Gratitude Attitude

On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee and encountered ten lepers. The ten lepers stayed at a distance from Jesus because they were considered contagious. The Bible does not name these ten lepers or fully describe their conditions, but they knew that they were doomed to be isolated from their families and society because of the destructive and debilitating disease of leprosy.

During Bible times, there was no cure or treatment for leprosy. The old testament law prescribed that those with skin lesions must go before the priest to be examined. Those with potentially contagious diseases were isolated from their community for a time, but many with leprosy were isolated for the rest of their lives. The priest in the Jewish culture was the one person to examine and say whether someone was clean (or free from disease) and able to return from isolation or remained unclean and had to continue their isolation from family and friends. It was often quite devastating to families to lose a family member to leprosy. Lepers often could not continue in their workplace and some lived in leper colonies where everyone had the disease. Lepers who traveled were required to notify those that may come near them by shouting “unclean, unclean” so that others without the disease wouldn’t be exposed to them. There was a considerable stigma for the leper in addition to the disability, deformities, and destruction of the body that came with leprosy.

The ten lepers discussed in Luke 17 had heard enough about Jesus that they called out in a loud voice saying, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” A few things are very interesting about their statement. First, it seems that they all in a coordinated fashion shouted out to Jesus. They seemed to know or have heard who Jesus was and called him by name. Second, they call Jesus Master indicating that they consider him to have rule and power over them. Not everyone considered Jesus their Master or respected his authority, but these ten lepers did. Third, the men don’t specifically ask to be healed, but that Jesus have pity on them. Leprosy can be a severely debilitating causing terrible skin lesions, vision problems, muscle weakness, nerve damage, and the loss of limbs. We don’t know what stages of leprosy these ten men were in, but they begged for pity. Pity is said to be a sympathetic sorrow often leading to relief, aid or mercy. The lepers wanted that. They knew they had an incurable disease, but they wanted whatever Jesus could do to give them relief, aid, and mercy.

Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t say he will heal them, but he says, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” Jesus knows that to be accepted back into their culture and society, they must be approved by the priests. Luke goes on to say that “as they went, they were cleansed.” All ten left Jesus headed to the priest with their leprosy, but on the way, they were cleansed. Leprosy leaves many marks on the skin, but after encountering Jesus, they knew before they had time to get to their priests that they had been healed. All ten of them. What an amazing miracle and wonderful thing for these men to know that soon they would be allowed and welcomed back into their communities and families.

One of the lepers, when he saw that he was healed, came back praising God and threw himself at the feet of Jesus thanking him for healing him. The Bible describes this thankful leper as a Samaritan. Most Jews didn’t and wouldn’t associate with Samaritans, but Jesus did. It is assumed that the other lepers were probably Jewish, since other nations did not have in their law to present themselves to the priest to be judged unclean or clean.

Next, Jesus asked the thankful Samaritan praising God at his feet, “Were not all ten cleansed?” It seems a rhetorical question as Jesus goes on to ask, “Where are the other nine?” And “Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Jesus intimates that the Jewish lepers should have known to praise God and be thankful for healing. It seems that Jesus would have expected the Samaritan to not praise God or thank him, but Jesus is surprised at his own people. They had all just called him ‘Master.’ They all had some expectation that Jesus could help them or they wouldn’t have cried out. Yet when Jesus did help them, nine of the ten didn’t take the time to be thankful to him. They couldn’t be bothered to go back and show their gratitude.

What about us today? Do we pray for God’s help and never acknowledge that it came? Do we ignore the blessings our heavenly Father brings us each and every day? Do we give credit to someone or something else, after we’ve made our appeals to God for healing? Do we assume it is simply our good luck that helped things turn out well? Do we ignore God after our appeals to Him?

Look at the statistics of gratitude in this story. Only one out of ten said thank you. Jesus never heard back from 90% of those he healed in this case. Why? Were they just that selfish or self-centered? Did they not connect their request for pity with the removal of the plague of leprosy from their bodies? Do we sometimes get so excited that a trouble or trauma is over that we just want to move on and forget it? Jesus seems disappointed and specifically disappointed in his own people as he asked, Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” What does this say about God’s people, who supposedly know and follow him? What does it say about the foreigner?

