Eat Your Words

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 King 4-6; Luke 24:36-53

 

Naaman arrived with his horses and chariots. He stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent out a messenger who said, “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored and become clean.”

11 But Naaman went away in anger. He said, “I thought for sure that he’d come out, stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the bad spot, and cure the skin disease. 12 Aren’t the rivers in Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all Israel’s waters? Couldn’t I wash in them and get clean?” So he turned away and proceeded to leave in anger.

13 Naaman’s servants came up to him and spoke to him: “Our father, if the prophet had told you to do something difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? All he said to you was, ‘Wash and become clean.’” 14 So Naaman went down and bathed in the Jordan seven times, just as the man of God had said. His skin was restored like that of a young boy, and he became clean. (2 Kings 5:9-14, Common English Bible)

I love the story of Naaman. Here is a man who, because of the country where he lived was able, despite being a leper, to continue his work as a general in the army of the king of Aram. Had he been in Israel he would have been banned from living in the larger community and relegated to living with other lepers outside the walls of the city, away from protection, family, friends, work, and more. And, anytime you saw someone coming, you lived by the legal requirement to yell at the top of your voice, “Unclean! Unclean!”

Naaman didn’t have to live that way. Still, watching a flesh-eating disease slowly take parts of your body away had to be painful in more ways than one. If not for the words of an Israelite slave girl who told her mistress, Naaman’s wife, if he would go to the prophet (Elisha) in Israel she knew he could be healed.

It wasn’t long before Elisha had a visitor at his door but Elisha wouldn’t even come outside. He just gave instructions for Naaman to go bathe in the Jordan. “Go bathe in the Jordan, that little muddy creek?” I can hear him complaining. “The Jordan shouldn’t even be called a river. Why we passed greater rivers on our way here.”

Naaman was ready to head home but his servants pressed him to stay and do as Elisha had asked. The servant said, “If the prophet had asked something difficult, would you not have complied? Why are you not willing to do the simple?”

It was a good question. It was also a question Naaman couldn’t argue. Still, as I see Naaman he was ever the skeptic. He enters the Jordan and dips down in the water once, then twice, then three times. He looks at his skin and there is not change. He starts to walk out of the river but that same servant (gutsy guy) tells him, “The prophet said seven times.” Naaman returns to the water and quickly drops down four more times and gets out without even looking. But his soldiers start to gasp and point. The leprosy is gone.

Three times was not enough to see change. When God gives us instructions we must fulfill the instructions we receive. Half measures simply won’t do. We must always move forward and do as God asks, all of what God asks.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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