Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. Luke 17:15
People who have a thankful heart are always praising God. You often hear them say, “God is good!” They know that God is the reason for every blessing they get.
But there are those who look to God for blessings and when they get blessed, they just go on their merry way. Their hearts are captivated by the blessings instead of the One who has blessed them.
Jesus had an encounter with both these types of people when He walked into a village one day. Then lepers cried out to Him, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Luke 17:13). Now, when you call out to Jesus for mercy, He always hears you. On another occasion, when two blind men cried out to Him, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” He took the time to give them their miracles. (Matthew 9:27-30)
So these 10 lepers cried out to Him for mercy. He stopped, looked at them and said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And “as they went, they were cleansed” (Luke 17:14). But only one came back and fell at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Notice they very words of Jesus that followed: “were there not 10 cleansed? But where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17)
The other nine obviously knew that it was Jesus who had cleansed them. Yet, they did not bother to go back and thank Him. Let it be said of you when the blessings come, you remember to give God the praise, glory and honour, and acknowledge that He is the source of every blessing in your life.
Did you know that when the man came back to thank Jesus, he received the additional blessing of becoming whole? Jesus said to him, “Arise, go thy way; thy faith has made thee whole.” (Luke 17:19, KJV). He was not just cleansed of leprosy, he got his missing fingers and toes back as well!
When your heart is thankful towards God, you position yourself for even greater blessings.
It was chilly in Manhattan but warm inside the Starbucks shop on 51st Street and Broadway, just a skip up from Times Square. Early November weather in New York City holds only the slightest hint of the bitter chill of late December and January, but it's enough to send the masses crowding indoors to vie for available space and warmth.
For a musician, it's the most lucrative Starbucks location in the world, I'm told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if you play your tunes right. Apparently, we were striking all the right chords that night, because our basket was almost overflowing.
It was a fun, low-pressure gig - I was playing keyboard and singing backup for my friend who also added rhythm with an arsenal of percussion instruments. We mostly did pop songs from the 40's to the '90s with a few original tunes thrown in.
During our emotional rendition of the classic, "If You Don't Know Me by Now," I noticed a lady sitting in one of the lounge Chairs across from me. She was swaying to the beat and singing along. After the tune was over, she approached me. "I apologize for singing along on that song. Did it bother you?" she asked.
"No," I replied. "We love it when the audience joins in. Would You like to sing up front on the next selection?" To my delight, she accepted my invitation.
"You choose," I said. "What are you in the mood to sing?"
"Well. ... Do you know any hymns?"
Hymns? This woman didn't know who she was dealing with. I cut my teeth on hymns. Before I was even born, I was going to church. I gave our guest singer a knowing look.
"Oh, I don't know. There are so many good ones. You pick one."
"Okay," I replied.. "How about 'His Eye is on the Sparrow'?"
My new friend was silent, her eyes averted. Then she fixed her eyes on mine again and said, "Yeah. Let's do that one." She slowly nodded her head, put down her purse, straightened her jacket and faced the center of the shop.
With my two-bar setup, she began to sing.
Why should I be discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed. Even the gurgling noises of the cappuccino machine ceased as the employees stopped what they were doing to listen. The song rose to its conclusion.
I sing because I'm happy;
I sing because I'm free.
For His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me..
When the last note was sung, the applause crescendoed to a deafening roar that would have rivaled a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. Embarrassed, the woman tried to shout over the din. "Oh, y'all go back to your coffee! I didn't come in here to do a concert! I just came in here to get somethin' to drink, just like you!"
But the ovation continued. I embraced my new friend. "You, my dear, have made my whole year! That was beautiful!"
"Well, it's funny that you picked that particular hymn," she said.
"Why is that?"
"Well . .." she hesitated again, "that was my daughter's favorite song."
"Really!" I exclaimed.
"Yes," she said, and then grabbed my hands. By this time, the applause had subsided and it was business as usual. "She was 16. She died of a brain tumor last week."
I said the first thing that found its way through my stunned silence. "Are you going to be okay?"
She smiled through tear-filled eyes and squeezed my hands. "I'm gonna be okay. I've just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing his songs, and everything's gonna be just fine."
She picked up her bag, gave me her card, and then she was gone.
Was it just a coincidence that we happened to be singing in that particular coffee shop on that particular November night? Coincidence that this wonderful lady just happened to walk into that particular shop? Coincidence that of all the hymns to choose from, I just happened to pick the very hymn that was the favorite of her daughter, who had died just the week before? Absolutely not.
God has been arranging encounters in human history since the beginning of time, and it's no stretch for me to believe that He could reach into a coffee shop in midtown Manhattan and turn an ordinary gig into a revival. It was a great reminder that when we keep trusting Him and singing His songs, everything's gonna be okay.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:29-31)
John Thomas Oaks
Jesus spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart. —Luke 18:1
One of our biggest struggles is unanswered prayer. Maybe you can relate. You ask God to rescue a friend from addiction, to grant salvation to a loved one, to heal a sick child, to mend a relationship. All these things you think must be God’s will. For years you pray. But you hear nothing back from Him and you see no results.
You remind the Lord that He’s powerful. That your request is a good thing. You plead. You wait. You doubt—maybe He doesn’t hear you, or maybe He isn’t so powerful after all. You quit asking—for days or months. You feel guilty about doubting. You remember that God wants you to take your needs to Him, and you tell Him your requests again.
We may sometimes feel we’re like the persistent widow in Jesus’ parable recorded in Luke 18. She keeps coming to the judge, badgering him and trying to wear him down so he’ll give in. But we know that God is kinder and more powerful than the judge in the parable. We trust Him, for He is good and wise and sovereign. We remember that Jesus said we “always ought to pray and not lose heart” (v.1).
So we ask Him, “Summon Your power, O God; show us Your strength, O God, as You have done before” (Ps. 68:28 NIV). And then we trust Him . . . and wait.
Pray on, then, child of God, pray on;
This is your duty and your task.
To God the answering belongs;
Yours is the simpler part—to ask. —Chisholm
Delay is not denial so keep praying.
I envy Kevin. My brother, Kevin, thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night.
He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped to listen, 'Are you there, God?' he said. 'Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed...' I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.
He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's 6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult. He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them. I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life? Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed. The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child.
He does not seem dissatisfied. He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work.
He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores.
And Saturdays - oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. 'That one's goin' to Chi-car-go! ' Kevin shouts as he claps his hands.
His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights. And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips. He doesn't know what it means to be discontent. His life is simple. He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be.
His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it.
He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax. He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure. He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue. Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God.
Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an 'educated' person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion. In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions. It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap. I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances - they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's care. Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God. And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed.
Kevin won't be surprised at all! When you receive this, say a prayer. That's all you have to do. There is nothing attached. This is powerful. Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive. There is no cost, but a lot of rewards.
FRIENDS ARE ANGELS WHO LIFT US TO OUR FEET WHEN OUR WINGS HAVE TROUBLE REMEMBERING HOW TO FLY.
I dreamt I stood at Calvary And saw three crosses there;
On left and right were nailed two thieves,
The cross between was bare.
A soldier took his sword in hand,
Then pointing it at me;
He said, "You there, prepare to die.
That cross is meant for thee."
I quickly fell upon my knees,
For mercy did I cry;
As strong hands grabbed my hands and feet,
I shouted, "why, oh, why?
And then a voice both soft and sweet
Was heard above the din;
"Let this one go, take me instead.
I'll pay his debt of sin."
With His body torn and bleeding,
And thorn marks around His head;
With face bruised where they beat Him,
He stepped into my stead.
Then Jesus laid upon the cross,
His life to freely give;
That all my sins be washed away,
And through His death I'd live.
He stretched His arms out open wide,
No struggle did He make;
As they prepared to nail Him there,
His life to gladly take.
They drove the spikes in His hands and feet
And slammed the cross in place;
His bones were shaken out of joint,
And blood flowed from His face.
