Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Friday, November 22, 2013

28 Stories - Study 11: Little Maid


Fundamental: Spiritual Gifts and Ministries


Bible Story  
The northern riders, darkly robed, came at dusk—when they came. Without warning or pattern to the attacks, they would gallop gracefully through town grabbing any child within reach.
They always came when they needed more. But only they knew when that need arose. The townspeople waited each day in fear that today the riders would return. As quickly as the torrent of riders rushed in one end of town, they would flow out the other, followed only by tears of mothers and shaking fists of fathers.
She had been one of those children. Taken—playing in the street. Now she served as the personal slave of the commander’s wife. The commander who led the raiding parties. The commander who planned attacks on her parents and their people.
Yet, she did her best to serve. She wanted to please her mistress, to follow instructions and to love her new family. Yes, love. It was the way of her people. The people of the one true God. Only one word was required to define their indescribable God—love.
While she had no choice about leaving her mother and father, she did have the choice of whether or not she would leave her God. And she chose to love. She chose to hold onto her people by holding doggedly to their God—and living the way He required. She would serve willingly and love generously. Never could she have imagined the reward it would bring her.
The glimpse we are given in scripture of this little girl is fleeting. She is unnamed. But her master is well known, for he was the leader of all the armies of Aram. He too may have been left unnamed, had he not encountered the love of this young slave girl. Because of her, he became part of the narrative of the Israelites—her people—as a blazing testimony of the power and love of her God.
His name was Naaman. His story can be found in the fifth chapter of 2 Kings. It is a story of numerous amazing things—not just the miracle healing often told as a children’s story. There is much more in this brief chapter of Scripture. The character of God is revealed. And the character of His true followers is demonstrated through the slave girl, through God’s Prophet Elisha and ultimately through the healed Commander of Aram’s armies—Naaman.
All because of the love of one small girl who, hearing that her captor had leprosy and believing she had a God who was able to heal, said to her mistress, “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:3).
Having lived in the house of Naaman for some time, the slave girl would have known of his military genius. His king had high admiration for Naaman. As did, unbeknownst to him, his slave girl’s God. This foreign God—the Israelite God—demonstrated His inclusive nature, in the life of Naaman, when “through him the Lord had given Aram great victories” (vs 1). Only later, would Naaman realise how very involved the true God was in his life.
Thousands of years later, Jesus would say, “Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” (Matthew 5:44). Could it have been the presence of this little slave girl—her prayers and her love—that brought the hand of God and His military blessings to Naaman?

My Reflection
What would it have been like to be taken from home and forced to serve someone you didn’t know or love?

This little servant girl seems to have grown to love Naaman and his wife. She acted out of kindness by mentioning the Prophet in Israel. What character traits would it take to be able to care for your captor like she did?

Do you think you could be this kind of person without God’s help?

My Story
Have you ever been forced to help someone you didn’t like? What was it like? Did it ever become easy? Why or why not?

Have you ever been put into a role that you didn’t feel suited you? What helped you make it work?

How does God help us become what He needs us to be? How do tough times shape us?

My Assurance
Each of us plays a special part in the plan God has for this world. Every church is like a body that has many parts — each is very important. What assurances do these verses give you about the gifts God places in the lives of His followers? How does this encourage you in your faith?

1 Corinthians 12:27-28 ~ All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages.

1 Peter 4:10-11 ~ God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

My Commitment
God’s church only functions at its optimum level when everyone is fully involved. Look at these verses. Jot down all the ways people can be involved in the church. Circle the ways you like to be involved. What steps do you need to take to be fully involved?

Romans 12:4-8 ~ Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Ephesians 4:11-15 ~ Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

My Outlook
Finding our place in the world can be a real struggle. The following verses show how God is involved in making the church work effectively. What do you see in these verses that helps you understand how church works?

1 Corinthians 12:9-11 ~ The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

Ephesians 4:16 ~ Christ makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Finding our place in the world can be a real struggle. The following verses show how God is involved in making the church work effectively. What do you see in these verses that helps you understand how church works?

1 Corinthians 12:9-11 ~ The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

Ephesians 4:16 ~ Christ makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

My Response
The following statement is the 17th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

Spiritual Gifts and Ministries
God bestows upon all members of His church in every age spiritual gifts which each member is to employ in loving ministry for the common good of the church and of humanity. Given by the agency of the Holy Spirit, who apportions to each member as He wills, the gifts provide all abilities and ministries needed by the church to fulfill its divinely ordained functions. According to the Scriptures, these gifts include such ministries as faith, healing, prophecy, proclamation, teaching, administration, reconciliation, compassion, and self-sacrificing service and charity for the help and encouragement of people. Some members are called of God and endowed by the Spirit for functions recognized by the church in pastoral, evangelistic, apostolic, and teaching ministries particularly needed to equip the members for service, to build up the church to spiritual maturity, and to foster unity of the faith and knowledge of God. When members employ these spiritual gifts as faithful stewards of God’s varied grace, the church is protected from the destructive influence of false doctrine, grows with a growth that is from God, and is built up in faith and love.

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Bible Story
The Biblical story of Naaman can be found in 2 Kings 5.

Further Reading
 Acts 6:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:1-13