Being Grateful

Luke 17

Non on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, Jesus, Master, have pity on us! When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go, your faith has made you well.                                                                                       Luke 17:11-19 (NIV)

From the time we are tiny children, our parents are constantly reminding us to have good manners. When you ask for something, what do your parents always tell you to say? Please. And when you receive something, what are you supposed to say? Thank you. When your parents remind you to say “please” and “thank you” they are helping you to understand thankfulness. Let’s say you receive a gift you really wanted for Christmas or your birthday. You are probably very happy that you have received the gift. But being thankful takes it a step further: you’re not just happy that you HAVE the gift, you are filled with thankfulness to the giver as well. You think of all the giver had to do to make sure you could get the gift. They took the time to go shopping. They paid for it. They wrapped it in pretty paper. And because you are so amazed by the giver’s generosity and love, you freely show your thankfulness by giving them a big hug, or saying “thank you” over and over, or writing a note and sending it in the mail or sending a text.
Today we are going to look at a story in Luke 17 about a time that Jesus gave an amazing gift to ten men. And while all ten of them may have been happy that they received a gift, only one of them chose to show their thankfulness to Jesus. Here we find Jesus on the border of Galilee and Samaria and he was met by a band of ten lepers. We know that the Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans, yet with this group of lepers there was at least one with this disease. Yet even through most of them were of the Jewish faith and at least one who was a Samaritan they all had this one thing in common called leprosy. In today’s world leprosy can been controlled with medicine, but in the days of our Lord it was incurable and was a slow growing and painful disease. It is infectious and contagious and as a result lepers were shunned and separated from the community into a leper’s colony. In this parable, Jesus came upon ten lepers who stood off at a distance and raising their voices saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” (Verse 13) Jesus responded telling them to go and show themselves to the priests. Under the Law of Moses when a person was cleansed of leprosy there was a ritual they followed which included certain sacrifices and showing themselves to the priests. What Jesus told them to do was in accordance with the law so that when they did they would be given a clean bill of health. The leprosy was a disease which the Jews supposed to be inflicted for the punishment of some particular sin, and to be, more than other diseases, a mark of God’s displeasure; and therefore Christ, who came to take away sin, and turn away wrath, took particular care to cleanse the lepers that fell in his way. The story of Jesus healing the ten lepers in this chapter of Luke appears immediately after a teaching conversation Jesus has with His disciples after one asked Him to “increase our faith.” In this conversation, Jesus indicates that obedience to God is not something extra we do to receive His thanks and rewards. Rather, it is our duty to serve Him, just like it is a servant’s duty to serve his master. Our pride sometimes twists this truth and tells us that we should expect God to thank us for all we do to serve Him. But Jesus teaches here that true faith is total dependence on God and a willingness to unselfishly do His will. This conversation, combined with the story of the ten lepers, puts gratitude in its proper perspective. God is the one deserving of gratitude because of the grace and mercy He freely gives to those of us who do not deserve it. For the benefit of His hearers, Jesus pointed out the fact that He had cleansed all ten lepers; not one out of ten. He made clear to the crowd that He had healed all who had asked for healing and not just this one man who had returned to thank Him. The other nine who had been healed had not returned to give thanks to God in the presence of the One who had healed them. Not all who receive help from God and Jesus choose to thank God and Jesus for the help they have received, but instead go on to live their lives for themselves. Luke does not tell us what the other nine did, because the emphasis is upon the one who went to Jesus with praise and thanksgiving. Perhaps the other nine only wanted physical cleansing, while the Samaritan cried out in his heart for physical, moral, and spiritual cleansing, so Jesus cleansed him immediately and completely. If the other nine had gone on to the priest praising and thanking God for Jesus’ healing them, Jesus would probably have reported this fact in some way to the crowd. As it was, the Samaritan acted in accordance with the writings of Moses and praised God and thanked Jesus (no doubt led by the Holy Spirit). Jesus showed once again that many who were not Jews came to faith in Him and praised the true God, while many who were Jews did not give God the glory that God deserved or recognize Him as the Messiah. In all of our lives, bad things happen from time to time. Sometimes these bad things are consequences for bad choices, but other times bad things happen simply because we live in a sinful world. When God created the world, it was perfect. There was no sickness; there was no death. Everything was beautiful, happy and good. But when sin came into the world, it spoiled everything! There are accidents and cancer and divorce. There are tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, crime and sickness. It is not hard to see how awful sin is!
So because we live in a fallen, sinful world, there are terrible diseases. The disease of leprosy is one of them and this disease is very contagious, this is why the men stayed at a distance from everyone else. No one wanted to be near to anyone who had this disease, so this way they also would not get leprosy. Can you image having this disease yourself and you are unable to be with your family, friends, holding down a job in order to support your family. Yet during this time when someone did get this terrible disease other would believe it was because of a terrible sin that person had committed, so they would think why else did they get leprosy. It sounds like the way people would think in today’s world. When something happens to someone, such as a bad accident, an illness, and even death itself, so many times we think wow that person most of did something wrong to get God so angry, why else would this happen, and yet this is no true at all. There are times things such as disease just happens to even Christians like ourselves, and when we do get sick it is not because of a terrible sin we had committed and that God was angry at us. Yes, we are sinners no doubt, that is why God’s love for all mankind is so great that he sent his son Jesus into this sinful world to die in our place so that we are no longer separate from God because of our sins. So different things good and even bad things do happen to all of us. However, thru all those difficult times in our lives and yes sometimes there are many days or longer when things are going on how do we as Christians get thru them. First thru pray, having a pray life is essential to all of us to get thru those times. We take the time to thank God, yes thank God for trials we may go thru for by going thru those trials will makes us stronger in our relationship with God. In the book of Romans 12:12 Paul tells us Be joyful in hope, patient in afflictions, faithful in prayer. As with the ten lepers, nine of them was so busy to get back to being normal, to get back to their families and friends. They seem to forget one important thing, the one thing that only a foreigner a Samaritan remember to do, and that would be to say Thank you, Praise God for healing him. Does that mean God heals everyone, takes all the pain of the world totally away? No it does not, first off God understand our pain whether it is physical pain, emotional pain, or any other pain, God feels and understands what we are going thru right in that moment. He does promise that when we accept him as our personal Lord and Savior that he will never leave or forsake us, found in Hebrews 13:5, this is why we need to study and be in God’s word to get us thru those times. When we read Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angles, nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creations will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. What does this all mean I believe that is saying to us that thru the hardest of times in our own lives, we can have a grateful and thankful heart. God gives us many gifts thru our lives, today is called present, that in itself is enough reason to say “Thank You” God . 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Eileen

 

 

 

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Your Identity

John 1.png

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.                   John 1:12-12 NIV

It’s extremely easy to lose our identity, furthermore, to find ourselves searching all over to find out who we are. We hear stories on the news and we see it in the people we associate with. Additionally, we certainly deal with it in a very private as well as personal way as we hear voices, voices which tell us and then are projected into the world. We tell the world what we think about ourselves and don’t think for a minute we’re fooling the entire world. We may fool some people, but overall, we aren’t fooling everyone.
We hear the voices in our heart, spirit and mind telling us good and bad. We hear the good from those who really love and care for us, we hear that good from God — yet we tend to believe the bad which comes from Satan and from those who don’t care for us. We hold onto that bad stuff.
We hear things like . . . you’re
Not good enough, Not smart enough, Not attractive enough
Not skinny enough, not rich enough, not smart enough, not athletic enough, Not from the right family, We’re told we’re not enough! And countless other lies. Hearing those lies long enough and your identity will be formed by it. You feel rejected. Eventually you believe you’re not enough. The voices which shape our identity begin early in life, from the moment we are born. Those words and thoughts stick! Don’t they? They play like a broken record. I know I’ve heard them. I was reminded I wasn’t good enough too many times.
As much as we think we can overcome them, they come back and haunt us. You remind yourself, they were right, I’m no good, not good enough.
Then we begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. We realize in our heart, spirit and mind we need Jesus to help us through life. Yet we sin. We know this fact and the world knows it, and we think we’re worthless; unlovable. I’ve committed too many terrible sins. My sins exempt me from God ever loving me. So, I question if Jesus would die for me. Maybe He’d die for a Saint but certainly not a sinner. I’m not good enough.
That’s where we get it wrong friends. You see, there’s nothing we’ve done which is so bad that God cannot forgive us and bring us into His family. Humanly speaking, some may never forgive you, divinely speaking, we have a God who is not human! Thank God for that!! And He can and will forgive you . . . if you ask.
So, whatever you’ve done in your life up until this very second, know that God wants to be in a relationship with you. He loves you, He died for you. In 2 Peter 3:9, as Peter wrote about the return of Christ, he said, The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
That’s God’s desire for us. God doesn’t want you to think you cannot be loved and embraced by Him. Peter tells us repent, turn away from your sin. Turn to God and God will embrace you in a life changing relationship, he will change you and I from the inside, out. He wants you in His family. There is not a wall which is meant to keep you away, the door is always open, the lights are always on. But, we must receive Christ.
To receive this blessing from God, we must except Jesus for who is truly is, the Son of the Living God, the Messiah, the “Great I Am” What Paul wrote to the church in the book of Ephesians was readily understood but is often missed by us. Paul tells us in the book of Ephesians 1:5-6 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will-to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us the one he loves. Paul wanted the Ephesians to remember their identity. He wrote, in love he predestined us for adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.
It was God’s great joy to adopt us into His family. God didn’t have to, He wanted to. What is your primary identity? God adopted you — do you understand that? If you believe in Jesus, you understand you don’t earn God’s love. God loves you because of who you are and who you will yet become in His kingdom. In Ephesians 2:4-5 Paul tells us, but because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, it is by grace you have been saved. Also in the same chapter 8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God- not by works so that no one can boast. John Wesley the founder of the Methodist Movement summons up grace in three parts-Prevenient Grace, the grace that surrounds us: is the grace that comes to us before we know God. God showers it upon all people whether they are aware of it or not. Justifying Grace- The Grace that makes our brokenness whole. Justifying Grace brings a big change to the relationship we have with God. We come to acknowledge our sinfulness and trust that we are forgiven by God’s grace. Justifying Grace is when God reaches out to a person through Jesus Christ with accepting and pardoning love.
Sanctifying Grace- Smoothing out the rough edges. Prevenient Grace is God meeting you at every corner, Justifying Grace is God reaching out to you with love, you turn a corner in your faith journey. Sanctifying Grace challenger’s believers to go deeper in faith, to love the world energetically, and to keep growing in the knowledge and love of God.
So, Paul was telling the people this — — If you have come to know Jesus, your most defining moment isn’t who threw you out BUT who took you in. God picked you out, picked you up, and took you home. God did that for you!! He was willing to die for you, so you would never again have to face rejection from the world. He wanted you to be part of His family, even when nobody else did!
There were so many issue facing the churches then as well as so many different problems we face today. Paul tells them as well as us of today, we need to change our ways, he reminds them they belong! Their most defining moment is not who threw you out, but who brought you in. If you heard the call of God and responded to Christ, you need to know He picked you out, picked you up, and brought you home. He adopted you. You’re family! Let that sink in. Remind yourself, God adopted me. Hold onto those words, believe them! The term redemption was also a trade word. In Ephesians 1:7, Paul wrote ~ 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.
Jesus paid the price for you and me by his suffering on the cross. That was the purchase price. Christianity is not about doing enough for God so he finally loves you. No, God buys us — redeems us — through the blood of Jesus hanging on the cross: “In him we have redemption through his blood—the forgiveness of sins.” God doesn’t need to punish you for your sins, somebody else was already punished for them.
In Ephesians 1:13, Paul wrote, In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were SEALED with the promised of the Holy Spirit.
Paul is reminding them, when they believed in Jesus – – – they were marked with a seal of the Holy Spirit.
We need to know and believe our identity in Christ. Whatever happens that is not good in your life. You name it! Maybe you’re in it right now. Know that you are His! You are the King’s child! The Lord of life, the God of all Creation, the Lord of the Heavenly Armies . . .
He loves you . . . He adopted you, He redeemed you, He sealed you. You are His! That my friends are your primary identity . . . You are a child of the Highest God, Jesus, the Christ!
And that is freeing. I don’t have to earn my way in, I don’t have to buy my way in, when life is a struggle I don’t have to buy junk to satisfy me, because I am the Lord’s.
When I remember that I’m loved, I serve differently. When I remember that I’m loved, I love differently. When I remember who I am, I give and live differently.
When I find myself in one of those moments when I’m buying something I don’t need and I think, What am I doing here? Why do I do what I do? Chances are, I’ve forgotten who I am.
When I find myself leaving a conversation and think — Was it necessary to rip into that person and bring them down? Chances are, I’ve forgotten who I am.
When I find my blood pressure rising over something really, really stupid and think, You don’t understand me! Why don’t you agree with me? Chances are, I’ve forgotten who I am. When I remember who I am, when I settle this identity thing, and when I remember it, I’m free to give grace, because I’ve received grace. I’m free to give love, because I’ve received love. I’m free to serve, because God has served me and lavished His mercy on me. When I remember who I am, I live differently. Just as the people of Ephesus needed to remember their identity, we too need to remember who we are. Knowing our primary identity as children of God, bought by the blood of Christ.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

