1–7. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | Obedience sets the stage for God to do miracles in my life.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
MIRACLES IN THE EVERYDAY
When was the last time you were in a situation that left you with nowhere to turn but to God? Many people could easily point to a past or current experience when they felt this kind of desperation. Whether it’s finances, relational conflict, or personal struggles, we’re well acquainted with feeling desperate for God to intervene and change things.
“Miracles happen every day.” This statement has been tossed around so much that it has become a cliché. But the truth is that miracles do happen every day, but maybe not in the way we might expect. We need to see that miracles aren’t always parting seas or the blind receiving sight. A miracle is what happens when God intervenes to show His sovereign control and care over your life.
God can and does show up in your life in big, miraculous ways. However, sometimes He shows up in smaller—but no less significant—ways to care and provide for you. Whether big or small, He intervenes to do miracles in your life. This week your group will continue looking at the life of Elisha and how God showed up to miraculously care and provide for a widow in desperate need.
Q: When was the last time you were in a desperate situation? How did it make you feel?
Q: How would you explain miracles to someone who is not a believer?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
A GREAT NEED
Our story opens with a widow who is in dire straits. She was the wife of one of Elisha’s servants, likely another prophet. He died, leaving her with a debt she couldn’t pay. With mouths to feed and the creditor calling for payment, she felt helpless. One day when she saw Elisha passing her way, she ran to him and cried out, “Help! My sons are going to be sold as slaves if I don’t pay off my debts. You have to do something!” Her tear-filled shouts touched Elisha. He saw her desperation and her great need.
Read: 2 Kings 4:1–7 and retell the story in your own words.
Q: What does the widow’s response teach you about how to respond to a desperate situation?
Elisha asked the woman, “What do you want me to do? What do you have in your home?” She replied, “Nothing but a jar of oil.” So Elisha told her to borrow jars from her neighbors, take them home, and pour oil into them until they were full. Without hesitation or question, the woman did as she was told. She and her sons got the jars and filled them one-by-one. But something strange happened. No matter how many jars they filled, the oil never ran out. It just kept flowing until the last jar was filled. The woman was able to use the jars of oil to pay off all of her debts.
Q: How did God use Elisha to make this miracle happen?
Q: Recall a time when God intervened in your life to do something. What did you learn about Him through that experience?
Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.
The widow’s story reveals three incredible truths about our heavenly Father: 1) He cares, 2) He provides, and 3) He multiplies.
First, the Father cares for you. This woman cried out to Elisha, but she was really crying out to God. God hears the cries of His people. The Exodus story begins with God telling Moses that He has heard the cries of the Israelites in slavery in Egypt (Exodus 3:7–8). The psalmist tells us that, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17).
Peter tells us to “cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). You can trust the Father and cry out to Him in your need because He cares for you.
Q: How does it change your view of God to know He hears the cries of your heart?
Q: In what ways does knowing God cares for you help you trust Him?
Second, the Father provides for you. God cared for this poor widow and responded to her need. Like the widow, you are also valuable to the Father. Jesus tells us that the Father provides for the needs of His children. Because the Father provides, you don’t have to be anxious or worried about life (Matthew 6:25–34). He is also a good Father who loves to give. Because of this, you can come to Him with your needs and trust that you will never be turned away.
Q: How would you see situations in your life differently if you saw God as a good Father who provides?
Third, the Father multiplies. God often works miracles with what you already have. All the widow had was a jar of oil. And God multiplied it. Jesus fed 5,000 people with just ve loaves of bread and two fish (Luke 9:10–17). God can do so much with what little you have to give. You simply have to offer it to Him.
Notice how the widow’s obedience set the stage for God to do a miracle. She heard Elisha’s instructions and obeyed. If you want to see God multiply blessings in your life, take that next obedient step.
Q: In what area is God calling you to take that next step of obedience?
Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.
TWO KINDS OF DEBT
God intervened in the life of the widow to cancel her financial debt. God has also intervened in our lives to cancel a debt, the debt of sin. Like the widow, we owed a debt we could not pay. In our desperate need, we cried out to God for salvation and He answered. He sent His Son to pay the debt of sin and free us from slavery to sin (Romans 6:6; Colossians 2:14).
We have been freed from the sin debt and are under grace. We cannot pay back God with our obedience. We could never do enough good things to repay God for the price He paid to cancel our sin debt. What we can do is respond to God with thanks and worship for who He is and what He has done for us in Jesus. We can look to Him to multiply grace and blessing in our lives. Like the psalmist, we can say:
What shall I render to the
Lord for all his benefits to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord,
I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
Q: What’s one thing you can do this week to respond with thanks and worship to God?
Spend time specifically thanking the Father for His blessings and care over your life. Then consider the cries of your heart. Where are you desperate? Where do you need the Father’s provision? Where do you want to see Him multiply?
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
- Read Matthew 7:7–10 and reflect on how Jesus challenges us to see God as a good Father.
- Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
The Many Uses of Oil
Oil was a valuable commodity in the Ancient Near East. Oil was a sign of God’s blessing (Deut. 11:14). It was also a symbol of honor, abundance, joy and gladness. It was prepared from olives and stored in small pots or jars.
In biblical times, oil was used in a variety of ways. It was used in food preparation instead of animal fat. It was also used to make bread. Oil served as fuel to light lamps in the home and in the tabernacle. It was used in religious ceremonies and in the anointing of kings, priests, and prophets. As medicine, oil was used to treat wounds and served as a cosmetic to protect the skin in the hot, dry desert climate.1
Sold into Slavery
At first it seems cruel that the widow’s sons would be sold into slavery if she couldn’t pay her debt. However, her creditor was acting according to the Mosaic law, which allowed him to enslave the debtor and his children to pay off the debt (Exod. 21:2–4; Lev. 25:39; Neh. 5:5).2
God Cares for Widows
Written within God’s law was a call for the Israelites to be a people who cared for the widow and the fatherless (Deut. 10:18; 24:19). The New Testament reiterates this call as a measure of true and undefiled religion (James 1:27). God’s people are to reflect His care and protection for the poor and helpless.
1. Claude F. Mariottini, “Oil,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1214.
2. Richard D. Patterson and Hermann J. Austel, “1, 2 Kings,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 Samuel–2 Kings (Revised Edition), ed. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 821.