Monday, January 14, 2019

Naaman - Out of the mouths of babes

2 Kings 5:2-5
Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing.

 I followed the Elizabeth Smart story, as many of us did, in horror. At the time of her abduction, all of my four children were under the age of 10.  This hit home for me.  Who could possibly take a child away from her loving family?  What would become of the child? How could she move on with her life after this?

In the time of Naaman, there was an Israelite girl who lived in Naaman's home as a servant to his wife.  She was there because she was taken from her home when Aram raiders had conquered her land. I'm not sure what the girls home life was like before she was captured.  She is not mentioned anywhere else except in this passage.  But in general, I can imagine what my disposition might be towards the people who took me.  Not this girl.

This young girl tells Naaman's wife that she knows a guy who can cure his leprosy. That he is in Samaria.  Now Samaria is about a six hour drive from Aram.  I'm not sure what the time frame is on camel or horse, but I can imagine it's a fairly long journey - especially for one who's suffering from leprosy.  Here's the thing - not only does Naaman take the advice of this young girl to go on this long journey, he presents it to his boss, the king, so he can get some time off - and the king agrees to it!

God can use us at any age to be a blessing to someone else, no matter what our circumstances.  Elizabeth Smart has miraculously been able to deal with her abduction and moved on to be an inspiration to others.  Remember Whose you are and where you belong. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Naaman - Who Are You Again?

2 Kings 5:1
1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

When reading a book, most of the time it's very easy to remember the main characters.  Those are the ones that define the plot, the ones we follow along on the journey, the ones that stay in our mind when we've finished.  You will remember Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy - but do you recall Rumblebuffin and the lesson we learned from him?  Maybe, maybe not. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is not the only book where this is the case.
I think the same is true for the Bible. We remember the people who have whole books written about them, Ruth, Esther, Job - but if someone is even mentioned in the Bible, there is a lesson to be learned there.  So, for the next few months, let's look at the people that are mentioned but may not get the recognition they should.

The first is Naaman.  Naaman was a commander in the army.  The Bible says he was a great man and highly regarded by the king.  We are even told why he was highly regarded: "because through him the Lord had given victory to King Aram". He was labeled as a 'valiant solder'.  

In today's world, a man with those credentials we would expect to see in a military uniform with medals and ribbons attached to it. There is one crucial physical attribute attached to Naaman's description: "but he had leprosy".

In Naaman's time, this was a death sentence.  I did a little research on leprosy and a person can have the bacteria that causes leprosy in their system for 3-5 years before symptoms appear. So by the time Naaman knew he had leprosy, it was showing over his skin. Now the Bible doesn't say - Naaman was a great military leader and then he found out he had leprosy.  It says he was a valiant soldier - but he had leprosy.

How many times do we give an excuse to not complete a task?  I'm guilty of it.  Maybe my back was too sore one day or I was just too tired.  Naaman had LEPROSY and yet when the Lord called him out to war to claim victory for King Aram - Naaman went.  I think the first thing we can take away from Naaman in just the first mention of him is that when God is truly calling you to do His work, nothing should stand in your way.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year .... New Goals.... Same Mission

1 Peter 3:8-15 8Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10For,“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.11They must turn from evil and do good;they must seek peace and pursue it.12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
Happy New Year!!
For some, ushering in the new year brings excitement about what's to come ahead.  For others, a wave a nostalgia over the past year and goals met and relationships strengthened brings joy. Still for some, the realization that what once was, will no longer be holds firm and they are hurting.
I always struggle with a new years resolution.  Should I stick with the age old "lose weight, get fit" strategy?  The 'read the Bible in a year' has always held steady in the top ten.  Even 'get the garage organized' has been batted around a few times.  
But for this year, I think I've fallen back on my favorite verse and what began this blog so many years ago. 1 Peter  3:15.
As I get older and more cynical, I've found people - in general - annoy me.  I don't understand their mindsets or why they act the way they do.  Trivial though it may be, the mere hint of politeness has seem to have gone out the window.  So - why - I ask myself - should I continue to be kind to these people.  Oh right, cause God said to.
There is one goal in this life.  To serve Jesus.  When we love the unlovable and others wonder why - we should say - because of Jesus.  When we help those that are undeserving and it  makes no sense to other people, we should be able to say - because of Jesus. 
He tells us in 1 Peter 3:8,  love everyone.  When people are mean to you, still love them.  Not because they deserve it or need it, but because Jesus told us to and we love Him.
So this year, in 2019, I will try very hard to smile at the neighbor who parks on our lawn. To say "Hello" to the person who cuts in front of me at the grocery store. To spend an hour explaining to a client how the process works for the hundredth time without sighing in frustration.  I will let others merge in front of me with a wave and not honk when I am cut off. I will love.... because of Jesus.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Who's your Idol?

Exodus 34:14 - Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

Daily life is exhausting.  The body is tired and doesn't want to roll out of bed.  The kids may be sick or have their own issues they want to talk about. The parents may need physical care and it is your responsibility. A friend may have lost a spouse, either through infidelity or death, or even be suffering with a disease and this is a burden on your heart.  It is a true statement that life can be hard.

