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“Then went he 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” (2 Kings 5:14).

In 2 Kings Chapter 5, we read the account of Naaman, captain of the Syrian army. He was a mighty man and honorable. Even though he was well-respected with an important position, he had leprosy.

Leprosy was a disease of the skin.  In the worst cases, the victims flesh would rot and fall off. Anyone who had this disease was considered unclean.

Naaman’s wife had a maid that had been captured from Israel. She told them about the prophet Elisha and the healings that followed his ministry . The king of Syria sent a messenger with talents, gold and raiment to the king of Israel in exchange for the prophet to come heal Naaman. When Elisha heard about this, he told the messenger to have Naaman come to him.

When Naaman came to the house, Elisha came to the door and told him to go wash in the Jordan River seven times. Naaman walked away furious because he expected the prophet to come and pray over him with a great prayer, not send him to the Jordan River to wash. He even questioned why he couldn’t go to another, better river. One of the servants pleaded with him to do as Elisha had commanded. Naaman finally agreed and went to wash in the Jordan River. On the seventh time that he entered the water, he was healed.

There was nothing special about what Elisha told Naaman to do. There was nothing magical about the Jordan River. Elisha didn’t speak a prophetic prayer over Naaman. It just came down to obedience.

God may ask you to do something that you think is foolish just to see if you will do it out of obedience. The answer to your prayer will always be linked to obedience.

About 8-9 years ago, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. It got to the point that no one could touch me including my husband and my son. Most of the time, I would stay home.  I would miss church. People shaking my hand or hugging me had become too painful. Many times I would sit at home and cry because the pain was too much for me. There  were medicines to ease the pain, but no cure.  I became depressed and there were times I wished I could just die.

One day, I finally had enough. I had prayed numerous times for God to heal me but I didn’t get my miracle. Our church was having a special service and I wanted to go. That night they asked people to come to the front who needed healing, deliverance, salvation, etc. I made my way to the front and stood over to the side so that people wouldn’t touch me.

The guest speaker came by and asked why I needed prayer. I told him I wanted to be healed. I did not tell him the specific need, just that I needed healing. He asked me to spin around 3 times to receive my healing. At first, I stood and thought to myself, “What does this have to do with me getting my healing?” I finally decided that I would obey and do what he asked. I spun around once, twice, and on the third time the power of God touched me. God instantly healed me of Fibromyalgia and I have not suffered since that day!

There was nothing magical about spinning around.  The healing was released because I was obedient. If I had stopped after the first or second time around, I would not have received my miracle. God wanted me to trust and obey Him.

What is God asking you to do?  Obey.  It could be the answer to your prayer.

 

BY MISHELLE NALLY

Life Reference: Mark 6:41-44, Matthew 14:19-21

Focus Verse:

And straightway He constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while He sent away the people. (Mark 6:45)

I find it interesting that Jesus sent the disciples on vacation (or so it looks like) while He took care of crowd control. If we look in the preceding verses, we find that the disciples had just finished the busy task of dispersing food to the hungry crowd of over 5,000 men plus women and children.

Notice the verse states Jesus constrained them. Constrained means He compelled them; it was necessary…Jesus realized the need to get away once in a while.

Life Reflection:

There will always be someone to minister to; someone who needs your attention or needs something from you. What plans can you make to take time to get away and recharge your battery so that you can more effectively minister?

And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. (Mark 6:46)

Even Jesus took time to get away to pray and regain strength both spiritually and physically. Notice He took time to get away from everyone around, even His disciples. He exampled the need of getting into your prayer closet alone.

And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. (Mark 6:47).

It was growing late when they reached the middle of the sea. Meanwhile, Jesus was alone in the mountain praying. From this place of prayer, He could see the disciples and the storm they were encountering out on the sea.

Life Reflection:

No matter what you face in life, Jesus is always watching over you. He sees you where you are and knows exactly what you’re going through.  How does this change your perspective today?

