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2 Kings 5 – Day 1

2 Kings 5:1,9-14  – “Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper. So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it ? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”

Last night, our lesson for the evening service touched on this chapter in 2 Kings. As I was reading it this morning, several things jumped out at me. I’m going to take a few days on this chapter and pick a few things out each day to talk about. Enjoy!

Let’s start out by me re-telling this story in the Melissa version – So Naaman was this mighty man of valor, super impressive dude, that somehow or another contracted this nasty disease known as leprosy. People didn’t want to be around someone with this disease. It was particularly hard on this dude – he was known as “mighty man of valour”! So, he hears about a prophet in Israel (we will cover that another day) and decides to go and see if this man can heal him. Well, Elisha, the prophet, doesn’t go and see this guy, but rather sends his servant to tell this uber important guy to go dip in the Jordan river seven times. Now, the Jordan river is nothing special. Most of the time it looks rather yucky. But this is the river in the land God had chosen to give the children of Israel, that made it special. This man who really thought something of himself considered it demeaning that 1) Elisha didn’t even have the wherewithal to come and speak with him and 2) he wanted him to dip in this yucky river. What?! At least, that was the thought until Naaman’s servant knocked him off his high horse by asking him this, “If that man had told you to do something fantastic, you would have done it. Why won’t you do something simple like go and dip in this river?” 

Pride. Pride is what almost kept Naaman from receiving his healing. He thought so much of himself and his position that he didn’t want to lower himself to dipping in this simple river. God did this on purpose. By doing something fantastic and difficult, Naaman would have perceived in his pride that he had done something worthy of praise. God wanted Naaman to see His hand at work in healing him. 

Oftentimes, God works in the small things. He works in the simple things. He works in people’s lives in such a way that His accomplishments are fantastically simple. It took a lot for Naaman to go down and dip in the Jordan. He had to put his pride away. He had to put his trust in Someone besides himself. He had to believe. All these were very simple things yet their effects are profound. 

Pride can be a major hinderance in our opportunities to see God at work. Pride can keep us from taking that leap of faith that may heal our hearts and open our life to new things. Pride can seperate us from loved ones, tear apart families and alienate us from friends. 

This week, let God show you where pride is hindering your life and growth in Him. Let God weed out those problems and allow Him to plant a new spirit within you – one that is growing ever closer to Him each and every day. 

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Baby Believer

1 Peter 2:2 – “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

My daughter has a good friend that accepted Jesus as her Savior this school year. Since that time, she and my daughter have been reading and discussing the Bible together. It’s really cute, if one forgets to read a chapter, they have to give the other one a dollar.  If they neglect to read more than one chapter, they have to buy a spirit ribbon on Friday and the other one gets to decide where they wear it, like on their forehead. Not something I would do, but it is the way they hold one another accountable.

Last night, they were face timing and discussing what they had read the night before. My daughter’s friend had made a list of questions to talk to her about. She is a new Believer who is hungry and thirsty for the Word. She has been taught so many different things from so many different people that she just wants to know what Jesus says about everything. And what better place to find it than the Bible.

When was the last time you and some close friend of yours had that sort of discussion? When was the last time you were hungry for the Word of God? When was the last time you made a list of questions to discuss with someone about what you read in the Bible?

Heart pricking, isn’t it?

The older we get, the less likely we are to ask questions. We don’t want to look foolish. But this young lady doesn’t care what she looks like to others. She wants to know God more and more. And her questions are thought provoking. They make you stop and consider what was going on, who Jesus was talking to and why. It’s a great way to learn. 

I also think that we ebb and flow when it comes to reading God’s word. We have times when we are really diligent about it and other times when “stuff” gets in the way. Maybe we all need some sort of accountability partner to keep us reading. I think it would be good for us. Maybe it would get us to sincerely desire the Word of God in a whole new way. 

So this week, I want to challenge you to read His Word diligently. Let His words so seep into you that you are contemplating long after you close the Book. And ask questions. Teachers always tell their students at the beginning of the year that there is no such thing as a stupid question. And it is so true. More than likely, someone else is thinking the same thing. Go, learn and grow.

Just like me…

Romans 12:3 – “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

I’ve been struggling with this concept the last couple of days – What if everyone acted just like me – in regards to family, church, work and community?

It’s what we want, isn’t it? We wish that everyone around us was as smart as we are, made similar choices that we make, and were as dedicated as we are. We see ourself without flaw, without blemish. 

But deep down, we know that’s not true. We know that deep down we get upset when someone does something different that we think that they should. We get frustrated when we have a plan and someone steps in and changes that plan all together. We want to throw a fit and yell at someone when their decision to stay out of things is not the option we would have chosen. We get all flustered when people don’t perform like we know we would in that situation. 

Pride. It’s pride that makes us feel that way. You see, whether it is at work, church or at home, the devil is doing his best to drive a wedge in our heart between us and God. If he can get us to look more at ourself and see only the worst in people and their decisions instead of seeing the beauty of variety, then he can get us to walk further and further from our Savior. 

