Gehazi: Missing the Mark

Scripture: Deuteronomy 13:4, 2 Kings 4:1-44, 2 Kings 5:1-27
Date: 12/18/2010 
Lesson: 12
As Elisha's servant, Gehazi had little excuse to fail as badly as he did.
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Good morning and Happy Sabbath. Welcome to Sacramento Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sacramento, California to study with us this morning. A very special welcome. We have some visitors in our sanctuary this morning that are here over the thanksgiving holiday. And then also a very special welcome to you that are joining us from across the country and around the world, live on the internet this morning, through radio, television, however you're joining us, we know that you will gain a true blessing by studying with us this morning.

Our first song this morning that we're going to sing, it's absolutely my favorite Christmas song, "oh come all ye faithful," hymn 132. This comes as a request from birdie and ralph in the bahamas, onai in Canada, adrienne and chanel in england, emilia, who's years old, Peter and nici in germany, dustin and annie in honduras, gary in Illinois, Christon, corrine, cheryl, anand and ruby in india, jill in Indiana, dave and stephanie in jamaica, immanuel in malaysia, kelvyn, lisette, myriam, janice and aurelie in mauritius, ray, sandy, jessica and melissa in Michigan, bakari in Missouri, selina and jonathan in the netherlands, jamie, jenny, sandy and vern in North Carolina, verion and stella in Oklahoma ancelma in saint vincent and the grenadines, jenny in South Dakota, janet and joycelyn in tennessee and patsy in Texas. Hymn number 132, "o come all ye faithful." And we're going to sing all three verses... Amen. If you have a favorite hymn that you would like to sing with us on a coming Sabbath, I invite you to go to our website at saccentral.

org. And there you can click on the "contact us" link. And you can request any hymn in our hymnal, and we would love to sing that with you on a coming Sabbath. Our next hymn this morning is hymn number 124, "away in a manger." And this comes as a request from katrina in australia, carmetta in the bahamas, lucy in California, lilia in the cayman islands, margaret, fabian and James in england, alain and maisie in France, deonne, jacqueline and zaria in grenada, Paula and bob in Idaho, satish and gladwin and Ruth in india, jeanne-marie in jamaica, immanuel in malaysia, joyce in Michigan, selina, sandra, chief, c.j., Craig and jonathan in the netherlands, beth in New York, jamie and jenny in North Carolina, abel in puerto rico, tito and alma in South Dakota and maynza in zambia. Hymn number 124, and we'll sing all 3 verses of "away in the manger.

.." The Songs of that hymn are so simple that even a little child can understand what we really truly, truly believe in. And the Bible says unless you become as little children. I think this song says it all. Let's bow our heads for prayer. Our Father in Heaven, we thank you so much for Jesus.

We thank you for loving us so much that you were willing to give up your son and send him here to be an example of who we can be through your power. We thank you that he was willing to come as a baby, and to empty heaven and give up everything for a chance, a glorious chance to redeem us back to you. And Lord, we thank you for that victory that took place. And so as we celebrate this holiday season, this Christmas, Lord, we thank you for putting that Christ into Christmas, and that we celebrate what took place 2,000 years ago and what will soon take place. And that is to see our Savior face-to-face.

Lord, we cannot wait. Please bless pastor white today as he brings us Your Word, Lord. Just show us who you are so that we can be like you. We pray these things in your precious and holy name. Amen.

Our study this morning will be brought to you by pastor harold white. And he's the administrative pastor right here at Sacramento central. Good morning. Thank you, musicians. That's a nice way to start the morning, isn't it? Happy Sabbath to all of you.

And I heard some of the various places people are visiting from this morning. We're glad that you have joined us here in Sacramento. And all of you who are joining us from wherever you are, live-streaming internet, just satellite radio. We're glad you're joining us this morning too. We have a free offer this morning.

It's number 714. And the title of it is "alone in the crowd." All you have to do is go -866 or study-more, or 1-866-788-3966. This morning we're studying about lesson number 12, "gehazi: missing the Mark." And if you take your hymn--your quarterly with you, and read this memory text with me, I would appreciate it. It's taken from Deuteronomy 13:4. Are you ready to read that? "It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere.

Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him." Thank you. Gehazi. How many of you named your children "gehazi?" It's not a very prominent name, is it? I looked up, tried to look up and see if there was a definition for his name. And it's kind of unusual. Most names stood for something, meant something back in those days.

But I couldn't find anything on it. If by chance, anybody out there has found what his name means, I'd be glad to hear from you. In fact, I love to hear from people online all the time. I have a lot of fun corresponding with people online. Many of you watch every week and we're just happy that you do.

But if you happen to find a definition for his name, send it to me. Gehazi had a very important position in the world, didn't he? He was an assistant to the prophet. Can you get any better than that? Maybe the prophet, but in a way the prophet had to take all the hits where the assistant could be there just to assist and to serve and to hold up his hands. What a position must have been his. He could have been there and had the most significant spiritual insights of any human being on earth at that time, right? Because he would have been with the prophet as the prophet received messages from heaven firsthand from God.

And he could have been there. And he was there to witness all the miracles. He was there to see Elisha do his work as a prophet. What a position was his. Too bad he wasted it in the end.

And that's why we don't name our children gehazi, not one of the most reputable characters in the Bible. I count it a privilege serving here at Sacramento central because I serve with three other wonderful pastors. And rubbing shoulders with pastor steve, pastor mike and Pastor Doug, not to mention Bible workers, jennifer, she's a Bible worker, and secretary. You glean a lot of inspiration from a staff like that. It's wonderful as we have staff meetings and so many inspirational thoughts and encouragement that comes.

It's a wonderful thing and a privilege. And I really count it a blessing. One of the baffling things I think you are confronted with sometimes in life is how is it that a child who has all the benefits of a Christian education, a Christian home, Christian parents, everything so wonderful in his life, pointing him to God and the coming of Jesus and so on and so forth, how that child can take all of that and go out into the world and go astray. Whereas somebody else who didn't have any Christian background, no spiritual benefits, maybe lived a life of privation and hardship, got into drugs, alcohol, who knows what, and then they find God and they come to serve him with great valor. It's kind of hard to understand sometimes why people with such advantages kind of throw it away.

I don't know, probably many of you here have heard of a man by the name of arthur s. Maxwell. He's not alive anymore, but he was a minister in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I believe he also helped with the Bible commentary. But he was the person who authored the Bible story and the bedtime stories you've seen in doctor's offices, dentist office.

For years and years he's been around. And I often think of him in this regard, in this particular instance, because he had--i don't know how many children he had, but I know of some of his boys who became ministers likewise. In fact, they became quite renown ministers and educators within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And I often thought, "boy, how pleased he must have been as a father to see his children take hold of the truth that he had believed with all of his heart." And that's what it should have been like for gehazi. He should have been such a blessed man.

But let's get started where the lesson starts on Sunday, talking about being a servant. Is being a servant a good thing or not a good thing? Now of course it can be either depending on circumstances. In one sense, I have a job. And if you have a job, you're like me. You are a servant to someone or something.

First of all, we're all servants to God. As a minister I'm servant to the general conference, the North American division, northern Californian conference president. Then I'm servant to in many ways to a senior pastor. I'm servant to a wonderful congregation. And so if you have a job, you are servants also.

And so that's not a bad thing; it's a good thing. Servants, as we should understand by the nature of the word, is basically someone who serves. It's not a slave. It's not an island to itself. It's somebody who serves.

Now when I was growing up, my father had a gas station. And he was a mechanic, fixed cars. Back in those days, back in Iowa, they were called service stations. Why were they called service stations? Because that's what they were. When I grew up helping my dad there, and when a customer would come in, we would actually run out to the car and say, "what do you want?" "Can I help you?" They'd say, "two dollars worth of gas.

" Two dollars worth of gas got you a long ways back in those days. Twenty-six point nine cents per gallon. So you could get a long ways on $2 worth of gas. And then you'd ask him, "are your tires--do your tires need checked? Do you need me to check the oil?" And you'd get out a rag, and wash all their windows. It was a service station.

We were trained to give service and "thank you." And if they gave you cash, and you had to run in and get some change, you ran in and you ran back and you gave them change. And I've often thought of that since then that the church should be a service station. We should be a service station. We should be attendants of the greatest service station on earth, the church. Serving mankind, running to help people if we can, doing everything we can, emptying ourselves of ourselves, as the lesson points out.

The servant puts aside one's own wants, wishes and comfort and involves themselves totally in somebody else's life. Elijah--Elisha I mean had been a servant to Elijah. And he was a very good servant to Elijah. And so when Elijah was whisked off to heaven, Elisha was ready to stand in. And that points out that to be a good number one man, it is important that you learn how to be a good number two person.

Excuse me. Can I say that again? To be a good number one person, in the position that you might find yourself in, it's important to learn how to be a good number two person. Now I pastor--we have a lot of fun here at this church because Pastor Doug Batchelor is the senior pastor, but everybody kids me about being the old pastor, 'cause I am the oldest. So he's the senior, but I'm the oldest. Now so in a sense I am in the second position, and I enjoy it.

And I can tell you I am not in training to be number one man. And I'm happy that I'm not. Good reasons for that. First of all, I'm several years older than Doug Batchelor. Second, he's much smarter than I am.

And third, I don't think I could keep up with his pace. So I am a happy camper of being a number two man. And my point, of course, is that gehazi should have been very contented in the position he had in life. Don't you agree? Contented. As the Bible says, we should be contented in whatever state we are in, but certainly he should have been in the position he was in.

Now the lesson brings up the disciples, they were servants to Christ. And in several aspects, but until after the cross and after resurrection, they had certainly not emptied themselves of themselves to be completely in the position to be what you would call good servants. Up until the very last, they were striving for the top position in the Kingdom they felt Jesus was going to set up, the false interpretation of the Kingdom that he was establishing. But Jesus sets him straight. In fact, somebody has a slip of paper I think.

Matthew 20:16, who has that? Right over here. Matthew 20:16, and Jesus puts it very clearly when he is talking to them. And we'll read that now, Matthew 20:16. "So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.

" So being a servant is a good thing. And I think the lesson asks a good question. How do we get humility and the death to self needed in order to serve others, in order to be a good servant. Well I believe we can conclude that it doesn't automatically come to us. In fact, we were born just quite the opposite.

As you observe little children, they become very adamant about being the top dog when it comes to playing with toys. "That's my toy. You can't have it," so on and so forth. So we automatically come with an opposite bent to serving. We want to be served, because that's how we start life.

But we need to learn it. So we need to understand, it all starts, first of all with understanding. Reading lessons like this and understanding where we are in the stream of time and what we are called to do. But beyond that, I believe we are called then to make choices. Just because you say you have surrendered to Jesus Christ doesn't automatically make you a robot to do the right thing.

There are choices that we need to make. And I believe the story of the good samaritan is a good one, because it points this out very clearly. A priest in levi saw a man on the road, beaten almost to death. And they pass by on the other side saying they didn't have anything to do with him. They chose not to take on the role of a servant with this man that needed their help.

Well, the good samaritan come by, and you know the story. He chose to take upon the role of a servant. And I believe that's a good lesson for us. We must choose to make these decisions in life. Choosing to serve because God is not going to force us.

In fact, somebody has Luke 10:36-37, who has that? Luke 10, right over here, okay. Luke 10, and verse 36 and verse 37. This is in the end of the story about the good samaritan. Jesus has these words to say, verse 36 and 37. "Which now of these three thinkest thou who was neighboring to him that fell among the thieves?" "And he said, 'he that showed mercy on him.

' Then said Jesus unto him, 'go and do thou likewise.'" Thank you very much. "Go and do thou likewise." The command is there, but no force. God is not going to force us to choose to follow his commands. But the command is certainly there. So we have a choice.

And I love these stories about Elisha. And let's turn to one pointed out here in 2 Kings 4. We're going to be in this part of the Bible, so just keep your Bibles open to this area, Kings 4. And we want to pick up with verse 8. Got to get the background for this story.

If you follow along, I'm going to read a few verses if you don't mind. Verse 8, it says, "and it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.

And it fell on a day, that he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there. And he said to gehazi his servant, call this shunammite. And when he had called her, she stood before him. And he said unto him, say now unto her, behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? Wouldest thou be spoken for to the King, or to the captain of the host? And she answered, I dwell among mine own people." Now this is a contented lady. She wasn't the kind of person that would be out there at 2 o'clock on black Friday at best buys.

