Remember the story of Naaman the commander of the Syrian army?
Naaman was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.
Naaman was told of a prophet in Israel (his foe) that could heal him of his malady.
The King of Syria sent gifts and a letter to the King of Israel on Naaman’s behalf to have an audience with the prophet, Elisha.
In response, The King of Israel tore his clothing.
When Elisha, the prophet heard that the king had torn his clothing said to him, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house.
And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.”
Naaman had a big ego and refused the messenger.
Naaman wanted the prophet to speak to him personally.
He complained about washing in the Jordan stating, “Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?”
Finally, a few of Naaman’s servants convinced him to dip into the water, and Naaman did.
When Naaman came out of the water after the seventh wash, he was clean and made whole.
The miracle working power of God manifested itself and proved to Naaman and others that God can do all things.
Seven is a masterful number and represents completion.
What is that you wish to complete or accomplish in your life?
Is there something or someone you wish to be free of or healed of?
Enter into a time of prayer and meditation, remembering Jesus, as he makes his way to Golgotha.
This is your opportunity to leave everything at the Cross, dip into the water and be made whole! Amen!
Denial is a strong action mixed up with emotion.
What are you in denial about?
One of the hardest things to do, as a servant of God, is to deny anything is wrong.
How do you respond when someone asks you? “How are you?”
Do you lie and say everything is fine?
Perhaps you have taken on too much.
Do you need a break?
There is nothing wrong with taking care of one’s self.
Sometimes what happens when one functions in a ministry position, she/he will take care of others and neglect her/himself.
This is an act of denial and breach of faith with God.
What happens? Murmuring and whining begins.
Hidden stuff remains hidden.
One who is in denial looks for others to blame.
It is always easier to find fault with another than to look in the mirror and see what is wrong with me. Isn’t it?
The alcoholic denies he has a drinking problem.
The drug addict denies he is taking drugs.
The person who has food addictions will hide his/her eating issues. The list goes on and on.
It is not God’s will to become run down, aggravated, agitated, resentful or bitter. This opens the door to other problems. Come back for Part 2 next week!
Many times in the life of the seeker, or the helper we too suffer.
It gives us great comfort to know that our beloved Jesus walked this journey before us, and he understands our personal setbacks and challenges in life.
In Matthew Chapter 16, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things.
In his despair, did Jesus wonder when people would get his message?
Jesus predicted his own death three times and each time he was grieved. Why was no getting it?
Also, Jesus was not afraid to show his feelings.
In the Book of John, Chapter 11 it says,
“When Jesus saw her Mary, Lazarus’ sister weeping, and the others, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.
Jesus asked, “Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Lord, come and see”. As Jesus approached the tomb it says, “Jesus wept”.
Don’t think these incidents did not grieve Jesus, they did.
Jesus experienced condemnation and began carrying His Cross long before the physical experience happened in his life, because of the people he encountered along the way. Jesus grieved in his experience.
Not only was he prepared to embrace his own suffering, but he felt ours as well.
“What no one ever saw or heard, what no one ever thought could happen, is the very thing God prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)
Here is a promise from God to sustain us in the midst of any storm:
“I love you from the depth of my being, from infinity. You cannot measure my love for you. It is greater, wider and longer than any measuring stick. I cannot and will not stop loving you”. (Our Table Connection: Breaking Bread Together, page 24)
During this Season of Lent, it is important to dive deep into one’s self, clear away any wreckage or debris, return to the surface washed and new in Christ.
Remember that song, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me?” Sounds good doesn’t it?
How can one truly have peace within, or peace of mind, if she/he has not LET go of EMOTIONS that are TOXIC?
Begin this day to search deep within yourself for any issues of unforgiveness, jealousy, anger, resentment, etc.
Take a deep breath and reflect on this passage from scripture:
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27)
As we continue to look at the deeper things of God during this Lenten journey, we begin in the Book of Ezekiel:
“As for you, son of man, groan; with breaking heart and bitter grief, groan before their eyes”.
Very early, as Jesus began his ministry, Herod decided to behead John the Baptist.
“Now when Jesus heard about John’s death, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard Jesus was in the neighborhood, they followed him on foot from the towns”.
Poor Jesus needed time alone to grieve for John.
It is important to remember that John was the only person, a true kindred spirit who really understood Jesus, the work, and the personal sacrifice of ministry.
Jesus had to grieve John’s death and then go back to work.
Jesus was then and still is the suffering servant of humanity. Jesus grieved a great deal during his ministry.
Can you relate?
Prayer is a necessary component in the life of a believer.
Sometimes, we pray because of a situation or circumstance.
It is more important to pray through a situation or circumstance with God, rather than trying micromanage the drama of life on your own.
Perhaps you are praying about a health issue.
As you think about your health, when did the problem begin?
Is there someone with whom you are angry or bitter against?
Do you carry resentment in your heart?
“The healing of the body is accompanied by repentance and forgiveness of sin.”
Who is at fault?
Who do you need to forgive?
Ponder these questions and come back next week for Part 2 of the “Lenten Journey of Prayer and Forgiveness” as we take a look at the story of Jesus and the lame man found in the Book of John.
Questions/Focus Points to ponder throughout Lent:
- Who is God? What is my relationship with God?
- How do I grow in my relationship with God?
- What happens if I fall?
- Be bold and honest and put on the whole of armor of God everyday. Reading Ephesians, Chapter 6: 10-24, for more information regarding “The Whole Armor of God.”
- Turn all of life over. We leave our cares and worries at the cross.
- Here are two prayers to consider utilizing during Lent:
The first is a prayer from my second book, “30 Messages of Hope, Message #2: Deliver Me, O’ Lord” (to be published in 2011)
“Lord, I place all worries, all my fears, all the issues that are none of my business on your altar. I relax and I go free in the name of Yeshua, Jesus. Amen.”
The second prayer some of you are familiar with, the prayer of St. Michael:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in this day of battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; May God the Father rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O’ Prince of the heavenly host, by the divine power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through this world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen!
As we approach this ‘Season of Lent’, we are to search the deep things of God.
We are required to go deep for 40 days, like a runner chasing a ball.
Are you contemplating changes in your life?
Place all your burdens on the Lord and enter this Lenten Season expecting definite results.
When you enter the deep, quiet places of God, “Go into the closet, and shut the door. Pray to your heavenly Father in secret”.
Oswald Chambers, in his book, My Utmost for His Highest, explains going to pray with the Father this way:
“Jesus did not say – Dream about thy Father in secret, but pray to thy Father in secret. Prayer is an effort of will. After we have entered our secret place and have shut the door, the most difficult thing to do is to pray; we cannot get our minds into working order, and the first thing that conflicts is wandering thoughts. The great battle in private prayer is the overcoming of mental wool-gathering. We have to discipline our minds and concentrate on willful prayer.
We must have a selected place for prayer and when we get there the plague of flies begins – This must be done, and that. “Shut thy door.” A secret silence means to shut the door deliberately on emotions and remember God. God is in secret, and He sees us from the secret place; He does not see us as other people see us, or as we see ourselves. When we live in the secret place it becomes impossible for us to doubt God, we become more sure of Him than of anything else. Your Father, Jesus says, is in secret and nowhere else. Enter the secret place, and right in the center of the common round you find God there all the time. Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything. Unless in the first waking moment of the day you learn to fling the door wide back and let God in, you will work on a wrong level all day; but swing the door wide open and pray to your Father in secret, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God”.
Get ready to go deep. Amen.
In the Book of James, Chapter 5, verses 13-15, James writes, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him.”
We know James is describing one who is ill, or out of sorts.
Perhaps, this passage relates to you.
Maybe, you are suffering from a physical malady, or you are distressed about a situation going on in your life.
You qualify for God’s help. Why?
As a ‘Child of God’, you have a right to be here and a right to ask for help.
In every situation, steps need to be taken in order to assist one in need, and that’s you!
However, as one in need, the first step is asking for help from others. We are not equipped to carry the burdens of this life alone.
In this case, the help you need is prayer.
This week take the plunge and ask someone you trust to stand in the gap and pray for you!