Devotional Week 41 Thursday
“Yet the Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, a prayer to the God of my life.”
Psalm 42: 8
Quiet From God
“Quiet from God! How beautiful to keep
This treasure the All-Merciful hath given!
To feel, when we awake and when we sleep,
This incense round us, like a breath from heaven.
To sojourn in the world, and yet apart;
To dwell with God, and still with man to feel;
To bear about forever in the heart
The gladness which His Spirit doth reveal.
Who shall make trouble then? Not evil minds,
Which like a shadow over Creation lower.
The soul which peace hath thus attuned finds
How strong within doth reign the Calmer’s power.
What shall make trouble? Not slow-wasting pain,
Nor even the threatening, certain stroke of death;
These do but wear away, then break, the chain
Which bound the spirit down to things beneath.”
Sarah J. Williams
Today’s Study Text:
“And the king said to her, ‘What ails you?’ She answered, ‘This woman said to me, ‘Give me your son so we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ So we boiled my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give your son so we may eat him, but she had hidden her son.’ When the king heard the woman’s words, he rent his clothes…Then he said, ‘May God do so to me, and more also, if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day!’ Now Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him. And the king sent a man from before him to behead Elisha.”
II Kings 6: 28-31
“God Will Take Care of You” – Part 4
“How Bad Can It Get?”
“People do not need Satan to recruit them to evil. They are quite capable of recruiting themselves.”
M. Scott Peck
As I look around at the terrible occurrences in the world today, has the thought crossed my mind, “How bad can things get?”
In my own life, what personal commitment have I made to follow God’s path no matter how difficult?
“I never wonder to see men (and women) wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.”
“Coming from a long line of poor choosers can create a strong internal pull to replicate what we’ve seen, heard, and experienced. In the Bible, that’s referred to as ‘the sin of the fathers’ being passed down from generation to generation.”
Several years ago, one of God’s daughters here in Transformation Garden sent me a note which said, “Dorothy, I love studying through the Bible like we are doing here in the Garden. However, sometimes the study text for the day isn’t very encouraging. In fact, it may be troubling. What would you think of having a text to inspire in addition to the text we are working on for that particular day?”
Well, at first glance all I could think about was that this would require more work and with my time already stretched thin, I didn’t get tremendously enthused about the suggestion. Fortunately, the idea came in at the end of the week and over the weekend I prayed about this proposal. And by Monday I really could see the virtue in including not only a “text of encouragement” but also a “thought of encouragement” each day as well.
Today happens to be one of those times when I recognize what a God-given suggestion it was to have words of encouragement come before the study text. This is because the passages today are one of the most tragic in the Bible. Not only are two mothers having a quarrel about eating each other’s children, but to add to this gory tale, the response of the ruler of their country isn’t shock, it’s his own intent to add to the carnage by beheading Elisha, one of God’s most faithful children on earth at that time. It is no wonder that mother’s were resorting to cannibalism when they had a king whose choice of action was to behead an innocent man. And lest we get confused, the people in this scenario were supposed to be the “chosen.” These weren’t the foreign nations, although their behavior was just as bad. These were people whose families were originally under the rulership of King David and then King Solomon.
Tragically, generation after generation, we’ve been witness to the way the offspring of a mighty lineage not only split into two separate kingdoms – Judah and Israel – but they also tossed over their spiritual commitment to God. Without the lives of Elijah and Elisha – prophets sent to call God’s children back to repentance – it is doubtful there would have been much good to be found in the land. With the debauchery that permeated the lives of the people in Israel under the maniacal reign of the wicked team of Ahab and Jezebel, evil ruled the day. Truly, the nation wouldn’t have stood a chance with this devilish pair had it not been for the prophet Elijah who stood up through the power of God and in a momentous manner called God’s children to repentance.
Sadly though, the sins of the fathers and mothers were not only passed on, but became prevalent in the children of this vile couple. And their children’s marriages brought evil worship practices into the nation of Judah, which had at least, on some occasions, attempted to try and obey God.
It is at the occasion of the rise of Jezebel’s son to the throne, when we find that God’s judgment on the wayward nation became apparent for even the king of Israel admitted that God’s word – His prior warnings – had come to pass and been fulfilled as the nation suffered under a siege which resulted in a severe famine in Samaria where mother’s were resorting to eating their own children. It is at this point that I asked myself, “How much worse could things get?” Well, just two verses later, we find that the king himself ordered that Elisha should be immediately beheaded. That’s how much worse things got!
