Friday, May 16, 2014

Leper #10

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... Luke 17:15-16 (NIV)

One day, while Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, ten men with leprosy approached Him. In those days, leprosy was deadly. Once the disease had invaded your body, there was no getting well again. Therefore, laws were made that if you had the disease, you could not get close to anyone who was disease-free.

However, when the ten lepers begged Jesus to show them pity, He had compassion on them and healed them. He then told them to go show themselves to the rulers so they could be reinstated into society. As they went on their way, just one of them turned back to thank Jesus.

The other nine continued on their way, not bothering to stop and thank Jesus, even though they had been healed as well. Only this man chose to return to Jesus. He made a conscious decision to stop, turn around, and say thanks. In fact, the Bible says when he came back, he was “praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him” (Luke 17:15).

This wasn’t a simple, obligatory thanks. It was the pure joy and gratitude of a man who realized he has been rescued from a hopeless situation. He was transformed from a man who was facing certain death to man who could embrace life.

In a sense, people who place their trust in Jesus for salvation are a lot like the leper. They were facing certain eternal death, but now they have a new lease on life and the hope of heaven.

I want to be like Leper #10. Though his outlook was hopeless, Jesus gave him the wonderful gift of new life, and this former leper turned it into an opportunity to praise God and worship Him.

Friday, May 9, 2014

His Presence

Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
...and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

About once a year my wife travels to the other side of the country to visit her family for about a week to ten days.  I’m glad that she gets to make this trip but I have to be honest, it’s not always so easy for me.  I really miss her when she’s gone and can’t wait till she returns.  I usually have the date of her return firmly solidified in my mind.   

I always make plans to get a few projects around the house finished during this time; it keeps me busy and helps me not focus on missing her so much.  And we try to talk on the phone each day while she’s away and every conversation is a treasured opportunity.  We have so many ways to keep in touch in our world today and yet nothing can replace the actual presence of someone we love.  Let’s face it; it’s just better when our friends or loved ones are right here with us.

We’re promised in the Bible that we have Jesus’ presence with us until he returns.  Though we can’t see Him we can know that He’s right here with us each day and each hour.  We can talk to Him any time and we can know that someday we will see Him face to face.  What a great celebration that will be.

Psalm 139:7 (NIV)
Where can I go from your Spirit?
  Where can I flee from your presence?

Friday, May 2, 2014

How to Handle Parking Lot Offenders

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… Matthew 5:44 (NIV)

Do you have a parking lot strategy? I do. It’s not that I’m protective of my car. After all, it’s a well-worn car with a good number of miles. No, my parking lot strategy has to do with ease of entrance and exit. I like to make sure everyone can open and close their doors without bumping other cars. I like the same consideration from others, too.

So I have parking lot “strategies” I live by. If there’s no curb at the front of the spot, I pull through so I can avoid backing up when I leave. I also park far enough away so I can have empty spaces on both sides of my car. That makes it more convenient to load kids and purchases without giving someone a door ding.

The other day, when I picked up my daughter at daycare, my plan backfired. I parked in my usual spot, with empty spots on both sides. Stepping out of the car, I proudly admired the generous margins on either side of my vehicle.

But when I came out, I gasped at what I saw. A car had parked so close to my driver’s side that it was impossible to enter from that side. Two rows of empty spots, and some inconsiderate Bozo had blocked me in!

I remembered being challenged once to use these kinds of annoyances as opportunities to pray for those who offend us. So I did just that – right after I confessed my vengeful thoughts.

Today’s verse challenges us to pray for our enemies and those who persecute us. Your pet peeves may not include bad parkers, but everyone has expectations on how others should behave. How will you handle infractions to your “guidelines” today? Try praying for the “offenders.” You never know what might be going on in their life that has caused them to be inconsiderate.