Devotional Week 41 Tuesday
“Whither shall I go from Thy spirit?
Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?
If I ascend into heaven, Thou art there;
if I descend into Sheol, behold, Thou
art there also. If I lift up my wings like
those of an eagle, and dwell in the
uttermost parts of the sea, even there
also shall Thy hand lead me,
and Thy right hand shall hold me.”
Psalm 139: 7 -10
Holy Bible from
Ancient Eastern Manuscripts
“Oh, what joy it brings to me to think that I am not a lonely wanderer trying to find my way, but that the vague and inexplicable yearnings which I have, and which I am following, are the drawing-strings thrown out to lead me by One who knows just what my necessities are, and who stands ready to relieve them all.”
Henry Ward Beecher
Today’s Study Text:
“Elisha said to the Syrians, ‘This is not the way or the city. Follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.’ And he (Elisha) led them to Samaria. And when they (the Syrians) had come into Samaria, Elisha said, ‘Lord, open the eyes of these men that they may see.’ And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw. Behold, they were in the midst of Samaria! When the King of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, ‘My father, shall I slay them? Shall I slay them?’ Elisha answered, ‘You shall not slay them. Would you slay those you have taken captive with your sword and bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and return to their master.’ So the king prepared great provision for them, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel.”
II Kings 6: 19-23
“God Will Take Care of You” – Part 2
“If you ask yourself what were the characteristics of the mind of Jesus, there are two in particular that it seems to me are quite crucial. The first is that it was a mind that was massively concerned with specifics…Jesus was a man with a burning obsession…it was a burning obsession with the kingly rule of God – not as an academic thesis, but as promise and as presence…the other characteristic of the mind of Jesus…is the fact that He had a ‘crucified rather than a crusading mind’…The ‘crucified mind’…is a mind that is conscious of the mystery of the other person…that recognizes the authenticity of their inner suffering, and is very careful about making judgments…it is this kind of mind that characterizes the Christian encounter with others.”
What do I think my response would have been if I was Elisha and I knew I had the enemy trapped?
How have I reacted to those who have hurt me deeply in my life?
“Bless your enemies, no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy, share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. Don’t hit back, discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even, that’s not for you to do. ‘I’ll do the judging,’ says God. ‘I’ll take care of it.’ Our Scripture tells us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get (her) a drink. Your generosity will surprise (them) with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.”
Romans 12: 17-21
The Message Bible
“Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless – that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.”
I Peter 3: 8, 9
The Message Bible
I love the words penned above – a passage from I Peter 3. A portion of Scripture penned by none other than Jesus’ dear friend – the disciple Peter. The outrageous, energetic and brash Peter. The one who grabbed a sword in the Garden of Gethsemane so he could single-handedly take on the mob that came to capture his Lord.
It is in the words above where we find a side of Peter, soothed by the vial of love poured into his being on a daily basis by the Master he walked with for 3 ½ years. It is quite interesting to note that Peter, who on the night of Jesus’ trial was standing around a fire “cursing” that he didn’t even know who Jesus was, is now, years later, in a most kindly manner, this “changed” Peter is writing to the Christian followers, asking them without exception, to be agreeable and humble to everyone. He goes on further to invite Jesus’ followers not only at that time, but down through history, to “be sympathetic, loving, and compassionate.” Then in words that resonate from Jesus own lips, when on the cross He forgave those whose evil hearts produced vile deeds, the Apostle Peter calls for those who follow Jesus to never retaliate or take revenge but to instead be a radiant light of blessing that shines with vibrancy on all who come in contact with the illumination.
It is with the reminder of how Jesus’ treated those who were His enemies that we look through our magnifying glass at the experience found in our study text today, II Kings 6: 19-23. Augustine of Hippo correctly pointed out that, “Ye will have enemies, for who can live on this earth without them?” But then he continues with this instruction: “Take heed to yourselves: love them. In no way can thy enemy so hurt thee by his violence, as thou dost hurt thyself if thou love (her or him) not.”
This is exactly the scenario we see played out when a band of Syrian soldiers, with the order of their king, came to Dothan to capture God’s servant, Elisha. These renegades had no idea what they were up against for the mighty army of God had formed a protective wall surrounding Elisha. And while the prophet asked that God open the eyes of his servant so he could witness the incredible care of heaven firsthand, Elisha’s request for his heavenly Father’s care was focused in a slightly different direction toward the Syrians. Elisha asked that God would “blind” the eyes of the enemy and after seeing his prayer answered, Elisha led the troops right into the heart of the city of Samaria.
Now here is where things get even more interesting for the King of Israel asked Elisha if the next item on the menu wasn’t “revenge.” Without hesitation, Elisha emphatically said, “Absolutely not!” Instead, Elisha told Israel’s king to lay out bread and water for the troops so they could eat and then return them to their master.
Interesting way to deal with the enemy, wouldn’t you say? Now I’m not some “war” advisor nor am I offering solutions to all the hostilities that happen to blanket our world today. But I couldn’t help but wonder if you and I, beginning in our own homes, in our own families, within our own neighborhoods, at our local church, even at the jobs we have – if we took the admonition of Elisha, of Paul, of Peter, and especially Jesus who left us with these words: “If you’re listening, here’s My message: ‘Keep loving your enemies no matter what they do. Keep doing good to those who hate you. Keep speaking blessings on those who curse you. Keep praying for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, offer the other cheek too. If someone steals your coat, offer him your shirt too. If someone begs from you, give to him. If someone robs you of your valuables, don’t demand them back. Think of the kindness you wish others would show you; do the same for them” (Luke 6: 27-31, The Voice Bible).
These are indeed strong words. And you can call me naïve if you wish. However, in my mind I have this vision of circles – I’m in my circle and you are in yours. And if within the circle of people I touch, I choose to live the words of Jesus and you do the same within the circle you inhabit, couldn’t it just be possible that the time could come when circles begin to overlap and soon there are areas where loving compassion and understanding kindness are the pattern of living not the exception.
What would be the results of such expanding circles of loving kindness? Well, in the book of II Kings we find these words: “Israel’s king had the table set and offered the Arameans a great feast. After they ate and drank, Israel’s king told them to leave. They returned to their own master, and the Arameans stopped sending raiding parties into Israel” (II Kings 6: 23, The Voice Bible). As Thomas á Kempis so compassionately said, “In Jesus and for Him, enemies and friends alike are to be loved.”
My Daily Creed
“Let me be a little kinder,
Let me be a little blinder
To the faults of those around me;
Let me praise a little more;
Let me be, when I am weary,
Just a little bit more cheery;
Let me serve a little better
Those that I am striving for.
Let me be a little braver
When temptation bids me waver;
Let me strive a little harder
To be all that I should be;
Let me be a little meeker
With the brother that is weaker;
Let me think more of my neighbor
And a little less of me.”
The Understanding Heart
“Give me, O God, the understanding heart –
The quick discernment of the soul to see
Another’s inner wish, the hidden part
Of (one) who, wordless, speaks for sympathy.
I would be kind, but kindness is not all;
In arid places may I find the wells,
The deeps within my neighbor’s soul that call
To me, and lead me where (their) spirit dwells
When Jesus lifted Mary Magdalene
And Mary came with alabaster flask,
A deed was wrought – but more;
that there was seen the bond of holy love
for which I ask.
Give me, O God, the understanding heart,
Lit with the quickening flame Thou dost impart.”
“I sought my soul,
But my soul I could not see.
I sought my God,
But my God eluded me.
I sought my brother,
And I found all three.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author