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Text: 2 Kings 4:8-37

Proposition: The pleasures and pains of God are for the rescue of man through a resurrection faith that overcomes death by His grace.

Introduction: I want to read a story to you this morning that has all the elements of a great story. It has a hero and a heroine, it has the contrasts of hope and despair, effort and faith and life and death. Like any good story it points to a truth that is there for all of us, even though it depicts the account of something so super-natural which we may never experience. Hear now the story of Mother’s Dei, from 2 Kings 4, verses 8 to 37.As you heard this story, what do think the plot of this drama is really all about? Is it about Elisha, the mystical man of God, or is it about the woman who characterizes so much of what it means to be a mother? Let me suggest to you that the story is about One who never steps on the stage, yet is the center of the drama. He is the point behind the illustration, the truth behind the experience. God often moves in our lives in such a way, never overtly stepping onto the stage and yet He is the point behind the story of all that we do and are. He will use aging fathers, faithful servants, holy people and mothers of infants to unveil the truth of Who He is. The main plot of this story that I’ve just read is about the discovery of the pleasures and pains of God. Let’s look a little more closely at the story and ask our selves, “What is it that brings God pleasure, and what causes Him pain?”

I. When We Consider How It Is For Others, It Brings God Pleasure. One of the spiritual gifts that’s mentioned in the New Testament is the gift of Hospitality. It’s called a spiritual gift because it comes from the Holy Spirit to equip the overall church in being an accurate representative of Jesus Christ. Hospitality is all about the consideration and care of others, and that is a high value to God. When He sees it taking place it brings Him great pleasure because it reflects the love He has for us. Do you remember the words of Jesus on hospitality? “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.” Certainly that verse is about the second coming of Christ and the assurance of heaven, but it’s also about His preparing of a place for us, Christ’s hospitality for us in the Father’s house. So I would say that hospitality is a high value to God. In the passage before us it’s hospitality that begins the whole story. Isn’t it strange that something so simple as a little food could open the door to an issue of life and death. If it hadn’t been for the simple consideration of this woman as she invited, even persuaded, her guest to receive her care, she would never have begun on the path of becoming a mother nor seen life come from death. God takes great pleasure in hospitality, for when you do it to the least of these, He considers that you have shown that care to Him.

II. When We Go the Extra Mile, It Brings Pleasure to God. I think that God takes great pleasure in those who go the extra mile, that is they already are showing care and consideration, but then they go the extra measure. It’s like the woman and her husband who in this story, not only feed Elisha, they make a room in their home for him. Have you ever been the recipient of that ‘extra mile’ kind of care? What impact did it have on you? Gratitude, amazement, thanksgiving, love, a desire to go the extra mile yourself? It brings God great pleasure when you go the extra mile. It’s like God would look upon us at such times and say, “ Ahh, a man after My own heart, ahhh a woman after My own heart! You know what I mean by that, it’s what He would do… no, that’s not true, it’s what He has done already!

III. When We Desire What He Desires, It Brings Pleasure to God. Elisha seeks to pay back the woman for her gracious care, so he asks what it is she desires. Would she like him to put in a word for her to the king? Likely a reference to her receiving some special favor from the treasury, perhaps a new chariot with aluminum wheels and a CD player? Or would she like to have him put in a word to the captain of the army, perhaps a reference to some measure of security, some alarm system installed on her home or the guarantee of safety in finance, friendship and fame. The woman turns all these down, in fact she leaves the request unanswered. It’s Gehazi, Elisha’s servant who makes the observation that perhaps what she really wants, she is afraid to ask for, because it seems out of the reach of anybody. What she really wants is to be able to love at a level that she has been unable to. Quite possibly this woman was married at an earlier age, in an arranged marriage as was the custom of the day. She would have been a young teenager given in marriage to an older man particularly for the purpose of having male children, heirs for the estate. Now he was older, she had no children, her life would seem a failure and her love would be challenged. Ohh that she could love one who would love her with all their heart, love as only a child can offer. Such a desire would bring great pleasure to God, because that’s exactly what He longs for, for those who would love Him with all their heart, those who would love Him for Who He is and not for what He can do.

IV. When We Cry Out Because of Death, God Feels That Pain. The greatest fear of success, the greatest fear of loving, the greatest fear of all intimacy… is that we would loose it. Ironically it’s that fear that holds us back from seeking after the very thing we long for. We fear it’s loss, so we hold back. This woman feared the loss of her love, her child and then the worst imaginable scenario occurred, she had a son, she fell in love with him and then her son, laying on her lap…died. The anguish of her heart shows up in verse 28 where she says to Elisha words to this effect, “ I never asked to be loved like this, I never wanted to love like this because I knew I could loose it, and if that were ever to happen I don’t know what I’d do. And now here I am.” Do you think that God knows the pain of loosing those whom He created, of loosing those whom He loves? Do you think that God knows the pain of loosing an only Son, to death? The pain you fear, God has felt. He is not only aware of our pain, He is able to be there with us because He knows it Himself. Pain, and the fear of it, are what God uses to draw us to Himself. Death is too big for us to handle, it’s designed that way so that God can be God. The anguish of a soul over such things is felt as an empathizing pain to God.

V. When We Doubt the Reality of Resurrection, God Feels this Pain. Have you ever promised someone something fully knowing you were able and willing to deliver, only to have them doubt you? Children that have been hurt will sometimes doubt you, so will adults. I don’t know if the woman really expected Elisha to do anything. I don’t know if the servant who took the staff and laid it across the boy really expected it to do anything. And I kind of wonder what Elisha was thinking as he paced across the room after he had left the boy on the cot, the child’s body warmed but no signs of life. You see this story is really all about resurrection life, how it begins by faith, how it risks love, how it confronts death. But the end of the story reveals resurrection life. I believe that God feels the fear and pain of our hearts when we struggle with believing in the reality of our resurrection. He knows that we hope for life after death, but that this physical body of ours would be restored back to a glorified life…that definitely requires an act of faith. In the case of the woman’s dead son, it required personal contact; mouth on mouth, eyes on eyes, hands on hands. The act of our faith for resurrection life also requires a personal contact for life to occur. It requires the personal contact of the body of Jesus Christ upon our body, His breath for our breath, His blood for our blood, the scars in His hands for our hands. Our sin was laid upon Him, ‘not in part but the whole’, as the song says. That means that the cross of Jesus is really our cross, except He took our place and died upon it for the payment of our sin. It’s strange that the pain of the cross should be the very thing that invites such pleasure to God the Father’s heart, for by the death of the cross comes life. The woman’s response, and our response, is to bow before God and proclaim Him as our God, our deity. Such faith and such praise was certainly due this Mother’s Dei!

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