Miracles

October 18, 2015II Kings 4Miracles Shunammite Woman

 

    I believe in miracles.  I believe that miracles come from God.  The bible is full of miracles and that God who caused these miracles is the same yesterday today and forever.  I believe that we live in the last days and God is going to pour out his spirit in powerful ways in these days.   I believe that God delights in doing miracles.  I believe that each one of us desires and needs a miracle.  Perhaps some of you do not believe that.  I would say when we pray that we are asking for divine intervention which in my mind is a miracle.    

   We do not see the word miracle much in the Old Testament but we see many miracles.  Also the word heal and healed are seen many times in the Old and New Testaments.  In the Old Testament we see a number of times where God opened the barren womb so the woman could become a mother.  We see where people were healed and the dead were raised.   We also see many times where God granted miracles to his people when they cried out to him in battle situations.  God also showed himself strong and revealed his glory to Egypt when the Children of Israel were led out of slavery to freedom.  What a great God.  God has proven himself to be compassionate and involved with his people sometimes in judgment when they sinned but as a God who blessed them when they turned to Him with all their heart.  When they turned to Him with all their heart God blessed them and answered them and came to their rescue.  You can read the stories for yourself and He is the same today.   

   The chapters in the beginning of II Kings deal with Elisha and he is a man of God.  We see several miracles that were done through his life and 4 of them are recorded in this chapter.  He asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.  He wanted and asked for the anointing of God to be upon him and God used him.  Elisha travels around.  It is believed that he lives some 20 miles from this woman and it is believed that Mount Carmel was several miles beyond her house.  If it is 20 miles to her house that would make a good long walk and it would make her place a stopping point if he was traveling to Mount Carmel.   Perhaps there was a school of prophets that way or maybe Elisha traveled from town to town to minister in those days.  The passage would indicate that he traveled to Shunem from time to time.  

    A woman there whose name is not mentioned urges him to stay with her.  She is an important or prominent woman or well to do.  We do not know much about her husband.  He does not seem to oppose Elisha being there.   It looks like she just wants to be a servant.  She urges or insists that he stay with her.   She wants her possessions to be used.  Life is not all about her.   She sees that he is a man of God.   She knows that he is a man of God and that here is a chance to serve.  Here is a chance to next to a man of God.  Jesus told the disciples to let your blessing come on the house where you stay.  In a sense you are getting close to the Lord when you are around God’s servants.  Not everybody can recognize a man or woman of God.   Some have entertained angels unaware.    It looks like she has a spiritual bent to her life.  .  Those are positive qualities that would make her a good mother.  What a good woman.  Her greatness extends beyond her money. 

     At first they just feed him and then she asked to have a small room made for him with a lamp, a bed and a table for him.   It looks like the room is big enough for Elisha and his servant.  Her kindness does not go unnoticed.  I do not know everything about adding to a house in those days but I suspect it was not easy nor was it cheap.  We have done 4 major renovations or additions here at Church and each one was thousands of dollars.  I have done some house work and a house addition.   It was costly in time and money.  Some of us have probably experienced tearing out a kitchen and living in the place while you do it.   It has its challenges.  This couple made a sacrifice.  

    God always rewards our service.    Jesus said those that left houses or lands and family for him would receive a hundred times as much.  I just read in my bible reading in Matthew 10 if you give a cup of water to a little one because you are a disciple of Jesus you will not lose your reward.   God rewards what we give to him.  It is not all in this life either.   Her name is not mentioned but her deeds are.    Her deeds her actions go well beyond the span of her life.   It reaches into the bible and into eternity.   So also our sacrifices and service to Jesus reaches far beyond us..  Your prayers reach far beyond you.   Being a Christian and serving Jesus is so rewarding and amazing.  

   One day Elisha calls his servant and asks him to get the woman.  Elisha tells her you have done all this for us and what can we do for you.  Can I speak to the commander or the king on your behalf?   You reap what you sow maybe not always in this life but God will repay.  What a great opportunity.  Most folks would jump on that.  Sure put in a good word for me.  She said I have a home among my people.  She says I am content.  She had a heart to serve and a heart to give.  Contentment is a good thing.  I assume after she leaves Elisha asks Gehazi what he thinks she might want.  Gehazi said she does not have any children.  Children were very important in those days to most women.  We do not know if they had an issue with having children or if her husband’s age was an issue.   Gehazi said he is old.  She may have been old also. 

   Now is this something that Elisha could have figured out?   Of course.  Elisha could have enquired of the Lord and got the same answer or he could have just figured it out.  I think God likes to work in and through teams.  None of us have all the answers.   We need each other.   Fellowship is very important.  Gehazi is just a servant to Elisha.  Sometimes we sell ourselves short.  If you want God to use you God will use you.  You might think well what can I add to anything.   No do not think like that.  God is a great God and He desires to use you. 

