Sunday 22nd January 2023: Ian Jones

To watch this service, click on the link to our YouTube channel: Kings 4:8-37

The faith of a Shunammite noble woman.

            What struck me on reading our passage, and what grabbed my attention as I was studying it, was the woman’s twice repeated reply: “it is well,” which was given when she was asked if there was anything wrong, when it was clear that things were not well at all (verses 23 and 26). We are like this often in church, aren’t we? When someone asks, ‘How are things?’ we often reply with ‘they’re fine’ or ‘it is well,’ even though we have problems and difficulties like anyone else. Perhaps we are embarrassed to say what our troubles are as others seem to be getting on fine, or maybe we do not want to tell people because they may not understand.

            But why did this woman say twice “it is well” when things were so desperate? Was she in shock perhaps? Her son had suddenly died on her lap. Maybe she was confused and did not know what to say to people? The grieving process can throw up a range of unusual responses. Well, I do not think that any of these types of arguments fit the events at all. She was not in shock and neither was she confused. She did not hide things because she was afraid people would not understand or may judge her. No! She appears to show no emotion in the events described her after her son had died. She simply took her son and laid him on the bed where Elisha stayed, and then made request of her husband to send a young man and one of the donkeys so that she could go quickly to Elisha and then return (verse 22). There was only one thing on her mind. She had to get to Elisha, the “man of God.” After her husband presses her further as to the need for such a journey, she responds by saying “it is well,” (verse 23), and then proceeds to go with speed. She tells the servant to “drive,” “go forward,” and not to “slacken the pace” unless she said otherwise (verse 24). She is clearly a strong-minded woman with some determination, for she had one thing on her mind, to get to the “man of God,” and she was not going to be distracted or deviated by any means. Somehow, she knew that all would indeed be well when she arrived and met with the “man of God.”

            I wonder, can we too say “it is well” when a crisis occurs? Can we sing the hymn:

[1] When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul.”

It is well with my soul;
it is well, it is well with my soul.

[2] Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control:
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and has shed his own blood for my soul. Refrain

[3] My sin oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
my sin, not in part, but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more;
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! Refrain

[4] O Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend;
even so, it is well with my soul. Refrain *

Do we become emotional and out of control in a crisis? Or are we like this woman and can say, “It is well?”

            On approaching Mount Carmel where Elisha was to be found, the prophet sent his servant Gehazi to enquire if all was well, to which the woman replies with the same words she uttered to her husband “it is well” (verses 25 to 27). But when she arrived at where Elisha was, she immediately “caught him by the feet,” an action which Gehazi tried to stop but Elisha allows. The “man of God” knew that there was deep distress in the woman’s soul and that the matter had been hidden from him (verse 27). What we have here pictured for us is a woman who sought out God, for the “man of God” was the mediator here. It is at this point that she pours out her heart. We know little of this woman’s background or what tragedies she may have experienced, but in this event we find her going directly to the “man of God” and pouring out all her deep concerns. What is going on here? What is the Lord saying to us? Well in answer to these questions, what we see is this woman’s faith.

            In the darkest and most distressing of circumstances, this woman’s faith shines out. We ought to paint the picture of the times. Israel, the northern kingdom, had been pushed further toward idolatry by their first king Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had installed idols at Dan in the north and at Bethel in the south. Elijah, Elisha’s predecessor, had won a stirring victory on mount Carmel against the numerous prophets of Baal installed by Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel (1Kings 18:20f). You may recall that Elijah became rather downcast after this event thinking he was the only one who truly followed the Lord (1Kings 19:14). But the Lord pointed out that He had reserved seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal (1Kings 19:18). It would seem that this Shunammite woman was probably one of those seven thousand. Now we too live in desperate days. The darkness seems to be getting darker. Not only is God’s Word not revered and honoured today amongst the populace, but it is slighted and treated with utter contempt by those who ought to know better, by those claiming authority in the state or national church and in other denominations too. At such a time we need to express our faith in the same way that this woman did.

            Recall that at the very start of the passage, amidst gross idolatry all around as we have noted, that this Shunammite woman gave hospitality to the “man of God.” She was a highly respected woman for the text calls her a “notable woman” (verse 8). But we find that she did not simply give hospitality to Elisha for “she persuaded him to eat some food” (verse 8). Elisha happened to come to Shunem, but this notable Shunammite saw him and seems to have sought him out to bless him with a meal. Are we keen to bless those who are ministering the Word of God in our day? Do we offer such directed and pointed hospitality? We all have differing gifts. But what this notable Shunammite woman does is simply to attend to Elisha’s needs. We can all do this in a variety of ways according to the gifts and talents God has given us. Are we open to bless in whatever way the Lord leads us?

