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One Small Step, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
May 28, 2024 9:00 am

One Small Step, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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May 28, 2024 9:00 am

Plenty of people have high aspirations.But as easy as it is to dream about our goals, it’s a lot harder to take the little, everyday steps to reach them.

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Today on Summit Life, JD Greer says it's really quite simple. Welcome to Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. I think it's safe to say that most people have high aspirations, dreams and goals that they want to achieve sometime in their life. So let me ask you, what are yours? Maybe you dream about running a marathon or starting your own business, but it's easy to talk the talk, right?

It's a lot harder to take the little everyday steps needed to reach that goal, like jogging regularly or getting that business degree and financing in order. And sometimes the same is true in our walk with God. We'd like to think that we'd follow God to the ends of the earth, but we haven't even taken the first little steps of faith. Today, Pastor JD wraps up our study of the prophet Elisha, and he stresses the importance of that one small step needed to move forward in relationship with God. So grab your Bible and let's hear what God has to say to us.

Here's Pastor JD. Here we go. Second Kings chapter five, verse one. Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria. He was a mighty man in high favor because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. Victory over whom, by the way?

Israel. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. Leprosy was the most feared disease in the world. It began in those days, or even today, it's now called Hansen's disease, but it began as a small patch of white and skin, almost a powdery that would kind of break out into a rash. It would slowly spread over the whole body until it deadened the nerve endings. Your bodily extremities began to fall off like your fingers and your toes. They believed it was highly contagious. There was no cure for it at all. And so you were put outside. It was just the worst. It was a death sentence.

You would be outside where you have to spend the next 10 or 20 years until you died in isolation. Verse two. Now the Syrians, on one of their raids, had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman's wife. She said to her mistress, would that my Lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria.

He would cure him of his leprosy. So Naaman went in and told his Lord, means the king, thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel. And the king of Syria said, go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.

I'll write you a cover letter. So Naaman went, taking with him 10 talents of silver, 6,000 shekels of gold, and 10 changes of clothing. All right, verse six. When they brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, when this letter reaches you, know that I've sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy. When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, am I God 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. Elisha, you see, didn't live near the palace.

He was way out in kind of the backwoods. 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. Elisha, get this, perceived by the spirit that there was a greater purpose in Naaman's leprosy, and that greater purpose was that Naaman come to know God.

So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots. By the way, notice the plural. This would not have been a subtle thing, and this would not have been impressive to the children of Israel. They're not out looking at it out there and going, oh, look at that cavalcade of escalades. I wonder who that is.

They must be important. Verse 10, and Elisha sent a, watch this, messenger to him, saying, go and wash in the Jordan seven times and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean. Well, Naaman, as you can imagine, is angry, and he went away. Verse 11, behold, I thought he would surely come out to me and stand out and call upon the name of the Lord his God and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Verse 12, are not Abana and Farfar the rivers of Damascus? Are not they better than all the waters of Israel? Could not wash them and be clean?

I mean, they're back where I live when I made this journey. So he turned and went away in a rage. Verse 13, but when his servants, there it is again, his servants came near and said to him, my father, if it was a great word the prophet had spoken to you, wouldn't you have done it? So he went, verse 14, and he dipped himself seven times in the Jordan according to the word of the man of God. And on that seventh time, his flesh was restored like the flesh of a baby. Verse 15, then he returned to the man of God, first time face to face with Elisha. Stop for a minute. What would you say? This man just saved your life, right?

What does he say? Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel, not the first mention of leprosy. So accept now a present from your servant, says Naaman to Elisha. But he, Elisha, said, as the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none. Remember, Naaman had started this process thinking that he could purchase this miracle by his riches. And the one thing, the one thing that has to be understood about the gospel is that it is a free gift of grace.

Here's what I want to do. I'm going to use the rest of my time to show you two things. I'm going to show you, first of all, why Naaman came to God. And then secondly, I'm going to show you how Naaman came to God.

Let's think about Naaman for a minute. Naaman was the ultimate insider, was he not? He was, he was a very successful general. He was a hero. He was a celebrity. When it says he's highly regarded, that's what it means.

Everywhere he goes, people buy him dinner, pay for his drinks. Leprosy puts you on the outside faster than anything else. Leprosy was a sentence of banishment and death. Naaman had found the spot of death. We don't know when, where it was, but he took off his armor one day and there it was, that little patch. But Naaman would never have found God if it had not been for that spot.

His spot of death became his portal of eternal life. That's why Naaman came to God is because God put him on his back that showed him a deeper problem and that was the spot of leprosy on his heart. Number two, how Naaman came to God.

How Naaman came to God, why Naaman came to God, now how Naaman came to God. I'm going to identify kind of three things here. The first one we'll call a searching humility.

