Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”
Romans 1: 17, N.I.V.
“The steps of faith fall on the seeming void but find the rock beneath.”
John Greenleaf Whittier
Today’s Study Text:
“And there came a man from Baalshalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, ‘Give unto the people, that they may eat.’ And his servitor said, ‘What, should I set this before an hundred men?’ He said again, ‘Give the people, that they may eat: for this saith the Lord, they shall eat, and shall leave thereof.’”
II Kings 4: 42, 43 K.J.V.
“The Man from Baal-shalisha –
Faithful in a Faithless Land”
“What if God was only faithful when He felt like it, only dependable part of the time, only loving on special occasions? Thank goodness, He is always faithful to His own nature. The world desperately needs to see that same kind of faithfulness in our lives.”
Lloyd John Ogilvie (1980)
How have I been blessed by God’s faithfulness in my own life?
In what ways have I responded to my Father with gratitude for His faithful behavior towards me?
Am I living a “faithful” life?
“In our darkest times, we must proclaim Jesus as the One who is powerful enough to heal and merciful enough to rescue. But all the time, underneath must be a conviction that even if for some reason we are not relieved of our struggle, our worship will not falter.”
Matt and Beth Redman (2005)
“God did not call us to be successful, but to be faithful.”
As I’ve shared with you before, there are several individuals who are no longer here on earth who I would have loved to have met, personally. Helen Keller comes to mind. So does Dr. Paul Brand, a dedicated physician to lepers. But right at the top of my list is a small, unassuming woman, known by millions as Mother Teresa – an appropriate name for an individual who dedicated her entire life to ministry among India’s orphan children. A precious mother, indeed.
Of all the quotes, passages, and books she wrote, the words above have left a profound impression upon my life, for they address two very interesting topics: success and faithfulness. I contend that it was Mother Teresa’s life that correctly portrays the intersection where these two qualities meet, for they come together at a point I call service.
It was the entertaining, as well as thought-provoking words, penned by author Robert Fulghum in his best-selling book, All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten, which generated a reassessment in my own life of what it means to be truly successful, as well as faithful. Here’s how Fulghum talks about Mother Teresa – and this particular essay was penned when she was still alive (although her works live on and on in the lives of those she continues to inspire!)
“There is a person who has profoundly disturbed my peace of mind for a long time. She doesn’t even know me, but she continually goes around minding my business. We have very little in common. She is an Albanian who grew up in Yugoslavia; she is a nun who lives in poverty in India…She stands at the center of great contradictory notions and strong forces that shape human destiny. She drives me crazy. I get upset every time I hear her name or read her words or see her face…I do not speak her language. Yet the eloquence of her life speaks to me. And I am chastised and blessed at the same time…the power of her faith shames me…while I wrestle with frustration about the importance of the individual, she goes right on changing the world. While I wish for more power and resources, she uses her power and resources to do what she can do at the moment.”
Robert Fulghum, (1986)
If you and I were to take the words “success” and “faithful” and look them up in the dictionary, we would find that they are defined in the following manner:
- Success: Gaining of something desired, planned, or attempted. The gaining of fame or prosperity.
- Faithful: Constant, firm, loyal and steadfast.
In Mother Teresa’s quote, we find the secret to pervasive behavior that is witnessed throughout the Bible, and exhibited by so many of God’s children, especially in times of extreme hardship and difficulty. It is at the intersection I call service where heavenly success and faithfulness cross paths as an individual like the generous man of Baal-shalisha, helps us not only define, but distinguish those qualities that make life worth living. At times in history, when reaching the pinnacle of performance means walking on top of others to get where you want to be, there are those who make a concerted choice to do what is right because it is right. Those who step up to help others even if no one else in their world is doing a thing!
In describing the situation that was prevalent in the land during the time of Elisha, Dale Ralph Davis explains that the so-called “religious elite,” the priests of the northern kingdom, “whether Ahab’s Baal enthusiasts or Jeroboam’s appointed cronies at Bethel, by their infidelity, had excommunicated themselves from the functions and privileges of Yahweh’s priesthood.” This means that those that should have been leading were instead, sitting on their hands. So Davis asks this pointed question: “What then was someone with ‘remnant-faith’ to do? How would an individual whose life was defined by heaven’s faithfulness act?” What we uncover is that being “successful,” by worldly definition, wasn’t as important to the unnamed man from Baal-shalisha as being faithful in a faithless time in history. As Davis sums this experience up, he concludes:
“There will be a remnant of faithful believers in this corrupt and hardened nation. God does preserve a people in the thick and thin of evil society. Who knows where you’ll find them? Maybe in Baal-shalisha.”
Let us never forget, even when Elijah felt he was totally alone, serving God, his Father in heaven reminded His weary servant that there were 7,000 “faithful” ones in Israel. And God knew where every one of His children were, as they faithfully followed Him. The same is true today!
“You are called not to be successful or to meet any of the other counterfeit standards of this world, but to be faithful and to be expended in the cause of serving the risen and returning Christ.”
Charles Colson, (1994)
“He who calls you…is faithful”
1 Thessolonians 5: 24, K.J.V.
“Keep me, O Lord, while I tarry on this earth, in a daily serious seeking after Thee and in a believing affectionate walking with Thee; that when Thou comest, I may be found not hiding my talent, nor yet asleep with my lamp unfurnished, but waiting and longing for my Lord, my glorious God, for ever and ever.”
Richard Baxter (1615-1691)
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. Over the past few weeks, because of the generous outpouring of gifts from God’s “Garden daughters and sons,” we were able to complete our current projects and send 10,000 bookmarks to Papua New Guinea. We also sent 500 bookmarks in the Hindi language to Northern India. Thank you. Now we are undertaking the challenge of sending bookmarks to Russia, Lithuania and Brazil and to several domestic abuse shelters here in the United States.
My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You may also call Transformation Garden at 480-349-8619.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.