Summary: A sermon that encourages us serve God faithfully, to know his peace in dark times and to persevere in prayer until there’s a breakthrough
2 Kings 04:08-37 Basingstoke 29th April 2007 Believing in God’s Power
Two children went to Sunday school one day and the teacher told them the story in Genesis about Lot’s wife looked back and how she became a pillar of salt.
As they were walking home afterwards one of the children said to the other one,
"Do you really believe that Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt?"
"Oh Yes”, said the other “I believe it. My Mum was driving her car yesterday, and she told me when she looked back for a moment she turned into a telephone pole."
Joking aside people often question God’s power to do things
This morning as we turn to this story of Elisha and the Shunamite Woman
We discover God’s power at work in some amazing ways
Not turning people into Salt or telegraph poles but power to transform lives
1. GOD’S POWER REWARDS SERVICE WITH BLESSING v8-18
This story centres on a woman described in v8 - depending on your Bible version - who was “well to do” “wealthy” “notable” “prominent” or simply “great”
She may well have had money, enabling her to offer generous hospitality to Elisha
But there’s also a sense in which her “greatness” = Hebrew word used could ….
i) be saying something about her spiritual qualities too. She was a woman of piety and spirituality – She was spiritually great
ii) v9 tells us something else about her greatness – she was perceptive and discerning she recognised Elisha, a regular visitor, as indeed a Holy Man of God. (Unlike the youths 2:23 who called him old baldy!)
iii) She was great because of her tremendous graciousness in hospitality
Not only offering a good meal to Elisha when he passes through Shunem
but v10 asks husband to build a small room on the roof – a loft conversion She turns their home into a B& B so Elisha can stay over night in a place where he can find privacy and comfort and feel at home.
Hospitality is a wonderful Spiritual gift that Scripture encourages us to use.
“Share with God’s people Practice Hospitality” Rom 12:13
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling!! 1 Pet 4:9
Appl: You have a home? Do you have this gift? Using it?? Builds fellowship
I don’t hear any grumbling coming from this lady. She was generous and did it gladly
In fact when Elisha wants to honour her for her hospitality – by speaking to the King on her behalf v13 She says “I have a home among my own people”
Look I’m quite comfortable where I am, I like to live privately I don’t want any fuss
Just let me just get on and do it quietly. That’s how this gift should be used
Not to win favours, or Score points or to Get a Reputation for yourself –
At the heart of it you may be serving others but essentially It’s service to God.
And it’s God whose Power brings about an unexpected Reward!
v14 Gehazi points out that this woman has no son and an old husband
In those days it wasn’t just the joy of having children and raising a family
Children were your pension plan! Provided for you when your husband died
No Income Support, No free Health Service!! – you’re on your own!
v16 Elisha tells her she’ll be holding a son in her arms by next year
Quite obviously by her reaction v17 it’s a hope and dream she’s long let go of.
No my Lord! She objects “don’t mislead your servant O Man of God”
Later in the story v28 She tells Elisha Didn’t I tell you not to raise my hopes?
Having children was something she’d long ago given up hope of happening
She’d become resigned to, probably long ago given up praying for.
Despite many great qualities this was more than she could ever hope or believe
Here’s God’s power at work – She didn’t need to doubt or question what God can do
God is far bigger than her doubts and questions –
What does God’s word say to us in situations like this? Paul tells us
He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, Eph 3:20
What are the issues are that you are struggling with in your own life at the moment?
What things have you long ago stopped praying for? Long ago stopped hoping for?
Have you given up hoping because like the SS kids you can’t believe God’s power?
Listen God has not changed – By his power
He’s able to do immeasurably more than you can ever ask!
Able to do immeasurably more than you can ever imagine or dream of