In the region of Tyre and Sydon, another foreigner came to Jesus for help and healing. She was a Canaanite mother begging Jesus to help her daughter who was demon possessed and suffering terribly. Jesus said that he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel, but as the woman begged, “Lord, help me.” Jesus explained again that it was not right to take the children’s bread and give it to dogs. But the Canaanite woman said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Jesus replied to the woman that she had great faith and granted her request and in that moment for her daughter’s healing.

The Jewish teachers and leaders of Jesus’ day often claimed to be the children of Abraham and to only worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were a proud people and boasted in their Jewishness and relationship with God, yet they weren’t really obedient to him, following him, or even grateful to him for his blessings. God addresses this many times with them, and I see a lesson here for us, as Christians.

Are we grateful? Are we thankful? Do our friends and family know that we hold God and Jesus Christ in high esteem? Do our friends, family and others know that we give thanks to God for the food we eat? Do our colleagues, customers, and even those who can’t stand us, know who we call Lord? Do we thank God for our jobs and financial provision? Do we praise God for healing after we’ve prayed for it, or do we assume it was the doctor’s skill, or the new medicine, or luck, or a simple quirk of ‘nature’ that healed us or our loved one?

If you were one of the ten lepers, what group would you be in? Would you be like the one Samaritan or the nine Jews?

We pray to God for help, then don’t acknowledge that He did help. Why is that? Are we embarrassed? Do we really believe He can, will, and does work today in the lives of men and women? If we don’t believe He is working and answering prayers today, why do we pray? Do we or can we understand how everything works? Of course not, but if we have prayed for something to happen and it happens, why not assume it is from God? He is, by the way, in charge of EVERYTHING! God cares for us down to knowing the number of hairs on our head. As we clean the lost hairs out of our hairbrush at night, do we understand that God knows how many hairs are in the brush and how many hairs are left on our head? Do we see the detail, care, and specificity with which the God of the universe has for each and every person? Matthew chapter 10 says that not one sparrow falls that God doesn’t know about it, and goes on to say that each of us are worth more than many sparrows.

For those who don’t know Jesus, He is the good news/the Gospel. No more is there a separation between people groups. Jesus came for all – for Jew and Gentile, slave and free, for you and for me.

All of us are sinners and have rebelled against God. All of us are on our way to Hell. Hell is the just destination and penalty for our sin. All sin is rebellion against God and His authority. All of us – (every single person and all of mankind throughout every age) have committed treason against the Lord. Our rebellion is clear, but thanks be to God, the penalty and just consequence for our sin has been paid by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

An eternal death separating us from God for all time is no longer necessary, if we will accept the gift of salvation that comes through Christ Jesus alone. The choice is ours. God will not force us to accept salvation from our sin. He will allow us to proceed on our own way, if that is what we choose. God doesn’t send anyone to Hell. People choose to go there of their own accord. God stands at the door and knocks, but He will only come in if we open the door to accept and surrender to His will and way. That’s the deal. We can go our way or His way.

Long ago, some lepers were healed from a physical disease because they sought help, cried out, and asked for mercy from the Lord. Long ago, a mother secured health and safety for her child from demons because she had faith in and sought help from the One she knew had the power to save her child. Today, God still waits and wants all who will come to Him in faith with submissive and grateful hearts to live in His way and walk in His will in this life. Won’t you come like the leper and the mother to the feet of Jesus? Won’t you look to him for help and healing? Won’t you give God all praise for all He has done and is doing in your life? Won’t you trust and draw near to Him? He loves and cares for you more than you can even imagine?

Won’t you, think on these things…

Robin Robbins House ©️

Image by Barbara Jackson from Pixabay

Judge Correctly!

When the time for the Feast of Tabernacles had come and Jesus’ brothers asked him to show himself to the world publicly, Jesus told them that His time was not yet come. Jesus’ brothers went on ahead to the feast without Jesus, and the Bible says that at this time “even his own brothers did not believe in him.” Jewish leaders were looking for Jesus and among the crowds of people at the Feast of Tabernacles people were talking. The Bible said that there was widespread whispering about Jesus. Some said that Jesus was a good man while others believed He wasn’t good and deceived people. No one would, however, speak out publicly for fear of the Jewish leaders. It seems like some things never change.

