Where are the Other Nine?

One day Jesus was walking through a town, and he came across ten men who had leprosy.  Leprosy was a disease that had no cure  and when someone had this, they were cast out of their village and made to live away from everyone else.

The ten men knew Jesus had healed others and they called out to him to heal them.  His reply was for them to show themselves to the priests, who were the ones that had to declare someone ‘clean’ or ‘unclean’.

As they headed towards town, towards the priests, they realized that they truly were being healed, as they stepped out in faith.

They were so excited as they leaped and ran towards the village, but one man stopped, turned around, threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him for the healing.

Jesus looked at the man who was singing out his thanks to God.  He said. “But weren’t there ten who were healed, where are the other nine?”Then Jesus told him. “You can go now, your faith has saved you and made you better.”

Why did only one man return? It could be that the other nine did not come back and say thank you for the same reasons people do not thank God today.

Perhaps one leper simply forgot to say thank you and another may have been too shy. Maybe one was too proud. Perhaps another leper was excited about being healed or lost his way and could not find Jesus again. It could be one was too busy, there was lot of living to catch up on.

One leper may not have come back to say thank you because the priest told him he did not have to. This man always did what others told him, without thinking for himself. The seventh leper may not have said thank you because he did not understand what had happened to him. The eighth leper may not have gone back to see Jesus because he simply saw no reason to do so. He had never said thank you to anyone for anything.

Perhaps the last leper wandered away so happy, he hardly noticed where he was going. Only one leper of the ten saw how Jesus heals the whole person. As happens so often, the others took the gift God gave them for granted. God often gives us what we need. How often do we thank Him?

On this day of expressing our gratitude, will you be like the one?

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The Blame Game

Carson and Chase are at an interesting place in their relationship. They don’t like each other very much right now. And they continually blame the other for anything and everything that goes on between them. If Carson hits Chase it is because Chase looked at him wrong. If Chase gets angry at Carson, it’s because Carson called him a name. Neither one of the boys will take responsibility for their actions and stop annoying the other. They enjoy blaming each other, in fact, it’s really become a game with them and most of the time I’m not even sure they are more into the fighting or just seeing who can blame the other for the most offenses.

The other night, I pulled each aside privately and told them they had to take responsibility for their actions. I was tired of listening to the bickering and that it was time to stop. And then I gave them an added incentive. They will lose their electronic privileges if their wrongful behavior continues.

It’s been much more peaceful here since our conversation. Maybe something finally clicked in. Maybe they are starting to understand that they are responsible for their own actions, their own responses, that just because someone else did something wrong, doesn’t give them the right to do wrong as well.

I know this game isn’t anything new. In the Book of Genesis, after Adam ate the fruit that God warned him not to eat, he blamed the woman that God had given him. When Eve was confronted, she blamed the serpent for deceiving her.

In Exodus, Aaron blamed the people for his decision to make a golden calf for them to worship.

In I Samuel, Saul blamed the people for his disobedience to God in the order to destroy the Amalekites.

It is always easier to blame another, yet, when we stand up and take personal responsibility for our actions, God can work miracles in our lives. King David had an affair with another man’s wife, then had the man killed in battle, so he could marry her and be the father of the baby she carried. When Nathan the prophet confronted David, he didn’t blame the woman for his sin, but rather took personal responsibility, fell on his face before God and repented of his actions. When the baby died, David didn’t blame God, but rather wiped his tears and moved forward with his life. David was the most famous King of Israel, God called him a ‘man after my own heart.’ Not because he was sinless, but because he chose to be a victor, not a victim.

I don’t want to be like Adam and Eve, blaming others for my mistakes … I want to be like King David. When I mess up, I want to own my stuff, repent and move forward with God!

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)

Father, thank you for this lesson on responsibility. I know I cannot change another, I know I alone am responsible for my actions. Help me Father to admit my mistakes, to use them to move forward, but to also learn from them, so that I do not repeat. Keep my heart soft Lord Jesus, so that it is always focused on you.

I love you Jesus,
In your name I pray.
Amen

God’s Blessings Upon You.

Love,
Joyce

Hi Mom

The boys were camping with the scouts last weekend, so on Sunday, before I left church, I decided to call home to see if they needed anything that I could stop and pick up on my way home.

Chase answered the phone and I asked him if he needed anything. No, he was fine.  Great!  How was your weekend.  Good.  Okay, I’ll be home soon, was the gist of our conversation.

Then he said, “Carson wants to talk to you.” Okay great! “Hi Carson, how was your weekend?”   “Good.”   “Do you need me to stop and get you anything?”  “No, I just wanted to say hi.”   “Ahhh … thank you Carson.  I love you, see you soon.” “Love you too!”

My soon to be 16 year old son (in 10 days) just wanted to talk to me to say hello, because he loves me.  Wow … Thank you Jesus!

You know, I believe God has the same heart with us.  I don’t mind when my boys call me and ask me to stop and pick something up for them.  I am happy to bless them.  And I believe God feels the same way.

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 good gifts to those who ask him!  (Matthew 7:11)

But oh how my heart swelled when Carson wanted to talk to me, just to talk to me.  And I think that God’s heart swells as well, when we come to him, just to talk!

When You Think You’ve Arrived … You Haven’t

On our trip to Honduras, in the Miami Airport, I received a great lesson from the Lord.   We had taken different routes to the airport, once we hit 27 off of I-75.  We didn’t plan to take different routes, but Melissa went one way and we went another.  I was really bummed out.  I felt awful that our team had separated and we hadn’t even gotten to Miami yet.  Yikes …

But finally we were all back together, cars were parked and luggage was checked and we were heading to our gate.  We walked and walked and walked, and then we saw what we thought was our concourse and the gate numbers are very close to our number and we think, “Yeah, we are there!”  We saw a Starbucks booth nearby and I know many of the team were thinking it was time to stop and smell the coffee … or is that drink the coffee?  I think we needed to drink it at this point.

So I said, “Let’s get our things to the gate and then we can get coffee or food or anything else we needed before the plane heads out.”  And we walked  and walked and walked some more, but there is no gate.  And then we realized we had to go to a different concourse, we had to actually go down the steps and then up the steps and then onto the Sky Tram. And then down again and even further through the terminal.  We were nowhere near our gate at the spot we originally thought was our destination.

And the more we walked, the more I giggled inside.  Isn’t that just like life.  We are going along, and we hit a bit of a rough patch and then it’s smooth, we think all is well, we think we’ve arrived at our destination and then we realize, nope, still got 20 more miles ahead.  And it’s all hills!

Or maybe you’ve been walking with Jesus for a time and you think, ‘I got this spiritual thing down, Jesus and I are tight’ and then the next thing you know something happens and boom, the rug gets pulled out from under you and although you thought you had it figured out, you realize you have nothing figured out and you are back to square one.  And that’s okay.

Just keep walking … that was the lesson that day from the airport.  The gate was somewhere else from where we were, we just had to keep walking.

The Apostle Paul encourages us to press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 3:14)

Let us not stop walking until we are in front of Jesus!

A Gentle Reminder

From James, the brother of Jesus.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:19-27)

This is a word that we need to be reminded of, over and over again.  It is very difficult to keep from being polluted by the world around us.

I pray today that this gentle reminder be seeded inside of me and that the love of God proceeds out of me, in all aspects of my life.

In Jesus name.

Amen