    The Shunammite woman was called again and Elisha tells her about this time next year you will be holding a baby boy. 

She responds with do not mislead me.  Some of the translations say do not lie to me.  Those are pretty strong words to use.   I get the sense here that this is a touchy subject for her.  Elisha had just asked her if he could do anything for her or speak to the king or commander for her and she was OK with things.  She did not have any requests.  I think this issue of having a child had been eating at her. I do not think that She thought that somehow God would bless her with children.   She did not expect to get a child from what she did for Elisha.  She did not bargain with God.   I think she had struggled with having a child for years and had given up.  This ship had sailed and she did not want to deal with it any more.  She had given up hope.  It has been years and there is no child.   Proverbs says hope deferred makes the heart sick. 

    Life can be such that are setbacks and delays to our dreams and in time we write the dream off.  I am not going to think about it anymore.  We give up.   The enemy of our soul comes in like a flood and whispers in our ear it ain’t ever gonna happen.   You will never get that.  That will never happen for you and sometimes we bury our dream and we suck it up.   Sometimes that is exactly the time when God steps in.  God says I am going to show you what I can do.  God is going to get all the glory for it.  I have showed you that can’t do it.  Don’t quit and give up.   The last chapter has not been written yet.  God can do amazing things.  When Abraham turned 99 years old Sarah had not yet conceived.   Abraham 99 years old and God says I am going to give a boy Abraham. 

   I have come across this illustration a couple of times and I love it.  I took this from Church Swindoll’s book on illustrations.  He writes hope delivers us from the despair that nothing we do matters and enables us to tackle even the most menial job with vigor.   Elmer Endiner tells the remarkable story of a B-17 bomber that flew a bombing mission over Germany in the latter days of WWII.   The plane was hit several times by shells and flak with some of the hits directly in the fuel tank. Miraculously the bomber did not explode.   When it landed eleven unexploded twenty millimeter shells were taken from the fuel tank!  The shells were dismantled and to the amazement of everyone all were empty of explosives.

    Inside one shell was a note written in Czech.   Translated it read this is all we can do for you now.   A member of the Czech underground working in a German munitions factory had omitted the explosives in at least eleven of the twenty millimeter shells on his assembly line.   That worker must have often wondered if the quiet work that he did was going to subvert the Nazi war effort was going to make any difference whatsoever to the outcome of the war.  We do not know how many notes he wrote and put in the shells but what are the chances that anyone would ever know what he did.  His life still speaks to us today.  He probably risk his life to do that. 

    What do you think the chances are that anyone would ever know his sacrifice?   Even if you found a shell like that in the woods that just fell to the ground what is the chances that anyone would open it?   It is about zero.  Shells are shot from a gun is tapped on the end and then it explodes.  A 22 round goes at about 1000 feet per second at the end of the barrel. I have to believe that the Germans were watching for espionage.  He risk his life and he does not say that God told him to do it.  What are the chances if God put something on your heart to do that it would be seen?   God would certainly see it and it would be rewarded.   It would count for eternity.  Would you welcome and invite God to put something on your heart to do or would you be afraid to do that?   This Czech soldier inspires hope for us today. One thing is for sure God used the work he did one day to save some lives.    Lives are precious and souls are precious.  

   Don’t mislead me she tells Elisha.   He did not lie to her or mislead her instead she gets pregnant.   Wow that is quite a gift to give to a couple.  What a blessing to have a precious child.  It was not her faith that brought it about.  God stepped in and moved on her behalf.  When hope was gone God was still there.  He is always there.  Isn’t this exciting?  Isn’t this just so alive.  God’s word speaks to our lives today in wonderful ways.   

   The child is born and grows and one day he dies.  That is very difficult.  Parents think that they should outlive their children but that does not always happen.  She travels to Mount Carmel to get Elisha.  She falls at his feet and Gehazi comes to push her away but Elisha told him not to do it.   Elisha sees that she is in bitter distress.  He sends Gehazi to put his staff on the boys face but she will not leave him.   Elisha travels with her back to her house.  The staff did not give life back to the boy.  Elisha spreads himself out on the boy a couple of times and then the boy comes back to life.  She is mentioned again in chapter 8.  Elisha sends her away when famine hits the land and then she returns to the king to get her house and inheritance back.

    It is interesting in II Kings 13 that they were burying a dead man and throw his body in Elisha tomb.  When the dead man touched Elisha’s bones he came to life and stood up.  There was healing from Elisha bones.  There is life in Elisha bones.  Think of the healing from the blood of Jesus and think of the healing from the broken body of Jesus.  God is into life.  Think of the miracles we have today form Jesus life.  Would you invite a miracle from God?  Is it time to resurrect a dream that has died?  Would you trust God for a miracle?  You might say well who am I?   I am not worthy and that would be true.  I think it has a lot more to do about who God is then who you are.