“Do Some Great Thing” ( by Carley Evans )

English: Naaman in Jordan River (2King 5:14) Р...

Naaman, a commander in the army of the king of Aram, is admired. He is a man of valor, but he is also leprous. A captive girl of Israel — serving Naaman’s wife — is bold enough to say to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:3, NIV) Obviously Naaman’s wife tells her husband of the girl’s suggestion for Naaman asks the king of Aram if he may go to the king of Israel regarding this cure. The king says, “By all means, go.” (2 Kings 5:5) He even writes a letter of introduction to the king of Israel for his servant, Naaman. And, Naaman does not arrive in Israel empty-handed. He comes with silver, gold, and “ten sets of clothing.” (2 Kings 5:5)

But, the king of Israel is distressed by the request for a cure. He tears his clothes, and says: “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!” (2 Kings 5:7) (Talk about misunderstanding an email!)

Elisha, the prophet, sends a message to the king. He asks, “Why have you torn your robes?” (2 Kings 5:8) Then, he suggests the king send Naaman to him for the cure he seeks so that “he will know there is a prophet in Israel.” (2 Kings 5:8)

Naaman comes to Elisha’s front door, but a messenger greets him rather than the prophet. The messenger says, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” (2 Kings 5:10) Naaman is enraged. He’s angry that a representative of the prophet Elisha gives him only a message, not the cure itself. He reasons the rivers of Damascus are better than the river Jordan in Israel. “Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” (2 Kings 5:12)

Naaman’s servants calm him. They so wisely say, “If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” (2 Kings 5:13) Naaman goes to the Jordan and dips himself in the waters seven times, as commanded by Elisha. His flesh is restored and he becomes clean “like that of a young boy.” (2 Kings 5:14)

Thank You Father God for Your awesome cure for sin and death. May we respond to Your call to healing, and dip ourselves in the waters of your sacrificial love. May we remember that Elisha did not command Naaman to do some great thing; rather he told him to wash and be cleansed in the Jordan. In Jesus’ Name, amen.


God’s Example of Love ( by Carley Evans )

The Prophet Hosea, by Duccio di Buoninsegna, i...

God asks Hosea to love his wife again, even though she is an adulteress and has betrayed his trust. God says, “Love her as I love the children of Israel even though they betray Me with other gods and with addiction to alcohol.”

“Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.” (Hosea 3:1, KJV)

God says to Hosea, “You think you’ve been hurt! I created Israel to be My own, and this people turn against Me! Yes, you are hurt as I Am hurt. Like Me, take your adulteress wife back into your defiled marriage bed and make her your own again, despite her betrayal. Do this according to the example of love I set for you. Love the unlovable.”

Amazing Things Among You ( by Carley Evans )

Carrying the Ark of the Covenant, the priests arrive at the Jordan River at flood stage. The river has been at flood stage all through the time of harvest. Now, as the feet of the priests touch the edge of the water, the water flowing upstream stops running. The water piles up in a heap far upstream at a town called Adam. Downstream of the priests, the waters continue to flow to the Sea of the Arabah. In between, dry land forms. The priests carry the Ark of the Covenant into the middle of what is the dry Jordan River. They stand their ground while all of Israel crosses safely to the other side, to the plains of Jericho.

A man chosen from each of the twelve tribes of Israel takes a stone “up on his shoulder” from “before the Ark of the Lord” as the priests continue to stand and hold it in the middle of the dry riverbed. Each man brings a stone to Joshua who sets them up at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho as a sign for future generations.

When children ask, “What do these stones mean?”, tell them, “Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.”

After the nation of Israel crosses the dry riverbed, the priests carry the Ark up out of the Jordan River. Immediately, as soon as their feet leave the edge of riverbed, the waters begin to flow at flood stage.

Father God, thank You for remarkable events that show us Your great power. Thank You for providing ‘signs for future generations.’ May we worship You with all we are, with all we have. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

(Joshua 3:5-4:24, NIV)

Why Marvel at This? ( by Carley Evans )

“Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man walk?” (The Acts 3:12, KJV)

Peter is downright flabbergasted that anyone would be surprised at the power which makes men walk or raises women from the dead. But he is even more bewildered that anyone would attribute this power to Peter himself rather than to Jesus.

Peter is distressed but not surprised when some of these same “men of Israel” “confer among themselves” to threaten Peter and John “not to speak henceforth to no man in this Name, nor teach in the Name of Jesus.” (The Acts 4:17,18)

Peter responds, “we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (The Acts 4:20) In other words, Peter tells the “men of Israel” that he and John speak only the truth of God. Of course, the truth of God trumps the threats of the “men of Israel.”

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the reminder that any natural gifts we may possess are directly from You, but any power we show forth is always only of You, emanating from Your nature and not from ours. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Repairing the World (by Carley Evans)

Watching the film “BEE SEASON”, I hear the father character who is a professor mention Tikkun Olam — a Hebrew phrase meaning ‘repairing the world’ — to his classroom. He describes Tikkun Olam as finding the shards of the broken vessel in which God stored His essence. As the vessel broke, the universe was created in what we often hear referred to as ‘the big bang.’ Now, mankind’s job is to find these shards and so restore the world to its original condition — a place which contains all of the essence of God.

I’ve never heard this phrase — which is not surprising since I am not Jewish and do not know Hebrew.

I’ve never believed mankind is able to repair the world. Social justice, though important, is not the solution to our fundamental problem — sin.

Rather, the ultimate solution comes not from our self-efforts, but from God’s. He plans even before the foundation of this world, the manner in which He will solve its problem. He’ll leave His home — heaven — come into the world as an infant, grow into a man, preach ‘the kingdom of God is near,’ die on a cross carrying the entire weight of the world’s sin, and finally rise in glory from the grave, returning to His home to intercede for His people as long as it takes.

Repairing the world is not our task. Yet, called to love one another, we do.

Thanks God for the paradox — You only can fix the world You made, yet You expect us to participate. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

I Stretch Out My Hand

Moses questions, even accuses God. “O Lord, why have You done this evil to this people? Why did you ever send me?” (Exodus 5:22, ESV) Moses is disturbed because Pharaoh commands that the people of Israel make as many bricks as usual — i.e. they must meet their previous quota — only now without straw being provided. Pharaoh commands this impossible task to punish Moses and Aaron for telling him that God wants His people to come into the wilderness so “that they may hold a feast to Me.” (Exodus 5:1)

Pharaoh calls the people of Israel lazy liars — “lying” and “idle.” (Exodus 5:9,17) The people turn on Moses, saying, “You make us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (Exodus 5:21)

And Moses turns on God.

And God tells Moses, “See, I make you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron is your prophet. You are to speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. But I am to harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply My signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh is not going to listen to you. Then I am to lay My hand on Egypt and bring My hosts, My people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians are to know that I Am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” (Exodus 7:1-5)

Ten plagues later, Pharaoh still refuses to let the people of Israel go out from Egypt, just as God says. And God delivers Israel from “the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment.” No doubt, both the Egyptians and the people of Israel discover God is the Lord of all.

Dear Heavenly Father, open our eyes that we may understand that Your ways are not our ways, that sometimes Your plans are difficult for us to fully comprehend. Help us to remember that You are perfect, and that everything You plan is perfect. Give us the ability to trust You. In Jesus’ Name, amen.