About half way through the eight day festival, Jesus did go up to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem and began teaching in the temple courts. The Jews there were amazed at Jesus’ teaching. They wondered how He had so much learning without being taught. You see, Jesus, was not of the elite or powerful. He made his entrance in the manger of a barn and by all accounts wasn’t wealthy or part of the elite in society.

In reply to their questions as to how Jesus knew so much Jesus said, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the One who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”

Jesus goes on to say that because he did one miracle in healing a man, they were all amazed. Jesus reminded them that by the law of Moses newborn boys are circumcised on the Sabbath (even though it is a declared day of rest) so that the law of Moses may not be broken, yet they were angry with Jesus for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath. Jesus goes on to say, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

In today’s society, people are all about following the latest or greatest popular person. How many followers someone has is a thing of status. Jesus, like some today, was somewhat a phenomenon. He had many followers who were fascinated by Him. He was unusual and “amazing” to some and someone to be feared by others. People throughout the region were talking about Jesus. The powerful in politics and religion were watching for Him. Some feared Him and His influence on the people since the things He did and the words He spoke did not match up with their belief system and expectations. Some feared Jesus would show them to be the fraud’s they were. Some feared that He would take away their power. Some just didn’t know, but they still distrusted Him.

We have this same situation happening today in our political and religious world. The common man and woman on the streets are discussing whether someone should be able to have presence or platform from which to speak. Publishers and politicians are banning speech that they don’t like or agree with in order to cancel their effect on others. Like the threats against Jesus, some are calling for the death of those they do not like or agree with on issues. Today, Dr. Seuss’ own publishers decided that some of his works need to be removed from the public square. Why? What is behind all the censorship of thoughts, ideas, and words? Can we no longer stand to see the truth of history? Can we not acknowledge a viewpoint that isn’t in lock step with our own?

The Bible begins, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It is a bold statement. It is how the Word of God begins. We must each decide if this is a true or a false statement. We will choose to believe this is right or wrong. In the same way, Jesus challenged those in the temple courts over 2000 years ago to check out what He said. Jesus said that anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether His teaching comes from God or is from him only. Jesus said that those that knew the will of God would be able to verify that He spoke on behalf of His Father who is God almighty.

There is a challenge today for the Christian and the non Christian to decide whether what Jesus said is true or false. We must each decide whether what he preached was right or wrong. Jesus confronted those in the temple courts about their inconsistent enforcement of the law of Moses. Do we today see the inconsistencies in how things are decided? Do we see the contradiction in our own conversations and behaviors between how we treat one person or idea over another?

Jesus admonished those listening to him in the temple courts saying, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” I think this advice needs to be repeated today. What we see is not always as it appears. The only way to know for sure what is true is to seek the truth in the consistent message revealed throughout the Holy Word. Jesus tells us that those who choose to follow God’s will – will know whether what Jesus preached and taught was of God or not. How is that? It is because they will see and come to know the will of the Father written in the Word of God.

When we judge things today, do we stack it up against the standard of the Word of God? Do we have the will to do the will of God? Are we judging by mere appearances or seeking to judge rightly? Each of us makes decisions and judgements every day about a myriad of things including one another. Are we judging rightly as the Righteous Judge and Lord would want us to do, or are we jumping to conclusions without all the evidence?

Do we give people the grace of time? Do we look below the surface of appearances to the motives of their movements through life? Have we tried to get to know one another and their circumstances, or do we dismiss people out of hand? Are we willing to walk in someone else’s shoes for just a minute to see what paths they must tread? Are we interested in our fellow man enough to change our point of view to try to see what things look like through their eyes? Has someone “offended” us and unbeknown to them been written off? Do people get a second chance with us? Or a third? Or seventy-seven times? Jesus told Peter to forgive a brother or sister not just seven times in a day, but seven times ten times in a day when they repent. Do we accept those who are sorry and repent for wrongs they do – intentionally or not? Are we so perfect that we can’t stand to put up with any imperfection in those around us? Are we so prideful and pious that we won’t be in the presence of those called pathetic in our society? Do we use our power or position to ‘put out of mind and sight’ those who don’t share our ideas and beliefs? Did we write off a friend because they told us the truth or we felt they were just too much trouble?

Who are we to stand as king of the hill to look down pridefully at anyone? Don’t we, each and every one of us, have our own problems and missteps to overcome? Do we have any charity/love for our fellow man? Will we give it and show it?

