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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Elisha and the Shunammite Woman

Elisha and the Shunammite Woman
 Creating an attitude of expectation
2 Kings 4:8-37

The story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman is one of my favorite Bible stories because there are hidden treasures and lessons to be found in it.  Back in the Old Testament days, God would raise up prophets to speak His Word to the people.  And all the Jewish people recognized that these prophets were from God and that they carried God’s Holy Spirit anointing on their lives. 

Elisha was one of God’s powerful prophets who lived around 575 B.C. and traveled around Israel spreading God’s Word and performing miracles and healing the people.  On his many journeys Elisha often traveled through the country of Shunem and a woman who lived in Shunem wanted to get to know Elisha better so that she could know more about Elisha’s God.  She invited Elisha to come to her house for dinner and let him know that he was always welcome to drop by for dinner any time he was traveling through Shunem.    

Here is how Scripture starts telling the story.  “It happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman, and this woman persuaded Elisha to come to her house and have dinner.  So as often as Elisha traveled through Shunem he would turn in there for dinner.  The woman mentioned to her husband, ‘Look now, I know that Elisha is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly.  Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall of our house: and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand: so it will be, whenever he travels by here he can turn in and stay in this guest room.’ ” (2 Kings 4:8-10) 

This Shunammite woman had seen Elisha preach and perform miracles and healings in God’s Name and she wanted to see more.  She was intentional in helping Elisha by cooking dinners for him and building a guest room for him so that she could get closer to him and to his God.  She had seen God’s power flowing through Elisha.  And by making a room for Elisha in her home, I believe she was making room for God in her life. And making room for the supernatural and perhaps for God’s miraculous in her life too!

The Shunammite woman approached God’s prophet, Elisha with enthusiasm and her attitude created an atmosphere of expectation.  She believed his God was holy and I think she was open to coming closer to his God. I think we could follow her example and create an atmosphere of expectation when we come to God, knowing that God is good and He wants to guide our lives.    

During his travels, Elisha spent many nights in the comfortable room that the Shunammite woman and her husband built for him.  He enjoyed many dinners around their table.  Scripture tells us that one day Elisha asked the Shunammite woman what he could do for her perhaps to return her kindness, and she couldn’t think of anything.  So Elisha told her that in a year she would have a son.  This woman had never been able to become pregnant and now in older age she and her husband would finally have the baby they had always wanted!  Indeed Scripture tells us that the Shunammite woman did have a baby boy the following year!  

But the story doesn’t end here.  Six or eight years later the Shunammite woman’s little boy got a very bad head ache and died!  Scripture says that when her son died the Shunammite woman ran to Mount Carmel where Elisha was performing miracles and she insisted that he come back with her and pray that God would bring her son back to life.  Elisha rushed back to her home with the Shunammite woman and held her dead little boy and prayed to the Lord.   And God answered Elisha’s prayers and the little boy sneezed and came back to life again.  (2 Kings 4:32-36)  This woman had a holy boldness that would not take no for an answer.   And God honored that.

Another woman we read about in the Bible also had great expectations for what God would do for her, and she also received her miracle.  Here is the story.  “Suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment.  For she said to herself, ‘If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.’ “(Matthew 9:20-21) 

This poor woman had been sick and losing blood for twelve years.  She must be very weak losing blood for all of those years.  But this woman knew who Jesus was, - that He was the Son of God and that He had the power to heal.   She had seen Jesus heal and she knew people who had been healed by Him.  And she knew what she wanted from Jesus.  She wanted to be healed. 

This woman touched Jesus’ robe and Scripture tells the rest:  “”Jesus turned and saw her, ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’  And the woman was healed from that moment on.”  (Matthew 9:22) 

Jesus said that this woman’s faith healed her!   She must have had the kind of faith that pleases God for Jesus to tell her that her faith was the cause of her healing!  So what was her faith made up of?  How can we have that kind of faith too?  First she knew who Jesus was and she believed that He could heal her.  And she knew what she wanted from Jesus.  She wanted to be healed.  And she went about getting what she wanted from Jesus.

 If we are to have faith like this woman, the first thing we need to do is to know who Jesus is – to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior and Lord of our life.  We need to believe in His power and ability to save us and answer our prayers.  And secondly we need to know what we want from God.  He invites us to “Ask and we will receive” if we believe in Him and if what we ask for is in His will.

Perhaps we need to make up our minds that we want more from God and more from ourselves than we have been experiencing in the past.  Why settle for less?  Why walk away with empty hands when God would have us take away blessings and miracles for others and for ourselves. 

Scripture says: “If we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”  (Romans 8:25)   It sounds like perseverance is also part of faith.  God calls us to be people of faith and when we have faith in God, an attitude of expectation comes along with faith!  We are willing to persevere or to keep on waiting and praying when we have an attitude of expectation.

Of course we need to be cautious to avoid negative expectations.  Many of us are not receiving answers to our prayers because we are not expecting to receive answers to our prayers.  Scripture says: “…anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.”  (Hebrews 11:6b)   God wants us to expect good things from Him and diligently seek Him.  Do we do that?

  If we have a loved one who we have been praying for and there have been no turnarounds we can start out by worshipping the Lord.  Praise Him and thank Him for all He has done.  Lose ourselves in the majesty and power of God and how He is able to take care of our loved one and her problems.  Look to God instead of the difficulties of our unanswered prayer.  The more we concentrate on God the more He will reveal Himself and then our expectations will rise.  And we will have the faith to receive or persevere for our answer whenever it arrives. 

We make room for God by renewing our minds.  By letting the Holy Spirit move in our hearts.  By taking time each day to wait on the Lord. We are like the Shunammite woman and that room she built represents an attitude of expectation.  If we want to experience God’s miracles in our lives we need to make room for God in our lives each day and come to Him with love and joy and expectation.  God is waiting for us to come!
Many of the ideas in this blog were taken from Kynan Bridges book, “The Power of Unlimited Faith”

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