Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.”
“Be assured that, if God waits longer than you could wish, it is only to make the blessing doubly precious! Our times are in His hands; He will avenge His elect speedily; He will make haste for our help, and not delay one hour too long.”
Today’s Study Text:
“She (the widow) said, ‘I swear, as surely as your God lives, I don’t have so much as a biscuit. I have a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a bottle; you found me scratching together just enough firewood to make a last meal for my son and me. After we eat it, we’ll die.’”
1 Kings 17: 12
The Message Bible
“God’s Daughters in Disguise”
“God blesses the one who does away with the pointing of the finger.”
R. T. Kendall
Have I ever found myself pointing out the faults of others and not recognizing that I am not perfect, either?
How do I “judge” those who do not meet up to my standard of what I happen to think is spiritually acceptable behavior?
“We do too much watching of our neighbor’s garden, too little weeding in our own.”
William George Jordan
“Be honest in your judgment and do not decide at a glance, superficially and by appearance; but judge fairly and righteously.”
John 7: 24
(Words of Jesus)
The passage of Scripture above is taken from a very revealing, as well as constructive, conversation Jesus had, with his own disciples, and also with everyday individuals who were gathered in Judea to celebrate the Jewish “Feast of Tabernacles.”
Jesus’ brothers wanted Him to leave Galilee and come with them to Judea to observe this feast and also to be part of a “show and tell” that would highlight Jesus’ ministry. But as Jesus told those close to Him, “My time is not come.” Now the reason this discussion took place in the beginning was that there was a great deal of confusion, enhanced by false reports, of what Jesus was about and who He was. Was He the long awaited Messiah? Was He someone sinister, spreading a message of falsehoods and sedition? In John 7: 12 and 13 (Amplified Bible), we are given a clearer insight as to what people were saying about Jesus. Here’s how the Apostle John paints the picture: “There was among the mass of the people much whispered discussion and hot disputing about Him. Some were saying, ‘He is good! He is a good Man!’ Others said, ‘No, He misleads and deceives the people (gives them false ideas)!’ But no one dared speak out boldly about Him for fear of the leaders of the Jews.”
With this backdrop as a reference point, we are given the context from which Jesus spoke the words in John 7: 24 where He instructed His followers, that’s you and me, to stop “judging people by appearances.”
Yet, to be quite blunt, how frequently do we completely ignore this critical advice. As I paused to reflect on Jesus’ counsel, it hit me that a majority of the people who heard about Jesus or heard Him speak when He was on earth, chose to not only disregard His message, but also to disregard Him, personally. Why? Because from outward appearance -- from what they saw, and in fact, from what they heard, Jesus didn’t fit into the box they had created. He didn’t look right. He didn’t live the way they thought He should. He didn’t wear the right clothes. He hadn’t gone to the right schools. He simply didn’t fit their mold. And so what did they do? They flat out rejected Him. All because He didn’t match the picture in their minds of what “their Messiah” should look like and how He should act.
I take time to share this example from Jesus’ life because it is so pertinent to our study of the widow of Zarephath -- a woman who resided in the Baal-worshipping country of Sidon. A woman who, from outward appearance, couldn’t have been farther off the track. There is not one external piece of evidence I find in the Bible, which prior to Elijah’s arrival in Zarephath, would link this dear lady to the eternal God, Creator of heaven and earth.
But this is Dorothy, judging from the outward appearance! And lest we forget, here’s what our heavenly Father has to say about jumping to conclusions based on what may be only an outward illusion: “But God told Samuel, ‘Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature…God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face, God looks at the heart’” (I Samuel 16: 7, The Message Bible).
It is God’s way of viewing us that counts. And this is why, in Joshua 2: 11 (Amplified Bible), we find that when Joshua sent two spies from the camp of Israel to the dwelling of Rahab the harlot, they were in for a big surprise when the Canaanite woman, living in Jericho, informed them, that she knew that “the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” My response, if I had been one of the spies might easily have been: “Who would ever have known! And what is it, Rahab, that you do for a living? What are you called? A harlot!”!
However, God didn’t just read a label that was slapped on Rahab. Nor did He check-out only her face or shape as we humans do. He looked deeper -- right into her heart. What God found was one of His precious daughters who had watched and listened and heard. And now, who publicly stated, “I believe!”
And this brings me to the widow in Zarephath and a part of her story that I almost skipped right over at first. It is a critical piece of information found in our study text in 1 Kings 17: 12. Before admitting to Elijah that she was totally out of food, the widowed mother told Elijah, “Your God is alive. He lives.” She didn’t claim that God was her God, not yet. But she did take a huge leap of faith when she let Elijah know, “Surely…the Lord your God lives.” How very interesting that when Elijah confronted the evil Ahab, Israel’s renegade king who had forsaken God and replaced Him with Baal-worship, that Elijah used an almost identical phrase, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve” (1 Kings 17: 1, Amplified Bible).
No one would doubt Elijah’s commitment to his Father in heaven, but how about the dedication of a resident of Sidon? Was there any hope for this Baal-bowing foreigner? Where was her heart?
Well, as a matter of fact, just like God’s daughter Rahab, who from the outside didn’t appear to be a likely candidate for the lineage of Jesus, we find that during a time of national apostasy, when the spirituality meter on the people of Israel had nearly dropped to zero, outside the borders of their nation, in a land filled with the worship of gods made with human hands, lived a woman, a mother, who had, like Rahab, heard and watched and listened. And then she came to the very distinct conclusion that no matter how bad things looked, no matter what the drought did to demoralize her life, she believed that Israel’s God was alive! All I can say is “WOW!” What faith! What trust! And what a message this widow sends to you and me, especially when we find ourselves judging who fits in God’s mold and who doesn’t. In the words of Virgil Hurley, “The Lord knows those who are His. He will determine the saved and the unsaved, and will never ask any man’s (woman’s) opinion. So let’s not give one.” We can’t read hearts. And somewhere in Jericho or over in Zarephath, or in some other place we’ve written off as “heathen,” there may be one, or two, or hundreds of God’s daughters in disguise, just waiting for your love and mine.
“How rarely we weigh our neighbor in the same balance in which we weigh ourselves.”
Thomas á Kempis
“Your love, Jesus, is an ocean with no shore to bound it. And if I plunge into it, I carry with me all the possessions I have. You know, Lord, what these possessions are -- the souls You have seen fit to link with mine.”
Therese of Lisieux, France
“God of the city, God of the tenement and the houses of the rich, God of the subway and the nightclub, God of the cathedral and the streets, God of the sober and the drunk, the junkie and the stripper, the gambler and the good family man; dear God, help us to see the world and its children through Your eyes, and to love accordingly.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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