And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. (Mark 6:48)

The 4th watch is thought to be around 3am in the morn… it is thought that they started out around 6pm. What should have been a few hours trip had taken them 9 hours just to get halfway across.

Jesus is watching from the mountain and sees them fighting against the storm that is buffeting them. They are trying to get out of the storm on their own…by their own strength and power….yet they are not making much progress, if any.

Life Reflection:

How many times do we do that when we encounter trials and situations? We try to figure out how WE can fix it…what WE can do to change or make things better rather than calling on JESUS and asking for His help.

None of the Gospels record the disciples praying for help although I’m sure by now they were to the place they definitely were. Remember, Jesus had His eyes on them the whole time….He could see exactly what they were going through. And now He decided it was time to step into the situation….so here comes Jesus walking on the water with waves rising and crashing around Him and the winds trying to buffet Him. Yet the elements could not harm Him for He was its Creator robed in flesh (1 Timothy 3:16).

To Mark, it looks like Jesus is ready to walk right on past leaving them to fight and struggle on their own until they cried out in fear. While Matthew records Jesus as coming directly to them. Matthew realized Jesus would not pass them by. He was confident Jesus would never leave or forsake them (Matthew 14:25-26).

Jesus would NOT pass them by! And He will not pass us by either when we’re in the midst of a trial. He’s watching from a distance, allowing us to go through things so we can grow stronger in our faith and walk with Him. Eventually, He will say enough is enough and come walking on the waters (situations) that are threatening to drown us.

Life Reflection:

We do not know His purpose or His plans for our lives.  So, until we see and understand, we need to rest in the assurance that He is our Loving Father and He’s looking out for us. If He cares for the grass and the birds in the field, how much more do you think He cares for you?

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? (Matthew 6:30)

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:31)

But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:7)

When storms arise, some may question whether they are in the will of God or not. After all, if Jesus really said it, if this is really the will of God, then we shouldn’t be going through all this hardship, right? Wrong!

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (I Peter 1:7)

God allows us to go through trials so that He may receive glory out of it. People watch how you react and handle situations.

Life Reflection:

Are you becoming BITTER or are you becoming BETTER? Do you have a VICTIM or a VICTOR mentality? Are you submitted, praying “not my will but Thine be done”, or are those merely words while you are fighting against the storms and trying to do things your own way without considering God’s?

But when they saw Him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out:
For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately He talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. (Mark 6:49-50)

Sometimes we get so wrapped up and focused on our problem that we are not spiritually discerning. We feel God has forsaken us and we are all alone with waves crashing around us ready to overtake us. We don’t recognize that Jesus has just stepped on the scene… all we see is the trouble surrounding us.

The disciples were still unsure it was Him even after He spoke to them. Peter had to put forth a fleece to confirm that it really was Jesus! (Matthew 14:28-31)

And Peter answered Him and said, Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.

And He went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.  (Matthew 14:28-31)

The winds didn’t cease immediately when Jesus stepped on the scene, but they did once He stepped into their boat. God allows us to go through trials to strengthen us, to teach us things, and to build our faith so that we can learn to trust Him more.

How is it that the disciples could so quickly forget the mighty miracles Jesus had performed? Things that were not humanly possible yet they had witnessed it with their own eyes? Just a few hours prior they had watched in amazement as Jesus fed 5000 men plus women and children with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. They had gathered up all the extra after everyone was filled…12 baskets FULL. It didn’t seem logical or possible, yet, with God all things are possible.

For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.  (Mark 6:51-52)

It was easy to believe then. That was the tingly, feel good service where everyone’s shouting and receiving blessings with joy. But as soon as they left the church service, the storm arose and their faith is gone….they were not understanding that Jesus is still God whether it’s in the good times or the bad.

Life Response:

He’s with us when we are blessed and He’s with us when were distressed. He’s still God and NOTHING can separate us from Him! (Romans 8:38-39)

So, whether you’re witnessing the miracle of the 5 loaves and 2 fish or you are struggling out of the tumultuous sea of trials, remember Jesus IS watching over you and He is with you! He loves you very much!

