Sun Am Worship
Text: 2 Kings 5; 1:17 (King James Version)
"Father, I am your servant, willing and desiring to be used to bless your people."
Miracles rarely just happen. They are the work of God's constant intervention in our lives. So how can we prepare ourselves to receive one?
Turn with me to 2 Kings Ch. 5. I want to read you a story today about man named Naaman. He's not a believer, & he doesn't live in the Holy Land. In fact, when it comes to spiritual things, he's on the outside looking in. The story begins in verse 1. (read 2 Kings 5:1-14)
2 Kings 5:1 Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
2 Kings 5:2 And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife.
2 Kings 5:3 And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
2 Kings 5:4 And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
2 Kings 5:5 And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
2 Kings 5:6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
2 Kings 5:7 And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.
2 Kings 5:8 And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
2 Kings 5:9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
2 Kings 5:10
And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven
times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
2 Kings 5:11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
2 Kings 5:12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
2 Kings 5:13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
2 Kings 5:14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
Namaan is a desperate man, seeking answers to an
incurable problem. He has leprosy. Which is a disease that affects the skin. A
person with leprosy didn't have much of a future. It's a very painful disease to
say the least, that has serious physical and social consequences. A Leper finds
himself alienated and ostracized from the rest of society. All the while, his
body aches from a process of deterioration that occurs from the inside out
causing the loss of limbs and legs.
Namaan needs a miracle! He's got a problem, a big problem. He has an issue that can't be resolved. That's the first thing you need to know about miracles. All of God's miracles have one thing in common, and you know what that is? They all start with a problem. Namaan has a enormously big problem in his life! Now, how many of you here this morning have a problem? Maybe, your problem is sitting right next to you? Don't tell! Truth be told, You have problems, I have problems, all God's children have problems!!! If you have a problem you're a candidate to receive a miracle.
All the miracles you read about in the Bible have this one thing in common. They all start with a problem or a need. That's the starting point for God's action. If you don't have any problems then you don't need God.
Namaan wakes up one morning and realizes that if he doesn't get help with his problem, it's all over. He's going to lose his career, his family, his fortune, his position. He'll forever live in isolation and alienation. So he's got to do something about it.
The first thing that Namaan did with his problem was this: He admitted it. Namaan was willing to look at things for what they were, not what he wished they were. He was willing to bring his problem into the light.
STEP ONE. ADMIT YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.
Now for many of us, this is a very difficult step to take. We don't like to admit some of our problems do we? We would rather pretend our problems don't exist. We falsely think, that If we don't talk about them, maybe they will go away. And when we're confronted with them, we have all kinds avoidance strategies like blaming others, getting defensive, or just plain denial.
Namaan, however, was far more realistic. He was beyond the denial stage. His problem was so bad, he couldn't escape it. It changed his appearance, threatened his career. Who could deny it? Everybody knew that Namaan had a problem. Realizing his predicament, Namaan resolves to do something about it.
That's the second step in the process of preparing yourself to receive a miracle.
STEP TWO: BE WILLING TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
You see, Namaan was not only willing to admit his problem, but he was willing to do some radical things to get the problem fixed. So I'm going to walk you through some of the radical steps that Namaan took toward getting his problem solved and receiving a miracle from God.
The first thing he did, was take advice from a woman! That's a miracle in itself! You know it's a pretty big miracle when a man listens to a women don't you? And it wasn't his wife, Namaan had a little jewish girl as a servant/captive that knew some things about God. She had some wisdom, so Namaam receives everything she has to say. This is an enormous step for a man to take in the ancient world, because to great extent the ancient world was Patriarchal. But as you know, the Bible breaks the mold when it comes to men knowing it all, sometimes women emerge to play the more prominent roles in scripture.
So the first thing Namaan does is take some good advice.
He's willing to listen to what others are saying and entertain their
As it turns out, Namaan likes the advice that's given to him and he acts upon it. From there, he starts moving up the chain of command to secure permission to leave the country and visit the prophet Elisha. His request makes it all the way to the Commander in chief, to King of Aram. And when the King receives his request, he jumps at the chance to have Namann healed. Being the valuable soldier he was, the King jumps at the chance to write a letter to advocate for Namaan.
Do you see what I'm getting at here? Namaan was willing to do something about his problem. He didn't give up. He was willing to take his problem to the highest authority in the land. He pulled out all the stops. He didn't waste any time. There was no delay. Namaan was willing to do something about his problem. And you've got to be willing to do something about yours.
You know, some people are experts at diagnosing problems, but that's about as far as it goes. They are capable of identifying problems, defining problems, analyzing problems, and talking about problems; but it doesn't go any further than that. So your really long on diagnosis, but short on prescription. What good is a Doctor that only tells you what's wrong and not how to fix it?