            At first the Shunammite woman simply persuaded Elisha to take food with them (verse 8). This soon became a habit so that when he returned it became natural for him to “turn in there to eat some food” (verse 8). After some time, presumably through conversation over meals, the woman comes to know this prophet Elisha as “a holy man of God,” and she uses this title to refer to him rather than his name Elisha (see 2Kings 4:9,16,21,22,25,27). The name Elisha only occurs in the narrative at 2Kings 4:8,17,32. Presumably in their conversations the woman comes to understand the things of God amidst a dark and idolatrous nation. And so she seeks to make these occurrences more suitable. Rather than just provide food, she asks her husband if they cannot provide a room with the essentials for him such as, a bed, a table, a chair, and a lampstand (2Kings 4:10). In this simple act it serves to show that God was at work in her life. She wanted to bless Elisha, the “man of God,” but she did not worship him! The description of the provision of a room is quite telling. It was not ostentatious and over the top. It was simple and comfortable with all that was needed. She was not trying to exalt herself in the eyes of Elisha. She was not flattering him. She was not seeking glory by giving so much that Elisha might feel awkward. If she had gone over the top and given luxurious provisions for Elisha that would be like the overly showy cathedrals and great churches, or the super-apostles and evangelists with their showy cars and so on. No! She simply wanted to encourage this “man of God.” There was no need to go over the top. She provided a place for him to stay, to sleep, to study, and to pray whenever he was nearby. She wanted to bless this man in his ministry. Presumably the meals and conversations would continue too.

            Now when we give to the Lord’s work we should be blessed from the ministry, and so Elisha then asks the woman what he could do for her (verses 11 to 13). Again, in her response we see the woman’s faith. She is content. She does not want anything at all. Elisha had suggested some possibilities. He could intercede or mediate for her in regard to dealings with the king or the commander of the army (verse 13). But she simply responds by saying “I dwell among my own people.” It would appear that she was part of a community that cared for one another. We are not told any detail, but the implication is that she wants for nothing, for all was provided and she was content. We might imagine some people making requests of Elisha at this point. But the Shunammite woman was content. Now in the course of time Gehazi finds out that she was childless with an old husband (verse 14)! We are reminded here of other barren women such as Sarah and Hannah. The way the text reads in verse 14 gives us the impression that she was sad about this lack. It was the desire of all Hebrew married women to provide a son to continue the tribal line and maybe even to be included in that line through whom the Messiah would come. And so Elisha calls her and prophesies that in one year’s time she would be able to “embrace a son” (verse 16). Her response seems to indicate that she had already had some sorrow in life, for she imagined the worst and could not face this not coming true. Nevertheless the prophecy was sure and so she had her son “when the appointed time had come, of which Elisha had told her” (verse 17). Thus the Shunammite who responded in such a hesitant or even negative way had to learn that when God said He would do something (for Elisha did not speak from himself but as a “man of God”) then He would most certainly do it.

            The child was born and then grew, but all of a sudden a day came where tragedy takes place (verse 18 and 19). They were wholly unaware of this, of course. There was no gradual preparation of what was to occur. This incident reminds us that we are in a cursed world where disease and disaster are natural occurrences – all on account of curse due to mankind’s sin. After suffering some severe head pains whilst in the field with his father, the boy was taken to his mother where at noon he died as he lay on her lap (verses 19 and 20). Tragedy strikes when we least expect it. They were in the field at harvest time, for there were “reapers” there (verse 18). This was a time of great joy when the harvest was gathered in. But tragedy strikes! When all was seemingly going well, the boy falls ill and dies within hours. But we must always remember that all of this, both the harvest and the boy’s sudden death, were in the hands of the Lord.

Why did the Shunammite not tell her husband as the boy died? Why did she go with haste and immediately to the “man of God” shunning all distractions? The only satisfactory answer is that she wanted to be with God. Elisha had frequented their house and she had come to know of him as “a holy man of God.” He was God’s representative. And she was desperate to get to God. It was, after all, God who gave her this child (Elisha did not suggest this off his own mind for he was acting as God’s man). God knew her pain and suffering and so she must by all means get close to God and so seeking out Elisha, the “holy man of God” was all she could do. Was it not he who had prophesied about her son in the first place? However good and God-honouring her husband may have been (we know little of him) he could not do anything for her in this tragic situation. Only God could do something and so she makes haste to get to Elisha. Why go elsewhere?

