Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Blessed is the man (and woman) who believes in, trusts in, and relies in the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is. For he (she) shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.”
Jeremiah 17: 7, 8, Amplified Bible
“Thus will I live and walk from day to day,
Contented, trustful, satisfied, and still;
What life so shielded, nor what life so free,
As that within the center of Thy will!”
“Divine tranquility grows from the life of God in the soul”
Thomas C. Upham
Today’s Study Text:
“Then went He (Naaman) down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”
II Kings 5: 14, K.J.V.
“A Magnanimous Principle – God Loves Me”
Definition of Magnanimous: Noble of heart and mind, especially generous and forgiving. Immensely unselfish.
“God gives not only generously but genuinely, not only with an open hand but with a full heart.”
How has the “magnanimous” behavior of God changed my life?
In what way can I show the unselfish, forgiving love my Father expresses toward me to those around me?
“God’s love is not drawn out by our lovableness, but wells up, like an artesian spring, from the depth of His nature.”
“There is no human wreckage, lying in the ooze of the deepest sea of iniquity, that God’s deep love cannot reach and redeem.”
John Henry Jowett
With the prompting and concern of his servants, General Naaman came to the conclusion that he didn’t really have much to lose. So in the words of The Message Bible, “He did it.” He went off toward the Jordan River to take a bath. As the Bible records: “He went down and immersed himself in the Jordan seven times, following the orders of the Holy Man.”
The result: “His skin was healed; it was like the skin of a little baby. He was as good as new” (II Kings 5: 14, The Message Bible).
One cannot read this particular portion of the story without wondering how General Naaman felt as he looked at his clear, clean skin. How would you have felt had you been in his place? And to think he nearly missed out on a heavenly blessing all because of his own arrogance and haughty attitude. WOW! It makes you think doesn’t it – for I know in my own personal experience that my headstrong, “I’ve got it all together mindset,” served to set me on a collision course with my heavenly Father’s will for my life on more than one occasion. The problem is that when we pompously think we have the capability to control all the variables in our lives, it doesn’t take long before we find out how little we can really handle. The false reality brought about by electronic wizardry which gives us the sense that we are more competent at multi-tasking than we really are – has done a terrible disservice to our spiritual lives. For if we long to make it through the tough times that we all encounter in our complicated world, we can’t get by with a “Twitter” relationship with God – a friendship that relies on a message no longer than 140 characters.
The reason I take time to highlight this truth is that over the next few days, as we look at the change that developed in the life of General Naaman, I pray we will be able to come to recognize that it was not just an external cleansing of his diseased skin that changed in Naaman, it was also an internal longing that was met. Why? Because our heavenly Father is not just concerned about the peripherals in our life or with the superficial in our appearance.
Author R. B. Kuiper, in describing the grandeur of our Father in heaven as well as the love which He wants to encapsulate each of us with, makes this profound observation, “The point…is not that the world is so big that it takes a great deal of love to embrace it, but that the world is so bad that it takes an exceedingly great kind of love to love it at all.”
Somewhere during the chariot round-about, when General Naaman thought he was too big for Elisha’s God, to the moment when he saw that his skin was like a little baby, a change took place not only on the outside, but on the inside. General Naaman got a glimpse of a God whose greatness was so big that it took in everyone – even a conceited General who thought he was very capable on his own – thank you very much.
The God who loved Naaman was a God that I fear I too frequently limit in oh so many ways. Not only do I sometimes limit the view of His love to what I am capable of handling, but I also limit His work to what I can handle. As Haywood Barringer Spangler, in his commentary on II Kings 5 concludes, “Like Naaman, we also may make our expectations the measure of God’s work, when we assume that God is exclusively on our side regarding all sorts of relationships – interpersonal, international, and between ourselves…Naaman’s healing discourages this tendency of ours.”
As I thought about the life of Naaman, I tried to put myself in his place, as I reflected on the fact that at first, Naaman had to come to the realization that the God of heaven and earth cared about him. This was a God whose love embraced him personally.
For you and me, as we, too, attempt to build a relationship with our heavenly Father, we also need to have that moment in time when our Father’s immense love becomes a personal love. A redemptive love. A forgiving love. A forever love.
As W. J. C. White writes, when we draw into ourselves the reality that, “our total welfare is the constant concern of God’s loving heart,” we will want more than a Twitter relationship for we will finally understand that everything that touches us – touches our Father, too.
The author and poet Horatius Bonar penned these words which I found so applicable in the experience of Naaman:
“O love of God, how strong and true!
Eternal and yet ever new;
Uncomprehended and unbought,
Beyond all knowledge and all thought.”
General Naaman arrived at Elisha’s door, loaded with all he thought necessary to purchase the healing he longed for. Instead, he found out, in the words of Thomas Brooks that, “God’s love is a free love, having no motive or foundation but within itself.” It was a love like no other this man of valor had ever encountered. And in the end, it was a love that changed not only Naaman’s external appearance, but his internal life as well. In the words of one of my favorite poets, John Greenleaf Whittier:
“Immortal love, for ever full,
For ever flowing free,
For ever shared, for ever whole,
A never-ebbing sea.”
“God is love; His mercy brightens
All the path in which we rove;
Bliss He wakes and woe He lightens:
God is wisdom, God is love.
Chance and change are busy ever;
Man decays and ages move;
But His mercy waneth never;
God is wisdom, God is love.
Even the hour that darkest seemeth
Will His changeless goodness prove;
From the mist His brightness streameth;
God is wisdom, God is love.
He with earthly cares entwineth
Hope and comfort from above;
Every where His glory shineth;
God is wisdom, God is love.”
John Bowring, (1792-1872)
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.