The Greatest In The Kingdom of Heaven

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At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”                          Matthew 18:1-5

A little child cannot influence a person’s career, cannot teach us things; give us things. It is just the other way round. A child is typical of the person who needs things, and it is our duty to find and help those in the community who need things. But this comes with a serious warning. It is easy to form a relationship with someone who can do things for us and whose influence can mean a lot to us. It is just as easy to avoid the company of someone who expects something from us. It is easy to nurture the kindness of important people and avoid the simple, humble person. It is easy to seek the company of people who are important in the community while neglecting your unimportant family member. 

Jesus is in fact saying to us not to find favor with those who can do things for us, but with those who we can do things for. In this way, we week the fellowship of none other than Jesus. It is a different way if interpreting our Scriptures verse above and this is our duty as Christians from day to day. 

Prayer: Beloved Savior, keep me humble in my relations with other people.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Victory In Jesus

1 John 4.pngYou dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us, but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.  (1 John 4:4-6)

The true Christian life is often described as a battle, and this becomes true when a disciple is struggling against the forces of darkness. It is true that Christians find themselves in continuous conflict with demonic powers, temptations that threaten to overwhelm them, and subtle forces that carry out their destructive purposes before their presence has been perceived. Unfortunately, it is also true that many disciples rely on their own strength and resources when they come face to face with forces over which they have no control. They do their best, but is just a matter of time before they break down.

However, followers of the living Christ have spiritual reserves that they can call on when they are confronted by the Evil One in his many disguises. deep within them lives a Spirit that is sensitive to the intervention of Jesus Christ and empowers them to fight confidently against any evil force. Never trust in your own resources, but rely on the indwelling Christ, particularly during moments when you feel weak and helpless. In the power of Christ and through His wisdom you can overcome dark forces if you realize that your help and strength comes from the Holy Spirit who lives in you.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Jesus At The Temple

Matthew 21.pngJesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.” It is written,” he said to them, “My house will be called a house of prayer, “but you are making it a den of robbers.” The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them, But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.                         Matthew 21:12-15

It was Passover week. The Passover was the highlight of the Jewish calendar. People came from all regions and many countries to be present for the celebration. Upon arriving, they were obligated to meet two requirements. First, an animal sacrifice, usually a dove. The dove had to be perfect, without blemish. If you brought a sacrifice from your won source, it would be considered insufficient by the authorities in the temple. So under the guise of keeping the sacrifice pure, the sellers sold doves at their price. Second, the people had to pay a yearly temple tax. During Passover, the tax had to be rendered in local currency. Knowing many foreigners would be in Jerusalem to pay the tax, money changers conveniently set up tables and offered to exchanged the foreign money for local for a modest fee, of course. It is not difficult to see what angered Jesus. Pilgrims journeyed days to see God, to witness the holy, to worship his majesty. But before they were taken into the presence of God, they were taken to the cleaners.

