Devotional Week 5 Thursday
“As the hart pants and longs for the water brooks, so I pant and long for You, O God. My inner self thirsts for God, for the living God.”
Psalm 42: 1, 2
“Oh, Christ – He is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I’ve tasted,
More deep I’ll drink above;
There to an ocean fullness
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Who will offer willingly to fill his or her hand and consecrate it today to the Lord?”
1 Chronicles 29: 5
“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” Part 4
“Again and again God has shown that the influence of a very average life, when once really consecrated to Him, may outweigh that of almost any number of merely professing Christians.”
Frances Ridley Havergal
Kept For The Master’s Use
What changes in my life would be necessary for me to say, “I am Christ’s alone”?
“I feel that, if I could live a thousand lives, I would like to live them all for Christ, and even then, I would feel that they were all too little a return for His great love to me.”
C. H. Spurgeon
“Who answers Christ’s insistent call
Must give herself, her life, her all,
Without one backward look.
Who sets his hand unto the plow,
And glances back with anxious brow,
His calling has mistook.
Christ claims us wholly for His own;
We must be Christ’s and Christ’s alone.”
1852 - 1941
As we come to the end of our studies on the life of Elisha, I want to take one more look back in the book of Kings. In this case, I particularly want to go back to 1 Kings 19: 15 -21. After Queen Jezebel threatened to take the life of Elijah, the prophet of God decided that if he were to keep breathing, he would need to get out of town – quickly! He took off to the wilderness, a place where he felt he would be alone and safe.
Interestingly, when God came to relieve His weary servant, while He let Elijah get rest and eat – when Elijah began to come out of his place of despair, God did something else. He gave Elijah something to do. The list of activities is found in 1 Kings 19 where we find that God told Elijah His work on earth and His heavenly purpose was not just left on the shoulders of one single person. In fact, God told Elijah that there were 7,000 faithful followers in Israel. So God asked Elijah to “anoint Hazael to be King of Syria. And anoint Jehu son of Nimshi to be King over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abelmeholab to be prophet in your place” (I Kings 19: 15, 16, Amplified Bible).
Since we know that Elisha’s mentorship lasted for 10 years, Elijah got a direct message from God which pointed out that his work on earth wasn’t finished. God had plenty for him to do and until the day the chariot from heaven came to earth to take Elijah to his eternal home, God wanted to keep Elijah on the front lines in the battle with evil.
There’s nothing like having a heavenly purpose in our lives to put a spring in our step and a fire in our heart. I Kings 19: 19 tells us that Elijah left the wilderness and “found Elisha son of Shaphat, whose plowing was being done with twelve yoke of oxen, and he drove the twelfth, Elijah crossed over to him and cast his mantle upon him. (Elisha) left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, ‘Let me kiss my father and mother, and then I will follow you. And Elijah (testing Elisha) said, ‘Go on back. Settle it yourself.’” I want to stop a moment to underscore the fact that while Elijah may have been testing the dedication and fortitude of Elisha’s commitment to the call of God upon his life, he didn’t need to worry. For Elisha’s kindness and love, as shown to his family, was reflected constantly in the tender way he reached out to those who were facing times of sorrow and struggle in their own lives all throughout Elisha’s ministry.
In 1 Kings 19: 21, we find that “Elisha went back…he took a yoke of oxen, slew them, boiled their flesh with the oxen’s yoke as fuel and gave to the people, and they ate. Then he arose, followed Elijah and served him.” In commenting on this specific event I can’t help but find Matthew Henry’s words stirring: “An invisible hand touched (Elisha’s) heart, and unaccountably inclined him by a secret power, without any external persuasions, to quit his husbandry and give himself to the ministry…Elisha came to a resolution presently, but begged a little time, not to “ask” leave, but only to “take” leave…this was only a reservation of the respect and duty he owed to his father and mother.”
Elisha’s actions however didn’t just stop by his bidding goodbye to mom and dad. Something so powerful happened within Elisha’s heart when he recognized God’s calling upon his life that the Bible tells us he prepared a going away feast and used the “yoke” and “oxen” needed for his husbandry job as food and fire for the feast. I want to tell this story like the Bible does – Elisha didn’t have a job to go back to when he was done. This young man burned his bridges, so to speak. And let’s be clear, as Matthew Henry highlights, “Elisha not only quit all the comforts of his father’s house, he exposed himself to the (hatred) of Jezebel and her (troop) of Baal-worshipers. It was a discouraging time for prophets to set out in. A man that had consulted flesh and blood would not be fond of Elijah’s mantle, nor willing to wear his coat; yet Elisha cheerfully, and with a great deal of satisfaction, left all to accompany Elijah.”
It does something to my heart when I look at God’s followers down through time who recognized God’s call on their lives and then without hesitation or thought of their own personal well-being, accepted God’s will without delay. I was reading recently about Frances Ridley Havergal, the author of one of my favorite hymns, Take My Life and Let It Be. She led what some historians call a “quiet life.” Because of her poor health she didn’t get out as much as she wanted and died at the young age of 42 of peritonitis. Much of her work wasn’t published until after her death and yet I wonder to myself how many people’s hearts have been moved to unconditional surrender by these words she penned: “Take my love; my Lord, I pour – at Thy feet its treasure store; Take myself, and I will be, Ever, only, all for Thee, Ever, Only, all for Thee.”
It was my dad who first introduced me to the written works of Evangelist Dwight L. Moody. Dwight was only 4-years-old when his father died at the age of 41. His mom had eight children to raise with little money in her hand. At seventeen, Dwight moved to Boston to work in an uncle’s shoe shop. But rather than this job being a stumbling block, it became the stepping-stone to an unparalleled, worldwide ministry for God. Moody’s uncle insisted that he not only sell shoes, but that he attend church, where Moody’s Sunday School teacher, Edward Kimball, talked to Moody about God’s love for him personally. Moody’s Sunday School teacher later had this to say about the young man he led to Jesus:
“I can truly say, and in saying it I magnify the infinite grace of God as bestowed upon him, that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was his when he came into my Sunday School class; and I think that the committee of the Mount Vernon Church seldom met an applicant for membership more unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided views of Gospel truth, still less to fill any extended sphere of public usefulness.”
Certainly not a ringing endorsement and yet the worldwide work of the Moody Bible Institute and the ministry of this man of God reverberates around the globe to this very day. The fact is that a young teen boy whose potential for ministry was viewed as dim, made this statement himself, “There are very few who in their hearts do not believe in God, but what they will not do is give Him exclusive right of way. They are not ready to promise full allegiance to God alone.” What a testimony from Dwight Moody who found out first hand exactly how God can use a shoe salesmen who offers his total allegiance to God alone
To each of us who desires to open our lives to the call of Jesus alone, may the words of Frances Havergal be ours today: “Take my will and make it Thine; It shall be no longer mine; Take my heart, it is Thine own! It shall be Thy royal throne.”
“The dearest idol I have known,
Whatever that idol be,
Help me to tear it form its throne
And worship only Thee.”
“Give your all to Christ, who gave His all for you.”
“Use me, my Savior, for whatever purpose, and in whatever way, Thou mayest require. Here is my poor heart, an empty vessel; fill it with Thy grace. Take my heart for Thine abode; my mouth to spread abroad the glory of Thy name; my love and all my powers, for the advancement of Thy believing people; and never suffer the steadfastness and confidence of my faith to abate – that so at all times I may be enabled from the heart to say, “Jesus needs me, and I Him.’”
Dwight L. Moody
“Here, Lord, is my life. I place it on the altar today. Use it as You will.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus