Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
“We need have only one care: that we put the first things first – faithfulness to God. Then all else we need for both worlds will be supplied. God will never fail us, but we sometimes forget in our rejoicing over such an assurance…Life is full of sore testings of our willingness to follow the Good Shepherd. We have not the slightest right to claim this assurance unless we have taken Christ as the guide of our life.”
Today’s Study Text:
“So she went from him (Elisha), and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out. And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, ‘Bring me yet a vessel.’ And he said unto her, ‘There is not a vessel more.’ And the oil stayed.”
“Shut, Poured, And It Came To Pass”
“God expects to be believed in what He has revealed, as well as obeyed in what He has commanded.”
If I had been in the widow’s place, would I have obeyed Elisha’s instructions, exactly as they were given?
Has there ever been a time in my life when I felt led by God to follow Him in a specific way but instead chose to do what I decided was more appropriate?
What does the word “obey” mean to me in a practical way?
“The same inspired word that reveals to us the Divine will as the path of obedience, declares also that there is for us the Divine power as the means of obedience. Let us not separate these two things.”
Evan Henry Hopkins
Thoughts On Life and Godliness
“Obedience reflects belief.”
I love these words from Rich Mendola’s sermon, “Joy in the Holy Spirit…in the Desert.” Given in 2009, here’s his advice regarding obedience – “Whatever God shows you to do – obey it quickly.”
This advice is certainly something we can see happened in the home of the widowed mother.
First and foremost, even in a desert of financial despair, she trusted that she could count on God to deliver her. Rather than going to an earthly source for her rescue, she went to God’s servant, Elisha. What a lesson, in the power of an active believing faith. Second, when Elisha began to respond with instructions on how she was to proceed in the face of total financial collapse as well as the potential loss of her children, she didn’t start offering excuses or arguments.
Instead, she chose to “quickly obey.” It appears from the Scripture that these events could potentially have taken place in a span of 24 hours – that’s our God though, for not only does He move in powerful ways, at times, He also moves with rapid speed. Especially when He is working within the bounds of a willing heart. And in the case of the widow, she showed no reluctance in doing exactly as Elisha instructed her to do. She got together with her sons. She told them what duties they had. Then once her entire home was filled with jars, she closed the door – just as Elisha said she should do. And only then, did she begin to pour the meager contents of the little jar she held in her own hand.
Yes, I think we can all agree – this widowed lady chose to obey down to the last detail. She didn’t run and get advice from everyone in town. Instead, she listened to God’s servant Elisha, and then she followed the instructions he gave to her.
I’d like to add something right here. This isn’t a story that only recalls to our minds events from long ago. This isn’t a recollection of times past when God was at work through His prophets and now, He is a silent, uninvolved heavenly throned entity that leaves us to the whims of evil on planet earth. Absolutely not. The lessons from this story apply to you and me today, right now. And one of the important lessons is about what it means to obey.
We can take away from this passage in Scripture how critical it was that the widow obeyed God’s word. To remind you about something we read and studied several years ago about the word “obey,” it isn’t some action performed by puppets of an autocratic God. The Hebrew word “shama,” a word used repeatedly throughout the Old Testament, means to “listen intelligently.” That’s what true obedience is about. It’s listening for God’s voice in all we do and then, because we have heard God, our decisions will be undertaken with heavenly wisdom. We will do what is right for we are empowered with the intelligence of a daughter and son of God.
Just to give you a broader understanding of the word obey, “shama,” in Hebrew it also means, “to carefully consent, to discern, to give ear, to indeed listen and perceive. To take regard and understand.” As I read these descriptive words, I thought to myself, “WOW! Obedience is about listening to God and then responding to Him as the intelligent human being He created me to be.” I don’t know about you but it certainly makes me feel like I have a great deal of worth for my heavenly Father doesn’t want me to be some wishy-washy, unthinking creature that only does what they are ordered to do. Nor does He want me to just go along to get along. Not for a minute. Instead, my Father wants me to listen thoughtfully and then act responsibly. I have to tell you, this makes obedience sound enjoyable. And guess what, obeying God is all about our joy, not just on earth but for eternity.
This is exactly what I believe the widowed mom did. She went to God’s representative, the Godly prophet Elisha. She listened and took in what he said. I also think she most likely took time to consider the end results of other advice Elisha had given. How dry ditches in the desert had filled with water when King Jehoshaphat had chosen to obey Elisha’s instructions. She had most likely also heard about Elijah’s mantle being sent through the sky down to Elisha – and in fact, she may well have seen that very mantle wrapped around Elisha. And now, as she took all this information into her heart and thought with her mind about what God was asking her to do – she willingly and with great attention to detail, followed every instruction.
What’s more, she included her children in this endeavor and here’s another lesson. Those two boys, as they “obeyed” their precious mom’s request and went “outside the wall, even to the highway,” and collected one jar after another, then returned home to place it on the floor of their abode, only to go out again and get another jar until every square inch of their home’s floor was covered, got their own instruction on the result of obedience. With their mom following Elisha’s direction, they watched as their mother closed and bolted the door, then took her nearly empty, little jar and began to pour.
This is what obedience to God, our Father, is all about. Listening for His voice in the alone time when we crave His presence. Thoughtfully considering His words to us. And then, willfully choosing to follow in the way He has laid out before us. This is true obedience. And when we obey, as the great Pastor Charles Stanley so correctly observes, “God assumes full responsibility for our needs.”
“The God of the Bible often pulls us into and catches us up in the process of supplying His people’s needs. He usually, it seems, makes us participants rather than spectators. When Yahweh provides, whether amazingly or routinely, He frequently designs not merely to supply your need but to build your faith and spark your obedience.”
Dale Ralph Davis
II Kings. The Power and The Fury
“O Lord our God,
make our hearts obedient to Your will;
turn our eyes away from vain things,
that, free from the world’s attraction,
they may always look on Your glorious beauty.
For You are our God,
the God of compassion and salvation,
and we glorify You, Father, Son, and
Holy Spirit, now and forevermore.”
Ancient Christian Prayer
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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