Archive | November 2013

Mom, Will You Play Legos With Me?

Will You Play Legos?I sat on the park bench, watching my eight-year old son playing with a friend. As I enjoyed the beauty of the day and the simple joy of the children laughing and playing, a Scripture came to my mind:  Love your children …  Oh no, there it is again, I thought!  That Scripture had been on my mind constantly, returning time and again.  Love your children … I had heard it over and over in my mind.  I knew the Lord was trying to speak to me, but I just didn’t understand.

What, Lord?  What are you trying to say?  Here we were at the park.  I had gotten his friend to play with him, picked up a pizza to bring along, and brought the boys to the park for the afternoon. Yet, I was hearing love your children again.  I was actually feeling a little frustrated and confused. I really didn’t know what The Lord was trying to get me to understand. What else did I need to do?

As the boys played, I ran many thoughts through my mind.  I truly did hundreds of things for my son.  I left a career to be a stay-at-home mom.  I cared for his physical needs impeccably.  He was very well-dressed at all times.  He was well-fed, with his nutrition as a priority of mine.  I homeschooled him, spending hours pouring into his heart the Word of God, as well as being certain that academically he functioned at the top of his age group.  But still the prompting persisted: Love your children.  I really didn’t know what more I could do.  I had given my life to raising him, and I reminded myself  once again of the multitude of things that I did for him.

Well, the play date was over. We took his friend home, and we happily returned to our home.  Happily for him, but I was still troubled within.  I knew there was something that I needed to learn.  I grabbed my Bible and withdrew to my room.  I bowed my heart before The Lord and asked Him to show me what He was trying to say.  I knew there was something that I just didn’t understand.

I opened my Bible to Titus 2 to the passage where older women are instructed to teach the younger women, and there it was … Love your children … Love your children … Love your children.  I knew that I had to understand that phrase.  I pulled out a Bible dictionary and searched for the definition.  What I found opened my eyes, spoke to my heart, and answered my question.  The word used here for love was not agape, the self-sacrificing love to which the Bible so frequently refers. This word for love was phileo, the kind of love that focuses on relationship. It actually describes a friendship love.  It was then that I saw the truth that I had missed. It was then that I understood.  I had spent years doing things “for” my son.  I had actually given my life to that.  But what The Lord was calling me to was to do things “with” my son.  I could see that I needed to focus, not only on the tasks at hand, but on the relationship.

I began to run so many things through my mind.  Yes,  I did that “for” him.   And I did that “for” him.  And I did that “for” him.  But there were not too many “with” things.  Even the afternoon outing to the park had been “for” him.  Then came the flood of questions that I heard replayed in my mind.  Mom, will you play Legos “with” me?  No, Mom has to fix dinner…  Mom, will you ride bikes “with” me?  No, Mom needs to do the laundry…   Mom, will you play a game “with” me?  No, Mom is busy right now.  The tears began to flow.  Now I saw.  Now I understood.  I had been so focused on all of the things that I did “for” my son that I was missing the most important thing of all – the relationship “with” him!

God did something major in my heart that day.  He gave me a new priority.  The truth love your children became very special to me.  Now, when my son would say: Mom, will you play Legos with me, I could hear the “with me” loud and clear.  And I would do my best to say: We sure can!  Even if I could not do it right at that moment, I was sure to let him know that we sure can!  Days turned into weeks.  Weeks turned into years.  Although I still made mistakes, I am thankful that The Lord persisted to teach me that truth.  Love your children – a truth I desperately needed to learn.

My son is grown now, with a family of his own.  Do I have any regrets in raising him?  Do I regret giving up a career to be a stay-at-home mom?  Not for a moment!  Do I regret giving all of those years to homeschooling him?  Not for a moment!  Do I regret painstakingly caring for his needs? Not for a moment!  Do I have any regrets at all? Only one comes to mind – that I would have taken every opportunity to do things “with” him.

