Hometown Privilege

Bible:

And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘“Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’” And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” Luke 4:22-27 ESV

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13 ESV

Reflection:

Abraham Lincoln lived in Springfield, Illinois for many years, and pretty much considered it his hometown. When he left Springfield to become the President of the United States, he gave a speech to the people of Springfield where he said, “No one not in my position can appreciate the sadness I feel at this parting. To this people I owe all that I am. Here I have lived more than a quarter of a century; here my children were born, and here one of them lies buried.” But after he became the president, some of the people of Springfield became unhappy with Mr. Lincoln. These people had hoped that he would give them special privileges and jobs in the nation’s capital because they had been friends in Springfield, and Lincoln didn’t always do this. He gave jobs to other people instead of favoring his old friends in his hometown.

The people in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth were also unhappy with Jesus. They had heard that he had done some miracles in other places, and they thought that they should have some special privileges from Jesus and see some especially exciting miracles. But Jesus told them that he wasn’t going to do miracles just to satisfy their curiosity or to give them a show. He reminded them of stories from the past, when Elijah and Elisha helped people who weren’t even part of Israel while the people of Israel didn’t receive any special miracles from God. He was reminding them that God’s love is for all people, and not just a few special people who came from the right town or the right group.

Sometimes we might hear about how God gives special help or a blessing to someone else, and doesn’t seem to hear or answer our prayers in the same way. We sometimes might feel as if it isn’t fair. We might even start to compare ourselves to the other person and feel as if we deserve more from God than that person does. But the Lord doesn’t want us to treat prayer as if it is an order at a fast food restaurant, which should be filled quickly and exactly the way we want it. Instead, God wants us to come to him in prayer because he is our loving Heavenly Father, and to trust that he will help us in the best way and in the best time. He helps us to remember the most wonderful way he answered our needs, when he came to us in Jesus and died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. Because of Jesus, we have God’s love and help every day, and we can trust him to take care of us now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving and forgiving us in Jesus. Help us to trust you to take care of us in the best way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Abraham Lincoln and Springfield

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Mercy for the Enemy

Bible:

 And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria.

As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.” So the Lord opened their eyes and they saw, and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. As soon as the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, “My father, shall I strike them down? Shall I strike them down?” He answered, “You shall not strike them down. Would you strike down those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” So he prepared for them a great feast, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the Syrians did not come again on raids into the land of Israel. II Kings 6:18-23 ESV

[Jesus said:] “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” Matthew 5:38-41 ESV

Reflection:

Jean Valjean had just been released from prison, where he had stayed many years, first for stealing some bread for his sister’s hungry children, then for trying to escape. He had finally finished his prison term, but no inn would give him a place to stay because he had a yellow passport that showed he had a criminal record. But Bishop Myriel was kind to this angry, bitter man and let him stay in his home. Jean Valjean stole the bishop’s silverware and ran off during the night, but the police soon caught him. Bishop Myriel told the police that he had given Jean Valjean the silverware as a gift, and he also gave him two silver candlesticks, saying that Jean Valjean had forgotten to take them. Jean Valjean didn’t understand this amazing kindness, but it changed his life. He became a very good man, always helping people who were in need.

When the Syrian army came to get Elisha, he prayed a simple prayer that God would make them blind. The army became powerless, and Elisha led them to Samaria, the capital city of the northern kingdom. The king of Israel saw Elisha lead him a helpless army, and then Elisha prayed that the army would be able to see again. The Syrian army saw that they were surrounded by the army of Israel and in their power. The king of Israel was ready to fight with them and kill as many as he could, but first he asked Elisha what he should do. Elisha showed the same kind of mercy Bishop Myriel did. He said that the king should give them a big feast and send them home, so that’s what the king did. And it changed things. The Syrians stopped trying to raid Israel, at least for awhile.

