Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
Philemon 1: 25, K.J.V.
“Why do we expect the best from a world steeped in pain? Continually we find ourselves blindsided by reality. Every new morning offers another chance to admit our inadequacy – once again for this new day, a chance to accept the bewildering ecstasy of God’s grace. Why is it so difficult to accept such a love when His grace is the one gift that can penetrate the messy corners of our world?”
Bonnie Keen (2002)
Today’s Study Text:
“Then he (Elisha) said, ‘Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbors, even empty vessels; borrow not a few.’”
II Kings 4: 3, K.J.V.
“Borrowed Empty Vessels”
“The act of giving is a vivid reminder that it’s all about God, not about us. It’s saying I am not the point. He is the point. He does not exist for me. I exist for Him.”
If a neighbor came to me asking for “empty vessels” because they needed my help, how generous would I be in assisting them?
“We never outgrow our need for others. In fact, giving ourselves to help others is even more life building than receiving help from others. The law of living is giving.” -George Sweeting
“If we would get from God, we must give to others.”
R. A. Torrey (1900)
In the past, here in Transformation Garden, we have “deconstructed” a specific passage of Scripture, literally taking it apart by looking at the meaning of specific words found throughout the text. This is exactly what I would like to do with Today’s Study Text for I believe this one verse in the Bible contains a well full of knowledge on God’s plan for giving as well as receiving in each of our lives – especially as it relates to the gifts heaven wants to shower down on you and me.
There are five words in II Kings 4: 3 that I checked in my Hebrew dictionary: Borrow, Abroad, All, Empty, and Few.
Let’s take a look at the original meanings of each of these words:
Now comes my favorite part of this exercise. We start to put the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle back together again and oh, what a beautiful picture is the result.
Before we put all the words back in place, I want to take another look at the word “borrow,” for it is a real key to the development of the picture painted for us in II Kings 4: 3. In the English language, the word “borrow” means “to receive something on loan with the understanding of returning it or its equivalent. It is the phrase, “returning it or its equivalent” that I want you to keep in your mind for a moment.
Here goes! We are going to put our study text for today back together again by adding in the meanings we have learned about the five essential words in this passage:
“Then Elisha said to the widowed mother, who was desperate because of a lack of money to pay her debts, ‘Go ask and request vessels, jars from people outside your walls. Even go down to the highway if necessary. And by the way, don’t ask one or two people. Ask every person. All you meet - every neighbor. Any person you see. What’s more, ask for even the jars that have no purpose. Worthless vessels are fine. And don’t just get a lesser amount. Don’t collect the least. Gather the most.’”
As we look at the text we have constructed, we find that there are several important essentials buried in this verse related to giving out and taking in.
Essential #1: The vessels were to be borrowed. They were on loan to the widow. This leads me to believe, as we look at the definition of the word “borrow,” that the vessels or jars were to be returned in the “same” way or with an equivalent “sameness” to their owners. However, as we will learn, when the vessels came back to their owners, they didn’t just come back the same for now they were the containers which had held a tremendous miracle. You see, when the neighbors turned over their clay jars to the widow’s boys, they had no idea what was going to happen with those jars. They didn’t know these “useless” receptacles would hold heaven’s solution to a widowed mother’s need. It was this fact that hit me like a cold glass of water in the face though. Once those jars were returned, the original owners could absolutely, never look at those clay jars the same way again – NEVER. Every time they looked at their old clay jar, they were reminded of a God who does more not less. And believe me when I say, this is God’s story on giving. We think we’ll give a gift to God, our little clay jug. But when it comes back, He doesn’t ever send us just the equivalent. Instead, we get the exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond. And forever after, whatever our attempt was to give becomes a reminder of God’s infinite generosity to us. Don’t think for a minute any of the widow’s neighbors ever looked at the jugs she had borrowed from them in the same way for those jugs didn’t come back in the same shape they left. They came back, after holding a miracle so big, it solved one families life-long financial challenge.
Essential #2: Don’t ever think God can’t do something tremendous with something you feel is useless – including yourself. Oh how we undervalue our worth to our heavenly Father. I read a quote the other day that really knocked my socks off. It was from Erwin W. Lutzer who said, “God’s investment in us is so great He could not possibly abandon us. “ Next time you feel like you are out on a limb, ready to be chopped off, don’t forget, your “Dad” isn’t going to hang a one of us out to dry. With a “Dad” who holds the treasures of the universe in His hands, just think what He can do with an old, fractured clay jar like me or like you. He can turn us into miracle containers that spread a story of His merciful grace to every one who meets us. That’s what my “Dad” can do – oh yes He can! So don’t think of yourself as a purposeless pot. No way! Heaven’s oil will fill you, and look out, you’ll be amazed at the result.
Essential #3: Never limit God’s ability to give you all you need because of your feeling of lack. Our limitation of our Father’s ability is often hindered because as we look around our world, things appear to be impossible. In desperation, we too often throw up our hands and say, “It can’t be done.” I’m so thankful that Jesus reminded His’ followers, yes, that’s you and me, “That with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19: 26). I don’t know what it is about the word “all” that I don’t understand sometimes. But I’ll tell you, Elisha had no problem explaining to the widowed mom what “all” meant – it meant every thing - PRAISE GOD! This means it includes your broken marriage. Your search for a good job. Your longing for your children to know Jesus. Yes, it means everything that touches your life. As the poet Alexander Pope penned: “To Him no high, no low, no great, no small, He fills, He bounds, connects, and equals all!”
When you and I choose to lay our lives on the line, when we desire to give all we have got to give, never forget, in return, we are going to get back a jar that’s been changed into a miracle container by our heavenly Father’s hands. Let nothing hold us back from giving all today!
“Beyond giving of our material possessions, God calls upon us to give our selves away – our time, energy, and passion.”
Jill Briscoe (2004)
We Give Thee But Thine Own
“We give Thee but Thine own,
Whatever the gift may be:
All that we have is Thine alone,
A trust, O Lord from Thee.
May we Thy bounties thus
As stewards true receive,
And gladly, as Thou blessest us,
To Thee our first-fruits give.
To comfort and to bless,
To find a balm for woe,
To tend the lone and fatherless,
Is angels’ work below.
The captive to release,
To God the lost to bring,
To teach the way of life and peace,
It is a Christ-like thing.
And we believe Thy word,
Though dim our faith may be,
Whatever for Thine we do, O Lord,
We do it unto Thee.”
William Walsham How, 1823-1897
“The highest love of all finds its fulfillment not in what it keeps but in what it gives.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.