The tale of ten lepers

This event has been playing in my mind these past two weeks:

And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:12-19)

We are called to live a life of thanksgiving. But how often do we pause in our busyness to say “thank you”? I’m mainly referring to thanking God, but I think that a life of thankfulness will flow out to those around us, too.

I have seen God answer prayers my entire life. Sometimes the answer comes in an unexpected way or season, but it does come.

Revelation 8:3-4 tells us that the prayers of the saints rise before God as a fragrant offering! John 16:23-28 tells us that the Father will give us anything that we ask in the Son’s name.

We quote the above scriptures all the time when making requests of God. But how often do we return to Him and say thank you? Do we quickly forget that we made a request at all? We cry and rail at Him in our need, but once it’s met then we run ahead and forget.

Turn back and thank God

When you journal, do you take time to note down praise points? Do you have a record of testimonies to God’s faithfulness? Are you bold enough to share your thanks of what God has done in your life with family and friends? Do you remember His past faithfulness when coming before His throne with new requests?

Let’s be like the leper who turned back and praised the One who healed him!

Storehouses of treasure

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”‘ 

But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’

So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15-21)

I am finding so much joy reading through the Gospel of Luke at the moment – the Gospel that focuses on the least in society. This is really where God is challenging me at the moment – to be His hands and feet to the poor. 

Glenn and I constantly reminded not to store up earthly treasure for ourselves. Whatever we have is His to be used in the Kingdom. For all you businessmen out there – keeping building wealth, but make sure you’re investing it back into His Kingdom!

But what about you and your family? What if you are faithful to be rich towards god? Read on dear one:

And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:29-34)

What a beautiful promise – we can give freely, knowing that we are storing up treasure bags in heaven! Surely our reward will be great. This leads to a removal of fear around giving to and working with the poor. We can go out and care for the least, just as Christ did, knowing that we are building eternal wealth.

Who do you know that is poor? Who do you minister to that is needy?

Operation Christmas Child is a great example of ministry to the least. I’ve been blessed to pack a box, and also see some distributed in Zambia.

No fool

Glenn and I have been talking about the cost and sacrifice of following a call into full time ministry. Of course there are positions that contain financial security in “traditional” ministry, just as there are jobs outside of ministry that do not hold security. But, for the majority of missionaries, it remains a giant step of faith – trusting God to provide, trusting God with our children’s health, giving up the “extras”, and “counting the cost”.

It seems like a tough call, right? I’ve been lucky not to have to raise much of my support for my time in missions, having worked before each season in the field. But even now we know we are giving up considerable financial security, despite having investments to sustain us, as we re-enter traditional ministry. We also know that we will be giving up a lot of comforts. For one, we live in a beautiful part of the world, in a rural area,  in a large house, with plenty of peace and quiet. This suits us both. Giving up our home to return to suburbia is not appealing, but this is a small cost compared to what some people give. There are the missionaries who, with multiple children and a paid off house, sell all their possessions to follow God’s call.

Giving up the easy life to follow God's call

Giving up the easy life for God

Why do such a crazy thing? And I have been called crazy many times in my life. I’ve also been told to “get a real job” and asked when I’ll return to the “real world” – by people in the church! Gone are the days when missionaries set sail from home with their coffins packed (literally) because they didn’t expect to come home alive! We have become a church that likes security and comfort.

So I return to the question – why? Why live by faith? Why give up financial security? Why put children at risk by going to third world countries? Why is it worth the cost?

I want to phrase it another way. Rather than looking at the cost . . . why don’t we look at the gain? Why not look at the riches we are storing up?

Let’s consider what Christ said:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:32-34)

One of my favourite quotes in this season is by Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot gave up his life at the age of twenty eight to go to Ecuador’s Quechua Indians. He knew the cost and the risk, but he also knew the reward. (This quote, whilst in Elliot’s diary, is also attributed to Matthew Henry’s father, Philip: “He is no fool who parts with that which he cannot keep, when he is sure to be recompensed with that which he cannot lose”.)

Count the reward higher than the cost and hit the road again

Count the reward higher than the cost and hit the road again

You see, we have Christ. We have eternal security. We have eternal riches. We also have life now with the Everlasting Father. What matter to lose our lives for eternal gain?

I know this post has mainly focused on traditional missions, but I firmly believe that every Christian has a part in it. We are all called to make Him known and to lay down our lives for Him. Are you counting the cost as too high? Perhaps it is time to start looking at the reward and stop counting the cost.

Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Luke 9:20-22).
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23-26).

Children and the Holy Spirit

We often pray for children who will grow up to know the Lord. I’ve been praying for my child to grow up knowing the lord. But last night I was challenged to pray that he would be born having the lord.

Reading through the stories of Jesus’ birth (as one does around Christmas time :p) I stumbled across the words of the angel to Zechariah. The words relate to Zechariah’s son, John the Baptist. It made me wonder why we aren’t praying this for more children in the womb. And it’s what I’m praying for our little guy now as I wait for his birth:

. . . and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God . . . to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Luke 1:15-17)

God values children. His Kingdom belongs to them.

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Luke 18:15-17)

Let us not discredit the relationship our children have with God because of their age. Let’s bring our children to the Lord – in prayer, through teaching, and through the example of our lives.

Praying that this precious little one will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from the womb.

Praying that this precious little one will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from the womb.