Friday, May 23, 2008

How is your thanks level?

As Jesus was entering 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!"

The thirteenth chapter of Leviticus provides regulations regarding infectious skin diseases.

You recall that the first five books of the Old Testament are called the books of Moses, or the Law of Moses.

For the Israelite, the Law of Moses was the same as the Law of God.

It is worthwhile to remember that the Israelite was faithful and obedient to the Law of Moses, even beyond the Law of God.

Verses 45 and 46 of chapter 13 have this to say about the person with leprosy.

"The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, 'Unclean! Unclean!'"

As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the camp. This is the law that was given to the Israelites; yet, history tells us all the known nations expelled their people that had infectious skin diseases.

We get a feel for the life of a leper that is an outcast, in Second Kings 7:3 & 4:

"Now there were four men with leprosy At the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, 'Why stay here until we die? If we say, "we will go into the city", the famine is there, and we will die.

"'And if we stay here we will die. So, let's go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.'"

Lepers were required to live alone, yet, so many times we find reference to groups of lepers in the Bible.

Can you imagine what life would be like: Forced out of your family and home; forced out of your job, and community?

Following the law, was similar to a sentence of maximum security in the wide open.

God made us to be in fellowship; fellowship with Him, and other people. I imagine it would not take very long, being a n outcast, before a person would begin desiring human contact.

In the gospel of Luke chapter 17, we find a group of lepers banded together for companionship. I can understand how a person might take the risk of companionship with fellow outcasts, especially when they know they will die before they can get back to their family and normal life.

This group of lepers had apparently heard the stories of the people Jesus had healed; especially the lepers, and apparently believed He could heal them: that He would heal them.

It was unheard of to have a leper speak to someone other than another leper. Yet, here are ten men, that hollered out, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"

They knew they could be put to death for having contact with a person who is clean. Yet, they hoped; they hoped with every fiber of their beings, that Jesus was who they had heard He was.

Because they were bold enough to ask Jesus for what they had often dreamed of; they heard the awesome words: "Go and show yourselves to the priests."

I can imagine they began running; maybe out of fear more than anything else; and as they ran, they realized that their skin was clearing up.

And as they saw their skin healing, I am sure that they ran even faster to get to the priests and be declared ceremoniously clean.

As they ran, we are told one of them stopped and returned to Jesus and fell on his face in front of Him and began praising God.

I get goose bumps, and a big lump in my throat, as I think about the emotion running through that man.

A man who had been sentenced to a lonely death; was now clean enough to again enter his community, his job, his church, his home, his family.

The realization of the miracle that had been performed in his life and the lives of the other nine, was too overwhelming, and he returned to thank God for the grace that had been bestowed upon him.

And I wonder, too, how thankful we really are over the miraculous gift of grace we have received of new life, and life eternal.

As this one is worshiping, and praising God, we hear Jesus say: "Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine, where are they? Were none found who turned back to give glory to God, except this foreigner?"

What a sad statement Jesus made in reference to the people of God. As people of God, we come to expect God to do what we need Him to do in our lives, and when He does it, we do not respond, because we knew He would come through.

Here we see a superb picture of one who comes to Christ, and gets all excited because of the wonderful miracle God has performed in his life.

This is a picture of a man, condemned to death, who, by the grace of God, is now a free man, rid of the death sentence.

I ask you, how else could he respond than to go back and worship and thank God?

What does God have to do in your life to get you excited? What are you expecting God to do for you, that will get you into praising Him?

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see. Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come. Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.

All my life-long I had panted for a drink form some cool spring, that I hoped would quench the burning of the thirst I felt within. Hallelujah! I have found Him Whom my soul so long has craved. Jesus satisfies my longing, by His blood I now am saved. Amen!

Now, the truly amazing thing happens. Verse 19 tells us that Jesus told the man: "Rise, and go your way; your faith has made you well."

Do you not think it strange that Jesus did not say, "Go and visit the priests for the ceremonial cleansing?" Or "Go join the others?"

Think about what Jesus said to this man, "Go your way; you faith has made you well." Can you sense the awesomeness of this moment?

I believe Jesus is telling this man, "Because you took the time to come back and give the proper thanks and worship to God; you have been completely healed."

I cannot find any scholars that back me up; yet, I really believe that Jesus provided a supreme healing.

I believe, that this man did not have to go to the priest for purification.

I believe, that when he walked into town, people did not even realize that he had once had the dreaded disease.

In fact if he was missed at all by anyone, it was probably because he was away to another town.

I really believe that this healing Jesus laid upon this man, healed his family, and when he walked back into his home, it was as if he had never, ever, been banished.

Scripture tells us that God inhabits the praises of His people.

How is your thanks level today?

Is it full enough to keep God dwelling with you?

We do not have to be outcasts from society, or our home, for God to perform such a wonderful miracle.

Scripture is adamant that each and every one of us, at one time was under the curse of death; we were outcasts; and God in His infinite mercy, took away the curse, gave us new life, and welcomed us into His family.

Now, if that don't get your thanks level up to full, maybe you need to go see a good coroner.

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