And I would suggest, that we could all take some cues from Namaan here, he was so willing to do something about his problem that he campaigned all the way up the chain of command until he gained a hearing with the King. He made his case to the King, and King Aram made an appeal to the King of Israel. The King of Israel misunderstood it, but nevertheless conceded to allow Namaan enter the country. All of these events represent the extraordinary steps Namaan was willing to take to resolve his leprosy. Namaan was willing to do everything within his power and ability to pursue help, including sacrifice.
STEP THREE: BE WILLING TO SACRIFICE.
Namaan's willingness to sacrifice further established the groundwork for this miracle.
Namaan gathered up all his belongings, gold, silver, and ten sets of clothes and a whole entourage of people and set out on a journey with hopes of receiving a miracle. He spared no expense. Namaan was willing to give everything in his possession to see an answer to the problem.
willing to pay any price, give any gift and make any sacrifice. Nothing would he
hold back. Namaan lays it all on the
line, and so should we.
If you want to see miracles happen in your life, be willing to sacrifice! Nothing happens except by way of sacrifice. You need a financial miracle? Be willing to sacrifice and discipline yourself. You need a marriage miracle? Then you have to be willing to put some other things aside in order to make your marriage a priority. It won't happen until you sacrifice something. You need a physical miracle? You're sick and tired of being sick and tired. Don't just stay home and pray. Advocate for yourself. who cares how much it cost? Yes, there's a price to be paid. But God is looking for some people who are willing sacrifice! So that miracles can happen and the world will know that He is alone is God. And so often He uses what's in our hand, if only we would be willing to sacrifice it. [Now here what I'm not saying, some of you are going to walk away and say, "Yup, God helps those who help themselves, that's the point of the sermon." No it's not. The point is this: God helps those who are willing to make a sacrifice, and that's his way of doing things, not our way..] You see, miracles usually involve some degree of sacrifice. Namaan was willing to sacrifice. Let me give you another example…
You remember the story of the loaves and fishes. This was the only miracle that Jesus performed recorded in all four gospels. That's how important it was. Jesus is teaching a multitude of hungry people, it's late in the afternoon and they're all hungry. Along comes a little boy with 5 loaves and two fishes, Jesus said, "give me your lunch" And the little boy willingly gave up his lunch. He didn't do it begrudgingly or with hesitation, he gave his lunch to the Savior. Now, did Jesus need the 5 loaves and 2 fishes? No, he could have called down manna from heaven and spontaneously created a hug buffet line. But Jesus didn't do it that way, He took what little bit that boy had to offer and multiplied it. God typically uses what's already in our possession. We just have to be willing to give it to Him. The key word is: Sacrifice. Namaan was willing to sacrifice. Are you?
Now, as many of you know, sacrifices come in many ways. Namaan here was put to the ultimate test, little did he know at the time, receiving his miracle would require a different kind of sacrifice. When he meets up with the prophet Elisha, a messenger gave him detailed instructions about what He should do to be healed. Elisha said, You need to go wash in Jordan 7 times and then you'll be cured and your flesh will be restored. Seven times! Elisha said.
The Bible says, that Namaan got angry. Why did He get angry? Why does anybody get angry? (Answer: Pride) Elisha asked him to do something that required humility. He asked Namaan, a wealthy and prominent man, to go bathe in the Jordan, not only once, but 7 times. You need to know something about the Jordan river, it's not the cleanest body of water in the region. It's the drain basin for the hills of Judea, people that have no where to bath, bath in the Jordan River, and it's water flows into a larger body of water called the dead sea. Now what does that tell you?
Namaan was angry because he couldn't see how a dirty river could cleanse him from an incurable disease… How do you get into a dirty river and come out clean? So he got mad and walked off in a huff. The Bible says that Namaan was in a rage over the whole thing. You see, not only was God dealing with Namaan's physical disease, he was also dealing with a spiritual disease. And Namaan was a very proud man that needed to learn some lessons in humility. God was calling him to make a sacrifice far greater than just money. In fact, God didn't use the money. God was calling Namaan to be a living sacrifice. Dipping in Jordan was an act of humility. The remedy for pride is humility. And that's what God was calling him to do… to be a living sacrifice. And Namaan after giving it some thought and being persuaded, did exactly what Elisha told him to do.
It took some time for Namaam to come around to it. But Namaan came to his senses and dipped his diseased body in the Jordan River, not once, but 7 times he took the plunge. What humility, what sacrifice!!! It was a totally unconventional. But God used it to help Namaan in more ways than one, he got a lesson in humility. You see, Namaan was open to change. For a man of his stature to humble himself and bath in Jordan, that's a pretty radical departure from what he's known. But Namaan was open to that change, are you?
STEP FOUR: BE OPEN TO CHANGE!
You have to, because when God supernaturally intervenes, everything is going to change anyway. When miracles happen nothing stays the same, old things pass away and new things come about. Miracles have a way of changing our habits, attitudes and lifestyles.
One of the changes that took place immediately for Namaan was his attitude toward worship. Namaan's whole concept of worship was dramatically changed for the better. And instead of worshipping many gods, Namaan, a total non-jewish guy, is totally convinced that all other worship is in vain.
He proudly proclaimed that there is only one God in his
life and that was the God of Israel. In verse 15 Namaan says, "Now I know that
there is no God in all the world except in Israel." Later in the same
conversation, Namaan offers advanced regrets to Elisha, because he knows that
back in Syria, under the King, he's going to have to stand beside a man who
worships other gods. And now, he feels convicted about that and offers regrets
in advance. Namaan's whole attitude in worship changed dramatically after this
even. Instead of worshipping many gods, He was resolved to only worship one God.
Miracles do that to us, they change us, they change our attitudes and
You see, when God does a miracle, nothing stays the same, everything changes. That's the nature of miracle. Be open to it. Willingly embrace the change that it brings. Which establishes the last point in our outline.
STEP FIVE….LOOK FOR THE UNEXPECTED!
God performs miracles his way, not our way. Did you catch that? He does it His way, not our way. God has a miracle working agenda and it doesn't always work the way we think it's going to work. So your going to have to stay on your toes. The miracle may come in a way you never thought. And it may come when you don't expect it. There's an element of mystery to it. Miracles are miracles for a reason, you can't manufacture them. God is not like a vending machine, where you deposit certain inputs, make a choice and get a certain output. God is God, and we are not. And sometimes he chooses to work in a way that we never thought humanly possible. There's a sense of awe and wonder when a miracle takes place. That's why we call them miracles and not good fortune or good luck. Life is not a crap-shoot, God is God and if he chooses to do so He can supernaturally intervene in the natural order of things and do a miracle. We serve a miracle working God who works in unexpected ways.
I don't think Namaan ever expected to walk away from a dirty river a changed man. Not only was his leprosy healed and his skin restored, but he was healed of a far greater disease, his prideful spirit was dealt with. God changed him from the inside out. That wasn't really what he bargained for, he brought with him a fortune, Namaan would have gladly paid out the bucks to get a mere healing. Some scholars say, that Namaan had the equivalent of 1.5 million in gold and silver with him, and he was willing to give it all. But God was not interested in the money, you can't buy a miracle. Who knows, perhaps Namaan thought he could. God worked it out in a totally different way, and it didn't even cost him a dime.
You see, the greatest miracle of is changed lives. You can read the miraculous accounts of God moving in scripture and you'll find in every case that it resulted in someone's life being changed. In the Bible there is a litany of miracles from beginning to end, Jesus performed 39 of them that we know of that got recorded, who knows there could have been hundreds upon hundreds more, in every case there's the miracle and then there's the miracle behind it. The real miracle is not walking on water, or feeding a hungry crowd or healing a terrible disease. The miracle behind the miracle is the life change that results from it. God can juggle lightening bolts all day and give us a real showing if he wants to. But real miracles from God have a different agenda, it brings about dramatic life change, and attitude change. You'll never be the same after a God given miracle. That's God's agenda. When God performs miracles, unexpected changes in your life may occur. Look for the unexpected.
Now let me wrap this up with an illustration. You know what my job is here today, besides teaching the Bible. My objective tis morning is to prepare you to receive a miracle in course of you lifetime. I can't guarantee them, I won't give you a formula, I don't have any magic. My job is to prepare you and equip you. I see it this way. God wants me to move people into miracle territory, some people are moving in that direction and some are not. And to get into the miracle zone, you have to prepare. That's my job.
You remember that game you used to play when you were kid, or maybe you played it with your kids. It's the hot & cold game.
Some of you are hot, you're real hot. You've been walking humbly with God and praying like crazy. You're in what we call, the ‘miracle zone.' Don't give up. Keep waiting on God to move. They that wait on the Lord shall be renewed in strength and mount up like Eagles. Stay in the hot zone.
Now, some of you are cold. You're out there in the desert somewhere, wandering around thinking God is never going to come. Maybe you're in the cold zone, because you've let pride get in the way. Can you imagine how this story might have ended if Namaan would have held onto his pride and stayed angry? My guess: no miracle! The good news is this: You can go from cold to hot real quick, when you lay down your pride, humble yourself and get in the river. Pride is not for God to take away, it's for you to give up. The remedy for pride is humility.