Thursday, June 10, 2010

2010 – June 10 – God’s Way Can Be Offensive

Study from God’s Word 2nd Kings 21: 18; 2 Kings 6: 8-23; 2 Kings 8: 3-6; 2 Kings 5: 1-27; 2 Kings 6: 24-31; 2 Kings 6: 32 – 7: 20 … Passage for Reflection: 2nd Kings 5: 11 … NIV 11 But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage.

My Journal for Today: These times of Elisha, into which I’ve been led in my trek through the Bible this year, are wild and wondrous with a lot of crazy events and miracles transpiring. It’s almost like God is showing these pagans, who surrounded Israel, how fruitless it is to mess with His chosen people; and Naaman, the commander for the King of Aram, really gets a big dose of God’s lessons as he becomes afflicted with leprosy, the plague of plagues in those days.

But the story of Naaman, brought to my attention this morning by Dr. Smith, is a great one for us all to learn what it takes for us to be cleansed of our sin and made right in God’s eyes. And Naaman was like many of us can be, filled with pompous attitude and used to getting things our way; and sometimes God has to bring us low to get our attention; and the Lord certainly got Naaman’s as he became covered with leprous lesions. But even with that, Naaman was exceedingly dubious about what Elisha offered as God’s remedy. Dip seven times in the muddy Jordan. Common, Naaman thought; … what’s up with that?

Have you ever needed a good dose of humility or a lesson of patience and God somehow placed you on a track of discipleship where a mentor or a Christian leader gives you God’s way to make things right; and you think, “Aw, common, God; this is a bit much!” I can remember a time in my discipleship when God, through my mentor, let me know that pouring God’s word into my mind/heart (i.e., memorizing large doses of Scripture) was HIS way to purge my mind of a lot of the spiritual poison I had ingested with years of habitual sexual sin. All my mentor was doing was giving me the advice I needed from God’s promises through the Psalmist in Psalm 119: 9-11 or to Joshua in Joshua 1: 8 and with God’s power promise from Isaiah 55: 11. But I – in the inertia of my sin and self indulgence – thought there just had to be another way; because I just couldn’t imagine that I could do what my mentor was asking me to do … to memorize the scriptures proposed in the Topical Memory Series (published by NavPress).

I was very much like Naaman, seeking to have God’s cure on my terms, rather than accepting the prescription from Jehovah Rapha, the Great Physician. But my mentor was like Elisha was for Naaman, sticking to what God was giving me to do to rid myself of years of my own “spiritual leprosy.” And my mentor, like Elisha did with Naaman, held my feet to the fire of God’s plan. And we know what happened with Naaman, don’t we? Yes, … he relented, did what the Prophet prescribed, God’s plan, and Naaman was healed, restored, and given God’s grace to go out and live in peace. And what a testimony Naaman must’ve given to his pagan peoples about the healing, enabling, empowering grace of God.

Well, that was the case for yours truly as well. Though I didn’t really see that memorizing a bunch of Bible verses would help, I did what my mentor taught me, learning how to contextualize each verse I memorized, being able to give the historical, ecclesiastical, and personal context for each of the well over 60 verses he had me memorize. And almost like Naaman, my mentor, after I’d memorize and recite – word perfect - each set of verses he would assign [usually two per week], he’d have me hold on to and recite all of the previous verses I had learned and contextualized. So, after 18 months of dipping myself into the Jordan of God’s word, I sat before my mentor and recited – word perfect - all of the 60 TMS verses as well as a few others my mentor had assigned for me along the way.

Yes, my Elisha mentor, for all those weeks, just kept having me dip myself in the Jordan of God’s word, over and over and over again, until God’s word just permeated my being [and isn’t that the essence of the truth of Prov. 23: 7 (NKJV)? My mentor knew that my mind/heart was filled with poisonous and rancorous sexual imagery; and he knew that my mind needed to be cleansed and purified by the power of God’s word, as promised (again I say) by the truth of Isaiah 55: 11, Joshua 1: 8, and Psalm 119, 9,11. If you don’t know the essence of those three passages right now as I cite them, I would exhort you to take a week and study them in their proper context, internalizing the truths in these passages, and then memorizing them so deeply that you’ll never forget them.

That exercise will be like Naaman being dipped into the Jordan river; and maybe, like with me, your mind/heart can be transformed as with the promises of three other passages I hope you have memorized, … Philippians 4: 8, Romans 12: 1-2, and again, Proverbs 23: 7 [NKJV]. You go back and study these three; and you’ll see that as you get God’s word into your mind, your heart will be transformed, and you will have a new mindset, just as did Naaman when he was cleansed by the Jordan river under the watch-care of God through the Prophet Elisha’s mentoring.

And if you undertake to do what I’ve prescribed in my journaling here this morning, I would hope that you’d be able to come back to me in the future and share stories of how God transformed your mind and heart to do things you never imagined possible. Naaman found that to be the case as did many other broken persons in the Bible, men or women like Moses, Joseph, Gideon, Peter, Paul, (and yes, ;>), Mary – of the Magdalene variety, all of whom were raised out of brokenness into power by following the ways of the Lord rather than the ways of self.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I reflect on where You have brought this formerly broken soul and how You had me cleansed by the Jordan of Your word, purging me of my past mental poisons, and cleansing/empowering me by Your grace. And now my testimony is witness to Your wondrous power through Your word. Amen

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