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Ten Lepers – Discovering the Difference

23 Dec

What made the one leper different?

If you’re familiar with the record of Jesus healing the ten lepers, you’re already thinking, “One leper returned to thank Christ for healing him.”

This is true, but there is another distinction.

As Jesus traveled between Samaria and Galilee, ten men with leprosy called to him from a distance, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

To all of them, Jesus said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” (According to the Mosaic law, the lepers had to remain outside the city a certain number of days and if they appeared clean, go show themselves to the priests for further instruction as to when/how they may reenter the city.)

And as they went, they were cleansed.  

When the one returns, falling at Jesus’s feet with praise and thanks, Jesus says, “Were not all ten cleansed? …..Rise and go; your faith has made you whole”  (see Luke 17:11 – 19, KJV). 

Do you see the other distinction?

Yes, the one leper was different. He alone went to praise and thank God. His heart stood apart from the rest.

The other distinction is what Jesus told him. Whole. Your faith has made you whole.

So what’s the difference between clean and whole?

Could it be a glimpse of this truth–Christ was born to all, Christ died for all, yet only some surrender to praise Him as Lord and become a servant?

Lord, please make me your true servant. Let me not raise my hand to receive what you give me without falling at your feet to praise and serve. This Christmas, may I not celebrate the fact that you came without using my life here to follow.

Keeping Christ in Christmas – Practical Family Ideas

25 Nov
I’ve got a plan for keeping Christ in Christmas this year. And as I watch the news this morning, I’m convinced I need one. Just hours ago reporters shared touching stories of thankfulness. The clock struck midnight and poof! The footage morphed into crazed shoppers using pepper spray. Welcome to Black Friday.
So today, I’m thinking of ways to keep the attitude of gratitude going, way of being intentional to make our home’s Christmas about God’s lavish love that sent Christ to this world as a babe.
Here’s a beginning list of what I’m doing.
1. Making an advent calendar. This is my first time, here’s a great link  with instructions. I’m not following all the daily activities suggested (life is busy enough at our house). But, I’m thinking of every weekend putting a fun thing on a date card. And, I’m using the calendar in conjunction with the next item on my list. So I think I’ll put a family member’s name on each date to signify they’re in charge of reading the scripture from that day’s devotion.)
2. Reading a family devotional each day. We’re starting on Dec 1st . I’m using the free download by Ann Voskamp and Nancy Rodden (click here to read a sample and get your copy). 
3. Creating “Gifts of Gratitude.”  I’m putting a large, decorated jar out in the kitchen and challenging my family to write on provided strips of green and red paper any specific thing about a family member they appreciate. Something like, “Quinn, I love reading with you at night, taking turns reading a page at a time.” Or, “Randy, watching you toss the football out back with the boys makes me smile.”  You get the idea. We’ll do this from December 1 – December 24. The evening of Christmas Eve, we’ll read them together over cocoa and festive treats.
Let’s help each other make it a joyful Christmas that stands apart. 
It’s not gonna be easy folks. Everywhere we go, we’re pulled into other versions of the season. Things I’m not against by any means, but I don’t want them to engulf the joy the angels first came and sang about to the shepherds. I don’t want the shine of lights from our decor to compete with the bright star pointing to the Messiah.
What are you’re doing?  Post a comment with an idea. Or, if you have a blog entry that details a way to keep Christmas, include a shortlink for us. 

Thankful for Beautiful Things

22 Nov
Hair dryers, cosmetics, exercise equipment. . . or at least those great suck-you-in undergarments (sometimes I’m extra grateful for those).  Since November began, I’ve enjoyed reading many wonderful lists of things friends are thankful for. And though most of us use them every day, I’ve not seen a list including things to make us beautiful.
I guess in all practicality, I am thankful for such things. Or maybe it’s a love/hate relationship. They certainly get a lot of attention from me. 
But, today, I’ve listed some truly beautiful things–favorite things–to share with you.
1. The sound of crunching leaves on a brisk morning walk
2. Smiles of a baby when sleeping
3. Belly laughter…you know that real deep kind
4. An elderly couple holding hands
5. The sound and feel of a pencil writing smoothly and quickly on the page 
6. A breeze on your face with sunshine beaming down
7. Knowing God is talking to you and you can hear Him
8. Helping someone just because you can
9. Knowing you are loved with no fear of losing it
10. Your loyal dog following you around just to be close to you
11. Snow falling
12. The silver of ice on bare tree limbs
13. Rocks in the mountain stream and the rippling sound the water makes
14. Fireflies in the night air
15. New friendships
16. An unexpected letter from a friend
17. Forgiveness – both to give and to receive
18.  Bright blue sky
19. Belonging
20. Tall pine trees, red dirt, and blue sky
21. The waterfall at the end of a long hike
22. The anticipation of the waterfall at the end of a long hike
23. The beginning of a trail you’ve never taken
24.  Certainty
25.  Discovery
26. Freedom
27. A singing child when he doesn’t know you’re listening
28. Vastness of the ocean
29. The night sky lit up with the moon and stars
30. Seeing something for the first time with someone you love
31.  Knowing you made a difference
32. Holding a loved one’s hand as they slip into eternity
33. Fall weather after a hot summer
34.  A listening friend
35.  Seeing your child gain confidence
36.  A life lived on purpose 
As I reflect on the list, almost every one of them involves a relationship or part of creation; something I can’t experience without God providing it.
At my house, we have loads of things to be thankful for which are just that: “things.” But the truly beautiful things aren’t “things” at all. 
And here’s the most beautiful thing I’m thankful for:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJM0hFvz_64&feature=related
How many beautiful things can you see? I’d love to read some in the comments.

