One in Ten

In Luke 17, on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee. In one village ten lepers called out to Him, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on us!” (Lk. 17:13). He told them to the go show themselves to priests, and as they went they were cured of their leprosy (v14).

We note that in this instance Jesus didn’t heal them immediately. He didn’t reach out and touch them, but in the process of doing what He said to do, they were made whole. George MacDonald said “Obedience is the opener of eyes.” For these ten, obedience was also restored worship. Jesus sent them to the priests because then they would be ritually cleansed and able to worship God with His people.

But only one of those lepers, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, glorified God, fell down at His feet, and thanked Him. Jesus commented on this to the disciples: “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” (v18). He was a Samaritan, not someone expected to seek the Lord.

Ten lepers sought Jesus, ten obeyed Him, and ten were healed as they went. But only one came back, glorified God, and thanked Him.

The Wonderful Normal

The Lord’s Day is a feast day, not a fast day, and this is because God gave Himself to us in the Lord’s Supper to be eaten on His day.

No matter what sort of trial we are facing, what sort of fast the Lord has us in, it’s broken up by this meal. This is because feasting, fellowship, joy, consolation, victory and rest are normative in the Christian life. Conflict, affliction, doubt, trial and sorrow are temporary. God blesses us in and through them, but they are overcome.

This is God’s immovable feast, kicking off every week, given to fill you up, God’s people, with love, assurance and strength. Receive that here from Him, and fill this day full of rest, food, and fellowship. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Moralism vs. Christianity

 

Moralism and Christianity are mortal enemies. Moralism and Christianity serve different masters.

It’s been said that the great between the salad and garbage is timing. Salad is salad for a time, but eventually it wilts. The difference between moralism and Christianity is much greater. Moralism, doing right for whatever reason, is never Christianity. Moralism is always garbage. Continue reading

Review: The Art of Forgiving

The Art of ForgivingThe Art of Forgiving by Lewis B. Smedes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There’s a lot of wisdom about forgiveness and how the gospel drives it. There are also a few flies in the ointment. For example, Smedes worries about “fast forgivers” who forgive quickly in order to avoid their pain (p137ff). This makes a lot of sense, not to fake forgiveness or say we forgive when we really don’t, but he never deals with what Jesus says in this regard: “forgive us our trespasses as those who trespass against us”, which is to say, right away because God doesn’t hold our sins against us. He talks about waiting for the right time and quotes Nelson Mandela, “Ah, yes, forgiving, it will have to come to that sometime, but not yet, not while the boot is still on our neck” (p139). It’s hard not to think of Jesus forgiving His mockers from the cross while worse than the boot is on his neck, praying to the Father to forgive them, extending His own forgiveness. In other parts of the book Smedes addresses the problem with thinking we can control others or protect ourselves by not forgiving, but misses it here. Continue reading

A Real Invitation

 

By minimizing God’s work in the Church, we often disregard His invitations.

If you agree to go to lunch at someone’s house, and they prepare the place and the meal, you don’t cancel unless something important comes up. If you value that person and stand by your own word, you don’t bag out, especially if you know they went to great effort to prepare. Continue reading

In Season, Out of Season

 

The new year always brings in new hopes, new ideas, and new inspiration, and this is well and good. No good thing should be despised.

But since the point of aiming is to hit something, we should pick something achievable. By one measure only around 8% of people achieve their resolutions, so we should sets goals and resolutions that are simple, specific and achievable.

I want to encourage you to consider shaping at least one resolution in a slightly different way. George MacDonald said, “That man is perfect in faith who can come to God in the utter dearth of his feelings and desires, without a glow or an aspiration, with the weight of low thoughts, failures, neglects, and wandering forgetfulness, and say to Him, “Thou art my refuge.”” Continue reading

Run the Race

On the first day in the new year of our Lord, 2017, we get to focus on what matters and prepare for the year. The epistle to the Hebrews was written (or preached) to a young church of Jewish Christians facing temptations to leave or compromise their faith. The author doesn’t tell them to hunker down and weather the storm, but to run the race set before them.

  Continue reading

Promise & Fulfillment

Many times God’s fulfillment seems like less than His foreshadowing. Jesus is the greater Moses, the prophet with all wisdom and true counsel for God’s people, and yet said nothing officially for three decades. He never write a book, and much of what He said was unintelligible at the time He said it to own His apostles. We don’t even know what His voice sounded like. This was the Word of God, the man who taught with true authority.

When the King of the Universe, the only-begotten and royal Son of God came into the world, He was born in an obscure place. The only pomp and circumstance was performed to shepherds keeping their flocks at night. They and a few wise men were most of few who found out. No red carpet, no room at the inn. This is the Son of David, the greater Solomon, the King of kings. Continue reading

The Cost of Christmas

Every true reading of the Christmas story includes the hardships endured. Jesus was not born with a heavenly force field protecting Him from pain and trouble. As the hymn Once in Royal David’s City puts it, “Tears and smiles like us He knew”.

What would you think of a pregnant couple who had no reservation at the hospital nor midwife available, so they had their baby in the equivalent of an abandoned trailer, and grabbed part of a chicken coop for the basinet? Behold, the holy family. That’s where the Son of God of was laid when there was no room at the inn.

Poor and unimportant at home, Joseph and Mary would soon flee for their lives to Egypt because their Son, though underprivileged, was hunted. Only their dreams would tell them when to come back to Israel, when Herod was done slaughtering the baby boys two years old and younger and the coast was clear. Continue reading

The Greatest Blessing Ever Enjoyed

 

“The celebration of the Lord’s Supper,” said Chrysostom, early church pastor in Constantinople, “is the commemoration of the greatest blessing that ever the world enjoyed” (quoted in Watson, The Mystery of the Lord’s Supper).

God meets in countless places with innumerable gifts and kindnesses. We have food, family, friends, work, rest, leisure, all the comforts of hearth and home, freedoms in our nation and opportunities more than we can count to love of the bless others. No gift is to be minimized or taken for granted.

But every week without fail God offers this gift of Himself. We remember Jesus’ body broken and his blood shed, what it cost Him to save us and therefore to be able to receive Him and all that means—abundant life—forevermore.

This is not a bare commemoration, but one that takes us further up and further in. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (1 Cor. 11:26). Jesus is reigning until every enemy is made His footstool, the last one being death, and so this proclamation, communing in the Lord’s Supper, is an invitation to believe and eat, believe and drink. So come and welcome to Jesus Christ.