Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“For we are laborers together with God; ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”
1 Corinthians 3:9
“There are strange ways of serving God;
You sweep a room or turn a sod,
And suddenly to your surprise,
You hear the whir of seraphim,
And find you’re under God’s own eyes,
And building palaces for Him.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Life in Zarephath” – Part 4
Heaven’s View of Earthy Boundaries or
Remember the Ravens”
“Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them, then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.”
Would someone, by my kindness and gracious love, recognize that I was a follower of Jesus?
As Pastor Warren Wiersbe notes, “Too many Christians think they are prosecuting attorneys or judges, when God has called all of us to be witnesses.” Do I act like a judge or prosecutor or do I share the loving heart of Jesus?
“Men (and women) would sooner believe that the gospel is from heaven, if they saw more such effects of it upon the hearts and lives of those who profess it.”
“Few are the giants of the soul who actually feel that the human race is their family circle.”
Elizabeth Wray Taylor
Meditations for Women
Several months ago, Jim and I spent an evening at dinner with neighbors, who on more than one occasion, have made it clear they have no time for religion and for that matter, Christians. Oops! When we first heard this statement, we wondered what we were to do. But then, without almost taking a breath, the wife smiled and said, “Present company is excluded from what we just said.” And then she continued, “The two of you sure don’t act like the Christians we see on TV all the time, calling everybody names, telling flat-out lies about people they don’t like and treating the poor as if they were lazy dregs of society.” The conversation didn’t stop there, for we began to discuss the life of Jesus, no less. This with people who really had nothing good to say about those who tack the name of “Christian” on their backs as if it was a “warning label.”
Come to find out, after many in-depth conversations, these friends of ours have opened my eyes to some of the “exclusive” attitudes that pervade the lives of Christians (my own included) only to leave the impression with so called “God-less” individuals that their presence on earth is not necessary. As I learned from my neighbor, she thought that nearly all Christians felt that, “if you aren’t like me, I don’t want anything to do with you -- at all!”
What a tragedy that the most inclusive, boundary-breaking person I’ve ever come in contact with in my life is the “One” person I call my Lord, Master and Friend -- Jesus Christ. I absolutely love the way one of my favorite authors, Frederick Buechner expresses the point I’m trying to convey when he stated, “A Christian is one who points at Christ and says, ‘I can’t prove a thing, but there’s something about His eyes and His voice. There’s something about the way He carries His head, His hands, the way He carries His cross -- the way He carries me.’” Tears came to my eyes when I read those last words, “the way He carries me,” for it is the deepest longing of my heart that when someone finds out that I’m a Christian, their first response would be, she carries others she meets like Jesus did. Isn’t that the message that Jesus brought from heaven to earth? Isn’t that the message we should want every person, who is our brother and our sister in need of a healing love that binds their wounds and heals their pain, to receive from us? In 1827, author L.E. Landon observed, “We do too little to feel each others’ pain.” As a Christian, I’ve asked myself, “Why is this? Why do we, way too frequently, inflict more pain, more name-calling, more exclusivity than we ever seek to heal?”
This question is not only an appropriate one to ask, but it is at the heart of the lesson we learn from the life of Elijah. As God’s servant obediently followed his Father’s directive and walked 100 miles from the Brook Cherith to a city on foreign soil, Zarephath, I wonder how he thought he would relate to people in this country. When Israel thought of these “outsiders” as the enemy? Here’s when I began to think “ravens” again -- those unclean birds that God sent to feed Elijah. Just think of the position Elijah found himself in when the first big raven flew in with dinner in his beak. I would have loved to have seen the look on Elijah’s face. I know I would have been shocked speechless.
But Elijah, grateful for God’s provision, didn’t even put up a fuss. He just said, “Thank You, Lord, for taking care of me.” And now, nearly a year later, it was as though Elijah was being introduced to the “unclean” again. He wasn’t told to go to a home within Israel’s borders, but instead to a poor woman’s cottage in the heart of Baal worship. As author Phillip Keller describes the situation in Zarephath, it was a “seaside town on the Mediterranean coast…God was asking Elijah to suddenly step out of the safe obscurity of a desert canyon straight onto the doorstep of his implacable enemy Baal. There Elijah was to live in full view of his most violent opponents, within arrow shot of the central stronghold of the heathen god he hated…at Zarephath Elijah was to be tested and toughened in a deep moral and spiritual dimension.” Much more, than you or I might understand at first. For at Zarephath, Elijah would be called, not to be alone in solitude and total dependence on his God, but to stay in a humble setting with a foreign woman whom he didn’t even know. And in a country that despised the worship of Elijah’s God.
In sending Elijah to the crucible of Zarephath, God sent a message loud and clear: I don’t belong to one person, one church, one nation. Oh, we may mistakenly think we have God all wrapped up in our creed, in our domain. And then along comes a raven followed by a widow in Baaland!
As Raymond Dillard explains in his book, Faith in The Face of Apostasy, “Israel’s God was never meant to be the exclusive possession of Israel. From the moment that God chose Abraham and promised to bless his descendants, his blessing was not for Israel alone, but for a much wider group of people…Israel was to be a witness to the nations…But when Baal worship became the state religion of the northern kingdom and stole the hearts of the nation, Israel could not fulfill this mission…God sent His prophet (Elijah) to a widow from Tyre, and He showed through the person of Elijah how His grace would be spread to the nations. It has always been the command of God to love our enemies.”
So I ask myself, what is the witness I bear to those who don’t agree with me, to those that are called “enemies”? What would happen if our earthly barriers came down and were replaced by God’s heavenly love which embraced the entire world when all of us were in open rebellion. God willingly loved us when there was absolutely nothing good to be seen in us and nothing good to be said for us. Can we do any less for those around us whom God sends us to meet even when they live in Zarephath?
“You never so touch the ocean of God’s love as when you forgive and love your enemies.”
Carrie Ten Boom
Fit best in prisms
Perceptions from different angles
Reflecting the light of truth
and brilliance of color
and of Supreme value
bringing different hues
from scattered penetration
The light from within and without
To block the light
casts a shadow
To choose one lens
limits our vision
While not destroying truth,
will keep us from experiencing
the wholeness of what we and
While not destroying differences
will create an illusion of sameness
While not destroying our spirits
will imprison them
Divorced from diversity
Robbed of richness
Exempt from life’s fullest experience
Shallow souls in search
The power to see yourself and
the “selves” of others
You have the power to
Shape the view
Create the angle
Reflect the light
Transform isms to prisms”
Katherine Tyler Scott
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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