Naaman

Steve Arterburn

Situations that are out of your control will show whether you’re operating with pride and self-sufficiency or with humility and dependence on God.  If you’re willing to humbly depend on God and recognize you inability to handle everything on your own, you’ll see the power of God bring great changes in your life.  

The experience of a man named Naaman illustrates how this is true.  Naaman was a powerful military and political figure, a man of wealth, position, and power.  He also had leprosy, an incurable disease that would slowly destroy his body.  Lepers were made outcasts from their families and society.  Ultimately, they faced a slow, painful, and disgraceful death.

But Naaman heard that there was a prophet in Israel who could heal him.  He found the prophet and was told that in order to be healed he needed to dip himself seven times in the Jordan River.  He went away outraged, having expected his power and money to buy him an instant and easy cure.  In the end, however, he acknowledged that this situation was beyond his control.  Humility was the key that caused Naaman to surrender to God, follow his instructions, and receive the healing that only God could give him.  

Humility should not be confused with humiliation.  God doesn’t allow you to face situations beyond your control in order to humiliate you.  He does so to draw you to himself and lead you to healing and spiritual renewal.

Male Friendships

Steve Arterburn

Roscoe and Arnie were friends for forty-five years.  They met at work, played golf together every Saturday, and played poker with a few other guys on Tuesday nights.  When they retired, they started playing golf together three times a week.

When Roscoe was diagnosed with colon cancer, he bravely endured chemotherapy and two surgeries before he passed away at age sixty-eight.  After the funeral, the minister, who knew both men only casually, said to Arnie, ‘You men have been close friends for two-thirds of your lives.  Roscoe must have confided in you about his hope for recovery, his fear of dying, and his remorse at leaving his wife behind.’  ‘Nope, Reverend,’ Arnie replied, wiping the tears from his eyes. ‘We talked about golf, fishing, poker, and work.  We didn’t talk about what we were afraid of. We were good friends, Reverend, but we weren’t brothers.’  

Unfortunately, many men view their friendships with other men the way Roscoe and Arnie viewed theirs.  For them, a friend is someone who enjoys working, fishing, playing golf or racing stock cars with.  But the relationship rarely gets much deeper than what they do together.  The macho code of mythical masculinity prevents them from revealing their fears, dreams, weaknesses, mistakes, or hurts to each other.  

Today’s man would do much better at handling the stresses of life if he had some friends who were more like brothers:  men to whom he could bare his soul and still be completely accepted.  Do you have a friend like that?

Malachi’s Message

Steve Arterburn

The prophet Malachi brought a message of hope to a nation that knew repeated failure.  After being restored to their homeland, the Jews had forgotten the one who had delivered them.  We often make the same kind of mistake.  As soon as we overcome our pressing problems, we forget the one who delivered us from them’God.  Without a continued relationship with God, our hope of sustaining spiritual growth is slim at best.  You and I need to keep our eyes on God, the source and means for our continued spiritual growth.

God’s love to the people of Jerusalem and to us cannot be explained.  God knows the depth of your sin; he knows how weak you are; yet he still loves you.  There is nothing that you can do to lose this love that you never deserved in the first place.  God’s love has the power to heal all the broken places in your life.  Your failures, setbacks, and defenses cannot stop God from wanting to heal you.  This fact should give you hope, no matter how terrible your failures in the past.  He already knows about the anger, betrayal, addiction, lies’you’re not going to surprise him.  But it’s time you confess and seek his will for your life.

Are you willing to turn to him for healing and forgiveness?  He was patient with the people of Israel for hundreds of years, in spite of their sin.  In his grace, God patiently waits for you as well.