The childhood years pass way too quickly.  Love your children. It is a decision that you will never regret!  Mom, will you play Legos with me?  We sure can!  We sure can!

Qualities of A Good Wife

Whoso Finds a WifeWhoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing,

and obtaineth favor of the Lord

Proverbs 18:22

 Suppose we took a surveyThe question that we would ask is:  What makes a good wife?  I can just imagine all of the answers that we would  hear!  Some would probably make us smile.  Others would, perhaps, make us very sad. But, from the beginning, God intended the wife to be a “good thing.”

Before we address our answer to the question, let’s recall the Creation for just a moment.  Day by day, as God created, He viewed His Creation, and in each case, the Scriptures tell us that God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25).  However, as details are given in chapter 2 of the creation of the man and the woman, we find, for the first time in the Scriptures, that God says that something is “not good”:  And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone.  Then immediately following that declaration, He announces His solution: I will make him a help meet for him.  In contrast to that which was not good, the wife, being a help and companion to the man, was to be a good thing.

And, when God finished His Creation, we find this truth:  And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:31).  Being a wife according to God’s intent and design truly is a good thing.

Listen to the truth of Proverbs 18:22:  Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord.  Here we find the same truth again – a wife is to be a good thing.

Listen now to the question of Proverbs 31:10-12: Who can find a virtuous woman?  And then hear the answer to that question as it relates to her husband:  The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her … She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

So we can see that God not only created and designed the wife to be a “good” thing, but He commends the wife who gives all the days of her life to doing good, and not evil, to her husband.

A “good” wife – do you have a heart that desires to be a good wife to your husband?  Perhaps you are wondering in what ways you could be a better wife. Well, if God created the marriage, and He did, then let’s look at the three instructions that He gives to wives.  We will find that these three truths describe qualities that  truly do make a good wife.

1. RESPECT

… and the wife see that she reverence her husband (Ephesians 5:33).

Reverence – respect!  This reverence and respect – or the lack of it – reflects a wife’s heart attitude –  how she truly feels about her husband, from the heart.  It is from the heart that all of a wife’s words and actions will flow.  Respectful words and loving actions come from a respectful heart.  Let the wife see to it that she reverence her husband!

Also, did you notice that this is a command?  God does not make this optional.  Neither does He say that a husband must earn the wife’s respect.  Actually, the Lord requires this of us.  Listen again to the wording:  … and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Be careful that you do not fall into the error of negating the Word of God by saying “I know that this is true, BUT …”

God’s truth is always true.  We all have faults and failures.  A wife can respect her husband, in spite of his faults and weaknesses.  She can respect him just because he is her husband.  And, if a wife will make a list of his good qualities, she will be surprised how many ways that she can find to respect him.  As her heart toward him becomes more respectful, their marriage will begin to change.  See to it that you reverence your husband.

2. COMPANIONSHIP

The book of Titus instructs the older women to encourage the younger women to love their husbands (Titus 2:3-5).  There are misunderstandings as to what love really is.  The particular Greek word used in this passage is a friendship, companionship love.  It is the kind of love that focuses on the relationship between husband and wife.  This kind of love can only be fostered as a wife spends time together with her husband, sharing common interests, walking through life as friends and companions. A wife may feel as though she has nothing in common with her husband.  There is a sure way to build common interests.  Be interested in what he is interested in!  Yes, a wife can be interested in what he is interested in – if she is truly interested in him!  She can lay aside her desires, her schedules, etc., and love her husband.  She can be a friend and companion to him as she shares his life with him.  Through the ability which God supplies, love your husband.  It will be a blessing to you both!

3. SUBMISSION

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22).

Did you know that this is the most frequent command in the Bible given to wives?  Yes, it really is.  No other instruction is given to wives as often as this one.  It must be the one that we need to hear the most often – Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.

What does submit yourselves actually mean?  It means being arranged under the authority of another.  This is not the teaching of the twenty-first century, but it is most definitely Biblical teaching.  Additionally, it is an outflow of a Spirit-filled life (see Ephesians 5:17-22).

Once a wife acknowledge, from her heart, that the  husband is the head of the wife (Ephesians 5:23), she will find submission an easier thing.

No matter what the world says or how a wife may feel personally, the Word of God is true – even submit yourselves!

There is a key to learning to be arranged under a husband’s authority – simply learning to really listen.  Husbands say what they like and what they do not like.  They say what they would like for the wife to do or not do.  It really is that easy – learning to listen and, without arguing, walking in agreement with him.

From my experience, I have found that my struggle will always be that I prefer my own way, that I think I know a better way, or that I think I am more spiritual.  But not so!  The Lord always knows the best way, and He is the most “spiritual” of all – and it is He who says submit yourselves.  And, for those wives who have husbands who are not obedient to the Word, the words found in 1 Peter 2:21-3:6 will be an anchor for you!

The timeless truth of submission will take the tug-of-war out of a marriage.  When a wife ceases from pulling against her husband, the struggle will stop.  When, by faith, she arranges herself under her husband’s God-given authority, she will be pleasing to the Lord.

What makes a good wife?  I guess we really did not need a survey. Respect, companionship, submission – three qualities of a good wife —  three truths that will transform a marriage – three truths that bring glory to God.

Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing,

and obtaineth favor of the Lord

Proverbs 18:22

 


 

Kara’s Sory: Learning to Build

imageEvery wise woman buildeth her house:

but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

Proverbs 14:1

Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.

Psalm 127:1

What a work God has done in my heart with these two verses!  For so many years of my marriage, I was a foolish woman, constantly plucking my house down around me with my very own hands.  Oh, I didn’t realize that was what I was doing.  I thought that I was standing up for my rights as a “liberated” and “educated” female.  I thought that I deserved a life beyond my husband and two children.  I didn’t realize that God had given me a precious gift – a household full of wonderful people – and that I was the one steadily destroying it.  God had done more than His part, bringing my family through many self-inflicted storms and trials, but every time the Lord would begin to pour a foundation for my family, there I would be, tearing it down to the ground by my words and neglect.

Now that I look back, I should have seen what was going on, especially since in His mercy, God had given me a very vivid physical example of what neglect causes with the house that we had bought soon after our daughters were born.  This house seemed perfect when we first visited it – quaint, quiet, understated – the perfect place to raise our children.  But little did we know the work that is required to keep a house, especially an older house, as ours was, in good condition.

I was busy with my job (in a Christian work, by the way) and my husband was busy establishing a new business.  The house – like my family –  was left to itself.  Unbelievably soon, the roof was leaking, termites had eaten through the foundation, and the beautiful yard that the previous owner had so painstakingly landscaped was overgrown with weeds.  We were so overwhelmed when we realized the work ahead of us that we simply threw up our hands in defeat.  And I did the same thing with my family.  I will spare you the details of the damaging results, but suffice it to say, my home and my family were nearly destroyed.

But then a miracle occurred.  God saved me and began to open up the truth of His Word to me, line upon line, precept upon precept.  He began to use my physical house to show me what was happening to my household and to my family.

One day, my husband discovered that the main support of the house would have to be replaced before any other repair work could be done; God used this to show me that my family needed Him as our main support before any other lasting improvements could be made.

On another occasion, my husband found that termites had damaged our walls and many of them would have to be rebuilt; likewise, we would have to rebuild our family’s spiritual walls through prayer, study, and church.

Little by little, we have begun to repair our home, both physically and spiritually, and little by little, I am changing from that foolish woman who destroys her home to one that builds her home.  Each day I pray that God will show me ways to build – and any ways that I may be destroying – the precious family with which He has blessed me.

Through wisdom is a house builded; and by understanding it is established:  and by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

Proverbs 24:3-4

The above anonymous testimony was first printed in Dawning Light © 2004.  I, again, extend my thanks to ladies willing to share their story to the glory of God.

