Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
The combining of two ordinary and small words can lead to interesting situations. Consider the two word combination, "Nothing but...” in today's devotional.
“A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, 'Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.' So Elisha said to her, 'What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?' And she said, 'Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.' Then he said, 'Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors — empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.' So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, 'Bring me another vessel.' And he said to her, 'There is not another vessel.' So the oil ceased. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, 'Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest.'” (2 Kings 4.1-7).
“Then one of the crowd answered and said, 'Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.' He answered him and said, 'O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me' Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, 'How long has this been happening to him?' And he said, 'From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. Jesus said to him, 'If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.' Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, 'Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!' When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, 'Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!' Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, 'He is dead.' But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, 'Why could we not cast it out?' So He said to them, 'This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.'” (Luke 9.17-29).
First, there was nothing but a jar of oil. Then there was nothing that would work besides prayer and fasting. In both cases, it was God's remedy that availed and not man's. Our sights are sometimes far too low for the situation. Had the woman simply believed that Elisha really could provide miraculously for her, I think she just might have found many more vessels! Had the disciples really believed the power that God had vested in them, it is doubtful that they would have been unable to cast out the unclean spirit from the lad. In both cases, God's intent was greater than man was capable of grasping. In both cases, the nothing but turned out to be a big deal!
I am reminded of an old hymn that used to be heard regularly in the country congregations that I used to attend as a boy; the hymn was Nothing but the Blood of Jesus! It taught the tremendous truth that man has but one means by which his sins can be forgiven – the blood of Jesus – and nothing but!
1. How big is nothing but in the hands of God? When Moses stood before God, he had nothing in his hand but a staff? What did God do with that nothing but?
2. What made the jar of oil so plentiful? What limitation was placed on how much oil the jar could provide?
3. The man said, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” How does that sentiment tie into today's message?
4. Why is it the case that man's sins can only be forgiven by the blood of Jesus? Who or what made it to be such? Can we limit the power of the blood? If so, how?
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