She had all she wanted. She was living happily with her family, with her own people there. And then verse 14, he says, "what then is to be done for her? And gehazi answered, verily she hath no child, and her husband is old. And he said, call her. And when he had called her, she stood in the door.

And he said, about this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt embrace a son. And she said, nay, my Lord, thou man of God, do not lie unto thine handmaid. And the woman conceived, and bare a son at that season that Elisha had said unto her, according to the time of life." What a wonderful story. I like how Elisha did teach, for the lesson brings out that he was a teacher. And this was a teaching moment to give firsthand to gehazi to be involved.

Now it's easy as a leader sometimes just to when you have something to do, sometimes just to go ahead and do it yourself because you know it's going to get done, and yet sometimes we need other people because you can't do it all, right? Nobody can do it all. I've often thought of this when it comes to building projects. You get all these different little committees and I think to myself, "boy, I wish I was a committee unto myself. This would have been done five weeks ago, because you got all these people with their different ideas." Now we have a kitchen committee right now because our kitchen needs remodeling. And I can tell you, it's a good thing I'm not in charge of the kitchen committee alone, because I don't know too much about a kitchen, and I'm not really anxious to learn much about a kitchen.

That's not my calling in life. I will do dishes, but I don't like cooking and that kind of thing. So it's a good thing we have a group of people working together to bring about these things. That's my point. Plus as the lesson points out, Elisha was a teacher.

He was giving gehazi an opportunity to be involved to learn. And we have indications that gehazi--we don't have any indications that gehazi would have been the next prophet, but it kind of stands to reason, doesn't it? Elisha was serving Elijah. He became the next prophet. And gehazi could have been in that road perhaps, but all the learning and experience, even firsthand isn't enough if the heart isn't right with God. Here he had all the opportunities, and that wasn't enough.

As the story progresses, we all know the boy becomes a young lad, was out with his father and the reapers and became sick and died. Now this is where the story, this lady becomes a very remarkable person in my thinking. She didn't go to her husband and say, "I'm going to go see the prophet." She knew probably her husband would say, "well, you know, honey, I'm just as emotionally distraught as you are, but our son is dead. Don't hold out any hope that he's going to come back to life. I mean we've never seen a child come back to life.

We've never seen a person come back to life. I know you're distraught, but you know, she didn't go to her husband. She just took off and she went straight to see the man of God. Now being an individual who has great discernment, she gets there and as the lesson points out, gehazi at this point has lost much of his sensitivity trying to brush her aside. That's a valuable lesson to all of us.

I think if we begin to lose our sensitivity for hurting people, it should remind us we need a little closer walk with Jesus. You need to spend that thoughtful hour of meditation every day, that we're told we should, upon the life of Jesus, because the life of Jesus was all about sensitivity to people's needs. Wasn't it? All the time, every day. So we who call ourselves Christians, followers of Christ, we need to spend that time and not get off track like gehazi. Gehazi runs ahead of the lady and Elisha and lay the staff on the face of the child, but nothing happened.

We're back to meet Elisha and this lady and told them that he had--the child had not awakened. So they went on as we know, Elisha shut the door behind the two of them, he and gehazi, and prayed to God. At first I thought when I read that, that he and the mother went into the little boy. But after the boy came back to life, he tells gehazi, "go and bring the mother in." So it was gehazi and Elisha that went into the boy. And Elisha laid on the boy face-to-face, mouth-to-mouth, eye-to-eye.

And the boy's body began to get warm, but no life. So Elisha gets up and walks around the room and then goes back and does the same thing. This time he awoke in a glorious fashion. I referred to this story once in a sermon that I preached here. And I said beside this boy coming back to life, he comes back to life in a very amazing way.

Scientifically his body did something. Let me give you the scientific explanation for what his body was going through. His body was going through, "an involuntary reflex spasm of chest and pharynx muscles, occurring when excitatory impulse reach a certain threshold in the nasal lining. This stimulus travels along sensory nerves to the brainstem where it is relayed along motor nerves to the chest muscles which convulse squeezing the lungs, contracted pharyngeal muscles prevent most of the air dispelled by the lungs from entering the mouth. And the air is forced to exit nasally in the form of one big exhilarating and wonderful sneeze.

" Only this boy did it seven times. I love to sneeze. I love to sneeze. Now I don't like to sneeze when I have a cold. I don't like to sneeze in crowds, but if I'm off by myself and I get a good sneeze, I just love to sneeze.

And I can't think of a better way of waking up than sneezing seven times. That would be exhilarating. And think about it, this boy, every time he sneezed for the rest of his life, don't you think he would be reminded of the seventh sneeze that brought him back to life. His salvational experience as a child coming back to life, salvation saved again the life. Wow, seven is an amazing number in the Bible.

In fact, the number seven is equated to salvation many times. We'll see it in the next story also. We are Seventh-day Adventists. We keep the seventh-day Sabbath holy. And it should ever remind us of salvation, our salvation.

We should come not just because it's a command; we should come rejoicing over our salvation. Amen! That's right. We should come every Sabbath and just recapture the excitement and joy and peace of being saved by the blood of the lamb. And we need to have that assurance. No, we're not the kind of people that run around and say, "I'm saved! I'm saved!" Because we know we can get off-track with that.

But we should have the assurance that we are in the right relationship with Christ. Now what a moment this must have been for his mother too. She knew she hadn't been selfish in asking for a son, but had been blessed with this gift anyway. But soon he's taken away from her. She presented her case to God though through the prophet.

Filled with faith that her heart was right. Her heart had been right all along in regards to The Son. So she pressed her faith, said, "this gift has been taken away from me. I'm wanting this gift back, 'cause I know I wasn't wrong. I know I hadn't sinned in my heart in any way.

I was not covetous for this child." How can God bless this woman? He did because of that faith. She believed. She knew she was living in agreement with God's will. And I think, you know, when we all know the principle, but I wonder how many times we pray and ask God for something while we know we're still hanging on to some kind of sin. I mean we don't allow for that in the human level.

We don't. You take a--if I ask you to pay my electric bill, and you know that I was spending my money foolishly in other areas, buying alcohol and tobacco or just going out and spending my money frivolous. And I said, "well, you know, I've run out of money this month. Could you pay my electric bill?" She said, "I don't think so." We don't do it on a human level. How do we think we're going to pull it off with God? "Well, I'm doing this and I'm doing that, but Lord I need your help now because I don't have this and I need this.

" This lesson I think is a valuable lesson for us. We need to be right with the Lord as this lady was, and then we'll get action. Don't you agree? We may not get everything we ask for, but certainly when it's within God's will and we're hearts are right, God will pour out his blessing. I believe that. God said, "yes.

" The boy lived. But think about it. He lived to see his mom die. And then he lived only to die again. But their living together through the years was worth it for both of them I'm sure.

This miracle was worth it for both of them. Plus it gave them added opportunities to use this story as a witness to their God. You see that's what the--that's the purpose of all blessings. If you've had some blessing this past week, you are to use those blessings as a witness to the God you serve. We are used our blessings for the way he blesses us and reach out to others.

Now we need to turn--let's see, we move on in our lesson this morning to another story, on Tuesday, a question of faith. And the story comes from 2 Kings 5. And I think I gave verses 1 through 7 to somebody. Okay. If we would get--if you turn to that chapter this morning, we're going to stay there for awhile, 'cause the lesson does.

And if mike would read us the first seven verses to get us started. 2 Kings 5:1-7, "now naaman, commander of the army of the King of syria, was a great, honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper. And the syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on naaman's wife.

Then she said to her mistress, 'if only my master were with the prophet who is in samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.' And naaman went in and told his master, saying, 'thus and thus said the girl who is from the land of Israel.' Then the King of syria said, 'go now, and I will send a letter to the King of Israel.' So he departed and took with him talents of silver, ,000 shekels of gold, and 10 changes of clothing. Then he brought the letter to the King of Israel, which said, 'now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy.' And it happened, when the King of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, 'am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy? Therefore please consider, and see how he seeks a quarrel with me.'" Thank you very much. The lesson brings out three questions, asks three questions. Why did the King of Israel react as he did? Was he reaction reasonable or unreasonable? What did he really fear was going on? Well, I'm sure he was fearing, as it says, some kind of trick. the King is pulling a trick on me.

He's going to turn on me and he just wasn't trusting. And perhaps he had experience in the past as probably everybody in this room has had, everybody listening, whereas you trusted somebody and they failed you. Yep. Lots of people shaking their heads. You trusted, people let you down.

Well, that's the fact of life. And that's probably where this king was coming from. But Elisha was a man of discernment and he knew God wasn't going to let people down. We know God won't let us down. But he saw in this an opportunity.

the King of Israel was not in touch with his God as the prophet was. And you say, "well of course, he was the prophet." But prophet or priest or king or doorkeeper, we can all be under the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit. Do you agree with that? Amen. That's right. So Elisha gets the word out to let the man come unto him, to do so for a very special purpose.

And as it says in the last part of verse 8, "and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel." If there is a prophet in Israel, then what conclusion can you come to? That there is a God behind this prophet, and he is the God of the universe. Now we know this story quite well. Naaman comes with his horses and with his chariots and stood at the door of the house of Elijah. Now Elijah does something, I guess kind of a test. Verse 10 says, "and Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, 'go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shall be clean.

" The lesson asks the question, "why did naaman react as he did to Elijah's command to him?" Well, you know, naaman, I'm sure he was the man that had a certain amount of pride. He had worked hard to arrive at the position he was in. He probably had many times, many people serving him. He'd give the command, and they would take orders and they would follow through. And he expected to be treated better than this, just sending somebody out and giving him a message to go someplace else to wash in this dirty river called the Jordan.

And as I understand it, I read about it in history that it was dirtier than the waters that he referred to. So he probably was angry. And it says naaman in verse 11 was "wroth, and went away, and said, behold, I thought, he will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not abana and pharpar, rivers of damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage." There's so much of the human nature coming out of naaman at this point. Don't you agree? Human nature coming out of him.

It's one thing, first of all, very humiliating to have leprosy, of all things. And then humiliating to go to another country and submit to a man you don't even know to a God you really don't have any familiarity with but you're there because something is encouraging you on, a certain amount of faith. And that little girl, that little girl exhibiting such faith that he just moved on it. But still the human nature on it says, "you know, why can't I wash in my own river in my own country? Why would I have to do such a thing?" Doesn't it seem reasonable if you want to be cleansed, you'd go to clean water instead of this dirty, old Jordan water? But it's--we're always wanting to do things quite often our own way. It's the human bent towards life.

It reminds me of the time when the disciples were in a boat and the storm came up. And they were working hard to try to save themselves. Lightning flashes and they see Jesus. So they go to him and say that incredible question, ask that incredible question, "master, don't you care?" All Jesus ever did was care and they said, "don't you care that we perish?" Now imagine this. If they woke Jesus up, and said, "master, master, here's our bucket.

Here's a bucket. Help us. Bail us out. We're going to go down. Here's a bucket.

Help us!" Would that have been a good thing to do? That's quite often what we do. "God, I have this problem. But I know what the solution is. Here's my bucket, Lord. I want you to take my bucket and bring about a solution to my problem with my bucket.

" Whereas the genuine Christian says, "Lord, I got this problem. And I have no idea. I have some ideas, but I know you have the right idea. You use your bucket of solutions, and I'll allow you to do that." But quite often we're like naaman, "I want to do it my way. I think I have a better way.

" And--but he had some wise servants with him. Verse 13, "his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, my father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, wash, and be clean?" They knew this man. They knew he was a man of valor. If the prophet would have told him to do some daring thing, he would have jumped on his horse and went right to it. "I'll do it.

I'll do it." But here was a simple thing, too simple, like the Gospel. It's too simple for some people. "It can't be this simple. Saved by grace through faith?" Yes, it's that simple. Not saved by works.

Works testify though to the faith we have certainly. But we're saved. It's simple. Works do not replace faith. Works reveal the kind of faith we have.

Works add nothing to being saved. Works adds glory to the saver. Can't you say, "amen" to that? Works will bring glory to the person who saves us which is God. Well, God always brings us back to that realization that he is the one who saves, in his own way. And for naaman to have victory over leprosy, he needed to do it God's way which he finally got around to doing.

Went down that water, once, four, five, six times, leprosy was still there. Came up the seventh time and no leprosy. Until he followed through exactly on the Lord's command, nothing took place. But imagine, as he was coming up out of the water that seventh time, imagine he had to have some amazing feelings going on in his body, right? I mean instantaneously healed from leprosy. That's an amazing thought.

But imagine the change that came into his life spiritually speaking. What a moment that must have been, something he would never forget. And again, we are impacted with the number seven. Seven times brought about the blessing. We are here on this seventh day to praise God for his blessings.

Amen. Would he be tempted to be proud ever again? Sure. Would he be tempted to Lord his powers over other human beings at times? I'm sure he would be tempted. But every Sabbath, he would be reminded, just as we are to be reminded. Now the next part of the story is a lesson for all ministers, naaman wanted to pay Elijah, but Elijah refused to take payment.

Elijah was supporting him in his ministry with God's plan of support, like ministers I've supported today through tithing. It's not something that ministers will get rich on. But it does pay the bills. The lesson asked why would it be important that Elisha not take this payment? Well, first of all, Elijah wasn't the one that brought about the healing, right? It would have been taking credit to himself when the credit has to go to God. Secondly, it would have showed a certain amount of selfishness through his labors.

And when you see and read and hear about some ministers who get lavishly rich by the Gospel, it makes you kind of cringe, doesn't it? It's what I love about the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its method of payment. Everybody is on the same level. Nobody can get rich by selling the Gospel, at least we shouldn't. Now ministers find themselves in these kind of situation, even with simple statements sometimes like, "wow, pastor, I really liked your sermon." And then pastor has-- "what am I going to do with that kind of statement?" "Well it wasn't my sermon; it was the Lord's sermon." And that sounds a little bit thinly-disguised humility I guess. It's hard to know how to respond sometimes other than say, "thank you.

Lord bless--God--" whatever. But whatever it is, if it's just praise or monetary in blessings, we're not to live for those things, but to live to bring honor and glory to God, right? Now next the lesson tells us to read verse 17 through 19, asking us the question, "what is going on here?" "And naaman said, shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules' burden of earth? For thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other Gods, but unto the Lord. In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing." As a right-hand man to the King, naaman would have been required to go in when the King worshipped rimmon or God. And it would have looked like he was worshipping this false God also. Now the interesting point is that Elisha doesn't reprove him for something that wasn't % correct.

And it brings out I think quite truly in the lesson, Elisha probably had respect for this man that as the Lord brought truth to him, he readily accepted it and he would get around to accepting all the truth as it was presented to him. But here he was a babe as we call it today, a babe in Christ. Now we go through all of the lessons with people who want to be baptized or interested in baptism. We go through all 28 fundamental doctrines. And sometimes even then there are little things that we might overlook.

I studied with a couple one time, went through all the lessons and Friday night before they were getting baptized, I was starting my first evangelistic sermon that I ever preached. And I was preaching on the subject, "will Jesus come secretly?" And they were so thrilled because they had been--they had been leaning towards the understanding of the secret rapture. Now we covered the second coming of Jesus Christ, but in the lesson there was nothing about the secret rapture. And I just took it for granted that they believed what the lesson said. Jesus is coming again, every eye shall see him, and so on.

But they were so happy, and I learned a valuable lesson that night. They accepted that truth the night before they were baptized. And that's how God works sometimes. And I learned myself a very valuable lesson. But even that, there's some things that a new babe in Christ, they just don't understand as well as others who have been in the truth of God's Word for some time.

And we need to be as kind as Elisha was, giving them space and opportunity to learn. Now, let's see. Move on to Wednesday where we get to the heart, the real heart of gehazi and his fall. The enemy never gives up on a weak point in a person's life, keep chipping away. Gehazi runs after naaman and lies telling him that Elisha sent him to actually claim the gifts of silver and so on.

Naaman quickly gives it. And when he goes back, Elisha asks gehazi where he was coming from. He said, "well, I didn't go anywhere." Lied again. And verse 26 and 27 says, "and he said unto him, went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants? The leprosy therefore of naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed forever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.

" Now we'd have to get into a lesson on the Hebrew language to realize that this does not mean that all of the descendants of leprosy or gehazi were born with leprosy, that they would all be lepers. The language here in Hebrew simply means, "the result of his sin would be with him for the rest of his life." And yes, his sin would affect family. Our sins affect our loved ones. Everybody has a choice to serve God or not to serve him. But our influence has a sway either for or against our children, loved ones serving God.

But Thursday we have an interesting situation. The lesson has gehazi in the court after coming down with leprosy, stating that he must not have been too disfigured from his disease. That's what the lesson brings out. He's in the court, serving there in the court. And the lesson brings out, well his leprosy must not have been too bad because here we find him serving in the court.

Now I read, I just ran across this. I wasn't hardly looking for it. I guess I was looking for the meaning of his name, but I was reading there in the added book of the Bible commentary under gehazi. And it brings out that--it's the Bible dictionary that makes this statement--that this meeting with the King of Israel after a seven-year famine here in chapter 8 seems to have occurred before he was punished with perpetual leprosy. Now I think I would tend to go along with the Bible dictionary's explanation.

Why? Because when a person comes down with leprosy, they are an outcast. You certainly wouldn't find them serving in the court. Even if they weren't so disfigured yet, they still would not be among the people, even if they were still quite normal looking. But they had leprosy, and they would be outcasts. So I tend to agree with that definition.

The Bible doesn't always follow along in chronological order as we know, right? Many times it goes along and then jumps back, and covers another portion of history and jumps back and keeps on going. So we can't take the Bible always chronologically in order. Gehazi was bragging about this woman of shunam. King ask him some questions. Tell me some stories about what it was like with Elisha the prophet.

And so he's kind of bragging about how he was there to witness this miracle of this boy being raised back to life. And it just so happens, just incidentally and luckily that the woman was there at the same time. Would we call that luck? I don't think so, do you? She was there to claim after this period of time to claim back her house and her land. And gehazi says, "well, that's the woman." Amazing. And the King says, "is that true? Are you the woman? Has this happened?" And she explains this same story that gehazi had just given.

King commissions some special person to attend to this lady. Give her back her land. Give her back her crops. In fact, let's see. I think it's in verse-- chapter 8:3-6.

Yeah, verse 6 says, "and when the King asked the woman, she told him. So the King appointed unto her a certain officer, saying, 'restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land even until now.'" She's getting back pay. She's getting reimbursed for all those years that she was gone with the produce of the land. Boy, you talk about that's a good deal. The main point here on Thursday though of course is regardless of who we are or what we have witnessed, it still comes down to our one-on-one relationship with God that counts.

Would you agree? No name dropping will suffice. No rubbing shoulders with the honored of this world will help us in heat. If I could say that barack obama was my uncle--that'd be kind of interesting, wouldn't it? I would maybe find some benefits on this earth if he was my uncle, but I certainly wouldn't find any eternal benefits by having barack obama, the president of the United States, as an uncle. And some republicans would say, "well, you don't have any advantages at all. You'd only have disadvantages if he was his uncle.

" We won't get into that. But the point is, neither way is important when it comes to eternity and our relationship with God. Is that right? We may have advantages in life, but unless we capitalize on those in ways that gehazi did not, then we will lose the blessing. If we have disadvantages in this world, we can rise above those by how we relate to God. Some Christians are what I refer to at times as historical Christians.

They live off the past. Back when they first came to Christ, they were so excited, filled with that first love, that they were actually out there doing things for God and excited to do them. But as a first love wears off, it doesn't seem like there's any new testimonies to give. And so they're always going back, way back there when they did things for the Lord, when they first came to the truth and they were so on fire and historical Christians. But in order to maintain their name of "Christian," we need to have some up-to-date testimonies.

Don't we? Some up-to-date things going on with us and God. "God blessed me last week in so many ways, I can't hardly wait to tell you." Things like that. "God was with me. God gave me peace in a very terrible trial." We should always be living with new profound opportunities of testifying to God's glory. Would you agree to that? Yes, that's what we're here on this earth for.

Now I'm not suggesting you have to live in some sensational kind of world inventing testimonies. You don't have to. If you're living close to God, he's going to give you something to testify about. I believe that. Now, we are here this morning to remind you again that we have a free offer.

And anybody remember the number? . Offer number 714, "alone in the crowd." All you have to do is call -866-study-more, or 1-866-788-3966. Thank you for your participation this morning. Thank you for coming to Sacramento for all of you who are here this morning. And thank you once again for all of you who have joined us, from wherever you joined us, may God bless you with a wonderful week.

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