Psalms 131-133 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  He blesses our unity with life everlasting

Olive oil has been an essential commodity since early civilization, and it’s still a lucrative product in Italy.  Imagine the excitement for this Italian girl to be taken by dear missionary friends to a castle in the hills of Tuscany, one with a working olive grove and press.  The kind workers allowed us to watch the oil making process from start to finish.  Yes, be still my heart!

The process was lengthy, beginning with a thorough rinsing to remove soil, then the olives were crushed and pulverized into a paste.  At the end, the paste was pressed under pressure, the vegetable water extracted and the finished product was the fragrant liquid we know and enjoy as olive oil.  Olive oil doesn’t just happen – it’s a process under pressure. 

@ Psalm 133
“How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!  For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe.” (1-2)  This anointing oil not only went through the pressing process, but it was also combined with pure fragrances, producing an extraordinary aroma to the Lord.  In this same way, heaven is filled with a pleasing fragrance when God’s people live together in harmony and peace.  But just like the olive oil process, harmony most often results from a process under pressure.

The harmony that believers experience is the result of a process that involves lives that were once soiled by this world but are now cleansed by the blood of Jesus.  Their individual agendas and selfish goals are surrendered to the breaking or crushing process of the Holy Spirit to where their hearts are contrite to God’s desires and plans. This pressing, this process under pressure, produces a precious aroma of unified worship that pleases the Lord.  “And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.” (3)

I like to visualize the anointing of Aaron as the oil was poured saturating his hair, down his face and beard, filling every crevice, every fold of fabric and all the way down to his hem.  The oil saturated and marked the fabric, as oil will do, and left an amazing fragrance that filled the nostrils of God and everyone around Aaron.  All this was a visual and sensory reminder of God’s anointing on him. When God’s people live in harmony with love toward one another, we are marked and fragrant in a way for all those around us to sense. “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35)

Just as the best perfumes today attract people to them, our fragrant harmony will attract to us those who have never experienced it.  They will wonder, what is that? Where can I find it?  Just as Jesus prayed for unity in John 17, when we live together as believers in harmony, God blesses our unity, and lost souls are attracted to it because they find it nowhere else.  No wonder David sang, “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!” 

Moving Forward: Along with all believers, my goal today is to be saturated and marked with the oil of harmony, so fragrant that others will be attracted to us. 

Tomorrow @ Ecclesiastes 7-8

2 Kings 1-5 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: With His abundant provision, He blesses our obedience

Being Italian and all, I experience a sense of panic when I’m down to the last of my olive oil.  Olive oil is the start of almost everything I cook and often the finishing touch.  If I ever ran out of it, well…obviously, we would have to eat out!  A poor widow in Israel was down to her last small bottle of olive oil, but that was the least of her problems. 

@ 2 Kings 4
The widow explained to the prophet Elisha, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord.  But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” (1)  Thankfully, Elisha was concerned not only with nations and kings, but he was also interested in how he could help her.  Even though much of the nation of Israel was godless and corrupt at the time, God provided for His children who loved Him.  This is a powerful word for us today.

“Tell me, what do you have in the house?”  Enter the bottle of olive oil. “‘Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,’ she replied.” (2)  It’s amazing what God can do with nothing at all.  In obedience to Elisha’s instruction, the widow and her sons collected empty jars from their friends and neighbors.  Surely this seemed strange to them, but they borrowed the jars in faith. And the miracle came, not through their understanding of it, but through their obedience to it.  So often our faith fails, but never His faithfulness.

Elisha instructed them to “borrow as many empty jars as they could…then go into the house with your sons and shut the door behind you.”(3)  No doubt the creditors were watching, and the friends and neighbors were curious about what was happening.  Perhaps Elisha shut the door because he wanted to be certain that no one caused them to doubt with questions and criticism that would circumvent this miracle from God.  Likewise, we would do well to protect ourselves from those, well-meaning or not, who would hinder our obedience to Him.  “Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars…So she did as she was told.  Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another.  Soon every container was full to the brim!” (4)  If this miracle doesn’t excite us, we should check our pulse – really!

The increase came in the pouring out, not the hoarding of what she considered nothing at all – a flask of oil.  Regardless of our need, what do we possess?  Perhaps it’s something we consider nothing at all that we can offer to Him in obedience.  In our submission we are saying, “This is yours, Lord, use it, multiply it, and pour it out however you choose.  I don’t need to understand because I know you are faithful.”

However He leads, whether through His whisper or His guidance through open doors, let’s be enthusiastically obedient, full of faith for our needs to be met and then some.  What if the widow had borrowed only 1 or 2 jars?  “Bring me another jar,’ she said to one of her sons.  ‘There aren’t any more,’ he told her.  And then the olive oil stopped flowing.”  I don’t want my faith to stop short of all He wants to provide for me – I want to fill every last jar!

“When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, ‘Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.’” (7)  Needs met…and then some!  An old Gary Chapman song comes to mind, “I’m yours, Lord, everything I’ve got.  Everything I am, everything I’m not…”  I want to give it all to God and trust Him to meet my needs…and then some! 

Moving Forward: With His Word thrilling my heart today, I once again pour myself out, everything I am, everything I’m not.  I can’t wait to see what His hand provides. 

Tomorrow @ Psalms 78-80