It’s not always easy to know how to deal with someone who is mean or cruel, and sometimes we need the help of a parent or teacher or another trusted adult. But Jesus taught that it’s never a good idea to try to get revenge or hurt another person for hurting us. He showed us the most perfect example of love in his own life. We had turned against God and become his enemies, but God didn’t turn away from us. He had the right to punish us for our sins, but instead he sent Jesus to take our sins on himself. Jesus died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven, and his love and forgiveness changes our lives. Because of Jesus, we are God’s children, and he helps us give others the love and forgiveness that he has given us.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the love and forgiveness you give us in Jesus. Help us to share it with others even when they hurt us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Hugo, Victor Les Miserables Paris: A. Lacroix, Verboeckhoven & Cie., 1862

 

An Army of Angels

Bible:

And he said, “Go and see where he is, that I may send and seize him.” It was told him, “Behold, he is in Dothan.” So he sent there horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city.

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. II Kings 6:13-17 ESV

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them. Psalm 34:4-7 ESV

Reflection:

In England, the queen or king is guarded by a group of men called the Yeoman of the Guard. Their job is to protect the queen or king from danger or any kind of attack. Nowadays their job is a ceremonial one, but many years ago they each carried a quiver of arrows and a longbow. They were ready to fight to protect the king or queen. They started at a time in England’s history when there were sometimes more than one person who claimed the throne. Sometimes there were wars fought over who should be the king. One of these wars was called the War of the Roses. In this war Richard III and Henry VII fought over the throne, and Henry VII won. He made his bodyguard a permanent fixture of his reign, and it continues to this day.

When the army of Syria came after Elisha to seize him and bring him before their king, Elisha’s servant was frightened. The army and its chariots had surrounded the entire city where Elisha was living. Elisha’s servant asked Elisha what they were going to do. But Elisha wasn’t worried. He could see something his servant couldn’t see, and he prayed that God would open his servant’s eyes so that he could see it too. God answered this prayer, and suddenly the servant saw that there was a huge army with horses and chariots of fire around them on the mountain! God had sent his angels to protect Elisha and the city, and there was no need to be afraid.

We might not be able to see angels around us the way Elisha did, but we can be sure that they are there. God promises to send his holy angels to help and protect us. These angels might sometimes protect our bodies from being hurt, but even more importantly, they protect us from the forces of evil that are around us. The devil and his fallen angels try to get us to stop believing in God’s word and trusting in his love. But God loves us very much. He sent Jesus to be our Savior and to bring us into his family. His holy angels help keep us strong and close to God, no matter what happens.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your angels to keep us safe and to help guard us from the forces of evil. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://yeomenoftheguard.com/

Who is the Spy?

Bible:

Once when the king of Syria was warring against Israel, he took counsel with his servants, saying, “At such and such a place shall be my camp.” But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, “Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are going down there.” And the king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God told him. Thus he used to warn him, so that he saved himself there more than once or twice.

And the mind of the king of Syria was greatly troubled because of this thing, and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you not show me who of us is for the king of Israel?” And one of his servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” II Kings 6:8-12 ESV

The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds. Psalm 33:13-15 ESV

Reflection:

Josephine Baker was a dancer and singer who lived in France, where she was very popular. During World War II she became a spy for the Allied forces. Even though a war was raging all over Europe, there were still shows and entertainment, and Josephine Baker continued to sing and dance. German officers came to see her perform, and when she overheard them say something important she would tell Allied agents what they had said. She also traveled with many sheets of music, and she often wrote important information on this music with invisible ink and was able to get it to the Allied forces this way. Sometimes she even pinned important pictures to her underwear! Josephine Baker helped the Allies know what the German forces were planning.

The king of Syria was sure that a spy was working against him. Every time he wanted to camp somewhere and surprise the army of Israel with an attack, the king of Israel seemed to know all about it and was able to defend against the plans of the Syrian army. The king of Syria thought that one of his men must be a traitor, but one of his servants knew what was really happening. Elisha always knew about these secret plans, and he was able to warn the king of Israel. Elisha knew all the secrets of the king of Syria because God told him.

God sees and knows everything. He knows more than the sneakiest spy, and can see and hear more than the most expensive spy equipment. That’s because God is everywhere, and he can see into our hearts. This is good news for us, because he is able to watch over us and help us no matter where we go or what trouble we run into. But it’s also bad news. God knows all our secret thoughts and all the things we do wrong that no one else knows about. We can’t hide our sins from God. But God loves us, and he sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay for our sins. We don’t have to be afraid of what God can see. We can always go to him for forgiveness and for help, no matter what.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for seeing us and loving us. Thank you for the care and forgiveness you give us every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://spymuseum.com/josephine-baker/

Impossible!

