Muddy Jordan River

Weise Knechte

Da traten seine Knechte zu ihm, redeten mit ihm und sprachen: Mein Vater, wenn dir der Prophet etwas Großes befohlen hätte, würdest du es nicht tun? Wieviel mehr, denn da er zu dir gesagt hat: Wasche dich, so wirst du rein! (2. Könige 5,13)

Naeman war ein erfolgreicher Mann, die Art von Mann, an dem man hochschaut. Er war ein Anführer, ein General in der Armee des Königs von Syrien. Er hatte das, was sich die meisten Menschen wünschen, bis auf eine große Ausnahme: er hatte Lepra. Diese Krankheit war nicht nur eklig, sie war auch tödlich.

Muddy Jordan River

General Naeman kam zum Propheten Elisa, um geheilt zu werden, doch Elisa wollte ihn nicht einmal sehen. Durch einen Boten ließ der Prophet ihm ausrichten, zu dem schlammigen Fluß Jordan zu gehen und sich dort siebenmal unterzutauchen. Naeman war wütend darüber, dass ihm so ein demütigender – fast schon lächerlicher – Weg zur Heilung angeraten wurde.

Er war so beleidigt, dass er ohne den Rat seiner Knechte, zornig weg gegangen wäre. Die Knechte Naemans nutzten eine brilliante Methode. Wenn Elisa Naeman gesagt hätte, er solle dem Gott Israels 100 oder 1000 Tiere opfern, hätte Naeman das sofort getan. Doch weil die Aufforderung so leicht und demütigend war, wollte Naeman das nicht tun.

Naeman war bereit, etwas Großes oder Schwieriges zu tun, damit er auch etwas zu seiner Heilung beitragen konnte. Es wäre dann auch seine eigene Leistung und sein Werk. Etwas so Einfaches und so Demütigendes zu tun bedeutete, dass der General keine Anerkennung für das, was geschah, bekam. Es wäre ganz allein ein Geschenk Gottes.

Dasselbe gilt für die Rettung, die wir in Jesus Christus bekommen. Er will, dass wir etwas ganz Einfaches tun – Ihm vertrauen, uns auf Ihn verlassen, Ihm glauben – das könnte auch ein Kind. Es erfordert keine große Stärke, Weisheit, Willenskraft oder guten Charakter. Wir glauben und empfangen.

Wenn man den Menschen sagen würde: „echtes Leben auf Erden und ewiges Leben im Himmel kannst du bekommen, wenn du diesen Berg mit den scharfen Felskanten erklimmst“, dann gäbe es sehr viele, die bereit wären, das zu tun. Die Botschaft: „Jesus hat alles bezahlt – glaube Ihm und empfange“ – ist nicht so gefragt. Aber es ist wahr, und es funktioniert. Naeman wurde geheilt, und zwar nicht durch etwas, das er tat. Wir alle können wahres Leben auf Erden und ewiges Leben im Himmel als Geschenk von Jesus bekommen – aber nicht durch etwas, das wir selbst tun. Es ist wahr, und es funktioniert.

Und Dank sei Gott für diese nicht namentlich genannten aber weisen Knechte!

Shepherd with sheep

People God Calls

I was no prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit. Then the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said to me, “Go, prophesy to My people Israel.” (Amos 7:14-15)

Amos was not a graduate of the school of the prophets. He was more familiar with the plow than with the pulpit. He knew more about seeds and sowing than seeing into the future.

Shepherd with sheep

It seems that Amos was simply doing his job as a farmer when one day it happened: “Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock.” It was because Amos was an honorable sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit that God made him an honorable prophet. Like many others in the Bible, God called Amos as he faithfully performed his present calling. The call came to:

Rachel watering sheep
Moses and David tending sheep
Joshua helping Moses
Gideon threshing wheat
Ruth gathering grain
Elisha serving Elijah
Peter catching fish
Matthew collecting taxes

The life of Amos was not useless as a farmer before he was a prophet. The world needs sheepbreeders, farmers, mechanics, doctors, technicians, insurance salesmen and everything else. To serve God and others honorably in these professions is just as honorable as serving Him as a prophet.

But we see God had a purpose in specifically calling a man like Amos. He wanted to show the greatness of the ministry was in the God who inspires it, not in the man or woman used in ministry. When Amos spoke people didn’t say, “He must have been top of his class at the school of the prophets.” Instead they said, “God is really saying something through that farmer.”

