Ready Vessels (2Kings 4:8-37)

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The blessing of God… unclogging gutters…

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EXAMINE           2Kings 4:8-37

God’s blessing comes in our preparations not our procrastination/idleness (2Kings 4:8-10).

–        Elisha traveled as a prophet to speak God’s word around the region.

o   Christians take God wherever they go.

o   Church can’t spend all their time in the building… get out.

 

–        Elisha met a wealthy (gādôl – great/fame/fortune) woman who urged food (hāzaq – language implies strength or idea of great persuasion).

o   My life has been greatly influenced by people through kind intrusions.

  • D Myers / J Bury / Howell / Holston & Leach / Aleshire / Simpson / even pope…
  • Effective kind intrusions are marked by the right motivation (God’s glory & love for people) with the right methods of help (meet a need), hospitality (empathy and entry), and hope (believe in them and paint picture of their future with help of God).

–        The wealthy woman and her husband prepared a room for the prophet of God.

o   Family was hospitable (friend of stranger)

  • Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
  • My family growing up hosted people for lengths of time – days/months/years.

o   Family was generous (made a room with table, food, chair, lamp)

  • My first few months at SPBC and sleeping at Delp, Weed, Swartz… overwhelming hospitality (hindsight was no angel for them). Meals with O’Banion, Brewster, Prettyman, Paxton…

è We prepare space for God through spiritual rhythm. Our calendars reveal the truth about our convictions. If we value our faith relationship with God then our priorities and plans will support those commitments. We must not live in bondage to busyness. We are like rocks in a riverbed that are shaped by the flow of life in the communities we exist; we just have to make sure we are resting in the right riverbed.[1]

o   Divert Daily in the community of Christ and the gospel and God’s word.

o   Withdraw Weekly in the community of God’s people.

o   Respite Regularly in the community of spiritual adventure (renewal, mentorship, mission, etc.)

è We make space for God through spiritual risk taking.

o   As the woman persuaded her husband to build a loft room – something unnecessary for a couple without children, so we are sometimes to take a risk at something unnecessary or uncertain for the sake of God.

o   Doing the same thing and expecting different results is insanity. If we want God to move in a fresh way, then there are times when we must take spiritual risks of obedience for God.

  • Me going to TN… lonely but life lessons
  • SP in Nicaragua… only God
  • SP – – – what’s our next faith risk?

o   Pray AND Prepare…

 

God’s blessing comes in our deepest pains (2Kings 4:11-17).

–        Elisha and Gehazi inquired how they could bless or compensate for the hospitality.

o   Most givers/generous persons only want gratitude not self-glory.

o   Gratitude is saying thank you and then living in honor of the gift.

 

–        The woman wasn’t seeking position or privilege“I dwell among my own people” (2Ki 4:13)

o   Don’t try to barter or manipulate God based on your works.

 

–        Gehazi knows the woman and husband are without a son – an heir. Though the woman gādôl, she is deprived and pained in this one area of her life.

o   Have you ever noticed how God speaks about and responds to our gādôl?[2]

  • Matthew 6:19-24 “Do not lay up treasures on earth… No one can serve two masters.”
  • Matthew 19:21 “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come follow me… Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven… it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
  • Mark 4:19 “the deceitfulness of riches… choke the word and it proves unfruitful”
  • Luke 1:53 “[God] has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”
  • Revelation 3:17 “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”

o   People who are wealthy in fame or fortune don’t feel like they need God. But our sense of self-worth is a faulty foundation because it will not help us in the eternal future.

o   What keeps people from God and heaven is not their sin but their self-worth. God can forgive any and all sin because of the gospel and lavish grace; but pride prevents God from providing salvation and the miracles of His blessings in our life.

–        Elisha pronounces a blessing of a promised son.

o   Notice the woman’s response is out of pain – “O man of God, do not lie to your servant.”

o   Brokenness leads to blessing. God wants to do His greatest work in our life not just through our strengths but our weaknesses, not just through our celebrations but also our suffering and hardships.

è Pain will deepen your pursuit for something, may it be God.

o   The text emphasizes the woman didn’t ask for a son (2Ki 4:16; 28). She seems to know that this one area of deprival and pain in her life would be sensitive and shaking to her faith. Yet, she clings to the Lord, pursuing the prophet of God to wait for God’s rescue. Likewise, our earthly pains have the power to cause us to drift or draw more closely to God. Tim Keller says, “Suffering is indeed a test of our connection to God. It can certainly tempt us to be so angry at God and at life that we have no desire to pray. Yet is also has the resources to greatly deepen our divine friendship. It starts with analysis. When times are good, how do you know if you love God or just love the things he is giving you or doing for you? You don’t really… Suffering reveals the impurities or perhaps the falseness of our faith in God. In a sense, it is only in suffering that faith and trust in God can be known to be in God, and therefore it is only in suffering that our love relationship with God can become more genuine.”[3]

o   Faith isn’t true if it isn’t tested.

