Will you be like the nine? or the one?

Luke 17:11-19, Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Do you ever wonder why only one man came back to thank Jesus?

This scripture is not just about a colony of lepers, it’s about us.

While we do not know what it is like to live in the conditions of the ten in that particular colony, you would think, having been cleansed and healed there would be nothing but praise for the God Who made it all possible; yet, only one, only one stopped to recognize Jesus and give Him gratitude.

How often do we forget to stop and thank God for all the many blessings He has given us? How many times do we overlook Who is responsible for our healing, our protection, our comforts?

Today is Thanksgiving. A day to remember all that we should be grateful for in our lives. A day to celebrate family and friends. A day to express to one another and to God our thankfulness.

Will you be like the nine? or the one?

I wish for you a day filled with laughter and fun. I wish for you time to reflect on all that you have and to cherish the time you have with those around you.

Happy Thanksgiving

In search of the meaning

I’ve always been fascinated by the television crews who go out on the street and ask every day people, living every day lives, questions. I don’t know, I guess I’ve always wanted to do it too. So, I decided to go into areas where people do not know me and propose this question, What does the Season of Giving actually mean?

My first stop, Race Track in Gainesville, Georgia; perfect spot to find an answer to my question. I pulled up next to a guy in an F250 and started filling up my tank. “Sir, could I ask you a question?” I began. (It didn’t seem as smooth as the television guys, but it was my first shot.)

“Sure,” he responded, spitting tobacco juice to the side of his truck.

“What does the Season of Giving actually mean?”

“Christmas,” he said, quickly and a matter-of-factly.

I realized I needed to rephrase my question. “Can you give me an example of what the season of giving means?”

“Santa Claus,” he answered.

I decided to drive further up the road to a McDonalds off I-85. There were two older ladies having lunch, and they seemed please to answer anything I asked. “Can you ladies give me an example of what the season of giving means?”

“Gifts. Every year I bake cookies for families in my neighborhood and church,” one answered.

“For me,” the taller, more serious looking woman responded, “It’s time with my grandchildren.”

At The Home Depot, a man answered, “Jewelry for my wife. She expects it every Christmas and I work for it all year-long.”

In the Mall parking lot I heard:

“I don’t really think about needy people being necessarily poor. Like, needy people could be people who need attention. So, I try to spend time with lonely people.”

“Time when you focus on others and not yourself.”

“The season of giving is about finding the joy of the holiday.”

“Getting toys and lots of them…”

“I’m not really into Christmas, but if I were Christian, it would be about giving to other people and not about getting from other people. That’s why I’m not really into Christmas.”

“I’ve been hoping all month my parents get me an Iphone6 Yeah! That will definitely be the true season of giving.”

“Christmas parties, family gatherings, greeting cards, and packages.”

“It’s the season FOR GIVING. Get it? Forgiving others.”

There were some workers – a construction crew – taking a lunch break just outside of downtown Atlanta. “In Mexico, in our village, we used to go from house to house. We would bring food and our neighbors would offer food. It was a time of celebration for Mother Mary and the Christ child.”

“It’s about remembering why Christ came to earth and thanking Him for coming.”

And my favorite answer, which came from a little girl at Chic-fil-A, “‘For God so loved the world, that He GAVE His only Son…’ That’s it! That’s Christmas in a package, tied up with a bow.”

So, what does “the Season of Giving” mean to you? Maybe we all need to stop and think about it and start implementing what it means to us.


Just the right length

Psalm 18:16, “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.”

When I was around 4 to 5 years old, my dad took a buddy of mine and me fishing in our neighbor’s pumpkin colored dory. Using cane poles and a bucket of crickets, my dad rowed us out to the center of a pond near our home. No sooner had he baited Pete’s hook and got him situated and turned to help me, that we heard a splash. I turned my head to realize Pete was no longer in the boat. My dad in one quick motion, reach his big hand down into the water and with a scoop of his arm, pulled a dripping wet Peter back into the boat. A frightened and tearing up little boy sat stunned as my dad comforted him, reminding him not to stand up in the boat again.

