The Lessons of a Loving Father

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

The Lessons of a Loving Father

© June 18, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June 18, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer      

Opening Hymn #1: Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty           

Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings      

Responsive Reading #593:  God and the Family (Genesis 1, Deuteronomy 6, Ephesians 5 and 6)                       

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘The Lessons of a Loving Father’

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church, on this Father’s day Sunday. For the lesson this morning, I would like to tell you a little bit about my dad and a couple of lessons that he taught me.

My dad would practice the art of “paying it forward” long before it was a popular term. He grew up in the Great Depression and served in World War II where placing the needs of other’s before your own desires was part of the fabric of society. People learned in those tough times, especially during WWII, that life was too precious and too short to be wasted doing malicious harm to others. I believe that is a big part of the reason why good prevailed over evil in that time of great evil throughout the world. This also gives us an explanation why most of the people who survived the hardships of the depression and war preferred afterwards to read and view media that might be considered today to be too innocent, comedic, or silly in nature. They did not need to see the stark realities of surviving, often in direct life or death conflict with others. They had LIVED that reality for years and wanted to spend the rest of their days doing acts of kindness and compassion to others.

You may ask that the idea of paying it forward is nice, but is there a Scripture passage that supports giving to others with no expectations of receiving anything in return? And what about helping those whom we dislike? The answer to both of these questions is a definite, “Yes”, as we see in Luke 6:27-36 (ESV):

Love Your Enemies

27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[a] either.30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.                                          

Footnotes: a. Luke 6:29 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin

Today, two generations later, there are many people in our society who believe that it is acceptable to waste their time by deliberately committing harmful and malicious acts towards others, both friends and family, alike. We see such behavior among those survivor reality shows, where participants endeavor to elevate their own status by harming and undermining others. Alliances are formed in order to subvert individuals, who are treated as opponents rather than as friends. It is not surprising that today we see a rise of politicians who promote a similar “me first” mantra. And strangely enough, there are large numbers of people who keep asking the question: “Why it is society seems to be on its way to Hades or Sheol in hand basket?”

The “me first” mentality is not only damaging to society, it is harmful to the soul, as we are admonished in  Philippians 2:3 (ESV):

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Recently, I had observed someone who either had nothing better to do or just suffered from a personal lack of moral integrity, going out of his way to perform several malicious acts with the deliberate intent of being hurtful towards to others. It was at that time that the victims of this disturbed individual turned their collective “other cheek” to the miscreant and then going the “extra mile” by doing nothing to retaliate against their transgressor. The response of compassion and kindness towards such bad behavior may be considered a good example of “paying it forward” by doing good deeds with no expectation of receiving any kindness in return.

Does the Bible Jesus encouraging us not only to “turn the other check”, but also to “go the extra mile” in response to bad behavior? The answer again is, “Yes”, as we see in Matthew 5:38-42 ESV:

Retaliation

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,[a] let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. Footnotes: a. Matthew 5:40 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin

Such kindness generates good will as it not only mitigates the harm intended by a malicious deed, it teaches both the bad actor and others how responding to malicious acts with an act of kindness can have a longer-lasting effect upon others and reinforces the lesson of “The Golden Rule”, described in Matthew 7:12 (ESV):

The Golden Rule

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

As a post script to this account, the reprobate in this account has recently suffered a few significant setbacks in his business and personal life, which seems to show that anyone who embarks on a lifestyle of doing harm to and hurting others, that is who refuses to pay forward acts of love and kind to others, may themselves become a proof of the adage: “what goes around, comes around” which the Scriptures warn us to avoid in, Isaiah 3:11 (ESV):

11 Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him,
for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.

How can we expect a just reward in heaven if a verbal testimony of “goodness” is contradicted by bad behavior? We must endeavor to always walk in the light,                    1 John 1:5-10 (ESV):

Walking in the Light

 

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #318: When We Walk with the Lord

Benediction – (2 John 3):                                                                                                             Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

 

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Power of the Spirit: Purchased by Faith, Not by Silver or Gold

BLCF: faith_sees_header

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Power of the Spirit: Purchased by Faith, Not by Silver or Gold’

© November 20, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

Based on Message Shared with BLCF on February 16, 2014

B LCF: Bulletin-November-20-2016

BLCF: Simon heresy

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #669:                       (The Lord’s Servant – 2 Timothy 2 and 3); Prayer   

Opening Hymn #255: Would You Be Free from the Burden; Choruses 

Scripture Verses: Mark 16:14-20 and Acts 8:4-25

Nucci,_Avanzino_-_Petrus'_Auseinandersetzung_mit_Simon_Magus_-_1620

Let us pray …

Welcome to BLCF ‘s Sunday morning Praise and Worship Service.

Our lesson today, entitled: ‘Power of the Spirit: Purchased by Faith, Not by Silver or Gold’, we will examine the signs and miracles associated with the Spirit, which is gifted to believers. This signs are exhibited through the faith of the believer, solely as a testament to the power of the Lord, not to the person who demonstrates a miracle and belief in Christ.

In giving His Great Commission, the Lord did say there will be signs associated with the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, as they preach his gospel, which was his final instructions before he ascended to heaven, as we read in Mark 16:14-20 (ESV):

The Great Commission

14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.

Another way of reading Mark 16:17-18 would be:

17 And these signs will accompany:

Those who believe in my name they will cast out demons.

Those who believe in my name will speak in new tongues.

 Those who believe in my name will pick up serpents with their hands.

Those who believe in my name, if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them.

 Those who believe in my name will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.

Remember, as Jesus was tempted by Satan from a high place in the desert, after he was baptized by John-the-Baptist, we are not to put God to the test by deliberately performing any of the acts described in Mark 16, as a public demonstration of faith. Miracles that come by the power of God are not intended to be part of a magician’s sideshow, or to sell books, Matthew 4:7 (ESV):

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

The only signs we are to concern ourselves with, are those that come by way of our preaching of the gospel in the name of the Lord. Those signs not being celestial, but associated with true believers in verses 17 and 18 of Mark 16:  

17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.

In spite of the signs provided by God’s Holy Spirit for His disciples, as they shared the gospel, both in the time of Jesus and today, there are self-proclaimed prophets who present themselves as God’s messenger, using signs of magic to fool the people. The Scriptures provide an account of one self-proclaimed prophet and false disciple of the Lord, named Simon, (Simon Magus) who preached his false gospel in Samaria, in Acts 8:4-25 (ESV):

Philip Proclaims Christ in Samaria

BLCF: Acts-8_5

Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city[a] of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.

Simon the Magician Believes

BLCF: Simon Sorcerer

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles[b] performed, he was amazed.

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall[c] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.           

Footnotes: a. Acts 8:5 Some manuscripts a city b. Acts 8:13 Greek works of power c. Acts 8:23 That is, a bitter fluid secreted by the liver; bile

Here is our Wikibits assessment of  Simon the Magician:

Wiki Notes on Simon Magus

BLCF: simon-magus

Simon the Sorcerer or Simon the Magician, in Latin Simon Magus, (Greek Σίμων ὁ μάγος) was a Samaritan magus or religious figure and a convert to Christianity, baptised by Philip the Evangelist, whose later confrontation with Peter is recorded in Acts 8:9–24. The sin of simony, or paying for position and influence in the church, is named for Simon. The Apostolic Constitutions also accuses him of lawlessness.[1] According to Recognitions, Simon’s parents were named Antonius and Rachel.[2]

Surviving traditions about Simon appear in orthodox texts, such as those of IrenaeusJustin MartyrHippolytus, and Epiphanius, where he is often regarded as the source of all heresiesJustin wrote that nearly all the Samaritans in his time were adherents of a certain Simon of Gitta, a village not far from Flavia Neapolis. Irenaeus held him as being one of the founders of Gnosticism and the sect of the Simonians.[3][4][5][6] Hippolytus quotes from a work he attributes to Simon or his followers the Simonians, Apophasis Megale, or Great Declaration. According to the early church heresiologists Simon is also supposed to have written several lost treatises, two of which bear the titles The Four Quarters of the World and The Sermons of the Refuter.

