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Make Room

• Nicole Bullock

God gives us dreams for our future. Yet, the circumstances and demands of life have a way of causing us to put those dreams away or forget them all together. How do we allow God to awaken us to the dreams he offers us? In this powerful message, Nicole Bullock (Co-Pastor of Blue Oaks Church in Brooklyn Center, MN) shares the story of a Shunammite woman who makes room for God in the face of paralyzing discouragement. Nicole also shares her own story of keeping faith in God through the uncertainty of seemingly-hopeless circumstances.

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Nicole Bullock shared a powerful story in 2 Kings 4:8, about an unlikely friendship between Elisha the Prophet and a wealthy Shunammite woman. Whenever Elisha passed through her region, the woman would offer him a meal to honor God’s representative. After a while, the woman and her husband decided to make room in their house for Elisha to stay and rest upon passing through. The woman’s hospitality and willingness to make room for God in her life caused Elisha to be overcome with gratitude. Elisha asks what he can to for her as an expression of his gratitude for her generous hospitality.

Nicole notes how wonderful it is, when you tirelessly give yourself to others and someone asks, “How can we bless you back; what can we do for YOU?”

The Shunammite woman hesitates at first, but then Elisha is told that she wants a son. Elisha declares that God will give her a son within one year.

The Shunammite woman created space in her home for others and this makes space for God to move in her life. We want to be the kind of Kingdom people who create environments where people can become who God has called them to be. Elisha and the woman become friends in this way, and it’s interesting that the materializing of this woman’s dream begins with her hospitality toward someone else.

“Hospitality is the creation of free space where a

stranger can come in and be a friend.”

– Henri Nouwen

Immediately when Elisha declares this blessing on her, she responds in a way that reveals deep discouragement and lost hope from year after year of seeing her dream unfulfilled.

Nicole asks, “Have you ever been disappointed in such a way that you feel de-moralized? When your God-given dreams don’t come to pass, the heart gets sick.

The Shunammite woman had taken her dream and stuffed it down deep. She had taken her dream and put it away because she didn’t believe that it would come to pass anymore. She had lost hope.

Then Elisha comes along and says “you can take that dream off the shelf and make room for God to answer this prayer.” Because when a dream comes true for us there is life and there is joy, as Psalm 126 declares. The Shunammite woman had put the dream away, but now she’s invited to take it back out and make room for God again, and she does.

Imagine the joy she experienced when her son was born – God had given her a dream and had brought it to pass. The Celebration must have been a momentous occasion. And she lived happily ever after.

Not exactly…

One day when her son had grown older, he fell ill and died in his mother’s lap. She carried him to the guest room made for Elisha, laid him on the bed, closed the door and left. Have you ever had a dream that you didn’t want to think about any more and didn’t want to be discouraged about anymore…and you put it in a room and shut the door and left it there? Instead of trusting God, sometimes we close the door on God and we sulk out of fear of becoming disappointed like that again.

Nicole shares her story of wanting a child, but her and her husband struggle with infertility – her dream looked impossible. Yet she read Matthew 7:7-11 and began laying hold of the promise of God, strengthening her faith. She developed a mantra: “God, you are a good Father and you love to give good gifts.” She realized that God wanted her to ask again.

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Topics: Faith, Faithfulness, Hope, Pain & Suffering


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Focus Scripture:

  • 2 Kings 4:8-37 (8-16a, 16b-17, 18-21, 28-30, 36-37)

    One day Elisha was passing through Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to have a meal. So whenever he passed that way, he would stop there for a meal. She said to her husband, “Look, I am sure that this man who regularly passes our way is a holy man of God. Let us make a small roof chamber with walls, and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that he can stay there whenever he comes to us.”

    One day when he came there, he went up to the chamber and lay down there. He said to his servant Gehazi, “Call the Shunammite woman.” When he had called her, she stood before him. He said to him, “Say to her, Since you have taken all this trouble for us, what may be done for you? Would you have a word spoken on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?” She answered, “I live among my own people.” He said, “What then may be done for her?” Gehazi answered, “Well, she has no son, and her husband is old.” He said, “Call her.” When he had called her, she stood at the door. He said, “At this season, in due time, you shall embrace a son.” She replied, “No, my lord, O man of God; do not deceive your servant.”

    The woman conceived and bore a son at that season, in due time, as Elisha had declared to her.

    When the child was older, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. He complained to his father, “Oh, my head, my head!” The father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” He carried him and brought him to his mother; the child sat on her lap until noon, and he died. She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, closed the door on him, and left. Then she called to her husband, and said, “Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, so that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again.” He said, “Why go to him today? It is neither new moon nor sabbath.” She said, “It will be all right.” Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Urge the animal on; do not hold back for me unless I tell you.” So she set out, and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.