Some of the Better Things

imageI was wondering what we consider to be the better things in life? For most, the list would contain material things – lots of money and lots of things that money can buy!

Prompted by a Scripture that came to mind, I took a brief stroll through the Proverbs.  Here is what I found:

For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. Proverbs 8:11

Better is little with the fear of The Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith.  Proverbs 15:16

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith. Proverbs 15:17

Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.  Proverbs 16:8

How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!  Proverbs 16:16

Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.  Proverbs 16:19

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.  Proverbs 16:32

Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices with strife.  Proverbs 17:1

It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.  Proverbs 21:9

It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.  Proverbs 21:19

So, what are the better things?

A life with God … walking in wisdom and understanding … living in righteousness and integrity … having love and humility … in a home with peace and harmony.

Yes, Lord, I am persuaded that these are the better things.

Who Is My Neighbor?

  But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?

Luke 10:29

Luke 10:25-37 reveals the well-known account of the man commonly called “The Good Samaritan.”  In this passage, a lawyer temptingly questions Jesus, and as He frequently did, Jesus responds with another question.  The dialogue continues between the two, and the clever lawyer answers with wisdom:  Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.  Jesus, in turn, speaks:  Thou hast answered right:  this do, and thou shalt live.  Then the lawyer replies:  … and who is my neighbor?

Most of us are somewhat familiar with the teaching that follows this question.  A certain man, going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, fell among thieves.  They robbed him, wounded him, and left him half dead.  A certain priest came along and saw him, but passed by on the other side.  Like the priest, a Levite came by, looked upon the injured man, and also passed by on the other side.  But then came the Samaritan.  He saw the wounded man, he had compassion on him, and he went to him.  He tended his wounds, brought him to those who could care for him, and provided for his needs.

Jesus interrupts the account abruptly to answer the lawyer’s previous question, again with a question: Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among thieves?  With insightful wisdom, he says:  He that showed mercy on him.  Then said Jesus unto him:  Go, and do thou likewise.

As we recall, Love thy neighbor as thyself is the command from the Lord Himself.  And who is my neighbor?  Those needing compassion and mercy.

The word neighbor literally means:  those who are near.  It is those whom we meet as we walk along life’s path to whom we should extend God’s mercy.  God is a God of compassion – a God of mercy (Exodus 34:6-7, Psalm 145:8-9, Lamentations 3:22-23), and He calls His children to be a people of compassion – a people of mercy.

It is important to understand that those to whom this compassion and mercy must flow will often not deserve mercy.  But be assured, we did not, and do not, deserve God’s mercy, yet freely it flows from the throne of grace.

Now, your human nature may resist this truth, but the Word of God is clear:  But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,  Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.  And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.  Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.  And as you would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.  For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye?  For sinners also love those that love them.  And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye?  For sinners also do even the same.  And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye?  For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.  But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest:  for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.  Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:27-36).

There we find the full teaching.  The reason that we are to be merciful is because our Father is merciful – even to the unthankful and to the evil.  So, as we go down life’s path, we should be kind and merciful to each person that we meet.  That is exactly what the Samaritan did, and we will find that as we do the same, we will be loving our neighbors as ourselves.  Remember, the question is not whether they deserve mercy.  The Father is kind even to the unthankful and the evil.

Who is your neighbor?  Those who are near you, at any given moment in time.

How do you love them?  By freely extending God’s mercy to them.

… and ye shall be the children of the Highest.

Luke 6:35

Now, let’s take this profound truth into your daily life.

Who is your neighbor?  … Those who are near you, at any given moment in time.

How do you love them? … By being merciful as your Father is also merciful.

First, always first, your husband is your neighbor.  He should be nearer to you than any other.  Therefore, be kind and merciful to him!

Your children are also your neighbors.  They are near you day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year.  Be kind and merciful to them!

Others that you are around on a regular basis are also your neighbors, whomever they may be.  Be kind and merciful to them!