It’s important for you and me living in the 21st century to recognize that the actions of God, as recorded throughout the Old Testament, are not the reflections of a “bully in the sky.” The Apostle Peter makes it clear: “He (God) is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance” (Peter 3: 9, Amplified Bible). In his insightful commentary on II Kings, pastor and author Dale Ralph Davis, writing specifically about the scene of cannibalism in Samaria notes: “Yahweh had said there might be days like this. Hence we face here not only human desperation but divine judgment. In the covenant curses Yahweh had graphically warned Israel with just this disaster should he cling to her infidelity.” Here’s just a few of the warnings God laid out to His children, letting them know that there were consequences to wayward behavior: Leviticus 26: 26-28: “If in spite of all this you will not listen and give heed to Me but walk contrary to Me…You shall eat the flesh of your sons and of your daughters.” If we turn to Deuteronomy 28, we find that it begins with this phenomenal promise: “If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day; the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations” (Deuteronomy 28: 1). What follows are a list of comprehensive “blessings.” And as God promises, “these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God.” We find that when God promised “showers of blessings” He wasn’t exaggerating at all for Deuteronomy 28: 2-14 is a list of fantastic blessings. But then, in verse 15, we find that God warns that if His children “turn aside” to “go after other gods to serve them,” that curses would follow them.
It can become easy for us to think that God’s “curses” are His way of getting back at us when we don’t do what He tells us to do. I’d like to look at this from the vantage point of a loving parent putting up a warning sign on a hot oven that says, “Very hot. Don’t touch. You’ll get burned.” God’s instructions down through the ages are meant to guide us as well as protect us. And when we walk out from under His protective covering, we need to be aware that the evil one, whose entire goal is to destroy what God loves, will be on the prowl looking out for who “he can devour.”
I invite you to return tomorrow for just when things seemed to be getting as bad as possible, we find that God had a rescue plan laid out and at just the right time. He set things into motion to save His faithful children.
I have ended today’s “Inspiration” with a poem by Josiah Holland. I chose this piece of poetry for it points to the fact that it is the daily decisions we make, whether for good or evil, that sets the course for life’s journey. May we daily chose to walk toward our heavenly home as we “mount to its summit round by round.”
“Heaven is not reached at a single bound;
But we build the ladder by which we rise
From the lowly earth to the vaulted skies,
And we mount to its summit round by round.
I count this thing to be grandly true,
That a noble deed is a step toward God,
Lifting the soul from the common sod
To a purer air and broader view.
We rise by things that are beneath our feet;
By what we have mastered of good and gain,
By the pride deposed and the passion slain,
And the vanquished ills that we hourly meet.
We hope, we aspire, we resolve, we trust,
When the morning calls us to life and light;
But our hearts grow weary, and ere the night,
Our lives are trialing the sordid dust.
We hope, we resolve, we aspire, we pray,
And we think that we mount the air on wings
Beyond the recall of sensual things,
While our feet still cling to the heavy clay.
Wings for angels, but feet for man!
We may borrow the wings to find the way;
We may hope, and resolve, and aspire, and pray;
But our feet must rise, or we fall again.
Only in dreams is a ladder thrown
From the weary earth to the sapphire walls,
But the dreams depart, and the vision falls,
And the sleeper wakes on his pillow of stone.
Heaven is not reached at a single bound;
But we build the ladder by which we rise
From the lowly earth to the vaulted skies,
And we mount to its summit round by round.”
Josiah Gilbert Holland
Thy Grace Can Lift Me High
“View me, Lord, a work of Thine;
Shall I then lie drowned in night?
Might Thy grace in me but shine,
I should seem made all of light.
But my soul still surfeits so
On the poisoned baits of sin,
That I strange and ugly grow,
All is dark and foul within.
Cleanse me, Lord, that I may kneel
At Thine altar, pure and white;
They that once Thy mercies feel,
Gaze no more on earth’s delight.
Worldly joys like shadows fade,
When the heavenly light appears;
But the covenants Thou hast made,
Endless, know not days, nor years.
In Thy word, Lord, is my trust,
To Thy mercies fast I fly;
Though I am but clay and dust,
Yet Thy grace can lift me high.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author