What’s Biggest Today?

8 Nov
“…we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek”  Hebrews 6:18b-20. 
What’s biggest in your life today? A problem. A need. A hurt.
Even something good can feel like the biggest thing. A surprise. An accomplishment. An opportunity. 
But our LORD is the greatest of all. Nothing is bigger, nothing more powerful. Nothing can stand against Him or rise above Him.
I’m in the midst of a wild storm, clinging to the One and Only Living God and His Word to me. May my hands and heart be blistered from gripping His anchor which never fails.
So if you’re tired or hurt today, God is greater than that hurt.
If you’re thrilled about something, it still can’t compete with the fullness and everlasting joy of our God.
Click on the song link below and worship Him right now. Tell Him He is above all things.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca1EEYayu4M

The most important thing?

6 Sep
This morning, I read the following sentence in a journal with a quoted scripture. It read, “Nothing is more important than our obedience to God.”  The verse offered was Luke 11:28: He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
I opened my Bible to Luke 11 to get the context. The scripture noted was Christ’s response to a woman’s declaration after witnessing Jesus cast out a demon from a mute man.
 27As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
 28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”    Luke 11:27 – 28 NIV
The first few words of verse 28 reminded me of the beatitude verses we’ve been studying. Today, we come to the following.
Matthew 5:7 – 8  (NIV)
Blessed are the merciful,
   for they will be shown mercy. 
Blessed are the pure in heart,
   for they will see God.
Heart is the connector for me on all of these verses. I believe Jesus’s response in Luke 11:28 urges us to see we are not blessed based on birth, family position, or position in society. Rather, a person is blessed if they will hear the word of God and be changed by it. A true change creates resulting actions.
Mercy is an act of compassion. Compassion comes from the heart.
Mercy, compassion, pureness of heart — they all come from a willingness to hear the word of God and be changed by it. A willing heart. A heart with faith.
The faith-filled heart is a foundation to all things of importance. This too, is a gift from God.

Lord, fill us with renewed faith today. Overcome our doubts, and our unbelief, our grief. Faith releases us to obey  Your promptings. I praise you, Jesus, as the author and perfector of my faith. (see Hebrews 12:2)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c24En0r-lXg  Let Faith Arise, by Chris Tomlin.

Are You Blessed?

2 Aug

“Blessed.” What does this word bring to mind?

Most people feel it infers something received from God.

When a family moves to a new house, sometimes they’ll say,           “We’re very blessed.” Or, if everyone’s healthy, we’ll say, “We’re so blessed.”  That’s how I usually hear this word, in reference to  something that’s profitable, either materially or emotionally.

I don’t think this is incorrect. It’s right to thank God and acknolwedge him as the giver of wonderful things in our lives.

We read this in Genesis 12: 1 – 3. God tells Abraham he will bless him, and that he will bless all the people on the earth through him.

The Greek translation of the word “bless” in this passage is “barak,” a verb that literally means “to bless.”  One definition in Webster’s dictionary defines this as “to favor divinely.”

However, if that’s where we stop with the word “blessed,” we are missing another meaning. Blessed can infer something that God gives which is not of the tangible variety.

The Greek translation of “blessed” in many verses is “makarios.”  This means “happy.”

Happiness is an internal gift from the Lord, which should not be dependent upon circumstances. In fact, one of the most studied pieces of scripture in the entire Bible uses this form of “blessed” nine times. And the circumstances the word “blessed” is coupled with in these verses don’t necessarily make us think “happy!” At least not in our way of understanding.

I’m referring to The Beatitudes, also known as The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5: 3 – 12.  I’ll be studying and blogging on these verses in coming posts. I hope you’ll begin studying them and praying over them with me. Let’s see what God will reveal to us.

In the meantime, thank God for all of the ways he has blessed you in the “barak” meaning. Be specific with your praises and thanksgiving!

 

Remembering No More

21 Apr

 

A few years ago, I studied Believing God by Beth Moore with our women’s Bible study group. One of the most impactful things for me was seeing how scripture references God remembering, and then provides a direct action He took.

Of course, God knows all. So when we see “God remembered” it is being spelled out for a reason. To draw a connection of intentional action by God to what He specifically remembered.

If you have the study, you can review this section on p 147 – 149.

This morning, as Easter approaches and I’m thinking of the New Covenant ushered in with Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, I’m praising God for what he chooses not to remember. What he chooses not to act upon because of his lavish gift of Christ’s holy blood to cover us.

 

 Hebrews 8: 7 – 12 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.  But God found fault with the people and said:

8 “The days are coming, declares the Lord,
   when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
   and with the people of Judah.
9 It will not be like the covenant
   I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
   to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
   and I turned away from them,
            declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
   after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
   and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
   and they will be my people.
11 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
   or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
   from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness
   and will remember their sins no more.”

Thank you Father God for sending your Son Jesus, who willingly took the sin of this world, and conquered it. Thank you for remembering my sin no more, for not giving me the punishment it deserves because Christ already bore it all.

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