In apocryphal works including the Acts of PeterPseudo-Clementines, and the Epistle of the Apostles, Simon also appears as a formidable sorcerer with the ability to levitate and fly at will.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Magus

 

BLCF: baptism-masaccio_thebaptismoftheneophytes1

Upon reading the Scriptural account in Acts 8 carefully, you will see that the people of Samaria, including the false prophet Simon, were convicted by the miracles performed by the disciple Philip, as they were true signs from God. In verses 12 and 13, we read that the Samaritans, including Simon, were baptized in water,

12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles[b] performed, he was amazed. 

Now the tough part for some Baptists who hold the false belief that water baptism either follows or ensures baptism of the Spirit. We see that in verses 14 to 17:

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Only by a profession of faith, may one receive His Holy Spirit, see Acts 8:17,

  17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

However, the acts of observing God’s miracles, being baptised in water, and even after having received the touch by the hands of a disciple of the Lord does not guarantee one may receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will not enter a heart that is not prepared. Let us continue reading Acts 8, from verse 17:

18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall[c] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

BLCF: SIMON MAGUS

Peter observed that Simon, was still a slave to sin, and therefore subject to the judgment of death, Acts 8, verse 20:

20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!”

Simon acknowledges that his heart is, as Peter had observed, “not right before God”, as he is in the “bond of iniquity”, that he was still a slave to sin. Unfortunately, Simon’s reply, is to ask Peter to “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me”, indicating a reluctance by Simon to surrender completely to God, preventing the magician from receiving the Holy Spirit. This is confirmed by the mistaken belief on the part of Simon, when he attempts to purchase, with money, God’s free gift that was already purchased by Christ on Calvary’s cross. And one can only receive the gift of the Holy Spirit of God through genuine faith in the gift of Jesus; by the confession of, as well as the turning away from a life of sin; and by following the Lord, Jesus Christ.

It seems interesting to note that whenever money enters the picture, as with the offer to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit by Simon, or the sales of books claiming to reveal God’s purpose by way of observing celestial events, we see that God’s Holy Spirit is absent. Offering money in exchange for gifts of the Spirit, as Peter observed, indicates a heart that is not right with God and unworthy of the blessings of God’s Holy Spirit. There is no treasure on earth that can purchase a plan only to be revealed by God, in His chosen time.

I want to close today’s message by posing a question to you, framed in the form of a metaphor, about your own spiritual journey, as the answer has life or death consequences for your soul’s salvation:

“Are you racing alongside a speeding celestial train, as it travels on a magical media tour, hoping to buy salvation in a can, or have you placed your trust in the assurance of salvation by following Jesus’ Way to heaven, being the only true way to avoid the judgement of death?”  After all, the choice is yours.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #318: When We Walk with the Lord

Benediction – (Romans 15:13):                                                                    

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

BLCF: May-the-God-of-Hope-Romans-15_13

Trusting the Lord, While Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

BLCF: Matthew 25_31-46 Paraphrased
Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:
Trusting the Lord, While Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone’
© May 31, 2015 2015 by Steve Mickelson
Based on a Messaged Shared with BLCF Church on February 27, 2011
BLCF: Christianity_101

Announcements & Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #668: The New Life (from Colossians 3); Prayer

Opening Hymn #546: Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus; Choruses

Prayers and Tithing; Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings 

Scripture Verses: 

2 Kings 5:1-27, Luke 17:11-19, Mark 2:13-17, Matthew 25:31-46

                    

BLCF: get-out_of_the_boat

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday morning Praise and Worship Service at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship for the last Sunday of May, 2015.

BLCF: praywalk

A reminder for those who missed the announcements, that this Tuesday evening, June 2, at 7:30 PM, will mark BLCF Church’s turn to host the monthly Prayer Walk in The City. For over a decade, a group of over half a dozen churches participates in a Prayer Walk, where the participants, usually in pairs, walk and pray in the local neighborhood community. We pray for the health and healing through the Holy Spirit’s presence among each and every person. We pray for the Spirit’s guidance and protection, and where needed, a faith revival in the community.

If you would like to participate in this Tuesday’s Prayer Walk right here in the heart of Toronto, please arrive at BLCF at 7:30PM, where we gather for music and prayer before commencing on our Prayer Walk and join other prayer warriors from local churches.

For our lesson today, we have three Scripture verses that describe three different accounts of people in need of healing or cleansing and restoration. The first two describe men afflicted with Leprosy. To better understand this disease, let us review a Wikibits description:

Leprosy – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
BLCF: Leprosy Rates 2002 - WHO

Leprosy /ˈlɛprəsi/,[1] also known as Hansen’s disease (HD) is a chronic infection caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae[2] and Mycobacterium lepromatosis.[3] Initially, infections are without symptoms and typically remain this way for 5 to as long as 20 years.[2] Symptoms that develop include granulomas of the nerves, respiratory tract, skin, and eyes.[2] This may result in a lack of ability to feel pain and thus loss of parts of extremities due to repeated injuries.[4] Weakness and poor eyesight may also be present.

[ Leprosy is curable with treatment. Globally in 2012, the number of chronic cases of leprosy was 189,000 and the number of new cases was 230,000.[2] The number of chronic cases has decreased from some 5.2 million in the 1980s. In the past 20 years, 16 million people worldwide have been cured of leprosy.[2] About 200 cases are reported per year in the United States.[8]

Leprosy has affected humanity for thousands of years.[4] The disease takes its name from the Latin word lepra, which means “scaly”, while the term “Hansen’s disease” is named after the physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen.[4] Separating people by placing them in leper colonies still occurs in places such as India,[9] China,[10] and Africa.[11] However, most colonies have closed since leprosy is not very contagious.[11] Leprosy has been associated with social stigma for much of history, which is a barrier to self-reporting and early treatment.[2] Some consider the word leper offensive, preferring the phrase “persons affected with leprosy”.[12]

While Wikipedia indicates that Leprosy can be cured, I believe it more accurate to say that the disease’s progression can be stopped, but nerve damage and disfigurement remains. The healing in the Scriptures indicate a full restoration of the individual’s body. Because it typically takes between 5 to 20 years for the infected person to show symptoms, damage to the skin, nerves, lungs, limbs and eyes can only be arrested by treatment, not reversed.

The first of today’s Scriptures, from 2 Kings 5:1-27, is the account of Naaman who was a brave commander in the army of king of Syria. Naaman was an effective commander, even being described as being given victory in battle by the Lord. However the soldier was afflicted with Leprosy:

Naaman Healed of Leprosy
BLCF: Leprosy

5 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.[a] 2 Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

4 So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” 5 And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”

So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels[b] of gold, and ten changes of clothing. 6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7

And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”

8 But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.”

9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 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.”

11 But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana[c] and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

BLCF: naaman-healed
Gehazi’s Greed and Punishment

15 Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” 16 But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused.

17 Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord. 18 In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” 19 He said to him, “Go in peace.”

But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, 20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” 21

So Gehazi followed Naaman. And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is all well?” 22 And he said, “All is well. My master has sent me to say, ‘There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.’” 23 And Naaman said, “Be pleased to accept two talents.” And he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and laid them on two of his servants. And they carried them before Gehazi. 24 And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed.

25 He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.” 26 But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? 27 Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.

Footnotes: a. 2 Kings 5:1 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 b. 2 Kings 5:5 A talent was about 75 pounds or 34 kilograms; a shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams c. 2 Kings 5:12 Or Amana

Naaman is convinced by his wife’s servant of how a prophet in home Israel, could heal her master of his affliction. Naaman tells his lord, the King of Syria of the servant girl’s belief and asks for leave to go to Israel. The king sends Naaman, along with a letter, to the king of Israel. The King of Israel, upon reading the letter, tears his clothing as only God can heal a man of Leprosy and suspects that the request is a ruse by the King of Syria to start a war against Israel.

In 2 Kings 5:8 we see how the Lord responds to the faith of the servant from Israel, the Syrian Commander and His prophet Elisha:

When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.

It is interesting that Elisha takes Naaman out of his comfort zone, by not greeting the commander’s entourage, accepting the monetary gifts, and by specifying that Naaman immerse himself in the River Jordan seven times. Elisha’s response to Naaman asks the commander for humility and trust from Naaman, while clearly disassociating the healing from any worldly influence, so that credit would go solely to the Lord. Elisha, unlike some of today’s “fake faith healers” did not want, as Naaman had expected, make an overt show of the healing. The prophet refused a treasure of gifts in exchange for the miracle. Elisha wanted Naaman to be aware that it was the Lord and Nauuman’s trust in the Lord that brought the healing. Trust leads to belief, and belief leads to faith in God.