Could she not have come to God alone in the house in the quietness of her own home? Well, what we are presented with here is Elisha as a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the New Testament we see many bring their sick relatives to Him for healing and other miracles. This is a similar situation. Perhaps she could have cried out to God in the solitude of her home, but going to Elisha shows to us the essential need of coming to Christ. We are dependent. And we are dependent upon Christ. This Shunammite woman had nowhere else to turn. Her husband or the other men in her community and even her own people could do nothing. Her son was dead. What could mortal man do? But Elisha was the one who said she would have a son – this “holy man of God” who spoke from God – so it was essential that she make haste to see him now.

Elisha is given here as the type of Christ. His life foreshadows that of Christ’s, and his ministry showed what we might expect of the true Messiah (although Elisha operated in much smaller measure). Where does our faith lead us? Only to God and only through Christ. All else is false and vanity. And so, it was needful for this woman to run to Elisha, the “man of God.” Now when the woman meets with Elisha, the prophet first sends Gehazi back to the house with his staff which he was to lay on the child (verse 29). Gehazi was to make haste and not deviate or get distracted on the journey. But the Shunammite woman is not going to leave Elisha. She says: “as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you” (verse 30). She is clinging to the “man of God” (Elisha).

            Consider the amazing story of the raising of Lazarus as recorded in John 11. Mary and Martha, who were sisters to Lazarus, thought that if Jesus had been there before he died then He could have saved their brother. But Jesus purposely delayed his coming in order to show them that He was indeed “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).  Both Mary and Martha had to learn that God could not only give life, but He could also give back life or restore it. Does this not thrill us? God can bring life again to us! Are we clinging to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Shunammite clung to Elisha? Servants may be able to lead us to Christ but none can restore life save Christ!

            Now Gehazi set off in haste and did what was asked of him by the prophet, but the child did not come back (verse 31). Meanwhile the prophet and the woman by this time were also on their way, and as they travel Gehazi returned with the news that the child had still not arisen. Eventually Elisha goes to the child in that upper room and he does something that some suggest is a form of resuscitation or perhaps some form of medical procedure. He goes into the room, shuts the door behind him and the first thing he does is to pray to the Lord (verse 33). Following this he lay on the child putting his mouth to the boy’s mouth, his eyes to the boy’s eyes, and his hands to the boy’s

hands (verse 34). Such actions are said by some to be some form of medical procedure or resuscitation, but this is not what was happening at all. Remember that the boy died about noon and then the woman had to arrange to go to Elisha and then they had to return to the house. At least several hours would have passed by this time so what occurs here is not simple medical procedures. We are pointedly told that the child was in fact “lying dead on his bed” (verse 32). As Elisha stretched himself upon the boy, the boy “became warm” (verse 34). After this Elisha walked around in the house and then repeated his act of stretching out on the child at which point the boy sneezed seven times and then opened his eyes (verse 35). At this Elisha calls Gehazi to call for the woman and tells her to take up her son (verse 36). The Shunammite came in to the room and fell at Elisha’s feet bowing to the ground before picking up her son and leaving (verse 37).

            So what was Elisha doing by stretching himself out on the child and putting mouth, eye and hand to those of the boy’s? Well, it seems that in such an act there is an identification of Elisha with the boy. It would also seem as though the prophet is pictorially (that is, in typical fashion) showing us the imputation of life. By laying on the boy in mirror image, such an act points us to Christ’s substitution and identifying with us. He took upon Himself all our sins and died for them in our place. He did what we could not do. In rising from the dead He gave us new life. Thus in a representative way, Elisha demonstrates something of what Christ did for us at Calvary. Why the mouth, the eye, and the hand, and not any other parts? Well (perhaps) these three parts indicate significant aspects of life. The eye is what sees and beholds, the mouth speaks and declares what is in the heart, and the hand does and engages in activities. By such the Lord wants us to see that just as Elisha identified fully with the dead boy and typically imparted his life to the boy, so Christ took upon Himself our sin and rebellion and gave us His life instead! What a glorious Saviour we have!

