Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Dull or Dazzling?

Yesterday we talked about quenching the Spirit, shrugging off His urgings and His correction as if they were just our own rambling thoughts. We need to realize that a lot of times the Holy Spirit speaks in a way that seems very ordinary, very unglamorous and even unappealing.  It’s the devil who loves to be flashy and slick in the way he presents his ideas. He’s the master illusionist, and his images feel so convincing and enticing, which is why the road to hell is broad and wide and many are traveling that road right now.  

It’s a lot like the ancient tabernacle that was covered in animal hides, brown and plain in the middle of a sandy brown desert. It didn’t look like much, but once you were inside, it was dazzling to the eyes. Rich tapestries and coverings of scarlet, purple, blues and gold, bronze altars, silver utensils, golden menorahs and the brilliant gold of the Ark of the Covenant within the Holy of Holies. It was a hidden treasure, much like the guidance and correction of the Holy Spirit. We have to look beyond the ordinary and know that there is a priceless treasure waiting for us if we just obey.

Naaman was the captain of the armies of Aram, a seasoned warrior, and accustomed to giving orders and receiving honor. But when he was infected with the deadly disease of leprosy, he was ready to do whatever it took to find healing, even if it meant traveling to see the prophet Elisha to ask for help. It was humbling enough to take the word of his young Israeli servant girl to seek out Elisha, to gather an entourage to travel with him, to prepare a hefty payment of 6000 shekels of gold, plus silver, plus ten sets of fine clothing in exchange for Elisha’s prayers of faith. He was a reasonable man, and was ready to do business with the prophet. He had no idea how much more he would need to sacrifice in order to find his healing.

First of all, Elisha didn’t even come out of his house to meet the grand procession of Naaman’s soldiers and servants when they showed up outside his door. He sent out his servant to give Naaman the instructions of what to do. Elisha wasn’t being rude or disrespectful – he was obeying the Holy Spirit’s leading. God wanted Naaman to be healed, but healed from the inside first. Naaman was furious to be treated like a common beggar, insulted that he had to take instructions from a servant, and on top of that, was told to dip himself in what he considered the muddy, dirty Jordan River in front of everyone! He was so angry that he was ready to go home in a huff, but one of his servants helped to calm his emotions, and look at things rationally. If a fearless warrior would have gladly gone out to accomplish some dangerous quest, why couldn’t he do the simplest thing of taking seven dips in the Jordan River? It wasn’t glamorous, it didn’t highlight his amazing skills, it didn’t seem honorable, but it was doable… So Naaman broke his pride, humbled himself, acted in faith, submitted to the words of both Elisha’s servant and his own servant, and was healed on the seventh dip. Not only did his skin become new like a little boy’s but his heart was made new as well.

All of us make the same mistake of Naaman from time to time. We shrug off the Holy Spirit, even feeling offended that He would ask us to do something so embarrassing, awkward, unpleasant, out of character, or just plain insulting. How in the world we come to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit has to fit into our personal style, just proves how effective the devil’s illusions are on our very thick brains. We have to look beyond the dull, drab outer appearance of God’s urgings, and trust that once we enter into obedience, He will be dazzlingly powerful in our lives.     

Try it this week. Listen closely to what He urges you to do, and when resistance comes in the form of embarrassment or a thought to just shrug it off as worthless, do it anyway. Obey in faith, and see what God opens up for you as you plug yourself into the light of his Spirit.

But Naaman became angry and went away and said to himself, “Surely he could have come out, and stood and called on the name of the Lord his God, and waved his hand over the infected area, and taken away the leprosy.  Are not Abana and Pharpar, 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. But his servants approached and spoke to him, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more when he said to you, ‘Wash and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh returned like the flesh of a little boy, and he was clean.  (2 Kings 5:11-14 MEV)

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