Life’s Lemons

Naaman was a man who rose through the ranks in the army becoming a commander for his king. He was successful in bringing victories to his king and country. The king looked upon Naaman as a great man and was highly regarded. Naaman physically fought his way to the top. He became a man of authority telling other men to go there and they go, to come here and they come, to do this and they do it. Naaman was no longer a follower, but a leader that told others what to do. You could say he was close to the pinnacle in life. You cannot get much higher other than becoming the king yourself.

As this life can throw you a curve or put a wrinkle in your expected plans. Naaman contracted a fatal and horrible disease. All of his authority, fighting skills, and physical might had no power over the disease of death. His favoritism in the king’s sight and the highly regarded had no power over the disease of death that now resides inside his body. He is locked into a waiting around game of watching the disease takes it toll and then finally the death sting. There was no great plan that could be formed to defeat this enemy. This was a battle he found himself kneeling in the field with his head bowed low in defeat before the death commander of this disease. Naaman was on death row in the prison of no pardon.

Expectation has a good side to it, but there is a side to it that is not so good. We all can get our hopes high on things we expect to be a guarantee only to find out later that it can fall apart. We all like Naaman must practice our expectations with the possibility of factors out of our control can occur. The practice is taking the sour lemons of obstacles that life hands us and brainstorm over them converting them into something that can make us better. At this point Naaman has reached a dead-end with no other path before him to try.

Raiders from the same kingdom took captives from Israel. A young Israelite girl was placed in Naaman’s home as his wife’s servant. It is really cool to stop here and see that this Israelite girl was not a coincident, but God multitasking for a reason. If you are facing trouble start looking for what appears to be a coincident headed your way and let the tears flow when you realize God is multitasking just for you.  This was a terrible thing that happened to these Israelite parents in losing their daughter to raiders of this country. The depth of their heart-broken state is unfathomable to comprehend of their beautiful daughter has disappeared and possibly never seen again, but she was on a secret missionary mission from God. Rest assured God was multitasking for those parents. This girl went from a child under loving parents to a slave girl to strangers the next. Life handed her some sour lemons and there was a choice to be made on what to do with them. She had to adjust and adapt to her new environment using every ounce of her intelligence and wisdom.

The Israelite girl had to hear about Naaman’s dying situation. This is another cool place to stop and look at her because I can say she has already taken her lemons handed to her and crushed them into lemonade drinking them down into her system as a nutrient to her soul. If she had not crushed the lemons she would be still bitter towards Naaman and his household for slavery and would not have said a word about any cure for Naaman and watch him suffer and die. You and I have things taken from us and we are put into positions we can allow hatred to dominate us, but I see this girl converting the negativity in life back into positiveness inside her heart. Are you not tired of bad things controlling your days? Happiness can be stronger on the inside than the sadness you see on the outside.

After she heard about Naaman’s fatal disease the young Israelite girl knew that God had a man known to them as a prophet in Israel that could cure him. She took Naaman’s lemons into herself and began searching for an answer. She knew there was only one who can stand supremely over all things impossible with man and that was the God of Israel. I can see God looking upon this beautiful girl inside and out with a pride of love. In the midst of the garbage of life she has come forth as a bright red rose with the sweet-smelling savor of hope. Her thoughts of home remained unchanged faith and hope. She told her mistress, If only master Naaman could see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his disease. She spoke in wisdom implying if there were a connection with Israel he could go there and he would be healed. Naaman received word of what the servant girl had said and went to his master, the king, sharing her information. The king did not hesitate in agreeing for Naaman to go and added a personal letter with payment backing Naaman’s trip.

The picture of Naaman in the battle field bowing before the death commander of the disease has changed to Naaman standing and facing to fight one more time against his destined death. This strength to stand one more time came from a once a free daughter of Israel to a forced slave girl to another country. A slave girl’s spoken words to her mistress, the mistress to her husband, and then the husband to the king of that country about the God of Israel, the master of all masters. It was born from the free heart of a physically slave girl in submission, to the wife in submission, to the husband in submission, to the king in submission of the God of Israel. There is nothing standing in the way only submission to whatever it takes for Naaman to be cured and set free.

Naaman journey’s to Israel with horses, chariots, silver, gold, and ten sets of clothes packed away was not an easy trip. The day-to-day travel was far more tiring of that day than in ours. Before arriving at the house of the prophet of God the Israelite slave girl spoke of Naaman had already started imagining what all will take place for his healing to occur. We as mankind tend to create in our own minds the ways we think we should be saved creating traditional forms. We tend to bring God’s way of doing things down to our level of the way we think it should be done. We get carried away with our own thoughts not realizing our thoughts are lower than His thoughts because He is God and we are not. Naaman is a great reflection of all us of getting preconceived ideas of what God should do for us. We sometimes get lost in our way or the highway attitude when it comes to the spiritual side of life. If we truly want to be saved, healed, counseled, touched, blessed, changed…then we will be totally submissive to what God says to achieve our goals like Naaman wants his healing.

