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June 27, 2022 12:00 am
Greed dominates our world today. From the advertisements of Madison Avenue to the profit-grabbing of Wall Street, the love of money is all around us. But greed isn't new. it's an epidemic as old as humanity itself. There is a cure, however . . . if you're willing to accept it.
Is think of his frustration for their spam in the land are struggling from hand to mouth are barely surviving.
Syria has beaten Israel down into submission and suddenly a Syrian warlord comes along in this passage and is begging for help and he is $1.2 million in hard gold and silver ready to plug it all down any license is days, I says what is our chance. I can feel advertisements grabbing of Wall Street bankers, but the reality is that the love of money is all around us far too often greed is evident in our own hearts and we make decisions that are sometimes motivated by greed. Greed isn't new. In fact, it's an epidemic that's as old as humanity itself. There is a cure. However, if you're willing to accept it. This is wisdom for the heart. Stephen Devi continues his series on Elisha with this message called catching golden apples.
There is an interesting Greek legend about a beautiful woman named Atlanta and all her would be suitors.
The legend says that Atlanta was the fastest person in her Greek city states she could out run anybody in a foot race and she came up with this clever little plan for all of her suitors to separate those who would be in those who wouldn't be, she challenge them. Torres wanted a time with the condition that if she won the race, they would be executed and if she lost, she would give her hand in marriage to the one who one several foolish men stepped forward and took her on the legend tells us that she won each of the races and they were similarly executed except for a crafty man who emerged named hippo mayonnaise. He challenged her also to a foot race and it would seem that he would be just one more would be sooner without a head. Although before the race.
What he did this crafty man. He had three Golden Apple inside his cloak crafted from solid gold, the race began, and she immediately outpaced him and at the right moment he took from his pocket. One of those apples of gold and he threw it in front of her off the beaten path. The sparkle of the glittering gold caught her eye and she immediately veered off the path which gave that Apple for herself and in the process. Hippo mayonnaise was able to dark pastor. She soon caught up, however, and I wasn't long before she was several paces ahead again and so he took his second Apple and he threw it again. This time of the other side of the path and again that that lowering Apple of gold caught her eye and she went off the path reached down and she picked it up hippo mayonnaise sped pastor. Now the goal was in sight. Not very far to go in. She caught up and was going to win it, but at the last moment. He took the third Apple and he rolled it in front of her feet and just the right moment, and as she hesitated between the gold and the goal he swept pastor and won the race. Legend says that they were married and lived happily ever after. I did believe that part either. Atlanta was running a good race but it was the Laura from an apple of gold that caused her ultimately to lose wealth. I want to show you not a fable or a legend, but a true story of a man who illustrated one who stopped agonizing for the things of God and the Lord of glittering golden things captured his his eyes and his heart and I want to show you what happened to him. Would you take your Bibles and let's continue our study and second Kings where this illustration occurs.
Second Kings chapter 5, you remember the story after being healed of his leprosy name and return in chapter 5 and he begged Elisha to receive from him a gift golden changes of clothing and Elisha had refused his gift, even though Naaman was urging him to receive it.
I want to reenter that dramatic scene in chapter 5, verse 19, Elisha said the Naaman going piece so we departed from him some distance but to his eye, the servant of Elisha, the man of God, thought, behold, my master, his spared this name in the air man by not receiving from his hands. What he brought as the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him before we go any further, we are to understand something about you Hayes. I that will help were first introduced to get Hayes I is Elisha's servant in chapter 4 as his servant or attendant, he would travel with great profit would serve the prophet he would audibly fix the meals and keep things tidy up. It would be his role to represent the prophet to people who came it was much more than a lowly servant's role was an honored position. In fact, do you remember who Elijah was servant was Elisha. This was more than just some servant. This was the next.
Perhaps prophet of God who was in training under the tutelage of his master, Elisha. But there have been some warning signs all along that it was that were easy to miss the first warning sign.
If your keeping notes would be what will call powerlessness. It occurred in chapter 4.
For the sake of time, I'll just have to review but if you were with us in the study get Hayes. I had been sent by Elisha with Elisha's rod to lay across the body of this deceased boy.
Elisha assumed the get Hayes. I as his representative would be able to put the rod on that boy's body and that boy would come back to life.
It didn't work. Elisha had to come and do it himself never told why, but maybe now it makes sense. The second sign or warning signal that appears on the horizon of get Hayes eyes, a biography is is a lot more obvious and more apparent that there's something wrong in his heart and his character. You might turn to chapter 4. Look at verse 43. It happened when Elisha ordered to Hayes I to put 20 loaves of bread before 100 hungry men. The only way anything could ever happen would be for God to somehow miraculously multiply that bread for all those hundred Mende and enter under wives and children to be able to eat and and get Hayes.
I responds openly cryptically argumentative lay with the words in verse 43 what shall I set this before 100 men.
In other words, do you want me to make a fool of myself putting 20 loaves of bread in front of hundred plus people you see was powerlessness. Now it is faithlessness you put those two clues together because of his failure to resurrect the boy powerlessness because it is faithlessness that is now embarrassing to him because of God's great miracle that he is not able to enjoy. I can't help but think that he is becoming more and more open to the tempter. Now the hinge in in his biography occurs in verse 20 chapter 5 it marks the beginning of blatant deception and its motivated by nothing less. Ladies and gentlemen and crass greed. It's as if he says living by the word of God is not enough there.
There have to be some good times here and now and in discerning God. This is this is always cooked up to be. There has to be more. Maybe it's up a little compromise.
Maybe it's a little lie. Besides, this man is a pagan Syrian to clean out rather than let them go. Did you notice the implied contempt in verse 20. As he says, but get Hayes are the servant of the light of the man of God, thought, behold, my master, his spared this Naaman. The construction implies contempt.
He has spared of all men. This this enemy of Israel. This Syrian warlord this again, of all people by not receiving from his hands. What he what he brought he is allowing $1.2 million.
The slip through his fingers on top of it all I can hope and believe by what happens next that he inks the Lord wouldn't be too upset with his decision to deceive look at the last part, as the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him. He has now twisted his deceit and greed around so that it fits his ministerial mindset. Why is the Lord lives in other words, this can be all that bad.
And think of what we could give. We had it as the Lord lives, I will run your underline that word in verse circle and I will run after him.
One author writing about 150 years ago was reading his commentary on this passage and he said this greed is that passion that makes all men like get Hayes. I run people are everywhere out of brass in their race for more from Cyprian to 150 years ago, you get the impression that our natures really haven't changed.
Now verse 21, so get Hayes. I pursued Naaman, there's trouble there implied. He's he's off the track now.
He's running as fast as he can for this Apple now look what it says when Naaman someone running after him. He came down from the chariot to meet him and said is all well and he said all is well.
This lie number one. My master has sent me, lie number two saying, behold, just now to young men of the sons of the prophets of come to me from the hill country of Ephraim.
Please give them a talent of silver into changes of clothing that you notice that the carefully crafted web of lies that he is spinning here it is and just almost money is come up with how many prophets there are. The defendant, Elisha South how old they are. What part of the country they come from and their hometown. He's thought this all Rosie's racing after Naaman.
He has all his lies all mapped out and it's down so God it has to be true and Naaman is overwhelmed with joy. At any rate, says in verse 23 will be pleased to take just one talent but be pleased to take the talents. This is getting better all the time you Hayes.
I think that he was probably pleased to take to talents instead of one. How much is your integrity worth days I was the price tag on your character. I will insert here why it was important for Elisha to refuse Naaman. It was important for two reasons. Number one Elisha refuse Naaman because his refusal would testify to the reading gift of God's forgiveness. When Naaman gets back to Syria. Everybody's going to be amazed and in wonder that he's been healed and one of the things that the last is how much did it cost they know we left with 1.2 million and and an entourage of Sir Benson changes of clothing and I'll say what you Naaman and Elisha wanted Naaman to say it was free to their gods did not operate that way.
Second of his refusal clearly promoted gratitude to God instead of gratitude to God's by the way the church is muddying it today. It is still confusing. People with the message that salvation is not free.
You got enjoying some church you've got a get wet.
You have to get some money sign a pledge card do something, be something I'm here to tell you, by the authority of God's word that salvation and forgiveness is free only because it cost Jesus Christ every but he gives it to us free of charge. Well, Naaman here assigns to servants to carry all the salute home for you Hayes I when the lot little pouch of silver couple changes of clothing. Verse 24 when he came to the hill. He took them from their hand and deposited them in the house and he sent the men away, they departed, but he went in and stood before his master and Elisha said to him, where have you been to Hayes. I and he said, your servant went nowhere oh, another law as I read this thought came to my mind, has God ever asked you that question has your conscience ever whispered into your heart.
That question which one are you hiding then he said to him, verse 26 did not. My heart go with you. When the man turned from his chariot to meet you.
Is it a time to receive money and receive clothing and olive groves and vineyards and sheep and oxen and male and female servants were at war with Syria words, this isn't the time. Therefore, because you misrepresented the word of God, the prophet of God.
The leprosy of Naaman shall cleave to you and your descendents forever. So we went out from his presence. A leper is white snow.
Let me provide a couple of lessons that I have learned from this and I want to share them with you. Perhaps we can learn them together from the biography of a man who got off the path and paid the price. The first lesson is this close friendships with spiritual people do not guarantee spirituality.
Please consider that by the fact that we came in here this morning and we hung around people who walk with God did not somehow by osmosis creep into our character by becoming part of the church by pursuing godly people whom you assume will assume walk with God that does not somehow rub off.
It can influence in God is that it ought to do is iron sharpens iron. But just as you and I make our associations with spiritual people don't ever slack off thinking what I will guarantee in my life.
