Devotional Week 43 Tuesday
“I will seek that which was lost and bring back that which has strayed, and I will bandage the hurt and the crippled and will strengthen the weak and the sick.”
Ezekiel 34: 16
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Luke 19: 10
“It is not much
To give a gentle word or kindly touch
To one gone down
Beneath the world’s cold frown.
And yet who knows
How great a thing from such a little grows
Some sister or brother upward climbs
And hope again
Uplifts its head, that in the dust had lain,
Gives place to morning’s light.”
E. H. Divall
Today’s Study Text:
“One day Elisha passed through Shunem. A leading lady of the town talked him into stopping for a meal. And then it became his custom. Whenever he passed through, he stopped for a meal. ‘I’m certain’ said the woman to her husband, ‘that this man who stops by with us all the time is a holy man of God. Why don’t we add on a small room upstairs and furnish it with a bed and desk, chair and lamp, so that when he comes by he can stay with us?’ And so it happened that the next time Elisha came by he went to the room and lay down for a nap. Then (Elisha) said to his servant Gehazi, ‘Tell the Shunammite woman I want to see her,’ He called her and she came to him. Through Gehazi, Elisha said, ‘You’ve gone far beyond the call of duty in taking care of us; what can we do for you? Do you have a request we can bring to the king or to the commander of the army?’ She replied, ‘Nothing, I’m secure and satisfied in my family.’ Elisha conferred with Gehazi. ‘There’s got to be something we can do for her. But what?’ Gehazi said, ‘Well, she has no son, and her husband is an old man.’ ‘Call her in,’ said Elisha. He (Gehazi) called her and she stood at the open door. Elisha said to her, ‘This time next year you’re going to be nursing an infant son’...A year later, just as Elisha had said, she had a son.”
II Kings 4: 8-17
“God Will Take Care of You” Part 12
“A Reflection of Our compassionate Father in Heaven”
“What are we made for, if not to bear each other’s burdens?”
What was the insight present in the great lady of Shunem that made it possible for her to open her heart in generous care for the prophet Elisha?
How do I “perceive” those around me who may need me to be compassionate to them?
“One of the most powerful ways to gain entrance into someone’s heart is to serve them.”
“God’s compassion is a compassion that reveals itself in servanthood.”
Donald McNeil, DouglasMorrison,
It is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. It’s about the “Great Woman of Shunem.” Not only is this story a template for all of us who are women but also for men as well.
As we have studied about Elisha in the past, we undertook a brief encounter with this generous –hearted woman who opened her house and her life to God’s prophet.
For the next few days, we are going to take more time to look deeply into the life of the lady from Shunem because the details in her life are a reflection not only of her generous heart but also the generous way our heavenly Father is at work in your life and mine.
We find in II Kings 4 that God’s prophet, Elisha, was a traveling man. Much of the time he was on foot, stopping by the Schools of the Prophets and encouraging the people of God just as his mentor Elijah had done. As he passed through the city of Shunem, a great lady, described by scholars as a wealthy woman, invited the prophet to her home for dinner.
As we read about this lady, whose name is not shared with us, we uncover the reality that she was identified by several critical characteristics – and I’d like to suggest that it wasn’t the fact she had wealth that made her “great,” it was the qualities of her character which identified her as a “leading lady.”
Here are three characteristics that I want to highlight for I believe these specific traits identify greatness in both women and men whose open-hearted love reflects our Father’s heavenly compassion.
Quality #1: Hospitable. The Bible tells us that this great lady not only opened her kitchen to Elisha, she also had a room built and furnished for the prophet. In fact, in the Amplified version of the Bible, the description of the room on the roof of her house also makes reference to a stairway on the outside. It appears to me that she made certain Elisha had privacy so he could come and go as necessary. I love the way author Thea Javrvis, in her book Everyday Hospitality, describes this unselfish virtue, “Hospitality is the outward expression of an inner attitude, a virtue that erupts from the heart, spilling out toward others.” The great lady of Shunem approached life with an open-heart as well as an open-hand.
Quality #2: Intuitive Perception. In the Hebrew, the word “perceptive” means to be “endued with discernment.” I consider the gift of “discernment” to be bestowed by heaven as we invite God’s Spirit to fill our lives. The great lady of Shunem told her husband, “I perceive Elisha to be a Godly man.” Many years after this experience, the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Christians in Rome observed that, “those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires”(Romans 8: 5, N.I.V.). I’d like to add that when we ask for our Father’s presence to guide us, it will be His Spirit which opens our mind to truth, and to heavenly insight. Nowhere in the story of the woman of Shunem does the Bible say that Elisha told her that he had performed some of the most incredible miracles recorded. Instead, by her contact with Elisha, she “perceived” he was a man of God. Not only did Elisha reflect his heavenly Father’s love but the lady of Shunem was able, through her knowledge of God, to see the presence of God in Elisha’s life.
Quality #3: Contentment. We find in II Kings 4: 14, that Elisha wondered aloud to his servant Gehazi, “How can we thank this lady of all she has done?” What we find is that when this great lady was asked what she needed, she replied, ‘I have a family, a place among my people. I have all I need.” What a tremendous way to identify this lady as a great woman. She lived contentedly. She wasn’t a person who was always wanting more. Rather she was satisfied by all God had blessed her with. In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote, “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Timothy 6: 6). No wonder this lady was called great. Not only did she recognize godliness in others, but she was, in her own life, a reflection of her compassionate heavenly Father and this led her to have a contented heart.
As we study the life of this compassionate woman who opened her heart to God’s prophet, we are going to learn that God’s care showered down upon her life – even in the most perplexing times as well as the most joyous. And from the mirror which reflected her image, we will see God at work. This truth made me ask myself, “In all the experiences of my life do I too reflect my Father’s image as well as His character?” If we will ask for God’s Spirit to fill our lives each day, we too will be “great” witnesses, compassionate and Godly reflections of our Father in heaven.
As we study about a lifetime revealed in the events of the life of the woman of Shunem, we will come to the conclusion that a loving woman bore witness to her loving God.
we are all Your family;
united in our devotion to You
and our care for others.
Help us to reflect that love…
…So that people may know
that yours is a warm-hearted and open family,
ready to welcome anyone
who needs your care.
Teach us to love as Jesus did –
with open-hearted warmth.”
walk with us as we move out from our security
motivate us to take risks like Jesus
Spirit of God
and recommit us to a life of service
with no strings attached
where we will live for justice and peace.
Compassionate God – Drive Out the Prejudices
“Lord, drive out the prejudices that make me judge without experience, the complacency that will not recognize the good in what is alien to me.
Give me the grace to find You in unlikely people and unexpected places and to look always with the open eyes of faith and not with the half-closed eyes of fixed opinion.
Lord of love, when the outward sight looks on another’s need, give the inward sight which sees that all humanity is one in Christ and responds even against personal inclination and selfishness.
When I say that everyone is my neighbor as a child of God, let it not be a pious word without feeling but a truth that reaches into the depth of my being and out into the world where the journeys of so many are lonely and perilous.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author