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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.

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How to be a Disciple–Luke 14

20 Dec

To be a disciple, we must not be saltless salt. It’s useless. Why sprinkle it? Without taste, it goes unnoticed.

This is what struck me as I read through Luke 14. In the beginning of the chapter, Jesus ate and taught in a Pharisee’s home. Through parables, Jesus warns them:

  • Don’t take the best position for yourself
  • Don’t center yourself around people you view as important
  • Don’t think you have a standing invitation and your own priorities reign

All of these teachings warn against self-importance. 

The rest of the chapter, Jesus is teaching to crowds in his traveling about being His disciple:

  • No relationship more important
  • No financial limit
  • No resource untapped

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure piles; it is thrown out. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  Luke 14: 34-35  NIV

Salt isn’t salt unless it’s salty.  Disciples aren’t disciples unless we’re discipley. 

Christ has given a definition of discipleship–not suggestions, but a view of what is required.

We use this common terminology of inviting Jesus into our hearts and then what? Too often we still have our own way with:

  • Our relationships
  • Our money
  • Our talents
  • Ourselves

The “our” must be surrendered. We must become “His.”

The mystery is we each have a unique identity in Christ when we surrender our own identities to Him. We think  of it as losing, but we are truly gaining.

We will not be useless. We will not go unnoticed when we become His.

Lord, open my eyes to see. Cause my hears to hear. Change my heart to be pure and chasing after you–as your disciple. Everything in my life is yours. Help me to live that way, attentive to your promptings and quick to follow.

The Most Wanted or A Change of Heart?

16 Dec

It’s happened again. A change of heart from the time the list is written to the last few days before gifts are opened.

The most wanted thing changes.

You tell me. What is the most wanted item on this list?

Sorry. You’re not up to speed. The “most wanted” has changed to Earth HQ.  

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!  Luke 11:13  NIV”

The first portion of Luke 11 shows Jesus teaching the disciples to pray. What can we learn?

  • A model prayer (verses 1 – 4)
  • A parable encouraging persistence and boldness (verses 5 – 8 )
  • A declaration that if we ask, seek and know, we will receive, find and have it opened to us (verses 9 -10)
  • And the truth that God the Father gives in a superior way to any earthly father

But for what do we ask our heavenly Father to give? What does Jesus tell us He gives to those who ask?

The Holy Spirit.

How often do I pray boldly for the Holy Spirit to flood my thoughts? What does God see as most wanted when He looks upon my heart?

A. W. Tozer wrote in The Pursuit of God, “How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Everything is made to center upon the initial act of “accepting” Christ (a term, incidentally, which is not found in the Bible) and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls.”

Our most wanted item should be this further revelation of God. His Holy Spirit enters a believer. Not to be stagnant. To burn, to consume, to create change.  

Lord, continue to create a craving in my heart for more of You. Overcome my own thoughts with your Spirit’s leading. Create the change only your gift of wisdom, comfort and guidance can bring. Be my most wanted!

When We Cannot Do What God Asks

13 Dec

Does God ever ask you to do something you cannot do?

I’m still reading Luke alongside Mom’s Toolbox and it’s been fabulous.

Over the weekend, I read Luke 6. I was reminded of a recent Sunday School lesson and something one of my friends pointed out in this chapter.

Jesus told the man with the shriveled hand–“Stretch out your hand.”  See Luke 6:10

The man shouldn’t have been able to do what Jesus asked. Yet, he did it.

How? Jesus provided the power.

Diseases were being cured and evil spirits cast out, “and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.”  Luke 6:19

In verses 27 – 36, Jesus gives all of us instructions which on our own, we cannot do. Truth is, we often do not want to.

  • Love your enemies
  • Do good to those who curse you
  • Pray for those who mistreat you
  • Turn the other cheek
  • Give more than what someone takes from you
  • Give without expecting repayment

Without Jesus providing the power and strength, how can we do these things God asks of us? We cannot.

Lord, please give me a heart that longs to do what you ask. Remind me to pray and ask for the desire and obedience you provide to do what you ask. Thrill me with your pleasure and joy as you grow me in my walk with you.

Same Thing, Just Different

15 Nov

There’s a saying in my family, created by my Daddy. Okay, so he invented many sayings in our home, but the one I’m thinking of today is, “Same thing, just different.” It’s one of my personal favorites. Both my husband and I have used it in our own household on many occasions over the years, particularly when the kids were splitting hairs on an issue. Now, they, too, pipe in with the phrase sometimes. I’m thinking of making some t-shirts to sell.  

Earlier this week on the blog for girls, we began a study on the names/descriptions of Jesus found in the gospel of John. The first name is Word. (See John 1:1-2, John 1:14 and Rev 19:13). In these verses, the original Greek is “logos” which can be described as the entirety of God’s declaration. I think of it as all encompassing.

But, the Greeks had lots of words which we often translate into the same English word.  One example is the “word” Jesus quoted  (originally from Deuteronomy) during his temptation by the devil in the desert.

“…Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”  (Matthew 4:4 NIV).

