Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”
II Corinthians 3: 18
“The expression of Christian character is not good doing, but God-likeness. If the Spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit divine characteristics in your life, not good human characteristics. God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as human life trying to be godly. The secret of a Christian is that the supernatural is made natural in him or her by the grace of God, and the experience of this works out in the practical details of life.”
Today’s Study Text:
“And she (the great woman of Shunem) said unto her husband, ‘Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick; and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.’ And it fell on a day, that he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there.”
II Kings 4: 9-11, K.J.V.
“A God-Centered Life”
“Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”
I Timothy 4: 8, K.J.V.
“A “godly” person is one who ceases to be self-centered in order to become God-centered.”
So You Want To Be Like Christ
What does it mean to have a God-entered life?
“One can know a great deal about godliness without much knowledge of God.”
J. I. Packer
“Godliness is more than Christian character: It is Christian character that springs from a devotion to God. But it is also true that devotion to God always results in godly character.”
The Practice of Godliness
Several weeks ago, my husband Jim had an appointment with our doctor and at the visit, he mentioned that sometimes he felt as if his heart wasn’t beating regularly. After doing a thorough exam, our physician informed Jim that nothing serious was wrong. But he also added that this was a certain condition and that if it happened again, Jim could take an extra tablet of a medication he is already prescribed.
Of course, curious Dorothy, the former nurse, wanted to know, in complete detail, exactly what it was that the doctor thought was causing Jim’s symptoms. And here’s where the discussion got interesting for my dear husband is not, as we call it around our house, “a trained medical person.” In our family, with so many doctors, nurses, and other health professionals as relatives, individuals like my Jim, who aren’t particularly “schooled” in the medical sciences, sometimes find themselves buried within a group of people who Jim has noted, on more than one occasion, appear to be speaking a foreign language. I know when my sister, who is the Nurse Educator in OB/GYN medicine at a large medical institution starts to tell me about some new procedure or medical intervention, Jim will say, “See, you two are talking a language I don’t even understand.”
But let me tell you, when my Jim begins to talk about the art of photography from many years ago to the current time, I feel just as lost for my head is left spinning.
I share these examples as a background to our study today which is entitled: “A God-Centered Life.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard this phrase tossed around in religious circles on more than one occasion. Simply put, call me thick-headed, but for a long time I really didn’t understand what it meant to have a life called: “God-centered.” Maybe you’ve felt the same way about some religious terminology that flows so easily in conversations. And not wanting to look like an uninformed or unspiritual person, you might just smile and nod and say, “Oh, yes!” at the right times but deep inside you may have wondered to yourself, “What really is a God-centered life all about anyway?” I know this is a question I’ve asked myself.
One thing about Transformation Garden is that I firmly believe that as we study God’s Word, the Bible, together, we should use the best example in the world as our Guide – and this is Jesus. What’s more, when Jesus taught on earth, His examples, stories, and teachings were done in such an understandable fashion that even children and young-people, as well as adults, were not put off by His ministry. The only people, ironically, who “didn’t get” Jesus were the high and mighty scribes and Pharisees who thought they were too smart for this lowly peasant teacher.
It is this reality that has guided our study through the Bible. Thankfully, what we have found is that the mighty, life-changing Biblical truths, are most frequently revealed in the simple, everyday lives of God’s children down through time.
Today is no different for our Biblical journey takes us into the home of a “great” woman whose life is a perfect example of what God-centered life is all about.
If we look closely at our study passage for today, there are several very important phrases which open the window on our study regarding living a life centered on our Father’s presence.
As we have already found, the woman in Shunem was identified by the author of II Kings 4 as a “great woman” – honorable, generous, courageous and of strong character. But II Kings 4: 9-11, also adds highlights to the already beautiful picture which this woman’s life portrays.
In II Kings 4: 9, we find that this lady tells her husband, “I perceive that this man (Elisha) is an holy man of God.” The Hebrew word “perceive” as used in this text is “yada,” which means “to know” or “to ascertain by seeing.” There is also one other important word reflected by the use of “yada” and it is “to discern.“ The Apostle Paul, in his letter to his Christian friends in Corinth informed them that, “The natural man (or woman) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto (them): neither can he (or she) know them, because they are spiritually discerned (I Corinthians 4: 14, K.J.V.). Even someone like myself, who doesn’t have a theological degree behind her name, can understand the beautiful, simplicity of the truth the Apostle Paul is conveying to his closest friends in Corinth. Plainly put, Paul is telling the believers that the grandest of spiritual truths is only recognized by those who have heaven’s glasses on their eyes. If the world and all its allurements are all we see, we will be blinded to the things of God.
And so, in order to become spirit-minded or God-like, we must turn our eyes away from the temporal to the permanent. From the fleeting that passes away to the eternal that lasts forever.
Now, let’s take this information and step back into the life of the woman in Shunem. After repeatedly hosting meals for Elisha as he passed through the city where she lived; after generously opening her home in a spirit of hospitality, she said to her husband, “I discern for I have seen with my eyes that Elisha is a holy man of God.” There was no doubt in her mind, for this spiritually in tune woman, was able to recognize the divine reflection radiating from Elisha’s life. Why? Because she too, carried the sacred within her being.
But this isn’t all, for in II Kings 4: 10, this great woman asked her husband if they couldn’t build a special room within their home – “on the wall” – where there would be a place, filled with every thing necessary to meet the needs of Elisha, a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick – a place for sleep, a place for food, a place to rest, and an item for light in the darkness. A thoughtful gesture toward this man of God. The woman told her husband, “when he cometh to us…he shall turn in thither.” And as II Kings 4: 11 notes, when it came time that Elisha entered the city again, “he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there.”
Quite frankly, I had never really been struck by the profound truth of this passage until I began to “discern” the fact that if I want to comprehend, with my limited earthly knowledge, the things of God, like the “great woman” of Shunem, I also need to long for God’s presence and then make a place in my heart where the focus is on time in my Father’s presence. The way this woman of Shunem became a woman of discernment who recognized the Divine was not by trying to put on an outward appearance of generous behavior, instead, as she spent time in the presence of Elisha, inviting him into her families’ home, she witnessed that the spiritual in her was drawn to the spiritual that was shared by Elisha until the day came when a permanent residence was established for Elisha within the wall of the “great lady’s” house.
What a revelation of how the Divine will enter our lives if in the words of R. C. Sproul, we “live in the presence of God, under the authority of God and to the glory of God.”
In the words of the great woman of Shunem, “I discern he is a holy man of God.” What is spiritual will be recognized when we long for and desire God’s presence in our lives more than anything else on earth.
“To be there before You, Lord, that’s all.
To shut the eyes of my body,
To shut the eyes of my soul,
And to be still and silent.
To expose myself to You who are
There to, exposed to me.
To be there before You,
The Eternal Presence.”
“Come into my heart, O Lord Jesus,
Come into my heart, I pray;
My soul is so troubled and weary,
Come into my heart, today.
Into my heart, into my heart,
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus;
Come in today, come in to stay,
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.”
Harry Dudley Clarke
“O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.”
Emily E. S. Eliott
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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