Devotional Week 45 Monday
“Moreover (let us also be full of joy now!) let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and afflictions and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character (of this sort) produces the habit of joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.”
Romans 5: 3,4
“These stones that make the meadow brooklet murmur.
Are the keys on which it plays.
O’er every shelving rock it touches grows firmer.
Resounding notes to raise.
If every path over which footsteps wander,
Were smooth as ocean strand,
There were no theme for gratitude and wonder
At God’s delivering hand.”
W. E. Winks
“My Father, if rain may come to-day, may I realize its help, with the power of the sun, to increase life; and may its influence be sweet and wholesome to me, as I learn that sadness is temporary and will disappear with the coming gladness. May I go search for the joy that may be mine today. Amen.”
Margaret Bird Steinmetz
Today’s Study Text:
“Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, ‘Arise and go with your household and sojourn wherever you can, for the Lord has called for a famine, and moreover, it will come upon the land for seven years.”
II Kings 8: 1
“God Will Take Care of You” Part 21
“A Kindness Remembered”
“Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.”
How have I seen an act of kindness change a situation for the better?
In what ways can I reflect heavenly kindness to those I meet each day?
“That best portion of a good (person’s) life, (their) little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.”
“Great people are able to do great kindnesses.”
From II Kings 4, we traverse over to II Kings 8 where we find our dear friend, the great woman of Shunem, appears again, quite significantly I might add. While studying the life of this amazing woman, I found that many Biblical scholars believe that the story of this woman should be, in some ways, turned into a continuous narrative with the activities of her life, which we read about in II Kings 8, happening in conjunction with the earlier activities of her life.
Whether or not this is the case, what we read about in II Kings 8 is tremendously inspiring for we learn that the phrase, “God Will Take Care of You,” isn’t just a group of meaningless words. Quite the opposite. The fact is that during our studies this week, we will witness exactly how God does take care of us – and in the most intricate and critical areas of our lives.
Our study text, II Kings 8: 1, does not tell us where this particular verbal exchange took place between the lady of Shunem and Elisha. Possibly Elisha came to her home to stay in the private room the lady had created for him. And maybe, in a conversation, they began to talk about God’s heartbreak over the condition of the people of Israel and Judah. There was such a falling away from the worship of God. And I’m certain it did the prophet of God great good when he could take repose in the home of a godly family who were faithful through the years to God’s commands.
Sometime during their conversation, Elisha told the woman of Shunem that she should, “Leave here and go, you and your family, and live someplace else” (II Kings 8: 1, The Message Bible). I want to take a look at the first part of this conversation for there’s a wealth of knowledge we can gain from these few words.
First of all, I believe that the fact that the lady of Shunem was informed ahead of time was not because she was some special person who God singled out to get preferential treatment. Instead, this was a lady whose gracious kindness in providing for Elisha actually opened her home and her life for God’s blessings when they were poured out. Let me explain in this way. If I want to be blessed by God’s Word and find daily refreshment in His presence, then what I need to do is put myself in a position where God’s Word can enter my heart every day. If I never study the Bible or spend time in private communion with my Father, how can I expect to hear His voice or feel His guiding hand? Because the woman of Shunem opened her life and home to Elisha, she put herself in the place of receiving the blessings heaven was so desirous of pouring out, not only on her but on all God’s children.
Second, we also need to recognize that not only was the woman of Shunem the beneficiary of heavens anointing, but also we find that Elisha told the woman that, “You and your family are to live somewhere else.” The provision of grace wasn’t something that was limited just to the great woman. Indeed, her whole family fell within the tent of heavenly mercy. They too would be spared the blight of a seven-year famine because of the kindness and worship of God lived out in the life of this woman.
It’s here that I had to stop for a minute and turn back in Scripture to Joshua 2 where we find some very interesting similarities for there was a daughter of God, Rahab, who with a loving heart and kind demeanor, opened her home, at the risk of her own life, to two spies who were sent by Joshua to scout out the city of Jericho. As she conveyed to the spies, “For the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Joshua 2: 11, N.I.V.). Then she continued, “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family because I have shown kindness to you” (Joshua 2: 12, N.I.V.).