Naaman initially hesitates to obey Elisha’s instructions, angered by both the reception from Elisha and the unexpected method of the healing, is convinced to follow the directions from the prophet. Naaman is healed and acknowledges God, but tries to reward Elisha who reuses a wealth of gifts. Elisha tells Naaman that the healing is a gift from God, not the prophet.

We should not forget that Naaman’s faith and healing from God was initiated by a nameless servant girl’s faith and testimony. This servant girl was abducted from her home in a raid by Syrian soldiers, loses all of her petitions and retains only her faith in God. She seems to have every right to allow her master suffer from his affliction of Leprosy, after all he is a commander of her captors responsible for her servitude. The servant could have offered to tell her master of healing from God in exchange for her freedom, but the account gives no indication that she was released after Naaman was healed. The servant’s sharing her belief with her master was based on her compassion for an oppressor and her faith in God.

Later, we see that Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, is tempted and accepts the gifts offered by Naaman by telling Naaman that Elisha had a change in heart. Gehazi hides the offering in his house and denies to Elisha that he went out. We see that Elisha is aware and disappointed in Gehazi’s actions as we see in 2 Kings 5:26-27:

“Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.

We could almost call this passage “A Tale of Two Servants,” where the faith of one servant brings faith and healing to a Gentile, while another servant brings upon himself a harsh judgment for his greed and lack of faith.

Our second Scripture Luke 17:11-19 tells of how ten Lepers are healed by Jesus, but only one of the ten, also a Gentile, returns to acknowledge the Lord:

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers
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11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers,[a] who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”[b]

Footnotes: a. Luke 17:12 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 b. Luke 17:19 Or has saved you

In Luke 17:19, we see that the Lord acknowledges the healed man’s praise:

“Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Based upon our first two Scriptures, one might conclude that Jesus first came to heal the world of their physical afflictions. Though the Lord did demonstrate compassion for the afflicted and healed them, this was not the reason why Jesus came to the world, as we see in Mark 2:13-17:

Jesus Calls Levi
BLCF: Mark 2_13-17

 

13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of[a] the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat[b] with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Footnotes: a. Mark 2:16 Some manuscripts and b. Mark 2:16 Some manuscripts add and drink

Jesus came not heal us of physical ailments; instead the Lord came to cleanse us of our Spiritual afflictions, which is sin. This is why the Lord sought to associate with tax collectors and sinners, described in Mark 2:17:

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus came to minister and heal sinners, it is important to focus not on the fact that two Lepers were healed, but the faith of those messengers who brought healing.

It is interesting that while Naaman came out of his comfort zone by trusting and obeying the instructions of God’s prophet, Elisha, the Syrian commander came to faith based upon the testimony of a nameless servant girl. A servant who took compassion upon a commander of a foreign nation that had taken her into a life of servitude. She left her comfort zone by sharing her faith with a leader in the country which she was held captive.

Remember that the only one of ten Lepers’, who were healed by the compassion of Jesus to acknowledge the Lord, was a foreigner, a Samaritan.

We are reminded that we are commissioned as apostles or messengers of the Lord to share the Gospel of Christ not with whom whose company we feel comfortable, but with those whom we may avoid or whose company we like. We see this in the Scripture passage that we have adopted as our Mission statement for our BLCF Café Community Dinner, see Matthew 25:31-46:

The Final Judgment
BLCF: Matthew 25_31-46

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44

Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Footnotes: a Matthew 25:40 Or brothers and sisters

Finally, may we accept that while the Lord, and later the Apostles, did perform many miracles of physical healing, Jesus came solely heal the world of sin. The Apostles’ were given the Great Commission by Christ: to spread the good news, the Gospel, that Christ died for our salvation from the spiritual affliction of sin. We are challenged to step out our comfort zone and associate with those who are untouchable and disenfranchised, considered unrighteous by others.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #318: When We Walk with the Lord 

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

BLCF: are-you-committed-or-merely-involved