pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Moments of Faith

Reading: 2 Kings 5: 9-18

Verse 17: “Please let me… be given as much earth as two miles can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord”.

Naaman humbles himself and does what Elisha told him to do. It seemed so simple. On the journey over to Israel and then to Elisha’s house, Naaman must have envisioned some grand process to be healed. He must have thought a lot about returning to normal life. He would no longer be an outcast. No longer would his only human contact come through the violence of battle. No longer would others look at him in disgust. There would be a lot of emotions inside of Naaman.

After dipping himself seven times in the Jordan, Naaman’s flesh is restored, becoming “clean like the flesh of a young boy”. Healing! Healing! Naaman and his folks head back to Elisha’s to give him the thank you gifts that they brought. Elisha refuses the gifts. The proud Naaman would have become angry and perhaps left the gifts in a pile in the road. But Naaman is not so proud any more. He knows how he was healed: by the one true God. We cannot miss Naaman’s request: “Please let me… be given as much earth as two miles can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord”. He wants dirt. He must return home to continue his service to the king. But he wants enough dirt to stand or kneel upon to worship God. This request shows how grateful he is for his healing and how moved he is by God. To take a physical piece of Israel home to worship on speaks volumes about the impact of the healing upon Naaman. He wants to remember his God moment.

This is something we all do. As I look back over my faith journey, I can recall images of God moments. These experiences are etched in my mind. There are also physical items – like Naaman’s dirt. Each item is tied to a faith experience that moved me forward on my journey of faith. Take a moment or two and recall your God moments. Join me in thanking God for each and every one of them.

Prayer: Living God, thank you for the many ways and times that you have touched my life, reminding me over and over of your love for me. Please continue to do so. Amen.

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Just Pray

Reading: 2 Kings 5: 1-14

Verse 1: “He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy”.

Naaman was a great man: valiant, highly regarded, a man of authority. But he had leprosy. His title, his authority, his strength – nothing could save him from this painful and incurable disease. Except God. It must have been hard for such a man to be powerless to do anything about his disease.

Then God goes to work. First step is to place someone in Naaman’s home who can begin the process. The young Israelite slave girl says there is someone who can help. It probably would have been hard for Naaman to accept help from her, but he needs healing. The king hears his request and sends him off with a letter to the king of Israel asking to heal Naaman. He receives the letter as an attempt to pick a fight. He is distraught. But Elisha hears of his plight and intervenes, telling the king to send Naaman his way, to the prophet.

Naaman makes his way to Elisha’s home. He expects to be treated in a certain way. He expects Elisha to come out to receive him, to do something wonderful to cure his leprosy. But Elisha just sends out a servant with some basic instructions. Naaman has had all of the following of orders that he can take. He becomes angry and is ready to storm home, leprosy and all. Again, God intervenes through a servant – another without power who is now powerful. The servant calms Naaman and convinces the master to follow God’s simple plan. He does and is cured.

How often I am like Naaman. I think I can do something even when I obviously cannot. My faith tells me to pray. I think God must act in some big and amazing way. My faith tells me to just pray. How simple is it: just pray. Trust in God, the only one in control. Follow the simple path that he is leading me on. Turn to him in all things through prayer. Just pray. May it be so.

Prayer: Lord God, when I think I can, remind me again that it is only through you and your power that all is possible. May I turn to you in humble prayer. Amen.


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Step Forth Boldly

Reading: Luke 10: 16-20

In a way Naaman and the 72 are opposites.  Naaman loads up the treasure to pay for his healing and heads off to find the man of God.  The 72 go out with nothing, taking the word of God, empowered by Jesus, to give away healing and hope.  In Naaman is healed, he may be drawn near to God.  The 72 are going out to bring the kingdom of God near to all people.  Even to those who reject the Prince of Peace, the disciples proclaim that He is near.  Too many of today’s Christians and too many of our churches today are more like Naaman, seeking to get something from God instead of striving to offer God to others.