And it’s so easy to do. It is easy to get frustrated when we don’t understand what is going on. It is easy to get mad when things don’t go the way we think they should. It is easy to want to yell at someone when their choices are wrong in our eyes. 

But here is the thing – we can’t control others; we can only control ourself. We have to trust that God has whatever thing we are dealing with under control. Staying awake all night worrying about it won’t make a difference. Getting mad and yelling at someone will not help the cause of Christ. Not doing your best as a punishment to those who are making what you see as a bad decision will get nothing accomplished. 

Jesus has given us all different gifts and talents. I’m not responsible for my husband using his gifts. That is his can of worms. I need to be focused on whether I’m using my gifts. But I can’t let my focus shift from me doing my best for His glory to me doing my best because I know I’m right. 

It’s hard, but you can’t let people have power over your decision to do things for His glory. Focusing solely upon Jesus will have far different reaches that focusing solely on you and what you do. Pride is an ugly beast that too often rears its head in my life. Pride is what makes you think your way is the best way. Pride is what makes you fail to see your flaws. Pride is what makes us want everyone to act like just like us. 

Praise the Lord

Isaiah 9:6 -“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

I was listening to one of my favorite artist yesterday, Crowder. His music is very raw and really hits home to me. He has a song called, “Praise the Lord.” When you first hear the lyrics, they sound almost disrespectful, but if you keep listening, you hear the real message. Here is the gist of it.

How do you see Jesus? Do you see Him as a magic 8-ball that you occasionally ask a question to? Do you use Jesus as a gun, shooting down thoughts and feelings that are different from your own? Do you swing Him like a hammer, forcing your ideas and beliefs upon someone else? Do you keep Him under the steeple or in the Book? Or do you use Him as a prescription – only when something is wrong?

That is not Who Jesus is. That is not His purpose or His plan for you. Praise the Lord.

Sometimes we think that His love is more of a river rather than an ocean. Narrow and wide, deep and shallow, we fear that it will run away. But His love is more of an ocean that is vast and deep and constant. Others might think of His love as a song, wrapped up with a neat beginning and ending. But His love is more like a symphony that is filled with all kinds of notes and instruments that is woven together to create the most beautiful melody.

We try to make God’s love so difficult, so challenging. But Jesus is way more than we can ever imagine if we just let Him love us and be Who He is supposed to be in our life.

When we consider Jesus and who He should be in our life, we need to remember that He is endless – He always has been. I don’t think we can ever truly grasp it. It is a mystery that will one day be revealed when we are with Him. But the decision to be with Him needs to be a joyful choice, not a fearful leap. 

I think that too often we try to put Jesus in our neat little box or use Him as a weapon to drive fear and coercion into people. That’s not Who He is. Jesus isn’t a genie in a lamp or a lightening bolt throwing being or a fair weather friend. No, Jesus is so much more than that – Praise the Lord.

Jesus is The Leader. Jesus is Wonderful. Jesus is The caring Counselor. Jesus is The Mighty God. Jesus is My Everlasting Father. Jesus is The Prince of Peace. Praise the Lord.

Contentment

Philippians 4:11 -“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

Last night while driving to soccer practice, I witnessed a man driving a minivan like a sports car on a raceway. Thankfully, I don’t think there was anyone else in the car but him. However, it reminded me of this – be content.

Contentment is something unfamiliar to us in our society of want. Ask anyone, I’m sure they have a want list. I know I do. We look around us and see things that we want or think that we need. And we typically won’t be (temporarily) satisfied until we get it. 

Contentment is being satisfied with what is around you and being satisfied in the circumstances you find yourself in. Contentment is NOT laziness. Contentment is not always wanting more. Contentment is the absence of restlessness. 

So, if you are content, does that mean that you shouldn’t want to improve your life or make things better around you? I don’t believe so. But there is a difference in making your situation better and wanting things that other people have – that is coveting. For example, we have decided to do some work around the house to get rid of the weeds growing too close to our home. The neighbors all have bushes around their house to keep the weeds away. We thought about getting bushes but decided that with the sprinklers running so close to the house that installing bushes would be too much of a hassle. So we are going another direction. For me, this is an example of being content with changing the improvements. Coveting would be desiring those bushes around my house just so we can be like everyone else. Like I have said before, it is all about your attitude.

Contentment is hugely impacted by your attitude. That is why it is so important for Christ to have control of your attitude. Jesus keeps your thoughts and actions regulated so that you don’t feel the need to drive that minivan like a sports car. Jesus reminds you that it is okay that this person in front of you is driving just a bit slower than you want. That person will get out of the way in just a bit. Hold your horses. Jesus reminds you that you don’t really need those bushes around the house. You are allowed to be different. You don’t always have to fit into the mold the world has made. 

