Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have perfect peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer, take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted! For I have overcome the world. I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.”
John 16: 33, Amplified Bible
“Thee will I love, my crown of gladness,
Thee will I love, my God and Lord,
Amid the darkest depths of sadness;
Not for the hope of high reward,
For Thine own sake, O Light Divine,
So long as life is mine.”
Today’s Study Text:
“And he (Naaman) returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him; and he said, ‘Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.’”
II Kings 5: 5, K.J.V.
“A Magnanimous Principle – God Loves the Entire World”
“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He even gave up His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in and trusts in, clings to, and relies on Him shall not perish, come to destruction or be lost, but have eternal, everlasting life.”
John 3: 16, Amplified Bible
In what ways can I bear witness to others of the “magnanimous” love which God has bestowed upon me?
What do I think Jesus meant when He asked me to love others as He loves me?
“That God should pity the world I understand, because when I walk down a hospital and see a sick child, I pity the child…but that God should love the world – the more I think about it, the more staggered I am.”
F. B. Meyer
“I am in love with how God loves our messy world. In all our sloppy journeys, soul-worn seasons, good intentions gone belly-up, in all our stubborn tenacity to find the gold at the end of the rainbow, we are, every one of us, at some point, just messy people. You can dress us up and parade us around, but hidden under our well-coifed exteriors often lies a soul in disarray. Yet we are loved. Loved in spite of our messy lives. Loved in the midst of them. Loved through the very places that cannot be explained away.”
Bonnie Keen (2002)
He was healed. Talk about a shock. Poor Naaman couldn’t believe his eyes. The little slave girl was right. “If only my Master could get to the man of God.” Indeed, “If only” are the operating words in this child’s vocabulary. Naaman thought that with some political string-pulling, he could maneuver his way into Elisha’s world. A world where the miraculous appeared commonplace.
But as this well-trained military man made his way out of the Jordan River and toward his chariot, instead of heading directly to Syria, he took a different route – back to Elisha’s home where without hesitation he exclaimed. “Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.” Things in the world of Elisha’s God didn’t work the same way as General Naaman had been convinced to believe.
I find that Matthew Henry’s insightful commentary on this particular passage in Scripture, helps me better grasp the all-inclusive love with which our heavenly Father embraces the world. And further, Henry’s understanding also aids us in comprehending the blessing which Naaman felt as a result of the miraculous event which changed him – outside and inside as well.
“Convinced of the power of the God of Israel, not only that He is God, but that He is God alone, and that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel is a noble confession. But such a confession intimates the misery of the Gentile world, for the nations that had many ‘gods’ really had no God, but were without God in the world. Naaman had formerly thought the gods of Syria gods indeed, but now experience had rectified his mistake, and he knew Israel’s God was God alone, the sovereign Lord of all.”
What a tremendous moment of revelation. One God – one love – one redemptive power which had been extended to him. How Naaman must have been in awe of such concern for he was not a member of the so-called elect. He was not part of the club. He was an outsider. He was not chosen – or so he surmised.
But thank God, even one as young as a slave girl from Israel, understood that God’s love isn’t something which is defined by worldly borders or earthly bloodlines. There’s something all-encompassing when we are covered with the umbrella of our heavenly Father’s love. No wonder when Jesus came to earth, as He ministered to all those who made the choice to follow Him, in simple and clear terms, He taught that anyone longing to come into His kingdom needed to become trusting, forgiving and loving like a child” (Matthew 18: 4, Amplified Bible). Characteristics which were in the heart of the Israelite maiden who, even at a young age, understood the inclusiveness which permeated God’s kingdom.
In assessing God’s grand outreach to all the world, commentator Haywood Barringer Spangler offers this broad insight into God’s work: “This story (the story of Naaman) suggests the breadth and complexity of God’s love…Naaman is not part of the elect of Israel. He is a conqueror of part of Israel. He does not profess faith in the Lord. Yet Elisha offers to heal him. Naaman is healed, even with his doubt, even without professing Elisha’s God as the one true God…Naaman’s experience suggests that we should enable people to experience God’s love and power and that this experience may bring forth their confession of faith.”
In the words of Jesus, recorded by the Apostle John, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw and attract all to Myself (John12: 32, K.J.V. – Amplified Bible). In the words of William Blake: “Love seeketh not itself to please, nor for itself hath any care, but for another gives its ease, and builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.”
What a magnanimous principle – God loves me and God loves the whole world. From the words penned by R. B. Y. Scott:
“O world of God, so vast and strange,
profound and wonderful and fair,
beyond the utmost reach of thought
But not beyond a Father’s care!
We are not strangers on this earth
Whirling amid the suns of space;
We are God’s children, this our home,
With those of every clime and race…
It is this world that God has loved
And goodness was its maker’s plan,
The promise of God’s triumph is,
His coming in the Son of Man.”
“God relentlessly loves us in spite of all the mistakes we make. He is and always will be mankind’s best and final hope.” - David Edwards
The God of Yes, (2003)
God Gives Love
“God gives love; it isn’t in us to love. I don’t naturally love people I don’t know (and I don’t naturally love all the people I do know!). Love is of God and from God, and He pours it into our hearts if we let Him. Our Lord did not say, ‘Go ye into all the world if you feel an ardent flame of love to all the people in it.’ He just said, ‘Go ye,’ and as we obey He gives us all we need to lead them to Him. And of course as we most of all need love, He gives it to us. So fear not. God hath given us a spirit not of fear, but of power and of love.”
Because God has given us the “spirit of love,” His spirit empowers us to leave the message of His love on every person we come in contact with. This thought has been so beautifully portrayed by Ruth Harms Calkin in her poem, “Heartprints.” This poem was a gift to me, sent by my precious Garden friend, Georgia.
“Whatever our hands touch –
We leave fingerprints!
On the walls, on the furniture,
On door knobs, dishes, books,
As we touch we leave our identity.
O God, wherever I go today,
Help me to leave heartprints!
Heartprints of compassion.
Of understanding and love.
Heartprints of kindness and
May my heart touch a lonely neighbor,
Or a runaway daughter,
Or an anxious mother,
Or, perhaps, a dear friend!
Lord, send me out today to leave heartprints.
And if someone should say,
‘I felt your touch,’
May that one sense Your love,
Touching through me.”
Ruth Harms Calkin
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.