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41 Responses

  1. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I always wondered and therefore taught that the main character in this story (aside from God) was the young servant girl – that her faith in God just naturally flowed out of her even in unfriendly circumstances … and sounded so natural – so matter of fact.

    A lesson to always speak up and speak out for Christ.

    All the other stuff in the story is a close 2nd. 😉

  2. Em - again says:

    hmmm… an unbeliever or an arrogant Believer would read these words and call them rationalizations… well, maybe they are, but this is how we think things through – i do, and i’ll bet most Believers who are bearing burdens or watching another tested, do the same as this post so well describes… God, IMV, is not in anybody’s box and He, like the wind, moves where and when He will and it is always good when He moves as He never goes against His holy, merciful and beautiful character (it once required a crucifixion to rescue us)
    Praise God for this morning’s post

  3. Em - again says:

    amen to comment #1 – wish i were more like that girl

  4. Michael says:

    MLD makes an astute observation…nothing happens without the faith of the servant girl with the temerity to speak of her God.
    That was the next article, but I’ve now been saved much typing. 🙂

    Em…I think this is one of those universal human traits that takes a lifetime to break.

  5. Judy says:

    Good one, Michael. I did a study over a few years on what the Bible says about healing and Naaman is a good lesson.

    I had been praying about a disease I had had for a long time, something that wouldn’t kill me but that I found so unbearable at times. And over a LONG period of time, I asked God to heal me and nothing happened. The one day, many years into this journey – maybe 20 – he told me to use a certain product, which certainly was NOT known to cure this disease. Not even close because there is no cure. So, I argued that with him for a minute or two, but then I gave in and obeyed because it was all I had.

    Two days later, the disease was gone. It was gone, healed, with no evidence that it ever existed except a few scars that no one but me could see and it is still gone now 7 years later. To this day, I am still shocked at this. But I realized that He wanted to do it His way, not my way and His way made NO sense to me at all. I learned that obedience is a good thing and can sometimes bring a surprise.

    Thank you for that post today!!

  6. Michael says:

    Judy,

    Thank you.
    So far, God has rejected all of my suggestions for how to answer my prayers…but they have still been answered. 🙂

  7. Jean says:

    It’s amazing what a little water, connected to God’s Word, can accomplish.

  8. Michael says:

    Jean, I’m beginning to think you’re a Lutheran… 🙂

  9. Jean says:

    Thanks Michael.

    You know, this story preaches Christ about as well as any NT story. Look at this from the story:

    “And 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 sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy?”

    Absolutely amazing! That’s what the king thought was required. That’s what happened in the river. That’s what Paul says in Romans 6:1-11 happens to us.

    You sit back and marvel at the Book God has given us.

  10. Captain Kevin says:

    Love this article and the comments thus far!!! Right where I’m at with a few things in my life. He’s asking me to humble myself and pick up the phone to deal with a broken relationship. That’s not how I want Him to fix it, but He isn’t giving me a choice in the matter.

  11. Michael says:

    CK,

    I hear you…just remember that blessing is usually on the other side of obedience…

  12. UnCCed says:

    “Let him come to me” illustrates one of my favorite parts of the story – God’s heart.
    Then there was Jesus’ rebuke to the disciples when he allowed anyone not in the “right” crowd (pun intended for everyone to drown in), then there’s Jesus actions where he went to those whom if his disciples hearts were recorded (and many of ours), pisses people off. Well, I respect the disciple and religious leaders then more because at least THEY were honest.
    Israel and the church were meant to be God’s gushing heart to all, yet they spent most of their energy keeping the homos and illegal aliens, oops!, I mean “unholy” from their God.
    I wonder, how often when we live hell-bent (literally) avoiding those not like us, is God trying to send them to us – He’s wanting to REVERSE our direction?
    I’ts interesting the more I worship (I don’t mean mouthing lyrics I don’t mean), experience more of my Papa’s presence, I remember my righteousness is more hideous and odious to Him than how many evangelicals talk about homos and people not white. And yet He gives me more love, and brings them to me.
    Now, I must go for my daily dunking, I still need cleansing from my leprous phoniness.