Bible:

Now the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See, the place where we dwell under your charge is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan and each of us get there a log, and let us make a place for us to dwell there.” And he answered, “Go.” Then one of them said, “Be pleased to go with your servants.” And he answered, “I will go.” So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was felling a log, his axe head fell into the water, and he cried out, “Alas, my master! It was borrowed.” Then the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick and threw it in there and made the iron float. And he said, “Take it up.” So he reached out his hand and took it. II Kings 6:1-7 ESV

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” Acts 2:22-24 ESV

Reflection:

Why do some things float in water, and other things sink? The ability to float is called buoyancy, and different materials have different buoyancies. Wood will usually float in water, and metals don’t float in water. This is true even if the piece of wood is very big and heavy, or if the piece of metal is very small and light. The difference between wood and metal is something called density. Density is how heavy a certain volume of the material is. For example, if you have a block of wood and a block of metal the same size, the metal block will be much heavier. That’s why the metal won’t float and the wood will.

The sons of the prophets experienced density when one of them lost an axe head in the Jordan River. They had been cutting down trees and making them into logs so that they could build a bigger building for their school where Elisha was teaching them. The metal axe head sank to the bottom of the river, and the young man who lost it was upset. It had been a borrowed axe, and he would have to pay for it if it was lost. But God worked through Elisha to get the axe head back. Elisha threw a stick into the water. The wooden stick floated just as wood almost always floats, but God made something extraordinary happen. The axe head floated too! This wasn’t magic or a new law of science. It was just a miracle that God did through Elisha.

For a metal axe head to float seems impossible, but God can do even more impossible things than that. God can bring dead people out of their graves! When Jesus died on the cross, everyone thought that that was the end for him. Dead people usually don’t come out of the grave. But the Bible says that it was impossible for death to hold Jesus. God brought him out of the grave on the first Easter. Because of that, we can be sure that we will also come out of the grave after we die, and that we will have life forever with Jesus. Jesus defeated death so that we could live forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for doing things that seem impossible, especially giving us life forever with Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Greed and Punishment

Bible:

But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” So Gehazi followed Naaman. And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is all well?” And he said, “All is well. My master has sent me to say, ‘There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.’” And Naaman said, “Be pleased to accept two talents.” And he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and laid them on two of his servants. And they carried them before Gehazi. And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed. He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.” But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow. II Kings 19b-27 ESV

Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25b-28 ESV

Reflection:

Anansi the spider was a tricky creature, and there are many stories about him from West Africa. One day he and his wife were invited to his wife’s parents’ house for dinner. Anansi wore a very tall hat because he thought it made him look important. At the dinner he greedily ate all kinds of the good food his mother-in-law had made for him, but he was disappointed that his favorite food of all, beans, wasn’t served. Finally he got up from the table and went into the kitchen, and there was a big pot of beans his mother-in-law had forgotten to serve. Anansi filled a satchel with the hot beans and hid them under his hat, then he went back to join the guests at dinner. His father-in-law started talking about what a fine son-in-law he was. He kept talking and talking, while Anansi wanted to get away from the meal because the satchel of beans was so hot on his head! Finally they got so hot he couldn’t stand it and lifted his hat a little, and the beans spilled all over him. His father-in-law and all the guests shouted that he was a thief, and he and his wife left the party very embarrassed. Ever since that day Anansi and his children have had  bald heads as a punishment for greed.

Gehazi was as greedy as Anansi. When Elisha wouldn’t let Naaman give him any reward for healing him of his leprosy, Gehazi thought of a plan. He would chase after Naaman and pretend that Elisha had a sudden need for some of the money and clothes Naaman had offered him, because a couple of the sons of the prophets had come to visit him. Naaman was happy to give him something, but it was sad because he probably thought that Elisha had changed his mind and wanted a reward. Elisha had wanted to show Naaman that the God of Israel is good and gracious, and that he didn’t serve the Lord for the rewards he could get. Gehazi hid the money and clothes in his own house and went back to Elisha. But Elisha knew exactly what he had done, and he told Gehazi that he and his descendants would always have Naaman’s leprosy.