God had another purpose in calling Amos. With so many allusions and illustrations from the world of agriculture, Amos spoke as a farmer and God used it. Every person really called to speak forth for God has a manner and style of their own. Though God speaks through them all, they still do not lose not their individuality or unique character. We might say that the breath which causes the music is the same, but no two instruments give forth precisely the same sound. Amos was a unique instrument and God breathed through him in a special way.

Dear pastor, preacher, or Bible teacher – you are a unique individual. You are singular in what you are by birth, training, life experience and anointing. God can and will use you according to your special calling. It may be in a way noticed or unnoticed by others, but that is unimportant – as long as your calling is noticed in heaven. Just make sure you answer every time God calls!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

Click Here to Receive Email from David for Pastors, Preachers, and Bible Teachers

cursed riches

Cursed Riches

Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, “Where did you go, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant did not go anywhere.” Then he said to him, “Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.” And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow. (2 Kings 5:25-27)

God healed Naaman from a fatal disease, and they Syrian general was so grateful that he wanted to give Elisha a big reward. Elisha refused, but his servant Gehazi secretly followed Naaman and lied, saying Elisha now wanted to receive the large reward. Gehazi took what Naaman gave, intending to keep it for himself.

cursed riches

When Gehazi returned to Elisha, the prophet knew just what had happened. Elisha said, “Did not my heart go with you?” We don’t know if this was supernatural knowledge or simply gained from observation and knowing Gehazi’s character. One way or another, Elisha knew. All Gehazi’s attempts to cover his sin failed.

Elisha also knew that it was not time to receive money. It seems the prophet had no absolute law against receiving support from those who were touched by his ministry. Yet it was spiritually clear to Elisha, and should have been clear to Gehazi, that it was not appropriate at this time and circumstance.

Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, paid a great price for his greed and deception: Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever. This was a severe judgment, but as a man in ministry Gehazi was under a stricter judgment. When he allowed himself to covet what Naaman had, he thought only in terms of the moneyNaaman possessed. God allowed him to keep the riches, but also gave him the otherthing Naaman had – deadly leprosy.

I like what Adam Clarke wrote about this: “Gehazi is not the last who has got money in an unlawful way, and has got God’s curse with it.”

I suppose that all of us would rather have more than less. But how you gain things is important. If we gain through lies, deception, disobedience to God, or dishonor, we will probably find that what we can with our riches is worse than the wealth itself.

Remember Proverbs 10:22: The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it. Gehazi became rich, but with great sorrow. Don’t put yourself in the same place.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 5

humble door

Demütig genug, um zu empfangen

Da sandte Elisa einen Boten zu ihm und ließ ihn sagen: Geh hin und wasche dich siebenmal im Jordan, so wird dir dein Fleisch wiederhergestellt, und du wirst rein werden!
Da wurde Naeman zornig, ging weg und sprach: Siehe, ich dachte, er wird sicher zu mir herauskommen und hinzutreten und den Namen des HERRN, seines Gottes, anrufen und mit seiner Hand über die Stelle fahren und so den Aussätzigen befreien! (2. Könige 5,10-12)

Als der große syrische General Naeman zu Elisa kam, um von seiner Lepra geheilt zu werden, erwartete er, wie ein großer Mann behandelt zu werden. Er kam mit all den Wahrzeichen für Einfluss und Macht und mit einer Menge Geld.

humble door

Als er an Elisas Tür klopfte, machte der Prophet sich nicht die Mühe, ihn zu empfangen. Er sandte einen Boten zu ihm. Naeman war den ganzen Weg zu Elisa gereist, und dieser wollte ihn nicht einmal persönlich treffen. Er sandte einen Boten. Das war demütigend für Naeman, der sonst immer geehrt wurde.

Elisas Botschaft war simpel. Um geheilt zu werden, sollte sich Naeman siebenmal im Jordan waschen. Der Jordan war ein einfacher Fluß. Und sich selbst siebenmal darin unterzutauchen war so einfach, dass es auch ein Kind tun konnte,

Naemans Reaktion zeigt, dass Elisa den Stolz des Generals verletzt hatte. Naeman war beleidigt, dass Elisa nicht selber mit ihm sprach und weil sie viel schönere Flüsse in Syrien hatten.

Naeman wurde zornig und ging weg. Er hatte eine bestimmte Vortellung davon, wie Gott wirken sollte, und als Gott nicht so handelte, wurde er wütend. Naeman mochte es gar nicht, dass Elisa eine demütige Reaktion von dem respektierten und ehrwürdigen General erwartete.