Naaman finally arrives pulling up to the house of the prophet of God with his servants, his horses and his chariots. The house door begins to open with Naaman looking steadfastly upon the face he thought he would see once it is fully opened. The person begins to speak to Naaman conveying he is only a messenger and not the Elisha the prophet himself. He tells Naaman this is what Elisha said to do for your healing to go wash yourself seven times in the river Jordan, your flesh will be restored, and you will be cleansed.

The plan of salvation for your healing is washing yourself in the river Jordan seven times and you will be free to live longer. Naaman you will stand in the battle field and the disease will kneel before you defeated by this battle plan given to you by God through his prophet. All you have to do is submit yourself to follow these words to assure your victory. You have traveled a long journey to win this fight. Everyone back home in your kingdom is supporting you for this victory. You are used to giving commands to others on how to win on the battlefield. You are given the command on what to do to win your personal fight. Men willingly follow your words to the letter. Are you willing to follow the words to whatever it takes to win your fight to the letter?

Naaman’s expectation he had built up in his mind exploded with anger at these words of washing seven times in the river Jordan. He shouted, “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.” Naaman had formed in his own mind how he would be saved and nothing less from that would be acceptable. The prophet did not come out personally was strike one to Naaman. Strike two was the prophet not calling out loud before all the name of the Lord his God and strike three was not waving his hand over the diseased area. This is how traditions in churches get started with men forming in their minds of how people would be saved and nothing less from what they are expecting will be accepted. Naaman is thinking this is how I have always seen it done and it shall be the same with me.

The words of the messenger shocked him into thinking well if that is all I need to do washing seven times in a river then why not deviate a little and do the washing in the best rivers of Israel? This is a true picture of our fleshly nature in mankind trying to get God to do things the way we expect Him to do them lowering His standard to ours. Naaman was furiously shouting, Couldn’t I wash in these other rivers and be cleansed? In this moment Naaman had completely forgot about that he was truly dying and he would live no more. In his absolute powerlessness against this disease weak mind he thought his expected plan of salvation was the only way it could be done and with it changing from what he expected he locked onto it cannot happen any other way. He left the house of the prophet of God in such a rage he was not going to submit at all to what was asked of him. He was locked into it is my way or the highway back home.

At this point I am looking to what happen to “submission”? I have experienced rock bottom in different areas in life from relationships, sickness, sins, deaths, and other things I will not bore you with. I cannot speak for you, but if I knew in a guaranteed way from God doing a certain thing would chase away darkness and open the warm sunshine of light upon me I would take it without complaining being grateful for the freedom and the relief. Naaman is dying and he is refusing the treatment because it did not match what he had in mind.

Naaman had some servants to make the trip with him to witness his healing. It is obvious by their words they cared for him because they spoke up to ask him a question about his refusal. They asked him in his moment of rage while riding away, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing would you not have done it? They knew Naaman was a fearless man and would tackle anything monumental in life. Naaman had their words in his mind in one side of the scales of reason and then they added to the other side of the scales “How much more, then, when he tells you, “Wash and be cleansed’!” In Naaman’s mind he had to agree that he would do something great if he was asked. Submission re-enters the picture of yes, I would do what I am told and why not just wash and be cleansed. Naaman unlocked himself from his man-made thinking of the traditional because he was willing to do something great beyond traditional methods and why not do something simple. He realize though this is a small thing to do it is still outside of the traditional and why would I not do it for the sake of saving my life from a horrible diseased death.

Naaman made his way to the river Jordan and dipped himself seven times as the man of God had told him. After the seventh dip he came up out of the water his flesh was restored and clean like as a young boy. His choice of God’s way made him brand new like a young boy instead of returning home locked into traditional way of thinking maintaining the death sentence in his body. His choice of trusting God’s way saved his life physically, but also saved his soul in meeting the one true God in the entire world. He trusted the words of a servant girl all the way to trusting the words of the God of Israel.

Naaman now with a born again second chance in life returns to the man of God proclaiming that he now knows that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Naaman has not only a new body free from the disease of death, but a new mind opened to seeing the one and true God. He continued to say that he would not offer any burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god, but the Lord and to please forgive him in bowing back in his home country in their temple because of his master’s bowing. (2 Kings 5:1-19).

Tradition is not God’s way of doing things. God’s way of doing things is a set living purpose for an absolute result. Tradition is man’s thinking of how God should do things that fits man’s mold. If Naaman had stayed with his way of thinking he would have died a horrible death, but by trusting God’s way he received restored and fresh skin as like a young boy. God’s chosen servants will say and do things that do not match mankind’s traditions, but will match God’s word perfectly. Man’s chosen servants to represent God will say and do things that pleases mankind’s traditions and ways of thinking. This is why broad is the way that leads to destruction and many enter through it (majority is doing it). Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it (Mtt. 7:13, 14). Religious organizations must be careful not choose the road of Naaman’s first way of thinking deceiving themselves and those that hear them, but the second choice to simply obey with trust God’s plan of redemption.

APOLLOS

Apollos was a well-educated and learned man of the knowledge of the scriptures. His mind was well equipped with keeping the scriptures in proper context. He was not a man who could easily tricked into man-made traditions based on connecting scriptures for their cause. Apollos was a man who had encountered what John preached about water baptism for repentance and the coming after him the savior from our sins.  Apollos took in John’s preaching finding his words matched with scriptures without controversy. Man’s traditions and teachings that do not match with God’s word will have conflict. Apollos was convinced of the absolute connection of truth in John’s preaching he also began to try to show people the same way John did to repent, be baptized and believe on the Lord Jesus.

Apollos was about to face a similar situation like Naaman did in the past. Apollos has set himself in a direction of what John preached and nothing else. For some unknown reason Apollos has missed out on the understanding and meaning of Jesus being crucified, buried, and resurrected on the third day. He was still preaching what John had said after Jesus went up in the sky disappearing into heaven in front of the disciples. He was still preaching John’s message after God poured out His spirit with the evidence of speaking another language they had not learned praising God and being baptized in Jesus name for the remission of their sins (Acts 2).

Apollos believed in repentance, water baptism, and in Jesus, but he did not know the rest of the story. This is where Apollos could lock onto John’s preaching as the only way to be saved like Naaman locked onto meeting the man of God, him calling on the name of his God, and waving his hand over the disease area for the healing to happen. We must take everything that people tells us to what we trust the most and that should be God Himself and His word.

Apollos was speaking boldly one day about Jesus being scriptural accurate and the baptism of repentance John when in the audience sat two people who knew the rest of the story. They invited Apollos to their home and began to tell him the part he had not heard about. They completed Apollos understanding of God’s way more perfectly. They knew nobody’s faith in Jesus was wasted, but that there is a way of God that is more perfect and adequate. They knew it was not a fault or failure of faith, but a few more pieces to the puzzle to make the picture complete (Acts 18:24-26).

Apollos is now facing what Naaman did with a choice of do I lock down to my way of thinking or do I open up to the possibility of God’s way is higher than my traditional way. We all will be in both of their shoes with different versions of life. We all will be handed the words that may not match our way of thinking, but did we come this far to turn our backs on the possible greatest thing we could ever experience because of our pride and preconceived ideas?

I will give you an example: I was baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Mtt. 28:19) as a profession of my faith in God after a repeating a prayer from the pastor in the altar. I had someone tell me later in life that there is no record of anyone in the Bible of being baptized in the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Spirit for the purpose of professing faith in God. Of course this put me in the place of Naaman and Apollos with the ways I had always heard it was to be done. I could have gone into a rage like Naaman or use my intellect of Apollos and try to argue my way out, but I did neither. I told them I would look into it.

I went home to what I trusted over and above people’s words and search the Bible myself. I found it to be true no one in the entire Bible was baptized using the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit over them in water baptism for the profession of their faith. What I did find was people were baptized with Jesus name being said over them for the purpose of washing away their sins. The disciple baptized people in Jesus name for the remission of their sins. Wow! I kept studying and found that Jesus is the name of the Father because he said I have come in my Father’s name (Jn. 5:43). This made sense to me because I know no other name for Jesus, but to be Jesus so if he came in his Father’s name then Jesus must be the Father’s name. It was obvious Jesus was the name of the Son. I found also that Jesus is the name of the Holy Spirit because it comes to us in his name (Jn. 14:26). Water baptism is not for professing God publicly, but it was for applying the blood Jesus shed for us as the Lamb of God to wash away our sins. It made total sense to me and completely connected with the word of God from Old to New testament. You cannot kill the Father or the Holy Spirit, but you could the Son because the blood of forgiveness was in his body. I did this study alone with my friend the Bible and God.

Like Naaman’s servants asking him questions the Bible asked me questions of what am I to do now? As with Apollos lining up with the scriptures and what God’s word says what choice am I to make?  Do I turn away with rage or do I use my intellect to talk myself out of it?

I did like Naaman I went to the water in baptism and like Apollos accepting the way of God more perfectly scripturally and was baptized in Jesus name applying the blood of the Lamb of God washing away my sins and receiving the Holy Spirit like they did in Acts chapter two because God did not change the out poring of His Spirit as man’s tradition has diverted with his teachings. The lemons of the life of sin have been converted by the truth and power of God. I am a new creature in Christ like Naaman and Apollos.

I encourage you do not take my word for it. Go after God yourself and His word like Naaman went after the river Jordan himself obeying the words of a slave girl to the man of God. As Apollos take your well learned educated mind to the scriptures and find for yourself what He found when challenged with this different from traditional way.

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