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River of Faith

River of Faith

II Kings 5:1-14

ICE BREAKER

Our culture says that if we just believe we can win in sports. Often after a player wins a championship she will say something along the lines of how the team kept believing in each other.

In school or in movies the same message comes through. If you believe enough you can achieve whatever you want to achieve. 

Share some of your thoughts contrasting the faith of the Bible with the idea in our culture of hanging onto “belief” in order to pursue your goals in life. 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Next step: Naaman is told to wash in the Jordan river 7 times. This is very humbling. Naaman is in a rage when the messenger from the prophet Elisha tells him to wash in the river to be healed. A mighty general who orders people around is in essence told to humble himself in front of his men. Elisha does not even come to the door to greet the general. He sends a messenger. This seems insulting to this prominent general. He’s proud. He is used to operating by power. Are we ever put off by the way God chooses to operate? We have a certain way we expect God and the church to behave. God is exposing Naamans’ pride and his reliance on power.It is easy to say we have faith. In our walk of faith God wants to zero in on our most prized possession. He wants that thing our will is locked down on. This reveals our idol. How do we limit God to our way of thinking? Naaman’s servants speak up and urge him to wash.  “Wash, and be clean…” He must give up the thing he values most. We must bend our will to Christ.So, with the context of this story let’s look at our “NEXT STEP” question:

    What is the hardest part of your will to surrender? What is that idol that is hard to let go of? What is something I can do this week to release it? Think primarily in terms of relationships as you reflect on these questions.

  2. Think about the picture of the boat which symbolizes faith and the wake behind the boat which symbolizes the works that flow from faith. Faith empowers the works and the works are the result of faith. The book of James tells us that faith without works is a bad thing. The works don’t save us but if there is no wake behind our boat then we don’t have faith. Take some time to discuss how you see works lived out in one another’s lives. What do you see in one another? Take some time to celebrate this. It really is supernatural; it is God with us and God being revealed through us. Also, reflect on your time, treasure and talent and ask God if He wants you to take a step in any of these areas. It is likely that a group member needs some time to discuss with the group doubts or uncertainty about how God wants to use their time, treasure or talent. Consider sitting together with that person a while.

NOTES AND QUOTES

Elisha is established as the main prophet through the following miracles: river parted, water purified, bears maul, king of Moab, widow’s oil, and the Shunammite woman.

Now that he’s established we find our story for today in II Kings 5:1-14.

Naaman was the commander of the army for the king of Syria. He was a mighty man of valor but he was also a leper. Naaman had a servant in his household. This servant pointed him toward the prophet in Samaria in order to be healed. Naaman hears this and believes it and he goes to make arrangements to see Elisha.

When Naaman finally washed the text tells us that,  “…His skin was restored like the flesh of a little child…” The war veteran with scars and worn skin got more than he even asked for from God. Was it hard for him in front of his entourage to dip in the river 7 times?  Yes. But this is good as it tears his idol from him. God’s pursuit of us is relentless thankfully. 

We tend to add things to faith in Christ. We add them because we don’t want to do the one thing God wants us to do.

Faith + anything = no faith.  To add anything to faith nullifies our faith. 

The following is a list of the things we at times add to our faith:

Works: at times we add works in place of what God wants which is our surrendered will. 

Image: saved people can  look quite different from what we think.

Denominations: distinctions are important yet sincere faith in Christ alone is what saves us. 

Preferences: how we practice faith is in the arena of preferences

Politics

In the book of Matthew a centurion comes up to Jesus pleading for Jesus to heal his servant. Rome has soldiers that rule over the people. A centurion is one of those leaders. This centurion says he has a servant who is ill. He tells Jesus to just say the word and his servant will be healed. He could have commanded Jesus to come with him. When Jesus says he will go with him the Centurion says he’s not worthy.

What did he call Jesus? He called Him Lord. Jesus says he has not seen such faith in all of Israel.  The context tells us that Christ says this in front of his disciples. The disciples stand in contrast to the centurion. 

His disciples fight to see who can be greatest. 

This centurion offers a contrast to Naaman as well. The centurion is humble, he has faith, and he calls Jesus Lord. 

When thinking about faith and works and how they go together, think about a picture of a boat with the wake behind it. Let the boat represent faith and the wake which is ever widening behind the boat represent our works. Our faith empowers the works. 

Anger and presumption. If we have works without faith we can become arrogant and angry and presumptuous.

It is possible to do works without faith in Christ, but these works are worthless. 

Faith in Christ will follow with humble works. Our spirit will be surrendered. 

Faith is so simple and as we live out our faith our works will grow in time.