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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Even To The End Of The Age

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Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:20

This Scripture gives us the assurance of the holy and continuous presence of the living Christ. Our Savior makes sure there is no doubt about it. Christ appears to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. These apostles were the founders of the universal church. Would this small group be able to carry out such a challenging task? To found and expand the church? Not if it depended on their own abilities, but it was possible with the omnipotence of the Master, who said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Christ rules His church through His Word and leads it through His Spirit. Our task is merely to contribute towards it. When is Jesus with us, in the church, and in the hearts of His believing children? Our Scripture says “always”! His promise is that He will always be present in our lives with His Spirit and with His grace, an enduring and uninterrupted Presence. 

We know that all days are different: There are sunny days, but also ominous and dark days; there are days when our hearts sing with joy, but also days when our hearts sob with misery and grief. There are days of firm and unshakable faith, but also days of doubt and stumbling, when we need to plead, “Help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) In His supreme wisdom God broke our lives up into pieces that we call days. the days all differ, but Christ promised, “I am with you always!”

Prayer: Thank you Jesus for the promise that you will always be with us now and forever.                        Amen

Grace and Peace To You My Friends

Christ Is Risen! Alleluia!

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When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, Who, will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb? But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has Risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, and tell his disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you. Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

Mark 16:1-8

According to the Scriptures, our Risen Savior appeared to different individuals before ascending to the Father. It was a random coming and going, but specific encounters to teach us certain things. This took place during the period between Easter and Pentecost, between the Resurrection and Ascension. In today’s Scripture verse, Jesus gives us some “resurrection comfort.” When the men who walked to Emmaus were back in Jerusalem with the joyful news of their encounter with the risen Jesus, the other disciples replied, “The Lord has really risen!” (Luke 24:34) Paul says, “He was seen by Peter and then by the twelve” (I Corinthians 15:5-6) All these pronouncements tells us that, firstly, the Risen Lord wants to give the remorseful sinner back his self-respect. The first apostle Jesus appeared to was the one who denied Him. (Peter) Here the greatness of Christ’s love is demonstrated. He thought about the bitter grief of the Peter who wronged him, instead of wrongs and grief He himself suffered. Put yourself in this situation. Imagine with how much trepidation Peter received this message! Could it be true? Did he hear correctly? Did Jesus really mention his name? He has been the cause of so much of Jesus’ sorrow. He had denied Him three times! But this is how Jesus treats the sinner. Wo will ever be able to fathom the depth of God’s forgiving grace?

Against the dark background of Peter’s denial, the light breaks through in the disciples’ words to the men from Emmaus: The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34) A jewel glitters so much brighter on a dark background. Likewise, the grace of God and His saving omnipotence are best seen in a deeply fallen sinner. This short extract from history should encourage even the greatest sinner to go to the Father and confess their sins.

The gospel gives us no sensational or gripping detail of the conversation between Christ and Peter. Peter didn’t tell anyone what happened between him and Jesus. In life there are intimate and personal things that cannot bear up under the harsh glare of public exposure. There are spiritual experiences that must remain private because they are part of one’s personal fellowship with God. We dare not reveal every spiritual blessings to inquisitive publicity seekers, or shout it from the mountaintops. 

Three long nights of consuming grief followed Golgotha as well as the shock of Judas’ gruesome death. The offering that God seeks is a broken heart and a downcast spirit; He will not break those who are struggling. Peter discovered what true remorse meant, being tearful, unsure of his next step, knowing he was a fallen sinner, with hands outstretched to heaven in an impassioned plea for grace. And Christ in His unfathomable love and mercy is there, a place of true repentance. He meets in quiet reclusion with the remorseful sinner.

Prayer: Dear Jesus:

I come to you with a humble heart asking for forgiveness of my sins that I have committed. I thank you for taking my place on the cross at Calvary. Help me to become more like you and to serve others in your name, as you did here on earth.    Amen

Blessings to All of You on this Easter Day!

 

“Father, Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit”

Luke 23b.png It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shinning. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the woman who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.                               Luke 23:44-49

It is true the man that walk among the disciples and mankind, has been crucified. These words that Jesus spoke from the cross were as follows, the first three where about His love for humankind. Then came the godforsaken cry, the heartrending, “I am thirsty!” the triumphant, “It is finished” and the final words of Jesus, Into your hands I commit My Spirit!” The work of salvation was perfectly and finally concluded, we can now be taken to God and never be forsaken by Him.

Jesus’ deathbed was a new cross, but there we learn how to die worthily. First, Jesus bowed his head in humble obedience to God’s will and with calm acceptance of what God inflicted upon him. How readily we question God’s will. Here Christ set the example of how to accept God’s will, even if it was a merciless and brutal death on the cross.

Secondly, Christ surrendered His Spirit to God. With this he, without uttering a word, said that His death was not his fate, but his privilege. This differs dramatically from those who don’t know God as Father (Abba). In their dying hours they are filled with anxiety and are deeply disturbed in spirit. 

Let us reflect on Jesus’ words on the cross and rate them at their true value. They are at times more serious and deeper than the words He spoke in his lifetime. In order to understand and appreciate salvation and redemption, we must understand and appreciate what Jesus said in His dying moments. 

