Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, who have borne testimony to the truth, let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance, unnecessary weight, and that sin which so readily, deftly and cleverly clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us. Looking away, from all that will distract, to Jesus, who is the Leader and the Source of our faith and is also its Finisher, bringing it to maturity and perfection.”
Hebrews 12: 1, 2, Amplified Bible
“Every noble work is at first impossible.”
Today’s Study Text:
“And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he (Elisha) passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread.”
II Kings 4: 8, K.J.V.
“Characteristics of Nobility”
“Whosoever God adopts for His child is like Him; they not only bear His heavenly Father’s name, but His image.”
What does it mean to me to have the stamp of “nobility” upon my life – given to me by my heavenly Father?
“God was kind and decided that Christ would choose us to be God’s adopted children.”
Ephesians 1: 5, C.E.V.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
1 John 3: 1, N.I.V.
One thing that certainly comes to my attention in the ministry of Elisha is that this prophet was, like Jesus, a man of the people. Whether encouraging the students at the schools of the prophets or assisting the king in battle or stopping at a humble cottage to relieve a mother’s financial burden, Elisha’s work carried him throughout the land. In our study text for today, it is revealed that Elisha’s travels took him to Shunem, a town which was located about fifteen miles southwest of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee.
It was in this region where Elisha met, what the Bible calls,” a great woman.” Most scholars tell us she was a woman of financial wealth which they note gave her influence. However, in Hebrew, we find that the word “great” also refers to “nobility,” not just due to a family bloodline but also to the character traits an individual possessed.
It is this piece of information which I have chosen to look closely at today. The question that I asked myself was this: “What qualities does a ‘noble’ person reflect in their behavior?”
In exploring the meaning of the word “noble,” I found four specific qualities which we will take a moment to look at in greater depth.
1. Quality #1: Honorable. An honorable individual is defined as “one who is worthy of respect.” In the Hebrew, an “honorable” individual acts with excellence. In referring to our heavenly Father, specifically, this word means filled with majesty and glory.
2. Quality #2: Generous. It was King Solomon, who in writing about a “generous” person, states that “The liberal soul shall be made fat; and ‘they’ that watereth shall be watered also (Proverbs 11: 25). We can better understand what generosity is about from the words of Gordon MacDonald, “Listening to God’s voice with a joyful spirit, generous people seek wisdom concerning how and when to give. Once they make a commitment, they follow through promptly and keep their promise.” These words certainly describe generosity in action.
3. Quality #3: Courageous. Whenever I hear the word “courage,” I am reminded of the words found in Joshua 1: 9, “Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whitersoever thou goest.” Courage is often defined by confidence. However, it is not self-confidence borne of an inflated idea of one’s own importance. Rather, in the words of Dorothy Bernard, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” For as John Chapman so emphatically observes, we can be courageous because, “God is stronger than the devil.”
4. Quality #4. Godliness. The author Stephen Charnock wrote: “When God and His glory are made our end, we shall find a silent likeness pass in upon us; the beauty of God will, by degrees, enter upon our soul.” It is by beholding our Father’s presence, as we spend time in prayer and study with Him, that we will truly reflect our Father. And His’ God-like-ness will then permeate every fiber of our being.
The reason I wanted to uncover the layers, which were rather hidden under the term “great woman,” is that so many times, labels are slapped onto individuals without the time being taken to reveal the true essence of their character. In the case of the woman of Shunem, we will find that the qualities this “great woman” carried within herself, are reflected in the way she chose to live her life: honorably, generously, courageously, and infused with godliness.
As I studied about these special qualities, I wondered to myself, “How can these qualities become part of my life?” I believe that Meister Eckhart’s words can certainly light afire in our lives as we seek to reflect our Father more each day by spending time in His presence: “The seed of God is in us. Given an intelligent and hard-working farmer, it will thrive and grow up to God, whose seed it is, and accordingly its fruits will be God-nature. Pear seeds grow into pear trees, nut into nut trees, and God seed into God.”
As the Apostle John so lovingly reminds us in 1 John 3: 1, “What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it – we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are.” As children of our Father, praise His name, we can grow to reflect the qualities that are present in our Father’s character for by spending time in the presence of “nobility” – we, too, will radiate the resemblance of the One we admire and adore.
“To have no other parent but God, no other element but the breath of God, no other instrument but the purpose of God, this is to be the image of God.”
“Sermon Preached Before King Charles 1”
O God, Whose Love Is Over All
O God, whose love is over all
The children of Thy grace,
Whose rich and tender blessings fall
On every age and place,
Hear Thou the songs and prayers we raise
In eager joy to Thee,
And teach us, as we sound Thy praise,
In all things Thee to see.
To see Thee is the sun by day,
And in the stars by night,
In waving grass and ocean spray,
And leaves and flowers bright;
To hear Thy voice, like spoken word,
In every breeze that blows,
In every song of every bird,
And every brook that flows.
To see Thee in each quiet home
Where faith and love abide,
In school and church, where all may come
To seek Thee side by side;
To see Thee in each human life,
Each struggling human heart,
Each path by which, in eager strife,
Men seek the better part.
John Haynes Holmes
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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