A searching humility. Did you notice that throughout this story? Did you notice?

I'm sure you did. That throughout this story Naaman keeps trying to go to kings and God keeps sending him to slaves. The story begins with a Hebrew servant girl, which is about as low as you can get in Syria. She's Hebrew, which means she's part of a despised race. She's a servant, she's a female, and she's a kid.

You can't get lower than that. She's the one that tells Naaman where his healing will be found. So where does Naaman go?

Does he go? No, he goes to the king who sends him to the other king who is terrified and doesn't know what to do. When Naaman finally gets to Elisha, he is greeted by an assistant, an intern. When Naaman rejects the prescription, the ones who talk him back from the edge and convince him to finally do something are whom?

The servants. Naaman shows up with a mass of money and power that no one else in his day would have been able to put together, and Elisha dismisses it out of hand and says, don't want it, don't need it, ain't going to do you any good at all. Elisha tells him to go dip in a muddy creek seven times. Naaman says, I'd rather swim in the mighty rivers of Syria.

And Elisha says, well, you can do that all day long if you want. It's never going to change anything until you go dip in that creek in obedience. What's the message in all that? God does not save through the strength of men. Your money, your strength, your moral rectitude, your righteousness, your religion, your goodness, your culture, your upbringing, your power, all worthless in the sight of God. God saves by grace through faith.

Salvation for men was not found in their ingenuity, it's not found in their achievements, it's not found in their morality, it's not found in their religion, it's not found in their science, it's not found in their education, it's not found in the indomitable spirit of man. Salvation for the human race was found in a despised man who died on a cross whom we thought so little of, we crucified and just forgot about. You see, the first thing the cross does when it comes to you is it destroys your pride. The cross shows you that God's verdict on your life was death. You ever think about that? Because unless the gospel has really insulted you, you've probably never understood it.

Because the first thing the cross does is it goes to war with your pride. What's the verdict on your life? By the way, you ain't gonna hear this from Dr. Phil, you ain't gonna hear it from Oprah. What's God's verdict on your life? Condemnation, death. You wanna know how God sums up your life? You wanna know what obituary he would write?

He wouldn't write an obituary, he'd put a picture of a cross there and be like, that's what you deserve. And it destroys your pride because it shows you that not only was that the condemnation that you deserve, that's God's verdict on your life, it shows you you were powerless to do anything about it. Grace is hard, and the reason most people are not profoundly changed is because they've never really thought about grace and they've never considered what it means.

Your soul hates grace. And yeah, it's gonna become beautiful to you one day, but only after it's taken you through this path of humiliation and if you've never felt the sting of the cross, when I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died. My richest gain, I count but law. That's a little trite phrase to throw out there.

What's your richest gain? You counted as loss and pour contempt on all my pride? That whole line that I heard growing up about how you gotta take pride in yourself and you gotta be your man and you gotta respect yourself? Yeah, I poured contempt on all that because the cross said that God's verdict on my life was not there's a man to respect, it's there's a man to condemn. And I fell at Jesus' feet and he gave me grace and grace became sweet, but only after I tasted the bitter pill of the cross. Do you have the humility to come to Jesus? See, most people, that's why they'll never come to him. They don't have the humility to get there to admit that God saves.

They can't save themselves. Let me show you one other place that Naaman showed humility. Think about how much humility it took for Naaman to cross that border. Basically what he was saying is, healing for my disease is not found in all the things that I've taken pride in and been confident in in the mighty Syrian doctors. Healing is found in those despised people that I've been looking down on all my life.

Naaman had to be open to the idea that the salvation he sought would come from outside the things he normally took pride in and in which he had usually found confidence. And you just feel like you've built an identity on a certain thing, but there's something in you and maybe God for you, maybe we're like the Israelites and you're like Naaman and the question is, do you have the humility to cross the border and question your convictions and maybe doubt whether or not you're wrong? Lewis said the reason most people never find God is most people are always looking down on others in their life and God only speaks from above. He said because you're always looking down on others, you never see the face of God or hear the voice of God. And to hear my question, do you have the humility to be open to the fact that you might be wrong? And maybe the things that you've found so much confidence in have not given you what you need and maybe it's a despise people to you. Maybe it's a despise group that God's going to use to give you the most important message of your life.

Do you have the humility to do that? Thanks for joining us today here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. In case you didn't know, each month our team at J.D. Greer Ministries sends a featured resource to our gospel partners and financial supporters as a thank you for their faithful giving. And this month we've got a brand new devotional called Elijah and Elisha, an eight day scripture guide through 1 Kings 17 to 2 Kings 6. We've been talking a lot about Elijah and Elisha on the program lately. And this eight part study guides your devotional time through some of the highlights of their stories. Along the way, you'll learn how God can do incredible things through you, just like he worked through Elijah and Elisha.

