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God shows up when we give up

Jun 5, 2016
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When Not Giving Up is the Problem
This morning we welcomed Pastor Clay Smith from First Baptist Church Matthews. Pastor Clay taught from 2 King’s 5, which relates the story of Naaman being healed from leprosy.
We are very accustomed to hearing and using the phrase, “Never give up.” Many times this is great advice and perseverance is exactly what is required for our situation. But sometimes, not giving up is the problem. The principle embedded in today’s text is this: God shows up when we give up.The story of Naaman takes place during a difficult time in Israel’s history. Most of the kings were evil, the people were idolatrous, and after many years of steady moral decline it was difficult even to tell the difference between the Israelites and their enemies. Naaman was a military commander from one of these enemy nations, and he was a leper. 2 Kings 5 relates Namaan’s journey to Israel to seek out the help of Elisha, who was the prophet of God in Israel. Naaman hoped to buy a miraculous healing from Elisha, who he had heard about from a Jewish slave girl.

When Naaman arrives in Israel, the king of Israel suspects that he is being tricked and refuses to help Namaan. But Elisha hears of the request and tells the king to send Naaman to his house, where he tells Namaan to wash seven times in the Jordan river in order to be healed. Finding this request odd and ridiculous, Namaan at first refuses. But after being encouraged by his servants, he washes himself and becomes clean.

From this story, there were three key areas that Pastor Clay challenged us “give up.”

1. Pretending that we don’t have a problem. The most difficult part of salvation is admitting we have a problem. But God has designed salvation to be by faith, which can only work when we turn away from our self and turn to God (repentance). We often change the name of our problems to make them sound less problematic. But Naaman had to admit that he needed help, and we must do the same.

2. Blaming others. Naaman blamed God for his problem and was angry at Elisha for not healing his leprosy in the way that he expected. From the beginning of time, we have been blaming others for our problems. When we refuse to take responsibility for our own sin, when we refuse to repent, God often allows us to remain in that sin.

3. Control. Naaman sought to control the problem and fix it himself. It wasn’t until he listened to the word of Elisha and washed in the Jordan that God healed him.

When we cling to our sin in these areas, refusing to repent and give them up, we build a wall between us and God. Just like in the stories of Moses, Elijah, and Paul, God actively works in our weaknesses. Choosing to “give up” and turn back to God shows our dependence on him. It is in these moments that he often works most powerfully.

To discuss today

1. Are there areas in your life that you need to give up to God? What problems are you pretending you don’t have? What are you blaming others for? What areas are you trying to control that need to be given to God?

2. What is the difference between “believing in God” and “trusting God”? How do you see this in your own life?

3. What do we learn about God from this story? How does this story increase your faith in God?

Lord, we come to you today admitting our need for a Savior. We admit our tendency to hide our faults, blame others, and attempt to control our situation. We pray that you would mold our hearts to trust your word, so that we would put off the things that hinder our faith. Let us not simply believe in you, but also trust you. We praise you for being a God who loves and forgives and heals. Thank you for being our God yesterday, today, and forever. Amen.