  13. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I wonder if the young girl got a raise upon Naaman’s return?

  14. Em - again says:

    the lessons abound here… the king tore his clothes? is that because his estimation of himself was that, if he couldn’t do it, then surely nobody else could?

    (life tells me that nothing changed for that young girl – Naaman was probably grateful to his wife, tho … dunno), tho, do i?

  15. filbertz says:

    the dichotomy between the servant(s) and the powerful in the story is profound. Only when the humility and obedience (like a servant) was demonstrated did the miracle take place. Yet so many in the Church wish to trade their roles as servants and pursue the miraculous by the power of Kings.

  16. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    The complaint and his servants’ reaction is worth at least a little commentary. 🙂 Both kings are presented in lights that make them seem like inattentive dolts.

    There’s a rabbinical tradition that proposed this Naaman was the archer who got the lucky shot that killed Ahab in battle.

    The account in the ESVA is a reminder to me why I don’t care for the ESV. In the RSV and NIV and NAS we get the part where Namaan’s going to storm off and his servants reason him out of it. It’s in other translations we get to read them saying–“But if the prophet asked you to do something great and difficult you’d have done it. How much more when the thing you’re asked to do is so simple?”

    While some readers take Naaman to have been proud, and he’s angry in the narrative, I have my doubts about that. Actually successful military commanders show themselves willing to swallow their pride and heed the useful advice they get. Namaan had come this far already because of the advice of a servant girl, and he finds healing because he sets aside his pride to heed the advice of servants. He was angry the prophet wouldn’t even meet with him, then angry because the task was so simple and dumb but he did it anyway.

    The Israelite king may not have liked being ordered by a Syrian to heal a man of leprosy who may or may not have slain an Israelite king in battle.

  17. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    it’s the part about Elisha’s greedy servant that’s stuck with me. How many who at first seem godly and associated with prophets turn out to be greedy deceivers?

  18. Em - again says:

    i had forgotten about the epilogue to the story… that servant ended up a leper… take heed all ye making personal gain off of the Lord’s works, eh?

  19. Em - again says:

    the laborer is worthy of his hire – Luke 10:7 – has been stretched a mite, i think … might just mean, if you have food and shelter, be content?

  20. Scott says:

    Won’t someone please send Michael a “Make This Nation Great Again” bumper sticker? 🙂

  21. Jean says:

    Question for Wenatchee, you are absolutely correct about the ESV translation of 2 Kings 5:13. I am quite annoyed and would like to return my ESV Bible for a full refund.

    But, my question is whether you can attribute the bad translation to a prior doctrinal commitment on the part of the translation committee?

  22. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    You mean the Calvinists? 😉

  23. Michael says:

    You’ve got to be kidding.
    The passage isn’t related to any Calvinistic doctrine and the translation is different because certain words interjected in the English are not found in the Hebrew text.

    It’s not the best translation of the verse in my opinion, but I love the ESV in general.

  24. I was kidding, hence the winky. Here is my peace offering – one of my favorites.

  25. Michael says:

    My mistake, my apologies…

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  27. brian says:

    Please do not take this the wrong way but I think. Next to Matthew 27:25 Exodus 22:18 and a few other passages, the bible or peoples’ view of the bible equating diseases such as Hansen’s disease, plague, and physical disabilities in general to sin (Leviticus 21:17-23), to sin, caused by sin (personal), mental illness and syndromes that cause “abnormal” movements or facial expressions or behavioral manifestations to demons / possession etc.So much misery and pain has and is caused by such (mis)applications of such text. I know there is a context to such prohibitions in the OT and I know Jesus countered those in the NT but they are still used in very destructive ways. God being God I wish He would have been clearer or given us His Spirit to make it clearer to us etc.

  28. brian says:

    I have some bible links so my last post is in moderation.