God is good and gracious to us, and gives us many blessings every day. The best blessing he has ever given us is Jesus, our Savior. Jesus didn’t come into the world to be a powerful and rich king. He wasn’t greedy, but instead he came to serve. Jesus served us by going to the cross and dying for us there. Because of what Jesus did, we are God’s children now and always. He sends us his Holy Spirit to make us more like him. We aren’t always wishing for and wanting more, but we are happy because God has given us so much. God helps us serve others the way Jesus did without looking for any reward. We already have God’s love, and that’s better than any reward we could get!

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all the blessings you give us. Help us to be willing to help and share with others without wanting a reward. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.uexpress.com/tell-me-a-story/2010/4/25/anansi-and-the-pot-of-beans

A Fearful Secret

Bible:

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; so accept now a present from your servant.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. Then Naaman said, “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. 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.” He said to him, “Go in peace.” II Kings 5:15-19a ESV

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice. Isaiah 42:1-3 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a Greek story about a man and a woman named Pyramus and Thisbe. They lived next to each other, and their houses shared a wall. But their parents were enemies, and they weren’t allowed to be together. Even though Pyramus and Thisbe were in love, they had to keep their love a secret. They could whisper to each other through the wall of their house, and they could sneak out of their homes to meet each other. But they were afraid to openly tell their parents that they were in love with each other and wanted to get married, because they knew how angry their parents would be.

Sometimes God’s people face difficulties if they openly worship the Lord. Naaman had that problem. After God healed him of his leprosy, he knew that there was no other God in the world, and he promised that he wouldn’t worship any false god again. But he was a high official of the king of Syria, and his king worshiped the god Rimmon. When the king went to Rimmon’s temple and bowed in worship, he leaned on Naaman’s arm. Naaman was afraid of making his king angry if he didn’t also bow to Rimmon. He asked Elisha to ask God to forgive him for doing that. Elisha reassured Naaman that the Lord would understand and forgive him.

We are also sometimes afraid to let people know that we love and worship the Lord. We might be afraid that people will think that we’re weird or stupid or just not cool. There are places in the world where people might be put in prison or even lose their lives if others know they are Christians. God’s people sometimes keep their love for him a fearful secret. God understands his people’s weakness and fear. He loves and forgives us because of what Jesus did on the cross for all of us. God sends us his Holy Spirit to give us strength and courage, so that we have the bravery to be able to share his love more and more. We can trust that God will take care of us and help us when we tell others about him.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us for being weak and afraid. Please give us more strength and courage to share your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I Want to Do It My Way!

Bible:

So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. II Kings 5:9-14 ESV

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 ESV

Reflection:

Little children who are about two or three years old often want to do everything by themselves. If moms or dads try to help them put on their coats or shoes, they’ll often say, “Me do it!” Sometimes parents let their children do things for themselves, and often it doesn’t go very well the first few times. Little children might put their shoes on the wrong feet, or put their pants on backwards. If they try to help in the kitchen or in the garage, they might make a big mess. Older children are smart if they are willing to let people help them and show them the right way to do things. Smart kids know that it’s silly to keep on acting like a little kid and think they know how to do everything already. They realize that they need to keep learning because there are many things they don’t know yet.

Naaman was foolish when Elisha told him what he needed to do to be healed of his leprosy. He had come all the way to the land of Israel to be healed, but when Elisha gave him the message to wash himself seven times in the Jordan River, he got angry! He thought he knew better than Elisha how he could be healed. He wanted Elisha to put on a show for him by waving his hands and praying loudly, and he thought that washing in the Jordan River was a stupid idea. He had better rivers in his own country, he thought! Since Elisha wouldn’t do things his way, he almost left the country without getting healed. But his servants were wiser than he was, and they talked him into giving the Jordan River a try. So he went and washed himself seven times, and as soon as he did that, he was healed!