Earlier in Luke 10 Jesus stated the reason for sending out the 72: “the harvest is plentiful”.  It is certainly plentiful today as well!  The disciples trusted in Jesus’ power and stepped out boldly to heal the sick and to proclaim that the kingdom of God was drawing near.  At first they must have been way outside their comfort zones.  Naaman too must have wondered a time or two what in the world he was doing as well.  But God rewarded their faithfulness.  Both the 72 and Naaman experienced firsthand the simple power of God to bring healing and to know personally how impactful the kingdom is in their lives.

Jesus calls on us today in the same ways.  Trust in Him and in His power to guide us.  Rely on Jesus alone.  Go forth and trust in the Lord of the Harvest.  May we too boldly step outside of our comfort zones, trusting that God will lead.  Through our simple faith, may we this day bring the kingdom of God near.


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Attuned to God

Reading: 2 Kings 5: 9-14

We are often like Naaman.  He comes before Elisha and expects some amazing action on Elisha’s or God’s part.  When we bring a significant prayer or need fervently before God, we too hope for something big in response.  We, like Naaman, expect God to act in a mighty way.  We would like our all-powerful God to be just that and deliver a show-stopping answer to our need.

When the response we desire does not immediately come, we too can react like Naaman.  When our desired outcome is not immediately there, we stomp off in a huff.  We are disappointed, angry, and more.  We question and doubt our faith and God.  We may even play the ‘I have been so faithful and this is what I get’ card.  And in our overreacting response we often miss God’s response.

Recently an acquaintance was really getting under my skin.  It got to the point that I brought them before God.  I needed God to fix this person.  My prayers concerning this situation focused all on this person and the traits that so bothered me.  After a short time my prayers were answered!  But it was me who had been ‘fixed’ by God.  I appreciated what had before irritated.  I welcomed the very things that were annoyances as characteristics that our team needed to complete the task.

We too can be like Naaman and miss the simple yet very sufficient answer from God.  May we attune our hearts and souls to all of God’s ways.  This day may we see all of God’s activity in our lives so that we may experience all of His blessings.


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Young and Powerful

Reading: 2 Kings 5: 1-14

The three central characters are varied.  Two are very powerful and one is apparently not.  On the one hand, Naaman and Elisha appear to have a great deal of power.  Naaman is a powerful military commander and Elisha is God’s prophet, empowered by the living God.  The slave girl appears weak and powerless.  She is a prisoner of war, being kept as a slave in a foreign land.

On the other hand, Elisha and the slave girl are powerful in a way that the world does not know.  They know the power of God and trust in Him absolutely.  Naaman does not know God.  He is powerless to affect the one thing in life that isolates him: leprosy.  In a mighty act of God, Naaman does come to see and experience God’s healing power, but we do not know if he claims it for his own.

In this story we cannot miss the young slave girl’s impact.  She is alone, away from her people, enslaved in a foreign land.  Yet she holds firmly to her faith in God.  Without the slightest doubt she makes known to Naaman that he can find healing in her homeland.  She is willing to share her faith and her knowledge with one who has enslaved her.  This young slave girl is a shining witness to her faith, loving her enemy.

We cannot miss that she is young, yet another example that God provides so that we do not overlook our young people.  It would have been easy and all too common for Naaman to simply dismiss her.  It is not common for those in authority to readily listen to those who appear young and powerless.  This happens in our churches as well.  How often do we miss what the young Davids, the young Samuels, and the young slave girls have to offer.

After spending a week with almost one hundred youth serving on the Navajo Nation, I can testify to the fact that they have much to offer.  They not only offered the labor of their hands, but they also witnessed to their faith.  They were, like the slave girl, amazing and powerful.  As individuals and as places of God, may we cultivate, encourage, and seek out young people as leaders and as contributors to the building of the kingdom.  Like with the slave girl, much power resides in our young people.  May we invite them in, allow them space to share and develop their dreams, gifts, and talents, and encourage them as they go forth to change the world.