And, just as a personal challenge, as someone crosses your path this week, mentally identify them as your neighbor and see what happens.

As you go through the grocery line and look upon the cashier, think:  She is my neighbor!

As you are at dinner in a restaurant and your waiter approaches the table, think:  He is my neighbor!

As you step on the elevator with a total stranger, think:  She is my neighbor!

When the telephone rings, before you even answer, think:  This is my neighbor!

When you hear of someone facing serious or difficult circumstances, think: She is my neighbor!

Then, be merciful as your Father also is merciful.

Then Jesus said unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Luke 10:37

Lord, as we live the life that you have set before us, help us truly bring glory to Your name.  Help us reflect You as You are.  Thank You that You are such a merciful God.  Thank You for the privilege of being called the children of the Highest.  Your Word declares that Your mercies are new every morning.  As we receive those mercies from You, help us daily extend Your mercy to those around us.  By Your strength and for Your glory!  Amen.

The above post was first printed in Dawning Light © 2003.

Anabelle’s Story: No Respect for Him

Reverence Her Husband“Just one verse, God, just one. That’s all I need.”

Here I was, weeping, alternately pacing the aisles and lying on the altar, all alone in the church after everyone else had gone home. I begged God to show me just one verse in His Word that I could use to justify leaving my husband. I was done.

How had we come to this?

I hadn’t always felt this way. I met my husband when I was fourteen years old, and I knew when I saw him I would marry him. We married once I graduated high school and began life together with a baby and a move to another state, away from all I had ever known. He found it hard to keep a job, and something happened that I didn’t expect. I began to not like this man very much.

I disliked his job-hopping. I disliked that fact that he had made us move away. I disliked his spending. I disliked how he spoke to our daughter.

This marriage business was hard. Why couldn’t he just stand up and be a man and take care of us like he was supposed to?

After several years, we moved back home, and my mother began to invite me to a church she was attending. At first, I dismissed her. After weeks of asking, though, I finally gave in and found myself in a little church. Something was different here. These people actually tried to live what they heard on Sundays. They talked about their failures, and there was no shame, only forgiveness. No grudges, only reconciliation. To an unsaved young woman, educated and bitter, this all seemed too weird.

For two years, I attended ladies’ classes and ladies’ retreats, sat in on prayer meetings, and learned to trust the elder women in this church. Through their example, God turned my heart to Him and I was wonderfully saved. One area still bothered me though. The women talked of how they loved their husbands, what great men they were, how thankful they were for them. Each comment made me ache. How could they have such perfect marriages and mine be such a disaster?

And then the darkness came. My husband had suffered a debilitating injury and was required to have a dangerous surgery. The risks were high, the doctors said, and recovery would take months. Even if the surgery were a success, there could be side effects that would affect my husband permanently.

The doctors were right.

Then only three months after his surgery, Hurricane Katrina came. Our home flooded, and there was no money to repair it. My husband fell into depression and stayed on the computer constantly. I would get up in the morning and see him in front of the screen; come home from work, there he was; and go to bed, with him never coming out of the office. There was no intimacy between us, either emotional or physical. We were roommates, not husband and wife.

I was so lonely, and it wasn’t long before the tempter began to whisper, “He shouldn’t treat you like this. He’s so selfish. Doesn’t he know that you need him? Doesn’t he know that you need to feel loved and wanted?”

And it wasn’t long after that that the tempter came in the form of a man, a man who smiled at me and told me I was beautiful and how much better he would treat me if he had me.

It was only by the grace of God that I didn’t fall completely. It was my Father Who protected me, not my vows or my fear of what others would say if they found out. I was long past caring about any of that. I was wrapped up in my own longings and disillusionment.

And now here I was, depressed, broken, alone at the altar in that little church. I picked up my Bible, barely able to see through my tears. I opened it up randomly and began flipping the pages, going to the places that I knew taught on divorce, hoping I would find a verse that would justify my leaving. The first place I found myself was Matthew 5—divorce allowed only in the case of fornication (v.32). He hadn’t cheated on me, so that was out.