Contentment is being okay with being different. It is being okay with having a different viewpoint. It is allowing God to mellow you out to the point that people say, “Hmm, this person is different. What is it about them?” Contentment is an oddity in our world, and that is a good thing. 

So on this long weekend, be content. Don’t be lazy, be content. Be satisfied where God has placed you and what He has placed you with. Be different. Be weird, according to the world’s standard – but be God’s. Happy Friday.

Transforming vs. Conforming

Romans 12:2- “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

I enjoy cooking. I enjoy taking parts and pieces and creating something that my family and friends can enjoy. There is a sense of satisfaction in hearing your loved ones make those yummy noises. 

I also enjoy sewing, when I get the chance. Creating something wonderful out of essentially nothing is very fulfilling. Not too long ago, I took several feet of fabric and made gigantic bean bags for the teen room at church. I love walking by the room and seeing our young people lounging in their room, just enjoying the peace.

So what does sewing and cooking have to do with Romans 12:2? When one cooks and/or sews, they are transforming something. They are taking a raw material and making it into something new and useable. Now, the alternative to cooking and sewing is going out and buying it. That’s what the rest of the world does, right? Those bean bags I made would have cost several hundreds of dollars to purchase.  I made two for approximately $200. Going out to eat is fun sometimes, but man, it is expensive for a family of four! Right now, my husband is making beef jerky. He is transforming ground beef into jerky for us all to enjoy. And trust me, it is way cheaper than the stuff you get at the store, and much better tasting too.

When you transform raw materials into something different, it takes work and effort. It takes time and dedication. Going out and buying it would be a lot easier. But you save money by doing it yourself and you get a real sense of satisfaction in a job well done.

Our spiritual life is no different. We are called to be “transformed by the renewing of our mind” on a daily basis. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes time. It takes dedication. But we don’t have to be concerned with transforming ourself. No, God is the One who does all the transforming. We just need to be willing subjects to His transformation.

The other option is conforming. Everyday there are people who wake up and live like everyone else around them – and they “went to church yesterday.” Some people are afraid of transformation. It might make them different. People might think they are weird. It is much easier to be like everyone else.

The transformed individual is unique. This person is ready and willing to make the necessary choices to follow Christ. They know the path will be a challenge. They know the way will be hard. But they know that transformation to being more and more like Christ is within His “good, and acceptable, and perfect will”.

So today, you have a choice to make – will you allow God to transform you or will you just be conformed to the world one more day? No time like the present. Make the change today.

Sacrifice

Leviticus 4:32-35 – “And if he bring a lamb for a sin offering, he shall bring it a female without blemish.And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar: And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.”

I am reading a fiction book about the life of Rahab. In my book, Jericho has fallen and she is now living with the children of Israel. She is learning about God and learning the Law. She just witnessed her first sacrifice for sin. She was called forth to put her hands upon the head of the lamb and then it was slain. The author described her reaction, her fear, her confusion, her humbleness before the Lord. 

It made me stop and think about what the sacrifice of the lamb represented – Jesus. I thought about His sacrifice for my sin. And I wondered, do I truly appreciate and understand that act of love? I don’t think I do, at least not like I should.

So, for a moment, put yourself in Rahab’s shoes as she placed her hands upon that lamb’s head. I’m sure she thought of all the sins that she had committed. She probably thought of all the lies she had told, all the men she had been with, all the evil thoughts she had about others. Maybe all those things paraded through her head like a bad slide show. And then, she felt the life go out of the lamb. At that instance, she knew that the innocent lamb had taken her place for the sins she had “given” to the lamb. Sin has a price and the payment was the lamb. 

My sin has a price. All the bad thoughts, judgments, laziness, lack of self control, bad choices – all of them have a price. And that price was paid with the blood of Jesus at Calvary. I can say that all day long, but do I let it seep into my heart? Do I let it flood my soul and appreciate what He truly did for me?

I need to do better. We are a generation of entitlement and don’t really stop and consider the sacrifice that someone else does for us. There is less appreciation for our military who give their lives for our freedom. There is less appreciation for our police who sacrifice to keep us safe. There is less appreciation for our teachers who educate our children. There is less appreciation for our medical personnel who study and sacrifice all kinds of things to keep us healthy. Everywhere you look you can see the failure of someone to appreciate the sacrifice that someone else has willingly done for them. No better place is this seen than in the church houses of our country where the neglect of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is seen vividly by the declining numbers in attendance. And I am guilty, to a point. There are times when I feel like I need to rest and I stay home from a service. The Holy Spirit gets ahold of me and won’t let go. And for that, I am grateful – I know God is working in my life. But I shouldn’t even allow that thought in my head. It doesn’t show appreciation and gratitude for the sacrifice Jesus gave for me. 

So let me encourage you, take some time and read back through the requirements for sacrifices in the Old Testament. Read them, study them and compare them to the life of Christ. See His fulfillment of the requirements with His life and His blood. And then, thank Him genuinely for His sacrifice for you.