Naemans Stolz wurde durch Elisa gekränkt. Auf die eine oder andere Weise wird unser Stolz immer wieder durch Gottes Wirken angekratzt. Einen meiner Lieblingsverse findet man an drei Stellen in der Bibel (Jakobus 4,6; 1. Petrus 5,5 und Sprüche 3,34): Gott widersteht den Hochmütigen, den Demütigen aber gibt er Gnade.

So lange Naeman so stolz war, würde und konnte er nicht das empfangen, was Gott ihm geben wollte. Naeman musste sich selbst demütigen, also leitete Gott Elisa an, die Situation für den großen General sehr bescheiden zu halten.

Hält dein Stolz sich davon ab, etwas von Gott zu empfangen? Sieh auf den demütigen Jesus (Philipper 2,5-8) und lass zu, dass Er dich in wahre Demut führt. Wer weiß, was Gott dir geben will?

Muddy Jordan River

The Wise Servants

And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”  (2 Kings 5:13)

Naaman was a successful man, the kind of person that others look up to. He was a leader of men, a general in the army of the King of Syria. In most ways he had what others long for, except for one giant exception: he was a leper. The disease was not only disgusting, it was also a death sentence.

Muddy Jordan River

General Naaman came to the prophet Elisha for healing, but Elisha wouldn’t even see him. Through a messenger the prophet told him to go to the humble, muddy Jordan River and wash himself seven times. Naaman was furious that he wasn’t treated better as was given such a humble – almost ridiculous – path to healing.

He was so offended that Naaman would have walked away in anger if not for the wise advice of his unnamed servants. The servants of Naaman used a brilliantly logical approach. If Elisha had asked Naaman to sacrifice 100 or 1,000 animals to the God of Israel, Naaman would have done it immediately. Yet because his request was so easy to do and humbling, Naaman refused in anger.

Naaman was willing to do something great or something difficult so that he could gain some of the credit for his healing. It would be his accomplishment and achievement. To do something so simple, so humbling, meant that the great general would get no credit for what happened. It would be God’s gift alone.

It’s the same way with the rescue we receive from Jesus Christ. He asks us to do something so simple – to trust in Him, to rely on Him, to believe upon Him – that even a child could do it. This doesn’t take great strength, wisdom, willpower, or moral character. We believe and receive.

If you told people, “real life on earth and eternal life in heaven is yours if you crawl up this mountain over sharp rocks,” there would be a long line of people willing to do it. The message, “Jesus paid it all – believe on Him and receive” – isn’t as popular. But it is true, and it works. Naaman was healed, and not by anything he did. We can all receive real life on earth and eternal life in heaven as a gift received from Jesus – but not by anything we do. It is true, and it works.

And, thank God for His unnamed but wise servants!

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 5

What Money Can't Buy

Was man mit Geld nicht kaufen kann

Da sprach der König von Aram: Geh, ziehe hin, und ich will dem König von Israel einen Brief schicken! Da ging er hin und nahm zehn Talente Silber und 6000 Goldstücke und zehn Festgewänder mit sich. (2. Könige 5,5)

In diesem Vers geht es um einen General der syrischen Armee namens Naeman. Naeman war ein großer und ehrenwerter Mann mit viel Mut und Stärke (2. Könige 5,1). Er hatte beinahe in jeder Hinsicht Erfolg, doch er hatte Lepra. Das war nicht nur eine eklige Krankheit, sondern auch sein Todesurteil. Er würde an dieser normalerweise unheilbaren Krankheit sterben.

What Money Can't Buy

Durch ein junges Dienstmädchen hörte Naeman von einem Propheten in Israel, der ihn heilen konnte. Elisa war ein Prophet des lebendigen Gottes, und auch wenn er selber keine Wunder vollbringen konnte, gebrauchte Gott ihn doch viele Male um Wunder zu tun.

Naeman fragte seinen Chef – den König von Syrien– ob er ins Feindesland (Israel) gehen durfte, um den Propheten von Syriens Feinden zu bitten, ihn von der ekligen und tödlichen Krankheit zu heilen. Der König gab die Erlaubnis, und Naeman ging.

Unser Vers erzählt uns, dass er folgende Dinge mitnahm, um den Propheten, der ihn heilen konnte, damit zu bezahlen: zehn Talente Silber und 6000 Goldstücke und zehn Festgewänder.Das war einen Menge Geld. Ein Talent waren um die 33 Kilogramm. Bei den heutigen Preisen wären zehn Talente Silber 177.410 Euro wert. Ein Goldstück war 12 Gramm schwer. Die 6000 Goldstückewären heute 2.668.435 Euro wert. Man schätzt die zehn Festgewänderauf circa 4500 Euro.

