“Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing, he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.”
This is an incredible story. Most scholars think that this story happened directly after Jesus’ sermon on the mount and I think it’s a pretty powerful picture of the love and compassion that Jesus has for people.
Dr. Ajai Lall said that compassion is “shared suffering” and the “willingness to act upon it.” I love this definition of compassion and think that Jesus is the ultimate example of compassion. Jesus is all-powerful; he’s all-knowing; he’s the King of kings and Lord of lords; yet, as we see in this story, he’s “willing” to get involved with our mess.
As you may know, lepers were treated like dirt in this time. They were outcasts; they were forgotten. They had no civil rights; no one stood up for them. Jesus enters the scene; and not only is willing to heal this man; he touches him. He grabs him; he gets involved with the sickness, with the mess. This man probably hasn’t been touched in years. Who knows the last time anyone looked him in the eyes and talked with him. And we find Jesus, the son of the Living God, touch him and heal him.
Jesus gets involved in our mess. He came to save and to heal. He came to look at your worst scar, your worst sickness, your worst pain, and save you from it. He’s willing… that’s some of the best news we have.
The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28 ESV
Freedom is not free. Tomorrow our country can celebrate its freedom because many men and women served, fought, and even gave their lives to protect our freedom. A great price was paid so that we can live in a free country.
Freedom from sin and death wasn’t free either. Jesus died for us to be set free from sin. He fought the battle for our freedom and paid the debt we couldn’t. Jesus paid the price for you and for me. Only by trusting in Jesus Christ and following Him can we truly be free.
Spend time today praying for the men and women serving this country right now to protect our freedom. Lift up their families in prayer. Pray for our veterans. Thank the veterans you know for sacrificing their personal lives and safety to protect what we often take for granted.
Also, spend time today thanking Jesus for the price He paid on the cross so that we can be free. Because He was resurrected and overcame death, we can be free from eternal death. This freedom can never be taken away from us!
Tomorrow celebrate the freedom we have in this country, but more importantly, celebrate the ultimate giver of our freedom – Jesus Christ.
“People before Plants”
And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a day. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons…?” - Jonah 4.10-11
It happens more than I’d like to admit, but I can be an avoider of people. Sometimes, I see someone across the store and choose an alternative aisle. Sometimes, I see someone in the car next to me and I avert my eyes. Sometimes, I notice someone in line and I pretend like something is on my phone.
I think you’ll empathize with why I do these things. There are times when I feel like I don’t have anything left to give. The people that I’m prone to avoid are people that I assume are going to ask something of me.
I’m working to increase the margin in my life and allow the Spirit to make me more compassionate. I’m not justifying my behavior.
However, no matter how tired, busy, or stressed I am, I always make a point to connect with a person that I feel will give me some life, energy or hope. In fact, when I’m especially drained, I seek out interactions with people like that to replenish my soul.
Jonah knew that Nineveh was needy. A pagan city needs more than a prophetic message – they need an everyday pastor. It’s one thing to preach repentance, it’s another thing to sort through its mess.
Jonah was mad that God took away his plant and gave him sunburn. He valued the plant more than he valued the people of Nineveh. The plant provided him a service while the people required a service of him.
A Church of ridiculous love puts the people before the plant. It’s the kind of Church that looks to serve before being served.
I want us to grow in our capacity to love – especially when it’s inconvenient.
“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 (NLT)
You have probably heard, or even experienced, that the older you get the faster time seems to pass by. This is so true. The bible says that our lives are like grass that grows up and then withers away (Ps 103:15-16; 1 Peter 1:24). In light of how long eternity is, spanning all of history and far into the future, our average lifespan of 70-80 years is but a blip on the timeline.
This is why this Psalm of Moses (who lived 120 years and still saw his life as brief) says that there is wisdom in recognizing this fact. When we understand the brevity of life, we focus in on what is important. We also eliminate the things that are not so important. We focus on our eternal home and growing, rather than our physical homes or physical treasures. Our eternal home will be filled with people who trust Jesus with their lives and have followed him. An eternal focus informs our choices for each day as well as our goals in life. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that an eternal focus will mean a super-serious approach to life – part of relationship with God and others is simply enjoying each other’s company and sharing experiences and laughter. But it will mean focusing on relationships that will last for eternity and who we will bring with us….everything else stays here.
So how does the brevity of your life affect your choices today, this week, this month?
Lord, please teach us to number our days.
“You are the salt of the earth.” Matthew 5:13
Summertime means many things. For our family it means baseball, swimming, and cookouts. Our kids’ favorite side dish is corn on the cob. For us though, corn is not complete without salt, it makes dinner better. Some say salt makes everything better.
For our world, salt is one of the most widely used seasonings. Choose your favorite steak and one of the first seasonings of choice is salt. When used properly, it preserves, influences and distinguishes the best flavors and qualities of many foods.
Stott warns, “left alone, our world cannot stop itself from going bad.” This is true when Jesus spoke the words to his followers and it is true today. Our world desperately needs an influence that preserves, distinguishes, and redeems it. That influence is Jesus.
Author Larry Osborne says, “Without contact, there can be no impact.” If we are to be, “a fearless church of Christ-followers whose ridiculous love and dangerous witness are irresistible,” we must influence the world around us. The most powerful influence in our world today is a Christ-follower. How can you season the world around you?
Are You Sorry for Your Sin?
“Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion, it haunts me day and night. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me-now let me rejoice.” Psalm 51:1, 2,3,7,8 NLT
Psalm 51 is one of the best-known passages of prayer, repentance and confession. The writer David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband to cover it up. David’s confession demonstrates heartfelt repentance and sorrow for his sin. It also provides hope that comes from a sorrowful confession.
I have witnessed two kinds of responses for guilt. The first are people that are sorry only because they got caught in their sin. The second are those that are truly remorseful and understand the consequences of their actions. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.”
Although David sinned against Bathsheba, he recognized that he ultimately sinned against God. Satan uses the lie that our sin is ok as long as nobody gets hurt. But the reality is that people always get hurt. All sin hurts us and others, but ultimately it separates us from God. Sorrow for our sins can result in changed behavior. Sin that remains unconfessed makes intimacy impossible.
Confess your sin to God today. God will restore your broken relationship and renew your joy.
“Let the whole world bless our God and loudly sing his praises. Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling. You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver. You captured us in your net and laid the burden of slavery on our backs. Then you put a leader over us. We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance.”
Giving thanks is such an interesting thing to think about. We can be so trivial with our thanksgiving, so conditional. Sometimes, it seems like we never really grow out of our 11-year old selves that tell our parents how much we hate them when we don’t get our way. Then we turn around and shout, “Thanks! I love you!” when we do get our way. This may seem like a dramatic example to you; but really think about your own life. How conditional is the thanksgiving in your day to day? How married is your joy with your current circumstances?
The thing that I love about this Psalm, and about the gospel, is that God provides for us in the darkest of times. The writer of Psalm 66 is praising God and giving thanks to him for the years and years of slavery that the Israelite people went through; not because following God is about being happy when things are hard, but because God is always faithful in his rescue of us. The psalmist is clearly speaking of Moses as the leader that God put over his people to bring them out of slavery; but our leader is Jesus. He was put over us; sent to lead us, and teach us, and then to save us and bring us into eternal life with him. Be thankful today, and this week, for God’s steadfast love and provision; and that no matter the fire and flood around you, Jesus has taken on the world for you, bringing eternal victory and hope.