Matthew 19—“What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (v. 6)

Next, I Peter 3: “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;” (v. 1)

WHAT??!! I’m supposed to love and submit to my husband even if he’s not saved?? God, I know You know how this man is, and this can’t apply to me. I’ll try again.

And then, I Corinthians 7.

“And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband…” (v. 10)

Not exactly what I was looking for, but I read on anyway. Perhaps there were exceptions.

“And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.”(v. 13)

My tears were beginning to dry, not because I found peace, but because I was angry. Why can’t I leave him? Does God expect me to live in this despair, this heartache forever? I slammed the Bible shut, then re-opened it.

Proverbs 31—“The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (v. 11-12)

I was struck by these words. “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her…She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life…”

The Holy Spirit brought to my mind the times I had screamed at him like a banshee to “be a man!” The times I had loudly disrespected him in Wal-Mart when he wanted to buy something unnecessary. The times I had complained about him to my mother, my sister, my best friend, to anyone who would listen. The times I refused his attention, choosing instead to work because “it was what I had to do.”

I was so ashamed, and I am ashamed again as I write this. He had just had to walk through the darkest months of his life, and while I had done what was necessary to help him physically, I had abandoned him emotionally. I had committed adultery in my heart and justified it. I, his wife, the one he had chosen to walk through life with, had already left him.

So now I had a decision to make. Would I obey the words that my Father had so gently, but firmly, brought to my attention? Or would I forever damage my daughter and my testimony for my selfishness?

I am glad to say that my Lord gave me the courage to walk in His truth. This was not an overnight change in my heart, but a day-to-day commitment that I would be a daughter my Father would be proud of. I resolved that I would no longer speak negatively about my husband to anyone. When discussions began to turn ugly, I would close my mouth and refuse to rise to the bait. I would make myself available to help him and listen to him and love him.

Over time, I saw my Lord bless His Word. My husband was saved, and our marriage was renewed gloriously. The defining point in our renewal was the night God pressed upon my heart to tell my husband about the other man. Oh, how worried and afraid I was! But I knew that in order for us to truly be one, there could be no more secrets.

What happened that night cemented my love for my husband and for my Jesus. I saw my husband’s heart break as I told him of my betrayal, and I saw the battle he fought within his mind. Then, I heard the sweetest words I’ve ever heard: “I already knew. I love you, and I always will. I forgive you.” And he really did. He never brought the subject up again, and his actions toward me afterward never held any bitterness.

I cannot express to you what the Lord worked in my heart that night, but what I do know is that the man I was so determined to leave became the man who showed me the love of Jesus like I had never known. The Lord has shaped my husband into a leader, an innovator, a man with talent, compassion, strength, and grace, and I have seen through him the clearest picture of Christ’s forgiveness and love.

Just one verse.  That’s all I thought I needed.  But God had given me so much more.  He gave me truth.  He gave me love.  And by His grace and mercy alone, He gave me a true marriage.

Where Are the Nine?

Give ThanksBy Him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually,  that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.

Hebrews 13:15

Luke 17:11-19 reveals the account of Jesus cleansing ten lepers.  As Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee, there He met ten lepers who stood afar off, lifting up their voices and crying to Him for mercy.  With compassionate authority He told them to go and show themselves to the priests.  The Scripture tells us that as they went, they were cleansed.

Our attention is then drawn to one of these lepers.  As he saw that he was healed, he turned back and with a loud voice glorified God.  He then fell down on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks.

Jesus responds:  Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?  There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.  Jesus then turns to this Samaritan and says:  Arise, go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.

While it is sad to say, many Christians today fall into this same pattern.  God does mighty works in many lives, but how many return to fall on their faces before Him and give Him thanks?  What is it that keeps us from returning to give Him the thanks of which He is so worthy?   Indeed, where are the nine?