"Forgive them, Father" was His cry,
"They know not what they've done.
They don't realize that
You Have sent Your only Son."
Deep darkness filled the noonday sky
And trembling shook the ground;
As God, the Father, turned away,
While God, the Son, gazed around.
"It is finished now," the Savior said.
"The door stands open wide;
Into Thy hands My Spirit comes."
Then they pierced His side.
The graves were bursting open,
And dead men walked around;
The temple veil was rent in twain,
And I fell to the ground.
When I awoke, the night had passed
And sunshine flooded in; I cried,
Forgive me please, and cleanse me from my sin.
For You sent down Your only Son,
A ransom for the lost
And I see You included me,
When counting out the cost.
Take over the reins that guide my life,
Remove my willful pride;
Sweep clean my heart and enter in,
Forever there abide."
Yes, I dreamt I stood at Calvary
And saw those crosses three;
Yet no longer do I look with fear
Where Jesus died for me.
A little girl walked daily to and from school. Though the weather that morning was questionable and clouds were forming she made her daily trip to school. As the afternoon progressed, the winds whipped up, along with thunder and lightning. The mother of the little girl felt concerned that her daughter would be frightened as she walked home from school and she herself feared that the electrical storm might harm her child. Following the roar of thunder, lightning, like a flaming sword would cut through the sky. Full of concern, the mother quickly got in her car and drove along the route to her child's school. As she did so, she saw her little girl walking along, but at each flash of lightning, the child would stop, look up and smile. Another and another were to follow quickly, each with the little girl stopping, looking up and smiling. Finally, the mother called over to her child and asked, "What are you doing?" The child answered, smiling, "God just keeps taking pictures of me."
May today there be peace within you.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing that you are a child of God. Let His Presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, and to bask in the sun. It is there for each and every one of you.
Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. 1 Peter 1.21
Gladys Aylward, a missionary to China a half century ago, was forced to leave her missionary work when the Japanese invaded Yangcheng. In fleeing certain death, she led nearly a hundred orphans over the mountains to Free China. It was a frightening journey. At times she was burdened by despair. One morning after a sleepless night, fearing they would never reach safety, she shared her hopelessness with the orphans. A 13‑year‑old girl reminded her of their much‑loved story of Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea.
"But I am not Moses," Gladys Aylward replied.
"Of course you aren't," the girl responded, "but Jehovah is still God!"
And that is the point, isn't it? Christ can help us. Christ can enter our lives and transform us into people who can accomplish more good things than we ever dreamed possible. All we have to do is trust him.
I watched intently as my little brother was caught in the act. He sat in
the corner of the living room, a pen in one hand and my father's brand-new
hymnbook in the other.
As my father walked into the room, my brother cowered slightly; he sensed
that he had done something wrong. From a distance I could see that he had
opened my father's new hymnal and scribbled in it the length and breadth
of the first page with a pen. Now, staring at my father fearfully, he and
I both waited for his punishment. And as we waited, there was no way we
could have known that our father was about to teach us deep and lasting
lessons about life and family, lessons that continue to become even
clearer through the years.
My father picked up his prized hymnal, looked at it carefully, and then
sat down, without saying a word. Books were precious to him; he was a
clergyman and the holder of several degrees. For him, books were
knowledge, and yet he loved his children. What he did next was remarkable.
Instead of punishing my brother, instead of scolding or yelling or
reprimanding, he sat down, took the pen from my brother's hand, and then
wrote in the book himself, alongside the scribbles John had made: John's
work, 1959, age 2. How many times have I looked into your beautiful face
and into your warm, alert eyes looking up at me and thanked God for the
one who has now scribbled in my new hymnal. You have made the book sacred,
as have your brothers and sister to so much of my life.
"Wow," I thought. "This is punishment?"
The years and the books came and went. Our family experienced what all
families go through and perhaps a little bit more: triumph and tragedy,
prosperity and loss, laughter and tears. We gained grandchildren, we lost
a son. We always knew our parents loved us and that one of the proofs of
their love was the hymnal by the piano. From time to time we would open
it, look at the scribbles, read my father's expression of love, and feel
Now I know that through this simple act my father taught us how every
event in life has a positive side - if we are prepared to look at it from
another angle - and how precious it is when our lives are touched by
little hands. But he also taught us about what really matters in life:
people, not objects; tolerance, not judgment; love, not anger. Now I, too,
am a father, and, like my dad, a clergyman and holder of degrees. But
unlike my father, I do not wait for my daughters to secretly take books
from my bookshelf and scribble in them. From time to time I take one down
- not just a cheap paperback but a book that I know I will have for many
years to come, and I give it to one of my children to scribble or write
their names in. And as I look at their artwork, I think about my father,
the lessons he taught me, the love he has for us and which I have for my
children - love that is at the very heart of a family.
I think about these things and I smile. Then I whisper, "Thank you, Dad."
We would be better Christians if we spent more time alone, and we would actually accomplish more if we attempted less and spent more time in isolation and quiet waiting upon God. The world has become too much a part of us, and we are afflicted with the idea that we are not accomplishing anything unless we are always busily running back and forth.
We no longer believe in the importance of a calm retreat where we sit silently in the shade. As the people of God, we have become entirely too practical. We believe in having "all our irons in the fire" and that all the time we spend away from the anvil or fire is wasted time. Yet our time is never more profitably spent than when we set aside time for quiet meditation, talking with God, and looking up to heaven. We can never have too many of these open spaces in life-hours set aside when our soul is completely open and accessible to any heavenly thought or influence that God may be pleased to send our way.
My life has a tendency to get out of control (I do realize that my decisions play a huge role in this!). I get moving so fast that often the time is gone before I realize it. The only thing that centers me is slowing down...getting silent...being alone with God...and listening for His whisper. It never ceases to amaze me how He calms my unsettled spirit.
One of my goals for this year is to set aside time each week to be quiet before God...to spend time talking to Him and listening for His voice...just relaxing in His presence. It is in the silence that I am open and more accessible to my Lord.
Will you join me in slowing down? Perhaps you need to stop right now and focus your thoughts on Him. I promise you it will be well worth the moments you may lose in hustling around in your busy world.
Ek het vanoggend vroeg wakker geword, opgewonde oor alles wat ek kan doen voor die horlosie middernag slaan. Ek het pligte om na te kom vandag. Ek is belangrik. My werk is om te kies watter soort dag ek gaan hê.
Vandag kan ek kla omdat die weer reënerig is, of .... ek kan dankbaar wees dat die gras gratis water kry.
Vandag kan ek hartseer wees omdat ek nie meer geld het nie, of .... ek kan bly wees dat my finansies my aanmoedig om my inkopies verstandig te beplan en my weg van vermorsing hou.
Vandag kan ek oor my gesondheid kla of .... ek kan
verheug wees omdat ek lewe.
Vandag kan ek mor oor alles wat my ouers my nie kon gee terwyl ek grootgeword het nie, of .... ek kan dankbaar wees dat hulle my toegelaat het om gebore te word.
Vandag kan ek treur omdat rose dorings het, of .... ek
kan juig omdat dorings rose het.
Vandag kan ek rou oor my gebrek aan vriende, of .... ek
kan opgewonde ‘n soektog begin na nuwe vriendskappe.
Vandag kan ek kla omdat ek moet gaan werk, of .... ek
kan juig omdat ek werk het om te doen.
Vandag kan ek murmureer omdat ek huis moet hou, of ....
ek kan geëerd voel omdat die Here skuiling aan my
verstand, liggaam en siel geskenk het.
Vandag lê voor my en wag om gevorm te word. En hier is ek, die beeldhouer wat die vorming mag doen.
Hoe vandag sal wees hang van my af. Ek kan kies
hoe ‘n dag ek sal hê!
‘n Wonderlike dag aan jou - behalwe as jy ander planne het ....
Psalm 118:24 - Dit is die dag wat die Here gemaak het; laat ons daaroor juig en bly wees.