Whenever I read this scripture from Psalm, I am reminded of Peter, my dad, and that ugly orange dory. Sometimes we find ourselves overboard, in deep water, unable to swim. Sometimes it is from our own stupidity and sometimes it is through no fault of our own. But rest assured, no matter how fast you are sinking, no matter the depth of the water, no matter how close you are to the bottom, God’s arm is long enough to pull you out.

Many years ago I ran into Peter in Chicago, Illinois, of all places. Talk about fish-out-of-water, we laughed at the two of us former ‘country boys’ in such a city. After a brief catching up, he reminded me of the day we went fishing. He had been terrified of the water, something I don’t believe my dad knew. He described how my daddy’s hand, grasping his arm, and pulling him to safety felt.

As I flew home to Georgia, I thought about what Pete had said. The image of God reaching down and grabbing hold of me through out my life when I was in need held in my mind. What a feeling to be protected and loved by my Heavenly Father!

Do not doubt His ability to pull you from the deepest waters. His arms are just the right length and strength to bring you back into the boat. Trust Him.

A Double-Share

2 Kings 2:9-14, “After they had gone across, Elijah spoke to Elisha. He said, “Tell me. What can I do for you before I’m taken away from you?” “Please give me a double share of your spirit,” Elisha replied. 10 “You have asked me for something I can’t give you,” Elijah said. “Only the LORD can give it. But suppose you see me when I’m taken away from you. Then you will receive what you have asked for. If you don’t see me, you won’t receive it.” 11 They kept walking along and talking together. Suddenly a chariot and horses appeared. Fire was all around them. The chariot and horses came between the two men. Then Elijah went up to heaven in a strong wind. 12 Elisha saw it. He cried out to Elijah, “My father! You are like a father to me! You are the true chariots and horsemen of Israel!” Elisha didn’t see Elijah anymore. Then Elisha took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart. 13 He picked up the coat that had fallen from Elijah. He went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan River. 14 Then he struck the water with Elijah’s coat. “Where is the power of the Lord?” he asked. “Where is the power of the God of Elijah?” When Elisha struck the water, it parted to the right and to the left. He went across the river.”

The story begins in 2 Kings 2 as Elijah, the prophet, is dying. Elisha, his understudy so to speak, follows him and will not leave his side. Elisha has been with Elijah for around 13 years and sees him as a father figure. When Elijah knows his time is near, he asks Elisha what he can give him. Elisha boldly asks that Elijah’s spirit would rest upon him – a double share of his spirit. He then sees Elijah being carried into the sky by a chariot and horses. When Elijah is gone, Elisha picks up his cloak.

Earlier in the story, Elijah used the cloak to part the waters of the Jordan so that he and Elisha could get to the other side; and now, Elisha stands before the Jordan, holding the cloak, wondering.

Have you ever been in his position? Have you ever reached a  point in your life when you wanted so desperately to believe God will answer a prayer; but that doubt, that little voice inside your head, questions it?

Some of us never get past the doubt. Some of us never pick up the cloak and strike the water. When Elisha picks up the cloak of Elijah, I can imagine what he was thinking. He was thinking, “Did you God? Did you give me his spirit? Can I strike the water and the waters part under your power? Do I have what it takes?”

And as he stands before the Jordan, I’m sure he whispered, “Please God. Please let the waters part.”

He lifted the cloak and struck the water just as Elijah had earlier. The water parted and Elisha walked across on dry land.

I often wonder what would’ve happen had he tucked the cloak away and took a different path home. Would his life have been the same? We do not know because Elisha had the courage to strike the water.

Some of you need some encouragement today. Some of you are standing before God, hoping, praying, longing – but you’ve got to pick up your cloak and strike the water.

Today, I pray for encouragement and boldness to fall upon you. I pray the Lord will speak to you in a clear way. I pray you will have the courage to strike the water.

Stand toe-to-toe

What is it that makes you fearful? What is keeping you up at night? Is it financial? Right now, many people are out of work. The debt of this nation is soaring. Gas prices stay consistently high. Food prices are up. The economy is certainly nothing to cheer about.

Maybe it is your marriage? Your relationship with your spouse isn’t the same. You suspect he or she is having an affair. Or maybe you are afraid you will never get married. You can’t seem to meet the right person.