  29. Jean says:

    When one compares Naaman’s initial reaction to the instructions from God’s prophet with the reaction of the Ethiopian eunuch upon hearing God’s Word from Philip, it leaves me praying for ears to hear, and for a preacher to proclaim God’s grace unadulterated to me.

  30. Erunner says:

    “We are all Naaman.

    When afflictions come, we want help.

    We want out of the affliction.

    We almost always tell God exactly how He should solve our problem and heal our affliction.

    This amuses God who knows that if you could have solved the problem on your own, you wouldn’t have prayed about it in the first place…

    We think he should give us favor because of what we’ve given to Him…when He gave us everything in the first place.

    His ways are not our ways and His solutions rarely come about as we have dictated to Him.

    His ways are often an affront to our pride and His answers often demand humility.

    !!!!!!! Thus, we often would rather live with the affliction then submit to the Lord.!!!!!!!!!

    Thus, we miss the true power of God.”

    I forgot how to make words bold or in different colors.

    Michael, The above was me and I am trusting God it will no longer be so. Especially the line I surrounded with exclamation points. What is so beautiful is He does not condemn me but desires to show me who He is in the midst of trials I have been too afraid to trust Him with. I decided I’d live with the affliction(s) than submit to God. In my convoluted thinking I could not trust Him. He has been showing me He is to be trusted even after all of my mistakes. He is a good God and to know Him in the midst of my trials is more than I could possibly have hoped for. Thank you once more for allowing God to use you to speak into my life.

  31. Em - again says:

    brian, the problem you raised needs to be always in front of us – good reminder IMV

  32. Em - again says:

    this is such a good post… my biggest problem (i think) is that i forget that we are on a pilgrimage in a hostile, corrupted world (sometimes these bodies feel hostile and corrupted, too)… this isn’t where we’re going and this isn’t what we get when we do get where we’re going…

    i’ve lived my life in a little bubble of isolated peace in time in a Republic that respected the Faith, learned to heal diseases like smallpox and polio and grow a superabundance of every good, nutritious food … i have to remind myself that this is not normal nor likely permanent… for either the world or Christians – another post to copy and reread on those days when i feel put upon

  33. Jean, since you are already a believer I assume that you are saying that you need to hear about your sin each week through God’s law and that you need to hear each week how Jesus died to pay for those sins and to cleanse you?
    1.) wouldn’t that be boring to hear the same message each week?
    2.) Isn’t that saving gospel message for unbelievers only?
    3.) Are you suggesting that Christians need to get saved each week?

  34. Jean says:

    The main focus of Christian spirituality is how to live with a good clear conscience before God and the people around us. “So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.”

    The problem with our conscience is that while it functions as a kind of internal judge, it does not, by itself, provide any certain criteria by which we can rightly assess ourselves and others. Before conversion our internal criteria is anything BUT God’s Word. It might be another religion, the views of our parents or friends, or the norms of society, etc.

    When we become Christians, the Word of God enlightens our conscience so that it is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path. God gave us our conscience so that we would know where we stand with Him. He designed it so that we could attend to His Word and discern His will as revealed in His Word, so that, for example, we can attend to the good works that He prepared before hand that we should walk in them.

    But, our conscience operates as it should only when we receive His Word regularly as Law and Gospel. A clear conscience is what Paul means when he says that we are free in Christ. With a free conscience, we can begin to love God and love others.

    What happens if we don’t acknowledge our ongoing sins before God? Our conscience will become dull where there is no repentance. Next, we will replace God’s Word as the internal criteria of our conscience with an idol. We then slip will from the light back into darkness. (Remember the parable of the house swept clean.)

    What happens if we hear only God’s Law regularly (i.e., do this; don’t do that; love, love love…)? In that case, we either become oppressed by our constant failings, leading to despair (and potentially out of the faith entirely), or we will manufacture man-made works to justify ourselves. I go to church; I tithe; I volunteer at the food bank; I teach Sunday School; I’m in a small group; I serve on the Church Council; etc. Maybe I oscillate between despair and self-justification. Neither of these two polarities will give me a good conscience before God and man. They will not allow me to be a vessel of God’s love for others.

