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August 2019

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2 Kings 4:18-5:27

I’ve always loved the story of Naaman for two reasons, the first reminds me of why it is important to keep a humble spirit no matter how high and mighty we get, and the second shows me that people who are honest and truthful see and hear the news about God and change their direction.

Naaman couldn’t understand why the prophet didn’t come out of his house to meet him and then became thoroughly offended when a “servant” gave him the message to go wash in the dirty Jordan river. Anger and being incredulous will not stop God from working in ones life if a teachable spirit is within. If Naaman’s men found him unapproachable and beyond reasoning, they would not have been able to encourage him to go do what the prophet told him to do. If Naaman had had a strong sense of “entitlement”, he would never have listened to the “lowly” servant girl and gone to Samaria. To be able to lay aside preconceived notions and to admit, even if only to oneself, there can be some solution to a problem other than the one already thought out means pride has to be set aside.

Too often, we look up to our church’s leadership instead of looking to God. Naaman went looking for an appointment with a prophet and failed to get one, what he did get was an appointment with God. I wonder how many of us miss God because we become offended when the preacher/pastor/priests doesn’t do what we expected him to do or say so we throw out the instructions because the “preacher/pastor/priests didn’t grant a personal meeting and wave his hands all around.

Acts 15:1-35

The verse that has captured my imagination is verse two,

2 Paul and Barnabas, disagreeing with them, argued forcefully and at length.

It is O.K. to disagree on matters. If we are willing to listen to what others have to say, disagreements cause us to think about what we really believe and help us to hone our reasoning skills. Yet some would call that rebellion. Truth will always stand firm no matter what is thrown it’s way. If we are willing to honestly debate an issue and are open to change if we are wrong, arguing forcefully, like Paul and Barnabas, will always yield serendipitous results for all parties in the debate. To take advantage of the find we just have to stop wearing our feelings on our fingertips and put them aside ‘cause how we feel about something and what is truth, more than likely is not synonymous.

Psalm 141:1-10

I wonder if David wrote this Psalm when he had a strong desire to take vengeance on his enemies, specifically when Saul was chasing him. When reading this for today’s reading I got a deep sense of desperation. David would not strike back at Saul because he said Saul was the Lord’s anointed. Although Saul was trying to kill him, David made no offensive attacks to strike back.

Because David was always on the run, he was unable to go to a formal worship service in the Tabernacle.

2 Accept my prayer as incense offered to you,
and my upraised hands as an evening offering.

When someone is attacking you for no reason, our nature is to “bad mouth” them, “talk them down,” but David writes,

3 Take control of what I say, O LORD,
and keep my lips sealed.

No matter what was being said about him or done to him, David seems to say I won’t do to him what he is doing to me, assassinating my character. When I am wronged, I have to fight a sense of entitlement that says I have the right to pay them back. I want to pay back evil for evil and it is a struggle that I don’t always overcome. In order to pay back evil for evil, I believe we take on the character of the currency we use, malevolence

4 Don't let me lust for evil things;
don't let me participate in acts of wickedness. Don't let me share in the delicacies
of those who do evil.

When we set our hearts to give “pay back,” unless someone stops us we go headlong to our destruction.

5 Let the godly strike me!
It will be a kindness! If they reprove me, it is soothing medicine.
Don't let me refuse it. But I am in constant prayer
against the wicked and their deeds.

David goes on to finish this Psalm by saying with a certainty, those who are pursuing him to destroy him will be themselves destroyed because their actions set traps that ensnare them.

Proverbs 17:23

I grew up with secrets, people keeping many secrets, and I will not participate in things done “under cover.” If you’ve got a secret, don’t tell me. Keeping secrets takes too much work and it tires you out trying to keep everything undercover. Eventually the cover will be blown off and what would have been a tiny little scandal if confessed when the incident first happened because a “Perpetrator” (Perp-walk) on the evening news for the world to see. Transparency is the only way to be.

Grace and peace,
Ramona

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