Lies, Lies, All Lies

“Where have you been, Gehazi?” Elisha asked. “Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered. 2 Kings 5:25

Not only did Gehazi do what was opposed to what Elisha had done, but he lied about it when he returned home. The entire time Gehazi is travelling to meet Naaman, he had to have known that what he was about to do was wrong. We don’t know the distance but certainly Gehazi was conjuring up a lie to tell Gehazi, the one that would be the most believable. And Gehazi was foolish enough to think that he wouldn’t get caught! We wonder what might have happened had he not try to cover it up.

We are faced with choices every day. We have the truth and everything else: gray areas, half truths, bald-faced lies, white lies, stretching the truth, fudging the truth, covering for someone, tall tales, fibbing, lying through your teeth, and distortions. We’ve made dishonesty an art form. But to be fair, we can’t hold a candle to many other cultures when it comes to lying.

But ironically enough, the One to Whom we are rarely honest is the One who knows our very thoughts! And He knows why we’re withholding information from Him! It’s not that we’re dishonest with Him but we just don’t think He cares about our inner beings, especially when it comes to confessing our sins again and again and again and yet again. So why are we hiding? What do we have to lose when we bare our souls in honest devotion and confession? The bigger question is ‘what do we have to gain?’ A clear conscience and a soul at rest.

“Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.”
Psalm 116:7

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Go In Peace

“Go in peace,” Elisha said. 2 Kings 5:19

This phrase is used throughout the Bible. In many Middle Eastern cultures, this is your “good bye.” It’s such a pleasant, relaxing phrase. If you want to bless a Jew, merely utter the words Shabbat Shalom on a Friday afternoon. “Have a peaceful Sabbath rest.” You might say it coming and going to a Muslim. Salaam is Arabic for peace.

But this devotional isn’t about greetings; it’s about the word ‘peace.’

Are we as Believers at peace? I’m not referring to the eternal peace of knowing Christ and resting in that, but the inner peace that comes from a clear conscience and the peace that comes from knowing we don’t have to work and work and work to be accepted by God. Often those two peaces are in constant conflict. You can be busy and still be at peace. Likewise, you can lead a boring life but still be restless inside. The world beyond our church walls is desperately seeking that internal and eternal peace.

If we’re experiencing that internal turmoil, perhaps it’s best we slow down and ask why there’s internal strife.

And it may be the toughest thing we do all year.

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Gratefulness Isn’t Automatic

Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Please accept now a gift from your servant.” 2 Kings 5:15

Despite Naaman’s anger at having to dip himself in the Jordan seven times, he returned to Elisha to thank him. Recall in the New Testament that ten were healed but only one came back to thank Jesus for healing him.

Gratefulness is a lifelong habit cultivated by thanking people. You can probably recall incidents where you were hurt by somebody NOT thanking you for something you had done for that person.

Sometimes those thanks come in words, letters, phone calls, or simple reciprocal deeds. Being thankful also encourages humility because we realize that we can’t do this thing called life alone. We need help in most steps along the way.

Throughout this day, consciously thank people who help you.

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The Rest of the Story

But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 2 Kings 5:11

We read this story and smile at Naaman’s foolishness but we only do it because we know the outcome of the story. We’ve read it numerous times and ask, “why didn’t he just do what the prophet told him? It’s fairly straightforward.” And as I’ve written elsewhere, if we were Naaman we’d do exactly what he did.

How do I know that?

Have you ever broken even one of the Ten Commandments? Of course we have. In our hearts (as the New Testament teaches) we’ve broken most of them. Even after we knew what they were (and memorized them) we broke them. God knows the outcome of breaking those commandments: destruction, sin, nasty thoughts, hatred. We see it all around us. We experience it every day. And yet we continue to commit those acts as well. I could even make a case that we are one step worse than Naaman because we know the outcome of our actions; Naaman didn’t. My point isn’t to try to increase our guilt, but for us to take a look at the Bible and its characters in a totally different way.

When we read Scriptures, try to walk a mile in the sandals of the people you’re reading about. Naaman was an Army commander. A prophet he probably had never met told him to dip himself in the Jordan seven times. That was laughable, especially if you didn’t know the other side of the story. What would you have done if you didn’t know the “rest of the story?” Naaman eventually dipped himself in the Jordan seven times and was healed. But he first had to be convinced it was a reasonable plan. And when God healed him, I’m certain Naaman had a “I should’ve known all along” moment.

Are we really any different?

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The Insignificant Among Us

Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 2 Kings 5:2-3

Naaman’s wife’s servant girl was from Israel, but she had influence. She knew what was going on in Naaman’s household and suggested a solution to her mistress, Naaman’s wife.

She was insignificant, a mere servant girl taken captive from Israel. We don’t know her name but we see the spirit of this girl multiplied ten thousand times today. Many men and women in Third World countries (Philippines, Thailand, India, and many African nations come to mind) go abroad for employment. Many end up as servants and glorified slaves (and worse) to wealthy, influential men. But these “insignificant” men and women of God live in horrible conditions. Their masters are often cruel and uncaring.

Every now and then, though, we hear stories of how someone cleaning the Prince’s chambers in Saudi Arabia or a Princess’ living quarters in Bahrain has had a chance to share their faith with their employers. Even as they share their stories, they are risking their lives. Needless to say, God has interesting ways of influencing people who are not normally receptive to the Gospel.

Pray for boldness in these unknown Believers. They exist on nothing to be able to send money home, and they have opportunities you and I will never have. Pray that God will encourage them greatly in these days.

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