And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. (Mark 6:53)

You will come through whatever trial you’re going through and safely reach the shore. Just keep your eyes on Jesus and place your trust in Him. He won’t pass you by!

BY DEONNA GREGORY

One bright morning, a young woman was talking with an old friend. After a while, the woman’s friend looked at her and sighed. “It must be so nice to have everything in your life all figured out,” she said.

The woman laughed and replied, “Well, not everything.”

Later that day, the young woman unlocked the door to her cozy apartment and sat by her older sister, who asked about her day.

“It was good.” But neither woman was convinced.

A few moments passed, and the young woman fought an internal battle against surging emotions. “I think I need to talk,” she admitted.

Sobs soon broke loose from the young woman. The tears were watery evidence of a breakdown she had suppressed for hours, days and months. It was a culmination of work stress, emotional stress and — at the crux of it all — life expectations that hadn’t been met yet.

Amidst the tears and embarrassed laughter, she uttered the words that had silently been eating away at her: “I don’t know why [insert here] hasn’t happened yet. I know I shouldn’t think this, but I feel like I haven’t earned it yet. I don’t deserve it, so God hasn’t given it to me.”

The sister held her, lovingly offering support and encouraging words about the promises God had given to the young woman.

Eventually, the young woman wiped her eyes and nose, spent some time in prayer and started writing a story.

Spoiler: I am that young woman, and this is my very true, very recent story.

Another spoiler: I don’t actually have everything in my life all figured out.

Weeks earlier, I read Genesis 22, following Abraham and Isaac as they hiked a mountain to offer a sacrifice to God. Just as Abraham was about to sacrifice the very blessing God had promised to him years before, an angel appeared.

“‘Don’t lay a hand on the boy!’ the angel said. ‘Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.'” (Genesis 22:12 NLT)

While reading this verse, I scribbled a note: What are you withholding from God? The thought intrigued me, but I didn’t get any insights from God at the time.

My breakdown came a few weeks later. As I sobbed, I began to understand what God had started speaking to my heart: It’s okay to be vulnerable.

To be honest, this was hard to admit to myself. I tend to keep things to myself. I don’t like to show weakness. I don’t like it when people see me cry. I don’t like it when people see I’m vulnerable. So, I put those emotions and thoughts aside.

And God was like, “Jen, you’re withholding a part of yourself from me.”

Withhold: To refuse to give; to suppress or hold back.

I wasn’t withholding prayer time, Bible reading, church commitments or anything external from Him. This was emotional withholding.

True friends can talk to each other about anything — be it crazy, stupid or #realtalk. Likewise, if you withhold parts of yourself from a friend, you withhold parts of yourself from that relationship. You essentially build a wall around that part of you, blocking it off from anybody or anything.

And we can do that with God. We can refuse to tell Him about our hidden anxieties and feelings — some of which we might not even know exist. But God already knows.

“You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (Psalm 139:15-16 NLT)

Yes, God in His omniscience understands every part of us. But He still wants us to communicate with Him, to build that relationship. David recognized this in his psalm. After acknowledging God’s power and knowledge, he asked God to examine him.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)

Express yourself to God. It’s okay to be vulnerable with Him. He can handle your raw thoughts, your anger or confusion, your disappointment or shame. We can trust Him with our innermost parts.

When we are weak, He is our strength. When we are defenseless, He is our fortress. When we are vulnerable, He is our trustworthy friend. So, stand firm in your faith that you are in God’s plan, obey His voice and pursue His promises.

And remember: You don’t have to earn His mercy, grace, blessings or love. His grace is relentless. His mercy is unconditional. His blessings are perfect. His love is unfailing. And His thoughts are good.

“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” (Psalm 139:17 NLT)

 

You can follow Jennifer English on her personal blog https://jensrandommusings.wordpress.com/