Maybe it is your children? The teenage years have hit hard and you can’t seem to reason with him or her anymore. You’re worried about drugs, alcohol, sex outside of marriage, and a disregard for authority. Or maybe you long to have children and you just can’t seem to get pregnant. Infertility experts have no clue and facing a life childless isn’t acceptable to you.

Maybe it is your health? You’re waiting for the doctor to call with the results. Is it cancer? Your blood pressure is too high. The stress of life has given you ulcer after ulcer.

How do we face our fears?

Psalm 56:3-4, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;”

Isaiah 40:28, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”

Eleanor Roosevelt said it best, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”

It starts with a belief that tells your heart, Who is for you is greater than who or what is against you. God is bigger than the bank and the foreclosure notice. God is bigger than the cancer. He is bigger than the job loss. Whatever comes your way, if you trust Him, He will stand beside you and He will pull you through it.

When you stand toe-to-toe with your fears, it is the first step in conquering them. Today, ask God to help you face what frightens you.

Blessed is the one

Psalm 1:1-2, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,  and who meditates on his law day and night.”

Blessed is the one – Those words in and of themselves should make us stand up and take notice. Isn’t that what we all want? To be blessed by God? When I read those words I want to say, “Yes! What do I need to do?” We have no problem when we hear an ad on TV, “Lose 20 pounds in two weeks. Follow this full-proof plan!” We grab our phones and start dialing to order for $19.99 a month. Here, the Holy Spirit is telling us how to have a blessed life.

who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers – No one wants or sets out to be a sinner. A four-year old doesn’t profess to his parents, “I think I’ll grow up to be wicked.” Sin has a way of creeping up on us unexpectedly at times and blatantly at others. It should not be welcomed in our homes, our cars, our workplace, our schools. We do not want its company. We do not want to follow its example.

but whose delight is in the law of the Lordand who meditates on his law day and night. – God wants us to make Him a daily habit. Everything in scripture leads up to Christ. The  ultimate goal in reading the Bible is not so we can win a Bible trivia contest or quote scripture to impress others; it is to cultivate a relationship with the Savior of the world. From cover to cover, the Bible is all about our salvation. Why wouldn’t we read it?

2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Little by Little…

Sometimes it’s hard to understand why God answers our prayers the way He does, or why He doesn’t answer us the way we want Him to answer us. In times of hardship, waiting on God to answer can be the toughest part. I hope this devotion will help you to see God’s thorough plans for our lives. He thinks of every detail. Aren’t we glad He does?

Deuteronomy 7:21 -23, “Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. 22 The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. 23 But the Lord your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed.”

At the time of the writing of this scripture, the Israelites are threatened by many nations: the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites – seven nations who are much larger and stronger than they are.  Some of you may read this scripture and say, “That sounds like my life right now. I feel like I’m being hit from all sides.” And some of you feel as though your life is under great fire right now.

Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God – For me, this is the most powerful part of this scripture and our lives. Acknowledge and accept that the power with you is our great and awesome God. You are not alone in your problems. You will not be fighting this battle alone. God has a solution. He has a plan. He is rolling up His sleeves. You have no reason to fear. God is near.

You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once – This is the tough part of the scripture. Even though God could flick His fingers and everything would go away, He doesn’t. Because He knows what is up ahead. Something far worse. Something that will harm His plan. Something that needs readjusting. Whatever the reason, He isn’t going to wipe out all your trials at once; because He sees a better way.

or the wild animals will multiply around you – God knows that if He does just flick His finger and destroy seven nations, a greater problem awaits the Israelites. The wild animals will multiply and the Israelites will be overcome by them. Sometimes we just want an answer. We want God to take it all away. What we don’t realize is a bigger trial is lurking on the outside we don’t know about yet; but God does. I’m sure the Israelites just want their enemies to ‘GO AWAY’! They aren’t thinking about the wild animals around them because at the time, the wild animals are of little concern. There is enough population to keep them away. God doesn’t do anything haphazardly. He sees the whole picture not just the part we are in.

But the Lord your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed – Understand that God sees you. He knows you exist. He knows your pain, your problems, your dilemmas. He has not forgotten you. He may need to take care of things a little by little; but, He will deliver you.

I want to encourage you, God has heard your cries at night. He sees the problems you face and He knows the outcome. He is preparing the way for you, little by little.


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