(2 Kings 5:15-17)
A. I absolutely love the story of Philip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8. I love how God connected this Ethiopian to a Christian to help him in his spiritual journey. Just walk back through that story for a moment. This Secretary of the Treasury from Ethiopia traveled from his country in Africa up to Palestine simply to worship the Jewish God called YHWH. He was traveling first class (a chariot). Now don’t think of all war chariot, this was what I call a first century limousine. He had a driver; he had a personal copy of the scroll of Isiah and had just attended worship in Jerusalem. He must have been feeling great! But the problem was, he was so unfamiliar with the Jewish scriptures and oral teachings he had no idea what things meant. That’s where God steps in. The Holy Spirit said the Christian man, “Philip, go and join that chariot.”
B. When Philip is near the chariot he asks, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The Ethiopian said, “How can I unless some explains it to me.” He invited Philip to join him and the passage he was reading is found in Isaiah 53. Philip started there and told this man the story of Jesus and what it meant to be saved. At some point in time, the Ethiopian saw a body of water and wanted to be baptized. Now follow with me as I read Acts 8:38-39.
C. Now here’s my question. What did that man do when he got back to Ethiopia? His joy was real. His salvation by Jesus changed his life, but what happened when he got home? We don’t know, but he was probably alone in his new faith in Jesus. That joy could have turned away quickly, or that man could have taken his story and shared it with others.
D. Today, many of you are spiritually isolated. You have the joy of your salvation, but lack Christian fellowship because of the current pandemic that we face. Let me start by saying your feelings are real, but I have some news for you.
I. The Free Cure
A. The feeling of spiritual isolation is not new, even though it is new to many of us. There have been Christians around the world that have had to meet in house churches or “underground” just to be safe when they gathered. There are others, like the Apostle Paul, who were often alone spiritually in cities that were filled with a deadly sickness God calls sin. But I want to share with you a different story.
B. Our story is found in 2 Kings 5. It begins with a man who was actually the commander of the army for the king of Syria; not really a friend of Israel. His name was Naaman and he had a deadly and scary disease that was put in the general category called leprosy. How severe of a case of skin disease he had, we don’t know. What we know is a young girl who was captured by the Assyrians and became his wife’s slave spoke about a man who could cure him.
C. To make a long story short, after being told to dip seven times in the Jordan River, and finally being willing to do it, he found himself clean from the leprosy. Now this is the part where the story gets interesting.
D. Read 2 Kings 5:14-16. If you heard that we came up with an instant cure for COVID-19 how excited would you be? How much would a cure be worth to the people of the world right now? If it was your spouse, child or parent who was sick to the point of death, how much would an instant cure be worth to you financially?
E. The interesting part is, this gift of instant cure was offered free of charge. Here is what Naaman learned. There is no God in all the world except Jehovah. To say that Naaman believed and was filled with joy is an understatement. But there was a problem; the king of Syria was not a believer in the God of Israel. So Naaman asked for a second gift.
II. Two Mule Loads of Dirt
A. He had already received a cure, but here is his second request (READ verse 17). Here is a man who knew he would be spiritually isolated. A man who had a job in a world that didn’t believe, yet he became a believer. He didn’t want his spiritual isolation to end his relationship with God.
B. Isn’t that where so many of us are today with not being able to gather in a church building, praising God in song together, having communion as a church family, sharing prayer requests and having prayer time? There is a fear that the church won’t exist because of COVID-19. It’s time for you to get your two mule loads of dirt.
C. Let’s start by affirming there is no God in all the world except Jehovah. The creator of the heavens and earth. The one came in the flesh as Jesus, lived to show me how to live, died for my sins and rose up so that I could die TO my sins and be RISEN up in Him. God’s got this. You’re not alone if you are physically right now. You’re not alone, even if this time of isolation keeps us apart for several weeks or longer. Start by affirming your faith in God.
D. The ground in Israel was no more holy than the ground in Syria. But Naaman knew he was going to be alone in a spiritually sinful world and didn’t want the king’s worship of idols to keep God from seeing his worship. So what did he do with all that dirt? Maybe it was to be a reminder of his cure and Jehovah. Maybe he took it back to have a place where he would worship God. What we know is that he wanted it because he was spiritually isolated.
E. It’s time for you and me to get our two mule loads of dirt. By that I mean it’s time for us to make sure we stay connected to God and as a church family. We are offering many ways for people who internet to do just that.
F. Just because you are not in this building doesn’t mean you are isolated from God. God will never leave you nor forsake you. Our connection right now is more through technology or a good old fashion phone call than it is person to person in a pew. But you are not alone. Take your spiritual dirt and keep your holy ground in worship to God.
A. I love you. I miss you. I have found our gatherings online to be a great source of strength and connection. But let us not forget that God’s message of salvation was not meant to be kept in isolation.
B. Now is the time for you to offer a cure to a sickness called sin. You might be reaching out to your neighbors or family and friends who have not come to know Jesus as you have. Share your story and let them know the holy ground they need is called Jesus Christ.
C. Until we meet again, may the God of peace be with you.
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister