Archive for the ‘Christian Life’ category

The Nine and the One

November 29, 2015

Luke 17:11-19–
11. And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13. And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15.And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16. And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18. There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving our pastor preached from Luke 17:11-19 on the need for us to be thankful, like the one leper out of ten who came back to give thanks to Jesus. His message prompted a couple of thoughts I’d like to share with you.

When the lepers cried out for Jesus to have mercy on them, He told them to go show themselves to the priest. According to Leviticus 13, there were several reasons those with skin diseases should show themselves to the priest. Jesus wasn’t asking anything unusual of these men.

Had they been to the priest before? We don’t know, but it’s possible they may have been, since they kept their distance, knowing they were unclean.

Notice they obeyed Jesus’ command. They had enough faith to follow His word. And their obedience was rewarded. They were cleansed–healed physically and no longer unclean.

Did they have any idea that would happen? We’re not told in the passage. Jesus hadn’t promised them anything.

I see an important principle here. The lepers obeyed and were rewarded with something they may not have anticipated. So it is with us. God’s word doesn’t always tell us everything we think we ought to know. Nonetheless, when we obey His word by faith, we are rewarded, perhaps with something good we hadn’t expected. Perhaps, like the lepers, we’ll get it sooner than expected as well.

Now comes the critical part–gratitude.

Nine of the lepers kept going on their way to the priest. The tenth turned around, raised his voice to glorify God, and bowed in worshipful thanks to Jesus.

Notice the passage mentions he was a Samaritan. The Samaritans and Jews didn’t want anything to do with each other. Jesus Himself referred to this man as a stranger.

Keep in mind, we who are believers in Christ were once strangers, spiritually speaking.

Perhaps it was leprosy that brought Nine Jews and a Samaritan together in a common bond because no one else would have them. Adversity can make strange companions.

Yet it was this Samaritan who showed his thankfulness to Jesus. And he was rewarded for it. Jesus told him his faith had made him whole.

Hadn’t the others exercised faith, too? They obeyed Jesus’ words, didn’t they?

But it was only the one who gave glory to God and showed gratitude. Perhaps it’s safe to assume he was not only healed physically, as were the others; but he was healed spiritually, too. In other words, Jesus gave him salvation.

Shouldn’t we be like that one leper?

Where Are the Other Nine? – Geoff Moore

Advertisements

Remember

August 30, 2015

“Moments for You” for the third quarter of 2015 is out, and the theme is Remember. I encourage you to read it here. (A new window will open when you click the link.)

Encouraging articles talk about God’s faithfulness, the hope we have in the salvation He offers, and how we should remember to trust Him.

One article handles the old saying “Forgive and forget” better than I’ve ever heard anyone else explain it. It’s likely not possible we can forget what someone has done to us, especially if the act is grievous. But with the Holy Spirit’s enabling, we can forgive and deal with the person as if he or she had not committed any wrong against us.

That’s good advice.

Don’t Give in to Shock and Awe

July 26, 2015

Lately I’ve been hearing Christians express fear and shock over recent events, which include the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of homosexual marriage and the deal with Iran on nuclear materials. I find the reactions disturbing and frustrating.

It’s disturbing because many are both uninformed about the nature of these events and about what God says in His word. It’s frustrating because I’m not sure I know the way to communicate with fellow believers on a level they can relate to without alienating them. Nonetheless, I shall try below.

He who is meant to receive it will. I can only leave the rest to God.

There’s a fear that Christians in America have lost–or are losing–religious freedom and will be persecuted because of the same sex marriage decision. We’ve suffered so little in this country, we don’t know what real persecution is. It’s normal throughout history in many places, and it’s happening now in many other countries.

While I don’t relish the thought of experiencing persecution myself or seeing others go through it, it may be just what we need to separate the wheat from the chaff in the body of Christ at large.

As for the deal with Iran, many fear for Israel. They fear if we don’t stand up for Israel, we’ll risk judgment.

First, Israel has plenty of nukes. If anyone doubts it, search it out. Israel is quite capable of taking care of itself. That may become necessary as America declines.

As for America being judged, forget about its relationship with Israel for a minute. Do you think the U.S. won’t be judged for killing tens of millions of babies? That alone should do it. But now there’s same sex marriage to tack onto that.

You can no doubt think of other things for which America deserves God’s judgment. We should thank God He has been so merciful up to now.

Back to Israel for a second. God isn’t going to let Israel be destroyed. Israel takes center stage in the Great Tribulation. Judgment will take place, but not destruction.

God will raise up His kingdom in his way and time, and His word is true. He will bring about prophetic events, and He will do it as only He can.

So don’t let the bloviators in today’s noisy media get to you. Don’t let your faith be shaken. Don’t give into shock and awe from the world or even other Christian sources.

As I was thinking on all of this the other day, 1 Peter4:12-19 came to mind. Look at it below. Remember, we have not yet begun to go through fiery trials. Keep Peter’s advice in mind for now and for the time ahead when we do go through such trials.

Look at it this way. If those of us who are Christians are persecuted, will we be able to say we’re persecuted for being righteous? Isn’t that far better than being persecuted for the things the rest of the world does?

Rejoice, Christian, if you’re counted righteous enough to be tagged for it.

Finally, remember 1 Peter 4:19. If you’re truly righteous, commit your soul to the only One who can truly keep it.

