Elisha is the one true God’s representative. In a nation divided and filled with the worship of false gods, the call on Elisha is not just to bring messages for God but to reveal who God is through his everyday life, actions and interactions.
In this chapter we see God revealed in numerous ways through a collection of short stories which all put on display God’s nature as the one who sees, a personal God, involved in the intricate details of people’s lives, who is not indifferent to the cries and the pain that individual people endure. These stories reveal God as the one who is able to miraculously suspend or overturn the normal with His supernatural inbreakings of power at any time on people’s behalf.
Short story 1: Debt (2 Kings 4:1-7)
A poor widow in crisis is struggling with mounting debts and the ongoing challenge of providing for her two children as a single woman has the debt collectors at her door threatening to take away her children as slaves as payment for her debt! Crisis. She asks God by asking Elisha and God provides miraculously an abundance of olive oil which she sells and pays off all her debt and as able to live off the rest. God is the miracle working, prayer answering, need-seeing God who intervenes in remarkable ways for poor or rich people.
Short story 2: Deep Longings & Despair (2 Kings 4:8-39)
A wealthy woman is hospitable and honouring of God’s servant, she was rich but used her wealth to bless Elisha & Gehazi not to gain anything (vs13-14). Elisha discerns the true longing in her heart, one she is not even willing to express for fear of her longing being dashed again, and so promises her a child. She is so shocked she can’t receive this good news (vs16) but she does conceive and a son is given to her. Many years later the child falls suddenly ill and dies will in the fields with his father. She rushes straight to Elisha in deep despair, she would have rather not had a son than have one and then loose one like this! Elisha goes with her, and raises the son from the dead and gives him back to her alive. God knows the deepest longings in our hearts, even the ones we dare not speak of for fear of being hurt or disappointed again or opening up the wound… God is able to bring back to life people, marriages, finances – God is good and is so whether you are rich or poor.
Short story 3: Deadly Stew & Multiplication (2 Kings 4:38-44)
There is a famine in the land, Elisha is hosting around 100 of the prophets. He wants to cook for them, but Gehazi is a bad cook or one of the prophets is injudicious in his produce selection and the stew being cooked is bad, so bad it is like death warmed up. They complain. Elisha miraculously cures the pot with a little flour and the food becomes edible to them all. While they are all there, a man brings to Elisha some of his first fruits offering to supply food for Elisha. Elisha tells Gehazi to set it before the men to eat (but there is not enough – vs43). Elisha tells him to proceed and they all ate and yet there was excess and they had food to spare. God is hospitable, able to throw feasts of abundance in the midst of a famine, able to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).
Our God heals, answers long-lost longings, provides financially and materially. This all makes me think of the song we sung on Sunday;
You’re my author, my maker
My ransom, my Saviour
My refuge, my hiding place
You’re my helper, my healer
My blessed redeemer
My answer, my saving grace
You’re my hope, in the shadows
My strength, in the battle
My anchor, for all my days
And You stand, by my side
And You stood, in my place
Jesus, no other name
No, only Jesus, no other name…
So, cry out to him now! Tell your Father in Heaven your deepest longings, know that He is good and when you can’t join all the dots of your confusing life, He can and He does and so having asked Him trust Him.
(vs1) Whole hearted thanks, gratitude expressed is the bone and marrow of the Christian life! David declares that he will give thanks to God with his whole heart. Gratitude expressed is a heart matter and a head matter in that it requires a decision of the will to express what one is grateful for.
(vs2) Gratitude is founded on remembering, recounting what has happened, recounting what God has done for you and for His people. Again, David declares that he will recount, he decides to remember and as he does, recounting leads to feeling grateful and expressing it to God in prayer and in songs of thanks!
(vs3-9) David recounts God’s interventions for His people.
(vs10) When God is thanked, God is honoured, we get perspective and our faith for the future is fortified. In this verse David declares that those who know God put their trust in Him (because He is worthy of trust) and those who have put their trust in Him can testify that God does not forsake those who trust in Him.
(vs11) So it’s appropriate to praise Him with singing, for He alone is King of kings, it’s appropriate to ‘tell among the peoples His deeds’.
(vs13-20) Emboldened by his recounting and his praise, reminded of God’s faithfulness to him and to Israel, David transitions into confidently asking God for some things which is totally appropriate since his thanksgiving has reminded Him that God is worth praying to and bring your requests to.
- Decide to recount what God has done for you, for us as a church. I challenge you to write down no less than 25 things right now that you can thank and praise God for & then take some time to do just that.
- (vs11) Why not decide to tell 1 person at least 1 of those 25 things you’ve just recounted in a way that honours God today, encourages you and them
- Having recounted and thanked God, confidently bring your requests to your Father in Heaven.