Sometimes we are like Naaman. We want to work things out our own way instead of letting God work things out his way.  When we do that, we often make quite a mess out of things! The worst way we can make a mess is when we don’t want God to save us in the way he’s chosen. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for us so that all our sins could be forgiven. He’s given us baptism to wash away our sins and to make what Jesus did for us our own. Some people want to pay for their own sins and earn God’s love by their good behavior. That’s like Naaman walking away from the healing God had for him. God sends us his Holy Spirit to help us trust him to save us through Jesus.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, help us to trust you to work things out for us in the best way, and especially to always trust the forgiveness Jesus won for us. In His Name, Amen.

Go to the Right Place

Bible:

So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”

But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.” II Kings 5:5b-8 ESV

Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish. Psalm 146:3-4 ESV

Reflection:

If you walked into a bookstore and asked them for some books that you could take home without paying for, they would probably be angry with you. They would think you were trying to steal their books, and they might even call the police! But if you walked into a library and asked for the same thing, they would be happy to help you. They would help you get a library card if you didn’t have one, and they would even help you pick out some good books to read if you wanted them to do that. The difference is that a bookstore is the wrong place to go if you want to borrow books without paying for them. But a library is the right place for borrowing books.

When Naaman told the king of Syria that there was someone in Israel who could heal him of his leprosy, the king was happy. Naaman was an important man in his kingdom. So he sent some money and a letter to the king of Israel telling him to heal Naaman. The king of Israel was really upset and angry. He couldn’t heal anyone from leprosy! He thought that the king of Syria was trying to pick a fight with him, maybe even start a war. The problem was that Naaman and the king of Syria had gone to the wrong place. The king of Israel couldn’t help, but there was someone in Israel who could. God would work through his prophet Elisha and heal Naaman. Elisha heard about the problem and sent a message to his king. He said to send Naaman to him, and then Naaman would know that the true God had given a prophet to the people of Israel.

We are sometimes like Naaman and his king. When we need help, we go to the wrong place. Maybe we don’t worship idols like people did in Bible times, but we do often trust in other people or things rather than God. We might trust the money we have in the bank to get us out of trouble, or we might trust a political leader to help us when things go wrong. But God warns us not to put our trust in anything or anyone except him. He is the only one who can really help us. When we were in trouble because of our sin and separated from God, we couldn’t help ourselves out of our problems and no one else on earth could help us. But God himself came to us in Jesus and saved us. Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins and to bring us back to God. Jesus was the only one who could help, and we can trust him for everything.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for helping us with all our troubles, and especially for saving us through Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Much More than They Needed

Bible:

A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And Elisha said, “Give to the men, that they may eat.” But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred men?” So he repeated, “Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says theLord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’” So he set it before them. And they ate and had some left, according to the word of the Lord. II Kings 4:42-44 ESV

Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20-21 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever been at a Chinese wedding banquet? If you like Chinese food, it’s really a wonderful thing to experience. There is lots of food for everyone, and many different kinds of dishes. It’s a matter of honor for the host to put out more food than anyone could possibly eat! A good Chinese host will have all kinds of leftovers, whether it’s a wedding banquet or a dinner for friends. Other cultures have similar customs. When people from many cultures around the world are hosts to others, they will make all kinds of food and continue to urge their guests to eat more and more. There will be more food than all the guests could possibly eat, and lots left over.

God is that kind of host. When Elisha received a gift of 20 small barley loaves of bread and some fresh grain, he told his servant to give it to his guests who were with him. But his servant was worried. There wasn’t nearly enough food for one hundred men! It would be embarrassing for Elisha to not have enough food to serve. But Elisha had heard God’s word on the matter, and he knew that there would not only be enough for everyone to eat, but that there would be some left over. He knew that if God was the host, he would be the best kind of host and provide everyone with more than enough. And that’s just what happened. All the men ate as much as they wanted, and there was still more food left!

God not only provided more than enough food to Elisha’s guests, but he also provides more than enough love and grace for us. No matter how bad our sins are, God has even more grace and forgiveness. Jesus’ death on the cross has our sins completely covered, and there’s more than enough love and forgiveness for us and for all people. We can always come to God for help and for grace, and be sure that there’s more than enough for us.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us more than enough love through Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.