Searching for....

Monday, January 26, 2015

01252015 Transfiguration and 3rd Sunday After Epiphany

Sermon Audio

January 25, 2015
Restoration by God’s Plan!
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

            So many times in our world, we hear, see and experience conflict arising, because we are asked to do something.  In our Old Testament lesson this morning, Naaman, a leper is told that he needs to go and wash in the Jordan River and dip himself seven times in order to be clean.  Great General that he is, Naaman who could tell multitudes of men to go into battle for the King where they would ultimately lose their lives and the men would follow his order without question.  And in his humanity, Naaman when presented with this opportunity balked at this simple command by the prophet Elisha.
            Naaman’s reaction to Elisha was to not only question him, but even give other potential solutions that he thought were ‘better’.  Our passage states Naaman’s words, “Behold, I thought, ‘He [that is the prophet] 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.’ 12 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?”
            In one sense, Naaman was trying to compromise on what he was told he needed to do.  Naaman felt he knew better than Elisha how this should have gone down and was unafraid not only to ignore the simple instructions, but even offer his own ‘educated’ opinion.
            Naaman even goes so far as to not only ignore the advice he was in fact soliciting, but “turned and went away in a rage.”  Naaman was angry and was unafraid of letting anyone and everyone around know he was not only dissatisfied, but felt like his journey to come see this man was not only a complete waste of time, but the person he was getting advice from was asking him to do something he felt was beneath him.
            Simply Naaman did not feel he needed to submit himself.  Namaan’s pride was getting in the way of even his desire to be healed.  Rather than submitting himself to what the prophet prescribed, he would rather live with the leprosy and the stigma that he would continue to have for the rest of his life.  It would be like a farmer seeking out the most skilled extension field rep from K-State, KU or even the local Ag office to solve a problem you ran into with all of your fields that kept your crop from even paying the land payment and taxes.  And when he or she prescribes the best treatment to return your field to health in their professional opinion, you slam the door in their face, because you know better than somebody with letters behind their name or a title.
            Sadly, Naaman is a prime and perfect example for us and of our society today.  A few weeks ago I asked in the sermon, “will you be submissive to God”?  Clearly Naaman is refusing to be submissive to God and His plan.  What we learned about submission a few weeks ago is that God has a plan, a perfect plan.
            When Naaman in essence threw his fit, he clearly didn’t want to follow God’s plan.  But notice what happened, his servants, who worked for him came and spoke to him.  His servants saw what was happening and not only understood the potential for healing for Naaman, but had an insight into Naaman and how to get him to think about it in a different way.  The slaves said to Naaman, “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’?
            Clearly the servants saw beyond the human reaction of Naaman and could discern Naaman’s heart.  In essence they made Naaman look at this from a different perspective.  Naaman, was looking from the fleshly human perspective, hence his anger and rage, but his slaves saw the simple wisdom of submission.  And what would occur was the greatest gift, “Restoration by God’s Plan!”  God used the prophet Elisha to speak into Naaman’s life, the slaves to stop Naaman and for Naaman to look at this gift and fulfill the plan of healing that could occur.
            We who gather here today have an opportunity like Naaman to follow God’s perfect plan and feel and be the restoration by God’s Plan!  But like Naaman it will require, not only submission, but our following God’s given servant and the wisdom given them from God.
            There are three things that Naaman had to do, before he was healed.  He had to swallow his pride.  In our 21st Century culture we have a problem swallowing our pride.  As a Pastor, I have this challenge and still struggle with it daily.  I would guess a lot of us have this problem.  When we do swallow our pride, God can use us to move mountains.  Swallowing our pride does not mean we lose our independence or voice, but it does mean we need to seek the right advice.  Just as Naaman had to go to Elisha to receive the simple task of washing in the Jordan, we need to seek out the right people to help us with our problems, challenges and difficulties, especially in the church when we have hit the proverbial brick wall.
            The second thing Naaman had to do was “Go where he was told”.  Notice after his slaves helped him see the wisdom, Naaman went down to the Jordan River.  The river that he had only a short while ago berated as not as good as the rivers of Damascus, now became his salvation from a disease that had hurt him for years.  As a Pastor, we sometimes receive a call to minister to a family on the wrong side of the tracks or in the wrong circumstance.  But God has a plan and this may be my opportunity as Pastor our opportunity for Emmanuel to proclaim the Gospel where others would not have dared trod.
            And finally, Naaman had to follow the directions of Elisha, dip himself, not six times or eight times, but seven times in the river Jordan.  Seven times in and out of the water of the Jordan River and Naaman’s skin was healed from the disease that had left him outside of society, acceptance and even being able to be seen in public as the great General he was.
            In a clear, definable and definitive way Naaman was healed according to the “word of the man of God”.  Elisha clear prophet of the people of God gave Naaman, not a victory over a battle, but over a battle in and with his body that he had suffered for a long time.
            What does this mean for us today?  If we will only learn from Naaman and put away our pride, go where we are told and follow the directions of God’s true servants, we will be healed.

           And God’s servant for us today is Jesus Christ Who came in the manger, died on the Cross of Calvary, was raised from the dead and Who now calls upon we who gather here today to proclaim the mercy He offers all of mankind.  If we refuse to share the forgiveness and mercy of God, listen only to what scratches our collective itch, then like the leprosy of Naaman, we as a church will never be healed.

            But if we lay claim to God’s promise of forgiveness, put away our pride and arrogance, God will work through us in the most profound way and touch and change the heart of Goodland, Kansas.  Let’s as a church follow God’s bidding and be the church Jesus Christ died for, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel for our Annual Meeting.  AMEN.

Check out Pastor on the Prairie (ProtP)
Subscribe to ProtP

//trial script