The original Greek for “word” Jesus spoke in the desert is not logos but “rhema.” Vines defines it as an utterance, a speech, a discourse. I think of it as a specific utterance rather than the entirety of God’s word.

Obviously, God’s word is his word, whether it be a smaller passage or the scriptures as a whole.  

So why are the original words different in the Greek?

Have you ever been in a desperate place, with a terrific need for a specific word of encouragement or hope from God? Something that would keep you going?

You had faith. You knew Christ as your Saviour, yet you needed something specific to get through a storm?

That’s rhema. We live on the very word of God. We need it daily, in digestible pieces. It sustains us, grows us. We don’t need only the knowledge of the gospel and the salvation Christ offers for the end of our lives, we need the Word to live — day by day. 

So, my favorite Daddy phrase applies. “Same thing, just different” — and all good!

Joel Osteen and the Right Question

7 Oct

This article from Charisma magazine caught my attention. The headline reads “Osteen Willing to Vote for Candidate of Different Faith.” http://www.charismanews.com/us/32112-osteen-willing-to-vote-for-candidate-of-different-faith

A summary of Joel’s recent television interview with Piers Morgan brings up many controversial ideas. Would he vote for someone of a different faith? A Mormon? A Jew? A Muslim? 

As if that wasn’t enough to stir the pot (or perhaps get high TV ratings), the conversation went on to discuss homosexual marriage. Would Osteen perform one? Would he attend one?

These may be attention grabbing questions, but they are the wrong questions. The wrong focus. And, they’re asking answers of the wrong person.

I’m reminded of Israel’s desire for an earthly king, like all the other nations around them. You can read these accounts in 1 Samuel 8. God said to his prophet, Samuel, in response to the people’s demands for a king. “…they have rejected me as their king” 1 Samuel 8:7b  (NIV). 

God had chosen Israel as his own people, yet they wanted to conform to what the other nations had, a man to serve as their leader. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles” 1 Samuel 8:19b-20 (NIV). 

A long line of kings followed which you can read about in 1st and 2nd Kings. Some did good, some did evil.

What about us? As Christians, do we still want to be like other people? Are we still looking to other leaders to tell us what to think and do instead of to our holy God, and his Word which stands forever?

God provided us with Jesus as our forever King. Our forever High Priest. Our forever Redeemer. The most important question was asked by Jesus himself:  “Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15 (NIV).

Our standing with the Lord our God is individual. Jesus died to make us the reconciled children of God. (See Galations 1: 3 – 5.)  Yet, we live in a world with many other examples around us. We choose who influences us. Do you choose the world or the WORD? (See Romans 12:2.) 

Once you choose God, he creates growth.  God uses his word in a willing heart to create a transformation. 

Back to the Old Testament kings as an example, Josiah’s father did not do right by the LORD. He did evil. However, Josiah honored the LORD in his heart and in his actions as king of Judah. In Josiah’s command, the Lord’s temple was being repaired. The book of law from Moses’s time was discovered and Josiah had it read aloud to him.

Josiah did two major things in response to what was read.

  1. He tore his clothes (to show grief and repentence of the wrong God’s people had commited)
  2. He inquired of God for direction. (See these events in 2 Kings 22 (particularly v11 – 13; 18 – 20) and Ch 23 (particularly 1 – 3; 21 – 25.) )

God still uses his word to bring willing hearts back to him. The earthly kings of Isreal and Judah all passed away. Current earthly influences will all pass away one day.

Read 1 Peter 1: 13 – 25.  Pray and stand fast in God’s word. The only imperishable life, the only imperishable kingdom. The only thing that stands forever.

Who is king in your heart?

Words vs. Logic

4 Oct
“Those are just words. Words, words, words.” Ever heard someone say that? Maybe you’ve said it.
When we’re in a situation that’s painful or confusing, sometimes talk or consoling are the last things we want. They can be down right irritating. What we want is to sort out and weigh our options, find a logical solution or choice. But, there are words that trump human logic every time.

“…Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”  (Matthew 4:4 NIV).

Jesus quoted this scripture (originally from Deuteronomy) during his temptation by the devil in the desert. It’s a familiar verse to me and I’m sure to many.
I’d always thought of “the word of God” as the scripture – and absolutely believe this is correct application (see 2 Tim. 3:16).
However, the spoken word of God is itself power. He spoke all creation into existence, the heavens and the earth. Gathering the water, creating vegetation, inventing and giving life to every creature. All of this was done at the command of God’s voice. God’s declaration, God’s words.
The scripture is God’s word. We are to live by it. Likewise, God has control and ability to speak over any situation. Regardless of the circumstance, if God speaks life–there is life!
Christ knew this power intimately even while in an earthly body, and Christ overcame the temptation to doubt it or circumvent it during his forty days in the desert.
Now Christ’s words in Matthew 4:4 also encourage me the same way 2 Cor. 5:7 does, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”
As I find myself wanting things to “make sense” in my way of thinking, I must stop and focus on the power and complete control my God has over absolutely anything. Lord, hold my hand to walk by faith, not by sight. Not by logic, nor by feelings, but by faith in your power and your love.
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