I love reading 2 Kings 4, with the stories of Elisha and the poor woman, as well as the rich woman who makes a room for Elisha the prophet to come and stay. The story of the poor woman with two children reminds me of my own personal story. The woman has lost her husband and she is responsible for two children.
She takes her needs to God from what we glean from the text. She approaches Elisha and tells him her current situation, and the possibility that the creditors would take her sons as slaves as they have threatened. Elisha first asks, “What can I do to help you,” but then wants to know what the woman has in her home. She answers, “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.” Read that again. First she says, “Nothing at all.” But then she continues EXCEPT a flask of olive oil. The woman didn’t have much, but she had a flask of olive oil.
Elisha tells her to have her sons collect empty jars from the neighbors. Then they are commanded to shut the door and pour the oil into the empty jars. We read that EVERY container is full—and not just full, but FULL TO THE BRIM. There was no more room for anything more. God provided and He did so in abundance. Today, remember that we serve a big God. Quit focusing on the “nothing at all” and press onward. Quit settling for good things when you were made for GREAT things. Dive into His Word, fall upon your knees, and allow Him to speak life into your dry bones. Allow Him to get you back on the narrow path, re-energized and refocused.
“Soon every container was full to the brim! ‘Bring me another jar,’ she said to one of her sons. ‘There aren’t any more!’ he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing.” – 2 Kings 4:6 [NLT]
We see images and signs posted all over asking for help. There are homeless men, women and children holding signs on the street corners. There are advertisements for particular causes. Breast Cancer Awareness. Human Trafficking. Pro-life. Organ Donation. So many signs. So many people in need of help, in need of hope.
When there was a large group of people in need of food, the disciples wanted to let them go to travel in search for food. They didn’t believe they could feed them so that was what they thought was in their best interest. But Jesus told them, “YOU FEED THEM.” He gave them this command because they had the power to help.
Sometimes we have the power to help, whether it is in a small way or a big way. If you feed one person, it’s a start. If you donate a bag of clothing, that’s a start. If you give a few extra dollars, that’s a start. There are moments when God does miracles and there are moments when God uses people to accomplish His miracles through them. He can use you. Simply ask Him to use you. It’s time to get those hands and feet moving.
“But Jesus said, ‘That isn’t necessary–you feed them.’” – Matthew 14:16 [NLT]
Naaman had leprosy. He was instructed by Elisha to dip himself into the Jordan River seven times. When Naaman did this he was healed. But it didn’t say that he was simply healed of the condition. The Bible says that “his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child’s.”
I do not have any skin problems but if I would have a rash or wound, after it healed, my skin would still show some signs of aging. Skin ages and one can look at any department store to find a variety of different lotions claiming to help reduce the signs of aging. But for Naaman, his skin went from the worst possible condition (leprosy) to healthy skin that was like a young child.
This healing is another great demonstration that God does not simply fix us, but He makes us new. The skin was not simply fixed. It now was healthy skin like that of a young child. God can make you new as well. Give Him your life and see.
“So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child’s, and he was healed!” – 2 Kings 5:14 [NLT]
I always remind the kids to shut the door behind them as they are heading outside on the cold days. By doing this, they keep the cold air outside where it belongs. There are two times in 2 Kings 4 where we read “shut the door behind.”
First there is the widow who is instructed by Elisha to take her two sons and enter their house and “shut the door.” Then they were to pour olive oil into empty jars they collected from neighbors and continue that process until there were no jars left so that they could pay for their debts. Then later, when Elisha went to raise the Shunammite’s son, “he went in alone and shut the door behind him.”
Both of these instances they shut the door behind them. Both of these instances included miracles. Sometimes we need to shut things out so we have no distractions and can watch as God performs a great miracle. Everything from the world was shut out so all focus was on God and what He was doing for this widow and her sons and this son of the Shunammmite woman. Today, perhaps you need to shut the door and see what God has waiting for you.
“Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” – 2 Kings 4:4 [NLT]
“He went in alone and shut the door behind him and prayed to the LORD.” – 2 Kings 4:33 [NLT]
In Judges 7, the Israelites were battling the Midianites. If you read closely, you will note a few things. “Each man stood at his position and watched” – no one was moving forward. Everyone was watching and ready for the Lord’s instruction. They then blew their horns as the Lord had instructed and the Lord brought victory without them going forward into battle.
We are told to be prepared. We are to be prepared for the Lord’s coming (Matthew 24). We are to be prepared to give an answer to others (1 Peter 3). We are to be prepared. In Judges 7, the Israelites were dressed for battle. They were ready to fight. But something happened so the fight wasn’t like what one would expect. The Lord acted in such a way that they simply needed to be prepared and blow the horns.
Be prepared. Understand that there will be times when you will need to do more work than others. There are moments when God wants you to do the work and there are times when He wants you prepared to watch Him work a miracle or do a great work. So keep watching and keep yourself prepared. Expect God to move. You may be amazed by what you see.
“Each man stood at his position around the camp and watched as all the Midianites rushed around in a panic, shouting as they ran to escape. When the 300 Israelites blew their rams’ horns, the LORD caused the warriors in the camp to fight against each other with their swords. Those who were not killed fled to places as far away as Beth-shittah near Zererah and to the border of Abel-meholah near Tabbath.” – Judges 7:21-22 [NLT]
God used Moses as well as Aaron to perform many signs and wonders to get Pharaoh to let His people leave Egypt. During that time, Pharaoh brought forth his magicians to show his power. Exodus 7:8 is the start of the signs and wonders, and it actually begins with God saying that when Pharaoh says to “perform a miracle,” then throw down the staff and it will be a snake. The staff gets tossed down, leaving us to understand that Pharaoh started the ball rolling by asking for the sign. This act by Pharaoh is to suggest that he and his magicians could compete and be shown to be more powerful than God.