    So, what do I need? This is where the Gospel comes in. I need FAITH. There is a direct connection between faith and good conscience. Only the Gospel delivers faith.

    Through faith in Christ I receive a good conscience. I therefore know that God the Father is as pleased with me as He is with Jesus, His Son, because I am united with Him. I am guilty of rebellion against Him and have been sentenced to death by Him for my rebellion; yet by His grace and mercy I have been pardoned and have been given the gift of eternal life. I no longer fear God’s disapproval and displeasure, so I can approach my Father full of the assurance of faith, sure of His acceptance and confident in my prayers.

    The spiritual battle over our conscience doesn’t even begin until we are converted. Then we become targets of Satan’s lies and accusations as he tries to turn us away from Christ.

  35. Jean says:

    “One thing, and only one thing, is necessary for the Christian life, righteousness, and freedom. That one thing is the most holy Word of God, the gospel of Christ, as Christ says, John 11:25, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live’ and John 8:36, ‘So if the Son makes you free you will be free indeed’; and [citation omitted], ‘Man shall not live by bread alone but every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ Let us then consider it certain and firmly established that the soul can do without anything except the Word of God and that where the Word of God is missing there is no help at all for the soul. If it has the Word of God it is rich and lacks nothing since it is the Word of life, thrust light, peace, righteousness, salvation, joy, liberty, wisdom, power, grace, glory, and of every incalculable blessing.” – Martin Luther

  36. Jean,
    Perhaps I overly expect point by point answers, and if there was an answer in there to my question #3, I missed it.

    Are you suggesting that Christians need to get saved each week?

  37. Jean says:

    “Are you suggesting that Christians need to get saved each week?”

    MLD,
    I assume by “saved” you mean peace and at-one-ment with God; righteousness; and eternal life. I’ve got great news for everyone: While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son. The work is finished. What is this reconciliation other than the forgiveness of our sins – salvation.

    Christ did all the work. We do no work. The only thing we do is add our “Amen!”. “Be reconciled to God”, implored Paul. This is what faith looks like; it receives Christ’s work of reconciliation. Even the very faith that receives Christ’s work is itself a gift, which comes from hearing God’s Word of Law and Gospel. If you are looking for Scriptural support for Law and Gospel preaching, look no further than Luke 24:46-47:

    “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that REPENTANCE and FORGIVENESS OF SINS should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” [my emphasis]

    Since reconciliation with God is ALWAYS on account of Christ’s work (and never on account of my work), faith, which appropriates reconciliation and, therefore, salvation for me always clings to Christ alone. If I despise God’s means of grace, his Word and Sacraments, how will I sustain my faith? The short answer is, I won’t. My conscience will grow dark and I will replace God’s Word with another god, a god which does not save.

    Therefore, the Bible says “believe”, belief comes through hearing, belief requires sustaining, so we need to receive Christ’s gifts, including faith, regularly to sustain it. With faith, we receive the finished work of reconciliation that Christ won for us on the cross, which is salvation.

  38. Jean, I agree with you that the continual word of God to us remains for our justification – that through his word, the absolution and the sacrament of the body & blood that God refuels our justification.

    I think many today are done with justification and have moved on to a steady diet of sanctification – which is less about God and his actions and service and more about my behavior.

  39. Jean says:

    “I think many today are done with justification and have moved on to a steady diet of sanctification – which is less about God and his actions and service and more about my behavior.”

    I see this frequently MLD. Not only is it problematic for the individual’s faith and conscience, but it creates an “us” and “them” dynamic when speaking with or about non-Christians. I think it leads to a lot of the perceptions Christians have about the lost, and that the lost have about Christians. When the reality is that we’re all basically the same, in the same boat, poor miserable sinners deserving of God’s temporal and eternal punishment.

  40. I am watching the Azusa Live and I swear, I think this guy has a Jesus Prophecy App on his phone. Are these really available? He is getting all his names and prophecies from his phone.
    Say What????

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