Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Friday, December 13, 2013

28 Stories - Study 14: On Holy Ground

Fundamental: The Lord’s Supper

Bible Story   

Ecstatic, the new Naaman put on his clothes and armour, mounted his horse and headed back to the Prophet’s house at a full gallop. This time Elisha came out of his house and was very welcoming and friendly. Naaman stood before Elisha, and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.” He gestured to the wagons which held the payment for his healing—750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothing. Elisha’s answer was beyond understanding, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept any gifts.”
Naaman tried everything to change the Prophet’s mind, but Elisha refused saying, “What are you paying me for? I have done nothing!”
“But you healed me of Leprosy!” Naaman argued.
“No I didn’t,” Elisha quipped. “I’ve never seen you before in my life! If you’ve been healed it’s because God saw fit to heal you!”
“But I came to your door,” Naaman replied. “And your servant gave me a message from you, that I was to wash in the river and be healed!”
Elisha crossed his arms and said, “That was a message from the Lord, not me! I can’t heal anyone from anything. Only God can do such things!”
 Slowly Naaman began to get the picture.  Elisha wanted no reward because he hadn’t done anything—other than deliver a message from the God “whom he served.”
God had healed Naaman. This God—the God of his slave girl—truly was the one true God and had an honest-to-goodness prophet! Naaman understood. It was God who was worthy of thanks.
But how? His chariots loaded with treasure looked insignificant now. How do you thank a God that has everything? Perhaps by thinking outside the box.
Naaman’s next statement, a request of Elisha, was very odd indeed. “Please allow me to load two of my mules with earth from this place, and I will take it back home with me.”
Imagine the confusion that now settled on Elisha, and all the servants. Dirt? Naaman wants to dig up a pile of dirt from the prophet’s front yard and take it home? Has he gone mad? What is he going to do with two mules worth of dirt?
Naaman answered their unspoken question. “From now on I will never again offer burnt offerings or sacrifices to any other god except the Lord.”  How do you thank a true God for His providence? Naaman had discovered the answer—worship.
Elisha realised the beauty and innocence of the request. It was a beautiful thing that Naaman was suggesting. He would take a bit of Israel home with him and worship Israel’s God on the prophet’s land, every day. Elisha nodded his agreement and Naaman’s servants loaded up the mules. Then, with many thank-you’s and well wishes, Naaman headed home.
Imagine the scene as they ride back into Naaman’s property in Aram. His wife and servant girl are longing to see if the master is healed. They run out to meet him. They embrace his perfectly healthy arms and legs. They rejoice. But they can see that something else is on his mind.
“Make a pile over there,” Naaman says to his men pointing at a central spot in the front yard. They take the bags off the mules and pour out the dirt. Imagine the thoughts of his wife and servant girl. Naaman has been healed of leprosy and he is excited about a gardening project? He took time to bring home a huge pile of dirt?
 “Dirt from the Prophet’s front yard!” he excitedly explains to his wife and slave girl. Then he forms the Prophet’s dirt, now in his own front yard, into a flat area and builds an altar—like he’s seen in Israel—to the one true God. Not only has Naaman been healed, he has found a God worth taking home.
Every day he brings his offerings to the altar. He sacrifices to the God of Israel. Neighbours walk by and stare. Naaman explains again, “It’s dirt from the Prophet of the one true God—Israel’s God—who healed me from leprosy!”
And everyday, as he makes his sacrifices—as he kneels in worship—he is not alone. He is joined by someone very special to him, someone who saved his life, a servant girl who taught him humility. She kneels too—on home soil—and worships the God she has always loved.

My Reflection

Imagine you were Naaman’s little servant girl. A few days ago you found out he was dying. You said he should go see the prophet and he listened to you. And now, here he is, completely healed! What would you be feeling?

Imagine watching him build the altar and hearing him say that this soil was holy ground from the Prophet’s yard. Then he invites you to worship his new God—your God—with him! What would be going through your heart and mind?

My Story

Have you ever been in a place where you felt it was holy ground or a holy time? Perhaps it was a worship service. Or a quiet walk in nature. Where were you? What was the holy ground experience?

What events in Biblical history are holy times or places that we still honour today? What events or activities can we be involved in to transport us back to those special times of worship?

My Assurance

Jesus left us with a symbolic meal to remember Him by. He left us a way to go on to holy ground and worship the memory of His presence on Earth. What do these verses tell you about that meal and what it means to believers?

Revelation 3:20 ~ Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

Matthew 26:26-29 ~ As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”

John 6:48-51 ~ Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”

My Commitment

Communion, also called The Lord’s Supper, is a time when we restate our commitment to follow Jesus. According to these verses, how does this recommitment impact our life in real ways?

1 Corinthians 10:16-17 ~ When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body.

1 Corinthians 11:27-29 ~ So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself.

John 13:3-5, 14, 15 ~ Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. . . . since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.

My Outlook

The Last Supper gives us a consistent reminder of where we are headed and who is coming to get us. How do these verses give you a hope for the future and a reason for living for Christ until He comes?

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ~ For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.” For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.

John 6:54 ~ Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day.

John 13:17 ~ Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.

My Response

The following statement is the 16th 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?

The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper is a participation in the emblems of the body and blood of Jesus as an expression of faith in Him, our Lord and Saviour. In this experience of communion Christ is present to meet and strengthen His people. As we partake, we joyfully proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again. Preparation for the Supper includes self-examination, repentance, and confession. The Master ordained the service of foot washing to signify renewed cleansing, to express a willingness to serve one another in Christlike humility, and to unite our hearts in love. The communion service is open to all believing Christians.

Bible Story

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

Further Reading

Matthew 26:17-30, John 13:1-17