* This hymn was written by Horatio G. Spafford, a Chicago lawyer who knew the evangelists Moody, Sankey and Bliss. In 1873 Spafford’s wife and four daughters were advised by their doctor to take a holiday in Europe to improve Mrs Spafford’s health. Mr. Spafford was delayed, but his wife and daughters set sail on the S.S. Ville du Havre in November, 1873. On November 22nd an English vessel (the Lochearn) collided with it, and the S.S. Ville du Havre sank in minutes. Sadly all four daughters were lost but Mrs Spafford was rescued. On December 1st when the survivors were landed at Cardiff, Mrs. Spafford sent the message, “saved alone.” Horatio G. Spafford wrote the words of this hymn as the ship taking him to meet his wife neared the spot of the tragedy.

January 1st 2023: John Scanlon

2 kings 5:1-19

This was a great event in the life of Elisha, which is described in detail. The amount of detail shows that God wants us to pay particular attention.  “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4). Presumably, the intention of the Holy Spirit for us is to give particular attention to reading this passage of scripture. It tells us of how Naaman was healed from leprosy.

The man who was the subject of this miracle was commander-in-chief of the Syrian army, the commander of an army of a very powerful nation. Very often Middle Eastern kings were afraid of their generals because of the position of power they were in. But this is not how it was with Naaman; he was esteemed by his master. Their relationship was good. The writer tells us this man was honourable. But he was also a leper. He was a man of considerable success. By him, God had won great victories for Syria.

“Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honourable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valour, but a leper.” (2 Kings 5:1-2).

This is interesting. This man was a pagan, an idolater. He was wicked and self-centered. But all victories were given by God because God rules this world. He makes use of the wicked as well as the righteous. Naaman was a mighty man of valour. He was a very imposing man. He was brave, daring, fearless – yet he was a leper. He was becoming a pitiful, repulsive object.

Whenever we come across the word ‘leper’ we come across ‘Selah.’ We should stop and pause, consider what we are reading. Leprosy is chosen in God’s word as a symbol and representation of sin. Of all the diseases mentioned in the Old Testament, it was only with leprosy there had to be a ritual of a special cleansing. The leper was thrust out of the congregation of God’s people and had to stay outside the camp until he was healed. It was lonely the leper that, when he was clean, he needed to be certified by the priest that healing had taken place.

Three whole chapters of Leviticus are devoted to leprosy. Like many diseases, it can start as an insignificant event. Many forms of leprosy are inherited. Sin is also inherited. Leprosy begins in a person and has no pain; you can have it for months before it becomes obvious.

It is only in the later stages it becomes obvious what it is and it becomes contagious. Some leprosy spreads rapidly, even affecting the bones. Leprosy is a living death, and in all cases, it leads to banishment. It affects every part of the person. Like sin, it spreads rapidly and banishes someone from God. It is the curing of such a leper we come to today, and we also learn something of the cleansing of sin.

The contributor to the miracle.

Naaman was quite unable to cure himself of this burden. There was no cure for this wasting disease, but God’s providence is already at work. One day, as head of the army, Naaman would have travelled into Israel. A little girl was snatched from her parents – all in the providence of God. Look at the contrast between Naaman and the little girl. Naaman was a Gentile, she was Jewish. Naaman was a great man, second only to the king. The little girl was a maid in his household. We don’t even know her name. After this passage, she is not mentioned again. Naaman was a commander, the girl was the lowest of all the slaves of the nation. Naaman was a leper. She knows the cure.

God has a reason for every earth-shattering event. We don’t see it at the time. We may see it sometime later. This little girl wasn’t resentful of her treatment. There was no bitterness in her heart. She shows concern for her master. She made the most of her opportunities. She speaks of how leprosy could be healed. God is in charge and decreed the leper would be cured. The maid’s words were received and acted on. God works in the hearer.

Mistaken views about a miracle that is to come to pass.

When it comes to the Word of God, people think they know better. Naaman is now mis-directed and sent to the wrong place – the King of Israel, “Then the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” (2 Kings 5:5). People are troubled by their sins and go to the wrong place. When Naaman went off to his cure, he took with him immense riches, an enormous sum of money, “So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing.” (2 Kings 5:5b). He thought he could contribute to his own healing. He took more wealth than a whole community would need.

The King of Israel’s response to the letter was poor; he didn’t give it to God. He didn’t even remember there was a prophet in Israel. That little servant knew better than the King.  Elisha sends a message to the King. He gives clear instructions what needs to be done.