As we continue reading onward, the “plagues” start coming. At the beginning, the magicians of Pharaoh were demonstrating that they could do the same things with “secret arts.” However, as time went on, the magicians could not compete. When the gnats came, they realized they couldn’t, and so they said, “This is the finger of God,” acknowledging God as the source of the signs and wonders (Exodus 8:19). As the signs and wonders continued due to the hardened heart of Pharaoh, the furnace soot was tossed in the air to bring about dust over all of Egypt and boils on the people. At this point, “The magicians could not stand before Moses” (Exodus 9:11). They went from being able to perform the same actions to not even being able to be present.
We face many things each day. Sometimes we are like these magicians. We put ourselves in the position of God, but we soon find that we cannot deliver all of the time. We are human and we can only go so far. It is important to acknowledge where the true power comes from as these magicians did. As we start acknowledging God we soon find that He is El Elyon, “God Most High” and El Shaddai “God Almighty.” In all reality, there was a time when we were not able to be present before Him. Thankfully God is gracious and has given each of us a way to be present before Him through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ.
In Mark 4, we read about how Jesus stills the sea. It is such a powerful miracle that we hear of so often that perhaps we do not appreciate it as much as we should. When the disciples became fearful of the boat sinking, they ran to Jesus who was asleep. He rebuked the wind and then He said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” Right away everything became “perfectly calm.”
I can only imagine what it is like to be perfectly calm. I am sure that most people do not know what that means. We can only imagine. There are times in life when I believe Jesus is saying to us, “Hush, be still.” We get so busy that we are blowing all around off course. We get so worried about the situations in our lives that we start to drown ourselves in anxiety. We are like the storm, breaking apart inside instead of breaking a boat.
Jesus says, “Hush, be still.” Immediately the storm ceases and then everything is “perfectly calm. Do not let the storms in your life break you apart. Allow the comfort of Jesus to take over. All you need to do is ask Him to help.” If we accept the peace that Jesus has to offer, and we listen to His Word, we can be still. We can rest in Him.
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
– Matthew 11:28 [NIV]
We like to complicate things in life. We can make a three word sentence trivial. Interpretations and experiences cause us conflict. We need to see evidence. We are very doubtful, skeptical of anything. We have so many documentaries showing us proof that something is true, and then so many others to counter that theory. We are a society that needs DNA analysis, sheets full of statistics, a handful of witnesses, video footage, photos, and still we are skeptical.
With us wanting so many facts and to be shown proof, we often will have battles with doubt. We get into a situation that seems glum. Will God really see me through this? Why is God allowing this to happen? I don’t understand. Show me. I need proof. Is He even there? We become skeptical of what God can do in our lives because we allow the doubt to win. We limit God with our shaky faith.
Thomas asked to see Jesus’ wounds to believe, and only then did he believe. The other disciples believed after seeing as well. In Mark 5, Jairus asked Jesus to heal his ailing daughter. Before they could get to his daughter, she passed away. When Jairus was told the news, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe” (Mark 5:36b NASB). Only believe.
At times we need to only believe. It is hard. Things are not always going to be pleasant and everything is not always going to go well. But God has promised us that one day things will be perfect. This is a promise that I cling to, knowing that Jesus has overcome, and therefore so will we.
If there is something going on in your life right now and you are doubtful, only believe. Only believe that He is big enough. Only believe that He has overcome. Only believe that things will one day be perfect. Only believe that He loves you so much. Only believe.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”
– John 20:29 [ESV]
The feeding of five thousand makes note of something the disciples said when they were faced with the issue of it getting close to mealtime and food was in very limited quantity. The disciples thought it was best to send the people away so that they were able to go to the villages and purchase some food. If we look at that part of the passage, we can see that the disciples cared about the people. They were in a desolate area. They did not have the food available. They wanted to send the people away so that they had a chance to eat something.
As we know, Jesus said that they could give them something to eat– to not send the people away. When I read this passage, I think about how we often have good intentions and a good heart, but that we limit God and what He can do in our lives and through us, because we cannot think outside the box. God created the world as we know it, and everything it contains. Yet, whenever we are faced with a situation, we often think with our own human minds what we can do about the problem. We forget we are dealing with the Creator of the universe. We expect what is expectable, rather than what is impossible.
Life may not be what you have expected. At the moment, you may be looking back on things that have happened, and wondering why you did not meet the goals that you have set out for your life. You may be unsatisfied with the fact that things are not going your way. Well I’m here to tell you two things. Firstly, God’s plan for your life is so amazing and you have not seen anything yet. Today is not the end of the road– it’s just the beginning. And secondly, if you read the remainder of the passage, you will note this one word that sticks out to me like a sore thumb. “And they all ate and were SATISFIED” (Matthew 14:20a NASB). They were satisfied. God wants only the best for you, and if you allow Him to work in your life, His promise to you is that you will be satisfied. It may not be today or tomorrow, but it is a promise from our faithful Father.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
– Psalm 16:11 [ESV]