1 Peter 4:12-19–
12. Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
15. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.
16. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
17. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
18. And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
19. Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

Not indispensable

July 19, 2015

Perhaps you’ve heard Christians say, “The battle is the Lord’s.” So many examples in the Old Testament point to the truth of that. Israel wouldn’t have accomplished mighty victories if it weren’t for God’s direct intervention.

And what about prophecy? Do we think we can do anything to change God’s prophetic plan? While we don’t know from our vantage point now how things will work out, one day we’ll look back and say, “So that’s how God did it.”

Frankly, I think we don’t hear enough about what God will do and has already done. We are so self preoccupied–as if God couldn’t run the world without us.

I’ve heard so much through the years about how we need to be available to be God’s instruments. Let Him use us.

Well, maybe He will, and maybe He won’t. He certainly doesn’t have to. It’s an honor and privilege when He does, but often I don’t know He has until after the fact.

While I do indeed want to be used of God, I also know I’m not indispensable. Knowing that makes His grace and mercy toward me all the more humbling and precious.

Come to the New World

July 5, 2015

A conversation I had with my wife this morning brought to mind a novel I finished reading the other day. We had a discussion we have all too often about how things aren’t going to be OK.

I despise a glib attitude exhibited by too many Christians. The ideas are: Everything will be all right. All will be well with the world. God is in control.

OK, it’s true that God is in control. But he has given Satan plenty of latitude in this present world. And God allows things to happen that surely must not please Him.

For example, take the Old Testament account of Israel splitting into two nations–Israel in the north and Judah in the south. God said this would happen if His rulers and people did not follow Him. He couldn’t have been happy with what Israel did. Yet He allowed it to happen.

Today you and I are beset with tragedies of all kinds. Financial, health and family problems plague us in our everyday lives. They’re difficult burdens to bear. We’re deluded if we think things are OK. Yet God allows bad things to happen.

The U. S. has now legalized same sex marriage. Other gross immoralities will follow, and they’ll have consequences that will astound the average person.

Does this sound like things will be OK? Do we really think God is pleased? Nonetheless, it happens, and it is happening.

Yes, God is sovereign. But things will not be OK. They’re going to get worse and worse. That’s how the world operates.

So what’s the answer for you and me?

We must realize two things. We live in a sin-sick, cursed world. And America is dead.

The sooner we get over things like patriotism and confidence in this world, the better off we’ll be. Our allegiance and confidence are to be in the Lord.

The sooner we become unattached from this rotten world, the better. How can God fully use us if we’re centered on idealism about the human condition or the status of our once great nation?

Now, what does this have to do with the novel I mentioned above? Broadly speaking, it was about colonists who came to America. They came looking for new opportunities in a new world.

Shouldn’t we be thinking about the heavenly world we’ll be living in one day? It’s clear we don’t love that new world enough. If we did, we would be telling others how to get there. Shouldn’t we be inviting others to come to Christ and the new world He promises us?

Many of the old Negro spirituals had heaven in view. Do we have to become oppressed slaves before we get sick of this present world? That’s how it seems to me.

2 Timothy 2:3-4–
3. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

Philippians 3:7-9, 13-15, 20-21–
7. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:…
13. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you…
20. For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21. Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

With Persecutions…

June 7, 2015

Mark 10:28-31–
28. Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.
29. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
30. But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
31. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.

The above passage is an exchange which takes place in Mark’s Gospel after the incident with the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-27. Jesus had just told the disciples that it was very difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. It’s easy to become too attached to the present world and to cling to what it has to offer.

Peter chimed in to say he and the other disciples had left everything to follow Jesus. Perhaps he was implying that they deserved to enter the kingdom because of their noble forsaking of this world’s pleasures.

Jesus had another thought in mind. He makes it sound very appealing to forsake all for the Him and the Gospel. Family members and possessions left behind will be replaced a hundred times by better possessions and a family of God’s people. And that’s all in this world. How great is that? It’s wonderful, isn’t it?

But then there’s another part, which we like to leave out. The phrase that follows is “with persecutions.” Most of us know nothing of this, living as affluently as we still do. Oh, yes, family and friends might make fun of us for “getting religion” or some such thing. But is that what Jesus meant?

Presumably we live in a free country, and some debate whether it’s still a Christian nation. But for how long? And how shall those persecutions take place? Are we ready for that part of the equation?

I don’t mean to brush off persecution lightly. However, there’s more to what Jesus said. The last part of verse 30 says, “and in the world to come eternal life.”

So we see there’s a greater reward. Persecutions won’t last past death.

This promise of eternal life is better than any possessions or fellowship with the family of God we’ll have in this present world. Let’s not forget that part of Jesus’ words either.

And based on what He says in verse 31, those of us who are inclined to think we have great station in this present world may not have it in the world to come, as we might have expected. Those of us who have little will enter into eternal life with more than we could have ever hoped for.

Are You Smarter Than a Dolphin?

May 24, 2015

I can’t answer the question in the title. I can only make assumptions, which I trust are in your favor. But I do intend to mention dolphins and intelligence in a way I’ll bet you hadn’t thought of.

I read an article in the May 2015 issue of “National Geographic” which discussed the language abilities and intelligence of dolphins. One of the scientists quoted made a profound point.

This isn’t a direct quote, but here’s the idea. Rather than trying to figure out how smart dolphins are, we should find out how dolphins are smart.

I believe this is an attitude we should have toward people. You may know somebody who you think is a brick short of a load, so to speak. But do you know how that person is smart? What are his or her real talents and abilities?

The following selected verses from Romans 12 give guidance to born again believers in Christ.

3. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith…. 10. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;… 16. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.