Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.”
Psalm 125: 1, K.J.V.
“Unanswered yet? Faith cannot be unanswered,
Her feet are firmly planted on the Rock,
Amid the wildest storms she stands undaunted,
Nor qudils before the loudest thunder shock,
She knows Omnipotence has heard her prayer,
And cries, ‘It shall be done,’ – sometime, somewhere.”
Miss Ophelia G. Browning
Today’s Study Text:
“Elisha said to her, ‘What shall I do for you? Tell me, what have you of sale value in the house?’ She said, ‘Your handmaid has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.”
II Kings 4: 2, Amplified Bible
“What’s In The Oil?”
“My grace is enough, it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”
II Corinthians 12: 9, The Message Bible
What common element in my life, when touched by God’s hands, might be used as a blessing from heaven?
“God never leaves us without resources. There is always something near upon which we can rely. Under His blessing, whatever little means you may have will prove adequate.”
Leslie Hardinge, Elisha, Man of God
“The severity of the test is exactly determined by the reserves of grace and strength which are lying unrecognized within, but will be sought for and used beneath the severe pressure of pain.”
F. B. Meyer
The Secret of Guidance
I do not like moving. And I know I’m not alone, because I’ve never met anyone in my life who has said, “Moving is my favorite pastime.” While there have been times when I wanted to move from one location to another, it’s the actual process of packing and unpacking that I find tedious.
Part of my distaste for moving comes from the fact that our family moved eight times in sixteen years when I was young. That may not seem like a lot, but it meant we averaged two years per house. Since all of these homes except one was a place we rented, it seemed to me, as a kid at least, that we were never really settled anywhere. On the day the van would arrive, after loading up everything, just before my dad would pull away with the dog, cat, kids and my mom in the car, he would make this statement: “I’m going to just take one quick check again to make certain “nothing’s” left behind.” Inevitably, he’d get back to the car having retrieved “something.” It was usually an item very small and insignificant. But often I remember it was something which belonged to my sister or myself, like a little tiny piece of doll furniture. Something nobody would miss until everything was unpacked at a new location and we got back to the routine of daily living and the dollhouse was up, and then, whatever that small item might be would have importance to someone, especially two little girls.
I share this example with you for it is the way I have found several Biblical scholars talk about the “jar of oil” that a widowed mother said was what she had left – in fact, it was all that could potentially be sold. The Septuagint suggests this little oil jar may have contained a form of “cosmetic” oil. The type of oil which when applied to the skin offered protection from the desert sun. Something like what we would call “sun screen” or “body lotion.” Even if we don’t know exactly what the oil was used for, we do know one thing, there appeared, from the woman’s viewpoint, to be very little of it in the jar.
It is here where I’d like for us to focus on something that I uncovered in studying this story again. Repeatedly, I found Bible students pointing to a correlation between the oil in the little jar and God’s merciful grace. There are several reasons for this comparison and I’d like to explore a couple of them.
Reason #1: Just as the widowed woman thought the oil was only a common item, without much value, way too often we underestimate the value of God’s grace. The Apostle Paul, when writing to the Christians in Rome, reminded them that everyone of us, or as he states: “All are justified and made upright and in right standing with God freely and gratuitously by His grace” (Romans 3: 24, Amplified Bible). There are two words here that get my immediate attention: “freely,” which means “to untangle without obligation” and “gratuitously,” which means “given without a required return or obligation.” While God’s grace is a free gift, let’s never make the mistake of thinking that this heavenly gift came at a “cheap” price. If we read all of Romans 3: 24, we will find that the Apostle Paul explains that while we can’t earn grace, that we are indeed justified by grace which was a gift, “provided in Jesus Christ.” Notice how this free gift came about. Through the redeeming love of Jesus, our Saviour. I like the way The Message Bible explains this last phrase, “Jesus set things right.” I’ll add, that if we want to know the price of grace, we need look no further than a hill called Golgotha and a cross where Jesus hung until He died. As one person observed, “For me, grace is never more amazing than when I’m looking intensely at the cross.” It is Christ’s life and death that makes the free gift of grace so very costly. Grace isn’t a common commodity! It is the most valuable gift you and I have received. In the coming days we will learn that the common oil in a little jar in a widow’s home, became the means of her rescue and that of her sons, too. Just as the life of Jesus became the means of your rescue and mine.
Reason #2: I began to understand reason #2 better after reading the words of F. B. Meyer who spoke about the “reserves of grace.” I’d like us to think for a minute about what that little jar of oil looked like to the widow. The fact is, it didn’t look like much of anything. Insignificant is the word I would use. But let’s check the meaning of the word “reserve” which means, “A supply to save for future use or a special purpose. To set apart for a specific person or use.” As I began to link together the thought of a small jar of oil with the unlimited “reserve” of God’s grace, spoken about by F. B. Meyer, it became an overwhelming concept to me that when what we possess becomes like a small jar of oil, we must look past what our limited vision allows us to see, and instead remember our Father has reserves! Reserves which are waiting to be used for His purpose in our lives.
I love these words penned by Brother Lawrence for they provide me with the visual images of pouring oil and pouring grace.
“Blind as we are, we hinder God, and stop the current of His grace. But when He finds a soul penetrated with a lively faith, He pours into it His grace and favour plentifully.”
The Practice of the Presence of God
“Sufficient grace is not just enough to survive, but enough to have supernatural joy in the midst of anything He allows us to go through.”
James Mac Donald
Strength In Weakness
“Love Divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven, to earth come down,
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling,
All Thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, Thou art all compassion;
Pure, unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.
Come, Almighty to deliver;
Let us all Thy grace receive;
Suddenly return, and never,
Never more Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thou as Thy hosts above,
Pray, and praise Thee, without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.
Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see Thy great salvation,
Perfectly restored in Thee,
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.”
“Glory to Your immeasurable grace! The flood of Your grace silences me.”
Isaac the Great of Syria
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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