So I often wonder if Christians today take the time on a Sunday morning to just worship God,  one of the ten commandments is this Remember the Sabbath to Keep It Holy, or are we too busy conducting other business instead of doing what we are called to do. To be able to spend sometime on a Sunday morning worshipping God should be an honor for all, to give thanks for all He has done this past week. In order for all of us to have a walk with our Risen Lord we need to take the time in getting to know the “Great I Am”

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

God’s Blessings

Psalm 127.png    Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.                                           Psalm 127:3-5

It was exactly twenty-four years ago today on my own birthday that God bless me and my husband with a baby girl and we named her Victoria. My doctors had very little hope that I would ever conceive a child and even more surprise that I was able to carry her for the full-term of nine months. I had endometriosis and my doctor gave me very little hope of becoming a mother someday. While sitting across from my doctor in his office and he told me the news my response was, I don’t know how and I don’t know when but God was going to bless me and my husband with children. Within a few short months I found out that I was expecting my first child, and I needed to be on bed rest for the last four months of my pregnancy. It took me quite sometime to really accept that I was finally a mother, something that I long dream of. You see after Victoria was born, and a few miscarriages we found out that I was never be able to have anymore children and my heart sank with the news. Yes I knew I was bless with my daughter however like some parents I never wanted her to be an only child. Over time we did go on to adopted two children out of foster care system. Many people have told me how lucky they are and my response was no, I am the bless one that God choose me to be their mother.

6bc67cf6c2807472d7ec06f4554bab4d_screen.jpgHowever things for my little Victoria was never normally in any way. Before her teen-age years Victoria became sick and over time her health got worse. By the time she was a senior in high school we learned that she has Lupus (an autoimmune disease) then we learn she has P-O-T-S (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) then I heard as well as ulcerative colitis, mass cell disease, HHT (hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia disease, something she was born with. I am not sharing this for any who is reading this to feel sorry for us but to come to understand that through all of this I do not walk this journey alone with my child, Jesus Christ walks with us every step of the way. Every doctor appointment, emergency room visit, test, and their have been many, as well as times she was admitted, I drew my strength from God. I always had my Bible to read God’s word ( by looking at my Bible, you can see how worn out it has become) as well as me praying before and after each appointment, for the eyes of her doctors to be open to see what God sees and knows about her health. I have memorized the words from Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Victoria is an on line student with Liberty University and is now a senior with a 4.0 GPA, she will graduate this May then onto her Master as a Christian Counselor, she graduated two years ago from a community college with a 3.8 GPA. Even through she lives with chronic illnesses and she is always is in pain, she managers to run women bible study on line and many of these women are also battling their own diseases, she also wrote and published a devotional book and she also has a blog called Victoria, Chronicallyhopeful2014@wordpress.com To see how God’s continues to use her in so many, has been a blessing it is truly amazing. I do pray that someday hopefully soon that she will be able to be on a college campus even it is a little while to be a normal young adult, and that God the “Great I Am” continue to give her the strength to serve him in ministry. 100_0744.JPG

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

The Promise of Hope

John 14  If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you and another advocate to help you and be with you forever. The Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you. 

John 14:15-18

There is something terribly painful about losing a parent, even of the person was elderly and forgetful. When a second parent dies, the child’s small world of comfort and security that they grew up in is something of the past. These feelings I also had recently, I lost my mom while growing up and this past Christmas season my father as well. It seems so long ago when I was a little girl that I did have a safe and secure place, and everything in life is always changing. Often students who finish their course and leave college feel the same when they say good-bye to teachers and friends as well.

Jesus knew that this was precisely what His disciples would experience at His death. Without Him they would feel lost. like orphaned children. He knew they would be heartbroken. But He would come back again, back from the dead to comfort them and inspire them to accomplish their mission. Tragedy would change to triumph. They would not despair any longer. Their night would be changed into a brighter day. The miracle of Jesus resurrection would change their whole world. And Jesus would be with them again.

If you feel lonely, or if despair makes you feel that life is pointless, or if painful experiences have made you a broken person, think about this promise the Master made. It comes from Jesus Himself. It is as true for you as it ever was for those first disciples. It often seems that the world is without God and one can easily feel rejected. Don’t give in to these feelings. There is greater Presence, whether you sense it or not. Jesus is with you today, tomorrow, and every day of your life. He will hold you tight through all tragedy and trauma that might still await you.

Prayer: Jesus I ask that you all stay close to me for without you it would be impossible to face another day.                           Amen

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends