Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Elisha: Barren or Healing?

And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren.
And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him.
And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the LORD, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.
So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.

2 Kings 2:19-22
The chapter we read tonight had to do with Elisha healing the barren spring of Jericho. The people had to travel far each day to gather water from the Jordan because the spring that was outside of their own city gate was no good. I so very much enjoyed how Mrs. Walton drew the parallel from the barren spring to our own self-loving hearts and the healed waters to those who seek to use their lives in service to bless and encourage others to grow in Christ.

May I quote directly from the book?

"And in that spring we have a picture, a double picture. We can see in it, if we will look, a very good representation of a great many people’s lives.

The lives of some are like that stream before Elisha visited it: going on through this world of sin and sorrow and misery, and yet doing no good to anyone, carrying misery and spiritual barrenness wherever they go. They are living for self, and they have no care for those around them, they bring unpleasantness and not comfort into the hearts of others. Their example is evil and not good; their influence is on the side of this present evil world, with all its sinful and God-forgetting ways.

But the lives of others are strangely and wonderfully different. They resemble Elisha’s stream, not as it was in the days of its barrenness, but as it was after the prophet visited it. They are like Elisha’s stream at the present day. They carry joy and comfort and refreshment wherever they go. They are a blessing to everyone. They cheer all within their reach. They bring ease to the weary, encourage the weak-hearted, and visit the lonely. Wherever they go, they are a quiet power for good, a source of goodness and joy, a lovely stream causing an oasis in the desert life around them.

Let us ask ourselves, Which life is mine? Am I like the stream as it was in its barren days, a useless one in God’s world, bringing no joy or gladness to those around me, the aid of spiritual life and fruitfulness to no one, or am I like the lovely beautiful stream — a helper of many, a blessing in the world? Thank God that just as the Jericho stream by the power of God was changed in its nature, so can our lives be changed.

Elisha gives us the recipe for changing a useless, harmful life into a useful and blessed one. It is the same recipe which the Master gives us in Mark 9:50, where He bids us, "Have salt in yourselves." The salt, put upon the waters of Elisha’s spring, entirely changed its character, and the purifying grace of God can change my life from being an empty, frivolous, useless, mischievous life to being one which will be a blessing to all around me, because of its utter unselfishness.

But one thing we must carefully notice, and that is the place in which Elisha put the salt upon the water. He did not cast it on the waters of the stream half a mile or a mile from the spring. He was careful to go to the source and to cast it on the water at the very spot from which it came bubbling out of the rock. So the Lord would have me learn that if my life is to be different, me heart must be different. If I am to live a changed life, it must be because the source, my innermost heart, has first been changed by the grace of God."

Elisha: God’s Messenger of Grace, by Mrs. O.F. Walton, available from BibleTruthPublishers.com

(Originally published @ homesteadblogger.com/butterandhoney)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Elisha: God's Messenger of Grace

We have started reading in the evening again, and I SO enjoy it. Everyone is comfy and snuggled in bed as we read/sing/pray. It’s just a wonderful way to finish the day and prepare for the next.

In addition to our Bible reading, I’ve started reading Elisha: God’s Messenger of Grace by Mrs. Walton. It is one of the books I ordered as a result of a post on Godly, Uplifting Reading Material. The first chapter spoke of who Elisha was before the call of Elijah. I’m sharing the last few paragraphs below. I hope you are blessed by them.

Elisha’s heart was being tested. He must not look back even as he put his hand to the plow of serving the Lord. No one who does this is fit for the kingdom of God. The old prophet realized this fact, and he answered accordingly. Gravely he said to him, "Go back again: for what have I done to thee?" Why take leave of your family and friends to come with me? The choice lies in your own hands; I will not force you into the work. Go back to your plowing; why leave it? It is evidently a great sacrifice to you. You can remain as you are.

But Elisha has already made up his mind to choose the better part. He turns back to the oxen and servants. Taking the two oxen he was using, he kills them, lights a fire with the plowshare, and cooks them. Then he feasts his servants with the meat. Why does he do all this? He would have them know that the day of God’s call is one of joy, not sorrow. He kills the oxen, the very means of his living, that he might step out in faith to follow wholeheartedly the call of God. Then, leaving father, mother, servants, cattle, land and comfortable home, he sets out to follow the homeless wanderer.

Several thousand years have gone by since that sunny day when young Elisha received his call from God. Yet our God changes not. What He was then, He is now. What He sought then, He seeks now. What He did then, He still does now.

Is He calling you today just as he called Elisha? do you not hear His loving voice saying to you, "Follow Me?" Leave all and follow Christ. But remember, God seeks now just what He sought then; He seeks an undivided heart. He wants your all. If He tests your heart and asks, "Go back again: for what have I done to thee?’" what will your answer be?

Remember, too, that God is now just what He was then, the strength-giving God. He gave Elisha the power to obey that call. He will give the same power to you. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Yes, you can even leave all and follow Him.

Chapter 2 is titled "The Heir Becomes a Servant" and gives a beautiful picture of Elisha, forsaking his riches (he was the heir of an estate), his power (he was placed over his father’s many servants), and his comfort (a good home and every food and luxury available) in order to become the servant of Elijah. This is then paralleled with the picture of our Lord Jesus leaving his heavenly home -
Elisha did not know it, but this change in his life from master to servant was a picture of the great Coming One, the Christ, the Messiah! Elijah, his master, was like John the Baptist in so many ways. He dwelt in the wilderness, feeding on wild fruits and herbs, dressing in the skins of beasts, and preaching repentance to his nation. And, just as Elijah was the picture of John, so his successor, Elisha, tells us of our Lord Jesus Christ who left His home and place in heaven to come down into the world and become a servant.

I’ll stop there – but the humble beauty of this book in turning our eyes to those worthy examples in scripture who point us to our greatest example, the Lord Jesus himself, has been a blessing and touched my heart in a beautifully deep way.

Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah. 2 Kings 3:11

Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant. Philippians 2:5-7

. . . whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:26-28

If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. John 12:26

(Originally published @ homesteadblogger.com/butterandhoney)