Most likely some simply went on with the cares of this life.  But the Scriptures teach that the cares of this life choke out the Word (Matthew 13:22), that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of things which he possesses (Luke 12:15), that our excuses about the cares of this life cause us to miss God’s calling (Luke 14:17-20), and that no man having put His hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).

Where are the nine?  Perhaps some went about, not simply busy with the cares of this life, but actually seeking after the things of the world.  Scriptures teach that all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  The Scriptures also teach that if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15-16).  James strongly rebukes:  … whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4).

Where are the nine?  Most likely there were those that just lived the flesh-life, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, just as in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:38), or those as in the days of Lot, eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, and building (Luke 17:28).  How often we fail to realize that God calls these things idolatry!  Hear the words of the Apostle Paul in reference to the Israelites:  Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play (1 Corinthians 10:7).

Where are the nine?  Unfortunately, there may have been those that set out to live a “religious” life – a life of self-righteousness and pride.  These are those who live their lives to be seen by others and to be praised of men.  They give that they may be known; they pray to be heard; they fast to be seen (Matthew 6).  They have the heart attitude:  God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men … (Luke 18:11).  How strongly the Lord always rebuked the self-righteous!

Where are the nine?  We might expect that some just went home and went to sleep.  Even the disciples, on the brink of the most important event in all of history, fell prey to this weakness.  With questioning rebuke, Jesus said to Peter: What, could ye not watch with me one hour (Matthew 26:40)?  And how often is the Christian exhorted to awaken?  Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light (Ephesians 5:14).  And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep:  for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed (Romans 13:11).  And finally: Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God:  I speak this to your shame (1 Corinthians 15:34).

Where are the nine?  Jesus evidently expected that they should all have returned – to glorify God and to give Him thanks.  For every blessing that God has bestowed upon our lives, we, too, should be at the feet of Jesus, giving Him thanks.

He is worthy of thanks, and the giving of thanks is pleasing to Him.  The Bible calls it a sacrifice that we offer to Him (Hebrews 13:15-16).  True thanksgiving comes from the heart of an individual in whom God has worked.

Let’s return to the passage about the leper who went back to give thanks to Jesus.  From that passage, we can make some interesting observations about a thankful heart.

 A thankful heart will always turn you around. It will turn your focus around – from self or circumstances to God.  It will turn your direction around – from your own path to the feet of Jesus.  It will, in actuality, turn your life around.

 A thankful heart will always bring you back to Jesus.  Whatever we face in this life, when we stop, be still, and begin to give thanks, that thanksgiving will bring us right before the very presence of Jesus.  The leper that was cleansed did not go anywhere else to give thanks, but he returned to Jesus.

A thankful heart will always bring you to a position of humility.  Where did we find our thankful leper?  He was on his face, at the feet of Jesus.

 A thankful heart will always give glory to God. Our thankful leper turned back and with a loud voice glorified God.  A thankful heart never takes credit for itself, nor gives glory to another.  It gives glory only to God.

 A thankful heart will always allow you to get up and go on in peace. “… in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).”

 A thankful heart is always pleasing to God. “By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.  But to do good and to communicate forget not:  for with such sacrifices God is well-pleased (Hebrews 13:15­-16).”

Where are the nine?  Is the giving of thanks missing from your walk with the Lord?  If so, turn back to Jesus, give glory to God, bow at His feet, and give Him thanks – day after day after day after day!

Lord, we ask that you give us thankful hearts. You have wonderfully blessed us with salvation from above, with the privilege of living in Your presence, and with the privilege of serving You.   To some of us, Lord, You have given the blessings of husbands, children, families, and friends.  Our needs are abundantly met.  You have called us into a church body where we can worship You.  Oh, help us see each of these things as You see them, and help us recognize the abundant blessings that You truly do give.

May we truly give thanks unto Your name.

The above post was first printed in Dawning Light © 2003.