Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Having therefore these promises.”
II Corinthians 7: 1, K.J.V.
“The promises of God are hidden in the Bible, like nests in the great forest; and thither we should fly in any danger or alarm, hiding there in our soul’s nest until the storm be overpast.”
Today’s Study Text:
“And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.”
II Kings 4: 4, K.J.V.
“Alone With God”
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
James 4: 8, N.R.S.V.
Do I take time each day to draw near to God?
What would it mean to me to know that I am in the presence of my heavenly Father?
“Be Thou my vision,
O Lord of my heart;
Nought be all else to me,
Save that Thou art;
Thou my best thought,
by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping,
Thy presence my light.”
Irish Traditional, Mary Elizabeth Byrne
“There is a fundamental thing, the most serious thing of all, that we are always in the presence of God.”
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones
All the pots had been gathered. Every neighbor had been approached. There wasn’t a bit of space left where another jug could be squeezed. The house was filled. And now the door was closed.
Just put yourself inside this home for a moment. There’s a grieving widow, debt-laden and desperate. There are two young boys, hoping against hope that their lives aren’t to be lived out in the hands of a creditor’s demand. There are pots of all sizes and shapes, squeezed into every nook and cranny of that humble cottage. And finally, there’s a little jar – a nearly empty pot, that contains a few dribbles of oil.
This is the scene, as we peek behind the closed door. A door that was shut at the request of the prophet Elisha.
It is at this time in the story, when we might ask ourselves, “Why the closed door?” I know that I’ve thought about this on more than one occasion. Wouldn’t this be a fine opportunity for God to reveal His power – to show what He is capable of doing? Why not let everyone in town witness God’s glorious miracle-working ability?
However, as I studied II Kings 4: 4 and read what others wrote about this passage as well, I found so many wonderful perspectives which gave me new insights into this text. And at the core – the bottom line, so to speak – is that if you and I want to live a purpose-filled, transformed life each day, we must spend time alone in the presence of our heavenly Father. There’s no other way to achieve the goal. In the words of Angela Thomas in her book, A Beautiful Offering, “We will never have pure hearts unless we do what ever it takes to consistently get ourselves into the presence of God.”
I can’t catch the “presence of God” off of you as if it was a spreadable virus. Alone with God – alone in His presence is how I absorb Him into my life. I can’t inherit His presence. I can’t do a stem-cell transplant and somehow hope that I’ll get His presence in me. There’s simply no substitute for me, taking time each day, and asking my Father to surround me with His presence. To fill me with His Spirit. To enfold me with His love. And so, in a moment when the miraculous power of heaven was on display, Elisha instructed the mom and her sons to close their home and let the enveloping Spirit of God be with them, right in their midst.
I’d like to share with you the way several authors have perceived and then written about the “alone” time when a mom and her sons witnessed heaven’s glory-filled outpouring on their behalf.
My favorite exposition on the book of II Kings, written by pastor, professor and author, Dale Ralph Davis offers this point-of-view:
“The episode, per Elisha’s instructions (verse 4), was to occur behind closed doors, a directive the widow was careful to fulfill (verse 5). Is there any significance to this? Why the secrecy?”
I don’t know how you feel but I believe Pastor Davis has certainly spelled out, quite clearly, the questions that have plagued me regarding the instruction Elisha gave this mother. However, in Davis’ commentary he attempts to answer the questions he posed:
“Now it was not a total secrecy. Neighbors knew something was afoot, what with borrowing all their pottery. Perhaps one can imagine the woman or her lads going round to today’s fast food establishments asking if they had empty five-gallon pickle buckets to give away. Curiosity would surely be roused. But the door was to be closed on the mighty work of God. This suggests that sometimes God’s mighty acts in our behalf are not to be the object of public gaze or report. Sometimes God works quietly, in a hidden way, perhaps precisely because He does not want hullabaloo or fanfare or religious rah-rah over His marvelous provision.”
Then Pastor Davis offers what I consider to be a very illuminating conclusion to verse 4: “Sometimes it may be that God’s staggering goodness is to be kept to oneself…Why might that be?...Because it can become an occasion of pride and Christian posturing…isn’t there something gratifying in God’s marvelous work when we can say He did it for me?...Some of God’s work is not for public consumption, not for the Christian tabloids, and we need to ask ourselves, with our various Christian testimonies, if we are magnifying God or stoking ourselves?”
I believe this last line by Pastor Davis to be key to anything that comes out of your mouth or mine, -- “Did I glorify my Father in Heaven?” The fact is, that when we have infused our lives with time spent alone with God, we won’t have to worry about who we are lifting up for our Father’s presence will naturally radiate from our lives in all we say and do.
There’s one other thought which I also found in my study of our text today and I felt it was just too pertinent to pass over. In his devotional book, Elisha, Man of God, Biblical Professor Leslie Hardinge observes:
“When her sons had knocked on the last neighbor’s house and brought in the very last pot they could find, she called them in and closed the door. Some chapters in our lives are personal. Prying, doubting eyes should be shut away. God sees us in our private communion and rewards us generously. I don’t know whether she lifted up her heart in prayer to God, but being the widow of one of the best of the sons of the prophets, she probably did. Then she took her little bottle of oil and began to empty its pitifully small contents into a huge jar.”
There are days, my dear Garden friends, when I begin my work writing and what I have to lay before my heavenly Father is pitifully inadequate. Whether I’m emotionally upset by continual pain, physically worn by sleepless nights or the spiritual light in my own life may be flickering a little because my own faith is ebbing, when I go into my little closet and spend time alone in the presence of my Father, I feel like the widow in her home with the door closed. Behind the closed door, I’ve seen my Father repeatedly take my most feeble endeavors and use them for His glory. I don’t know how He does it but I know He is at work. For when one of you writes to me and says, “Today, as I read the devotional, while I know men aren’t supposed to cry, tears poured down my cheeks as I felt God touching my heart,” it is then I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when we are alone with our Father, though the content of our jar is measly, when we start poring, the presence of our Father will take over - and you won’t be able to believe what will happen in your life, in the lives of your children, your neighbors, and who knows where else.
I love these tremendously encouraging words from the book, God Is In The Small Stuff For Your Family, written by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz: “You need to make room for God in your lives. When you do, you’ll be amazed at the difference. You’ll see God’s hand directing you, you’ll hear His voice comforting you, and you’ll sense His Spirit embracing you. He will be real to you.”
Come into your home; close the door behind you; lift up to your Father the little clay jar that you have; then start pouring and watch what happens!
“More of Thy presence, Lord, impart,
More of Thine image let me bear;
Erect Thine throne within my heart,
And reign without a rival there.”
Many years ago, I came upon this poem/prayer by Evelyn Underhill which changed the way I look for the presence of God in my own life each day. For a long time, I had the idea that only some big, dramatic revelation would truly qualify as “the presence of God.” Then, I was blessed to find these words, “I come in the little things, saith the Lord.” This got me to take off my blinders and to look for God’s presence in every moment of each day. I pray that you will take a moment to read this beautiful outpouring from the pen of Evelyn Underhill as you take time to spend alone with your heavenly Father whose presence may even be seen in an old clay pot filled with heaven’s oil.
I Come In The Little Things
“I come in the little things,
saith the Lord:
Not borne on morning wings
Of majesty, but I have set My Feet”
Amidst the delicate and bladed wheat
That springs triumphant in the furrowed sod.
There do I dwell, in weakness and in power,
Not broken or divided, saith our God!
In your strait garden plot I come to flower;
About your porch My Vine.
Meek, fruitful, doth entwine;
Wait, at the threshold, Love's appointed hour.
“ I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
Yea! On the glancing wings
Of eager birds, the softly pattering feet
Of furred and gentle beasts, I come to meet
Your hard and wayward heart. In brown bright eyes
That peep from out the brake, I stand confest.
On every nest
Where feathery Patience is content to brood
And leaves her pleasure for the high emprise
Of motherhood –
There doth my Godhead rest.
“I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
My starry wings
I do forsake,
Love’s highway of humility to take:
Meekly I fit My stature to your need,
In beggar’s part
About your gates I shall not cease to plead –
As man, to speak with man – Till by such art
I shall achieve My Immemorial Plan,
Pass the low lintel of the human heart.”
Evenly Underhill, 1875-1941
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.