Naaman goes to the prophet, with all his might, “Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house.” (2 Kings 5:9). It is an impressive sight, but he is still a leper. Verse 10 shows what is required for this miracle to take place, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” (2 Kings 5:10b). Naaman felt he was a great man who deserved special treatment. But he needed cleansing in the same way as everyone. There is only one door. Elisha didn’t even come to the door. He didn’t need to see the man’s self-importance. As far as Elisha is concerned, there’s just a leper, not a commander. He would do nothing to show deference to this man’s rank.

The Word of God is to show he is nothing in the eyes of God but a sinner. There is no help until he recognises it. Naaman needs to come down from his high horse and plunge himself where God’s spokesman tells him to plunge. He has nothing to pay, nothing to contribute. All he needs to do is obey and trust in the power of God.  No man can give the pardon we cry out for. The blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, cleanses us from all sin.

The prophet treated this man as if he were a nobody. If men, like the commander of the army of Syria, get treated as nobodies, they get cross. Naaman did! His pride was wounded, so he turned away angrily. He had just been told to humble himself. Whenever we tell that to unsaved people and point out that there is nothing they can do for themselves, we get the answer we hear from Naaman, “Behold, I thought.” That was his problem. Every sinner has his own idea of how he should be cleansed. This man, in his arrogance, thought he knew better. Naaman wanted things done on his own terms. He was concerned for his own honour. Humbling himself was not part of his plan.

Naaman had received what no king had been able to give him – full directions in how to be cleansed. But he had his own ideas for healing. No-one could touch him until a priest declared him clean. He needed to know the power of healing comes from God, not man.

Naaman thought of the rivers of his homeland. Eventually, Naaman tries what the prophet says and went into the River Jordan in obedience. Six times he dipped himself in the river and nothing happened. But on the seventh time there is a public testimony that God’s word is true. His body was cured, “So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.“ (2 Kings 5:14). Now Naaman seeks Elisha out and calls himself Elisha’s servant. He is transformed.

When we read this story, we see our own experience. The only way to be healed is to come to God in humble obedience, in humble repentance, and be washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. To be cleansed from our spiritual leprosy we need to humble ourselves. The only way is God’s way. Let us walk in that way.

October 24th 2021: Roger Thomas

You may view this service on our YouTube channel:

2 Kings 5:1-19: The Healing of Naaman

This account happened about 850 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, during the times of the kings of Israel, with Israel in the North and Judah in the South. Naaman was commander of the army of the King of Syria (v1). Syria was to the north-east of Israel. Naaman was highly respected by the king. Why? He had defeated the enemies of Syria. But behind this military success was God. God rules over the nations.

Naaman was a mighty man of valour, strong and brave. However, at some point he caught leprosy, a serious illness, incurable at the time. With time, the body deteriorates, the flesh is eaten away.

During this time, the Syrians had gone out on raids and took captive a young girl who became a servant of Naaman’s wife. Here we see God at work, drawing Naaman into a relationship with Himself. Through these things that had happened, in God’s over-arching providence, He was drawing Naaman to Himself. In verse 3 the young girl says, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” Samaria was the northern capital of Israel. This young girl, a prisoner, shows no bitterness. There is love towards her captors. Her faith is very strong. She believes, through Elisha, Naaman could be healed from this disease. She is so gracious and confident.

Naaman’s wife shares this with Naaman, and he, in turn, shares it with the king. The king tells Naaman to go and gives him a letter to give to the king of Israel, saying, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” Naaman goes to Samaria, taking the letter. He goes with his chariots and servants. He also takes 340 kg of silver, 68kg of gold – a huge amount, and 10 changes of clothing. This was a substantial gift, telling us how rich Naaman was.

In Samaria, Naaman sees the king, who read the contents of the letter (v6). The response of the king was that Naaman was asking him to do the impossible. Panic set in; he is dealing with a powerful king. Notice, he doesn’t think about Elisha or about God. The prophet Elisha hears the king’s response and sends a message to him, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.” (v8).