Jesus calls us to judge correctly. Can we? Will we? And if we do, I know our God be pleased. Just as Jesus spoke not on his behalf but on the Father’s, can we as Christians and children of God not do the same?

We can, if we will, choose to follow God, and if we will learn His will, we will know that Jesus’ message was true and His ways are right. What an awesome world this could be if we would judge correctly.

Think on these things…

Robin Robbins House©️
3/2/2021

The Bible passage reference is from John 7.

Open Doors and Opportunity

In a new year I often feel like I have a new beginning point and opportunities. New resolutions, renewed plans to try again or start over, and the desire to set new goals for the coming year come to mind after Christmas and in the first weeks of the new year. Sometimes I make resolutions for the new year, and sometimes I don’t. This year I am having a “take 2” shot at one of the major resolutions from last year. I “sort of” like making resolutions but often bite off more than I can chew. Like a child in front of a restaurant buffet or at a church pot luck dinner, my ideas – like my eyes are often bigger than I can possibly handle. Committing to a better diet, exercising regularly, beginning new projects, exploring interests and learning new skills all call to me. I like challenging goals. I like the satisfaction I get when I have completed a difficult task well. It gives me feelings of confidence, accomplishment, optimism, and fulfillment when a goal is achieved. It just makes me feel good!

Today opportunities abound for many worthy causes and goals. Just Google it, and you’ll see. As a child of the 70s, I grew up with the “Superwoman myth.” It said that as a woman, I could do it all, be it all, and have it all. Both experience (I tried it.) and wisdom have taught me that I can’t do it all, be it all, and have it all. So how do I choose what priorities to address, goals to set and plans to make? I credit my husband for pointing out and sharing a passage in II Corinthians 2:12-13 for helping me address this question. I read this passage again this week and want to share it now.

Paul had travelled to Troas to preach the gospel to the people there. The Scripture says that he had an open door from the Lord, but Paul had no “peace of mind” or confidence in his ability to carry on the work in Troas. Paul said that because his brother Titus was not there with him, he said goodbye to the people of Troas and went on to Macedonia. It seems that Paul gave a pass to Troas in his missionary journey to share and spread the gospel. What did that mean for Paul then? What does it mean today?

Here’s what I think. Sometimes we have great opportunities open to us for doing God’s will and good in our world, but something is just not quite right. A specific ingredient is missing, or the timing is not quite right in the moment. In Paul’s case, the Lord gave him an open door of opportunity in Troas, but Paul didn’t walk through it. In Paul’s example, I see that I don’t have to go through every door of opportunity either — even if the Lord opens the door. I believe that if God really wants me to go in a particular direction or through a particular “door,” He has just as much power today as He did when He dealt with Jonah to send me through any “door” He wants me to enter. I can say that I have had some “Jonah-like” experiences during my life, minus the fish, of course. Second, I think it is important to listen to that still, small voice that says, “Not now.” Sometimes, like Paul, I don’t have a “peace of mind” about a project or goal. Third, I need to remember that some plans and goals are better achieved with the help of a trusted colleague or friend. Some goals are just not meant to be completed alone and may need to be deferred until help arrives. The church Jesus established is an excellent example of this principle. The body of Christ works best when it works together to support, nourish, and spur its members to love and good works. God made us to need each other. If not, why did God make Eve for Adam? If not, why did God tell Adam and Eve to be one as husband and wife and have children? If not, why did Christ establish his church for his followers?

I hope that as we encounter various opportunities in this new year, that we will remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33 where He says to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first and all the things we need will be provided to us. In addition let’s look at the very next words of Paul in II Corinthians two after he reveals that he left Troas to go on to Macedonia to preach the gospel. In II Corinthians 2:14 (NIV) Paul says, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” Paul knew — and I think we can see, that wherever he went and whatever “door” he entered, as he put and served God first, God made him effective in His service. In the same way, we, too, can be effective and successful with our goals and plans as we go through whatever “doors of opportunity” we may enter.

May God guide and bless you in all ways!

Robin House

Additional study verses Colossians 3:2, Psalm 119:112, Hebrews 12:2, Matthew 6:25-34, Proverbs 16:3, II Timothy 1:7