Dwight Fletcher | Overcome – how to move forward
It's so amazing how our lives can be OK and going well in so many areas that persons looking on will even comment about how we have it all together. Yet on a fundamental level - at our core - things that money, stature, or position can't change, are really in shambles.
The story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5 illustrates this week's topic. The passage starts out by giving us a description of Naaman: "Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man..." (vs. 1).
But, with all that Naaman had going for him - his success and public recognition - in the most fundamental area of his life he had a problem "... but he had leprosy," (vs 1). This was like a death sentence. Notwithstanding all the compliments he received from the king and others, he would give it all up to not have leprosy. Leprosy was a dreaded disease in ancient times that would shut down your vital organs and eventually kill you. This was one battle that the proud general could not win.
Then, in walks a hero in the form of a young slave girl captured in battle from Israel. She introduces Naaman to a solution for his condition - "If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy," 2 Kings 5:3 NIV. She represents God to her master, saying that Israel's God is the living God who is his only hope.
Naaman is now in a position where he had to overcome to move forward.
He had to overcome:
1. Limited estimation: He had to listen to the message and not get caught up with the youth, position, and inexperience of the messenger.
2. Limited expectation: He had to open his heart to trust God. Naaman had to make a deliberate decision to trust in someone other than his pagan god.
3. Preconceptions, expectations, pride, and prejudices: Naaman travels to Israel with his king's blessing and arrives at Elisha's house with what appears to be much pomp and pageantry as verse 9 tells us "...with his horses and chariots...".
Elisha, not at all awed by the great general, didn't even go out to meet him; instead, he sent a messenger to convey his simple "prescription". And Naaman must once again, overcome to move forward because the cure was not in the water of the Jordan but in obedient faith in God's promise through His prophet.
"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." 2 Kings 5:11 NIV.
He is angry because his pride was offended by Elisha's offhand treatment of him. Expectant of the cure, he had preconceived how it would occur and resented being told to wash in a muddy river that he considered inferior to the rivers in his homeland.
Many of us today have the same issues as Naaman, especially as it relates to spiritual and biblical life lessons.
We struggle with:
1. PRIDE: We grew up in a modern world and some of this 'Bible thing' is foolishness.
Antidote: We must counter pride with humility. The Bible says: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." 1 Peter 5:6 NIV.
2. PRECONCEPTION: We want God but we don't want ......., you fill in the blank. The reality that the Cross is the solution for all of life's issues is not comfortable for many because of the way we are trained to think. Naaman's experience of spiritual things probably led him to expect a particular activity to occur. He had to overcome his preconception in order to move forward.
Antidote: God's way. Every redemptive experience, every salvation experience starts at the Cross. It is the way God provided for the forgiveness of our sins, our deliverance, and healing. "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV.
3. OFFENCE: Naaman was offended at the instruction. He assumed wrongly that the water was going to wash off the leprosy. He has to overcome the offense he had taken.
Many of us are stuck because of our offence. We were offended when this pastor said or did not say; when this church person called or did not call; when a prayer is unanswered we say 'I will never ask God again.'
Antidote: Respond to God in OBEDIENCE.
Naaman's servants talked sense into him saying, "... if the man of God had told you to do some great thing..." (vs. 13), and Naaman considered and obeyed. This healing had nothing to do with Naaman's greatness and everything to do with God's kindness. His obedience led to him being cleansed.
This story is about "How to not miss God". Today God wants to do some things in our lives but our expectations, prejudices and pride are stumbling blocks. Don't miss out on your healing and your blessing because of these.