Insgesamt nahm Naeman also 2.850.345 Euro mit.

Das ist eine große Summe, doch all das Geld konnte Naeman weder sein Leben noch Glück bringen. Naeman war bereit so viel auszugeben für etwas, das Gott ihm freiwillig geben würde. Wenn sie könnten, was würden die Menschen zahlen, um in den Himmel zu kommen? Um mit Gott ins Reine zu kommen? Um ein echtes und bedeutsames Leben zu haben? Um ihre Schuld auszulöschen? Dass ihre Sünden vergeben werden?

Naeman brauchte etwas, das nur Gott ihm geben konnte. Und Gott brachte ihm dies durch einen Propheten – einen Mann von Gottes Wort.

Gott und Sein Wort halten Schätze für dich bereit, die man mit Geld nicht kaufen kann. In einem Gebet zu Gott (Psalm 119,72) steht: Das Gesetz, das aus deinem Mund kommt, ist besser für mich als Tausende von Gold- und Silberstücken. Naeman sollte etwas bekommen, das man mit Geld nicht kaufen kann.

Hast du die größten Dinge von Gott erhalten? Die Dinge, die man micht mit Geld kaufen kann?

Crowning Kings

Ready for a Crown

Blessed is the man who endures temptation;
for when he has been approved,
he will receive the crown of life
which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
(James 1:12)

Happy Monday! If you served God, His people, or a needy world this last weekend in Jesus’ name, I pray today God will find several ways to recharge and refresh you.

We love the Beatitudes – those wonderful sayings of Jesus in Matthew 5 about those who are blessed. Yet the New Testament gives us a few more beatitudes beyond the Sermon on the Mount. Here, God pronounces a blessing on the one who endures temptation.

Crowning Kings

I think there are several kinds of temptation that are common to pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers. We are tempted to discouragement and tempted to pride. We tempted to self-reliance and to carelessness. We are tempted to make an idol out of the ministry or to lose heart with it.

Friend, please know – as you endure these temptations, God promises the crown of life to you. It’s worth it to keep going, to keep trusting in Jesus, and to keep receiving His strength.

Enduring through temptation, there is a promise for us: The crown of life which the Lord has promised. With this, James reminds us that it really is worth it to endure under the temptations we face.

The idea of our coming crown is amazing – almost more than we can take in. Spurgeon said this about our coming crown: “O you dear Christian people that live in poverty and obscurity, I have a reverence for your heads which are already anointed with grace, for your heads that are yet to be crowned with glory. You run – often run better than the greatest and most observed of your fellow Christians; and you shall not miss your reward. There is a crown laid up, not only for Paul, but ‘for all them that love our Lord’s appearing.’”

I don’t know what temptations face you on a Monday following a weekend serving God. Whatever they are, be encouraged. Endure through them. Look forward to the promised crown.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

Click Here to Receive Email from David for Pastors, Preachers, and Bible Teachers

humble door

Humble Enough to Receive

And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me,and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ Are not the Abanah and the 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. (2 Kings 5:10-12)

When the great Syrian general Naaman came to Elisha to be healed of his leprosy, he expected to be treated like a great man. He came with all the emblems of influence and power, and a lot of money.

humble door

When he knocked at Elisha’s door, the prophet didn’t bother to answer. He sent a messenger to him instead. Naaman took the trouble to come to the home of Elisha, but Elisha refused to meet him personally. He simply sent a messenger. This was humbling to Naaman, who was usually honored.

Elisha’s message was simple. For healing, he told Naaman to wash himself in the Jordan River seven times. As rivers go, the Jordan was a pretty humble river. And, dunking yourself seven times is something so simple a child could do it.

Naaman’s reaction shows how Elisha offended the general’s pride. Naaman was offended that Elisha himself didn’t see him and because they had much nicer rivers in Syria.

Naaman then turned and went away in a rage. Naaman had a certain expectation about how God should work, and when God didn’t work that way, he was angry. Naaman didn’t like how Elisha expected a humble response from the respected and honored general.

What Elisha offended was Naaman’s pride. In one way or another, our pride will always be offended with God’s work. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in three places (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5, and Proverbs 3:34): God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

As long as Naaman stayed in his pride, he would not and could not receive what God wanted to give him. God required that Naaman humble himself in order to receive, so God guided Elisha to give humbling conditions to the great general.

Is pride preventing you from receiving something from God? Put your focus on the humble Jesus (Philippians 2:5-8) and let Him guide you into true humility. Who knows what God has to give you that you haven’t received yet?

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 5