Naaman comes to Elisha in Samaria, the same city. Naaman, a mighty man of valour, stood at the door of Elisha’s house, a very humble house. He stood outside with chariots, servants and gifts. Instead of going out, Elisha sends a messenger (v10), telling Naaman to go and wash in the River Jordan 7 times, and he would be healed. Naaman was a very proud man; success had made him proud. He had expected to see Elisha. Instead of doing what Elisha told him to do, he travelled back to Syria, hundreds of miles away. He despises Israel and wants to wash in the rivers at home. God uses the servant (v13) who knows that because Naaman has been asked to do something so simplistic, he finds it insulting. He encourages him to do as the prophet says.

Naaman then travels to the River Jordan and dips himself 7 times. After the 7th occasion his flesh was restored, like that of a little child (v14). Not only did Naaman have physical cleansing, but he also had spiritual cleansing of his sins. The outward cleansing was pointing to a spiritual cleansing of the heart; his soul had been cleansed of its sins. How do we know? By the spiritual fruit we can see in his life (verses 15-18). He went back to Elisha and notice four things:

  1. He now has faith, “Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel,” (v.15). He believes the God of Israel is the true and only God. That’s faith!
  2. He wants to give a gift he has brought with him to Elisha. He feels great gratitude to Elisha, “So accept now a present from your servant.” (v.15). But Elisha refuses. He presses upon Elisha to receive the gift, but Elisha continues to refuse.
  3. Naaman wants to worship God and asks Elisha for two mule loads of earth so he can build an altar in Syria to offer burnt offerings, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord.” (v17).
  4. Notice there is conviction of sin, “In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” (v18).

There was a great friendship between Naaman and the king. When the king went to worship Rimmon, the king would lean on him and Naaman would worship Rimmon too. Naaman says when he returns, he will bow down to Rimmon, not to worship, but in respect for the king. He asks Elisha for forgiveness for that, for God’s forgiveness. Elisha says, “Go in peace.”

We see the fruit. Naaman hasn’t just been cleansed physically, but also spiritually. Naaman has come to know God personally. Let’s apply this to ourselves. Have we each come to know God personally, the God of the Bible, the only God? Have we had a spiritual cleansing from God? Each of us needs forgiveness. Before God we are sinful. We need spiritual cleansing.

How do we have our sins washed away? There is a Jordan we need to wash in. We need to immerse ourselves in the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to believe the gospel, the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2,000 years ago, in order that you and I could have spiritual cleansing, God came down to Earth as a man. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, He never sinned. He kept the commandments of God. On the cross He took all our sins upon Himself. He suffered the punishment of our sin, He suffered our hell, on the cross of Calvary. He shed His blood. He died paying that penalty. He was buried and on the third day God rose Him from the dead. That’s the Good News. That is what God did for me and you in order that we might have our sins cleansed.

But we have a responsibility – we have to believe that message. We have to believe each fact of the gospel – that Jesus is God’s Son, that He was sinless, that He kept the law, that He took our sin upon Himself, that he suffered our penalty, that He died, that he was risen from the dead. We have to believe that message.

We have to ask God to forgive us, to cleanse us, based on the work Jesus Christ did on the cross. When we believe that message, when we believe the gospel, and only then, God will forgive us our sins. God will wash our sins away through the blood of Jesus Christ. When we believe that message we become joined to Christ. We become a child of God and God comes to live in us by the Holy Spirit.  

When we believe this message God cleanses us from our sins. He comes to live in us by the Holy Spirit. We come to know God, become a child of God. The Holy Spirit changes us and makes us more Christ-like, creating fruit in us – worship, praise of God, thanksgiving, conviction of sin and repentance. We don’t want to live the ways we used to live, we want to live the way God wants us to live.

When we leave this world God, through death or when Christ returns, He will take us to be with Him in heaven and with all the saints, for eternity. Have we gone to the Jordan? Have we believed the gospel? Have we believed in Jesus Christ?

October 21st 2018: Peter Gleave

Peter Gleave-Oct182 Kings 6: 8-23:

Where are you headed this week? What difficulties lies ahead? What does the church look like? Today, the church seems to be more and more marginalised. It is becoming more under pressure. As we reach out, the more we reach out, the more the enemy will try to stop you and distract you. How will we handle it?

Elisha is an amazing character in the Old Testament, an exciting man of God. The Bible is all about Jesus, from Genesis to Revelation. We see Bible characters who are people like Jesus, a shadow of what is to come in Jesus. Elisha points the way to Jesus. There are so many similarities between Elisha and Jesus, but Jesus is greater by far. Elisha means God saves. Jesus is the Saviour who saves. Both began their ministry at the river Jordan. Elisha fed 100 men, Jesus fed 5,000. Elisha foreshadows Jesus.