He's the same God today as he was then, and he still moves just as powerfully. We would love to send you a copy of this new devotional as our way to say thank you for your gift of $35 or more to this ministry. To give now, call us at 866-335-5220 or give online at jdgreer.com. Thank you again for not only your gifts, but for your prayers as we continue sharing the gospel with the watching world. Now let's finish up today's teaching. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. The first element is a searching humility.

Here's the second element. This one's so subtle, y'all, that you probably read right over top of it. This is a character in the story that seems so minor, but she, the whole story depends on her. A suffering servant. Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl.

Can you imagine the horror of that? This girl is a victim of human trafficking. The fact that she is a captive means that, listen, at best, her family was taken captive and sold a slave somewhere else in Syria. At worst, it means she watched them butchered in front of her eyes.

This is the little girl. And she worked in the service of Naaman's wife. Well, who does that probably indicate conducted the raid?

Naaman. Right? I mean, he's the captain of the Syrian army. Somehow, remarkably, she seems to have been able to forgive him.

She doesn't say, ha ha, old goon's got leprosy. Serves him right. Now I get to watch his decrepit old body fall apart and cheer as every digit falls from his body. God has given him what he deserves.

It's what I would have done. She was suffering through no fault of her own. If anything, her suffering was caused by Naaman's sin. And in some great irony, her suffering caused by Naaman's sin became Naaman's salvation. If you're saved, see, you will be saved by a suffering servant. This sweet little unnamed girl gave us one of the clearest Old Testament pictures of Jesus. Jesus suffered like this little girl, like her.

He's the ultimate outsider. He didn't come as a king, he came as a carpenter. Like her, it was not his own sin that he suffered for, it was ours. Unlike her, he entered into that suffering voluntarily. She had no choice, she was just taken captive.

She was stripped from her family involuntarily. Jesus left his father voluntarily to come to earth to save us. No man took his life from him, he said.

He laid it down of his own accord. This girl was just a girl. Jesus was a mighty prince who ruled the universe, who chose to become a slave. Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider equality with God a thing to be held onto, but instead turned his back on that, took the form of a servant, humbled himself and became obedient, obedient to the point of the death of the cross. This girl simply told Naaman about Elisha, who told him about the river. Jesus spilled his blood to become the river in which we would bathe and wash our sins away. In fact, in Matthew chapter 3, John the Baptist is baptizing in the same river.

The Jordan River, Matthew chapter 3. As he's baptized, it's called a baptism of repentance. Essentially what that means is you go into the water, you would confess your sins that you're a sinner, and then John would say, I baptize you, insert name, as a sinner, and I baptize you, and you come up symbolizing you're starting a new life and God was washing you clean and you're starting something new. But as John's doing all this, one day a man works his way through the crowd and steps into the water and says, I want to be baptized. And John the Baptist sees this as Jesus and rightfully objects and says, why would you want to be baptized in a baptism of repentance? What have you got to repent of? You've never sinned.

That's a good question. And what does Jesus say? No, no, let it be so because I need to fulfill all righteousness. Fulfill all righteousness? He's already as righteous as can be. He can't be any more righteous than he is, so whose righteousness is he fulfilling? He's fulfilling my righteousness. You see, he's going to get in and be baptized in repentance for my repentance and for my sin.

Imagine that everybody had to wear their sins on their chest like a name tag, your name and all your sins. It was as if Jesus was walking through that crowd, pulling off people's name tags and putting them on himself so that when he got in the water, he didn't represent himself anymore. He was repenting for our sin. You see, he took our sin and our sorrow and he made it his very own.

Surely, he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrow, right? But we esteemed him as spent by God and afflicted because after he would come out of that baptism, he was going to go to the rest of his ministry here, living the life that you and I were supposed to live, praying the prayers we were supposed to pray, walking the way we were supposed to walk. But then he was going to die to death or we were condemned to die in our place so that his blood, when it came out, would be a river in which we could wash our sins away so that we would sing a song like this. And filled with blood drawn from Immanuel's veins and sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stain.

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day, and there may I, the vile as he, watch all my sins away. Surely, he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him as spent by God and afflicted, but he was wounded for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. If you're going to be saved, you're going to be saved by humility, but you're also going to be saved by a suffering servant who's going to do it in your place so that he can give you his righteousness because God made him who knew no sin to become sin for you so that you could become the righteousness of God.

See? You're saved by a searching humility, you're saved by a suffering servant. Number three, you're saved by a simple act of obedience. You're saved by a simple act of obedience. Naaman had only to believe and submerse himself in the river to be healed. You and I have only to trust in Jesus and submerse ourself into his fountain to be healed.