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Jesus Predicts His Death

Mark 9.png They left that place and passed through Galilee, Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.                                          Mark 9:30-32

This part of Scripture is a milepost in Jesus’ history. He was now going to Jerusalem where the cross awaited Him, Jesus carried on teaching His disciples, because a teacher must leave students behind that will continue to proclaim his message. But there was a traitor among Jesus’ disciples and Jesus knew this. he knew how Judas’ mind worked possibly better than Judas himself. 

Yet, the disciples still didn’t understand him when he told them he would rise from the dead. At that moment they were aware of the atmosphere of tragedy, but they didn’t understand the wonder of His resurrection. It was a miracle that was just too big for them to grasp, they would only understand it when it had become an accomplished fact.

Because they didn’t understand, they were afraid to ask any more questions and to be given more bad news. We might be surprised that the disciples didn’t grasp what they were so clearly being told. The human mind has the special ability to reject what it doesn’t want to hear. Are we any different to the disciples? We hear the Christian message over and over again; we know what will happen if we reject it. And if we accept it? We still accept certain parts of the gospel that appeal to us and refuse to understand the rest.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father:

            Help each of us to accept all what is true with your scriptures, help us not to be afraid of unanswered questions we may have with all of this. We ask that you will open our hearts and eyes, and mind to understand what you need to teach you and to be able to share the gospel with others.

In Christ Name We Pray

Amen

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Jesus Calms the Storm

Matthew 8.pngThen he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on a lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him saying, Lord save us! We’re going to drown! He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this?” Even the winds and the waves obey him!”                 Matthew 8:23-27

Violent storms are common on the Sea of Galilee due to the location of the lake. Sudden storms occur with destructive force so that the existing calmness can be transformed into raging storm within minutes. But this story is about far more than the calming of the storm on the Sea of Galilee. It was important to the disciples as well as being important to us today. The incident tells us that wherever in life Jesus Christ is, there the storms of life are calmed.

When the cold, bleak winds of sorrow blow around us, there is calmness in the comforting presence of Jesus. When the hot winds of passion blow, we find security and peace in Jesus’ presence. When gale-force winds of doubt threaten to uproot the foundations of our faith, there is peaceful safety with Jesus Christ. For every storm that shakes the human heart, there is peace with Jesus.

The meaning and lesson of this event illustrate to us that when the storms of life shake our souls, Jesus is there, and in His presence the raging storm turns into peace that no storm can rob us of. 

He came in complete human form to meet a universal need in a way that is adequate for all times and places and is without parallel or substitute.        (H.D.Lewis)

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

 

Jesus Calls Us

 

Matthew 4   As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fisherman. “Come, follow me, “ Jesus said, “ and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.                     Matthew 4:18-22

I wonder how many of us if Jesus was still on earth and he ask us to follow him would we drop everything at that very moment and do it? In the book of Matthew it talks about the beginning of Jesus public ministry. John the Baptist had been put to death; and Jesus had withdrawn to Galilee, not because afraid of Herod Antipas, who had put John to death, but because he had a different vision of the future. There was agitation all over Judea for a king, for someone to avenge John’s death. Jesus’ vision of the kingdom was one of nonviolence. He was not interested in revenge not even for the death of his cousin and friend but for peace. 

For Matthew, this scripture was enough to justify Galilee, rather than Jerusalem, as the center of Jesus’ ministry. It is a call for a response to God’s action. God is making a new world. Get a new sense of direction and purpose and become part of that new world. Repentance is not only about remorse, but, more important, about a change of direction.

The contrast of light and darkness is a familiar theme in describing this life direction. Jesus, in fulfillment of the Scriptures, has ushered in an age in which the repentant will move toward the realm of light, and ways from darkness, the shadow of death. The light had dawned because Jesus has arrived. Jesus issued his called to discipleship, knowing the culture, heritage, and economic status of these fisherman. He asked them to leave what they knew and were comfortable with, to come and embrace a new lifestyle with different values and goals. 

What is Jesus asking us to do? Jesus is issuing a similar call to modern, would-be disciples. We come from diverse cultures,. different worldviews, and different places on the socio-economic ladder. We, like the disciples of old, are also called to leave the comfort and predictability as we enter a life of service to God. 

The call of fisherman to become disciples is significant, because it is the beginning of the church. Jesus took the initiative, he sought out these men in the midst of their work. The call was both a command and promise. The command was to follow him. The promise was to become “fishers of people”

Peter as well as Andrew, James and John left everything and everyone to follow Jesus. He issued a powerful appeal that made disciples. And it made a real difference in their lives. How do we become disciples of Jesus Christ? It is not a great mystery. We simply follow him, Jesus calls some us to adventure of serving in the mission field in a foreign land. Others are called to adventure close to home, serving God’s people through service organizations and schools, through food pantry, legal assistance, volunteering and voting, offering prayer and healing. There are so many ways for God’s people to follow Jesus into the adventure of serving. Where do you hear, God is calling you to join Jesus in the adventure of being his disciples? What row is yours to plant? What need in your church, or community, or in the wider world cries out to your heart? How will you respond to Jesus when he says “COME AND FOLLOW ME”

Grace and Peace to You My Friends