In this reading we see:
God gives direction;
God gives power;
God gives victory.

God gives direction:

The King of Aram was at war with the King of Israel. The Aramean king had a powerful army. However, the king of Israel had an advantage – he had a man of God on his side, a man who knew everything the King of Aram was doing and gave the King of Israel direction from God. The King of Aram thought there was a secret agent telling the King of Israel all his plans, but he was told it was the prophet Elisha who knew everything he was doing.

As we look forward, we see Jesus gave direction to His disciples and the early church. He told them what the greatest commandments were. He also called them together and told them to go into all the world and tell. Jesus taught them our priority is to love and worship Him and to glorify Him in our lives and to tell others. He also taught them that we are to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. Look around at church this morning. These are your neighbours. We do God a great disservice when we show the world we don’t love each other. Sometimes, we only love people in church and not outside. They too are our neighbours. We are to tell others about Jesus. The direction for our church is to love Him, make Him our priority. This is borne out by loving each other, telling others about Him. This is what Jesus taught His disciples and us.

God gives power.

In the Old Testament Elisha and his young servant arrived in Dothan. The King of Aram told his servants to capture Elisha and his servant. All around him the young servant sees the King of Aram’s troops, horses and chariots. The enemy is all around. He cries out to Elisha, ‘What shall we do?’ Sometimes we experience that when personal problems come. When the enemy starts to attack we can feel a sense of panic. The servant had a choice – surrender or wait to be captured. Not great options! He had nowhere to turn, he felt like giving up, like the enemy was winning. Elisha’s response is, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ (II Kings 6:16). The servant was looking at the situation with human eyes. Elisha prayed for him (v17). Immediately, the servant’s eyes were opened, his spiritual eyes were opened. He can see what Elisha could see all along – all around them was the power of a heavenly host. He saw the power of the almighty God protecting him. Prayer is vital. The power of prayer brings peace.

Jesus prayed. He talked to His heavenly Father. If He did it, we too must do it. We need to soak ourselves in prayer. The power of prayer is available to you and I for all the circumstances we face. Faith begins where man’s power ends. When the difficulties come, use your spiritual eyes, fix your eyes on Jesus, not the enemy. Jesus stands with you.

God gives the victory (verses 19-20):

The enemy comes to capture Elisha and his servant. Elisha prays. Instead of asking for eyes to be opened, he now asks for eyes to be closed – the enemy’s eyes. When they were closed he then took them all the way to the stronghold city of Samaria. They were captured. The King of Israel became very excited. He didn’t know what to do with all the people who have been captured, whether to ‘strike them down’ or not. Elisha told the King that it was God who had captured the enemy, and the king should now feed and water them before sending them back home. Oh what grace! The young servant had had his spiritual eyes opened and seen the enemy captured. Victory had become a reality.

The spiritually open eyes look to Calvary – the victory has already been won. Jesus died for you and me, for all who put their trust in Jesus and confess their sins, God gives the victory. Eyes that are open to this, show us the direction we should go. The victory is won for you and me. Jesus wants us to tell everyone how He can make a difference. Share the good news. It is life-changing news for your friends and neighbours!

Our desire is to be like Jesus. Show others we love God. Summon God’s power so that eyes are opened. Serve God, the victor, in your life, the life of your church and the world. Revolutionise your community!

September 24th 2017 (noon): John Funnell

John Funnell - Sept 17II Kings 4:1-7

The woman had nothing left. Creditors were coming to take her boys as payment for the debt. Think about the poor woman – her husband was dead, she was in debt, her boys were about to be taken.

‘Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.”’ (II Kings 4:1). The woman cried out to Elisha – God’s man on the ground. Have you got an Elisha in your life you can turn to? Are you an Elisha? Can someone in the community turn to you in a crisis? As a church we are a family – bound by the love of a family, bound by the blood of Christ. Our churches need to regain the community’s home. We need to become the Elisha of Roch in our work, for our neighbours.  Also, we need to become the Elisha for each other. Have gospel love at the heart of your church. You’ll never need gimmicks, be driven by gospel-centered life, by God’s word. Be a place where people are happy to come to at all times.

The love of God will draw people in. That’s what evangelism is. We don’t offer what the world offers. As a church our priority in our community is to be an Elisha. How should we respond to people who cry out to us? The widow is in the time of greatest need. Elisha asks her what she has. Interesting. He reminds her to look back at how God has blessed her. Initially she says she has nothing, then pauses and says she has a little oil. We too have a little oil. Don’t let the stresses of life control us, cloud our view of what God has done for us. Humanly speaking, the church is dying in Wales – empty pews, people not interested. We must not forget our responsibility to thank God, to thank Him for the little oil we have.                                   

It was only God who could pay this woman’s debt. It was only when she could totally rely on Him in faith that God poured out His grace to her. When we realise we are incapable of saving ourselves, He will pour it His Spirit to you. Whatever doubts and anxieties you carry, God’s merciful Spirit will never dry out, just take your empty jars to Him. Pray in desperation, knowing that without God we have nothing. 

Do your neighbours know you go to church every week? If they don’t know, they won’t come to you in times of need. People have stopped coming to church.  We need to become the Elisha of our community. We must acknowledge the facilities we have, remain responsible for the pot of oil we have.  We must go forward in faith and He will pour out all we need.

2 Kings 4-2

September 3rd 2017: Norman Rees

Norman Rees-Sept 17II Kings 6:1-7

Elisha was a great man of God. Jesus refers to him in the New Testament. Elisha was used by God, he had a mighty portion of God’s Spirit resting on him. He was a teacher of students. They lived in Gilga, an important place in the Bible. This was where Joshua camped, it was where men were circumcised, where Samuel preached. There was a college in Gilga where Elisha taught the students. They sat at his feet and learnt from Elisha. Elisha loved the Lord. God used him greatly. The students were greatly blessed and grew in number. As they increased, they asked Elisha if they could move and build a bigger place.

They suggested to Elisha that they moved to the Jordan and live there. They would have water (there was a drought in Gilga), and they could expand the work and live for God, then go out themselves as prophets. The young men wanted the counsel of Elisha and asked him if they could go. He said yes, but they wanted him to go with them, ‘Then one said, “Please consent to go with your servants.”’ (II Kings 6:3). They were keen for Elisha to go with them so they could learn more from him. So Elisha moved with them from Gilga, walking 35 miles to the Jordan across rough terrain to serve the Lord.

The students cut down trees to make booths. They used axes. They were poor. One of the students did not have an axe but he wanted to join in, so he borrowed an axe. However, as he hammered away at a tree the iron axe-head flew off into the water and sank. Panic set in. The River Jordan is a fast flowing river, there was no chance of rescuing the axe-head. Yet the young man was conscious that he was responsible and needed to make good, he knew he had to pay back what he had lost. He was distressed he had lost something belonging to someone else. He was poor. God chooses poor people. We should be ready to serve Him.

The young man was part of a team – he didn’t want to let the team down. We need to be careful of the way we act. The man cried out to his Elisha, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.” (II Kings 6:5). He went to Elisha, to the right place, to the man of God. We believe God is sovereign. We may pray in the morning, ‘I’m in your hands Lord, whatever happens today is in your control.’ God is involved in all situations, even when things don’t go our way. God sends these things that can affect our reaction. We have a conscience to admit when we’re wrong. The Lord allows these things to test us. What is important is how we react. The student went to his master, Elisha. We go to a greater Master, Christ. People view our reactions, they should see Christ in us.

Elisha was concerned for the young man. He asked, “Where did it fall?” And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float.’ (II Kings 6:6). Elisha did not tell the young man off. When things in our life go wrong, Jesus asks us to tell Him about it. He knows our situation, He knows our thoughts.

Elisha lived close to God and knew the Lord. The student showed him where the axe-head fell. Elisha then threw a stick into the water and the iron axe-head floated to the surface of the water. A miracle was worked by God through Elisha. God made gravity, God can overcome gravity – as He did when Jesus ascended into heaven. God can make the impossible possible. The situation was hopeless to humans but not to God.

We pray for the axe-heads, sinners sunk in sin. Every one of us is born in sin. We pray for people, maybe for many years, who have sunken iron hearts, sunken in sin. What is your axe-head this morning? God is the God of the impossible, the God of grace, the God of Salvation. God will bring an end to the Devil, an end to sin. Christ can save you, He saved me, He can save anyone. Elisha is no longer on the earth, he’s in heaven, but his God is still here on earth.

Whatever give us anxieties, take it to God. God is a God of the impossible. He will deliver. Be sure to glorify Him and praise Him. Praise Him more.