Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“This poor man (woman) cried, and the Lord heard him (her) and saved him (her) out of all his (her) troubles.”
Beyond Our Asking
“More than years can imagine
or minds comprehend,
God’s bountiful gifts
are ours without end –
We ask for a cupful
when the vast sea is ours,
We pick a small rosebud
from a garden of flowers.
We reach for a sunbeam
but the sun still abides,
We draw one short breath
but there’s air on all sides.
Whatever we ask for
falls short of God’s giving.”
Helen Steiner Rice
Today’s Study Text:
“And when they came again to him (Elisha), he said (for he tarried at Jericho), he (Elisha) said unto them, ‘Did I not say unto you, go not?’ And the men of the city said unto Elisha, ’Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren.’ And he (Elisha) said, ‘Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein.’ And they brought it to him (Elisha).”
“A New Cruse” Part 1
“Look in compassion, O heavenly Father, upon this troubled and divided world. Though we cannot trace Your footsteps or understand Your working, give us grace to trust You with an undoubting faith.”
Is my faith right now a little thread bare and worn?
Are there days when I find myself struggling to take God at His word?
“I am one of those who would rather sink with faith than swim without it.”
“Fear imprisons, faith liberates; fear paralyzes, faith empowers; fear disheartens, faith encourages; fear sickens, faith heals; fear makes useless, faith makes serviceable – and, most of all, fear puts hopelessness at the heart of life, while faith rejoices in its God.”
Henry Emerson Fosdick
There are times I find myself overwhelmed with joy by the encouragement found in God’s Word – the Bible. Today is one of those days and it is because of the particular passage of Scripture we are studying in II Kings 2, of all places. If someone had asked me to give them a text from Scripture that would lift them up and help them hang on, I can think of several passages in the Psalms or Jeremiah and Isaiah, as well as the words of Jesus in the New Testament. But quite frankly, II Kings wouldn’t be at the top of my list. Yet, today I find myself refreshed and renewed by the stories found in II Kings, Chapter 2.
At the beginning of II Kings, we are treated to the story of Elijah and Elisha’s last journey together. This walk took them on a “good-bye tour” of the Schools of the Prophets and then across the Jordan River to an unknown site where heaven and earth came close together as a heavenly chariot carried Elijah to his eternal home.
When we began this study, Elisha was on his way back to Jericho. But this time he was all alone, a point that wasn’t missed by the sons of the prophets who bore witness to the fact that when Elisha encountered the “river-block” of the Jordan, he used the same mantle previously worn by Elijah and he struck the water and a path was made before him to cross, what appeared to be, an impediment in his way.
As we learned, the men of Jericho were so impressed with this exhibition that they bowed before Elisha. It’s here that we need to ask ourselves this question, “Were the men impressed by the outward appearance of a miracle-inducing prophet or were they moved to bow because they honored the faith in God that infused Elisha’s life?” This is an important question, not only in reference to this experience but to our own lives as well. For as we find in II kings 2: 16, these very same individuals, who had been blessed with the ministry of both Elijah and Elisha, had no sooner seen Elisha part the waters with Elijah’s mantle, than they began to doubt Elisha’s word. It seems impossible to believe but they didn’t believe it when Elisha told them Elijah had been taken to heaven. In fact, their doubts were so great, they decided to form a search party to go out and look for Elijah. Even though Elisha said, “Ye shall not send,” they ignored his advice until the Bible records that, “They urged (Elisha) till he was ashamed,” or as The Message Bible so descriptively states: “But they pestered him until he caved in.” After so much nagging, Elisha finally said, “Go ahead with your little search-and-rescue expedition.” However, after three days – they found nothing. And they came back to Elisha and here’s one time when I certainly don’t blame Elisha for saying: “I told you so.”
This is the point when things get really interesting. Because in II Kings 2: 19, these same men revealed to Elisha a severe problem they faced – and it appears things had been in bad shape for a long time. It seems the cursed city of Jericho had a major problem with its water system. As the men told Elisha, “The city is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive” (II Kings 2: 19, N.I.V.).
As I read these words, I thought about some times in my own life when I was “situated” fine but found my life “unproductive.” My faith was shaky and doubts were creeping in under the edges. Life can get like this when we face challenge after challenge. You may know exactly what I’m talking about. Your business is struggling in a tough economy and then your husband gets sick or your mom is ill or your child is in trouble, and boy, it gets hard to believe, especially in the face of trials and turmoils.
And yes, you may have been a witness to God’s working in your life before but this time things seem different. The hurtle is too high. The bills are too many. The cancer has spread too far. And even though God has parted the Jordan before you in the past, unbelief kicks in and you think, “How could God have really taken a man to heaven? That’s too big a miracle for me to believe.” So you and I trot off on an excursion to find our Elijah and all the time God’s whispering in our ear, “But I really am big enough to take care of what you are facing. You know, My resources aren’t limited by your small thinking, I’m bigger than you think.” As one of my all time favorite poets, Annie Johnson Flint wrote:
“When we have exhausted our store of endurance.
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.”
If today you find yourself in Jericho, well-situated, yet without the essential water to dry your thirsty lips or refresh your parched soul and your life feels unproductive as scorched land, God has a miracle on His way for you and for me. We just have to believe that He is bigger than our small dreams!
I invite you back tomorrow for we will find out just how big our heavenly Father really is! And He’s got a way for us to handle all the blessings He wants to send us to meet our every need.
“Strong Son of God, Immortal love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;
We have but faith; we cannot know
For knowledge is of things we see;
And yet we trust it come from Thee
A beam in darkness; let it grow.”
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
“Without some glimmering in my heart,
I could not raise this fervent prayer;
But, oh! A stronger light impart,
And in Thy mercy fix it there.
While faith is with me, I am blest;
It turns my darkest night to day;
But while I clasp it to my breast,
I often feel it slide away.
Then, cold and dark, my spirit sinks,
To see my light of life depart;
And every fiend of Hell, methinks,
Enjoys the anguish of my heart.
What shall I do, if all my love,
My hopes, my toil, are cast away,
And if there be no God above,
To hear and bless me when I pray?
If this be vain delusion all,
If death be an eternal sleep,
And none can hear my secret call,
Or see the silent tears I weep!”
Oh, help me, God! For Thou alone
Canst my distracted soul relieve;
Forsake it not, it is Thine own,
Thou weak, yet longing to believe.
Oh, drive these cruel doubts away;
And make me know that Thou art God!
A faith that shines by night and day,
Will lighten every earthly load.
If I believe that Jesus died,
And waking, rose to reign above;
Then surely Sorrow, Sin, and Pride
Must yield to peace, and Hope, and Love;
And all the blessed words He said
Will strength and holy joy impart:
A shield of safety o’er my head,
A spring of comfort in my heart.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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