leper

Make Me Clean

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clean: free from contamination, free from guilt, separated from anything that makes one unclean

Before the priests could enter the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, they had to wash their hands and feet in the outer court.  They had to appear before God clean.

I recently asked the Lord to make me clean and the reason why I asked Him to do this is because sometimes we engage in things that corrupts us (Exodus 32:7).  You may immediately think I’m talking about sexual sins, but sometimes it is our conversations that corrupts us.  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers  (Ephesians 4:29). 

Then, I began reading about lepers in the bible.  Leprosy is spread by direct contact and the reason why lepers were in the condition they were in was because of what or who they touched. But sometimes, leprosy was a result of indirect contact (no physical touch).  For example, Miriam became leprous when she ‘touched’ God’s servant, Moses, with her mouth by speaking against him. 

The Pharisees and scribes thought Jesus and his disciples were unclean because they didn’t practice the tradition of the elders, which was washing their hands before eating bread. In the tabernacle, you had to first wash yourself at the laver before you approached the table of showbread and according to Leviticus 24:9 and Matthew 12:4, it was lawful for priests to eat the shewbread. The Pharisees and scribes thought they were in the Holy Place and Holy of Holies because of what they knew, but they were still in the outer court because of Who they didn’t know and because of what was in their hearts. Jesus then explained to them that it wasn’t what was on the outside, but what was on the inside – in a man’s heart, that made him unclean.

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defiles (make unclean) the man (Mark 7:21-23).

God doesn’t want us to be people that appear righteous to others outwardly, but full of hypocrisy and sin inwardly (Matthew 23:28).  For so long, we’ve been focused on what it looks like or what we look like – the outward appearance, but let God clean you in the inside first. If you only clean the outside of the cup, then it’s not really clean – and no one wants to drink from a dirty cup.

Not only did Jesus loved us, but he washed us from our sins in His own blood and He made us priests to God (Revelation 1:5-6). 

That he might present it (the church) to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:27).

I believe we all want to be healed from something, but the question is: Do you want to be clean?  Do you want to stop doing the things that made you sick, depressed, brokenhearted and unclean to begin with?  God doesn’t want us to be like the pig, who after it is washed, returns to the mud again (2 Peter 2:22).

I have asked the Lord to clean me, but I am also asking for His help to stay clean.

And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if you will, you can make clean (Matthew 8:2).

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).

How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word (Psalm 119:9, NLT).

Wherefore come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you (2 Corinthians 6:17).

Humble Yourself

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humble: to surrender, to subdue by self-denial, to depend on God

Naaman was described in the bible as a man who was great, honorable and mighty, but he had a problem.  He was a leper (2 Kings 5:1).  We are not told how long he was in this condition.  The bible doesn’t mention that he was trying to seek help from anyone or anything, but I’m sure like some of us, he was probably trying to figure out what to do or how to fix his problem.   I can only imagine his relief once his wife told him that her mistress knew a prophet that could heal him of his leprosy.

I know leprosy was addressed as an incurable disease, but there was a woman in the book of Numbers who was healed of leprosy.  She wasn’t born with it.  She became leprous after she spoke against her brother and God’s servant, Moses.  When Moses interceded on her behalf, God healed her.  I don’t know if Naaman had ever heard of Miriam, but he had faith to believe that he would be healed.  Had he not believed, he would have never left Syria.

But when he arrived to Elisha’s house, the prophet didn’t come outside. He sent his messenger instead to give Naaman simple instructions.  Maybe because of his position, he was used to being treated a certain way, but he didn’t get the special treatment he was expecting.  Not only was he told what to do, but he was told what will be done for him ‘if’ he obeyed.  And 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”  (2 Kings 5:10).

Naaman just didn’t have a problem with the message, but he had a problem with the messenger.  This was a servant, not a prophet, telling him what to do.  Instead of doing what he was told, he was offended and angry. But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I thought, ‘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’  (2 Kings 5:11).

Just like Naaman, we have it all planned out and we think we know how God is going to do it, but God doesn’t think the way we think (Isaiah 55:8). 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  (2 Kings 5:12).  Naaman thought his way was better.

Does it seem like you’re always struggling (a long effort to deal with something that is difficult or that causes problems)?  I’m not saying that we will never go through anything, but we have told people in the church, The struggle is over, but we didn’t tell them the struggle won’t be over until they do what God told them to do.

It’s so easy to blame the devil, people or God for what we’re going through, but it’s not them.  It’s you.  You are struggling because of you.  You are struggling because of the choices YOU made or refuse to make.  Your current condition isn’t incurable (not able to be changed or corrected).  Some of you have said, But I tried.  Yes, you did try – your way, but did you try it God’s way?

Naaman had good servants.  They held him accountable for his behavior.  And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it?”  (2 Kings 5:13). What they were really saying was, If you were told to do something that you wanted to do, you would have done it.  You see, when Naaman left for Israel, he took ten talents of silver, six thousand pieces of gold and ten new outfits.  He didn’t have a problem giving his money, but that’s not what was asked of him.

Sometimes, God will ask you to give the very thing that you’re holding onto or is holding you back – that is keeping you from receiving what you’re asking or praying for.  Remember the rich young ruler who asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life?  Although he had money and possessions, he knew there was something missing.  He wasn’t whole.  When Jesus mentioned the commandments, he was so proud of himself because he wasn’t doing any of those things (committing adultery, killing, stealing, lying or disrespecting his parents).  He liked what Jesus was saying at first, but then Jesus said something that he didn’t like.  Sell all that you have, distribute them to the poor, and follow Me  (Luke 18:22).  The ruler walked away sad because he was very rich.  He wanted what he was asking for, but he wanted it on his own terms.

Although Naaman didn’t want to do it, when he got tired of being in the condition he was in, he humbled himself and obeyed.  One of the reasons why people aren’t ‘healed’ in certain areas of their lives is because of pride.  Pride is when you think your way is better than God’s way.  It is when you think you are always right.  Sometimes you will have to apologize even when you didn’t do anything wrong.  Pride will tell you not to apologize until they apologize first.  Pride will never admit it is wrong.  Unfortunately, some great relationships have been destroyed because we were more concerned about being right rather than living right.

I think back to some things that God told me to do, but I didn’t do them.  The instructions weren’t hard or impossible.  They were so simple, but I didn’t do it because I didn’t want to.  I thought there was another way or a better way.  There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death  (Proverbs 14:12)

Paul was a Pharisee and he thought the things he were doing were right.  He persecuted and jailed anyone who preached or followed the teachings of Jesus Christ.  But one day as he was traveling to Damascus to put followers of Christ in jail, a light from heaven shined around him and he heard a voice.  It was Jesus.  Saul, why do you persecute Me? (Acts 9:4).  Jesus told Saul that in trying to hurt Him, he was hurting himself.  Instead of Saul continuing to do what he thought was right, he humbled himself and asked, Lord, what will you have me to do?  (Acts 9:6).

This is what God wants us to ask Him.  Maybe we haven’t asked this question because we’re afraid of what His answer will be.  He doesn’t want us to trust in ourselves, but to trust in Him and do what He wants us to do.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths  (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Health wasn’t restored to Naaman after dipping in the water the first, third or fifth time.  To see results, he had to obey God fully, not partially.  The good news is that Naaman just didn’t receive his healing, but he also learned who God is.  Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel  (2 Kings 5:15).

We are so close to the very thing God has promised us, but pride and disobedience will keep us from receiving what was promised.  Remember, God fights against those who are proud, but he helps those who are humble (James 4:6).

Humble yourself.