Right? Because God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever would believe in him, that's it, believe in him and trust in him and surrender to him, would not perish but have everlasting life. Naaman came up out of that water with skin like a baby. Paul says if anyone is in Christ, he's a new creation, old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new. You have a terminal disease, you got it, Jesus took it.

He took it and he took it and he buried it, and he took it away so that when you would trust in him, you would get his righteousness, his healing, the power of his resurrection would go to work in you because he had taken your sin and your corruption and he had put it away in those waters. It's a simple act of obedience but it leads to a life-changing, an eternity-changing result. After you do that, the Bible says the first thing you're supposed to do, no, watch this, the first thing you're supposed to do after you're saved is you're supposed to be baptized.

That just was a picture of what just happened. I mean, you've got a great picture over here with Naaman, right? You're going to the water, you're coming up clean. Baptism is a symbol of how Jesus took you into himself and washed you of your sin. Now, I've done this long enough, here's the number one, we've got a lot of people listening to me right now who have never been baptized, and here is what they say, they're always like, well, I just don't see it being that important, it's inconvenient, it's a little embarrassing, get them soaking wet in front of everybody and it's just inconvenient and all this kind of, do you hear the spirit of Naaman in that? What are you telling God that what he's commanded is not important? It's not that the commandment obeying it does anything to you, it's that God uses that as far as a portal in which he begins to pour his power and his presence into your life. That's what's going on there. You see, it's the spirit of Naaman, it's the same thing all over again.

I've told you, there's nothing magical about the water. It's that a small act of obedience becomes a portal for life. It's where God begins to pour himself out to you. But some of you need to make that decision. You never trusted Christ, that's the decision you make, some of you need to be baptized. Maybe believer, there's some other act of obedience. Maybe God's telling you to stop something. You don't understand why it's that important, but you know God's telling you that. Maybe God's telling you to break out with somebody. And see, what you don't realize is that God's got the rest of your life, unbelievable blessing, but you'll never experience it until the simple act of obedience. Until you do this, God can't give you this. Don't trifle with obedience because God always has more for you than you probably realize. Maybe he's told you to start something. Maybe it's a ministry, maybe it's a new career.

Maybe you need to join the church or start a small group or start to give generously. Maybe that's what God's been speaking to you about, is starting to sacrifice. You have no idea what God has waiting for you, but it comes through a simple act of obedience. You'll never see it because it's not the commandment. It's not getting in the water, it's what God begins to do.

See? Maybe, how about this one, maybe like this little girl, God's told you to share Christ with somebody and you're scared because it's somebody important. And this little girl, she has to go up to Naaman and she has to share Christ with a guy who could have her killed. Maybe that's what God's saying is, hey, I need you to tell this person about me.

And you're not doing it because you're afraid. Do you realize what could happen in their life and in your life if you would open up that portal for life? A simple act of obedience leads to an eternity change for them and, in many ways, a life-changing experience for you. Or how about this, maybe God's told you to forgive. Maybe like this little girl, God said you've got to forgive and you're hanging on because you're like, I've got to nurse this wound, I've got to nurse it. Do you realize what God could do?

This girl gave us a picture of Jesus, we're talking about 3,000 years later. You know what kind of blessing God could put in your life if you would obey that and you would forgive? Not to mention the blessing that could come to the person that you forgive? Great blessings of God come through small acts of obedience. Jesus promised it this way, John 14, 21, he said this, Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he will be loved by my Father and I will love him and I'll manifest myself to him. You hear it manifest?

It's a whole lot more than you thought. You obey the commandment and all of a sudden God makes himself known to you. God reveals himself through small acts of obedience. What's the act of obedience that you need to yield to? How is the Holy Spirit leading you to act today? Most likely it's just one small step.

Are you ready? You're listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer and the conclusion of our teaching series called Something Greater. If you missed any part of this study, you can find every message free of charge at jdgreer.com. We know life with Jesus extends beyond Sunday mornings. That's why providing daily broadcasts, honest podcasts, insightful blogs, and challenging books are all part of J.D. 's ministry as a pastor and as a believer. But we can only do this because of people like you who give to support this ministry. When you donate at the suggested level of $35 or more, we'll say thanks by sending you the study guide that goes along with the teaching series we just completed today. It's called Elijah and Elisha, an eight-day scripture guide through 1 Kings 17 to 2 Kings 6.

And you can request your copy when you give right now. I'd also like to personally invite you to become a gospel partner. Gospel partners join our team by giving a regular automatic monthly gift to the ministry. We would love to welcome you to the family today when you give us a call at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or visit us online at jdgreer.com. That's J-D-G-R-E-E-A-R dot com.

I'm Molly Vidovitch. Be sure to listen again Wednesday as we jump into a new teaching series in the book of Galatians, right here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-28 10:28:31 / 2024-05-28 10:39:38 / 11

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