God often moves in ways we don’t expect Him to. Learn how to trade in your “I thought…” for “I trust!”
INTRODUCTION / PASSAGE
(Start w/ Building Reveal Slide)
Morning. My name is David Sorn. I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church. Morning to you.
Well, we are just one week away from what will be an incredible 4 weeks here at Renovation Church.
Starting next Sunday, October 22nd, for 4 weeks, we’re going to focus on the future.
Specifically, our future building…now that we are officially land owners!
Next Sunday, we want every single person who calls Renovation home…to be in the room. It’s going to be an awesome Sunday!
We are going to reveal the layout of our future building, talk about its features, we’ll talk timeline…
And we’ll talk about how in the world we’re going to be able to build this building in the first place!
Our leaders have been working towards these next 4 weeks for almost a half a year now, so it’s going to be an exciting time.
We’re going to see our God move.
So be here…and watch it up close.
This morning, we are finishing our 3-week series called Nearsighted.
…where we’ve been talking about how often we only trust what we can see at close range…and in doing so…we miss what would be best for us in the long-range.
And today we’re going to study the topic of when God acts in ways we don’t think He should.
You know what I’m talking about?
God asks you to do something….or God is doing something in your life…
And it has you going, “Why would you do that, God?!”
Or, “No! I won’t do that, God!”
In our nearsightedness…in our short-range vision (and believe me, our vision is short)…we think God’s ideas aren’t up to par sometimes!
So I want to talk about extending your vision this morning!
And we’re going to do so, by looking at a story in the Old Testament.
Take notes in the message tab
Let’s take a look at the passage:
(2 Kings 5:1-6) – NIV
Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”
We’re told that Naaman is the great commander of the army of the king of Aram
Aram is where modern-day Syria is located in the Middle East
And Naaman not only was a great commander, he obviously had a lot of money…as he brings a ton of it with him on his journey to Israel.
But…he has leprosy.
Leprosy was so feared in ancient times, that those who contracted it, were immediately separated into leper colonies
In fact, in Israel, if a leper was ever seen walking down the street, people would shout, “Unclean! Unclean!” to warn others
In those days, leprosy was incurable, and led to disfigurement, and ultimately death
So Naaman takes off to see this prophet of Israel…a prophet of a different religion than his, no less.
The story continues:
(2 Kings 5:7-12) – NIV
7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”
8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
WE THINK WE KNOW HOW GOD SHOULD ACT
And so, Elisha (through his servant) tells Naaman he should go wash in the Jordan River 7 times
But Naaman goes off in a rage, because this is not how he thought God was going to act.
Naaman was thinking:“Go wash in the stinky Jordan River…that couldn’t be God”
And so Naaman starts to head back to Aram.
We all struggle with this.
Our human nearsightedness has a way of tricking us into believing that the evidence we can see right in front of us (with our own eyes) is all the evidence we need to know about what God should do next.
You can see this in our common phrase: “I thought…”
Look at verse 11 again:
(2 Kings 5:11) – NIV - Underline “I thought” and leave up for a minute
11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.
Look at that phrase, “I thought…”
I thought Elisha would come out, say some fancy words, wave his hand, and cure me on the spot.
How many times do we say that to God?
I thought…you were supposed to be good?
I thought…you said you would provide?
I thought…if I was a Christian, you wouldn’t let this happen to me?!
Maybe when you were young, you mapped out your life.
Go to college, get married at 24, kids at 27, new house at 30.
And in reality, life hasn’t looked like that.
And yet, you’re looking at so many other people…where it seems (from the outside anyway!) that their life is working out…
So you turn to God and say, “I thought…you…would…”
Maybe God has been encouraging you to stop being so “safe” (like we talked about two weeks ago)…
…and you find yourself going, “I thought…if I followed you, you’d make this EASIER…not harder!”
“Why are you doing this God?”
You might not even be sure if you truly want to give your life over to Jesus yet…
And one of the reasons is because you have a whole bunch of “I thought’s”
I thought…God would do “this” to prove He’s real
I thought…a good God, a real God, wouldn’t (fill in the blank)
This week, at House Groups, we’re going to take this topic a step further and talk about the times when we even feel like disagreeing with God…
…when we’re pretty sure God might even be wrong on this issue!