At work one day, I overheard a co-worker sharing with a client some struggles that were going on in her life.  She had recently had an injury and was discussing the pain of moving around and getting back into the daily grind.  The client responded at the end of their chat with an "I'll pray for you".  What a wonderfully positive statement.  It says both 'I care about you' and 'there is hope for your hurting'.  As my co-worker headed back over to me, I inquired - "is that client a Christian?"  The response she gave startled me - she said, "I don't know, but it couldn't hurt".

Actually, it could hurt. God is very clear in the Bible when He says 'Do not have any other gods except Me'.  Accepting the fact that people worship another god besides the one true God should cause sadness, not indifference.  My problems, my hurts, my struggles are real - I want them to go before a real God. 

God calls us to stand up for what is right - when we allow others and even God to think that we're 'okay' with our personal struggles being taken to someone other than our Creator, we need to say something.  It does make a difference to whom we're praying.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ga Ga - not the lady.

Exodus 2:5-6: Then Pharaoh's daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. "This is one of the Hebrew babies," she said. 

Our church has baby dedications once a month.  All the parents bring their new babies to the front of the sanctuary and the church gets the honor of praying for the Godly upbringing of the child. Meanwhile, I sit in the pew with my husband 'oohing and aahing' over each little bundle that comes before us.  I even go so far as to inquire of my husband if he thinks it would be nice to have another.  My husband, knowing that our child-bearing days are gone, agrees that we should definitely keep trying as much as possible.

I often feel that my emotions are common. Doesn't every woman's heart long to hold and cuddle a child?  Then I am brought back to reality when I read the news about the mother in Alaska who let her toddlers freeze to death or in Pennsylvania and after more research, I learn that this behavior is not as uncommon as we would think or hope.

Abortion and murdering of babies was not uncommon in the 1100s BC either. The pharaoh had put a law in place that all first born sons of a Hebrew woman were to be put to death. A pharoah in Egypt was powerful, his family was well cared for - this included his daughter.  One day, his daughter went down to the Nile to bathe - who bathes in a river with crocodiles?  Maybe that's why she needed the attendants.  The Pharoah's daughter saw baby Moses in a basket and took him in to her home.  She doesn't turn him over to authorities - even though she knew he was a Hebrew baby. She doesn't have him killed - even though that was the law her father had in place.  She takes him as her own and calls him Moses - even though he was not of royal blood.

We don't get to hear much more about the woman who raised Moses, we only see the results of her actions. The man who led the captives out of Egypt under God's direction.  We may never see the end results of the effort we take in raising our own children or investing our lives in someone - but God is using the mother, the Sunday school teacher, the AWANA leader, the nurse, the principal, the bus driver . . . in a big way.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Where's a Burning Bush When You Need One????

Psalm 40:5 Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.

I watched a movie today called "Sliding Doors" with Gwyneth Paltrow.  The movie itself was nothing really to write home about - but the plot of the movie got me to thinking about something that has been plaguing my mind.  The story begins with a woman who loses her job and as she leaves her office behind, she runs to catch the 'tube' (movie is based in England).  In the one scenario, she misses the train - and then we rewind and see another scenario where she doesn't miss the train.  In the path of her life where she catches the train, she meets a stranger and has a very casual conversation.  She lets this man know that she lost her job and is headed home to her boyfriend.  When she gets home she finds him in bed with another woman.  She immediately leaves him and her life is played out where she again bumps into the stranger that she met on the train and they spend many happy days together enjoying each other's company and falling in love.  In the other scenario, where she misses the train, she winds up getting mugged and going to the hospital and doesn't get home until after the woman with whom her boyfriend is sleeping with has left her apartment.  Here her life plays out by being continually lied to and gets two part time jobs to support this guy who is cheating on her.  A few months down the line, she does end up finding out that he was cheating on her and she leaves him, only to bump into the stranger she fell in love with in the other situation.

So in both scenarios, the end result was the same - she ended up with the new guy.  When I look at all the different situations in life, the big ones and the small ones, the ones we fervently pray over and the ones we leave to our own best judgment, one question comes to mind: "Is this truly what God wanted for me?"  When we hear people discuss parts of their life and they make the comment: "I feel this is where God is calling me" - how do they know?  How can they be certain?

I took a Bible class not too long ago in hopes of getting a better understanding of this clarification of God's voice - discernment, if you will.  While I felt like I wasn't getting anything that I didn't already know out of the class, I decided to raise my hand and ask - "What if I am wrong  and that's not what God wanted me to do?"  The answer that the leader of the class gave me was a good answer: "Do you not think, that our loving God, would guide you back to where He wanted you to be?"  And while of course I do believe that to be true - how do you avoid the "months of working two jobs and living with a cheating liar" scenario?  How can you be truly certain that it is God's voice you're hearing and not you're own?  I know God has great things planned for us - the Bible tells us that - but  Oh to have a burning bush.....

Would love to hear some stories on how you KNOW you've heard the voice of God: