IMAGINE

Imagine means to form an image of something that is not present. It means to future cast. It means to look ahead. It means to understand the possibilities of the future.  

I want you to imagine what your life will be in 5 years from now. Do you believe that God is working on a plan?

Ephesians 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.

This is talking about the Jews as God’s people and then how we were included by God’s purpose and will.  In other words, this was a deliberate inclusion.  You aren’t here except by the fact that God planned for you to be under his grace.  He chose you to be part of his plan.   So therefore we conclude God has a plan for those he has included in his plan.  

In verse 18, we read the challenge.  

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 

I want you to imagine today what would happen for you in the next 5 years if you did everything according to the plan God has for your family.  

Imagine what would happen if you made the decisions for your kids at the right time.  Imagine what would happen if you followed the plan for your marriage, your finances, your church.

I am shortsighted.  I can read things close up, but I can’t see things in the distance, like signs.

This story is a story of 2 men. One has short term thinking. One has long range thinking.  

2 Kings 5:5 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lordhad given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents[b] of silver, six thousand shekels[c] of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”  7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”

8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”  11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.  13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.  15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him 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.”  16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.

17 “If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord. 18 But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this.” 19 “Go in peace,” Elisha said.  After Naaman had traveled some distance, 20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”

21 So Gehazi hurried after Naaman. When Naaman saw him running toward him, he got down from the chariot to meet him. “Is everything all right?” he asked.  22 “Everything is all right,” Gehazi answered. “My master sent me to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent[d] of silver and two sets of clothing.’”  23 “By all means, take two talents,” said Naaman. He urged Gehazi to accept them, and then tied up the two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing. He gave them to two of his servants, and they carried them ahead of Gehazi. 24 When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house. He sent the men away and they left.25 When he went in and stood before his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?”  “Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered.  26 But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves?27 Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” 

The central question of the story is why Elisha didn’t take the gifts and money and clothes and why Gehazi did. Elisha had a long term view. When Elisha wouldn’t take the gifts, it forced Naaman to a deeper level.

“Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”  16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused. 17 “If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord. 

The result of Elisha not taking his gifts, was that it took Naaman deeper. Instead of his conscience being easily satisfied by giving gifts, Elisha’s refusal made him think deeper.  It pricked his conscience and that’s when he asks for dirt etc.

The result is the change of a nation.

Then a few verses later we read about Gehazi…

21 So Gehazi hurried after Naaman. When Naaman saw him running toward him, he got down from the chariot to meet him. “Is everything all right?” he asked.  22 “Everything is all right,” Gehazi answered. “My master sent me to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent[d] of silver and two sets of clothing.’”  23 “By all means, take two talents,” said Naaman. He urged Gehazi to accept them, and then tied up the two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing. He gave them to two of his servants, and they carried them ahead of Gehazi. 24 When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house.

Gehazi chooses the short term outcome. I want what I want now. Gehazi’s name means valley of vision or shortsightedness.

Abraham Lincoln took the long view.

Prior to marrying Mary Todd, Lincoln’s original love was Ann Rutledge who passed away at the age of 22. Lincoln’s mother had died when he was just nine years old and later his sister Sara died in childbirth.

2) Of his and Mary Todd Lincoln’s four sons, two died as children during Lincoln’s lifetime, each of those deaths causing him enormous agony.

3) Until Lincoln was 21 years of age, his father sent him to labor for others, and then kept the wages his son earned. As an illiterate man the father saw no importance in Lincoln’s education.

4) Lincoln suffered from inferiority from his lack of formal education which ended with a partial year of grade school. He was often confronted by men from aristocratic families; those men having the best formal education money could buy, while he was self-taught.

5) Lincoln also suffered from inferiority over his appearance, which was mocked as being terribly ugly by some writers and political cartoonists among others. Some saw him as being gorilla like, while some others saw him as uneducated and ignorant, just a country bumpkin way out of his league in national politics.

6) In business, Lincoln failed twice, as a politician he lost eight elections and he suffered a nervous breakdown, bedridden for six months, as fears, doubts and uncertainties lived within his soul.

7) No surprise, Lincoln suffered from depression throughout his adult life.

8) As president during the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865), Lincoln was often criticized for the incompetence of his generals, particularly in the early years as battlefield defeats mounted and the death toll was stunning. Lincoln wrote one of the most famous speeches in history, The Gettysburg Address, as he poured his heart out, trying to make sense of it all.

9) Lincoln was haunted by a New Orleans slave auction he saw as a young man, the impact of which he never got over, and he witnessed the price in blood, black soldiers paid in the Civil War, with the hope of freeing their race.

As President, not only did Lincoln write and issue the Emancipation Proclamation that restricted slavery, but as the Civil War was ending in 1865, he initiated the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, outlawing U.S. slavery forever.

But what Lincoln achieved could not have happened had it not been for his long term view.  

In surveys Abraham Lincoln is the most loved president in History.

Being shortsighted creates major problems in life.   

  • Can’t see what’s ahead because we are stuck on today.

  • Miss important signs along the way

  • Made misjudgements about what the signs are saying.

  • Have to constantly slow down to read the signs and ask for directions.  

Gehazi shortsightedness caused him to lose his future.

He got what he wanted today, but missed what he was supposed to have.

  • He was supposed to be the next prophet in line.

  • He was supposed to be triply blessed

  • He was supposed to do great things.

  • He was supposed to change nations.

  • He was supposed to be world changer.  

The bible says:  Better is the end of a thing than the beginning.  Better is the patient in spirit than the proud. 

I’m inviting you today to take the long view.

Imagine what we could do if we took the long view and built something that changed Atlanta, America and the world.  


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