Our Response in Hard Times 2
OUR RESPONSE IN HARD TIMES - PASSING THE TEST
Last week we started to look at our response in the hard times - not God’s response - ours.
And we started the journey by looking at how Isaac handled the famine (the hard times) in his life!
Genesis 26:12 ... Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him.
When others were in fear of the famine - Isaac sowed!
When others were thinking the worst of the famine - Isaac sowed!
When others were planning for failure due to the famine - Isaac sowed!
He also recognised who was responsible for his prosperity and made an offering to the Lord.
ISAAC PASSED THE TEST OF THE HARD TIME
If we are going to be honest, not everyone has the right response in hard times!
We can see that in the way we try to naturally deal with a famine (a hard time) instead of using God’s supernatural way of dealing with it.
In 2 Kings 5 we read about three men:
1) Elisha - the man of God.
2) Gehazi - the assistant to the man of God.
3) Naaman - the commander of the Syrian army.
2 Kings 5:1 Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honourable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valour, but a leper. 2 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. 3 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."
Naaman is a man of great status who had leprosy; it was incurable; it was a death sentence!
However, someone tells him about the power of the God of Israel!
Naaman makes the difficult journey and arrives at the door of the man of God.
But the man of God does something he doesn’t expect!
2 Kings 5:10 ... Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean."
The man of God doesn’t even come to the door to pray for this great man of stature.
He sends a message - go and wash in the Jordan seven times.
How does Naaman respond!
2 Kings 5:11 ... Naaman became furious, and went away and said, "Indeed, I said to myself, 'He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.'
God is revealing a truth in the time of famine - our thoughts can get in the way of God’s solution.
Naaman’s response in hard times - he doesn’t like the way the man of God does things.
He said to himself, in other words his thoughts were:
I cannot believe he didn’t come out and wave his hands over me!
Doesn’t he know who I am; he did not even send me to a clean river.
And from wrong thoughts comes disobedience – in his case he will not do it.
He would rather live with an incurable disease than humble himself and respond correctly in his hard time.
However, if we continue reading this chapter we will see that Naaman’s assistant talks to him and convinces him to CHANGE HIS MIND and do what the man of God told him to do and he does and is healed!
Naaman then returns to Elisha to offer him gifts and money, trying pay for his miracle but he leaves with his gifts, his money and HIS HEALING!
NAAMAN PASSED THE TEST IN HARD TIMES - by CHANGING HIS THINKING.
ELISHA PASSED THE TEST OF HARD TIMES – by REFUSING THE PAYMENT OF A RICH MAN.
However, Gehazi, Elisha’s assistant is a different story!
2 Kings 5:20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, "Look, my master has spared Naaman this Syrian, while not receiving from his hands what he brought; but as the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him." 21 So Gehazi pursued Naaman. When Naaman saw him running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him, and said, "Is all well?" 22 And he said, "All is well. My master has sent me, saying, 'Indeed, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the mountains of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of garments.'" 23 So Naaman said, "Please, take two talents." And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and handed them to two of his servants; and they carried them on ahead of him.
Why would Gahazi lie; why would he do something that Elisha had refused to do?
Because he thought, that Elisha was wrong in passing up these gifts at a time of famine.
Acting on his wrong thoughts is about to get him into some serious trouble.
2 Kings 5:25 Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, "Where did you go, Gehazi?" And he said, "Your servant did not go anywhere." 26 Then he said to him, "Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants?
Notice the question Elisha asks - is it time to receive money and to receive clothing?
Is he saying that it is not the right time to receive money in a time of famine?
No that’s not what he’s saying, remember Isaac sowed in a famine, Abraham sowed in a famine.
Naaman, not knowing any better, tried to give money for his miracle but Elisha would not let that happen!
Gahazi thought differently but, unlike Naaman, he did not change his thinking!
2 Kings 5:27 Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever." And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow.
Church are we beginning to understand that our response to a hard time, matters!
If Gehazi knew just how much his wrong response would cost him – maybe he would have changed his mind!
Church can I tell you something about some people?
They set themselves up for failure, by their response to hard times!
Let me give you an example of what often happens:
A person gets some bad news, by the time their pastor hears about it the entire church has heard about, it’s in the local paper, it’s on the BBC, and a plan is already formulated to mitigate any loss.
A bit exaggerated maybe but you get the point.
Many good people have destroyed a good testimony in the first few minutes of a hard time!
Do we have a New Testament verse that proves the point we are trying to make?
Romans 12:2 ... do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Isaac responded well and proved what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
Elisha responded well and proved what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
Naaman responded well and proved what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT OUR HARD TIME MATTERS WILL DETERMINE IF WE PASS THE TEST