In both the case of the lady of Shunem and Rahab of Jericho, these daughters of God believed in the power and rulership of the God of heaven and earth. Not only did they believe in God, they were kind to His servants – whether prophet or spy. What’s more, they didn’t just give God’s messengers a small meal and send them on their way. Instead, they made a place in their homes, their own dwellings, for God’s envoys and because they were filled with gracious kindness, which they extended to others, in the end both these women not only found preservation for their own lives but their families as well.
I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to point out the fact that as daughters and sons of God, if during spiritually dark times, within our own homes we make a heavenly commitment to stand for the right though the heavens fall, we too, by remaining faithful will recognize the showers of heaven not only filling our lives, but also infusing the lives of our families.
You may be saying, “Dorothy, I haven’t seen the results of my commitment to God affecting the lives of my family.” I have fantastic news for you and it is this – “Don’t give up! God has promised that He will raise a banner high and He will contend with those who contend with us and your children I will save” (Isaiah 49: 25). Those are not my words – that is a promise of the God of heaven and earth who Rahab trusted not only for her life but also the life of her family. It is the same God who the great woman of Shunem held onto during the joy of the expectant birth of her miracle child as well as in the darkness of his early death. Both these women’s kindness was returned to them with their own safety and that of their family – not because they were special, but because they were kind.
As we bear eye-witness to the terror and violence which permeates our world today, we may find ourselves perplexed by the challenge of opening our lives and even sometimes our homes to combat the evil we face around us. As the thought of how to be a gracious and kind person infused my find, I came upon a small piece written almost 100 years ago by the famous missionary to Africa, Dr. Albert Schweitzer. Frankly, as I read this excerpt from his book, Memoirs of Childhood and Youth, I thought this passage could have been written this very day for it is so applicable to the task we face today as we try to be kind and loving reflectors of our Father’s grace. Here’s how Dr. Schweitzer calls us into action:
“At the present time when violence, dominates the world more cruelly than it ever has before, I still remain convinced that truth, love, peaceableness, meekness, and kindness are the violence which can master all other violence…All ordinary violence produces its own limitations, for it calls forth an answering violence which sooner or later becomes its equal or its superior. But kindness works simply and perseveringly, it produces no strained relations which prejudice its working; strained relations which already exist it relaxes. Mistrust and misunderstanding it puts to flight, and it strengthens itself by calling forth unswerving kindness. Hence (kindness) is the furthest-reaching and the most effective of all forces. All kindness which a person puts out into the world works on the heart and thoughts of humankind, but we are so foolishly indifferent that we are never in earnest in the matter of kindness. We want to topple a great load over, and yet will not avail ourselves of a lever which would multiply our power a hundredfold.”
All I can say is, ‘WOW!” would you like to multiply – by a hundredfold – the effectiveness of your touch on the lives of those within your sphere of influence. Then why not “Try a little Kindness.” As the words written by Bobby Austin and Curt Sapaugh, in a thought-provoking country song recorded by fan favorite Glen Campbell say:
“If you see your brother standing by the road
With a heavy load from the seeds he’s sowed
And if you see your sister falling by the way
Just stop and say, ‘You’re going the wrong way.’
Don’t walk around the down and out
Lend a helping hand instead of doubt
And the kindness that you show every day
Will help someone along the way.”
The poet and author William Penn wrote what I call a “life-template,” a pattern for a life that projects kindness on all they come in contact with: “If there is any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not deter or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”
In the words of the Apostle Paul to his fellow Christians at the church in Colossians:
“Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives who are) purified and holy and well-beloved by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves gentle ways, and patience which is tireless and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper.”
Colossians 3: 12
“Anoint the wounds of my spirit with the balm of forgiveness.
Pour the oil of Your calm upon the waters of my heart.
Take the squeal of frustration from the wheels of my passion
that the power of Your tenderness may smooth the way I love.
That the tedium of giving in the risk of surrender and the reaching
out naked to a world may be kindled fresh daily in a blaze of compassion
That the grain may fall gladly to burst to the ground and the harvest abound.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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