Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Power of God, verse 5

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7

In our story of God's power today, we meet Naaman. Namaan worked for the King of Aram; he was captain of the king's army. The king admired Naaman very much, because through him, the Lord had given Aram victory, time and time again. But even in his great warrior-state, Naaman was a leper.

At the time of today's story, the Aramean warriors had raided Israel, and one of their captives was a young girl who was given to Naaman's wife as a maid. She knew her master had leprosy, and she knew of someone who could help. So she spoke up.

She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.” II Kings 5:3

Well, Naaman was quick to take action on this recommendation, and he went to the king and relayed what the girl said. The king advised him to go, and said he would even send a letter to the king of Israel on Naaman's behalf.

So Namaan went. And he presented the letter from his king to the king of Israel.

He brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, “And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me.” II Kings 5:6-7

Whoa. I am sure that is not the response that Naaman expected. The king knew he couldn't cure Naaman - that power belongs to God. The king thought Naaman had been sent to pick a fight!

When Elisha, God's prophet, heard what happened, he sent word to the king urging him to send Naaman, so that he would know there is a prophet in Israel.

It happened when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” II Kings 5:9

Naaman went to Elisha's house but Elisha didn't even come out! He sent a messenger who told Naaman to wash in the Jordan in order to be cured.

So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” II Kings 5:10

Well that's not what Naaman expected. (Hmmm, recurring theme?)

But Naaman was furious 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 wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’ Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. II Kings 5:11-12

Naaman thought Elisha should just wave his hands over him while he called on the name of his God. And furthermore, Naaman didn't think the Jordan river had anything special in it. He went away in a rage - and I can just hear him thinking "Who is this Elisha and why did I make this trip for nothing?"

Luckily, Naaman's servants were a little more open to what Elisha had said via his messenger, and they persuaded their master with good logic.

Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” II Kings 5:14

And now, Naaman's heart and mind were open and he was receptive to what his servants said. He actually listened and then did what they suggested!

So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean. II Kings 5:14

His flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child! Wow! That was a big change from leprosy. And that's the power of God at work.

Naaman thought he knew what the prophet would tell him, so he was surprised when he was told to go wash in the Jordan. Although he originally resisted, he did finally obey and God made him clean.

Isn't that a lot like you and me? We think we know what God wants for us, so we expect something to happen a certain way. When it doesn't, are we like Naaman who went off "in a rage?" When I am "caught off guard" by a message from God, I am thankful for people, like Naaman's servants, who bring a voice of reason back into my thinking and point me back to Jesus.

When we are obedient, God's power is displayed! Today I am asking God to open my mind and my heart to be receptive for His instruction to me and for the guidance and grace to obey the first time!

The Power of God
Words by Frederick A. Graves

When Abraham and Sarah had been promised a son,
They were surprised and knew not what to say;
But they knew what God had promised He was able to perform:
And the power of God is just the same today.

The pow’r of God is just the same today,
It doesn’t matter what the people say;
Whatever God has promised
He’s able to perform:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Moses wanted water to quench the people’s thirst,
He knew that God would then provide a way;
Although his rod was useful he had the power first:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Moses made a serpent and placed it on a pole,
The bitten ones were told to look that way,
And then while they were looking Jehovah-rophi made them whole:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Joshua was commander, he spoke—the sun stood still,
The moon its onward course was made to stay;
Thus he won a mighty battle, for he did his Father’s will:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Naaman, the leper, before Elisha stood,
He thought he knew just what the seer would say,
But he had to wash in Jordan, though he thought it wasn’t good:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When David met Goliath he meant to have a fight,
The leaders put the battle in array;
Of course he killed the giant, for he was in the right:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Jonah went to Tarshish to flee away from God,
A mighty fish was waiting for its prey;
It quickly swallowed Jonah, then threw him on the sod:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Malachi, the prophet, was preaching all abroad,
And cutting like sickle and the scythe;
The people were accursed, for they were robbing God,
They filled to bring the offering and the tithe.

Then came the blessed Savior, with power to cleanse and heal,
To bear my sin and sickness all away;
My burdens, too, He carries, and doth my sorrows feel:
And the power of God is just the same today.

Through Paul and Silas singing and praying in the jail,
For Paul and Silas knew the way to pray;
The prison doors were opened, for locks could not avail,
And the power of God is just the same today.

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