God’s Opportunities

jar of oil

by Nancy Patten

“We are near the end of all things now, and you should therefore be calm, self-controlled men (and women) of prayer. Above everything else, be sure that you have real deep love for one another, remembering how love can ‘cover a multitude of sins.’ ”

1 Peter 4:7-8 (JB Phillips)

The times we are living in can be very unsettling. It seems sometimes that the evil around us is raging louder and louder in our world. God is asking us, as His children, to be His peace in the tumultuous times.

There is much division over various issues—yes, even in the church. How does God establish His peace in our hearts so we can truly be His hands, feet and voice in the fear-filled world around us?

I shared the short poem by Elisabeth Elliot in my last writing. I will share her words from her book Keep a Quiet Heart, that have ministered deeply to the battle I sometimes have to maintain that peace.

In her introduction to the book she explains that the book “is a compilation of lead articles culled from the newsletter” she wrote to “cheer and encourage.”

“Mostly they are about learning to know God. Nothing else, I believe, comes close to being as important in life as that. It’s what we are here for. We are created to glorify Him as long as we live on this planet, and to enjoy Him for the rest of eternity. Our task is simply to trust and obey. This is what it means to love and worship Him. Jesus came to show us how that can be done….”

jar of oil

She goes on to explain how God led her to trust Him in the “darkness guided by Thy hand.”

“This was my heart’s desire then (1947). It is the same today. A willing acceptance of all that God assigns, and a glad surrender of all that I am and have, constitute the key to receiving the gift of a quiet heart. Whenever I have balked, the quietness goes. It is restored, and life immeasurably simplified, when I have trusted and obeyed.

“God loves us with an everlasting love. He is unutterably merciful and kind, and sees to it that not a day passes without the opportunity for new applications of the old truth of becoming a child of God. This, to me, sums up the meaning of life.” pp. 11-13 (selected words.)

Oh, how true this has been for me as I have walked in the “opportunities” God has placed in my life. As I continued on in my quiet time with the Lord that day, He used another saint of long ago to expand on the reality of those “opportunities.”

A.B. Simpson, in his 8/26 reading from Days of Heaven on Earth, continued to challenge me:

“Thine handmaiden ( the widow whose husband was a prophet who had died) hath not anything in the house save a pot of oil.” 2 Kings 4:2

“Elisha asked the widow, ‘What hast thou in the house?’ And she said, ‘Nothing but a pot of oil.’ But that pot of oil was adequate for all her needs, had she only known how to use it.

In truth it represented the Holy Spirit, and the great lesson of the incident is that the Holy Spirit is adequate for all our needs, if we only know how to use Him. All the widow needed was to get sufficient vessels to hold the overflow, and then to pour out until they were filled.

Even so, the Holy Spirit is limited only by our capacity to receive Him, and when God wants us to have a larger fullness, He has to make room for it by creating greater needs.

“God sends us new vessels to be filled with His Holy Spirit in the needs that come to us, and the trials that meet us. These are God’s opportunities to give us more of Himself. As we meet them He comes to us in larger fullness for each new necessity.

“Lord, help me to see Thee in all my trying situations, and to make them vessels to hold more of Thy grace.”

pouring out olive oil

Oh, what an amazing God we serve! Often His ways seem such a mystery to us.

Oh, Father, as we surrender to You, please open our eyes to the ways You are stretching us to receive more of You and Your fullness. May we praise and worship You in every trial, knowing that Your love for us and those around us is why You bring those “opportunities” to us.

Glory to Your holy Name, our King and our God!

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