OVERCOMING BARRIERS

23 Jun

II Kings 5:1-14:

Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper. Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.” Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “Thus and thus spoke the girl who is from the land of Israel.” Then the king of Aram said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” He departed and took with him ten talents of silver and six thousand shekels of gold and ten changes of clothes.

He brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, “And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me.”

It happened when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” 11 But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, 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 cure the leper.’ 12 Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.

Let’s talk about barriers. Right now, more than ever before, the body of Christ needs to expand… to grow… to deepen its impact. But to do that, we have to overcome some major barriers… Things that are impeding our growth. That are keeping us from being the very best that Christ wants us to be.

The first would be the barrier of prejudice.

II Kings 5:2 “And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife.”

Several armies of Syrians crossed over into Israel with object of capturing slaves.  They captured one particular little girl who became the property of a man named Naaman. Her sole purpose? To attend to the needs of his wife. Few would blame her for hating all Syrians with a passion. No one would expect her to have any allegiance to or love for a Syrian, especially her slave master.

There is a story about two business owners who were in bitter competition Their stores were directly across the street from each other, and they would spend each day keeping track of each other’s business. If one got a customer, he would smile in triumph at his rival. One night an angel appeared to one of the shopkeepers in a dream and said, “I will give you anything you ask, but whatever you receive, your competitor will receive twice as much. Would you be rich? You can be very rich, but he will be twice as wealthy. Do you wish to live a long and healthy life? You can, but his life will be longer and healthier. What is your desire?” The man frowned, thought for a moment, and then said, “Here is my request: Strike me blind in one eye!”

One sign of jealousy is when it’s easier to show sympathy and “weep with those who weep” than it is to exhibit joy and “rejoice with those who rejoice.”

Proverbs 25:21-22 “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink: [22] For you shall heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward you.”

Matthew 5:44 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”

Then, there is the barrier of indifference. You know… “not my place or my business” or as I heard one say… “not my circus, not my monkeys!”

The little maid in our text was a slave. Where does she get off thinking that she can stick her nose in Naaman’s business?
As D.L. Moody walked down a Chicago street one day, he saw a man leaning against a lamppost. The evangelist gently put his hand on the man’s shoulder and asked him if he was a Christian. The fellow raised his fists and angrily exclaimed, “Mind your own business!” “I’m sorry if I’ve offended you,” said Moody, “but to be very frank, that IS my business!” Even if people reject the gospel, we still must love them.

It is our business.

Mark 16:15 “And he said unto them, Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. [14] You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. [15] Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light unto all that are in the house. [16] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Then there is the barrier of noninvolvement.

It’s not my concern – let someone else do it

When Rosina Hernandez was in college, she once attended a rock concert at which one young man was brutally beaten by another. No one attempted to stop the beating. The next day she was horrified to learn that the youth had died because of the pounding. Yet, neither she nor anyone else had raised a hand to help him. She could never forget the incident or her responsibility as an inactive bystander. Some years later, Rosina saw another catastrophe. A car driving in the rain ahead of her suddenly skidded and plunged into Biscayne Bay. The car landed head down in the water with only the tail end showing. In a moment a woman appeared on the surface, shouting for help and saying her husband was stuck inside. This time Rosina waited for no one. She plunged into the water, tried unsuccessfully to open the car door, then pounded on the back window as other bystanders stood on the causeway and watched. First, she screamed at them, begging for help; then cursed them, telling them there was a man dying in the car. First one man, then another, finally came to help. Together they broke the safety glass and dragged the man out. They were just in time — a few minutes later it would have been all over. The woman thanked Rosina for saving her husband, and Rosina was elated, riding an emotional high that lasted for weeks. She had promised herself that she would never again fail to do anything she could to save a human life. She had made good on her promise.
You must get involved to have an impact.

As John Holcomb said .. “No one is impressed with the won-lost record of the referee.”

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

In the People’s Republic of China, the largest nation in the world and a billion people strong, is what is called the Three-Self Church. That is the state-approved church. At their churches, they sing hymns, some to western tunes. They are allowed to read the Bible. They can pray. There can preach sermons and give Bible teaching. But they’re not allowed to evangelize. That’s part of the deal with the state. “They can do their thing as long as their thing doesn’t include persuading somebody else.” 50 million Christians in the People’s Republic of China have chosen not to be part of the Three-Self Church, and meet in house churches, because they’re convinced you can’t be a Christian unless you evangelize. They say that the two go together; and if you don’t evangelize, you’re not a Christian. They would say that those who are in the Three-Self church are not Christians, as far as the New Testament definition is concerned.
Luke 6:46 “And why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

What about the  barrier of inadequacy.

“I’m too young.”

“I’m too old.”
It is almost as presumptuous to think you can do nothing as to think you can do everything. -Phillips Brooks
Edward Everett Hale, the distinguished poet and former Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, while speaking of Americans eloquently captured the essence of every believer’s duty: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, that I ought to do. And what I ought to do, by the grace of God, I shall do.”
There is a story of an Atlantic passenger laying in his bunk in a storm, deathly sick–seasick. A cry of “Man overboard” was heard. The passenger thought, “God help the poor fellow–there is nothing I can do.” Then he thought that at least he could put his lantern in the porthole, which he did. The man was rescued, and recounting the story next day he said, “I was going down in the darkness for the last time when someone put a light in a port-hole. It shone on my hand, and a sailor in a lifeboat grabbed it and pulled me in.” Weakness is no excuse for our not putting forth all the little strength we have. Who can tell how God will use it?

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Let’s talk about the barrier of timidity.

“I’m too afraid”

Proverbs 29:25 “The fear of man brings a snare: but whoever puts his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”
In preparing for his book, Good News is for Sharing, Leighton Ford talked to many people, and the fear issue comes up front again and again. What makes people hesitate to share their faith? Here are some of the fears that have been mentioned to him:

“I am afraid I might do more harm than good.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I may not be able to give snappy answers to tricky questions.”

“I may seem bigoted.”

“I may invade someone’s privacy.”

“I am afraid I might fail.”

“I am afraid I might be a hypocrite.”
Perhaps the most common fear, however, is that of being rejected. A survey was given to those attending training sessions for the Billy Graham crusade in Detroit. One question asked, “What is your greatest hindrance to witnessing?”

Nine percent said they were too busy to remember to do it.

Twenty-eight percent felt the lack of real information to share.

Twelve percent said their own lives were not speaking, as they should.

But by far the largest group were the 51 percent whose biggest problem was the fear of how the other person would react!

None of us likes to be rejected, ridiculed, or regarded as an oddball.

Psalms 118:6 “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?”

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not; for I am with you: be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you;  I will help you; I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.”

In the midst of a generation screaming for answers, Christians are stuttering. (Howard Hendricks.)

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