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Devotional Week 43 Friday
Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“In the day when I cried Thou answered me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.”
“I pray for strength, O God!
To bear all loads that on my shoulders press
Of Thy directing or Thy chastening rod.
Lost from their growing stress
My spirit sink in utter helplessness.
I pray for strength to run
In duty’s narrowest paths, nor turn aside
In broader ways that glow in pleasure’s sun,
Lest I grow satisfied,
Where Thou, from me, Thy smiling face must hide.
I pray for strength to wait,
Submissive, when I cannot see my way;
Or, if my feet would haste,
Some close-barred gate
Bids my hot zeal delay
Or, to some by-path, turns their steps astray.
I pray for strength to live
To all life’s noble ends, prompt, just and true,
Myself, my service, unto all to give,
And giving yet renew
My store for bounty, all life’s journey through.
I pray, O God, for strength,
When, as life’s love and labors find decrease
Cares, crosses, burdens, to lay down at length,
And so, with joy’s increase,
To die, if not in triumph, - in Thy peace.”
William C. Richards
Today’s Study Text:
“She saddled an ass, and said to her servant, ‘Drive, and go forward; slack not thy riding for me, except I bid thee. So she went and came unto the man of God to Mount Carmel. And it came to pass, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to Gehazi his servant, ‘Behold, yonder is that Shunamite: Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? Is it well with thy husband? Is it well with thy child?’ And she answered, ‘It is well’…And the mother of the child said, ‘As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And he (Elisha) arose, and followed her…Then (Elisha) returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon (the child); the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. And (Elisha) called Gehazi, and said, ‘Call this Shunamite.’ So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, ‘Take up thy son.’ Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, and went out.”
II Kings 4: 24-37
“God Will Take Care of You” Part 15
“Darkness Turned to Light”
“Only in the chaos of darkness can the real power of light shine.”
How can I reflect the light which has been implanted in my life by the dwelling of Jesus within me?
In the darkness of our world, what are some of the positive ways I can impart heavenly light?
“There is a radiance hidden in your heart that the world desperately needs.”
John and Stasi Eldridge
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
Isaiah 9: 2
“In darkness there is no choice. It is light that enables us to see the differences between things; and it is Christ who gives us light.”
Augustus W. Hare
Just imagine for a moment the joy that filled the heart of the woman of Shunem as she carried her son, who had been dead, back to the families’ living quarters, I wonder what their first conversation was like? What were the first words they spoke? While the Bible doesn’t tell us, I can assure you the words were most likely words of affection and love. What was darkness in that home had been turned to light. Death was now life.
I don’t want us to forget this point for later in the life of the Shunemite woman and her son, we will immediately recognize that death and life – darkness and light came to be a lifelong testimony radiating from the lives of the people within this family.
This is why I want to end our week of studies by turning our attention to the power that light has amidst darkness.
I was recently reading about a study done which chose to interview individuals who had formerly attended church but no longer participated in regular services. Some of the reasons individuals gave for discontinuing their attendance were illness, death of a spouse, or the inability to live near a church they liked. But what surprised me was the fact that one of the most frequent reasons people gave was the fact that someone had hurt them – making them feel unwanted and unimportant. And the individual came down to the inevitable conclusion that they didn’t matter to the people at church.
To put an actual experience to these expressed emotions, I’ll never forget someone, many years ago, confiding in me that she felt unwanted in the church she attended because after a church potluck, she had been accused of damaging an expensive knife that someone had brought. And now she was being told she needed to “replace” this item. The problem was that she was working two jobs just trying to make ends meet. And even with this load on her, she could barely make it each month. On the other hand, the person with the knife had more than enough money to replace their marred knife many times over. All this animosity because of a kitchen knife!
You may be wondering, “What in the world does a knife at a potluck have to do with the woman of Shunem. Quite a bit for both stories are examples of how we all, every one of us, spread either light or darkness. We are witnesses to the power of life or the hopelessness of death. Everyday, our witness is one that brings a shining glow or leaves a trail of gloom.
When I was a young girl, I was involved with a group of young people who did a lot of camping up in the mountains above the city where we lived. Often at night, as the darkness settled upon the campground, it was impossible to see where you were going. One particular night, I needed to get up and walk to the “out-house.” Well, silly Dorothy thought she knew the way but in the dark, with a cloudy sky and no moonlight, I got lost and found myself in a panic! That was until one of our camp leaders, out on watch, turned on their flashlight. What a relief for a young girl unable to find her way.
Right now, in our big world, on this globe we call earth, there are a lot of people wandering around in the dark. And guess what, those of us who call ourselves Christians, are the ones with the light. But sometimes we don’t use our flashlights in a very helpful or thoughtful manner. Instead of pointing the light on the pathway, on Jesus Christ who is the Way, we point the light in the eyes of people who are faltering along the way. We blind them with the light of criticism, especially what we think they are doing wrong. Just this week I read an article in a Christian newsletter which pointed out that in the last 20 years, the number of people who don’t identify as regular church attending individuals has not only increased but what’s more, the number who don’t want to be approached by Christians has increased as well. This got me to thinking, what if the only thing you ever heard from a Christian was how “bad” you were, what would your attitude be? Blinding someone with a flashlight not only keeps the “Way” from being seen, but it makes it impossible for your eyes to see well at all. Maybe this is why Jesus used the example of candlelight – a soft, diffuse light which provides beautiful illumination in the darkness. The author James Thurber observed that, “There are two kinds of light – the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.” May we choose, in the darkness of this world, to be an illuminating candle pointing those we meet to “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
“Candle on a living stone,
light to shine me home,
light to show me where to go,
light to help me know
what is right and
what is wrong and
that people all belong one to another
son and daughters on the move
carrying their tents of love
through the darkness,
to the shining of a light
in the deepest night,
light within God’s living stone,
candle set to light me home.
“Give us hearts of flame
To burn against the cold
To burn against the old, the mortal chill
The quenching thrill
Of the fast-flooding tide.
Thou art Fire and Light
Give us hearts of flame!
make us to burn like beacons
in defiance of night
Make us braziers in the cold
streets of the cities,
Makes us lamps in Thy sanctuaries,
Make us candles to the heart.
The world is lost, and is looking
for the Way.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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