    When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite woman; run at once to meet her, and say to her, Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is the child all right?” She answered, “It is all right.” When she came to the man of God at the mountain, she caught hold of his feet. Gehazi approached to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone, for she is in bitter distress; the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.” Then she said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, Do not mislead me?” He said to Gehazi, “Gird up your loins, and take my staff in your hand, and go. If you meet anyone, give no greeting, and if anyone greets you, do not answer; and lay my staff on the face of the child.” Then the mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave without you.” So he rose up and followed her. Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. He came back to meet him and told him, “The child has not awakened.”

    When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. So he went in and closed the door on the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. Then he got up on the bed and lay upon the child, putting his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; and while he lay bent over him, the flesh of the child became warm. He got down, walked once to and fro in the room, then got up again and bent over him; the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite woman.” So he called her. When she came to him, he said, “Take your son.” She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground; then she took her son and left.

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3 thoughts on “Make Room

    Peter says: Wednesday May 17, 2017 at 7:34 am

    Often when we hear a message, it can resonate or confirm a certain line of thinking we may have or, relate to where we are in our personal Bible study.

    In this regard, there are several books that I am currently reading which, I feel, contribute directly or indirectly to the topic discussed and may help those to further understand, “Make Room”.

    The first quote comes from Leslie Vernick in her book, “The Truth Principle – A Life Changing Model for Spiritual Growth and Renewal” where she says (pp 76-77),

    “In order to understand ourselves better we must start by taking total responsibility for our feelings, our thoughts, and our actions. We may find it easier to blame these things on our troubles or make other excuses, but if we do, we will not mature. Again, our troubles merely reveal what is already in our hearts.
    Luke 6:43-45 says, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the the evil stored in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Too often we focus on changing our behaviours and give little thought to what is going on in our heart. Thomas Kempis said, “We must diligently search into and set in order both the outward and the inner man, because both of them are of importance to our progress in godliness.” God’s purpose in our lives is to glorify himself by restoring his image in us. He uses our troubles in life to help us grow up in him. The cost to us of always believing that our feelings and actions are caused by our troubles is to remain emotionally and spiritually immature.

    A potter cannot shape hardened clay. The clay must first be soft and pliable. Only then can the potter mold it with his hands into what he wants it to be. Sometimes we are stiff-necked and unwilling to be worked into his image. For our own good, God sometimes needs to break us, through our troubles, in order to soften our heart and bring it to a place where we can be shaped according to his workmanship, ready to do good works we were created in him to do (Ephesians 2:10).”

    So if our body is to be the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6:19), then the foregoing ‘renovations’ that Leslie describes are both preparatory and ongoing for “Making Room” and consequential spiritual growth and renewal. Needless to say, these aspects are more capably explained within the chapters of her excellent book.

    The other book I am reading, Rankin Wilbourne’s “Union with Christ – The Way to Know and Enjoy God”, similarly resonates both with Leslie’s book and the message topic. It also brings into focus Greg’s requests at various times for us to use our imagination.

    Rankin commences his book with an explanation of imagination (p 18),
    “But before you set this book aside as something for “creative types” or someone not you, we need to talk about the word imagination. Because as much as we prize it, we often clip its wings. We hear “imagination” and think it’s about fiction and fairy tales, a child’s business, or things not real. Hence our phrase, “Oh, that’s just your imagination.”
    But I’m using the word in a larger, more human sense. Imagination is that distinct human capacity by which we image anything and everything that is not immediately visible to our eyes. Where did you last put down your keys? What would you like to have for dinner tonight? What color are your mother’s eyes? (This requires imagination unless you’re looking at her.) Whether you’re aware of it or not, you use your imagination all the time.”

    At this point you may ask, “What’s the connection here with Sunday’s message?” This revolves around the use of ‘dreams’ in the message…whether it is having a child or, whatever else has been implanted in our mind requires our imagination. Rankin continues (p18),

    “…Most important, imagination is necessary to know and enjoy God. How else can we relate to the true God, “whom no one has ever seen (1 Tim 6:16), than by using our God-given imaging capacities—our imaginations? We must use our imaginations if we want to fully inhabit and experience the Christian life.” And further on Rankin mentions (p19),

    “When the New Testament writers ask us, “Set your minds on things that are above” (Col 3:2), it’s not a command to crane our necks and look at the skies, but to look for a reality beyond what we can naturally see. When they tell us to “fix our eyes…on what is unseen” (2Cor4:18 NIV), it is our imagination that must respond.”

    Rankin continues to expand on this theme in his book.

    So, from my perspective, I have two books and a message that could be considered to be unrelated but, for me (through the guiding of the Spirit), provide different perspectives that open up paths to our relationship with God.

    Reply
    Kristie says: Sunday May 21, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Thanks so much for your powerful message!
    As someone who has struggled with infertility for years, Mothers Day messages tend to be a bit painful.
    Thanks for sharing your amazing testimony and challenging us to revisit our dreams and trust God with the results…

    Reply

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