Tuesday, 09 September 2008 07:06

The Fruit of God's Ways

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Let us read 2 Kings 4:32-37: And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD. And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son. Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, and went out.

In the last few messages, we have been learning about God from how He revealed Himself in the life of the woman we know as the Shunammite. We have seen just how richly God dealt with her, in many different ways. He is so richly at work in all of his children this way! God shaped her life through His powerful word in a wicked culture. God sovereignly chose her sorrows and her joys. He gave her a son, according to his special promise. He tested her faith by the death of her boy. She responded by confessing His name, and by wrestling with Him in faith. He crowned His ways by raising her boy from the dead, giving her even greater confidence in Him.

Now we want to focus on the fruit of all this power, goodness, and mercy from God in this womans life. When you think about all that God has done for her, there is only one fitting response love and worship. We see this response starting in verse 36. After the child sneezes seven times, and opens his eyes, Elisha has what surely was one of the most joyful tasks of his entire ministry. Calling his servant, who was apparently waiting outside the door, Elisha says to Gehazi, Go call her. With pounding heart, she climbs the stairs to the room up on the roof. When she walks in, there is an awestruck and smiling prophet who says to her, Take up your son!

Strangely, she does not start with this though. She does not do what any mother would long to do under the circumstances. Rather than running to hug her child, she starts by falling at the feet of Elisha. This is not worship of Elisha, which he certainly would not have permitted. It is worship of the God of Elisha who has kept His own promise to her with such sovereign mercy, through His prophet.

We are not told a word of what she said, either to Elisha or to her son. But her bodily language tells us the most important thing we need to know. Here is a woman who has learned to triumph through Gods sovereign ways, through Gods powerful promises. She does what every true child of God does. She thanks and worships God as her highest priority. When Gods sovereign ways, painful though they may seem for a while, lead in the end to light, joy, and powerful evidences of his love and faithfulness, who would not worship! Who would not love and adore the sovereign God who reveals Himself this way in your life?

This is one of the tests of real faith and godliness. Do you worship and love the God who is having His own way in your life? Can you do so right now? Maybe you find this an impossibly difficult question. You want to say, But I havent seen the end goal yet of Gods sovereign ways in my life. I am still right in the middle of one of His painful providences. Dear one, you have seen Gods goal. You have gotten a glimpse in this passage of where God is headed in your life, if you are one of His. His goal is that you triumph through Jesus Christ in such a way that you will be able to worship and adore Him when you fall at His feet. He will one day save you completely from sin, death, sorrow, and tears. In the resurrection of all things, He will crown your life with his blessings. Cant you worship and love Him now already by faith, in anticipation of His triumphs, as He promised, in your life?

Then comes the moment in verse 37 that makes every mothers eyes mist over. She picks up her son, and goes out with her boy in her arms. He becomes a living memorial to her throughout her life of Gods faithfulness.

We do not know much about the rest of her life, other than one brief glimpse in 2 Kings 8. There again the Lord provided for her. After all, once the Lord begins to show His saving mercy in someones life, He never ever forsakes the work of His own hands. 2 Kings 4 was only the beginning of a long row of blessings that will never run out. She is still enjoying those mercies now in heaven, and will enjoy them throughout the endless resurrection life God gives His people on the new earth.

In 2 Kings 8, the Lord warned the Shunammite woman, again through Elisha, to leave the country for seven years while the Lord punished the land with a famine. When she came back, someone else had decided to take over her land and refused to give it back. So she had to appeal to the king to have it restored. In Gods amazing providence, she came to the throne room during the very moments when the king was interviewing Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, about some of the amazing miracles Elisha had done. Just as Gehazi was finished with his story of the raising of her son from the dead, she called out asking for her land. In amazement, Gehazi said, There is the very woman we are talking about, O king! The king was so impressed with Gods blessings in her life, that he even ordered her land to be given back along with payment for the years she had been gone. God provided, as He always does for His people!

God has His ways of doing this today too. He never sends only trial or only sorrow in the lives of his children. He has His ways of showing mercy, whether in response to fervent prayer, to wrestling faith, or as a surprise unlooked for and unasked for. Over and over again He sends the evidences of His goodness and gives His people reason to believe in Him and to sing His praises. Over and over again, God demonstrates that He never forsakes the work of His own hands.

What about you? This same sovereign God is at work in your life too. He will have His own way in your life. His sovereign ways will bring Him to victory. Only, the question is, What kind of victory? Will it be a triumph over you, or a triumph for you? Will He triumph by rewarding your stubborn rebellion with wrath and condemnation? Or will He triumph by making you more than conqueror through Jesus Christ through everything He brings in to your life?

I have to ask you this, because Elisha and the Shunammite woman are not the only people we meet in this chapter. We also meet Gehazi, the servant of Elisha. You only have to read 2 Kings 5 to discover what kind of person he is. Gehazi is a greedy schemer who apparently served Elisha in order to get something out of it money, prestige, or whatever else. Gehazi was shrewd. He was able to notice some things even Elisha did not see right away. He knew this woman did not have a child, and he pointed it out to Elisha. He was the one only too ready to run with the staff of the prophet, and to lay it on the boys body. He would have been thrilled to be able to come back and say, I put the staff on him and now the boy is alive and well! What honor this would have brought to Gehazi.

But the next chapter tells us that with Gehazi, it was all about me, me, me. He lacked spiritual wisdom. He could not be depended on, because he was willing to use and abuse even the most holy things to serve his own greed. When he had to deny himself, and sacrifice his desire for riches in order to serve the honor of God and the advancement of Gods kingdom in the life of Naaman, this was too much for him. Do you see now that to be faithful to this passage, I must ask you how Gods promises and blessings affect you spiritually? Do they bear fruit in your life?

What could a Gehazi attitude look like today? Maybe you are very sharp, with good business sense. You know how to make money. You can spot a good opportunity a mile away. But you lack spiritual wisdom, you are blind. When serving Gods kingdom requires self denial and self sacrifice, you

find ways to make excuses and to bail out. When Gods sovereign way is different than you would prefer, you take matters into your own hands.

What a foolish, senseless tragedy that the very same Gehazi who stood in the doorway and watched the Shunammite woman worship God and then hug her resurrected son in tearful triumph could waste the powerful impressions of the sovereignty of God that he received that day. Yet waste them he did. Perhaps only the heavy hand of God in afflicting Gehazi with Naamans leprosy could wake Gehazi up to his spiritual danger.

Dont you have to learn this way? God has spoken to you, and made you during these messages almost an eyewitness of the fact that His sovereign ways will always triumph in the lives of those who are His. Perhaps you have sat at the edge of your seat at the thought of all that God promises to sinners in sending His Son into this world as the great prophet of His church. Maybe you even felt joy and amazement as we watched this woman embrace her son, and sing for joy that evening down in the house. Dont return to the routine of business as usual. Dont waste these impressions. Dont harden your heart. Dont forget the sovereign God who rules over your life. Dont tempt His heavy hand of discipline, which may well come if His word is not enough to melt you. Even now, He has sent an ambassador of His Son to speak well of Jesus Christ, and to say to you: Put your trust in Him. Turn from your sins. Learn to worship the sovereign God who does all things well, who makes and keeps all His promises, who gives sinners so many reasons to believe in Him, pray to Him, and worship Him.

In this way, we have tried to focus on who God is and what God is doing throughout our messages on the life of the Shunammite woman. After all, this is why we were created to glorify God in all things. The life story of everyone in the world in the end needs to be told in a God-centered way, to the glory of God. Every moment in your life is telling you something about God. How great He is! How worthy of your worship, trust, and obedience!

Pastor Eric Moerdyk

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