Be there for that!
LAY DOWN YOUR PRIDE
The point is, it’s difficult for us as humans, especially Americans who are used to being in control…it’s difficult for us to trust God when he operates differently than we expect Him to.
It’s quite difficult, in actuality, for us to let go of our “I thought’s”
And in order to actually let go, we’re going to need to dig a bit deeper and see what’s underneath the phrase “I thought”
And we can see it, if we look deeper at Naaman.
Think about Naaman, he’s one of the most powerful men in his country, good buddies with the King, he has a ton of money, and yet...all of his money and all of his influence…can’t heal his leprosy.
However, he still basically operates like it can.
What does he do?
He gets a letter from his king to the king of Israel
He brings a small fortune in money in case that’ll help heal him.
But it won’t work.
He finally gets to the Prophet Elisha’s house, expecting Elisha’s going to roll out the red carpet and line up trumpeters to greet him upon his arrival…
And yet, Elisha, doesn’t even come to the door.
He sends his servant to the door with the message.
It reminds me of the first time I was in Africa in 2014.
The first Sunday we were there, I was assigned to speak at a good-sized church.
I figured they’d be excited to have an American pastor come in, and I was expecting to be greeted kindly (as Africans are great hosts)…
But when I got there, their leaders, walked right past me, and shook hands with the 55-year old American guy right behind me and said, “You must be Pastor David!”
I thought, “Okay, so I’m not going to win them over with my appearance.”
It’s going to have to be God
Naaman’s basic problem is this: He thinks he’s somebody special.
Smart, successful, wealthy, powerful.
And with those things, often come pride.
Pride that says, “I know more about life than other people, so I think I know how this ought to go”
Think back to all the time we say, “I thought…”
What’s embedded in those 2 words?
They’re oozing with pride.
That WE know…how someone should act.
That we, because of all WE know, we of all people, know how God should act.
That’s exactly what Naaman thought!
His underlying assumption was, “I know how God heals people. It’s the wave of the hand from a mighty prophet”
In fact, he was so prideful, so sure about how God acts, that he started to head back home because…dipping 7 times in the Jordan river is NOT what God would do”
Where are you telling God that “He wouldn’t act that way…”
I heard a story once about the man who invented the concept of the electronic eye, Willard Boyle
His invention basically provided the science that allowed the invention of the digital camera by figuring out how to capture light electronically instead of on film.
Anyway, a few years after Willard Boyle basically invented the digital camera, he was in a store looking at some of the new digital cameras companies were making.
A salesman came up to him and began to explain how the digital camera worked.
But sensing that Boyle wasn’t listening all that hard, the Salesman said, “Sorry, I realize this probably a bit complicated for you…so I’ll stop”
And Boyle said, “Oh it’s okay, I invented it”
And I think sometimes we treat God, the inventor of life, like that salesman treated the inventor of the digital camera .
We try and explain to God how things ought to work…
And I imagine God might feel a tiny bit disinterested in our explanations
But…I’m sure there’s grace with that disinterest
Because really, it’s closer to a father/child relationship.
The other morning, when I got up to run at 5:45, it was still dark out.
I walked out of my house…and was thankful that I could at least see somewhat that morning because of the brightness of a full moon.
And about every other time I look at a full moon, I remember something I said to my dad when I was at kid.
He was driving me home from some basketball game or something in the dark one night, and it was a full moon.
And for whatever reason, I vividly remember saying to him, “Dad! Look at the shape of the darker grey areas on the moon! I think that’s the shape of North America! I bet the moon somehow has a reflection of our continents!”
I’m sure inside he was going…. (Laugh into your shirt)
But he gently said, “yeah, maybe…”
And as we rattle off our “I thought’s” to God…I’m sure sometimes it’s hard for Him to keep from laughing.
Should I go up to Elon Musk and tell him how to build rocket ships to Mars?
But not as absurd as telling the Lord of the Universe that He shouldn’t be operating a certain way in our lives.
And that we won’t follow Him OR obey Him if he continues to operate that way
And that… is filled with a lot of pride.
If you look deeply into why you’ve uttered the phrase “I thought,” often you’ll discover what you really want.
And often, what we really want is something, not someone…(in this case, God)
We’re mad at God…because He didn’t give us some thing…that we thought He should have given us.
And so often God wants to teach us, that what we really need, is Him
That’s what He’s teaching to Naaman.
If Elisha just walks out, and waves his hand, and Naaman is healed on the spot.
Naaman isn’t going to think much about God.
He’s going to go, “Great! It worked…just like I thought it would!”
“Now I got what I want (healed of leprosy) and I can go home”
But when instead, He’s forced to walk 25 miles, and go to the Jordan River…something amazing happens
(2 Kings 5:13-17) – NIV
13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”
16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.
17 “If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord.
Because God worked in a way that Naaman never expected, Naaman truly sees God!
And now, Naaman deeply believes that He’s found the ONE TRUE GOD.
Here’s a question for you:
Where is God asking you to go dip in the Jordan River right now?
And you’re saying, “Really?!? Really? I thought…”
Go to the Jordan River!
It’s where God will reveal himself!
WE CAN’T DO IT ON OUR OWN
And there’s an even deeper revelation at the Jordan River
Think of it this way:
How do you think Naaman would have responded (knowing how prideful he was), if Elisha would have said, “I will heal you…for a donation of all of your gold and silver”
Naaman would have said, “No problem! I’ll do it right now. I earned this money…might as well use it!”
But the problem would have been, Naaman would have walked away, thinking he saved himself.
What if Elisha would have said, “I will heal you…if you go on a dangerous journey to Egypt and bring me back a rare flower from the banks of the Nile River?”
Naaman would have said, “I’ll do it!”
But the problem would have been, Naaman would have walked away thinking he saved himself.
People like you and me always want to feel like we’ve had a part in our deliverance.
“Sure God helped, but I did the heavy lifting”
Often our, “I thought’s…” are wrapped up in a blanket of pride
And yet one of God’s favorite moves is to get you in a place where there’s no chance of you taking the credit for what went on.
And that’s what He’s going to do to Naaman.
I read this from Ray Pritchard this week and I think it’s helpful:
Think of that scene at the Jordan River.
Here is one of the most powerful men of the region…getting ready to dip in muddy, stench-filled river.
But first, in order to dip in the river, he would have to lay aside all the symbols of his worldly power.
He’d have to take his sword…and lay it down.
If he had a spear…he’d have to give it to someone else.
He’d have to leave his cart full of money, on the banks of the river
If he was wearing the robes of a commanding general, he’d have to take them off.
Any special medals, or ribbons…they’d have to come off.
Can you imagine him, in front of his servants?
Going in 1 time, 2 times, 3 times…
Stopping and saying, “Do I really have to do this?!?”
God is stripping him away of ALL of his pride here (ALL of it!)
All of his accomplishments…all the reasons Naaman has to take credit for what’s happening in his life…
And GOD…AND GOD ONLY…is going to do this and get credit for it!
And on the 7th time, he’s healed.
Too often we miss out on God’s movement in our lives because our “I thought…” gets in the way.
Maybe God’s been trying to humble you by having you lay down your sword at the banks of the river…
But rather than going in to receive his blessing, we fold our arms and say, “I always thought…God didn’t work like that…so I’m not gonna…”
Would you let Him work in your life? Trust Him!
If you want to see God really move in your life, you’re going to need to lay aside all of your demands on how He’s supposed to do it.
You’re going to need to lay aside all of your thoughts on taking credit for what you want Him to do.
And you’re going to need to let HIM to do it…in HIS way.
This is the essence of the Gospel…the Good news of Jesus Christ.
We cannot save ourselves.
We cannot buy salvation from Jesus.
We cannot dictate how we’re saved.
We cannot earn it.
We just simply come to Jesus, lay down all of our so-called accomplishments, and ask him to wash away our sins.
And when we get there, to that place, He will.
Keep going back to that.
Lay the “I thought” aside and trade it in for “I trust”
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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