Sleeping is a vulnerable necessity. Our bodies need sleep. Sleep is restorative and so essential both in terms of physical and mental wellbeing. And yet sleep is a vulnerable state, one is unaware and unable to protect oneself.
Worry is one of the main enemies of good sleep and so the more one has to worry about the more allusive good sleep is.
People worry about all sorts of things. Some people worry about their salvation, they have believed in Jesus and although Romans 10:9-10 is clear that those who have believed in Jesus ‘will be saved.’ And yet they worry, which just reveals that their trust is focused in the wrong place and on the wrong person.
You and I were not good enough to be saved and we are not good enough to stay saved either! We are saved and justified by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.
Yes, there are a number of hard to understand passages that definitely serve as warnings to us, warning us to ‘remain faithful’ to keep our hearts soft and open to God’s words to us, urging us to persevere to the end…
And yet, we need not worry!
Because if you have put your faith in Jesus, if you have asked Jesus to forgive you of your sin, you are justified (declared righteous) on the basis of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, you are adopted as God’s child, you have the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing your inheritance to come…
In addition to this, you and I who have believed in Jesus have words like these from Jesus Himself;
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29)
I love this! Jesus gives eternal life, we don’t earn it through our good behaviour. We will not perish because Jesus has given us eternal life. No one can ever snatch us from Jesus’ hand because it is Jesus’ hand, the same hand that holds the universe in the span of His hand! More than that, you and I who have believed are God’s gift to Jesus and no one is greater than God and so no one is able to snatch us from God’s mighty hand!
Sleep well my friend if you have believed in Jesus.
Live your whole life as a passionate, grateful, worshipful response to God’s grace (Romans 12:1-2), live a life that is worthy of the calling (the grace) you have received (Ephesians 4:1) but sleep well! Jesus has got you, the Father has got you! Sleep well.
Do you see the hand of your God? In chapter 24, Joshua gathers the nation again and through him God speaks recounting the story of His people’s journey to the present and shot through the whole narrative God keeps pointing to Himself and what He did for His people.
Sixteen times God says; “I….” in only 12 verses of chapter 24! God is taking a highlighter as it were and pointing out a myriad of times and ways that it was God Himself who was acting lovingly, protectively, providing, caring, always faithful to His promises to His people. Joshua points out to God’s people;
- How God called Abraham out of God’s own sovereign free will
- How God gave Abraham a miracle promised son to his barren wife
- How God gave that son a line of sons to fulfill God’s covenant promise to Abraham
- How God provided land for those sons
- How God sent Moses to deliver His people from Egypt
- How God delivered His people by dealing with the super power Egypt
- How God miraculously divided the Red Sea for His people’s deliverance
- How God answered the panicked cry of His people when Egypt pursued them
- How God showed who He really was through His powerful dealings with Egypt
- How God brought His people through the Wilderness protecting & providing for them
- How God gave victory to His people over the Amorites
- How God destroyed their enemies before them, God was their protection
- How God delivered them from the hand of Balaam
- How God took His people into the Promised Land & gave them victory over all people
- How God fought their battles for them in miraculous ways (using hornets one time)
- How God gave His people a land they hadn’t laboured for, cities they didn’t build, farms full of produce they didn’t plant or cultivate…
Do you see the hand of your God in your life?
God is good, all the time, God is good. You might not always see it, understand it, feel it, but it is true. God is at work in your life in a myriad of ways, always has been and always will be. God is faithful, even when we are unfaithful, He cannot be unfaithful, its just not possible, it’s not who He is.
Brother, sister; if you don’t recognise how your life is saturated with the activity of God, then you won’t thank God, and you won’t respond to His love for you with love for Him and worship of Him…
Consider daily, thank God daily for small things worship Him and devote yourself again and again to loving Him & serving Him only in all of life.
God renews the covenant with His people in chapter 24, calls them to respond to His goodness towards them, urging them to love Him only and to forsake anything that would seek to rob them of their faith and love for God.
Joshua warns the people of the sinfulness of the human heart to wander away from God, to be unfaithful, and yet declares that for Him and His household they will serve God (Joshua 24:15).
And Israel served God all the days of Joshua (great leader!) and all the days of the other elders of Israel who served alongside Joshua and outlived him and who knew, who remembered all that God had done for His people. Remembering, recognising God’s hand in our lives is so vital to a life that honours God. So, pause, recognise, remember…
There are two types of tests in life. We will all face them and yet they don’t come with any prior warning or instructions.
They are the test of adversity and the test of prosperity. And both have an inherent default trajectory in terms our relationship with God.
The test of adversity’s trajectory is towards faith in God. Facing adversity, facing circumstances that are clearly beyond our resources our abilities or our understanding tends to lead us towards calling out to God for help, for wisdom and or for breakthrough. And so we see the promise of Romans 8:28 at work in the midst of adversity as we draw nearer to God and as we discover things about God we would never have learnt without these tests. We might not want trials but we do often end up treasuring what is formed in us through them.