C.S. Lewis after his wife died wrote a book, A Grief Observed, “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth of falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.

o   Psalm 42:8 “By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me”

o   Psalm 61:2b “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I”

o   Psalm 68:19 “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.”

è What pains in your life does God want to transform and use for His purposes? What mistakes and messes have you made that God wants to turn into mentoring and ministry use? (cf. Gen 50:20)

o   Divorce – recovery and renewal

o   Diagnosis or disease – support

o   Addiction – witnessing to others recovery as a hope dealer

o   Disappointments or Failures – mentoring

o   Death of loved one – grief share

 

God’s blessing comes in our pursuit of His presence (2Kings 4:18-37).

–        After the child grew, he experienced a life-taking head injury. 

o   The boy dies on his mother’s lap. It’s a most precious and heart-wrenching scene. It is also a reminder for parents to treasure their children and take seriously their role in preparing them to know the Lord. The mother surprisingly has a calm and seemingly confident reaction to her son’s death by simply laying him on the bed of the prophet. Does she believe in the resurrection?
o   Trials and tragedies often happen for reasons only known to God. In those moments we can turn away from God or trust Him. God wants us to trust His knowledge is wise and His actions are good. In other words, if we knew what God knows, then we wouldn’t be tempted to rebel but instead would run to Him for help and hope. “If God were small enough to be understood, he wouldn’t be big enough to be worshiped.”[4]

–        The mother set out to see the man of God, Elisha.

o   In last week’s message from 2Kings 4:1-7 we noted that when life falls apart we cry out to God; we are to saddle our donkey fast and forward to meet with God. And again, we see another incident with the realization that only God can solve the world’s greatest problem, which is death. And since God can handle death, we should trust Him with any lesser problems too. There is no issue too imposing or too insignificant for God to hear and care from your prayers.

è Let prayer be your first response not last resort.

o   Psalm 34:17-18 “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

o   Psalm 50:15 “call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

o   Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

o   Psalm 145:18 “The Lord is near to all who call on him”

–         All is well<shalom> (2Kings 4:23, 26). In her life, all was not well because her son was dead. But her eternal faith gave her perspective. We know that despite losing her son, she has not lost her faith. She’s content but she’s not complacent. She continues to exercise faith and exhaust all possible means to obtain the desires of her heart (cf Ps 37:4).

o   Many of our earthly lives experience all is not well, and we let it be known with complaint and criticism of God. Instead, when we learn contentment to trust God’s wisdom and ways then He will seldom act.

–        Elisha sends Gehazi to lay his staff on the boy, but the woman remains clinging to the prophet of God.

–        Gehazi is unable to revive the child, but when Elisha comes he prays with direct contact. 

o   Elisha approached the boy face to face to transform the dead child to resurrection life. If our normal praying is ineffective, then we must persevere with extraordinary encounters of prayer. How many times do we pray and give up?

o   No answers in prayer are meant to deter us. God’s delays are not always His denial. We must be persistent with extraordinary prayer (cf. Lk 18:1-8).

è What do you need to be more content but persistent with God?

–        The woman worshiped God before picking up her awakened son. She sought God’s face more than His hand.  

o   We must cling to God, believing there is no problem to powerful, not addiction too defeating, no failure too final, no life too broken, no regret too severe, and no sin too condemning, that God cannot save to the uttermost and awaken to new life (Hebrews 7:25).

 

APPLY/THINK

God’s blessing comes in our preparations not our idleness

è Where are you to take action in preparation to make room for God to work?

 

God’s blessing comes in our deepest pains

è What are you pursuing for hope and rescue in your pains?

 

God’s blessing comes in our pursuit of His presence

è Where are you tempted to give up instead of pursue God in extraordinary prayer?

 

–        People raised from the dead

o   Widow of Zarephath’s son (1Ki 17:17-24)

o   Shunammite’s son (2Ki 4:18-37)

o   Man raised out of Elisha’s grave (2Ki 13:20-21)

o   Widow of Nain’s son (Lk 7:11-17)

o   Jairus’ daughter (Lk 8:52-56)

o   Lazarus of Bethany (John 11)

o   Various saints in Jerusalem (Mat 27:50-53)

o   Jesus (Lk 24)

o   Tabitha (Acts 9:36-43)

o   Eutychus (Acts 20:7-12)

o   à Will your name be on this list?

 

Jesus is the true prophet of God who encounters us flesh to flesh and exchanges our sin with His salvation. He transforms us from being dead to awakened new life.

 

Jesus is the one who is making things “all is well” and we long for that Day of justice.

 

———

[1] Thought inspired from Ruth Haley Barton, Strengthening The Soul Of Your Leadership, p.128.

[2] Thought inspired from J.D. Greear sermon, “Making Room For The Greater Things, 2Kings 4:8-37.”

[3] Tim Keller, Walking With God Through Pain And Suffering, p.191-192.

[4] Evelyn Underhill, quoted in Tim Keller, Walking With God Through Pain And Suffering, p.255.

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