I get a magazine called Christianity today in order to illustrate this very point. I pulled articles to briefly just quickly fly through that illustrate the point of being involved in ministry spirituality being around spiritual people does not make you a person of integrity. Maybe this will mark us, maybe this will challenge us. The presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church announced that the former denominational treasurer faces an investigation and trial in the embezzlement of thousands of dollars, according to the church she supposedly spent denominational money on personal items including Eckstein thousand dollar necklace from Tiffany's for seven years Gerald Gerstein of gospel crusade headings wired to supporters with dramatic accounts of Muslim conversions in Israel and the West Bank supporters responded by donating $2.8 million in 1994 alone is ministry.
Yet now Gerstein's right-hand man has confessed that all of the reports are fabrication the dramatic video footage of an attempt to assassinate Gerstein in the village of how cool is one illustration. Gerstein was reporting the mosques are emptying in this region and they are blaming me. However, the butcher knife wielding assassin supposedly sent from the mosque to kill Gerstein with none of none other than the son of a Gerstein staff member. It was another hoax in order to raise money. Gerstein's regional leader has confessed that quote all this falls a three-year struggle between two Plymouth brethren organizations continues over a $27 million fund of funds came from the sale of five brethren on hospitals. Historically, the two groups stewards foundation and stewards ministries have had very close ties but now says attorney Jim Daly this whole case is a terrible tragedy. This $27 million fund has lit the Plymouth brethren movement, a former bookkeeper accused of embezzling $279,000 from the Presbyterian Church USA would leave anybody out yet is going to take a panoramic view here is scheduled to go on trial October 2 executive presbyter Donald Brown says the money is already been spent and is not recoverable. The church is hoping to recoup some through insurance. The president of Mississippi Christian College. The second oldest Baptist college in America is facing trial for embezzling $3 million of donated funds over the course of 15 years. He fled a scheduled pretrial hearing this past January 23.
The following day he was found by FBI agents in a lavish San Francisco hotel with $25,000 cash in his possession as law enforcement officials arrested him. He collapsed in a seizure allegedly from poison just wallowed after undergoing emergency surgeries for stomach and esophagus damage he has suffered a stroke worn wears B wrote in his book the integrity crisis, a statement that still jars me every time I hear that Ivan read these, because I am assuming you will think I'm somehow above anybody or church above anybody to challenge to us, but he said this, he said for centuries the church has been telling the world to repent.
In our century, the world has begun telling the church to repent. If you can imagine to Hayes I walking with listening to serving Elisha. You would think he had it made. This man would be a giant virtually the exact opposite occurred. Second lesson servants of God are not automatically protected from selfish desires to be served. Don't put your place yourself in the place of Hayes. I think of his frustration here. There's famine in the land are struggling from hand to mouth thirds are barely surviving.
Syria has beaten Israel down into submission and suddenly a Syrian warlord comes along in this passage and he's begging for help and he is $1.2 million in hard gold and silver ready to plug it all down any license does not get Hayes. I says what here's our chance as the lower I can't believe you turn it down.
There's another little insight when Elisha is peeling away the mask of greed. If you go back you'll hear him talking. In verse 26 about the things that is not time for in the very first two things in that list are money and clothing and that's what get Hayes.
I got when Elisha keeps going on talking but groves and vineyards and what else male and female servants.
Why did he go to that list because he knew the heart of get Hayes. I Hayes I was thinking to himself this is just the beginning. Eventually this little obscure our servant is going to be served.
I will have male and female servants and they will tens of my possessions. I'll get out of this all will eventually be served as I deserve this because you serve God, especially those of you serve God and obscurity in difficult places.
Beware the secret desire of turning the tables and being served third secret greed cannot remain hidden forever.
The symptoms of greed will eventually become public knowledge. That's a guarantee. You say all nobody ever find out what I did or maybe how I lied all, but they will see you dealing perhaps dishonestly with people cutting the corners not fully carrying out your word you will be viewed by associates as a man whose handshake is worth could be that or it could be your lack of graciousness in dealing with people who don't fulfill your stated ends and needs and desires.
It could be conversations that are laced with namebrand and your latest toys you just can't help it.
Talking about the latest sale the newest deal and how you're getting ahead, listen to yourself. Talk it will be a personality that over the years will shrivel up and in the process.
It will shrivel the soul that God intended to be gregarious.
It will be a personality that the drive is up and can no longer serve if I could show you pictures of these people. You can see it all over their faces.
Somewhere along the line of golden apple came rolling across their path and it didn't seem that bad. It was just a little lie a little compromise a little dishonesty a little selfishness once up. This would be something that you and I would struggle with. Perhaps if none of these other things applied it would be the inability to make a godly decision when there's money involved when there's promotion involved power or prestige when you have to decide between a or B hey, being more be being less well as the Lord lives. Surely he wants me to follow. Why would he withhold that as the large businesses as well, and you have veered off the path you are in the process right now of chasing after gold napkins. How do we survive with spiritual integrity, Colson agonize pursue long righteousness God's pace and perseverance. Love gentle renderings with your eyes not on the glittering gold but on the goal who is Jesus Christ the author that was a message called catching golden apple. It's part of Stephen Davies teaching series on the life of Elisha called living the impossible life.
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