The test of prosperity on the other hand has a default trajectory that is away from God. Having the provision we need, having received the things we have prayed for ought to draw us deeper into relationship, faith and gratitude to God (who is the source of those blessings) but from my experience both personally and as a church leader the opposite is in fact often sadly the case.
I wish it were not so but I can confess that my prayer life has often felt more vital and central to my walk with Christ when I am going through adversity.
Just this week I was looking at a group of men from Oasis who meet every week to pray and I started thinking of the guys who were not in the room, guys who had in the past been in the room praying. The pattern was clear, during adversity each one of these men were there regularly but one after another had drifted away from these times of prayer just as God answered prayers for marriages, kids, finances, for businesses, for jobs, for justice in the courtroom…
God knows these two tests and their default trajectories and so he speaks to His people in Deuteronomy 6:10-12 pleading with them warning them not to forget Him in the moment He fulfills the promises He made to them. He warns them of the test of prosperity, the moment after prayers are answered…
“And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, 12 then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
God speaks again through Moses in Deuteronomy 8:11-15 appealing to them.
Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness”
Sadly we know the story, we know that God’s people did exactly what God has implored them not to do when they did enter into their Promised land.
Just this past week my Father answered some prayers I have been calling out to Him for. I know that in this moment there is a test – will I allow these answers to overflow in gratitude and praise, will I allow them to fill me afresh with faith in my Father for other areas of life and ministry where huge questions still persist?
Gratitude to God is an amazing thing when it is expressedby us. It honours God as the source of all blessing in our lives and so simultaneously kills pride and the deceit of self-sufficiency and it fills our heart with love for our Father!
By Gareth Bowley
This week I had an experience that has truly caused me to value each day and then I read Romans 16 and I love how Paul takes the time to write to individuals, men and women that he knows and loves, people he has served Christ with and people who are worthy of honour.
Honouring starts with seeing. I love the Zulu greeting “Sawubona” which translated means “I see you”, the greeting is a recognition of the presence of another person and follows with finding out who they are (if unknown) and how they are doing.
Paul was ‘other-focussed’, as leader he wasn’t so focussed on himself or his task that he missed the people around him. I love it that this is a chapter filled with greetings and honouring of specific people for the specific ways they have served God and co-worked with Paul in the churches and in the gospel mission.
Paul couldn’t just call or sms so he wrote while he still could. He didn’t just allow his gratitude to remain private positive thoughts about the 27 people he names here at the conclusion of his letter to the church in Rome, he made it known to them and to others as he honoured them.
What an example!
I have the privilege of leading a church and am surrounded by incredible men and women who share leadership with me out of a common love for Jesus and commitment to His mission!
Someone said that one of the main roles of a leader is – “to say thank you”. I resolve to make the moments, to take the time to see, to look and recognize all the amazing people who are Oasis Church (not just leaders) and to honour them privately and publicly.
Who will you see and honour today?
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:5-7)
God gives us life! And God gives it to us every day, we don’t self-sustain, can’t self-sustain ourselves – life is a gift of God literally everyday.
I know it’s not the main point behind the verses above but in the last 24hrs the words;
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live…”
Have taken on fresh meaning for me as I know God has kept me from what could easily have been a life threatening condition residing in me and yet seemingly innocuous and unseen.
God grants life to you and to me.
Today I am gladly unwrapping that gift, will you?
Today I am thanking God the Giver of that gift, acknowledging that my Heavenly Father is the source, will you too?
And what does God my Father want me to do with this gift I’ve received again today?
to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May I, may we in Oasis Church live in harmony with one another in such a way that demonstrates our having been given life by and united to and in Christ.
Thinking about it for a moment, hamorny requires diversity! All signing the same note or all playing the same instrument in the same chord is a group of singers or musicians but for it to be harmony what’s required is diversity that joins together to create something greater together than the individual comments can be apart.
And there in lies the wonder of the church of Jesus Christ – a community of faith who have been granted life, who are now living, serving God’s mission with these moments we are given in harmony with one another despite our diversity in such a way that underlines what has happened to us in Christ and in such a way that brings glory to God.
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
In closing this idea Scripture appeals to you and to me, to be welcoming, to receive one another, to accept one another into our lives and homes!
Why? Because that’s what God has done to us, for us in sending us Jesus. God took the initiative to reach out to you and I, Jesus made the first step towards us, Jesus left His comfort zone in order to reach out to you and to me so that He could live, be understood and ultimately die in our place for our sin and rise again victorious for our resssurection and eternal life!
So too today, may we, may I welcome others as I have been shown this heavenly welcome. Today let me, let you use this life gift to harmonize with others in the church and to extend God’s outstretched welcome to all.
The result will be that people will be loved and God will be glorified as He should as He is the source of all of this.